The historic Thirukeshwaram (Mahathithamanthottam) Hindu Kovil (temple) in Mannar that remained totally neglected and dilapidated owing to LTTE terrorism received a new facelift after de-mining and was handed over by Army Engineers to religious authorities for conduct of religious performances once again.
This Hindu temple in Mannar with its direct links to Trincomalee and Galle Thirukeshwaram Hindu Kovils of historic importance records a saga that goes back to the days of Prince Vijaya and other royalties, who had reportedly arrived there from overseas for religious offerings and veneration. Legends and folklore tell that the first structure of the Kovil at Mannar had been built by Kings Raja Raja Solan and 2nd Rajendran Sola.
Following a directive given by Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, 5 Field Engineer Regiment of Corps of Engineers in the Army jumped into action and commenced clearance of LTTE laid minefields in the Kovil premises and its surroundings, as the first leg of the project on 4th March 2010. Within a matter of six days tireless Army Engineers de-mined an area of about 509,050 sq.m. and declared the area safe for use. The move timed to coincide well with the re-opening of this sacred Kovil which used to mark its annual feast on every 13th March on a grand scale. Army Engineers upon completion of repairs to the venue facilitated the holding of the annual feast as expected by Hindu clergy who accepted the custodianship of the renovated temple, after blessing the Army at a special pooja.
After an absence of nearly 30 years, hundreds of devotees flocked to the shrine and conducted the annual feast on 13th March throughout the whole day. The temple, said to have been venerated by King Ravana's wife, princess Mandodari, as the first one to make offerings to this sacred place. The feast continues until Vesak Full Moon Day's water cutting ceremony.