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

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tirukovalur, Ancient Capital of Malainadu (Maladu): History of Malaiyamans and Tirumudi Kari

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Tirukovalur or Thirukkovalur, also known in various names such as Tirukoilur, Tirukoyilur, Tirukovilur, is a panchayat town in Tirukkoyilur taluk, Villuppuram district, Tamil Nadu, India PIN 605757. The nondescript pastoral town, located on the banks of Pennai river, is 202 km away from Chennai (through NH 45 and SH 9), 74.7 km from Pondicherry and 238.5 km from Bangalore and it is placed on the State Highway (SH 9) linking Tiruvannamalai (34.7 km in south-east direction) and the district head quarters Villupuram (49.2 km in Southwest direction). The region is bounded in the west by the Kalrayan hills and the Javadu hills and they meet at the Chengam pass. This ancient town is in the border of the Villupuram district and Tiruvannamalai district. The geographical coordinates of Tirukovalur are 11.95°N  latitude and 79.2°E longitude and the elevation / altitude is 73 m (239 feet) from sea-level.  It has a population of 39,108 (males constitute 49% and females 51%.) according to  2014 census.

This taluk head quarter has great historical and religious significance. This place was once the capital of Malayaman dynasty of Sangam era (3rd century B.C to 3rd century A.D.) Malayaman Thirumudi Kari was  the renowned chieftain of Malayaman dynasty and also known as one of the seven greatest "Bestowers" of the last Sangam era.

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Parambu Hill (Piranmalai)
Kapilar, the most prominent poet of Sangam era composed inspiring poems of merit in Tamil language, was the bosom friend and confidant of Vel Pari, one of the Velir kings  After Vel Pari's killing in a war, Kapilar helped the two daughters of Vel Pari by getting them married to Malayaman of Tirukovalur. After this the poet observed his Vadakkiruthal (fast unto death by facing north). Another version is that he immolated himself in fire on top of a hillock. Kapilar rock or Kapilar Kundru is a hill rock in the middle of the Pennai River on the south bank of Tirukovalur. Kapilar hillock has a shrine on top of the hillock and a flight of steps leads to the shrine. The monument is protected and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

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Meipporul Nayanar, the Malayaman chieftain of Malainadu (Miladudaiyar) and one of the 63 Saivite saints glorified in Sekkilar's Periyapuranam, is connected with Tirukovalur. The chieftain was also known as Cediraja, the king of Cedi. The kingdom of Cedi existed around Tirukovalur. Narasinga Muniyaraiyar Nayanar, chieftain of Tirumunaipadi nadu and one of the 63 Saivite saints glorified in Sekkilar's Periyapuranam, is also connected with Tirukovalur.  .Narasinga Muniyaraiyar was the foster-father of saint Sundarar (one of the Tevaram Trios) and Narasinga Muniyaraiyar brought up Sundarar as a prince.

The town is also known for its ancient Shiva shrine (Virattanam of Tirukovalur) at Kilur (Kilaiyur) and is glorified in Thevaram by Sambandar and Appar, one decad each. The Shiva temple has some inscriptions of Vijayālaya. Yet the scholars assign the date to Parantaka. It is also known for its Vishnu temple of Trivikrama at Melur, exalted by the first three early Vaishnavite Alwars (Muthal Alwars).

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Veeratteswarar temple, Tirukoyilur
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Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tirukoyilur
Rajaraja Chola I and his brother, the Chola Prince Aditya Karikalan, were born in Tirukovalur. Rajaraja Chola I , born as Arunmozhivarman, the third child of Parantaka Sundara Chola and Vanavanmadevi, the princess of Malayaman dynasty.  Vanavanmadevi was born in Tirukovalur as a lovable daughter of Malayaman chieftain of Thirukovalur (ARE 236 / 1902 S.I.I. Vol.VII.No 863).She committed sati when her husband Sundara Chola expired.

Sangam Polity and Sangam Literature

Tamilakam (தமிழகம்) during Sangam period was divided among the three political powers, the Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras and the three capitals were Pukar (புகார்), Madurai (மதுரை), and Vanji (வஞ்சி). They are known as crowned kings (முடியுடை மூவேந்தர்). Whenever the crowned kings conquered the feudal territories, they never annexed them to their kingdom. Instead they  allowed the feudal to function as an autonomous states under their suzerainty. Thus there were number of feudatories or chieftaincies  in Tamilakam These chieftaincies evolved as a landed aristocracy and in course of time they might have acted as soldiers, warriors, generals and even ministers to their suzerains..

Some chieftains exercised vast powers of internal autonomy within their respective territories. However they owned some kind of nominal allegiance to one or more of the the crowned kings. Number of references can be seen about the internecine warfare between the crowned kings and the vassals in Sangam literature, The reason for these feuds  could be the breaking of personal loyalty to their over-lords and refusal to pay tribute.

The chieftains are also tribal clan in character. For example Pegan belongs to Aviyar tribe or clan, Athiyan and Ori belongs to Malavar, tribe or clan. Velir chieftains ruled various parts of Tamilakam and enjoyed the privilege giving their daughters in marriage to the crowned kings. They are celebrated personalities and treated next to the crowned kings. Those chieftains who acted as the guardians of the garrisons (known as Kurumbu) in the border areas. .

