Showing posts with label Sangam Anthologies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sangam Anthologies. Show all posts

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Naviram Hills (Parvathamalai) and Chieftain Nannan as Portrayed in Sangam Poem Malaipadukadam

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Naviram Hill (Nanviramalai) (நவிரமலை) is one of the hill range described in Malaipadukadam (மலைபடுகடாம்),  a Sangam poetic work in Pattuppattu (பத்துப்பாட்டு) anthology. Before two thousand years ago the Javadhu hill-range (ஜவ்வாதுமலை), an extension of the Eastern Ghats comprising the modern Tiruvannamalai and Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu, was known as Palkunrakkottam ('பல்குன்றக் கோட்டம்'). Thondai Nadu (தொண்டைநாடு), a historical region situated in the northern part of Tamil Nadu, was divided into 24 districts or 'Kottams.' Palkunrakkottam was one among the 24 kottams. Palkunrakkottam means the land surrounded by hillocks (குன்று சூழிருக்கை நாடு). The Javadhu hill range extends about 50 miles (80 km) wide and 20 miles (32 km) long and lies at about 2350 feet to 3500 feet above sea level. In the opinion of U.V.Swaminatha Iyer, the Naviram hill range, situated in Thenmathimangalam village, Kalasapakkam taluk,  Tiruvannamalai district, Tamil Nadu, India, is now known as "Parvathamalai. Most of the scholars agree his view. Lines 81-84 and 579 of Malaipadukadam refers Naviram hills and "Kariyundikkadavul," (காரி உண்டிக் கடவுள) "the god who drank poison," as the Lord of Naviram Hills.

நீரகம் பனிக்கும் அஞ்சுவரு கடுந்திறல்
பேரிசை நவிர மேஎ யுறையும்
காரி உண்டிக் கடவுள தியற்கையும் (மலைபடுகடாம்.81-84)
(Know the greatness of the god who resides in Naviram who ate poison, who causes the earth surrounded with water to tremble!)

கழைவளர் நவிரத்து மீமிசை ஞெரேரென (மலைபடுகடாம்,579)
Nannan showers unspoiled wealth like the rain showers on Naviram Mountain, the lord of the country surrounded by mountains... )

The present presiding deity of the hill temple of Parvatamalai (பர்வதமலை) is named in Sanskrit as "Kalakanteshvarah" (காலகண்டேஸ்வரர்) - 'the god whose neck is dark blue.' The hill temple is popularly known as Lord Mallikarjunaswamy (மல்லிகார்ச்சுணசுவாமி) (Lord Shiva) temple. The resemblance of the name of the presiding deity stands as evidence for assigning Naviram Hill as Parvatamalai. Parvathamalai is also known as Kandhamalai, Mallikarjunamalai, Naviramalai, Parvathagiri, Sanjeevigiri, Thenkailayam and Trisulagiri.

அடிக்கொரு லிங்கம் அண்ணாமலை,பிடிக்கொரு லிங்கம் பர்வதமலை

Palkunrakkottam was ruled by Nannan, son of Nannan, the Velir Chieftain of Chenkanmä (பல்குன்றக் கோட்டத்துச் செங்கண்மாத்துவேண்மான் நன்னன் சேய் நன்னன்), a Velir chieftain. Naviram Hill formed part of his country. He was also the lord of Cheyaru valley.

குன்று சூழ் இருக்கை நாடு கிழவோனே
(Nannan, the lord of the country surrounded by mountains)

Malaipadukadam narrates Naviram hill as Nannan's hill. The poet Perunkausikanar addresses a group of Kuttar and advises them to seek the patronage of king Nannan son of Nannan whose territory includes Naviram Hill. Chenkanma (செங்கண்மா) was the capital of Nannan's country. Chenkanma is presently identified as Chengam (செங்கம்), a town in Chengam taluk in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu state, India.

Parvatamalai (பர்வதமலை)

The geographical coordinates of Parvathamalai are 12°26'11"N latitude and 78°58'19"E longitude. The steep vertical rock cliff is 1219 m (4000 feet) high from sea level and spans around 5500 acres.  The hill is 20 km from Polur 25 km from Chengam, 25 km from Kadaladi and 35 km (approx) from Tiruvannamalai.. Chengam, Kadaladi, Tiruvannamalai and Polur are located on the south eastern side of the Javadhu hills.

How to Get There?

There are two routes to reach on top of Parvathamalai hill. One route is through Thenmathimangalam village located in Polur - Chengam road. Another route is through Kadaladi (north of Tiruvannamalai). Kadaladi route is shorter than Thenmadhimangalam route. People find it is easy to climb through Thenmathimangalam route.The flight of steps leading to the hill commences from foot hills and there is a balipeeta as well as shrines of Vinayaka and Subramaniyar with consorts Valli and Devayani.

However both Thenmathimagalam and Kadaladi routes meet at the common junction and from there it is a single route leading to the summit of the hill.  It is the steep and rocky terrain. Trekking on top of Parvathamalai cliff is a very challenging task. A steep climb offering more than 1219 m (4000 feet) vertical feet . The rough terrain path has iron rod steps, track steps, ladder steps, and sky steps (Agaya padi) usually not found at other such sacred mountains. Kadapparai (crow bar) path section is considered as the most toughest phase of the hike. Iron rods are planted after drilling the rock and the chains between the rods help the trekkers to cross the sharp ascent. The view on the way up is scenic with medicinal flora. Mounaguruswamy Ashram is located near to the temple. Feeding the devotees (Annadhanam) is taking place during full moon day occasions.

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The prime deity of the hill-temple is Sri Mallikarjunaswamy and goddess Sri Bramarambigai also known as Sri Akilandesvari amman.  The temple is not protected by doors or compound wall. Surprisingly no priests are available to perform puja rituals or ablution. The devotees is free to do puja and ablution. The hill attracts a lot of devotees every full moon day.

Chenkanma (Chengam) செங்கண்மா (செங்கம்)

Chenkanma was the capital of Nannan son of Nannan. At present this Sangam era town is known as Chengam and is located in Chengam taluk in Tiruvannamalai district of Tamil Nadu state, India PIN 606701. Chengam lies on the geographical coordinates of 10.15654°N and 76.208982°E and the elevation / altitude is 272 meter (892 feet).  It is located 36 km towards west from district head quarters Tiruvannamalai. There is no railway station near to Chengam in less than 10 km. However Katpadi Jn. Railway station is the major railway station located 92 km from to Chengam.

Nannan, son of Nannan, the Velir Chieftain of Chenkanmä of Palkunrakkottam ruled the town Chenkanma. Over the period of time the name Chenkanma transformed into Chengam. Dr. U.V. Swaminatha Ayyar and other scholars unanimously hold this view. Inscriptions also refer this town as Chenkanma as well as Chengama. Literally Chenkanma in Tamil means the animal with red eyes (Chenkan = red eye and Ma = animal). Perhaps this town might have named after an animal. The town according to Malaipadukadam was located on the southern bank of the river Cheyaru. Present town also located on the southern bank of the river Cheyyaru.

இரை தேர்ந்து இவரும் கொடுந்தாள் முதலையொடு 
திரைபடக் குழிந் தகல்அகழ் கிடங்கின்
வரை புரை நிவப்பின் வான்தோய் இஞ்சி
உரை செல வெறுத்த அவன் மூதூர் மாலையும் 
"Listen now to what I have to tell you about his town with sky-high fort walls surrounded by a wide moat with waves, where crocodiles with curved legs search for prey!" (Malaipadukadam 89 - 94)

வியல் இடம் பெறாஅ விழுப்பெரு நியமத்து … 
யாறு எனக் கிடந்த தெருவின் சாறு என
இகழுநர் வெரூஉம் கவலை மறுகின்
கடல் என கார் என ஒலிக்கும் சும்மையொடு
மலைஎன மழை என மாடம் ஓங்கி
துனிதீர் காதலின் இனிது அமர்ந்து உறையும்
பனி வார் காவின் பல் வண்டு இமிரும்
நனி சேய்த்தன்று அவன் பழவிறல் மூதூர் (480 – 487)
"The streets are wide as rivers and the opulent markets are huge.  People gather together like constant festivities.  The forked streets cause fear in enemies.  There are loud sounds like those from the ocean and the rain.  In the tall mansions that are like mountains and clouds, there are loving people.  There are groves with dew where flowers are swarmed by bees in his ancient, old town that is not far away." (Malaipadukadam 480 - 487)

பொருந்தாத் தெவ்வர் இருந்தலை துமிய
பருந்துபடக் கடக்கும் ஒள் வாள் மறவர்
கருங்கடை எஃகம் சாத்திய புதவின்
அருங்கடி வாயில் ... (488 - 491)
"The protected gates of Nannan is guarded by warriors who chopped the black heads of enemies for kites to descend. The warriors lean their bright spears with black handles on the walls of the gate.." (Malaipadukadam 488 - 491)
Cheyaru (Cheyyaru) சேயாறு (செய்யாறு)

Cheyyaru also known as Ceyaru is a river which originates in Javadhu hills and flows through Tiruvannamalai district before emptying into the Bay of Bengal. Northeast and Southwest monsoons bring most of its rain and is the major source of irrigation for several villages, including the town Cheyyaru. It is the main tributary of Palar river. In Malaipadukadam, the river Cheyyar is called "Cheyaru," the river of Cey, usually understood to be Murugan (The word Cey means "ed" and "son" Today the river goes by the name Shanmuganadhi, the river of Shanmuga or Muruga.

