Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala : Part - 1

The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala in the history of Kerala & Tamil Nadu : Part - 1


A Prelude to the Research Article on Kodungallur

Kodungallur is a region in the southern tip of the present Thrissur district of Kerala State, South India - adjoining the Arabian sea. Today it remains a city of less commercial and industrial activities and modern buildings. However it has centres of religious worship, namely the Temples, Churches and Mosques.

Kodungallur was also known as Cranganore during the English occupation of the region. It could be placed as the first region of Kerala "of much historical importance", while Thiruvananthapuram the present capital of Kerala could only take the third place, while Kollam takes the second place.

However due to less developments in this region, it has not attracted the attention of many Keralites who are still not aware of "the great historical significance of this region in Kerala history". This could be the possible reason why the Kerala Map Printers too show the name of Kodungallur in tiny letters in their Kerala Maps, and in some Maps it is not shown at all.

The objective of this Article is do give a deep insight into the actual history of Kodungallur hitherto not known to many, and to highlight the great significance of this region supported by evidences.



(1) The two eras of Kerala History

The history of the present Kerala State - South India could be divided into two eras, one ranging from ancient times to the end of the twelth century (A.D.1200) and classified as the Tamil Period of it's History, and the other ranging from the beginning of the thirteenth century (A.D.1201) to this date and classified as the Malayalam Period of it's History.


(2) The traditional geographical boundries of Kerala

Kerala is the Sanskritised version of the Tamil "Chera", and the region of the Chera country had as it's boundries the "Kolikkodu" in the west, "Palani" in the north, "South Kaasi"(Ten Kasi) in the east, and the seafront in the south covering eighty Kavatham of land (Kavatham - a land measure).

Note:The above is better understood, if taken as the Chera country encompassed within the outer boundries Kolikkodu, Palani, Ten Kasi and Sea (south beyond Kovalam).

The above are confirmed by the following reference:

".....Vadakku thisai Palani vaan Keel Then Kaasi Kudakku thisai Kolikkodaam - Kadatkaraiyil
oramo Thetkkahum ulla En Pathi Kavatham
Chera Naatu ellai ena seppu....."


Perunthohai by M.Ragavaiyangar, Verse - 2091, Madurai Thamil Sangam Publication 1935 - 1936


(3) The Kings of early Kerala

From the earliest known times the Kerala (Chera Nadu) situated on the eastern part of the South India was ruled by Tamil Hindu kings, and many Tamil Literary works of the early and medieval periods of both Kerala and Tamil Nadu refer to them as the Chera kings.

The region of the former Chera country was encompassed within the present Kerala state, while the regions of the former Chola and Paandiya (Pandiya) Countries were encompassed within the present Tamil Nadu State, and were known in the early days as the “Muth Thamil Nadu” (three Tamil Countries).

These three Tamil countries from their early days had as their royal emblems the Bow (Chera), Fish (Paandiya), and Tiger (Chola) respectively in their flags.


The above are confirmed by the following references:

"........vada thisai marungin mannarkku ellaam then Thamil Naattu chelu Vil, Kayal, Puli manthalai aetra varaiha eengu"......."

Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihal, Vanji Kaandam, Kaatchi Kaathai U.V.Swaminatha Iyer edition

".......mudi udai venthar moovarullum
kudathisai aalum kotram kuntraa
aaram maarpit Chera kulathu uthiththor....."


Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihal, Vanji Kaandam - Katturai. U.V.Swaminatha Iyer edition


(4) Earliest references to Kerala in early Indian Literature

The earliest known references to the Kerala (Chera Nadu) in the Indian Literature are found in the original Sanskrit epics - namely the Ramaayana of poet Vaalmihi, and the Mahaabhaaratha.of poet Viyaasar.

In Ramaayana it is noted Sukkrivan requesting Anuman to go in search of Sita in the countries in the southern region of India - among Kerala, Pundhara, Chola and Paandiya countries.