According to A. K. Ramanujan, the word Sangam “means an academy or fraternity.   The word is probably borrowed from the vocabulary of Buddhism and Jainism, the two religions competing with Hinduism in the 6th and 7th centuries in South India”. Sangam literature constitutes a total of 2381 poems (26,350 lines of poems) composed by 473 poets (including 30 poetesses and 102 poems by anonymous authors).  Both men and women including kings, noble men, learned men, doctors, businessmen, teachers, metal smiths,  goldsmiths, cattle  herders etc have become poets.

Sangam poems are the panegyrics or the court poetry in praise of the crowned kings and chieftains of Sangam era and are composed by court-bards or the poets. Sangam literature is still the main source for the early Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras. Most of the poems are secular in nature.   Only sixteen poets have composed 1177 poems (fifty two percent) of the total 2279 non-anonymous poems. They are Ammoovanar (127 poems), Kapilar (235 poems), Orampokiyar (110 poems), Peyanar (105 poems), Othalanthaiyar (103 poems), Paranar, Maruthan Ilanākanar, Palai Padiya Perunkadunko, Avvaiyar, Nallanthuvanar, Nakkeerar, Ulochanar, Mamoolanar, Kayamanar, Perunkundrur Kilar and Perisathanar.  Out of 473 poets, 144 poets have eulogized their patrons in their poems.

Sangam poems, especially in Purananuru and Patirruppattu have a mine of information regarding the heroic exploits of the Sangam era chieftains i.e., Purananuru provides 164 direct references about 59 chieftains, vassals, princes, which are the only available source of information for Sangam polity. Many poems in the Purananuru were written by various Kings of the Tamilakam.  Though the Akam poem books listed above represent the dramatic monologues of the heroes, loved ones, their companions and the heroine's mothers / stepmothers, they have copious historical allusions to the crowned kings and chieftains. In the Ten Idylls there are 27 references  to 12 chieftains.

Sirupanatruppadai, one of the Ten Idylls,  is sung on Oyman Nalliyakodan, the chieftain Oyma nadu by Nallur Nathathanar of Idaikkazhinadu, The poem lines 84 to 112 also speaks about the greatness of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்) and they include: 1. Pegan of Aviyar clan (வையாவிக் கோப்பெரும் பேகன்), 2. Vel Pari, the Lord of Parambu (வேள் பாரி), 3. Kari (மலையமான் திருமுடி காரி), 4. Ay Andiran (ஆய் அண்டிரன்), 5. Athikan (அதிகன்), 6. Nalli (நளி மலை நாடன் நள்ளி) and 7. Valvil Ori (வல்வில் ஓரி). Athikan is also known as Athiyaman.

Purananuru poem 158 sung on Kumanan (குமணன்), chieftain of Mutiram hills (முதிரமலை) by Poet Perunchithiranar (பெருஞ்சித்திரனார்) also mentions about the greatness of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்). Instead Athikan (அதிகன்) at srl. no. 5, the poem includes Ezhini (எழினி), the chieftain of Kutirai hills (குதிரைமலை நாடு) 

ஊராது ஏந்திய குதிரைக் கூர் வேல்
கூவிளங் கண்ணிக் கொடும் பூண் எழினி
(Poet Perunchithiranar sang to Kumanan. Purananuru 158: 8 - 9)

Elini Athiyaman carrying a spear who ruled over Kuthirai Mountain wearing a koovilam garland and curved necklace

The poets, bards and minstrels indicated the path of virtue to the crowned kings and chieftains. Their political diplomacy has prevented bloody feuds and internecine warfare and even safeguarded the lives of young princes. Kari was captured and killed by Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan (குலமுற்றத்துத் துஞ்சிய கிள்ளி வளவன்), the Chola king in a battle. The Chola king was also planned to have his children crushed by an elephant. Poet Kovur Kilar intercedes in a timely manner and saves the children. (Purananuru 46).

Miladu Maladu Malainadu

Tolkappiyam (தொல்காப்பியம்) is the earliest available work in Tamil. The dating of this earliest Tamil grammatical work has been disputed much and its date is still inaccurate and doubtful. Proposing a date has witnessed wide disagreements among scholars. It has been dated variously between 8000 BC and 10th AD. It is composed in the form of short formulaic compositions a.k.a noorpaa (நூற்பா). Its three books include the Ezhuttadikaram, the Solladikaram and the Poruladikaram. This seminal work assigns to classes the Tamil language into classical Tamil or Sentamil (செந்தமிழ்) and dialectal Tamil or koduntamil (கொடுந்தமிழ்). The former is employed almost exclusively in literary works and the latter was spoken by the people in the various regions of ancient Tamilakam. According to Tolkappiyar (தொல்காப்பியர்) there were twelve ancient regions (panniru nilam = பன்னிரு நிலம்) as the sources of the dialectisms (கொடுந்தமிழ்):

செந்தமிழ் சேர்ந்த பன்னிரு நிலத்தும்
தம் குறிப்பினவே திசைச்சொல் கிளவி.

