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)


  1. ASI set up centre to showcase relics of ancient port city. Times of India. March 25, 2009.
  2. Buddhadatta Wikipedia
  3. Gaur A. S. and Sundaresh, Underwater Exploration off Poompuhar and possible causes of its Submergence, 1998, Puratattva, 28: 84-90.
  4. Glad Tidings: The Lost City Poompuhar. Peepal Prodigy School. (
  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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Dance and Drama of Ancient Tamils: Part 2 As Illustrated in Aragetru Kadhai, Silappadikaram

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Madhavi PC The Hindu
Silappadikaram: Treasure Trove of Music and Dance 

The post-Sangam period is noted for the compilation five great epics Silappadikaram (சிலப்பதிகாரம்), Manimekalai (மணிமேகலை), Jivakacintamani (சீவகசிந்தாமணி), Valaiyapati (வளையாபதி), and Kundalakesi (குண்டலகேசி). Thiruthanigai Ula (திருத்தணிகை உலா), early 19th century minor literary work, first mentioned the names of five great epics. Another minor literary work Tamil Vidu Toothu (தமிழ்விடு தூது) referred five great epics as 'Panchakavyam' (பஞ்சகவ்யம்). Five great epics, written over a period of 1st century AD to 10th century AD, portrays the social, religious, cultural and academic life of Tamil society during Sangam era. Dance, music and drama were always been part of ancient Tamil society. 

Silapadikaram (‘The Story of Anklet’), composed by Ilango adigal (இளங்கோ அடிகள்), the Jain poet-prince from Chera country, is considered as the treasure trove of information on music and dance, (both classical and folk) of the period, dealing in great detail with the intricacies and techniques involved. It contains three chapters and a total of 5270 lines (13,870 words) of poetry. The epic, as in Sangam poems, do not revolve around the five land divisions (திணை) (Kurinji (குறிஞ்சி), Mullai (முல்லை), Marudam (மருதம்), Neidal (நெய்தல்) and Palai (பாலை). Instead it adopts the novel convention of considering the geographical and political divisions of Tamil country i.e., Chola (சோழர்), Pandya (பாண்டியர்) and Chera (சேரர்) in relation to their capitals i.e., Poompukar (பூம்புகார்), Madurai (மதுரை), and Vanji (வஞ்சி). Thus the epic was aptly divided into three Kandams (Cantos) i.e., Pukark-kandam (புகார்க் காண்டம் – Pukar canto), Maduraik-kandam (மதுரைக் காண்டம் – Madurai canto) and Vanchik-kandam (வஞ்சிக் காண்டம் – Vanchi canto). It uses akaval meter (monologue) (அகவற்பா), a style adopted in most poems in  Sangam literature. Adiyarkk unallar (அடியார்க்கு நல்லார்), renowned Silappadikaram commentator, delineated the essential nature of poems by virtue of content that forms a unity of having elements of poetry (iyal), music (isai) and drama (natakam) (இயல் இசை நாடக பொருள் தொடர் நிலை செய்யுள்).  

The date is assignable to 2nd century AD. U. V. Swaminatha Iyer (உ.வே சுவாமிநாத அய்யர்) (1855-1942 CE) found that the ancient Tamil poems in palm leaf manuscripts left in a state of neglect and gradual destruction. The Tamil scholar  resurrected Silappadikaram from palm leaf format  and reprinted the epic from palm leaf format to paper book format in 1892 AD. So we are familiar with the printed book of this epic for the past 124 years only.

The epic is attributable for standardizing the folk songs to literary genre.   The epic also details about``yazh'' (14 stringed instrument - lute)  as well as various various Panns, their grammar and demonstrates how different compositions of swaras to result into different ragas with the help of the ``yazh'

Silappadikaram Story

Silappadikaram is the first Tamil epic composed about the life of an ordinary countryman. Kovalan was the son of the merchant prince Masathuvan (மாசாத்துவான்) 
மண்தேய்த்த புகழினான் மதிமுக மடவார்தம் 
பண்தேய்த்த மொழியினார் ஆயத்துப் பாராட்டிக் 
கண்டுஏத்தும் செவ்வேள்என்று இசைபோக்கிக் காதலால் 
கொண்டுஏத்தும் கிழமையான் கோவலன்என் பான்மன்னோ.

