Fort Frederick Area

sights / Military

Fort Frederick Area information

Lonely Planet review

Built by the Portuguese, Fort Frederick was rebuilt by the Dutch. Today, British insignias crown the tunnel-like gateway that pierces the fort’s massively stout walls. Most of the fortress is under military jurisdiction, but you can stroll up to the big new standing Buddha statue at the Gokana Temple . The road continues up to scenic Swami Rock , a 130m-high cliff nicknamed Lovers’ Leap, and the revered Koneswaram Kovil – one of Sri Lanka’s pancha ishwaram, the five historical Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva and established to protect the island from natural disaster. The temple houses the lingam (Hindu phallic symbol) known as the Swayambhu Lingam , making it one of Sri Lanka’s most spiritually important Hindu sites. The original shrine may be much older, but the temple existed at least by 300 AD and was built up over the years by everyone from the Cholas to the Jaffna Kingdom (its gopuram was said to be visible to sailors at sea), until being destroyed by the Portuguese. The current structure dates to 1952. Outside the temple, check out the piece from the original temple sitting atop a boulder; it was used for worship before the new temple was built. Puja (prayers) is at 6.30am, 11.30am and 4.30pm. You’ll need to check your shoes at the bottom of the hill (Rs 10).