He never mentioned about the names of those regions.  According to a poem or venba by latter commentators, there were twelve regions (panniru nilam) which were the sources of the dialectisms (கொடுந்தமிழ்):

தென்பாண்டி குட்டம் குடம்கற்கா வேண்பூழி
பன்றிஅருவா அதன்வடக்கு — நன்றாய
சீதமலநாடு புனல்நாடு செந்தமிழ்சேர்
ஏதமில் பன்னிரு நாட்டெண்

Malayaman nadu or Malainadu was included as one of the twelve region.

The geographical region of the present Villupuram district was forming part of Nadunadu (நடுநாடு) and included the regions of two Sangam era feudatories or chieftaincies.  One among them was known as Malayaman nadu (மலையமான் நாடு) a.k.a Malainadu (மலைநாடு) or Maladu (மலாடு) or Miladu (மிலாடு). The other one is the Oymanadu (ஓய்மாநாடு). Malainadu or Maladu included the present Kallakurichi, Tirukoyilur, Sankarapuram, Villupuram, Ulundurpet regions as well as Kalvararayan hills. Oymanadu included coasts of present Pondicherry, Marakkanam, Tindivanam and Gingee regions.

According to an inscription (Epigraphia Indica, Vol. No: 7. K.P. No. 146) Malainadu included 2000 bhumi (பூமி) (bhumi is an area measuring unit i.e., one bhumi included ten veli land). Malainadu or Maladu was having 1. Kurukkai-kurram (குறுக்கைக் கூற்றம்): - Tirukovalur, Sirringur (சிற்றிங்கூர்) (Siddhalingamadam) and 2. Panur-kurram (பானூர் கூற்றம்): - Iraiyanaraiyur (இறையநாரையூர்) (present name Elvanasur எலவனசூர்)  was a large independent village. It was also called as Pennaiyam Padappai Nadu

பெண்ணையம் படப்பை நாடு கிழவோயே. (Poet Marokathu Nappasalaiyr. Purannuru 126: 23)
O lord of the country with the lovely Pennai River!

Back in time, when it was at the peak of its glory, the region was also known as Chedi Kingdom or Chethi Nadu (சேதி நாடு). Cedi chieftains ruled this region and the Cholas acted as their suzerains. The Cedi kings have entered marital relationship with Cholas. A number Kurrams constituted Valanadu. Commencing from the reign of Rajaraja Chola I till the end of 13th century A.D. this region was known as Jananatha Valanadu.  Several Valanadus made up one Mandalam or province i.e., Jayangondasora mandalam. During the reign of Vijayanagara dynasty this region was known as Tiruvathi Rajyam and Tiruvathi Seemai during the reign of Achyudha Rayar (1529 - 1542) as well as Sadashiva Rayar (1535 - 1575).

Malayaman Tirumudi Kari

Malayaman Tirumudi Kari was one of the Seven Great Benefactors or Bestowers or Patrons of the last Sangam era a.k.a Kadai ezhu vallalgal (கடையேழு வள்ளல்கள்). He was a good and kind chieftain in many respects and never sent the bards and mendicants, who visit his abode seeking munificence, with empty handed. The poets mention about the shower of lavish gifts of gold, gems, elephants, sturdy horses, chariots, food grains and fine muslin garments made to the bards.

Kari was eulogized for his generosity and valour in four of the eight anthologies (Ettuthokai) books such as Akananuru (அகநானுறு), Kuruntokai (குறுந்தோகை), Natrinai (நற்றிணை) and Purananuru (புறநானுறு) as well as in one of the Ten Idylls (பத்துப்பாட்டு) book - Sirupanatruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை). Sangam poets such as Ammuvanar (அம்மூவனார்), Kalladanar (கல்லாடனார்), Kapilar (கபிலர்), Marokathu Nappasalaiyar (மாறோக்கத்து நப்பசலையார்), Perunchithiranar (பெருஞ்சித்திரனார்) and Vadama Vannakkan Perunchathanar (வடம வண்ணக்கன் பெருஞ்சாத்தனார்) lauded Kari. 

In Sirupanatruppadai (சிறுபாணாற்றுப்படை), poet Nallur Nathathanar of Idaikkazhinadu (இடைக்கழி நாட்டு நல்லூர் நத்தத்தனார்) eulogizes Malayaman Tirumudi Kari in the poem lines 91 to 95. 
……………………… கறங்கு மணி
வால் உளைப் புரவியொடு வையகம் மருள
ஈர நல் மொழி இரவலர்க்கு ஈந்த
அழல் திகழ்ந்து இமைக்கும் அஞ்சுவரு நெடு வேல்
கழல் தொடித் தடக் கை காரியும் (Pathuppattu – Sirupanatruppadai 91-95)
Kari, adorned with sliding bracelets on his huge hands, has gifted horses with jingling bells and white plumes. He inspired people with his kind, good words. His bright, tall spear caused terror.

