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Temple

Koneswaram Temple

  Province Eastern
  District Trincomalee
  Nearest Town Trincomalee
  Period -
  Ruler -

Introduction

This post is yet again dealing with another important Buddhist temple but now turned into a Hindu Kovil in the Eastern part of Sri Lanka. Unlike in the previous example where some remains of the temple (Kadurugoda Vihara in Jaffna) is still visible, in this instance, however, the place has completely been turned in to Hindu Temple. This Temple is none other than the famous Thirukoneswarm temple in Trincomalee or the previous Gokanna Vihara.

The present Thirukoneshwaram Hindu Temple has been built in Koneswaram temple is an important Hindu temple in Trincomalee, Eastern Province, Sri Lanka venerated by Saivites throughout the continent. The primary deity is the Hindu god Lord Shiva in the form Konesar. At its zenith, Koneswaram was of considerable size and heralded as one of the richest and most visited temple complexes in Asia.

History

According to the chronicles the Gokanna Vihara was built by the king Mahasen in 3rd century. De Queyroz, a Portuguese historian says that the Gokana Vihara was a Buddhist temple until it was destroyed by Portugeese in the 16th century. According to him the Pagoda or the Stupa of the temple was destroyed by Portuguese Trincomalee's ruler Costantino da Sa while Buddhist monks were still in residence there. Therefore, it is clear that the Gokkana Vihara was intact until it was destroyed by Portuguese in 16th century and was until then a famous Buddhist temple.

A foundation of a shrine room constructed by King Aggrabodhi in 8thcentury was found when the excavations were done by Department of archeology inside the Trincomalee Fort Frederick. Among other ruins found included Buddha statues belonging to the 01st century. All ruins were found in the same place where the present Thirukineshwaram temple is located. The Bo-tree which was there in front of the Kovil also belonged to the Gokkanna Vihara.

As mentioned earlier King Aggabodhi (718-724AD) had built a shrine room in the Gokkanna Vihara. Chronicles say that the king Parakkramabahu the Great (1153-1186 AD) had mobilized army from Sarogama Thittha to Gokkanna along the Maha Valuka Nadi (river Mahaveli). The king Parakrama Bahu-11(1236- 1272 AD) is also mentioned as having chased away Tamil invaders who had set up camps closer to Gona area. These all references found mentioned in the chronicles use the words Gokkanna, Gona or Gokannathittha. Mahavamsa says that Baddakachchana, the queen of Panduwasdeva reached this Gonagama Pattana or Gokkannathittha.The modern temple is built based on classical Dravidian Hindu architecture. The annual temple festival attracts Hindus from around the country.