That boy was such great fame that the earth was too small to contain it. He was such beauty that moon face damsels, with speech sweet as music, became enamoured of him and sang his praise in the company of girl friends saying: "This is verily Lord Murugan taking visible form to be worshiped by us." His name was Kovalan.

Kannagi was the daughter of the celebrated sea captain Manaikan (மாநாய்கன்). 

போதில்ஆர் திருவினாள் புகழுடை வடிவென்றும் 
தீதிலா வடமீனின் திறம்இவள் திறம்என்றும் 
மாதரார் தொழுதுஏத்த வயங்கிய பெருங்குணத்துக் 
காதலாள் பெயர்மன்னும் கண்ணகிஎன் பாள்மன்னோ,

"The beauty of this damsel is like that of goddess Lakshmi who dwells on the lotus. Her virtue is truly like that of the North Star. She was in love with goodness; her name was Kannagi."  

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Kannagi Kovalan Wedding Procession PC Vallamai

மாலைதாழ் சென்னி வயிரமணித் தூ஡ணகத்து 

நீல விதானத்து நித்திலப்பூம் பந்தர்க்கீழ்
வான்ஊர் மதியம் சகடுஅணைய வானத்துச் 50

சாலி ஒருமீன் தகையாளைக் கோவலன் 
மாமுது பார்ப்பான் மறைவழி காட்டிடத் 
தீவலம் செய்வது ... ..

The parents of of Kovalan and Kannagi celebrated the marriage on an auspicious day on which the Rohini star joins the moon. In a hall with gem studded pillars, decorated with flower garlands hanging above,  under the canopy of blue silk and pearls, with the preceptor guiding him, Kovalan married Kannagi. The couple united like the god of love and his spouse and lived together happily for some time. Kovalan's parents gave a part of the family wealth along with a number of servitors and helped them set up their own household. Kannagi managed her household in a praiseworthy manner.
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Kovalan - Madhavi
Kovalan met the dancer Madhavi (மாமலர் நெடுங்கண் மாதவி) with lotus like eyes in a festival at royal court and fell in love with her. He stayed in Madhavi's home and was so enthralled in embracing her and did not like to part her. In such an infatuation he forgot Kannagi and his home..

மணமனை புக்கு மாதவி தன்னொடு 
அணைவுறு வைகலின் அயர்ந்தனன் மயங்கி 
விடுதல் அறியா விருப்பினன் ஆயினன். 
வடுநீங்கு சிறப்பின்தன் மனையகம் மறந்து

Kovalan also spent all his wealth, obtained through his ancestors, for Madhavi. He got frustrated with Madhavi after some time and breaks off from Madhavi.  He returned repentantly to his uncomplaining wife Kannagi.
சலம்புணர் கொள்கைச் சலதியொடு ஆடிக் 
குலம்தரு வான்பொருள் குன்றம் தொலைந்த
இலம்பாடு நாணுத் தரும்

Kannagi gave her pair of anklets willingly (நலம்கேழ் முறுவல் நகைமுகம் காட்டிச் சிலம்புஉள கொண்மின்) and Kovalan hoped to recoup his fortunes by selling one of his wife's anklets They proceeded to the great city Madurai. (சிலம்பு முதலாகச் சென்ற கலனொடு  உலந்தபொருள் ஈட்டுதல் உற்றேன் மலர்ந்தசீர் மாட மதுரை யகத்துச்சென்று). On arrival at Madurai they found shelter in a cottage. Kovalan visited to the Madurai market to sell one of the anklet. 

In the meant time, an extremely wicked jeweller  robbed the anklet (appearing similar to Kannagi's anklet) of the queen of Pandyan Nedunchezhiyan. On seeing the Kovalan with Kannagi's anklet, the jeweller seized the same and informed the king. 
சிலம்பின் செய்வினை யெல்லாம்
பொய்த்தொழிற் கொல்லன் புரிந்துடன் நோக்கிக்

கோப்பெருந் தேவிக் கல்லதை இச்சிலம்பு
யாப்புற வில்லை யெனமுன் போந்து
விறல்மிகு வேந்தற்கு விளம்பியான் வரவென்
சிறுகுடி லங்கண் இருமின்

Kovalan was accused as the thief (சிலம்பு கொண்ட கள்வன்). The Pandyan sent his guards to apprehend Kovalan and the guards killed Kovalan and taken the anklet to Pandya's court.  
... ...  என் 
தாழ்பூங் கோதை தன்காற் சிலம்பு
கன்றிய கள்வன் கைய தாகில்
கொன்றச் சிலம்பு கொணர்க

கல்லாக் களிமக னொருவன் கையில்
வெள்வாள் எறிந்தனன் விலங்கூ டறுத்தது
... ... ...
... ... ...
காவலன் செங்கோல் வளைஇய வீழ்ந்தனன்
கோவலன் பண்டை ஊழ்வினை உருத்தென்.