In Purananuru poem 158 poet Perunchithiranar praises about Malayaman Tirumudi Kari in the poem lines 6 to 7. The genorosity of Kari is being compared with the rain cloud. 
காரி ஊர்ந்து பேர் அமர்க் கடந்த
மாரி ஈகை மறப்போர் மலையனும்
(Poet Perunchithiranar sang to Kumanan. Purananuru 158: 6 - 7)
Malayan, brave in war, who was as charitable as the rain cloud and won battles riding on his stallion Kari

Malayaman dynasty ruled over Malainadu and the mountain plateau called Mullur-malai (முள்ளூர் மலை) a.k.a Mullur nadu (முள்ளூர் நாடு).formed part of his territory.
முள்ளூர் மன்னன் கழறொடிக் காரி (Akananuru 209)
Mullur King Kari with warrior anklets and bracelets,

Therefore the region was known as Malainadu. Malayaman dynasty was also known by this name. Tirumudi Kari was the chieftain of the mountain plateau of Mullur or Mullur-malai. Malaiyamān Tirumudi Kari was the chief of the renowned warrior clan of Malavar. His capital was Tirukovalur.
துஞ்சா முழவின் கோவல் கோமான் (Akananuru 35)
Kari the Lord of Kovalur, the town with non-stopping drums

The people of his time considered him the most modest of kings. Nobody left empty-handed after paying a visit to him and the visitor who came on barefoot would usually return mounted on a horse or an elephant of his choice. He called himself not a king but a "rightful servant of his beloved people".

Kari revolted against Killivalavan

The chieftains were subdued by the empire builders i.e., Muvendars - Chera, Chola and Pandya of ancient Tamilakam and their paramountacy was accepted. He was a vassal to the early Chola king Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan (குலமுற்றத்துத் துஞ்சிய கிள்ளி வளவன்). Over the period of time he broke his loyalty to the over-lord and wore a crown and declared himself as Tirumudi Kari. Thus he became virtually an independent ruler. He was very powerful and had his own administration and army. He enjoyed certain rights and privileges. He was a revolting vassal and was one of the most dangerous threats to the crowned king and neighboring vassals. 

Kari supported Cheral Irumporai in Chera - Chola War

Yanaikatcei Maandaran Cheral Irumporai (சேரமான் யானைகட்சேய் மாந்தரஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை)
was a Chera king  The Chola ruler Rajasuyam-vetta-peru-nar-killi (சோழன் இராசசூயம் வேட்ட பெருநற்கிள்ளி) and Maandaran Cheral Irumporai encountered each other in a pitched battle. Kari and his army supported the Cholas in this battle and helped the Chola to conquer the Chera. Without the support of Kari this victory could not have possible for Cholas. For this they have lost huge number of elephants in the battle, yet Kari never mind about loss and brought victory to Cholas.

குன்றத்து அன்ன களிறு பெயரக்
கடந்துஅட்டு வென்றோனும் நிற்கூ றும்மே
வெலீஇயோன் இவன் எனக்
கழல்அணிப் பொலிந்த சேவடி நிலம்கவர்பு
விரைந்துவந்து சமம் தாங்கிய
வல்வேல் மலையன் அல்லன் ஆயின்
நல்அமர் கடத்தல் எளிதுமன் நமக்குஎனத்
தோற்றோன் தானும் நிற்கூ றும்மே
(Poet Vadama Vannakkan Perunchathan, Purananuru 125)

The victor who slayed mountain-like elephants says, that you gave him victory.  The defeated one thinks that without Malaiyan with his strong spear who came swiftly to the field, his handsome legs gleaming with war anklets, he would have won easily. He praises you when he says that you were the one who made him lose.  Greatness!  

Kari - Athiyaman Neduman Anci: Encounter

Athiyaman Neduman Anci was the chief of the renowned warrior clan of Malavar. Thagadoor was his capital (identified with modern Dharmapuri district. Kari waged war on Thagadoor against Athiyaman Neduman Anci. It was an attempt fueled by his longtime desire to become an emperor equivalent in power to the Cholas. Kari was defeated and lost Kovalur to Athiyaman.  After sometime Athiyaman believed to have demolished the Kovalur town and the inscription in Thanjavur Big Temple seems to have the evidence.

Kari Killed Ori in a War

Paalai paadiya Perum Cheral Irumporai (பாலை பாடிய பெருஞ்சேரல் இரும்பொறை), the Chera monarch was in agreement with Malayaman Tirumudi Kari and the Chera was expecting Kari's support in defeating Valvil Ori (வல்வில் ஓரி), the chieftain of neighboring Kolli hills (கொல்லிமலை). Kari defeated and killed Ori and took Kolli Hills. An Akananuru poem 209 registers this event.

முள்ளூர் மன்னன் கழல்தொடிக் காரி
செல்லா நல்இசை நிறுத்த வல்வில்
ஓரிக் கொன்று சேரலர்க்கு ஈந்த (Akananuru 209)
Mullur King Kari with warrior anklets and bracelets, owning bloody spears, gifted to the Cheras after killing Ori of unfading fame and strong bows.
"ஓரிக்கொன்றவொருபெருந் திருவிற், காரி புக்க நேரார் புலம்போற், கல்லென் றன்றாலூரே" (Poet Kapilar, Natrinai. 320)

The whole town laughs with great uproar. This is like when Kāri killed Ori of ancient victories, and then entered his wide avenue which had no match, and his people raised uproars.

Perum Cheral Irumporrai Killed Athiyaman

Kari, in order to avenge his earlier defeat, also sought the support of Chera to invade and conquer Thagadoor Accordingly the Chera king attacked and Athiyaman was killed in this battle. After this encounter Kari was able to regain back Kovalur. In "Thagadoor Yathirai," (தகடூர் யாத்திரை) the Sangam poets detail about Thagadoor attack by Perum Cheral Irumporrai.

Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan Defeated and Killed Kari

Kari commenced to dominate or overshadow the early Chola king Kulamutrathu Thunjiya Killivalavan (குலமுற்றத்துத் துஞ்சிய கிள்ளி வளவன்). The Chola king wanted teach him a lesson by invading Tirukovalur. There was a pitched battle. Kari was resolute enough to win or die. During the early encounter Chola army met with huge casualty and lost around 10000 soldiers. The Chola intelligence captured the twin sons of Kari as war prison. Kari followed them up to the Chola army camp, where he was captured and killed by the Chola. Further to this Killivalavan, Chola king was getting ready to have his children crushed by an elephant. Poet Kovūr Kilar intercedes in a timely manner and saves the children. (Purananuru 46 by Poet Kovur Kilar).

Malayaman Choliya Enati Tirukkannan

Malayaman Choliya Enati Tirukkannan (மலையமான் சோழிய ஏனாதி திருக்கண்ணன்) was a descendant of Malayaman Tirumudi Kari. He was the Chietain of Maladu and the Lord of Mullur. He might be Kari's son. He succeeded as the chieftain of Maladu after Kari's death. Kulamuttrathu Tunjiya Killivalavan (குலமுற்றத்துத் துஞ்சிய கிள்ளி வளவன்),  an early Chola king, was the over-lord of Tirukkannan. He was not only the chieftain of Malayaman dynasty, but also a feudatory as well as military chief to Chola king. He was awarded with the title "Choliya Enati" (Choliya = Chola; Enati = army chief) i.e., the chief of the Chola army. 

கவலை நெஞ்சத்து அவலந் தீர
நீ தோன்றினையே நிரைத் தார் அண்ணல்
கல் கண் பொடியக் கானம் வெம்ப
மல்கு நீர் வரைப்பில் கயம் பல உணங்கக்
கோடை நீடிய பைதறு காலை
இரு நிலம் நெளிய ஈண்டி
உரும் உரறு கருவிய மழை பொழிந்தாங்கே.
(Poet Marokathu Nappasalaiyar Purananuru 174: 23 - 29)

Poetess Nappasalaiyar of Marokam has composed this Purananuru poem 174 Malayaman Choliya Enati Tirukkannan  In a Purananuru poem 174 Marokam Nappasalaiyar praises that Tirukkannan played an important and significant role in regaining the falling Chola  kingdom. His appearance is being compared rains falling with loud thunder and lightning, during a long summer when mountains crumbled, forests burned and reservoirs filled with water dried up.

Mullur a.k.a Mullurmalai

At present there is a village / hamlet called Mullur and is located in Gingee taluk, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, India PIN 605201. It comes under Anaiyeri Panchayat.. The village  located 28 km towards north of district head quarters Villupuram, 7 km from Gingee and 162 km from Chennai. This village is in the border of the Villupuram district and Tiruvannamalai district.

A Purananuru poem 123 by poet Kapilar assigns about the tallness of Mullur mountain plateau and this hilly region receives abundant rain..

தொலையா நல்லிசை விளங்கு மலயன்
மகிழாது ஈத்த இழையணி நெடுந்தேர்
பயங் கெழு முள்ளூர் மீமிசைப்
பட்ட மாரி உறையினும் பலவே.
(Poet Kapilar. Purannuru 123: 3 - 6)
Shining Malaiyan with untarnished fame gives away beautifully decorated chariots without drinking, their numbers higher than the rain drops that fall on fertile Mullur Mountain.

Further to this another Purananuru poem 126 by poetess Marokathu Nappasalaiyar describes about the dense and dark forest of Mullur and the roaring sound produced by the waterfalls resembles the hard beats of the drum.
துயில் மடிந்தன்ன தூங்கிருள் இறும்பின்
பறை இசை அருவி முள்ளூர்ப் பொருநர்
தெறல் அரும் மரபின் நின் கிளையொடும் பொலிய
(Poet Marokathu Nappasalaiyr. Purannuru 126: 7 - 9), 
O lord of Mullur Mountain, where waterfalls roar like drums of war and the fores t seems to be sleeping through nights with pitch darkness! 

Kuruntokai and Natrinai also refer Mullur as:

செவ்வேல் மலையன் முள்ளூர் (Poet Kapilar. Kuruntokai 312)
Malayan with lance)

"மாயிரு முள்ளூர் மன்னன் மாவூர்ந்தெல்லித் தரீஇய வினநிரைப், பல்லான் கிழவரின்" -(Natrinai. 291)
Kari rode up with his horse and seized the cattle herd with many cows.

ஆரியர் துவன்றிய பேர் இசை முள்ளூர்
பலர் உடன் கழித்த ஒள் வாள் மலையன, தொருவேற் கோடி யாங்கு (Natrinai 170: 6 - 7)
Malaiyan with bright sword, who along with his army, repelled Aryan invaders in renowned Mullur.

