Kandasamy Kovil

Top choice in Trincomalee

This revered temple at the summit of a rocky outcrop is one of Sri Lanka’s pancha ishwaram, five historical Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva and established to protect the island from natural disaster. It houses the lingam (Hindu phallic symbol) known as the Swayambhu Lingam. It's an ancient place of worship, but the current structure dates to 1952. Pilgrims from across the nation flock here; its puja (prayers) at 6.30am, 11.30am and 4.30pm are always well attended.

The site is thought to have been a place of worship for at least two millennia. There was certainly a temple here by AD 300, which was later built up over the years by everyone from the Cholas to the Jaffna Kingdom, until being destroyed by the Portuguese.

On one side of the temple compound is Swami Rock, a 130m-high cliff nicknamed Lovers’ Leap. It's associated with Francina van Reede, a Dutch woman who is said to have jumped from here in the late 17th century. It's also a famous spot for spotting blue whales, especially from February to November. Note the odd cubic-shaped rocks below.

You can park about 300m south of the temple. The walk is lined with vendors selling offerings and gifts – bring socks for walking the hot pavement after you've removed your shoes. A couple of simple cafes sell fresh lime juice and coconut water that you can enjoy while taking in the sweeping views.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Trincomalee attractions

1. Swami Rock

0.01 MILES

The base for Kandasamy Kovil is considered the world's greatest vantage point for spotting blue whales. Note the odd cubic-shaped rocks below.

2. Gokana Temple

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There are fine views of Trinco and the coastline from here.

3. Buddha Statue

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This big standing Buddha statue is at the Gokana Temple.

4. Fort Frederick

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Occupying the neck of a narrow peninsula, Fort Frederick has been a defensively important site for centuries. A fortress was initially constructed here by…

5. Fish Market


Fishy interest is provided at the raucous daily fish market near the bus station. Early mornings are busiest.

6. Kali Kovil

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Kali Kovil has the most impressive, eye-catching gopuram (gateway towers) of Trinco’s many Hindu temples. It's always busy.

7. Dutch Bay Beach

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Right in the centre of Trinco is the attractive and picturesque Dutch Bay. Swimming is possible despite sometimes dangerous undertows. However, it’s more…

8. Maritime & Naval History Museum

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A grand 18th-century Dutch colonial building has been renovated and turned into a museum. Displays on the ground floor cover Sri Lankan naval history back…