The guiding bard gives a detailed account on the ways and means to reach Nannan Sei Nannan's ancient town situated on the bank of Cheyaru. The lines 474 - 477 points out the prosperous Cheyaru river:

வனைகலத் திகிரியின் குமிழி சுழலும்
துனை செலல் தலைவாய் ஓவு இறந்து வரிக்கும்
காணுநர் வயாஅம் கட்கு இன் சேயாற்றின்
யாணர் ஒரு கரைக் கொண்டனிர் கழிமின்
"If you see a rushing stream with bubbles and whirlpools that whirl like wheels of potters, go on the other  side of the prosperous river Cheyaru which is sweet to behold." (Malaipadukadam 474 - 477)

Malaipadukadam மலைபடுகடாம்

Malaipadukadam (Tamil: மலைபடுகடாம்) (also known as Kuttar Arruppadai (கூத்தர் ஆற்றுப்படை) is one of the poetic work forming part of Patiṉeṇmelkaṇakku (Tamilபதினெண்மேல்கணக்கு) collection and further categorized under Pattuppattu (Tamil: பத்துப்பாட்டு) sub-collection (Ten Idylls). The meaning of the title Malaipadukadam is the "rut that produced by the mountain."  The author is Kousikanar of Iranyamuttam Perungunrur  (இரணிய முட்டத்துப் பெருங்குன்றூர்ப் பெருங்கெளசிகனார்). The lengthy Sangam anthology comprise 583 lines of poetry in the Aciriyappa meter.

Arruppadai (ஆற்றுப்படை)

Among the 'puram' poems, the Arruppadai (ஆற்றுப்படை) had been the earliest. In Pattuppattu there are five Arruppadai poems i.e., Tirumurugarruppadai (திருமுருகாற்றுப்படை), Porunararruppadai (பொருநராற்றுப்படை), Perumpanarruppadai (பெரும்பாணாற்றுப்படை), Cirupanarruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை) and Malaipadukadam (மலைபடுகடாம்)..The title of the poem is 'Malaipadukadam' is unique since this poem in the Pattuppattu anthology do not have the Arruppadai suffix.

Tolkappiyam,  an ancient Tamil Sangam grammatical treatise, prescribes rules for the different types of poetic composition. The third book is Porul adhikaram. Of its nine sections, five deals with aham, one section with puram (புறம்), one each with similes, prosody and idioms. The puram section is concerned with the activities connected with war and also grouped into seven categories or 'tinai.' Patan tinai prescribes grammar to praise the victorious king. Arruppadai poems fall in this category.

கூத்தரும் பாணரும் பொருநரும் விறலியும்
ஆற்றிடைக் ஆட்சி யுறழத் தோன்றிப்
பெற்ற பெருவளம் பெறாஅர்க் கறிவுறி இச்
சென்றுபய னெதிரச் சொன்ன பக்கமும் 
(Tolkappiyam தொல்காப்பியம்-1037)

Arruppadai poems, the unique Sangam literary form, where in one bard or the minstrel (பாணர்), who is returning with bounteous gifts from a Maecenas or Patron (usually the king / chieftain). In all arruppadai poems the bard or the minstrel gained immense opportunity to detail the nature of 'Sangam' terrain', (its beauty, fertility, and other resources) and its territory to be traversed. There is an emphasis on the tedious journey to reach the fort palace of the Maecenas. Among the five arruppadai poems, one of them differs from the others i.e., Tirumurugarruppadai, which directs devotees not to a  Maecenas but to God Murugan.

Sangam Era Musicians

The Sangam musicians were generically categorized into Kuttar (கூத்தர்), Panar (பாணர்), Porunar (பொருநர்), and Viraliar (விறலியர்). The Kuttar were dancers and actors; the Panar were both vocalists and instrumentalists; Porunars, also known as war-bards, were well versed in martial music like Parani (பரணி) and they used to travel with warriors. Viraliyars were female dancers cum singers. Porunars were further categorized into Erkalam Paduvar (ஏற்களம் பாடுவார்), Porkkalam Paduvar (போர்க்களம் பாடுவார்) and Parani Paduvar (பரணி படுவார்). The Panar had the following group: Isaippanar (இசைப்பாணர்), Yazhppanar (யாழ்ப்பாணர்) and Mandaippanar (மண்டைப்பாணர்). Maduraikanchi mentions about Perumpanar (பெரும்பாணர்). The panars mentioned in Malaipadukadam were bestowed with knowledge and skills of the 7 notes and 3 octaves. Pattuppattu books also describes Yazh, the stinged instrument of the Sangam period. Perumpanars (பெரும்பாணர்) played Periyazh (பேரியாழ்) (21 strings) and Sirupanar (சிறுபாணர்) played Seeriyazh (சீறியாழ்) (7 strings). The other yazhs (யாழ்) played by panars include Makarayazh (மகரயாழ்) (19 strings), Sagodayazh (சகோடயாழ்) (14 strings) and Sengottuyazh (செங்கோட்டுயாழ்) (7 strings).

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The wind instruments mentioned in Malaipadukadam include 1. Pili (பிளி) also known as Siruchinam (சிறுசினம்) - a small trumpet; 2. Kodu (கோடு) a.k.a Kombu (கொம்பு), letter 'S' shaped long trumpet; 3. Kanvidutumbu (கண்விடுதும்பு), a flute like instrument with larger  circumference and appears like the trunk of an elephant; and 4. Kuruntumbu (குறுந்தும்பு),. a small flute. Pattuppattu refers several percussion instruments and Murasu (முரசு) was the most common instrument and was in use on all occasions. Malaipadukadam details about the construction and tuning of Murasu. The top of the instrument was covered with skin and tied with leather straps. It also mentions about Muzhavu (முழவு), Aguli (ஆகுளி) or Siruparai (சிறுபறை)  and Tattai (தட்டை)  or Karadijai (கரடிஜை) . It also bring outs a drum known as Ellari (எல்லரி) also known in varied names as Salli (சல்லி) or Sallikai (சல்லிகை). The instrument parai, made out of bamboo stick produced sound resembling the croaking of frog or the bear.
The poem opens with the poet Kousikanar of Iranyamuttam addressing to the chief of the clan of artists or ''Panars" or bards accompanied by their dancers or viralis.  The length of the poem is 583 lines and the poet devotes about 380 lines to describe the harmful mountain path, (துன்பமான மலைநாட்டு பாதை) leading through village of forest dwellers (கானவர் குடி), village on the path (வழியிலுள்ள சிற்றூர்), Kariyundikkadavul temple (காரியுண்டிக் கடவுள் கோவில்), sparse woodland in the mountain (குன்றுகளில் உள்ள குறுங்காடு), Nannan's  secondary forest (நன்னனின் கானெயில்), Memorial stone area (நடுகற்கள் அமைந்த பகுதி), enemy's land (பகைவர் நிலம்), Mullai (craggy) land (முல்லை நிலம்), Protected outskirts of craggy land  (நாடு காவலமைந்த முல்லை நில புறங்காடு), Farming land (மருத நிலம்), Cheyaru river (சேயாறு) to reach Nannan's abode in the mountain country (நன்னனது மலைநாடு). Nannan would welcome them promptly. The song describes many facets of life in different communities in the hero’s land.  There are exquisite descriptions of nature. The poet compares the mountain range to a herd of elephants. The tall Naviram peak resembles like the mighty elephants.

Sound scape of Malaipadukadam

In all arruppadai poems there is an emphasis on the tedious journey to the abode of the king or chieftain. The poem also stresses the abundance of Nannan's mountain including hills, forests and farm lands. and narrates vast kingdom of Nannan. The poem details the weary and dangerous way as well as many facets of life in the different communities in Nannan’s land and the journey is marked by short stay at strange habitats. Sound, in Malaipadukadam (lines 292 to 348), is often expressed in habitat. The poet employs the word Chummai (சும்மை) and skillfully brings out the connection between the habitats and the sound scape:

The bard begins with the musical sound (இன் இசை) produced by celestial maidens (வான் அர மகளிர்) by scooping water with their hands while bathing in waterfalls. The poem draws comparison of the sound with the drums of the dancers. Another din produced is the strident noise (புரிவளைப் பூசல்) of the hunters (மீமிசைப் பணவைக் கானவர்) by encircling the trapped elephant.  The weeping (அழுகை) of wounded hunters (கானவர்) attacked by spines (எஃகு உறு முள்) of the hedgehog (எய்) is heard and the songs of Kodichiyar (கொடிச்சியர்) women who comfort their wounded hunters (husbands) (கொடுவரி பாய்ந்தென கொழுநர் மார்பில் நெடுவசி விழுப்புண்). In the tall mountains, the young women who raise confusing/protective noises (இடி உமிழ் தழங்கு குரல்) (interpreted by commentators as ‘vengai’, ‘vengai’ meaning ‘tiger’ ‘tiger’ (புலி புலி), when she was leaped and attacked by a bright colored mighty tiger (ஒண் கேழ் வயப்புலி பாய்ந்தென). Her spouse went to get food and take care of her. Poet compare noise with the the painful roaring trumpets of a naive, tender-headed pregnant cow elephant and her herd (கன்று அரைப்பட்ட கயந்தலை மடப்பிடி). The aggrieved black-fingered female monkey (கைக் கோள் மறந்த கருவிரல் மந்தி) and her troop (கிளை) produced continuous loud sounds inarticulately (களையாப் பூசல்) when she lost the clung of her untrained baby monkey (கல்லாப் பார்ப்பு) which fell into the rock crevices (அருவிடர் வீழ்ந்த).