In Mahaabhaaratha we find Sanjayan while mentioning the countries in the south of India to king Thirutharastra, refers to Kerala along with Andhra, Karnataka and Chola. Mahaabhaaratha further states the Keralas along with the Pandiyas and Cholas fought on the side of the Paandavas in the Mahaabhaaratha war.

There are ‘many’ other references to Keralas in the Viyasa’s Mahaabhaaratha. (Refer to my thread titled “The references to Tamil dynasties and countries in the Mahaabhaaratha” in this same Website)


The above are confirmed by the following references:

"...sarvam eve anupashyata tathaiva Aandhraan ca Pundran ca Colaan, Paandyaan, Keralaan....."

Ramayana - by Valmiki, Kishkinda Kanda,Volume 4, Chapter 41, Lines 12

"……Sanjaya said, listen to me O king (Thiratharastra).......to the names of the provinces as I mention them. They are.......the Keralas......the Andhras......"

".....There are other kingdoms O bull of Bharatha's race, in the south. They are the Dravidas, the Keralas......the Karanatakas......the Cholas......"


Mahabharatha – by Viyasa, Bhisma Parva, Page 21& 22

"........When that host was being thus struck and slain by heroic warriors, the Parthas headed by Vrikodara advance against us. They consisted of Dhrishtayumna and Sikhandin, and the five sons of Draupadi, and the Prabhadrakes, and Satyaki, and Chekitana with the Dravida forces, and the Pandyas, the Cholas, and the Keralas, surrounded by a mighty array,......".

Mahabharatha – by Viyasa, Karna Parva, Page 25.


(5) The Confederacy of the Kerala (Chera), Chola, and Paandiya (Pandiya)

In South India there has been a confederacy of the Tamil kingdoms (Tamira Countries) of Chera, Chola, and Paandiya (Muth Tamil Nadu), to jointly prevent the kings of the north and central India from invading their countries. This confederacy that existed for 113 years from B.C.283 was broken by king Karavela of Kalinga in the year B.C.170, which was a potential threat to his own kingdom.

The Tamil kingdoms of Chera, Chola and Paandiya of that period ensured the unity of the southern Tamil Nadu of that period, even at the times of their individual invasions of the northern Ariyan kings. The Ariyan kings too recognised the unity and the strength of the Tamil kings and have referred to them as the kings of the Tamil Nadu in the south, who have carved their royal emblems the Bow, Tiger and Fish individually on the mountain range of the Himalayas, at different times.

The Kerala kings too in their North Indian expeditions considered it as a great pride to have carved their emblem the Bow on the Himalayas, and also having seen the Thamilakam (Chera, Chola & Paandiya) of that period bound by sea all round, stressing on their unity.

This confederacy of the three southern Tamil kingdoms the Kerala (Chera), Chola and Paandiya, prevented the Maurya Emperor Asoka too from conquereing their countries in Southern India. This could have been the reason why when his domains extended as far as Mysore, he has referred in his Second Rock Edict that the Kerala (Chera), Chola, and Paandiya countries as being beyond his domains. However King Asoka was successful in penetrating the three Tamil countries as far as Taamiraparni river in south Paandiya Nadu, with his Buddhist Dhamma religious mission.

In the above edict the Keralas are mentioned as the Keralaputras, that is the Putras of Kerala, meaning the sons of the soil of Kerala. From the above it is very clear that the Keralas were known to the people of North India also during the period of the Maurya Emperor Asoka, who ruled the Magadha kingdom from B.C.273 - 236.

The Fourteenth Edict of Asokan period has only mentioned of the Cholas and Paandiyas, but it is already clear that they knew of the kingdom of Kerala in the South India as seen from the Second Edict.


The above are confirmed by the following references:

"............vada Aariyar padai kadanththu
then Thamil Naadu orungu kaana........"


Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihal, Mathurai Kaandam, Katturai kaathai
U.V.Swaminatha Iyer edition


“…….then Thamil Nadu aalum venthar seruveatu puhantru elunthu min thavalum ImayaNetriyil vilangu vil, puli, kayal poriththa naal empolum mudi mannar eengu illlai polum

Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adihal, Mathurai Kaandam, Katturai kaathai
U.V.Swaminatha Iyer edition


"…..Imayam vitporith imil kadal velith thamilakam vilanga…."

Pathirtrupaththu - 2nd Patthu - by Kumatoor Kannanaar, U.V.Saminatha Iyer edition.

"....Every where within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi's domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Taamraparni, and where the Greek king Antiochos rules,....."

"......Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Beloved-of-the-Gods considers to be the best conquest. And it has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Taamraparni. Here in the king's domain among the Greeks, the Kambojas, the Nabhakas, the Nabhapamkits, the Bhojas, the Pitinikas, the Andhras and the Palidas, everywhere people are following Beloved-of-the-Gods' instructions in Dhamma......"


Edicts of Asoka - an English rendering by Ven Dhammika, published by Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka - 1994 (Net Edition)

(L.11) ".......and (he) thoroughly breaks up the confederacy of the T[r]amira (Dramira) countries of one hundred and thirteen years, which has been a source of danger to (his) Country (Janapada)....."

Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela of Kalinga (B.C.170)
Epigraphia Indica - Vol. XX, 86-89.



(6) The Rivers flowing in the close vicinity of Kodungallur of Kerala (Chera)

Among all the rivers flowing across Kerala, the longest river is the present Periyar river, flowing in to the Kodungallur Lagoon (Lagoon - a lake fed by sea water). The present Periyar of Kerala was originally known as the Periyaaru meaning the big river (in Tamil). However it's original name was not merely Periyaaru, but was known as the "Chulliyam Periyaaru" of Cheras.

We see many references to different rivers in India with such name combinations namely as Gangai Periyaaru, Kaviri Periyaaru, Pennai Periyaaru, Vaikai Periyaaru etc. Hence from the foregoing it is clear the Periyaaru has been used in the sense of "Periya Aaru" (in Tamil) meaning the big River, with their actual names prefixed to the term Periyaaru. Hence it is clear that "Chulliyam" was the original name of the Periyaaru of Kerala, which the poet states belonged to the Chera kings (Cheralar).

Also there is another river named Pullut Phuza (Pullut River) which flows from the north of Kerala passing adjacent to the present Kodungallur region - the former Vanchi nagar, and then turns around this region to the west and falls into the same Kodungallur Lagoon. The Pullut Phuza (Phuza in Malayalam = River) was the former Aan Porunai River(in Tamil) mentioned in many Tamil Literary works of the early period, and positively confirmed by Silappathikaaram as surrounding the Vanji Nagar of Cheras, and is of much importance in the study of Kerala (Chera) history.

There is the third river named Chalakkudi which joins with Periyar near present Chowkakadavu and then falls into the Kodungallur Lagoon. From the Kodungallur Lagoon the confluence of these three rivers falls into the nearby sea at the present Alikode (Aalikkodu), the former region of the famed seaport city of Musiri.


The above are confirmed by the following references:

In Ahananooru the rivers Chulliyam, Kaviri, Pennai of South India, and Ganga of North India are referred to as Periyaaru.

"....Cheralar Chulliam Periyaartru vennurai kalanga.......................................................valam elu Musiri"

Ahananooru - chapter 7, verse 149

“…..Kadatkarai melikkum Kaviri Periyaaru….:”

Ahananooru - verse 126

“……kadum punal malintha Kaviri Periyaatru……”

Ahanaanooru – verse 62

“…..Pennai am Periyaartru……”

Ahanaanooru – verse 35

In Silappathikaaram the rivers Vaihai of south India, and Ganga of north India are referred to as Periyaaru

“…..Vaihai Periyaaru valamsuranthu ootalum….”

