From the time of Vijaya there were the Panchiswarams, a set of five coastal temples
of Siva built at cardinal points of the compass for the purpose of protecting Lanka
from calamities. They were Naguleswaram at the northern point of the Jaffna Peninsula,
Thirukoneswaram at the eastern point in Trincomalee, Thiruketheeswaram near Mannar
and Muneeswaram near Chilaw both on the western coast, and Thondeswaram in Dondra
at the southernmost point of Lanka.
These temples of Siva were all completely destroyed by the Portuguese in the sixteenth
century. The temples now existing at these locations were built subsequently. Details
and locations of the first four temples in the above list are well known, but details
of the last temple, Thondeswaram, are not so well known.
This book lists the available information about Thondeswaram and also the history
of the other temples at this site, now known as Devinuwara (the City of Gods), but
was called Dondra during British days. As the temples at this site were practically
completely demolished by the Portuguese, the actual location of the Temple of Siva
is not known. The stone sculptures of the Lingam, the emblematic representation of
Siva, and Nandhi (Bull) his vehicle, have been found here. This book suggests three
possible locations as the site of the ancient Temple of Siva.
The author is a retired chartered engineer who spends his time researching and writing
articles on subjects that he finds interesting. He is the author of a book titled
Nineteenth centuryAmerican Medical Missionaries in Jaffna, Ceylon; with special
reference to Samuel Fisk Green and a second book titled D J Wimalasurendra and the
history of the Laxapana Hydroelectric Scheme. That book is part of the series on
“Science and Civilization in Sri Lanka”. He also edited a book titled Hundred Hindu
Temples of Sri Lanka: Ancient, Medieval and Modern, using material written by his
late father, Sanmugam Arumugam.
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