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Kannagi in Pandya Court PC Vallamai
பொங்கி எழுந்தாள் விழுந்தாள் ....
செங்கண் சிவப்ப அழுதாள்

The news of Kovalan's murder reached Kannagi and her eyes ablaze with anger she rushed immediately with her remaining anklet (நின்ற சிலம்பொன்று கையேந்தி). She proved her husband's innocence before Pandyan Nedunchezhiyan. Kannagi cursed the Madurai city to set ablaze to flames.  The patron goddess of Madurai city interceded Kannagi and she accepted to withdraw her curse and the fire ablated. Later Kannagi reached the hill outside the city and after her death she reunited with Kovalan in heaven. The news of her struggle and death spread across the Tamil Land. Kannagi was deified, people built temples and held festivals in honor of Kannagi. She became an icon of wifely loyalty and chastity and she is being deified as patron goddess.

Commentary of Adiyakku Nallar on Koothu 

In the third chapter, Arangetrukaadai” (அரங்கேற்று காதை) or “the debut on-stage performance,” details the knowledge and skills necessary for a dancer, dance master (ஆடல் ஆசான்), the composer of verses (பாடல் ஆசிரியர்), the drummer (percussion) instrumentalist (தண்ணுமை (மிருதங்கம்) என்னும் தாளவிசைக் கருவி வாசிப்பவர்), flutist (புல்லாங்குழல் (வாய்க்காற்றால் ஊதி இசைக்கப்படும் கருவி) வாசிப்பவர்) and yazh (lute) (string) instrumentalist (யாழ் நரம்பு இசைக்கருவி வாசிப்பவர்).
இருவகைக் கூத்தின் இலக்கணம் அறிந்து 
பலவகைக் கூத்தும் விலக்கினிற் புணர்த்துப் 
பதினோர் ஆடலும் பாட்டும் கொட்டும் 
விதிமாண் கொள்கையின் விளங்க அறிந்து

The dance master should know the nuances of the two 'koothus' i.e., Aka-koothu (அகக்கூத்து) and Pura-koothu (புறக்கூத்து). Aka-koothu, also known as 'Vettiyal-koothu,' (வேத்தியல் கூத்து) will be performed in royal courts before king and the royal court-officials. Pura-koothu, also known as 'Pothuviyal-koothu,' (பொதுவியல் கூத்து) will be performed before common mass. The dance master should also be proficient in eleven modes of dances: 1.Kadayam (கடையம்), 2. Marakkal (மரக்கால்), 3.Kudai (குடை), 4.Thudi (துடி), 5.Mal (மால்), 6.Alliam (அல்லியம்), 7.Kumbam / kudam (கும்பம் / குடம்), 8.Pedu (பேடு), 9.Pavai (பாவை): 10. Pandarangam (பாண்டரங்கம்),  and 11. Kodukotti (கொடுகொட்டி). A Tamil poem helps one to remember these eleven dance modes:    

'கடையம், அயிராணி மரக்கால்விந்தை, கந்தன், குடை, துடிமால், அல்லியமல், கும்பம் - சுடர்விழியால் பட்டமதன் பேடுதிருப் பாவை அரண் பாண்டரங்கம் கொட்டியிவை காண்பதினோர் கூத்து'

Adiyarkku Nallar (12th / 13th century AD), renowned commentator, covers the entire work of Silappadikaram and cites the ancient Tamil works on verse, prose and drama in his commentary. The commentator details the koothus in pairs:

1. Vettiyal (வேத்தியல்) against Pothuviyal (பொதுவியல்); 2. Santhi koothu (சாந்திக் கூத்து) against Vinotha koothu (விநோதக் கூத்து); 3. Vari koothu (வரிக்கூத்து) against Vari-Santhi koothu (வரிசாந்திக் கூத்து); 4. Vasai koothu (வசைக் கூத்து) against Pukal koothu (புகழ்க் கூத்து); 5. Ariya koothu (ஆரியக் கூத்து) against Tamil koothu (தமிழ்க் கூத்து); 6. Eyalpu koothu (இயல்புக் கூத்து) against Desi koothu (தேசிக் கூத்து).