Silappathikaaram, Katturai Kaathai, line 208

“……kadun punal Gangai Periyaatru ventroi……”

Silappathikaaram, Nadukal Kaathai, line 121

".......vaali varu punal neer Aan Porunai sool
tharum Vanjiyar komaan than thol kulame...."


Silappathikaarem – Vaalthukaathai – 14


(7) The Musiri the earliest known seaport city of Kerala near Kodungallur

The Musiri is the earliest known seaport city of the Kerala (Chera Kothai) kings at the estuary of the confluence of three rivers, at the present Alikode in west Kerala adjacent to the sea.

The scenic description of the Musiri port is described in the contemporary period Tamil Literary work Puranaanooru as follows:
:

“…..With the fish piled up and the paddy heaped within the elevated house of boats (ambi) with the pepper bags (too) within this house (outer) fortification, brought the load to the shore of the sea where the seaport Musiri was situated possibly along the rivers (undoubtedly along Aan Porunai, Chulliam Periyaaru, and Chalakkudi), (where) the ships with gifts of gold (too) brought to shore by small ships (thoni) – (thus) the products of hills and the seas unloaded and distributed to those who came there (for trading) was the Kuttuvan’s Musiri (port) with noise of the roaring sea…..”.

The Greeks and the Romans with the discovery of the favourable wind named "Hippalus" (in A.D.47), travelled to the nearest seaport of India namely the Musiri in much quicker time of forty days from the Ocelis port of Arabia.

The first known reference to Musiri from the external sources comes from the Roman Historian named Pliny in A.D.77, who refers that:

"....Musiri as a seat of goverment under the rule of Chera kings was a seaport city at the height of prosperity frequented by ships and was of leading importance. Muziris of the Cheras abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia and of Greeks. From the Tamil historical sources we note this king was the Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan (A.D.74 - 132)....."

Further reference to Muziris is made in A.D.100 by a Greek historian named Periplus who states:

“….Musiri was not a desirable place of call, with pirates being in the neighbourhood who occupied a place called Nitrias (the Naruvu as known to Tamils north of Musiri occupied by Kadambar) and besides it is not well supplied with wares for traffic. Ships besides anchor at a great distance from the shore and cargoes have to be landed and shipped by employing boats. During this time the Caelobothras (Keralaputhra) was the sovereign of that country…..”

The Musiri being the seaport city of the Chera kingdom is also confirmed by Ptolemy in the year A.D.150. He refers to:

".....Musiri Emporium as a sea port city that was ruled at that time by Kerobothras....."

which is a corruption of Cheraputhras or Keralaputhras, as found in the Asokan Inscriptions, meaning the people of Kerala (Chera) country.

Further from the Ptolemy's geographical cordinates it is clear that the Muziris emporium a seaport city was situated immediately north and at the mouth of the Pseudostomos river, identified as the "specific reference" to the "AanPorunai river" (present Pullut river), entering the sea as a confluence of three rivers the other two being the Periyar and the Chalakkudi rivers.

Hence the sea port city of the Chera Naadu of the first and second century A.D. known as Musiri could be very positively located at the river (mouth) estuary of the confluence of these three rivers the principal river among them being the Periyar river, where they meet the sea around the present Alikode region near the Kodungallur.

The above are confirmed by the following references

"….Kothai Musiriyar Koman....."

Muththolaayiram – section 3 (on Cheras), verse 116

“…..Meen noduththu nelkuvai yi
misai ambiyin manai marukkunthu
manaikkuvai iya kari moodaiyal
kali summaiya karai kalak kurunthu
kalam thantha pot parisam
kalithoniyaan, karaiserkunthu
malai thaaramum kadal thaaramum
thalai peithu, varunarkku eeyum
punal am kallin polanthaar Kuttuvan
mulanghu kadal mulavin Musiri anna....."