Aboriginal hunters (கானவர்) bring forth joyous sound when they harvested huge honeycombs (தேன்கூடு) with honey (தேன்) collected by bees honey  (பெரும் பயன் தொகுத்த தேம் கொள் கொள்ளை) on the tall mountain after climbing on bamboo ladders  (நிலை பெய்து இட்ட மால்பு நெறி ஆக). The hunters, who drank liquor during the day (நறவு நாட் செய்த குறவர்), celebrate happily since they have destroyed forts of their enemies (அருங் குறும்பு எறிந்த கானவர் உவகை), and that the loot got will serve as gifts to Nannan with perfect spears (திருந்து வேல் அண்ணற்கு).    The hunters drink liquor and celebrate loudly (கல்லென) with kuravai dances in the sky-high mountain (வான் தோய் மீமிசை அயரும் குரவை), with their matrons, to the accompaniment of small, loud deer hide parai drums (மான் தோல் சிறு பறை கறங்க). There are roaring sounds produced by rivers with rocks as they enter rocky crannies (கல் யாறு ஒலிக்கும் விடர் முழங்கு இரங்கு இசை), appearing like beautiful chariots riding in a row (நல் எழில் நெடுந்தேர் இயவு வந்தன்ன).

There are clamors of  mahouts (பாகர்கள்) (elephant trainers or keepers), who speak different professional language (விரவு மொழி பயிற்றும் பாகர் ஓதை). The mahouts bind their fierce elephants to tall posts to reduce their rage, after saving them when they fell into huge whirlpools.  The rattle sounds raised by girls by rattling bamboo (ஒலி கழைத் தட்டை புடையுநர்), to scare the parrot from millet fields and protect standing millet crops (கிளி கடி மகளிர் விளிபடு பூசல்). The tumultuous sound heard from the fight with great rage between the fine bull with large hump, that strayed from its herd (இனத்தின் தீர்ந்த துளங்கு இமில் நல் ஏறு) and the male elk that came from the mountains (மலைத் தலைவந்த மரையான்) and this fight ruined thick-petaled kulavi flowers and kurinji plants (வள் இதழ்க் குளவியும் குறிஞ்சியும் குழைய). The vocal sound made by boys (மகாஅர்), who thrash the seeds of sweet arils (bulbs) of the jack fruit (பலாச்சுளை) that was dropped on the ground  by many who ate the fruits (வண் கோட் பலவின் சுளை விளை தீம் பழம் உண்டு), by driving calves (கன்று கடாஅவுறுக்கும்) with the ladle like petals of fragrant gloriosa (kanthal) flowers (காந்தட் துடுப்பின் கமழ் மடல் ஓச்சி). The typical noises of machines which crush sugarcane with nodes rapidly (ஞெரேரெனக் கழை கண் உடைக்கும் கரும்பின் ஏத்தமும்) in all the factories (ஆலைதொறும்), that appear like the sounds of rain (மழை கண்டன்ன). The young women pound the millet by singing Vallai song (a kind of folk song) (தினை குறு மகளிர் இசைபடு வள்ளையும்) The beating of parai drums produced beat sound to chase the pillaging and plundering pigs ( பன்றிப் பறையும்) and protect turmeric plants and chēmpu yam (Colocasia antiquorum, Colocasia esculenta) (சேப்பங்கிழங்கு) crops (சேம்பும் மஞ்சளும் ஓம்பினர் காப்போர்).

... ... ... .................. குன்றகச் சிலம்பும்
என்று இவ் அனைத்தும் இயைந்து ஒருங்கு ஈண்டி
அவலவும் மிசையவும் துவன்றிப் பல உடன்
அலகைத் தவிர்த்த எண் அருந் திறத்த
மலைபடு கடாஅம் மாதிரத்து இயம்ப (Malaipadukadam 344 - 348)

"All these and other sounds (குன்றகச் சிலம்பும் என்று இவ் அனைத்தும்) , countless in numbers (அலகைத் தவிர்த்த எண்) join together (இயைந்து ஒருங்கு ஈண்டி), are heard in the canyons (அவலவும்) and peaks (மிசையவும்) in all directions (மாதிரத்து இயம்ப). The sounds join together and ooze from the mountain (மலைபடு கடாஅம்) like musth flowing from a bull elephant, rare to hear alone."

Food scape in Malaipadukadam

Food is the perennial theme in Sangam arruppadai poems. The guiding bard praises about the benevolence of the king or chieftain to the travelling bard. In an interesting manner food features an important place in the context of the guiding bard, travelling bard and the patron in Arruppadai poems. In Malaipadukadam the guiding bard speaks about the hospitality of the chieftain Nannan's land as well as his citizens.

"When you reach the prosperous small village of the forest dwellers (கானவர் குடி), who carry honey, tubers and flesh of small-eyed pigs (சிறுகட் பன்றி) with unwanted parts removed, using tusks of dead elephants as carrying poles, you and your large clan of relatives will receive abundant food." (Malaipadukadam 151 - 157).

பரூஉக்குறை பொழிந்த நெய்க்கண் வேவையொடு
குரூஉக்கண் இறடிப் பொம்மல் பெறுகுவிர் (Malaipadukadam 167 – 169)

"Hospitality in a Village on the Path: 

"Now hear what kind of food you will receive. When you reach a village on the mountain slope and if you tell them that you are the respected musicians of the honored king Nannan, you will receive from them dishes with big pieces of deer meat roasted in ghee along with colorful millet rice. Along with food they will give you sweet liquor aged in bamboo pipes (வேய்ப் பெயல் விளையுள் தேக்கட் தேறல்) and toddy made from rice (நறவு மகிழ்ந்து), which you can drink without limits. And for your hangover to go, in the morning they will serve you scattered seeds of fruits brought down by waterfalls mixed with sour-sweet tamarind fruit and buttermilk in just proportion (வெண்புடைக் கொண்ட துய்த்தலைப் பழனின் இன் புளிக் கலந்து மா மோர் ஆக); and while cooking it she stirs it so that  fragrance of the food is felt throughout  the hills. She serves it with boiled white bamboo rice (வால் அவிழ் வல்சி அகம்)." (Malaipadukadam 170 - 185)

அகம் மலி உவகை ஆர்வமொடு அளைஇ
மகமுறை தடுப்ப மனைதொறும் பெறுகுவிர் (183 – 185)

Hospitality on the Mountain Path:

"When you go on the mountain path you will see a dead boar with wounds on his chest, its tusks ruined by digging, killed by a forest guard from high above with arrows. Roast it in the dry bamboo fire which burns without much smoke, remove the hair and eat it. Relax and drink clear water from the beautiful sapphire colored fresh spring. Carry the excess meat in heavy bundles. At night enter a mountain cave and treat it like it is your home". (Malaipadukadam 245 - 255)

Hospitality in Nannan's Enemy Land:

"If you reach the land of Nannan's enemies by night, the noisy place where sounds in the forest are like those from the ocean, with many herds of sheep and goat mixed together (தகர் விரவு துருவை வெள்ளையொடு விரைஇ) like the different colors of rice (பகர் விரவு நெல்லின் பல அரி அன்ன) obtained through bartering, you will be given milk and food that they cooked for themselves". (Malaipadukadam 394 - 420)

“If you see warriors with sharp arrows and curved bows tell them you are going to see Nannan, they will force feed you with abundant meat and tubers. They are the ones that will protect you, not hurt you. Such is the nature of the forest".  (Malaipadukadam 421 - 427) 

Hospitality in Village Huts:

“At night in the villages with huts you will be served cooked bamboo rice and rice grown on high grounds along with tamarind gravy with avarai beans. In all the villages with huts you will receive huge balls of rice made with tiny perfect rice, butter and meat of white goats. You will also get dishes made with fine millet flour mixed with powdered sugar. Leave in the morning when the birds start chirping". .  (Malaipadukadam 434 - 448) 

Hospitality in the Agricultural Land:

"In the farmlands fishermen's wives mix slices of large necked valai fish with large slices of varal fish and cook. Along with these they serve rice from mountain-like haystacks kept on mounds near the fields. They will also serve liquor made with paddy sprouts".. .  (Malaipadukadam 454 - 470) 

Nannan's Generosity:

"At Nannan's palace you will receive fresh meat and white rice with no limits. You will enjoy this throughout your stay, as much as you want. He will give you perfect clothing, and tall chariots that run like flowing water, large herds of cattle, and horses with tufts decorated with gold jewels. He fills the hands of poets who have nothing with his large hands"..  (Malaipadukadam 560 - 570) 

Nannan's Ancestors 

This Sangam anthology extols the hero of the poem, Nannan, son of Nannan, the Velir Chieftain of Chenkanmä, his qualities, his wealth, and his generosity.  The father of Nannan, the hero of Malaipadukadam, whose name also Nannan, ruled the Ezhil Hills (Ezhilmalai) and Param town of Konkana Nadu (Tulu Nadu i.e., Tulu-speaking region spread over parts of the Karnataka and Kerala states of India) during 2nd century AD. Paranar, famous Sangam era poet, refers to Nannan, who was ill famed as woman killer (பெண்கொலை புரிந்த நன்னன்), in a number of poems.  He was known as Konkanathu Nannan (கொங்கணத்து நன்னன்). The woman was sentenced to death by Nannan for the fault of eating a mango fruit that came to her floating down the stream in which she was bathing. Thus Nannan got bad reputation for killing a woman. Nannan denied to commute the death sentence in spite of being offered eighty one tusker elephants and the gold image of woman as compensation. It is not certain that this event is fact or legend.

