Lord Aadhi Konanayakar Temple in Sri Lanka is an important Hindu shrine located in the Thambalagamuwa village of Trincomalee District. The temple is considered as the first and foremost temple of Konesvaram. The word ‘Aadhi’ in Tamil means ‘first’. It is situated at a distance of 24kms from the Trincomalee town. The temple was constructed in the 17th century, replacing the original Koneswaram temple (Temple of Thousand Pillars) that was destroyed by Portuguese in 1622. Only the main sanctorum of the previous temple remains. The rest of the structures were rebuilt. The Gopuram or main entrance tower is one of the tallest structures in the region.
Built with stones, this sacred shine is surrounded by two enclosed path ways. Though the presiding deity of this temple is Lord Siva, it also accommodates other local deities such as Pathini Amman and Kathirkaswami within its premises. The temple also comprises of minor shrines dedicated to Lord Ganapathi, Navagraha, Murungan, Valli and Tevayani. The daily rituals are performed in accordance to the Holy Scriptures. Annual temple festival is celebrated involving both Tamil and Sinhala devotees of Trincomalee. Festivals pertaining to Pattini Amman and Kathirkaswami are also celebrated. Due to the Sri Lankan civil war that took place in the 1980s and 90’s, the place was deserted and the temple was left abandoned. Since the year 2004, residents of the village have returned back to their original habitat and the temple has been restored to its past glory.
Legend and Stories
Aathi Koneswaram Temple in Sri Lanka is situated in the village of Thambalagamuwa that was part of the medieval, semi-independent feudal division called Thambalagamuwa Pattu. This place was ruled by independent rulers prior to the arrival of Portuguese in 1622 and then Dutch in 1656. Thambalagamuwa was surrounded by lush paddy fields and was believed to be a fertile and prosperous region. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Aadhi Konanayakar and his consort Hamsagamanambike. The idol of the Koneshvar dates back to the later Chola period (1070-1279 CE) and that of the Devi to early Chola period. This has been established based on the findings of the idol’s metal composition and style. The temple’s name and main sanctum santorum of Aadhi Konanayakar shows that this temple was built to accommodate the idols that were saved from the destructed Konesvaram Temple (Temple of Thousand Pillars) of Trincomalee.
According to Tirukonasala Purana, the temple was built with the help of Kandyan King Rajasingha II (1630-1689) after the destruction of the original Koneswaram temple in Trincomalee. The idols that were saved from the destructed temple were moved from one place to another and eventually ended up in a secured territory under the Kandyan jurisdiction. The scriptures of Vara Rasasinkam identifies that rulers of the Kandyan dynasty funded the maintenance and administration of the temple, by allocating land to the temple in perpetuity and revenue distribution from local taxes. Konesar Kalvettu is another interesting Tamil text that supports legitimizing the claims of the new temple Aadhi Konanayakar to the customs, revenue and various other services rendered to the destroyed Koneswaram temple. The author of this text is Kavirasa Varotayan, which was written after the construction of the new temple.
Tirukonasala Purana states that King Rajasingha II directed the local feudal lords, who were the chiefs of the Vanni clan, to maintain the temple and its administration. These traditions were followed by the Vanni chiefs for generations. This tradition is being followed even in the temple the new temple that was built in place of the destroyed old shrine. This has been recorded by the Dutch colonial governor of Trincomalee, Van Senden in 1786. Residents of Thambalagamuwa Pattu had requested the Dutch to allocate a portion of the revenue generated from paddy cultivation of rice towards the maintenance of the temple, which was a tradition followed by the previous Portuguese rulers too. A similar request was made in 1815 to the British governor Alexander Johnston by the Vanni lords of the Thambalagamuwa Pattu.
The temple of Adi Konanayakar adheres to most of the traditions and privileges entitled to the original Koneswaram temple that was destroyed by the Portuguese. Hindus from various parts of Trincomalee are included in organizing the temple festivals. During the later Kandyan and Dutch colonial period, the Tasmapalakamam temple also enjoyed the revenue got from its land that was given as royal gifts. The temple came under the control of private ownership during the British colonial period. The temple’s private trustees were later removed and thus in 1945, it came under the control of the of locally elected board. The Gopuram or main gate tower was constructed in 1953 and is one of the largest structures in this region.
How To Reach Trincomalee
An Airbase is located about 7km south west of the Triconamala. The Sri Lankan Air Force operates commercial flights from Colombo (Ratmalana) to Trincomalee (China Bay). Private seaplane operators also operate planes in the Colombo- Trincomalee route.
Trincomalee is connected with the Sri Lankan railways originating from the Colombo fort.
Buses are available to reach Triconamale from various parts of the country. Tuk-tuks (rickshaws) also transport people from one place to another, giving a different experience altogether. Tourists can enjoy walking on the picturesque beaches and going around the city on foot. The place is well equipped with an air force base and a naval base.
Devotees visit this temple to seek fulfillment of the following:-
- Relief from diseases
- Purchase of vehicles
- Gain Knowledge
Kailaasarana Shiva Chandramouli Phaneendra Maathaa Mukutee Zalaalee Kaarunya Sindhu Bhava Dukha Haaree Thujaveena Shambho Maja Kona Taaree
Meaning -Oh Lord Shiva who is seated on Mount Kailash, where the moon decorates his forehead and the king of serpents crown his head, who is merciful and removes delusion, You alone can protect me. I surrender to thee.
Aum Trayambakam Yajaamahey Sugandhim Pusti Vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaath Mrutyor Muksheeya Maamritaat
Meaning -We worship the fragrant Lord Shiva, who has 3 eyes and who cultivates all beings. May He free me from death, for immortality, as even a cucumber is separated from its bond with the vine.
The temple is open from 6AM to 9PM.