Puranaanooru – verse 343

"....the voyage from Syagrus a cape in Arabia reckoned at 1335 miles, can be performed by aid of the west wind which is there called "Hippalus".....To those who are bound for India, Ocelis is the best place for embarkation. If the wind called Hippalus be blowing Muziris the nearest mart of India can be reached in forty days. It is not a desirable place of call, pirates being in the neighbourhood who occupied a place called Nitrias, and besides it is not well supplied with wares for traffic. Ships besides anchor at a great distance from the shore and cargoes have to be landed and shipped by employing boats. At the time I was writing this Caelobothras was the sovereign of that country......"

Ancient India as described in Classical Literatue - translated by J.W. M'Crindle - page 111-112 (Natural History by Pliny (A.D.77), Vol 6, chapter on Geography of India

"....Then follow Naura and Tyndis the first marts of Limyrike, and after these Muziris and Nelcynda the seats of Goverment. To the kingdom under the sway of Ceprobotras, Tyndis is subject, a village of great note situate near the sea. Muziris which pertains to the same realm is a city at the height of prosperity, frequented as it is by ships. It lies near a river at a distance from Tyndis of 500 stadia whether measured from river to river or by the length of the sea voyage and it is 20 stadia distant from the mouth of its own river. The distance of Nelcynda from Muziris is also nearly 500 stadia whether measured from river to river or by sea voyage but it belongs to Pandion......."

Periplus Maris Erythraei - translated from Greek by J.W M'Crindle (extracted from Classical Accounts of India by R.C, Majumdar, Page 305)

"......Then comes Naura and Tyndis, the first markets of Damirica, and then Muziris and Nelcynda which are now of leading importance. Tyndis is of the kingdom of Cerobothra, it is a village in plain sight by the sea. Muziris of the same kingdom abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia and by the Greeks. It is located on a river distant from Tyndis by river and sea five hundred stadia, and up the river from the shore 20 stadia. Nelcynda is distant from Muziris by river and sea five hundred stadia and is of another kingdom Pandian......"

Mouziris, an emporium ...................................117 deg 14 deg
Mouth of the river Pseudostomos.....................117 deg 20 min 14 deg


The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea - translated from Greek by Wilfred H Schoff, page 44


(8) Subsequent invasion of Musiri by the Pandiyan king Cheliyan

From a poem in the Tamil Literary work “Ahanaanooru” we also come to know:

".....that the Pandiyan Cheliyan once raided the ancient estuary (of Periyar) at Musiri (seaport city), where the warlike Cheliyan (Pandiyan king) with tall strong elephant surrounded (the city) to the shock (of the inhabitants) raided in severe battle, and took (to himself) the statue......."

Among two other poems from “Ahanaanooru”, one confirms that the Pandiyan (king) Cheliyan raided the city of Musiri at the estuary (Musiri munthurai), while the other refers he having won the Cheral (possibly ruling Musiri), and in both the Cheliyan has been referred to as having “koi suvar puravi kodi ther” meaning the ‘Cheliyan with chariot having horses of trimmed mane and flag’. Hence the the Pandiyan king Cheliyan was no other than the “Thalai Alanganaththu seru ventra Cheliyan” as seen in one of the latter two poems of Ahanaanooru.

It is noted that there is no reference in these poems to him capturing the Karur or Vanji in the same raid, being the capital city of the Chera kings. This indicates the purpose of the raid by Pandiyan Cheliyan was to ‘secure to himself a Statue’("padimam vaviya") from the seaport city of Musiri, that has been of much value and importance to him.

At the time of this raid the Kadamba king (known for their pirate activities) named Erumaiyooran ruled from Naravu north of Musiri.

This above are confirmed by the following references

"........valam elu Musiri arrpu ela valaiyee
arum samam kadanthu padimam vaviya
nedu nal yanai adu por Cheliyan......"


Ahananooru - chapter 7, verse 148

"......koi suvat puravi kodit ther Cheliyan
muthu neer mun thurai Musiri muttri....
kaliru pada erukkiya kallen gnatpin
arumpunn urunarin varunthinal...."