மண்ணிய சென்ற ஒண்ணுதல் அரிவை
புனல்தரு பசுங்காய் தின்றதன் தப்பற்கு
ஒன்பதிற் றொன்பது களிற்றொடு அவள்நிறை
பொன்செய் பாவை கொடுப்பவுங் கொள்ளான்
பெண்கொலை புரிந்த நன்னன் போல
வரையா நிரையத்துச் செலீஇயரோ
(குறுந்தொகை, Kuruntokai 292, 1-5). 

Kalladanar in Akananuru poem 199 spoke about Konkanathu Nannan who was defeated and killed by Kalankai-Kanni Narmudi Cheral. Patirrupattu also refer the defeat of Nannan by  Kalankai-Kanni Narmudi Cheral who also engaged in cutting his Vagai tree . He could have lived much earlier to our Nannan, the hero of Malaipadukadam.

Akananuru poems 97 and 152 refer Nannan Venman as the chieftain of Pali (பாழி), Viyalur (வியலூர்), Param (பாரம்), and Pirambu (பிரம்பு) of Konkanam region. 

"நறவுமகிழ் இருக்கை நன்னன் வேண்மான்
வயலை வேலி வியலூ ரன்ன" 

"இசைநல் லீகைக் களிறுவீசு வண்மகிழ்
பாரத்துத் தலைவன் ஆர நன்னன்
ஏழில் நெடுவரைப் பாழிச் சிலம்பில்" 
(Akananuru 152)

Akananuru poem 396 : line 2 -6 refer another Nannan. The friend of Nannan is Ay Eyinan, a chieftain who fought with Minili in Pali battle (பாழி போர்) and got killed (Akananuru 396 : 2-6). Paranar most often refer this Nannan, who could be the father of Nannan, t,he hero of Malaipadukadam. 

பொலம்பூண் நன்னன் புன்னாடு கடிந்தென
யாழிசை மறுகில் பாழி யாங்கண்
அஞ்சல் என்ற ஆய் எயினன்
இகலடு கற்பின் மிஞிலியொடு தாக்கித்
தன்னுயிர் கொடுத் தனன்          
(Akananuru. 396 : 2-6)

இரும்பொன் வாகைப் பெருந்துறைச் செருவில்
பொலம்பூண் நன்னன் பொருதுகளத் தொழிய
வலம்படு கொற்றந் தந்த வாய்வாள்
களங்காய்க் கண்ணி நார்முடிச் சேரல்
இழந்தநாடு தந்தன்ன வளம்
(Akananuru. 199 : 18-24)

Yet another Nannan Udiyan is referred by Paranar in Akananuru 258 line 1 - 4 and he belonged to ancient Velir clan (Tonmudir Velir) of Pali town (பாழி நகர்). Udiyan was the name of a family tree.

Nannan son of Nannan: As Delineated in Malaipadukadam

The poet Perunkausikanar addresses a group of Kuttar and advises them to seek the patronage of king Nannan whose territory includes Naviramalai, a mountain range in Tiruvannamalai district, which features prominently in the poem. Many scholars agree with U.V.Swaminatha Iyer's assignation of Naviramalai, the Sangam era hill range, with the present "Parvatamalai" One of the pieces of evidence which favors this assignation is the name mentioned in the poem, "Kariyundikkadavul," (காரியுண்டிக்கடவுள்) the god who drank poison, referring to god Shiva who resides in this hill. (Malaipadukadam 83). Today the deity, who resides in this hill temple, is called by the Sanskrit name "Kalakanteshvarah" (காலகண்டேஸ்வரா) - the god whose neck is dark blue. There is also a river which flows in this region. In the poem it is called "Ceyaru," the river of Cey, usually understood to be Murugan (The word Cey means "ed" and "son" Today the river goes by the name Shanmuganadhi, the river of Shanmuga or Muruga.

Malaipadukadam provides a vivid description of Nannan's wives in the first instance and then proceed to introduce Nannan as their husband. "Nannan is the husband to women with curved, rounded arms that resemble bamboo; moist eyes that appear like flowers, and painted, pretty breasts. His chest, decorated with sandal paste, has flower garlands on which bees swarm.  His large hands are trained to use bows.  He has great strength to ruin enemy lands, a man of clear thinking who avoids evil thoughts.  He has the lovely nature to donate to bards who plant seeds of praise."

புனை தார்ப் பொலிந்த வண்டுபடு மார்பின்
வனை புனை எழில் முலை வாங்கு அமைத் திரள் தோள்
மலர் போல் மழைக்கண் மங்கையர் கணவன் (56 - 58)
முனைபாழ் படுக்கும் துன்அருந் துப்பின்
இசை நுவல் வித்தின் நசை ஏர் உழவர்க்குப்
புதுநிறை வந்த புனல் அம் சாயல்
மதி மாறு ஓரா நன்று உணர் சூழ்ச்சி
வில் நவில் தடக்கை மே வரும் பெரும் பூண்
நன்னன் சேய் நன்னற் ... ... .. (Malaipadukadam 56 - 64)

"Nannan has the ability to bring his enemies under his control, and he gives totally to those who praise his kingship. Like the unfailing skies that drop pure water drops, with a peaceful countenance, he gives without keeping for himself.  In his happy court, he is surrounded by the wise who protect and express the views of those with limited abilities who are unable to express themselves in front of others."

பலர் புறம் கண்டு அவர் அருங்கலம் தரீஇ
புலவோர்க்குச் சுரக்கும் அவன் ஈகை மாரியும்
இகழுநர்ப் பிணிக்கும் ஆற்றலும் புகழுநர்க்கு
அரசு முழுது கொடுப்பினும் அமரா நோக்கமொடு
தூத்துளி பொழிந்த பொய்யா வானின்

வீயாது சுரக்கும் அவன் நாள் மகிழ் இருக்கையும்
நல்லோர் குழீஇய நா நவில் அவையத்து
வல்லார் ஆயினும் புறம் மறைத்து சென்றோரைச்
சொல்லிக் காட்டி சோர்வு இன்றி விளக்கி
நல்லிதின் இயக்கும் அவன் சுற்றத்து ஒழுக்கமும் (Malaipadukadam 71 - 80)

"Know the greatness of the god who resides in Naviram who ate poison, who causes the earth surrounded with water to tremble!  Know the faultless, splendid nature of Nannan who is like the sun that rises, chasing wide spread, pitch darkness, to usher in the day!"

நீர் அகம் பனிக்கும் அஞ்சு வரு கடுந்திறல்
பேர் இசை நவிரம் மேஎய் உறையும்
காரி உண்டிக் கடவுளது இயற்கையும்
பாய் இருள் நீங்கப் பகல் செய்யா எழுதரும்
ஞாயிறு அன்ன அவன் வசை இல் சிறப்பும் (Malaipadukadam 81 - 85)

"He marched far into distant enemy countries and routed their armies.  He performed charitable duties to his noble warrior brigades with spears, for ruining the tall battle elephants of enemies.

இகந்தன ஆயினும் தெவ்வர் தேஎம்
நுகம் படக் கடந்து நூழிலாட்டி
புரைத்தோல் வரைப்பின் வேல் நிழற் புலவோர்க்குக்
கொடைக்கடன் இறுத்த அவன் தொல்லோர் வரவும் (Malaipadukadam 85 - 88)

"Nannan the honoured king whose victories in battles cannot be handled by enemies."

நோனாச் செருவின் வலம்படு நோன்தாள்
மான விறல் வேள் வயிரியம் எனினே (Malaipadukadam 163 - 164)

"Nannan has fought many great battles, who has Lakshmi on his chest."

தொல்முறை மரபினர் ஆகி பல்மாண்
செருமிக்குப் புகலும் திரு ஆர் மார்பன் (Malaipadukadam 355 - 356)

 "There are tall forts with army leaders who don’t leave the side of Nannan of great fame.  There are huge bull elephants resembling rain clouds that ruin enemy kings. "

உரை செல வெறுத்த அவன் நீங்காச் சுற்றமொடு
புரை தவ உயரிய மழை மருள் பல்தோல்
அரசு நிலை தளர்க்கும் அருப்பமும் உடைய... (Malaipadukadam 376 - 378)

"There are many memorial (hero stones) stones on confusing, forked paths planted for warriors of fine, unspoiled fame who fought and died, embarrassed after enemy uproars in the field."

