Thirukkoneswaram (Koneswaram) Temple is situated on top of the Swami Rock within the Fort Fredrick. It is also known as the temple of thousand pillars. The primary deity is the Hindu God Lord Shiva in the form of Konesar. Koneswaram is one of the most ancient and holy Shiva shrines in the island with a recorded history from the 3rd century BCE and attracts Hindu pilgrims from all parts of the world. It was one of the richest temples in the South East Asia, and had in its possession large amounts of gold, pearls, precious stones, and silk.
The original temple which had over 2000 years history was demolished by the Portuguese (who called it the Temple of a Thousand Columns) in 1624 and the rubbles and other materials derived from its destruction were used to build a well-fortified Fort to prevent the Port of Trincomalee from falling to the Dutch. Some of the artifacts from the demolished temple were kept in the Lisbon Museum including the stone inscription by Kulakottan (Kunakottan).
During the destruction, some of the articles and statues of deities made of gold and copper were saved by the devotees and were unearthed later in 1944/1950. The Hindus have preserved their heritage through many generations and have rebuilt the destroyed Thirukoneswaram Temple in 1963 where the unearthed items now form part of newly built Temple.
It offers a magnificent view of the surrounding sea from the top of the Swami Rock. You can take some superb photos of the sunrise if you visit there early in the morning. The brilliant blue and “sea green” color sea is rarely seen anywhere in the world. Just a few meters before the entrance to the temple, you can see the famous “Lover's Leap”.
Important festivals in the Temple are “Shiva Rathri festival” performed in February and “Thiruvembavai festival” celebrated over ten days in December. The Temple Deity of Koneswaram Temple goes around the Trincomalee town to bless devotees during the Shivarathri season. The 22-day long Annual Festival of Koneswaram temple is celebrated during March/April that attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors.