Lord Shiva & Goddess Shankari Devi

Temple History

Thirukoneswaram, or the Holy Koneswaram Temple, is a Hindu temple in Thirukonamalai (Trincomalee) on the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. The place Trinconmalee means a triangular shaped hill (Tri- cona- malee or malai). The temple lies on a high rocky promontory surrounded on three sides by the sea. It bears a history of over three millennia with its records indicating its roots in 1580 BC. This, still beautiful, historical monument is what remains of what once was a sprawling temple city equal to the ancient city of Madurai, India. Although destroyed and rebuilt throughout its history, this 17th-century structure still stands as an example of classic Dravidian architecture. The temple that we see today was built in the 1950s, striving to return to its former glory.

This is an ancient temple dedicated to the God Lord Shiva (Lord Konesar) with his consort Mathumai Ambal . It is at the head of Konesar Malai (Swami Rock) on the dramatic Gokarna Bay, a seasonal home to blue whales. The site is a religious pilgrim centre, and is one of the five “Pancha Ishwarams” (abodes of Shiva) that were built in coastal regions of Sri Lanka to honor the supreme god of Hinduism. British and other European writers of the 18th and 19th centuries refer to this shrine as the “Temple of a Thousand Pillars.”

Temple History

Pallava, Chola and Pandya rulers have made significant contributions for the upkeep of the Shankari and Trikoneshwara temples. The Portuguese invaded Sri Lanka in 15th Century. The Portuguese Catholic Colonists destroyed several places of worship including that of (Muslims and Buddhists) in and around the island of Sri Lanka after 1505 AD. On the Tamil New Year day- 14th April 1624, the idols were taken on a procession to the town, during which, the Portuguese entered the Trikoneshwara temple in the guise of priests and plundered the temple of its valuables. The Portuguese cannon balled the top of the temple from their ship. In place of the temple is a lone pillar. The temple was destroyed and its materials were used in the construction of the Fort Frederick nearby. The deities of Shankari Devi and Trikoneshwara were hidden in a silted well to save them from the onslaught of Portuguese invasion. The idols were recovered from a well in Trinco after independence of Sri Lanka in 1948.

Kulakottan, the Chola ruler from South India renovated the Koneshwara temple. Some of the Buddhist Kings also maintained the temple except for the Buddhist King Mahasena who destroyed the temple and built a Dagoba in its place.

Some of the artefacts of the destroyed temple are kept in the Lisbon Museum. There is also a stone inscription by Kulakottan with a dual fish emblem, with a prophecy that the land, after 1500 AD will be ruled by people with a different eye colour for 500 years and then the earlier rulers will get to rule the land- Vadugus. Tricomalee was subsequently ruled by the Dutch for 500 years and then by Vadugus and by the French, till the British captured Sri Lanka in 1795. In 1689, a small temple was built nearby to keep the idols which were preserved. No worship was allowed for the deities. Later, a temple in 1952 was built for Trikoneshwara.

The present Trikoneshwara temple is located adjacent to small Shankari Devi temple built in 1952 by some local Tamil Hindu people, after a gap of 450 years. There is also the sacred Bilva tree at the edge of the cliff perched on top of the Indian Ocean. The view from the hill top is exhilarating and splendid. Trikoneshwara temple is built by Sage Agasthya from the instructions of Lord Shiva, who was impressed by Ravana’s devotion. This temple is unique, as the temple is built by the Lord for his bhaktha. (devotee). Other deities surrounding the main deity- Trikoneshwara include, Lord Ganesha, Lord Subramanya and other deities. Goddess Shankari is worshipped in the form of Mathumai Ambal.


Additional Information

Trincomalee is the best tourist place in Eastern Srilanka. Best Hotels are available in Trincomalee city.

Trincomalee Central Bus station is 1.8 kms and Trincomalee Railway Station is 3.3 kms from the temple. Transport facilities are available from the bus station, railway station and the airport.

Trincomalee Airport is the nearest airport which is just 15 kms from the temple. Bandaranaike International Airport, Colombo is 239 kms from Trincomalee city.
  • 6:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Contact Person: Temple Office
  • Contact Number: +94 26 222 6688, +94 77 879 1463