ஒன்னார்த் தெவ்வர் உலைவு இடத்து ஆர்த்தென
நல்வழிக் கொடுத்த நாணுடை மறவர்
செல்லா இல்இசைப் பெயரொடு நட்ட
கல் ஏசு கவலை எண்ணு மிகப் பலவே (Malaipadukadam 386 - 389)

"Nannan’s ancient town has tall houses with wealth and citizens who do not move away."

நிதியம் துஞ்சும் நிவந்து ஓங்கு வரைப்பின்
பதி எழல் அறியாப் பழங்குடி ... (Malaipadukadam 478 - 479)

“Nannan! You are the heir of those with truth and great fame, know that their fame should not  stop today, but stay until this world stays, since the great ones who analyzed and knew died!  You are a great one that knows the duties of generosity!”

இன்று இவண் செல்லாது உலகமொடு நிற்ப
இடைத் தெரிந்து உணரும் பெரியோர் மாய்ந்தென
கொடைக் கடன் இறுத்த செம்மலோய் என (Malaipadukadam 341 - 343)


The following poetic inscription dated 12th century was found in Shiva temple, Tiruvannamalai. 
நல்லிசைக் கடாம்புனை நன்னன் வெற்பில் 
வெல்புக ழனைத்தும் மேம்படத் தங்கோன் 
வகையும் குரங்கும் விசைய முந்தீட்டிய 
ஆடல்புனை நெடுவேல் ஆட்கொண்ட தேவன் 

The poetical inscription refer "musically echoing (Naviram) hill of Chieftain Nannan" (நல்லிசைக் கடாம்புனை நன்னன் வெற்பில்).
Anubambigai Samedha Rishabeswarar temple (அனுபாம்பிகை  சமேத ரிஷபேஸ்வரர் ஆலயம்) is located on the banks of river Cheyyar in Kannai (கண்ணை), Chengam town. Poetic inscription dated 12th - 13th century was discovered in 1972 by Mr.M.Chandhiramurthi, Deputy Director (retired), Department of Archeology, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai. This poem was sung on one Kangeyan, a chieftain of this region. Kangeyan has conquered the southern king and the army. He became angry and his eyes turned red. The battle was so fierce and devastating. Where it happened? It happened in the hill (Naviramalai) that was the subject matter in the Pattuppattu anthology Malaipadukadam.  The battle ended in a massacre and nothing more than a bloodshed. The blood flowed like river and soaked the hill with the loss of several hundred thousand people..Please note that the word "Malaikadam" (மலைகடாம்) and the phrase Malaipadukadam Pattunda Malvarai (மலைகடாம் பாட்டுண்ட மால்வரை) linking Naviramalai and its chieftain Nannan, son of Nannan, chief of Chenkanmä. Meaning: 

மூவண்டறை தார்மன்னர் மலைப்படைத் தென் மன்னரை 
வென்கண்ட  திறற் காங்கேமன் கண்சிவப்ப பண்டே 
மலைகடாம் பாட்டுண்ட மால்வரை செஞ்சொரி 
அலைகடாம்  பாட்டுண்டது.   (Ref. Kalvettu Quarterly no 5, p. 13.)
When the eyes of the Ganga chief,

The conqueror of the crowned kings three

And more so the victorious ruler
Pandya of mountain ranges like army,
Turned red with merciless anger
The great Navirai hill, that received
Praises in days of yore, in
The song Malai kadām pāṭṭu,
Was reddened with waves of blood

The place where the fort of Nannan son Nannan located is now called as "Kottaimedu" (கோட்டைமேடு) (Fort Mound). Another village by name 'Mudalaimadu' (முதலைமடு) also can be linked with the fort. The village Karimalaippadi (கரிமலைப்பாடி) suggests link to training the elephants by mahouts. Urn burials are noticed in Chengam town.

Archaeological Excavations

Andipatti is located in Chenagam taluk, Tiruvannamalai district and the village is situated 15 km away from Chengam town. The State Department of Archeology, Chennai carried out systematic excavation in the year 2004 - 2005. At two habitation mounds locally known as Nattamedu (நத்தமேடு) and Sambalkadu (செம்பைக்காடு), the archaeologists laid twelve trenches and unearthed a terracotta bull image, shell bangles, "Mother Goddess" figurines, spindle whorls, pottery with graffiti marks of Megalithic and Historic periods. The potteries comprise black and red-ware sherds as well as coarse red-ware sherds. The Department of Archeology also discovered three potsherds with Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions. One of the potsherds deciphered the Tamil Brahmi inscription as "kan narpo" and the department epigraphists ascertained the date between 4th - 5th century AD. Another two Tamil Brahmi inscriptions inscribed on pot lids read  "... aa th tha... " and "...ku ma... " and the date could be assigned to an earlier period.

Based on the unearthed antiquities, it is ensured that Andipatti site has been continuously occupied since 1st century BC through 12th century AD. Terracotta figurines of Mother Godess has been found in three locations in Tamil Nadu including Adichanallur near Tirunelveli, Melaperumballam near Poompuhar and Poluvaampatti near Coimbatore.. At Andipatti the team also unearthed two figurines mostly human parts i.e., hand and leg portion and mother goddess and the two figurines discovered by Archaeologists at Andipatti belong to 8th to 12th century AD. About 143 lead coins of the 2nd century A.D. were unearthed during an excavation in 1968. According to Iravatham Mahadevean, the coins could have minted by chieftains who ruled this land between 2nd and 3rd century AD. The coins bear the graffiti of two mountain ranges and goad and inscriptions of Sangam era names like "Thinnan" and "Sendhan." They have used the unique Sangam era character "." (period) punctuation on the coin. The goad mark indicates the presence of elephants in abundance and mahouts engaged in training them. Army camps also existed to protect the elephants.

Andipatti 1.jpg (350×282)
A bull, made of terracotta, found at Andipatti PC: State Arch Dept
Andipatti 2.jpg (350×282)
Terracotta, found at Andipatti PC: State Arch Dept
In a garden of an old house in a Chengam intersection they have discovered the burial urn, human skulls, teeth, red and black potsherds  When dug in Nattamedu here, they have observed dilapidated structures and retrieved the gold coins, icons of Buddhist and Jain monks. The State Department of Archeology has discovered over 45 hero stones in the Chengam region and Malaipadukadam also mentions about Memorial stones

  1. A slice of life in an ancient period. Ramakrishnan T. The Hindu. June 23, 2005 (
  2. Ancient Tamil Literature (from the Introduction to Landscape and Poetry, 1966 Father Xavier S. Thaninayagam). (
  3. Andipatti. Department of Archaeology. (
  4. Essays on Indian Society. Raj Kumar. New Delhi, Discovery, 2003. History and Culture Series (New Delhi, India). p. 83.
  5. History of the Tamils : from the earliest times to 600 AD. P T Srinivasa Iyengar New Delhi : Asian Educational Services, 1983. p. 546. (
  6. Kongu Vellala Gounder (wiki). ஜூலை 10, 2011 (
  7. More on Tamil Music: Patthupattu (
  8. Mother Goddess figurines found in Tamil Nadu. T.S. Subramanian. The Hindu May 22, 2005. (
  9. Parvathamalai Mountain. Wikimapia (
  10. Pathuppāttu – Malaipadukadām. Sangam Poems Translated by Vaidehi. (
  11. Pattupattu, Tamil Literature. IndiaNetzone. (
  12. Poetics of Place in Early Tamil Literature. Muthukumar, N. Dissertation for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy,  University of California, Berkeley, USA (
  13. Poets in Sangam Age. Indianetzone. (
  14. South Indian Shrines Illustrated. PV.Jagadisa Iyer. Asian Education Services. 1982.  Pp.11
  15. Tamil Eighteen Hundred years ago. V.Kanagasabhai. Asian Educational Services. 1904. Pp. 203
  16. ஆற்றுப்படை. வேர்களைத்தேடி May 19, 2009. (
  17. பத்துப்பாட்டு – மலைபடுகடாம். Learning Sangam Tamil.  
  18. சங்கம் வளர்த்த செங்கம் காரியுண்டி, சேயாறு, நவிரமலை மலைக்க வைக்கும் மலைபடு கடாம். உண்மையின்பேரொளி மே 28, 2014
  19. மலைப்படுகடாம். ஒரு சித்திரம். வளவ துரையன். திண்ணை. April 15, 2004 ((
  20. மலைபடுகடாம் நூலின் பாட்டுடைத் தலைவன் நன்னனின் வரலாறு. மு.இளங்கோவன். 10 ஜனவரி, 2008 
Mann Pesum Sarithiram Episode 285. Vasanth TV