Santhi koothu (சாந்திக் கூத்து) comprise four kinds of koothus i.e., 1. Chokam (சொக்கம்), 2. Mei koothu (மெய்க் கூத்து), 3. Abinaya (அவிநயம்) and 4. Natakam (நாடகம்). Chokam, also known as 'Suddha Nrittam,' (சுத்த நிருத்தம்) which constitutes '108 Thandava Karanas' (108 தாண்டவ கரணங்கள்) Mei koothu (மெய்க் கூத்து) is made up of dumb-shows with gesticulations and conventional posturing. Abhinaya (அவிநயம்) depicts in action and poses, the feelings and sensations as experienced by the person, as described by the words of the songs. Abinaya includes both Rasa-abinaya and Vachika-abinaya. Natakam relates to huge story or epic. The play is divided into many scenes of poems and conversations. Natakam (நாடகம்) is based on Sanskrit and Tamil literature. Since Vinotha koothu (விநோதக் கூத்து) is oriented towards entertainment, fun and play, it incorporates some quantity of artful trickery and jugglery i.e., balancing on rope, puppetry, balancing tiers of pots on the head etc., It includes seven variants: 1. Kuravai koothu (குரவைக் கூத்து), 2. Kallai koothu (கல்லைக் கூத்து), 3. Kuda koothu (குடக்  கூத்து), 4. Karanam (கரணம்), 5. Nokku (நோக்கு), 6. Thodpavai Koothu (தோற்பாவைக் கூத்து) and 7. Vinotha koothu(விநோதக் கூத்து).

Vari koothu (வரிக்கூத்து) is performed by actors with songs (pieces of poems set into music) with occasional interludes. 1. Kurathi pattu (குறத்தி பாட்டு) and 2. Ulathi pattu (உழத்தி பாட்டு) are specific Tamil poetic compositions.  Vari-Santhi koothu (வரிசாந்திக் கூத்து) is the variation of Vari-koothu.

Vasai koothu (வசைக் கூத்து) deals with satire and Pukal koothu (புகழ்க் கூத்து) deals with eulogizing or praise formally and eloquently.

Ariya koothu (ஆரியக் கூத்து) stands for the narratives from Ramayana and Mahabharata. Tamil koothu (தமிழ்க் கூத்து) stands for Tamil folklore narratives like Sudalai Madan.

Desi koothu (தேசிக் கூத்து) include three variants; 1. Desi koothu (தேசிக் கூத்து), 2. Vadaku koothu and Singhalam koothu (சிங்களக் கூத்து)Desi koothu (தேசிக் கூத்து) involves the dance of Tamil country, Vadaku koothu (வடக்குக் கூத்து), is also known as Marka koothu (மார்க்கக் கூத்து), and is well known as the dance of the Telugu country, whilst Singhala was regarded as the dance of the Singhala country.

Venri koothu (வென்றிக் கூத்து) deals with the celebrations of victory over the enemy king.  Sakkai koothu (சாக்கைக் கூத்து), another ancient form of koothu comprise Pirapantha koothu (பிரபந்தக் கூத்து), Nankiyar koothu (நங்கியர் கூத்து), and Koodi Attam (கூடி ஆட்டம்). Sakkai Koothu and Koodi Attam are being performed in Kerala  Another category of eleven dances by deities called 'Diva Viruthy' was mentioned in Sillapapdikaram.

“Arangetrukaadai” or “the debut on-stage performance”

In the third chapter, “Arangetrukaadai” (அரங்கேற்று காதை) or “the debut on-stage performance”, Madhavi got ready for her maiden dance performance before the court of the Chola king Karikalan at Poompukar, the Chola capital. The chapter narrates in great details the debut performance and the entire text has extensive references to technical terms connected to dance and music. 