There was a battle at renowned Mullur. Aryans attacked with their army. King Malaiyan (Malayaman Tirumudi Kari) fought with them with bright sword. Malaiyan repelled the Aryan invaders. Viralis were artists who sang and danced.  They were related to bards. The dancing skills of the beauteous Virali will be like Malaiyan (Malayaman Tirumudi Kari) with bright sword, who along with his army, repelled Aryan invaders in renowned Mullur.
ஊராது ஏந்திய குதிரைக் கூர் வேல்
கூவிளங் கண்ணிக் கொடும் பூண் எழினி
எள் அறு சிறப்பின் முள்ளூர் மீமிசை
அரு வழி இருந்த பெரு விறல் வளவன்
மதி மருள் வெண் குடை காட்டி அக்குடை
புதுமையின் நிறுத்த புகழ் மேம்படுந
விடர்ப்புலி பொறித்த கோட்டைச் சுடர்ப் பூண்
சுரும்பு ஆர்  கண்ணிப் பெரும் பெயர் நும் முன்
ஈண்டுச் செய் நல்வினை யாண்டுச் சென்று உணீஇயர்
உயர்ந்தோர் உலகத்துப் பெயர்ந்தனன் ஆகலின்
(Poet Marrokathu Nappasalaiyr. Purannuru 174: 13 - 20)
At a difficult time when the Chola kingdom was lost, your ancestor with drums roaring in his front yard, ended the sorrow of the fine country where Kaviri flows with abundant water hitting its shores, set the moon-like white umbrella in its place, of Valavan who was in hiding firmly on the tall Mullūr Mountain decorated with clouds. sung by poet Kapilar whose tongue never lied, as brave enemy warriors ran away rapidly showing their backs.  May his fame soar!
Your famous ancestor whose fortress was carved with the symbol of the tiger that lives in caves, he who wore gleaming jewels and a garland humming with bees, has gone to the higher world to enjoy the benefits of his good deeds here, and so you have come here to relieve the misery of those in all directions whose hearts are in pain.

There was a town on the banks of Pennai and it was known as "Kotunkal" (கொடுங்கால்).  At present there is a place called Kodungal and is located in Mugaiyur block, Tirukoyilur taluk, Villupuram district, Tamil Nadu, India PIN 605755. It is a village Panchayat.. The village,  located on the south banks of Pennai river, is 14 km away from Tirukoyilur, 15 km from Tiruvennainallur, 7 km from Mugaiyur, and 5.9 km from Arkandanallur. The nearest railway station to Kodungal is Mambalappattu which is located in and around 7.2 km distance. This village is in the border of the Villupuram district and Tiruvannamalai district. The geographical coordinates of Kodungal are 11.961022 N  latitude and 79.2757237 E longitude and the elevation / altitude is 75 m from sea-level.  It has a population of 3090  (male 1558 and female 1532) according to  2011 census. Some scholars consider this village as Sangam age Kotunkal. Pennai river flows to the south of Kodungal.  At this place the Pennai river splits into two and flows towards east and merges back into single river. Thus an island is formed (like the Srirengam island formed between  Cauvery and Kollidam rivers). The southern branch of Pennai river is broad and the flow of water is vast when compared with northern branch of Pennai river. Since the north Pennai is narrow and left with less water flow, Sangam poet Ammuvanar (of Akananuru poem 35) draws comparison of fine sands of the huge shores of Pennai river with the dark hair of the heroine.

துஞ்சா முழவின் கோவல் கோமான்
நெடுந்தேர்க் காரி கொடுங்கால் முன் துறை
பெண்ணையம் பேரியாற்று நுண் அறல் கடுக்கும்
நெறி இருங்கதுப்பின் என் பேதைக்கு
அறியாத் தேஎத்து ஆற்றிய துணையே.
(Akananuru 35: 13 - 17)
May he be a partner to her in the paths of unknown lands, my daughter with straight, dark hair, resembling the fine sands of the huge shores of the Pennai River at Kodunkāl, belonging to King Kāri of Kovalur owning tall chariots, where drumsdon’t rest!


Jambai inscription of Athiyaman Neduman Anci (அதியமான் நெடுமான் அஞ்சி) is found on a rock inside a cavern, Dasimadam (தாசிமடம் குகை) on the hillock of Jambai, a village in Villupuram district. It was discovered in 1981 by Tamilnadu State Department of Archaeology. The village, located on the north bank of the Pennai river, is just 19.6 km away from Tirukovalur. The epigraph, dated the 1st century A.D.,  is in Tamil Brahmi  (தமிழ் பிரம்மி) and reads as:

Satiyaputo Atiyan Natuman Anci itta Pali 
The abode given by Athiyan Neduman Anji, the Satyaputo

It is the Jambai inscription that prove that the “Satyaputo” mentioned by Asoka was none other than the Adhiyaman dynasty, which ruled from Thagadur. The Tamil Brahmi inscription also links Adhiyaman Netuman Anci with the Tamil Sangam Age (தமிழ் சங்க காலம்) (the Eight Anthologies (எட்டுத்தொகை) and Ten Idyls (பத்துப்பாட்டு) and the Tamil-Brahmi age (தமிழ் பிரம்மி காலம்)

Jambai Inscription (Wikimedia)

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has copied 79 (77+2) inscriptions in the year 1902 vide ARE nos. 230 to 306 1902; 23 inscriptions in the year 1905 vide ARE nos. 3 to 25; and 2 inscriptions in the year 1935 vide ARE nos. 200 to 201 in Tirukovalur Virataneswarar Temple.  The temple has 104 inscriptions in Grantha and ancient Tamil. South Indian Inscription (S.I.I.) volume VII has published the full text of the 79 inscriptions from no. 857 to 935. Inscriptions copied during 1905 and 1935 are yet to be published in S.I.I.