Friday, January 13, 2017

Kaveripoompattinam (Poompuhar): History Through the Ages

Poompuhar Art Gallery - Wikipedia
Poompuhar Beach - Wikipedia
Kaveripoompattinam (காவிரிப்பூம்பட்டிணம்), also called various names from ancient times, Champathy (சம்பாதி) (as cited in Manimekalai (மணிமேகலை), Cholapattanam (சோழபட்டணம்), Kaveripattinam (காவேரிப்பட்டிணம்), Poompuhar (Pumpuhar) (பூம்புகார்), Puhar (புகார்),  is  the flourishing Sangam era international port town and estuary, located in Sirkali taluk (சீர்காழி வட்டம்), Nagapattinam district (நாகப்பட்டிணம் மாவட்டம்), Tamil Nadu, India PIN 609105. Puhar in Tamil means the ‘estuary’ i.e., place where Cauvery river (காவிரி ஆறு) enter into Bay of Bengal.  This ancient coastline town served as the capital of early Chola rulers including Karikala Chola (கரிகால சோழன்), Sembian (செம்பியன்), Manu needhi Cholan (மனுநீதி சோழன்). Around 2nd century BC the the ships from Tamralipati (West Bengal), Palur (Orissa) anchored in the celebrated Kaveripoompattinam port before they sailed to Rome, Arabia and other Asian ports. The coastline town is .located 56 km towards North from district head quarters Nagapattinam and the near by cities are Karaikal (36 km), Mayiladuthurai (24 km), Parangipettai (24 km), Sirkali (21 km) and Tarangambadi (24 km).and 249 km from State capital Chennai The place is located in the border of the Nagapattinam district and Cuddalore district.  Kaveripoompattinam, an archaeologist delight,  lies on the geographical coordinates of 11.144°N and 79.855°E and the elevation / altitude is 6 m above sea level.

The coastline town is also famous for its great beach with calm surf from where you can witness the river Cauvery with its fresh water meeting the Bay of Bengal and the estuary is adjacent to the beach..If you have a passion for anything Sangam Tamil literature, history, Social life, Buddhism, fine arts, music, dance, drama, shipping, foreign trade and commerce, archaeological excavation, underwater archeology — you will find it here. 

Poompuhar Beach is an ideal picnic spot. Silappadikaram Art Gallery is major tourist attraction and it is a classically built seven tiered architecture highlighting the history of the place, Underwater Archaeological Site Museum, an exclusive museum, was founded to showcase the antiquities recovered from under water exploration. It is the unique Museum in India. There are a number of temples located around Poompuhar. These include: Thiruppallavaneeswaram (near Poompuhar beach), Melapperumpallam and Keezhapperumpallam, Thirusaikkadu (Sayavanam)  Chola temple with inscriptions.  The coastline town is for those who like to wander amidst history and take a stroll through time. Indian tourism department provides shell shaped cottages for the tourists at a moderate tariff. 

Glory of Chola Kings in Ancient Tamil Literary Works

Ancient Tamil Sangam literature such as Ahananuru (அகநானுறு), Purananuru (புறநானுறு), and Pattinappalai (பட்டினப்பாலை), and epics like Silappadikaram and Manimekalai (மணிமேகலை) details about this celebrated town. Musukunda Chakravarthy (முசுகுந்த சக்ரவர்த்தி), a mythological Chola king believed to have ruled Chola kingdom from Karur city. According to the legend Lord Indra sent a ghost (bhootha) to serve Musukunda Chakravarthy. The ghost served the king in the market place of Poompuhar town. The ghost would punish the citizens, if they fail to celebrate the Indra vizha (festival of Indra). "Thoongeyil Erinda Toditol" Sembian was a mythological Chola king who destroyed the fortress. 
தூங்கெயில் எறிந்த தொடிதோள் செம்பியன் (புறநானுறு Puranauru 39)

தூங்கு எயில் எறிந்த தொடி விளங்கு தடக்கை
நாடா நல்லிசை நற்றேர்ச் செம்பியன் (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை Cirupanarruppadai  74 - 75)

 'பலர்புகழ் மூதார்ப் பண்புமேம் படீஇய
 ஓங்குயர் மலயத் தருந்தவ அரைப்பத் 
அாங்கெயி லெறிந்த தொடித்தோட் செம்பியன் ' (மணிமேகலை. Manimekalai 1) 

He is considered as one of the early Chola kings during Sangam period. He was instrumental in celebrating the Indra vizha in Kaveripoompattinam. There are numerous mentions about Karikala Chola (190 AD) in Tamil Sangam poetry. 
நளியிரு முன்னீர் நாவாய் ஒட்டி 
வளிதொழில் கண்ட உரவோன் மருக!
களிஇயல் யானை கரிகால் வளவ!
(புறநானுறு Puranauru 68)

பெருவளக் கரிகால் (அகநானூறு Ahananuru, 125: 18)

பெருவளக்  கரிகால்  முன்னிலைச் செல்லார்  (அகநானூறு Ahananuru 125)

கரிகால் வளவனொடு வெண்ணிப் பறந்தலைப் 
பொருது புண் நாணிய சேரலாதன் (அகநானூறு, Ahananuru 55: 10-11)

உருவப் பஃறேர் இளையோன் சிறுவன்
தாய்வயிற் றிருந்து தாயம் எய்தி (பொருநராற்றுப்படை Porunarruppadai: 130,132)

‘விண்பொரு பெரும்புகழ் கரிகால் வளவன் (சிலப்பதிகாரம். காதை Silappadikaram Kadhai 6, 160)

The port town might have been enlarged during reign of king Karikala Chola. The Mahavamsa states that Ellalan (205 - 161 BC), a member of the Chola dynasty, ruled 'with even justice toward friend and foe, on occasions of disputes at law and got the title Manu Needhi Cholan (The Chola who follow Manu law).  Thiruvalangadu copper plate traces the history of Chola race. Mentions about the Justice rendered by the king to the Cow.

Buddhist Connection

Buddhism spread to South India during Emperor Ashoka's reign. Arahat Mahinda (Mahendra) lead a group of Buddhist monks to Sri Lanks in 250 BC to spread Buddhism. Mahendra seems to have traveled by sea and on his way he stayed temporarily in Kaveripattinam. It is evident that seven Buddhist Viharas were erected at Kaveripattinam, by about 400 AD. Manimekalai refers Indra Viharam Ezhu which means seven viharas built by Indra. The Tamil Sangam works, Silappadikaram and Manimekalai attribute to Indra. Buddhist claim that the name Indra could be the contraction of Mahendra. 

Buddhadatta Thera, a 5th century AD Theravada Buddhist scholar who hailed from Uragpura (modern Uraiyur, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu), went to Sri Lanka to study Buddhism in Mahavihara temple. This temple is believed to be the main seat of the ancestral branch for present day Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka founded by King Devananpiya Tissa..The monk also studied and translated the commentaries on the Buddha's teachings from Sinhalese to Pali. Buddhadatta Thera is said to have written most of his works in Kaveripattinam at the instance of the Buddhist acaryas Sumati, Buddhasika and Sanghapala. Buddhadatta's patron was the Chola king, Kalaber Accutavikkanta,

Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa was a 5th-century Indian Theravada Buddhist commentator and scholar. The monk also  translated a large body of Sinhala commentaries on the Pāli including Mahavamsa, a Sri Lankan chronicle, Buddhaghosuppatti, a later biographical work and Visuddhimagga. According to 'Chulavamsa', Buddhadatta and Buddhaghosa are certainly represented as contemporaries. Ghadhavansa, a Buddhist treatise mentions about  ten famous Buddhist teachers in south of India, including Buddhadatta. Buddhadatta regards the Chola kingdom with respect and associate his literary activity with the reign of Accutavikkanata or Accutavikkama of the Kalabbha or Kalamba [kadamba] dynasty.  

The Prakrit texts Abhidhammavatara and Buddhavamasattakatha written at Kveripattinam, by about 400 AD. attest to the flourishing nature of the port townMilaidapana and Buddha Jataka also provide evidence for the prospering Chola port. According to Buddhist Jataka, one Akitti is said to have lived in a garden near Kaveripattinam. 

Foreigners' Notes on Kaveripattinam

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (Periplus Maris Erythraei), a work by an anonymous Alexandrian merchant, composed during the time of Domitian (81 – 96 AD), has provided brief information on the Chola country and its towns, ports and commerce. About half a century later Ptolemy, the renowned geographer brought out more information about Chola kingdom, its capital, ports and commerce.


The earliest reference to Kaveripoompattinam is noticed in a Prakrit inscription of 2nd century BC found at Bharhut in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh, India. The Bharhut stupa is believed to have been first built by the Maurya emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, However many works of art were apparently added during the Shunga period. The Bharhut inscriptions are viewed with the considerable significance because they trace the history of early Indian Buddhism and Buddhist art. 

The inscription refers to the gift of a stone slab for an enclosure of a stupa by a Buddhist nun called Soma, who hailed from the city Kakandi Kakandi according to Manimekalai was one of the names of Kaveripattinam. The gift of slab by the Buddhist nun Soma of Kakandi, as early as 2nd century BC, shows that Kaveripattinam was a flourishing town and that it served as an important Buddhist centre till at least 8th century AD. 

kakandiya somaya bichuniya danam (காகந்தியா சோமாய பிச்சுனியா தானம் ) (Corpus Inscriptorum Indicarum Vol. II Part II)

Ascendance of Pallava Dynasty

Pallavas slowly extended their power to the south and Kaveripattinam was included in the Pallava territory. The temple Pallavanisvaram should have been built sometime in the beginning of 6th century AD. by a Pallava monarch, whose name is not known. In the reign of Rakasimha a Buddha vihara is said to have been erected at Nagapattinam.