Danseuse Madhavi (மாதவி) was the daughter of Chitrapathy (சித்ரபதி) and she hailed from Kanigaiyar  (கணிகையர்) tradition (a Devadasi family). Arangetrukaadai traces how by the curse of sage Agathiya (அகத்தியர்), Urvasi (ஊர்வசி) (celestial dancer) and Jayanthan (ஜயந்தன்) (son of Lord Indra) were born as Madhavi (மாதவி), the dance heroine, and Thalaikol (தலைக்கோல் ) respectively. She is celebrated in the line of descent of Urvasi and is called Vanavamakal (divine woman). She learned dance from the age of five and mastered the classical dance at the age of twelve. Madhavi’s debut dance (arangetram)  took place at Poompukar, the capital of the Chola Kingdom, in the presence of the Chola King, the learned assembly and the citizens. After the rigorous full time training for seven years under the able guidance of the  dance master (ஆடல் ஆசான்) she was fit enough to exhibit her dance before the Chola king. 

பிறப்பிற் குன்றாப் பெருந்தோள் மடந்தை
தாதுஅவிழ் புரிகுழல் மாதவி தன்னை
ஆடலும் பாடலும் அழகும் என்றுஇக்
கூறிய மூன்றின் ஒன்றுகுறை படாமல்
ஏழாண்டு இயற்றிஓர் ஈராறு ஆண்டில் 10
சூழ்கடல் மன்னற்குக் காட்டல் வேண்டி  (Silappadikaram, Aragetru Kadhai (6-11)
Madhavi's dance master should know the nuances of the two 'koothus' i.e., Aka-koothu (Vettiyal koothu) and Pura-koothu (Pothuviyal koothu),  The master should harmonize various kinds of dance forms with proper songs. He must be proficient in the eleven modes of dance as well as music and percussion instruments as prescribed in the relevant prescript. The master should aware the appropriate occasion to apply the hand gestures such as 1. pindi (பிண்டி), 2. pinayal (பிணையல்), 3. ezhirkai (எழிற்கை) and 4. thozhirkai (தொழிற்கை).
                                                      ஆடலும் பாடலும் பாணியும் தூக்கும் 
கூடிய நெறியின கொளுத்துங் காலைப் 
பிண்டியும் பிணையலும் எழிற்கையும் தொழிற்கையும் 
கொண்ட வகைஅறிந்து கூத்துவரு காலைக் 
கூடை செய்தகை வாரத்துக் களைதலும்

வாரம் செய்தகை கூடையிற் களைதலும் 
பிண்டி செய்தகை ஆடலிற் களைதலும் 
ஆடல் செய்தகை பிண்டியிற் களைதலும் 
குரவையும் வரியும் விரவல செலுத்தி 
ஆடற்கு அமைந்த ஆசான்  (Silappadikaram, Aragetru Kadhai (16-25)

The music teacher (இசை ஆசிரியர்) of Madhavi should be skilled enough in playing on the yazh (lute) and flute in accordance with the rhythm and vocal music. He should also be skilled in playing low sounding tabor and in harmonizing the songs with the musical instruments. The music teacher should be knowledgeable in the pronunciation of the words of the languages. The composer of the song should be conversant in Tamil language and be familiar with the rules of grammar of the two categories of dance: Vettiyal and pothuviyal 

The percussion instrumentalist (drummer) (தண்ணுமை இசைக் கலைஞர்) should be proficient and knowledgeable in the dance forms, lyrical compositions, music, Tamil literature. He should play on the instrument in such a way to keep the tempo doubled with the rhythm kept intact. The drummer should play the instrument to perfectly to harmonize with the yazh (lute) and flute sounds as well as the vocalist's voice.  The flute player should be conversant with the prescribed rules of the flute-music. The flutist (குழல்  இசைக் கலைஞர்) should be proficient in the two kinds of manipulations i.e., chittiram and vanjanai by which the harsh sounds of the song are made pleasing to the ear.  The yazh player (யாழ்   இசைக் கலைஞர்) should be skilled in playing yazh with fourteen strings, arrange in the right order which could produce the palai scales. Silappadikaram mentions about four different kinds of yazhs (lute): 1. mulari yazh 2 sruthi veenai 3 Parijatha veenai 4 Chathurthandi veenai.