The Pallava inscriptions of this temple include inscriptions of Nandivarman II (731–795 AD), Dantivarman (795–846 AD) and Nandivarman III (846-869 AD);  Chola inscriptions include inscriptions of Parantaka Chola I (907–950 AD), Rajaraja Chola I (985–1014 AD), Rajendra Chola I (1012–1044 AD), Rajadhiraja Chola (1044–1054 AD), Virarajendra Chola (1063–1067 AD), Kulotunga Chola I (1070–1120 AD), Vikrama Chola (1118–1135 AD), and Kulothunga Chola II (1133–1150 AD). The Rashtrakuta inscription was inscribed by Krishna III or Kannara Deva (938 - 967 AD) and the Pandya inscriptions belongs to, Sundara Pandya, Vikrama Pandya (1180 - 1190 AD) and Vijayaraya Marayar (Deva Raya II) (1424–1446 AD).

Inscription (ARE 236 / 1902 S.I.I. Vol.VII.No 863) of Rajaraja Chola I inscribed Kamban Maniyan, a Chola official in the Virattaneswarar temple in Tirukovalur.  Dr.R.Nagaswamy has conveniently categorized this inscription into eight portions for his study. The first portion devotes to Rajaraja Chola I and his achievements; the second portion addresses about Vanavanmadevi the mother of Rajaraja Chola I; and her link with Tirukovalur as the princess of Malayamans. the third portion speaks about Pennai ricer; the fourth portion is about Kapilar hillock and supreme sacrifice after handing over Vel Pari's daughters with Avvaiyar; the fifth portion praises the Viratteneswarar temple in Tirukovalur; the sixth portion registers the Devadana of land for daily puja rituals and offerings made to Lord Viratteneswarar and goddess Parvati;  the seventh portion is about the temple personnel and their emoluments;  the eighth portion concludes with the bestower Vithi vitankan Kamban, who was the trustworthy officer under Rajaraja Chola I.
... ... ... கம்பத் தடிகள்       245
மாதி விடங்கு வருபரி வல்ல
வீதி விடங்கன்

Sundara Chola and Vanavanmadevi were the parents of Rajaraja Chola I. His birth name was Arunmozhivarman. His brother was Aditya Karikala. These two Chola prices had their birth in Tirukovalur and spent their early childhood in Tirukovalur Malayaman palace. Sundara Chola died of broken heart due to the murder of Aditya Karikala in a mysterious circumstances. Vanavanmadevi committed sati (entering the funeral pyre of her husband) leaving her tender child. This was the supreme sacrifice by the Chola queen and it is being highlighted in the second portion of the inscription. Vanavanmadevii is described in this inscription as a "lovely female deer that gave birth to a tiger".

செந்திரு மடந்தைமன் ஸரீராச ராசன்
இந்திர சேனன் ராஜசர் வஞ்ஞ னெனும்
புலியைப் பயந்த பொன்மான் கலியைக் - - - - - - 40
கரந்து கரவாக் காரிகை சுரந்த
முலைமிகப் பிரிந்து முழங்கெரி நடுவணுந்
தலைமகற் பிரியாத் தைய்யல் நிலைபெறும்
தூண்டா விளக்கு..............
........ ......... .......சி சொல்லிய - - - - - - - - - - -45
வரைசர்தம் பெருமா னதுலனெம் பெருமான்
பரைசைவண் களிற்றுப் பூழியன் விரைசெயு
மாதவித் தொங்கல் மணிமுடி வளவன்
சுந்தர சோழன் மந்தர தாரன்
திருப்புய முயங்குந் தேவி விருப்புடன் - - - - - - - 50
வந்துதித் தருளிய மலையர் திருக்குலத்
தோரன் மையாக தமரகத் தொன்மையிற்
குலதெய்வ ........ கொண்டது
(ARE 236 / 1902 S.I.I. Vol.VII.No 863 Inscription of Rajaraja Chola I inscribed Kamban Maniyan, a Chola official  in the Shiva temple in Tirukovalur in Kurukkai-kurram, a subdivision of Miladu (Jananatha-valanadu).

The fourth part of the inscription details about the supreme sacrifice made by poet Kapilar. It has historic significance. Purananuru poems 113, 117 and 201 by Kapilan brings out the story of Vel Pari and his two daughters. Vel Pari, one of the seven great bestowers, ruled Parambu hills (presently called as Pranmalai, located near Singampunari village in Sivagangai district). Poet Kapilar, his bosom friend and life long companion, extolled Vel Pari for his valour and generosity. 
‘பாரி ஒருவனும் அல்லன்;  மாரியும் உண்டு, ஈங்கு உலகு புரப்பதுவே’  (Purananuru, 107)

He is being praised for the act of giving away his chariot to a climber plant.The three crowned Tamil kings Chera, Chola and Pandya wanted expand their kingdoms ruthlessly and turned their attention towards Vel Pari. Vel Pari refused to accept their suzerainty. They laid siege to the heavily fortified Parambu hills and the war dragged for years. Kapilar moved towards the three crowned kings and pacified them to lift the siege. (Purananuru: 109). After prolonged war  Vel Pari was killed by treachery. After his death Kapilar became the guardian for Angavai and Sangavai, the two daughters of Vel Pari and the poet unsuccessfully approached few Velir chieftains to find  grooms. However Kapilar sacrificed his own life by entering fire and immolated himself on top the hillock on the banks of the river Pennai. Later, poet Avvaiyar took care of the daughters of Vel Pari and married them off successfully into the family of Malayaman and the marriage ceremony took place in Karapuranathar Temple, Uthamacholapuram, Salem district. The portion of inscription is in abidance with what is best known through the anthology of poems by Sangam era poets.