Excavations at Poompuhar

In Indic mythology, Manimekala is a goddess regarded as a guardian of the seas. The epic Manimekalai vividly describes the Kaveripoompattinam. Indra Vizha (Annual Indra Festival) was a very popular festival in ancient Tamil Nadu according to twin Tamil epics Silappadikaram and Manimekalai. If Indra Vizha is not celebrated, goddess Manimekala would cause the wrath and the Town of Kaveripattinam would be swallowed up by the sea.
“தீவகச் சாந்தி செய்யா நாள்உன்
காவல் மாநகர் கடல்வயிறு புகூஉம்” (மணிமேகலை: 24:62-63)

According to Manimekalai, the Chola king had lost his son. In a grip of grief the Chola king forgot to celebrate the Indra Vizha (Annual Indra Festival). Hence Kaveripattinam was swallowed up by the sea (destroyed by kadalkol - "swallowed by the sea.")

“மணிமேகலா தெய்வம் மற்றது பொறாஅல்
அணிநகர் தன்னை அலைகடல் கொள்கென
விட்டனள் சாபம் பட்டதிதுவால்
கடவுள் மாநகர் கடல்கொள” (மணிமேகலை 25:198-201)

Literary works and archaeological evidence suggest repeated Tsunami, sea incursions, erosion and floods in Kaveripattinam. The Sea submerged the original city and at present there is only a small village. Thirusaikadu or Sayavanam, Pallavanisvaram, Melapperumpallam, Keelaperumpallam, Keezaiyur and Vanagiri are the remains of ancient Poompuhar that exist today.
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Under water Excavation PC Tamizharsenai
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11000 Years Old U Shaped Structure Graham Hancock
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Under-water Excavations in Poompuhar.
Under-sea Exploration was conducted by the State Department of Archeology in collaboration with the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, India during 1990 - 94 and 1997. The under sea archaeological explorations around Poompuhar throws light on the remains of terracotta ring wells, brick structures and lead ingots

The team also discovered storage jars in the inter tidal zone and brick structures, stone structures, pottery from offshore explorations. Few references also suggest the shift of shoreline at Poompuhar and Tranquebar and that could be one of the reasons of its submergence.  Under-sea Exploration resulted in a site museum.

Graham Hancock, a British marine archaeologist and author was involved in examining a submerged city on the East Coast of Tamil Nadu. According to Hancock, the civilization thriving in Poompuhar may predate the Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and could certainly  existed before the Harappan civilization in India and Pakistan. He also added that his underwater explorations conducted in 2001 provided strong evidence that corroborated Tamil mythological stories of ancient floods. He also ascertained that the tidal waves of 400 feet or more could have swallowed this flourishing port city any time between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago. His conclusion is that "the Poompuhar underwater site could well provide evidence that it was the cradle of modern civilization."  Theory of this British marine archaeologist strengthened the findings of India's National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). The U-shaped structure gleaned during the joint SES/NIO (Hancock ) expedition is shown below.

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Marine Archaeological Museum. State Department of Archeology Tamil Nadu
Off-shore explorations were carried out near Champapathi Amman and Pallavanisvaram temples, Poompuhar right from 1910.  During the excavations remains of the various buildings were found:

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Wharf Unearthed near Poompuhar. PC TN State Arch
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Excavated Site with Exposed Structure & Ring well @ Poompuhar PC Indianetzone
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Terracota Marine Archaeological Museum PC Dept TN State Arch 
The site of Buddha Vihara (brick structure) dated 4th - 5th century AD. at Pallavanisvaram, near Kaveripoompattinam, was excavated by the ASI and it is established that the ruins formed part of Kaveripoompattinam. The ancient Buddha vihara was built with burnt bricks (of different dimensions) and they have used mud mortar as the binding material. For the basement they used bricks with 36.25 x 18.75 x 7.5 cm size bricks and for superstructure they have used 23.75 x 12,5 x 5 cm size bricks. ASI also discovered a Buddha statue, and Buddhapada (dimension: 3 1/2' x 2 1/2' ) or the feet of Lord Buddha in limestone at this site.

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Buddha Monastery. Pallavanesvram PC Panoramio
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Buddha Monastery. Pallavanesvram PC Sharon St Joan
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Buddha Feet
Manigramam is a village in Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu. It is located 5 km from Poompuhar. Famous Thirumani Azhagar temple is located in this village. Tamil Nadu Department of Archeology team excavated in 95 two intact portions of a brick wall as well as the collapsed structure dating between 3rd century B.C. and 2nd century AD.

Two brick walls running Northeast-Southwest at a depth of 20 cm was discovered in Kilayur (Kizharveli). They have also used mud mortar as the binding material. The structure is considered to have served as a wharf in the 4th century AD. ASI has observed four wooden poles - two palmyra tree trunks and two Iluppai (Bassia Longifolia) tree trunks - were used for this wharf.

A wharf belonging to the 3rd century BC was excavated at Poompuhar in 1962-63 and a similar wharf was unearthed in the subsequent excavation during 1997. Several kinds of brick figures and copper coins were also found.

City Layout

The structure of Poompuhar town can be traced from the fifth chapter of the Silappadikaram, Pattinappalai. Manimekalai also describes the same. Pattinappalai is one of the poem in the Sangam anthology of longer poems, the Ten Idylls (Patthupattu). Poet Katiyalur Uruttiran Kannanar vividly captures the glories and splendour of Kaveripoompattinam and its king Tirumavalavan a.k.a Karikala Cholan. The poem is categorized into three segments. Segment one, comprising 218 lines, details the fertility, prosperity and affluence of the great town Poompuhar. The segment also provides an account of the perennial flow of water in the holy river Cauvery in Chola kingdom, bewildering wealth, the layout of the city, the harbor, the custom-house,  and the life of various people belonging different occupations. The second segment is about the life and achievements of the king Tirumavalavan. The third segment deals with poetic theme pertaining to 'Palai'

The five Manrams - Vellidai Manram, Elanchi Manram, Nedankal mandram, Bootha-chathukkam and Pavaimanram were located in Pattinappakkam. Gardens like Elavanthikaicholai, Uyyavanam, Champathivanam, and Kaveravanam added beauty to the town.

Symbolical Monuments Reproduced 

In 1973 Kalaingar Dr.M.Karunanithi the Honoruable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu gave crystal form to the lost town,by reproducing it on the basis of literary evidences. Several Symbolical monuments were raised. Sillappadikaram-Art gallery, Elanchi Mandram, Pavai Mandram, Nedungal Mandram and Kotrappandal found their existence and remain today, to attract visitors, with their artistic splendor.


During excavations, temples for  Lord Shiva, and Chathukka Bootham, the last of the deities were found in the city. There are temples for Shiva, Indra, his elephant Iravatham, and his Vajrayutham, Balaraman, Suriyan, Machatham, Chandran, Arugan and Thirumal. Buddha stupas or pillars and seven Buddha viharas were also found. Apart from these, a temple for Champapathi Amman, brick idols, and Ulaga Aravi Manram existed in Poompuhar.

'Maya school of Town Planning and Architecture.'

Silappadikaram elaborates the town planning of Kaveripoompattinam including its avenues, streets, mansions, residences of foreign merchants groves, gardens, market places, petty traders and workshops, It was an excellent example of town planning during 100 BC with well laid streets occupied by Yavana sailors and overseas traders, weavers, silk traders, grain merchants, jewelers and precision gems makers and petty traders, According Pattinappalai, Silappadikaram and Manimekalai, the town planning followed the 'Maya school of Town Planning and Architecture.'

Two Broad Divisions

From the description of these ancient Tamil literature Kaveripoompattinam was laid out on the north banks of the river Cauvery and was divided into two broad divisions i.e.,  Maruvurpakkam near the sea-shore and Pattiinappakkam to its west. A market place was located, under shady trees, in between the two divisions. The day market was known as 'Nalangadi' and the night market was named as "Allangadi.'  Pakkam means a place adjacent to the sea-shore or hillock. Here pakkam signifies the place by the side of the sea-shore. Greeks (Yavanars) and other merchants from foreign countries resided in the outskirts of Maruvurpakkam and carried their business.
பயன றவறியா யவன ரிருக்கை 
(Silappadikaram Indra Vizhavu Ur Edutha Kadhai 10)

நீரின் வந்த நிமிர்பரிப் புரவியும்
காலின் வந்த கருங்கறி மூடையும்
வடமலைப் பிறந்த மணியும் பொன்னும்
குடமலைப் பிறந்த ஆரமும் அகிலும்
தென்கடல் முத்துங் குணகடல் துகிரும்
(Pattinappalai 1. 185 - 189)

At the limits of this prosperous town
The majestic horses arrive by land.
From the northern range comes gems and gold;
Akil and sandal from western ghats,
And pearls from the southern seas are heaped,
And corals from eastern waves;

Maruvurpakkam was populated by the fishermen. The settlements of foreign (Yavanar) merchants had terraced mansions, granaries and warehouses with windows shaped like the eyes of the deer and they have chosen to live closer to the sea-coast and to the ship-yard. Their presence nearer to the ship-yard enabled the Chola Customs Officials to collect duties from them and to affix the Customs Seal (Tiger Mark) on the imported goods. The Customs Officials will not permit the removal of the imported goods from the dockyard until they remit the appropriate Customs Duty. 

