Koneswaram is revered as one the Pancha Ishwaram of Sri Lanka. This is the abode of "Kona" (the Chief Lord or God). The presiding Siva deity's name is a combination the words of Kona and Ishwara.
The temple stands distinctly atop Konesar Malai, a high point of land that overlooks the Indian Ocean, near the Trincomalee (Thirukonamalai) District. The original temple is believed to be built around 205 bce, with key features resembling the Dravidian temple architecture, such as a thousand pillared hall.
The temple complex was destroyed by the Portuguese Empire in colonial religious attacks between 1622 and 1624, and Fort was built near the site from its debris. Ruins of the Koneswaram temple are still found underwater, and several murtis have been rediscovered.
Koneswaram is described in the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is mentioned by Sambandhar and Sundarar Nayannar in Tevarams between 600-630 ce. Another prominent Saivite, Arunagirinathar visited here in 1468. In 1952 the Society for Restoration of Koneswaram did the initial reconstruction work and more renovations were done by local Tamils in 1982.
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