வன்கரை பொருது வருபுனல் பெண்னை    67
தென்கரை உள்ளது தீர்த்தத் துறையது 
மொய்வைத்து இயலும் முத்தமிழ் நான்மைத்  
தெய்வக் கவிதைச் செஞ்சொற் கபிலன் 
மூரிவண் தடக்கைப் பாரிதன் அடைக்கலப் 
பெண்ணை மலையர்க் குதவிப் பெண்ணை 
அலைபுனல் அழுவத்து அந்தரிட் சஞ்செல 
மினல்புகும் விசும்பின் வீடுபேறு எண்ணிக்  
கனல்புகுங் கபிலக் கல்லது புனல்வளர் .........  75
(ARE 236 / 1902 S.I.I. Vol.VII.No 863 Inscription of Rajaraja Chola I inscribed Kamban Maniyan, a Chola official  in the Shiva temple in Tirukovalur in Kurukkai-kurram, a subdivision of Miladu (Jananatha-valanadu).

The widely known Kapilar kundru or Kapilakkal is in the middle of the Pennai river in the vicinity of Shiva temple. A small shrine is found on this little hillock. 

Archaeological Excavations at Tirukovalur

The Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology conducted excavations in Tirukovalur in the year 1994. The team laid six trenches. The excavations help us to understand the history of three different cultures since from first century B.C. till the end of 17th century A.D. Fragments of Roman amphora jars (large storage jars used to transport wine, olive oil, fish products, and so on throughout the Roman empire) were excavated in Tirukovalur i.e., outside the boundaries of Roman empire. The Amphora shreds stand as evidence to Indo-Roman trade in Tirukovalur. Coins issued in ancient Rome have also been excavated near Tirukovalur and this also confirms ancient Indo-Roman trade. The site is also marked by the presence of number of decorated red ware shreds and Indian roulette ware (which were made in the northern parts of India) The Indian roulette collected from this site. indicates the ancient trade links with the rest of the country. They have also unearthed terracotta dolls used by the ancient children as toy. Ancient people have laid 9.5 m long drinking water channel by joining together fifty terracotta pipes. Each pipe measured about 19 cm x 16.5 cm x 2 cm.  The unearthing of terracotta spindle reveal the prevalence weaving craft in this region. They have used timber, iron nails and terracotta tiles for constructing the roof in their houses. The excavation also include the pieces of bangles, made in glass, conch and copper, as well as terracotta ear studs. Excavators have also discovered terracotta  smoking pipes datable between 13th and 17th century A.D.

How to get there?

Nearest Bus station: Tirukoilure is well connected with Villupuram and Tiruvannamalai. People will get buses from these two prominent towns.
Nearest Railway station:  Tirukkoyilur Railway station, the very nearby railwaystation, is located on the section line between Villupuram and Katpadi and passes through Tiruvannamalai. Katpadi Junction Railway station, a major railway station, is located 130 km from Tirukkoyilur

  1. Chieftains of the Sangam Age. Tirunavukkarasu, KD. IITS, Madras. 100p.
  2. Sri Thiruvikrama swamy temple. Dinamalar.
  3. Sri Veeratteswarar temple. Dinamalar.
  4. Thiruk-koyilur inscription. R.Nagaswamy. Tamil Arts Academy.
  5. Thanjavur Brihadhiswara Temple Inscriptions. South Indian Inscriptions.
  6. Thiruk-koyilur inscription R.Nagaswamy. Tamil Arts Academy.
  7. Tirukoyilur. One Five Nine.
  8. Tirukoilur temples.  Dr.Ravishankar's blog. October 16, 2011
  9. Veeratteswarar Temple of Shiva
  10. கொடுந்தமிழ் நாடு
  11. சங்ககாலதிற்கு முன்பிருந்த சோழர்கள்
  12. சோழ மன்னர் மெய்க்கீர்த்திகள்
  13. திருக்கோயிலூர். அப்துல் மஜீத், அ. in ஆய்வில் பூத்த மலர்கள். தமிழ்நாடு அரசு தொல்லியல் துறை, சென்னை, 2001. 20 - 25 பக்.    
  14. திருக்கோயிலூர் கீழூர் வீராட்டனேஸ்வரர் திருக்கோயில்.. பிச்சைபிள்ளை கூ. விஜயா பதிப்பகம், உளுந்தூர்ப்பேட்டை, 2016. 144 பக்.   
  15. மலையமான் திருமுடிக்காரியும் முள்ளுர் நாட்டு வளமும்


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.
16554691441_2be636a6b5.jpg (294×500)
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 (
  8. Kaveripoompattinam (
  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. (
  12. Poompuhar. Tamil Nadu Tourism. (
  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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