நீரினின்று நிலத்தேறவு
நிலத்தினின்று நீர்ப்பரப்பவு
மலந்தறியாப் பலபண்டம்
வரம்பறியாமை வந்தீண்டி
யருங்கடிப் பெருங்காப்பின்
வலியுடை வல்லணங்கினோன்
புலிபொறித்துப் புறம்போக்கி,

(Patiinappalai 1. 129 - 136)  

On mountain slopes, that flows down plains
And rushes to merge with surging waves,
The countless cargoes from the land
Are shifted to the ships in the sea;
And loads and loads of cargoes there,
Quite varied beyond conceptual mind
Are moved to the land from the anchored ships
And piled up there in heaps and heaps.
In the custom-house that's to enter hard,
The ensign, a terror to thieves around
Stamp the royal Chola's sign 
Of tiger on every piece before 
It crosses the line of custom-house.

The streets next to the quarters occupied by the Yavanars or the foreign merchants were occupied by wandering pedlar selling colored pastes, unguents, fragrant sandal, flowers, eaglewood and perfumes. Weavers who worked on silk, fur and cotton thread resided in adjacent streets.  Heaps of silks, corals, sandal, eaglewood, flawless pears, gems, gold and other precious articles were sold in broad streets. Grain markets ,adjacent to broad street, sold different kinds of grains and pulses exhibited in separate heaps. 

வளந்தலை மயங்கிய நனந்தலை மறுகும்
(Silappadikaram Indra Vizhavu Ur Edutha Kadhai 21)

Piffling traders, in an open street, sold baked sweet flour and fried flour-cakes; women sold toddy; various other traders include salt merchants, betel-leaf sellers, goat traders and oil merchants. There was also a meat market. Another adjacent street was full of bronze-smiths, copper-smiths, carpenters, strong armed black-smiths, gold-smiths who melt gold and those who make ornaments out of gold, Another part of the street occupied by tailors who stitch covers made of leather and different categories of skilled craftsmen produced handicrafts from cloth and pith. Another street inhabited by musicians with the ability to compose seven notes beginning with kural on wind instruments like flute and the stringed instruments like yazh. Also there were dwelling places of petty workers who earn their livelihood by serving others. Maruvurpakkam is the town populated by all these people. 

சிறுகுறுங் கைவினைப் பிறர்வினை யாளரொடு
மறுவின்றி விளங்கும் மருவூர்ப் பாக்கமும
(Silappadikaram Indra Vizhavu Ur Edutha Kadhai 38-39)


The palace of the king is located in Pattinappakkam (பட்டினப்பாக்கம்) and the King's (Raja) street was the main highway here (கோவியன் வீதியும், கொடித்தேர் வீதியும்). A few stalls in a bazaar street near the palace sold the ordinary necessities. The leading merchants, the pious brahmins, thrifty farmers, the ayurvedic physicians and the astrologers (ஆயுள் வேதரும் காலக் கணிதரும்) dwell in independent streets in different types of houses appropriate to each class of people, the various designs presenting by contrast a picturesque sight.

People who made bangles and rings out of conch-shells, and pearl bead sellers lived in parallel streets on the western side of the palace. The king's retinue and courtiers lived in broad streets within reach of the palace. The Sootars (சூதர்) or those who stand and praise, the Makadars (மாகதர்) or those who sit and praise, the time reckoners (நாழிகைக் கணக்கர்), and the dancers (santhi-koothar) lived in various streets near the palace. 

சூதர் மாகதர் வேதா ளிகரொடு 
நாழிகைக் கணக்கர் நலம்பெறு கண்ணுளர் 
காவல் கணிகையர் ஆடல் கூத்தியர்

The cooks, musicians, the drummers in festivals and on the battle-field and buffoons (நகைவேழம்பர்) lived in houses of various types and dimensions suitable to their calling and circumstance.

நகைவே ழம்பரொடு வகைதெரி இருக்கையும்,
Beyond these streets where servants of royal household had their respective quarters, were the residences of those who trained horses and elephants. The open spaces where the horses were trained for military purposes are known as Cenduveli (செண்டுவெளி). This was the Pattina-p-pakkam or the urban portion of the city.

Between Maruvurpakkam and Pattinappakkam there was a large open area where the day-market (நாளங்காடி) was centrally situated in a site which presented the appearance of a vast plain between two opposing forces. In the market there were stalls for selling a variety of goods. Each stall floated a flag announcing the name of the article sold therein. The trees around provided cool shade and breeze.

இருபெரு வேந்தர் முனையிடம் போல 
இருபால் பகுதியின் இடைநிலம் ஆகிய
கடைகால் யாத்த மிடைமரச் சோலை (59 - 61)

In the centre of the area set apart for the market and where the main streets intersected, there was a temple dedicated to Chathukka Bootham (சதுக்கபூதம்), the Guardian Deity of the city.

Chathukka Bootham Wikipedia
Vellidai Mandram (வெள்ளிடை மன்றம்) is the square with the open space was used as warehouse stored with packages showing the names, symbols and the nature of the merchandise contained in them and the names of the owners. The place is neither guarded by the watch at the gates nor iron bolts on the door. Stealing a package would be very difficult.

Elanchi Mandram (இலஞ்சி மன்றம்) is the square with the pool. Hunchbacks, the dwarfs, the dumbs, the deafs and the lepers who bathe in this pool are cured of their deformities and acquire attractive complexion. They then gratefully circumambulate the square.
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Nedungal Mandram PC Flickriver
Nedungal Mandram (நெடுங்கல் மன்றம்) is the square with the tall and bright stone pillar. People drugged to madness by enemies; those who have consumed poisonous food and shiver due to pain; those who are suffering from snake bite; and those who suffer under the influence of devils would go around the stone pillar and worship it in order to get cured from the afflictions.     

Paavai Mandram (பாவை மன்றம்) is the place of justice and if injustice is done to 'Paavai' (idol) by people they would certainly shed tears.

Kotrappandal (கொற்றபந்தல்) was the ornamental shamiana presented by the king of the 'Vajra' country (வஜ்ர நாடு).

The town also had well laid out gardens like Elavanthikai Cholai (இலவந்திகை சோலை), Uyyavanam (உய்யவனம்), Champapathyvanam (சம்பாபதிவனம்) and Kaverivanam (காவேரி வானம்).  Temples for Shiva, Chadukka Boodham, Indra, Balarama, Surya (Sun), Machathan, Chandra (Moon), Tirumal (Vishnu) and Arugan (Jain) where there besides Buddha stupa and seven Buddha Viharas, Champapathy Amman temple, brick idols and Ulagu Arivai Mandram (உலகு அரிவை மன்றம்).

A Buddhist vihara and a chaitya were also located in the area. Pattinappalai refers to people from various countries residing amicably at Puhar. Manimekalai refers to artisans from the Magadha, Avanti and Maratta countries.and also Greek sculptors Yavanat taccars working at Kaveripattinam.

How to get there?

By Road

Kaveripoompattinam is well-connected to a number of neighboring towns by network of roads  Sirkali (21 km) and Mayiladuthurai (23.7 Km).

By Rail

Sirkali (21 km)  and Vaithisvaran kovil (17 km), Mayiladuturai (23.7 km) Railway Stations are the very nearby railway stations. However Thanjavur Railway Station is major railway station 92 km near to Kaveripoompattinam 

By Air

Near by Airports: Chennai Airport ( 226 km), Madurai Airport (265 km)


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  2. Buddhadatta Wikipedia
  3. Gaur A. S. and Sundaresh, Underwater Exploration off Poompuhar and possible causes of its Submergence, 1998, Puratattva, 28: 84-90.
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  5. History of Poompuhar. Archaeological Excavations. Blogspot. January 11, 2011 (
  6. Indian history: What is the history behind Poompuhar in Indian history? Quora. (
  7. Inside Story: In search of a lost city. Lakshmi Sharath. The Hindu Metroplus. October 7, 2011 (
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  9. Pattinappalai ( A Note on Poem & Translation ) by Devendran B. International Institute of Tamil Studies. 068 - December 2005  (
  10. Poompuhar-Ancient Chola city in Tamil Nadu, India,Kumari Kundam. Hinduism and Sanadan Dharma. April 5, 2015. (
  11. Poompuhar. Department of Archaeology. (
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  13. South India and Buddhagosa. Buddhagosa. August, 18, 2010 (
  14. Tourism in Poompuhar Tourism of India (
  15. பட்டினப்பாலை. கடியலூர் உருத்திரங் கண்ணனார் Project Madurai. (
  16. சதுக்கபூதம் Wikipedia

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