Ahanaanooru - verse 57

“……ko isuvar puravi kodither Cheliyan
Alanganaththu ahan thalai sivappa,
Cheral, Sembiyan, …………………..
…….Naar ari Naravin Erumaiyooran
……………………………………entru
Eluvar nal valam adanga oru pakal
Murasai yodu venkudai ahappaduththu……..”


Ahanaanooru - verse 36


(9) The Karuvur the earliest known inland capital city of Kerala near Kodungallur

The inland capital of the earliest known Kerala (Chera) kings was the Karuvur also known as Karur. (The latter is also spelt as Karoor with the same pronounciation). This capital city was located at the present Karuvapadna, a little distance north from the Kodungallur Lagoon along the present Pullut river (former Aan Porunai river) and on the right side of it near the present Vallivattom bridge.

It is clearly evident that the present Karuvapadna and the region surrounding same were the former Karuvur Pattinam of the Cheras, which is confirmed by the very fact the regions in and around Karuvapadna are known even today as Karoor Paadam, Karoorpadna junction, Karoorpadna Kulam etc. This was undoubtedly the ancient Karur City, and is confirmed in the above reference that it was the royal seat meaning the capital city of the Kerobothras (the Keralas or Cheras).

It is also shown in the Ptolemy's map that it was located a little interior but not far from Musiri, and on the right side of the river Pseudostomos river. Further we are aware that all three rivers namely the Periyar, the Chalakudi, and the Pullut river that meets at the Kodungallur Lagoon and falling into the sea, are not shown in Ptolemy's map. Only one river is shown in same, and is also mentioned that the Karoura - the royal seat of Kerobothras was on its right side adjacent to it.

From the above geographical locations as shown in the Ptolemy's map, it is clear that the river shown in his map is no other than the "Aan Porunai river" the present Pulut Puzha (not the river Periyaru or the river Chalakudi), which flows adjacent to and on the right side of the present Kodungallur (the region of Vanji Nagar - the later capital of Cheras), and a little distance upstream in the northernly direction it is seen that the “Aan Porunai river” flows adjacent to and on the left side of the present Karuvapadna the region of Karuvur - the former capital of Cheras. The Ptolemy’s map refers to it as
“Carura Regia Cerobothri” - the Karur kingdom of Cheras. This reference of Ptolemy on Karuvur, is the first evidence available to us presently in any historical or literary documents of that period, as being the captal city of Cheras.

From a reference from the Tamil Literary work Ahanaanooru it is noted that Karuvur was adjacent to the Aan Porunai River. Karuvur served as the earlier interior capital of Cheras, while Musiri remained the seaport capital during this period.

The Ships coming to then Chera Nadu from foreign countries anchored at Musiri harbour the first known seaport city of Cheras which stretched from the seafront near present Alikode upto the of Kodungallur Lagoon. Just little beyond on the north-east of this lagoon along the Pullut River (Aan Porunai river) was the region known as the “Karuvur Munthurai” (Mun Thurai = Harbour Front : Harbour is a section of a river or sea opposite a landmass region used for parking or harbouring - small boats and Thonis or large ships, and Kalangal) which is referred to in the Ahanaanooru as:


"….more than the sand (crystals) on the high bunds of clear water Aan Porunai river at the Harbour front of the prosperous and wonderous large city of Karuvur of the Kothai (Chera) king, with the strong elephant and tall Chariot….."

From further references in Silappathikaarem and Ahanaanooru too, we note the term “Munthurai” is used to mean the “harbour front”. The harbour front of Kaviri river - refers to Poompuhar or Kaviripoompattinam the seaport city of Cholas, the “harbour front” at Kotkai - refers to the Kotkai seaport city of Pandiyas, harbour front at Musiri - refers to the Musiri seaport city of Cheras (Keralas).

Hence it is clear that there was also a “harbour front” opposite Karuvur near the present Vallivattom bridge just beyond the Kodungaloor lagoon along the Pullut River the former Aan Porunai river, up to which it was navigable for small boats and ships, with goods from Musiri port to the interior capital the Karuvur.

