Posted by: lrrp | September 10, 2004

If only pillars could talk (http://www.dailymirror.lk/inside/heritage/040906.asp)

Controversy exists as to the origins of the granite pillar which stands on the summit of Swami rock in Trincomalee.

The debate rages as to whether it is a monument to a tragic love affair of the seventeenth century, or something simple, unromantic and for a practical purpose.

Whatever said or thought you will no doubt see it standing a silent sentinel on the side of the Sri Koneswarnam temple.

You will, no doubt, be touched by its aloofness as it broods almost absently into the distant ocean.

What day and age does it represent and what memories does it recall? If only pillars could talk.

Legend has it that the ornate pillar was erected by a broken hearted Dutch father in memory of his daughter who committed suicide after being abandoned by her lover.

It is believed that she leapt off the rock into the swirling sea below, in the path of the ship that was taking her lover, a young Dutch officer, away.

Hence the spot was popularly referred to as ‘Lovers Leap.’

There is a historical record that the stone pillar so erected on this spot is supposed to have borne the Dutch inscription – Erected in memory of Francina Van Rhede in 1687, but the pillar which is there now does not bear any such inscription.

More than two centuries later an Englishman who investigated the story recorded, in a book titled ‘History of Trincomalee’, that after further inquiry about the mysterious lady, it appeared that there was definite proof that she had married twice after the date allegedly inscribed on the monument viz husband died in 1693 and she married again in 1694 and she had had a number of children whose names are on record.

However there is another opinion — that the pillar in question was not erected in memory of any romantic dead woman, but erected to be used as a lamppost, for deep sea fishermen who returned home after dark and who guided themselves to shore with the aid of this lamp.

And still others believe that the pillar was one of the pillars belonging to the ancient Hindu Temple that was destroyed in1624 by the Portuguese.

In 1950 workers of the Urban Council when digging a public well discovered three statues all of which were found up side down. It is believed that these were statues that were held in veneration at the old temple.

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