The temple is known as Thirukonamalai Konesar and is what gave the city its name “Trincomalee.” It’s one of the most sacred medieval temples for the Hindu devotees. It sits atop Swami Rock, also known as Konamalai and has been referred to in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. During its golden age, it was known as the Rome of the Gentiles.
Shamli071, Spiritual 16, CC BY-SA 3.0
The Ravana Connection
The Ramayana tells of the temple being patronised by Ravana the legendary king of Lanka and his mother who was a pious devotee of Shiva. Legend has it that Ravana was attempting to lift the temple and take it to his mother after she fell ill and could no longer visit the temple, but the god in anger made Ravana trip and he dropped his sword where it created the cut on the cliff face which is known to this day Ravana’s Cleft.
The Temple of a Thousand Pillars
The temple was said to consist of a thousand golden pillars and richly decorated thanks to the generosity of the Chola dynasties and after them the Pandayan kings. The temple contains carvings that date back as far as the 5th century.
The Colonial Desolation
The temple can be visited today with a short drive through Fort Frederick from any of the resorts in Trincomalee. However, the present temple was reconstructed recently after the old temple was shoved off the cliff into the sea by Portuguese invaders. Arranging a tour with a resort like Trinco Blu by Cinnamon will give visitors some background to what they will be seeing.
The temple of Koneswaram has been renovated over the years and brought to the status it is today. The Hindu temple crawls over the edge of a cliff which is called Swami Rock and is the reason that Trincomalee got its name.
The Temple of a Thousand Pillars
It is estimated that the original Koneswaram temple which was known as the Temple of a Thousand Pillars was constructed circa 400 B.C. The legend has it that it was the mythical King of Lanka, Ravana had it built so his mother could offer her prayers to Shiva as her illness kept her from travelling to Mount Kailash in India. The original temple was also said to feature a thousand pillars each plated in gold, but it was destroyed and pushed into the sea by Portuguese invaders.
The ruins of the former temple were found at the bottom of the ocean by divers including stone obelisks and idols which were restored into the new temple. You can see them and the solitary pillar from the original temple. Koneswaram is at the southernmost tip of the crescent that makes up Back Bay. It is only about 20 minutes’ drive from most resorts in Trincomalee.
There’s plenty to see on the way as you must drive through Fort Frederick. The last leg of the journey must be made on foot. You can see remnants of ancient history relative to the temple. If you are staying at Trinco Blu by Cinnamon, leaving the resort around 8 or 9 in the morning would give you ample time to explore before the sun gets too unbearable.
Fritzjames Stephen is a travel writer, who writes content based on the myriad of experiences and indulgences that the world has to offer travellers across all walks of life. Google+
Have you heard of Lover’s Leap, located in the east coast city of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka? There’s quite a fascinating legend to go along with this well-known attraction!
Where it Can be Found
Lover’s Leap in Trincomalee (not to be mistaken for the one in Nuwara Eliya!) can be found tucked away by the edge of Swami Rock, within easy reach of centrally located resorts Trincomalee has to offer. The most prominent attraction here is the Koneswaram Hindu Temple, located around 20 minutes from Trinco Blu by Cinnamon.
The Name’s Origin
The most popular legend associated with Lover’s Leap dates back to the 17th century; it is said a woman named Francina van Reed had her heart broken when a Dutch officer broke off their engagement and returned to Holland. As she watched the ship carrying her bellowed sail away, Francina van Reed, overcome with sorrow, threw herself off the rock to the ocean below.
Taking It All In
While today a fence prevents lovers from flinging themselves off the cliff, it does make for an interesting sight especially when you know the story behind the name. You can find a pillar here which records the date of the tragedy of Francina van Reed. Depending on when you visit you may even spot blue whales in the ocean beyond.
Make sure to explore the Koneswaram Temple when here; dedicated to Lord Shiva, this magnificent sacred site features golden statues and imagery of various Hindi deities worth seeing.