From the Tamil Literary work “Ahanaanooru” we note the earliest Chera king who rose on the throne of Karuvur and ruled Chera Nadu was Koperum Cheral Irumporai.


Important Note : The present Karuvur region near Thirutchiraappalli in TamilNadu, was one of the earliest capital city of the Cholas long before Uraiyur. Some of the Chera kings who became powerfull during the early and medieval periods, also captured this Karuvur city from the Cholas and ruled over same (leaving some inscriptions on their endowments made during that time to the temples in this region), but many times lost same back to Cholas. The Karuvur or Karur of Cheras and that of Cholas are two different entities.

From the early Tamil Literary Work named "Palamoli Naanooru" we note that the Ministers after the death of the Chola king at Karuvur met at a region known as Kalumalam and gave a (trained) Elephant with a garland and instigated it to select by garlanding the next successor to the Chola throne. Accordingly the Elephant went to the city of Karuvur and garlanded on the very young Karikatcholan who was accepted and crowned as the next Chola king at Karuvur, This traditional story is referred to in Palamoli Naanooru as follows.

Further in the Periyapuraanam in the chapter on Puhal Chola Naayanaar a reference again confirms beyond doubt the Karuvur at Thirutchirapalli district was the early traditional capital of the Cholas and not that of Cheras

In the above ‘further evidence’ is thrown to prove that Karuvur at present Thirutchi was the the ancient capital of Cholas and not of Cheras by the mere fact the king of the “kuda pulam” the Cherar brought tributaries to the Chola at Karuvur a procession of tall elephants.


The above are confirmed by the following references

The Ptolemy's geography states that among the inland cities of Limryke was the :

Karoura the royal seat of Kerobothras.......... 119 deg 16 deg 20 min

Ancient India as described by Ptolemy - translated by John W McCrindle

".....Cheraman Karuvur eariya ol vaarl Koperung Cheral Irumporai......."

Puranaanooru - verse 5

“….kadum pahattu yanai nedunther Kothai
Thiru ma viyan nagar Karuvur mun thurai
then neer uyar karai kuvai iya
than Aan Porunai manalinum palave….."


Ahanaanooru - Verse 93

“…..Muthu neerk kaviri munthurai padutthal …..”

Silappathikaarem – Vanji Kaandam, kaatchikkaathai lines 23-24

“…..ivar thirai thantha eerngkathir muththam
kavar nadai puravikaal vaduththa pukkum
nal ther Valuthi Kotkai munthurai......”


Ahanaanooru – verse 130

“…..muthu neer munthurai Musiri…”

Ahanaanooru – verse 57

“…….venthirai parappin Thondi munthurai……"

Ahanaanooru – verse 290

“……Kalumalaththil yaaththa kalirum Karuvur
vilumiyon met sentru…..”


Palamoli Naanooru – A Jain Poet, Verse 89

“……Senni Nee Anapaayan thirukkulaththu vali muthaloar Ponni nathi puravalanaar Puhal Cholar ena polivaar………kongarodu kudapulaththu komannar thirai konarath thangal kula muthat thani nagaram Karuvur-il……kudapula mannavar konarntha oli nedung kalitrin ani….”

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 41, verses 8,11,13


(10) The change of capital city from Karuvur to Vanji

The Karuvur didnot last too long as the interior capital city of the Chera Country, possibly because of the geographical location of same. When we have a close look at the present Karuvapadna - north of Kodungallur, we note many water inroads in the region of the main city. This was possibly caused by the flooding of Karuvur “harbour front” region by the waters of Aan Porunai River (Pullut River) during monsoon times, and having more water inroads geographically and making the city more vulnerable, found it necessary for the Cheras to shift their capital city to a more habitable land area on the left side of the Aan Porunai River, but keeping in the close proximity to their seaport city the Musiri, and this region was named as the Vanji Nagar which became the subsequent interior capital city of the Cheras possibly from the first century B.C.