The site for the construction of the dance stage chosen in conformity with the authoritative rules and directions. They have employed the measuring rod measuring about twenty four thumb breadth long. The measuring rod was cut out of a tall bamboo with a span long between two joints. The stage was eight rods in length, seven rods in breadth and one rod in height. The plank placed above the pillars was four rods above the platform. The stage was provided with two appropriate doors. Above the stage were placed the pictures of the demons worthy of worship. The graceful lighting up the stage was so located that the shadow cast by the pillars did not darken the auditorium. The stage was fitted with single-side screen, a double-side screen, and a concealed, over-hanging screen. It had a finely-painted ceiling, and the garlands of pearls hung all over.
நூல்நெறி மரபின் அரங்கம் அளக்கும் 
கோல்அளவு இருபத்து நால்விரல் ஆக 100

எழுகோல் அகலத்து எண்கோல் நீளத்து 
ஒருகோல் உயரத்து உறுப்பினது ஆகி 
உத்தரப் பலகையொடு அரங்கின் பலகை 
வைத்த இடைநிலம் நாற்கோல் ஆக 
ஏற்ற வாயில் இரண்டுடன் பொலியத் 105

தோற்றிய அரங்கில் தொழுதனர் ஏத்தப் 
பூதரை எழுதி மேல்நிலை வைத்துத் 
தூண்நிழல் புறப்பட மாண்விளக்கு எடுத்துஆங்கு 
ஒருமுக எழினியும் பொருமுக எழினியும் 
கரந்துவரல் எழினியும் புரிந்துடன் வகுத்து
ஓவிய விதானத்து உரைபெறு நித்திலத்து 
மாலைத் தாமம் வளையுடன் நாற்றி 
விருந்துபடக் கிடந்த அருந்தொழில் அரங்கத்து
(Silappadikaram, Aragetru Kadhai (99-113)

Talaikkol, the sacred rod made of bamboo, would be wielded by the dance-master to regulate the dance. The shaft represents Jayanta, Indra’s son who according to legend, was cursed by Sage Agastya to be born as a bamboo stick. Talaikkol was invariably the shaft of the umbrella of the enemy king and was seized in war.
காவல் வெண்குடை மன்னவன் கோயில்
இந்திர சிறுவன் சயந்தன் ஆகென
வந்தனை செய்து வழிபடு தலைக்கோல் (Silappadikaram, Aragetru Kadhai(118-120)

Its joints were set with nine gems and the intervening spaces were covered with plates of pure gold. The poet provides finer details about the ceremony of Talaikkol. On an auspicious day the Talaikkol was washed with the sacred waters of Cauvery brought in golden pitcher and then garlanded and worshiped. Later it was placed in the trunk of the royal elephant adorned with gold plated bands. The drums and other musical instruments would be beaten to proclaim the kings victory. The king along with his live fold retinue and the royal elephant, circumambulated the chariot on which the poet was seated and handed over the talaikkol to him. Then they all went in a procession to the dance hall and placed the talakkol on the dance stage.

From that  time on the instrumentalists took their seats as per the laid down order, Madhavi ascended the stage, placing her right foot first and stood near the pillar to the right in confirmation with the norms. The elder dancers assembled by the side of the pillar on the left. The two conventional prayer songs were sung praying for maximizing the virtue and the cease of the vice. At the conclusion of the prayer all the instruments were sounded. The yazh (lute) harmonized with the flute; the tabor sounded in harmony with the yazh; the pot drum was in harmony with the tabor and the anantirikai harmonized with the pot-drum.

A 'mandilam' comprise two strokes and Madhavi danced eleven mandilams without deviating from dancing conventions and thus completed antarakkottu. She then danced the melodic improvisation of the auspicious palai tune without deviating its rigid measure. Demonstrating the four parts of the song, she commenced with three mandilams and concluded with one mandilam; in this way she danced the 'desi-dance' In the same manner she also danced the vaduhu dance, commencing with three mandilams and concluding with one mandilam. In her dance she conscientiously followed the prescription of the dance-scriptures. It looked as if a golden creeper full of flowers was dancing.

The king presented her with his leaf garland, conferring on her the title Talaikkoli in recognition of her skill. He also presented her one thousand and eight gold coins as her one day's fee, according to the prescribed convention. The dancer is now qualified to be called as a ‘professional dancer’ or ‘Natakaganikai’

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