Acording to Chronicles, Gokanna Viharaya was built by Mahasen in 3rd century at the top of rock where the Koneswaram Kovil stands today. Trincomalee (Gokanna) being one of the busiest ports in the past, the temple also grew with the support of the rulers at various times.
In 1505, the Portuguese landed on to Sri Lanka and under their control, Buddhist Temples were ransacked, valuables looted, burnt and destroyed in the name of Jesus Christ.
De Queyroz, a Portuguese historian says that the Gokana Vihara was a Buddhist temple until it was destroyed by Portuguese in the 16th century. According to him the Pagoda or the Stupa of the temple was destroyed by Portuguese Trincomalee’s ruler Costantino da Sa while Buddhist monks were still in residence there.
The old Gokanna Viharaya gradually became a site for the Hindus to worship and the current Kovil has been built in 1856 and any Buddhist heritage of this site is now buried under the foundations of the Konesvaram Temple lost for ever.
The new Gokanna Viharaya now lies inside the Fort Fredrick on the North of the point close to the fort entrance of the fort. Few Buddhist artifacts which has been unearthed at various times has found home in this new temple.
Map of Gokanna Viharaya at Trincomalee
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Route from Trincomalee (railway station) to Gokanna Viharaya
Distance : 3.5 km
Travel time : 20 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map