Believed to date back to 400BC, the Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee is a significant Hindu Temple that has gone through many prosperous years, as well as many turbulent ones during European colonisation. Located inside the historic Fort Frederick, the temple gives that perfect balance of the island’s unique culture in an otherwise European setting.
Significance of the Temple and Colonialism
The Koneswaram Temple is considered to be one of the Pancha Ishwaram (one of the five abodes of Lord Shiva), thus making it one of the most important Hindu temples in the whole country. The temple flourished since its inception, as the many kingdoms that came, such as the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Chola Empire, Pandyan Kingdom, and the Jaffna Kingdom made sure to protect the place of worship. Come the 17th century, and the ‘Temple of a Thousand Pillars’ was pillaged and destroyed by the Portuguese colonists, which resulted in the loss of many priceless artefacts. Regardless, the subsequent colonisers, namely the Dutch, and the British allowed the rebuilding of this sacred temple. Moreover, during this time, many lost artefacts were recovered from many excavations conducted by archaeologists.
The temple is now adorned in many sculptures of Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh and Goddess Parvati, along with many other elements that showcase just how significant this place of worship is to Sri Lankans.