Koneswaram Temple or Tirukoneswaram Kovil is situated on top of Swami Rock. This temple is dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, and it is one out of five such temples situated around Sri Lanka. It is believed that this Kovil has been in existence since 2500 years ago, and was renovated by the South Indian Chola King Kulakottan and maintained by other Sinhala Buddhist Kings. In 1622, the Portuguese destroyed this temple which they referred to as the temple of a thousand columns by shoving the temple over the edge of the cliff into the deep blue seas below. The revered Shiva lingam (mark of Shiva) was subsequently rescued by divers. The Portuguese used the building materials of the temple in the construction of Fort Fredrick.
At the bottom of the hill which leads to Swami rock is in an ancient stone inscription with the symbol of King Kulakottan – the dual fish. The prophecy states that after 1500 years, Westerners with different eye colours will rule the country for 500 years. At the temple you can take part in the evening or morning pooja (prayer service) or obtain a blessing from the swami (priest) at the kovil. The temple is also worthwhile visiting for its gorgeous views of the natural harbour as well as the Indian Ocean.