Karuvur and Vanji were not the exactly the same location, but a little distant apart and both being at different locations on either side of the Aan Porunai river (Pullut river) as noted from Ahanaanooru and Silappathikaram.

However the distance being not too far apart from each other made the poets who composed the Tamil Nihandus (ancient Tamil dictionaries) namely the Chudamani Nihandu, Pingala Nihandu etc to mention in their compositions that Karuvur and Vanji are the same.

The Tamil Literary Work Puraranaannoru states the Vanji Nagar city walls was adjacent to the river Aan Porunai (present Pullut river) the waves of which were striking this wall. The Tamil works such Sirrupaanaartrupadai, Silapathikaaram, Puranaanooru confirms the river Aan Porunai was flowing sourrounding by the side of Vanji Nagar. The Cheras were also known as Kuda Naadaan and Vanjikomaan and Kothai kings.


The above are confirmed by the following references:

"........Selvak Kadungo Vaaliyaathan
ennaath thevvar uyarkudai paniththu ivan
viduvar maatho nedithe ni.......
pul elai Vanji pura mathil alaikkum
kal en Porunai malinum aangkan
pal uur sutriya kalani
ellam vilaiyum nellinum palave....."


Puranaanooru - verse 387

".....Kuda naadan Vanjikkomaan......"

Muththolayiram - Verse – 23

"......oliru vel Kothai oambi kaakum
Vanji anna en vala nagar vilanga...."


Ahanaanooru - Verse 263

".....kuda pulam kavalar marumaan onnaar
vada pula imayaththu vaangu vit poriththa
veluvu ural thinikoal iyat ther Kuttuvan
varu punal vayil Vanjiyum varithe......"


Sirupaanaatrupadai

".......vaali varu punal neer Aan Porunai sool
tharum Vanjiyar komaan than thol kulame...."


Silappathikarem – Vaalthukaathai – 14

"....than Porunai punal paayum
vin poru pukal viral Vanji...."


Puranaanooru - Verse 11

".....than Aan Porunai ven manal chithaiya
aram sei avvai...."


Puranaanooru - Verse 36

" ......poova Vanji pon nagar puraththena......"

Silappathikaaram

"......Imayam suttiya eama vitpori
maan vinai nedun ther Vaanavan tholaiya
vaada Vanji vaattum nin
peedu elu noan thaan padung kaale....."


Puranaanooru - Verse 39


(11) The first Kerala (Chera) Tamil empire of the first century A.D.

The greatest among the Kerala (Chera) kings throughout the Tamil and Malayalam periods of the Kerala History was the Tamil Chera king Imayavaramban Nedun Cheralathan, and his son Cheran Chenguttuvan.

Imayavramban Nedun Cheralathan
was the Tamil Chera king who ruled from Vanji Nager (Kodungallur) during the period A.D.74 -132. He was the son of the Chera king Uthiyan Cheralathan and Queen Nallini daughter of the Kerala chieften Veliyan Venmaal. He ruled for 58 years.

He became very powerful and went on a expedition towards north of India and defeated and won over many Aryan kings in the central and northern India, and carved the Chera royal emblem the “bow” on the Himalayan mountain. He also turned his attention on the Indo-Greek king (Yavanar) ruling in then Bactria - a region now covered within the present Pakistan, captured the king and on he agreeing to pay tributes handed his kingdom back to him, and returned back to his kingdom with tributes of diamonds and other valuables from this king.

However he maintained good relations with the other Tamil kingdoms of then South India, namely the Cholas and the Pandiyas. His authority extended over many kingdoms between the Himalayas up to Kanyakumari down south and thus he could be classified as the emperor of the first Kerala (Chera) empire.

Imayavaramban Nedun Cheralathan was succeeded by his able son
Cheran Senguttuvan on the Chera throne inheriting the vast empire from his father, and ruled from the Vanji Nagar during the period A.D.132 -187. He was the son of the Chera king Nedun Cheralathan and Queen Manakkilli the daughter of the Chola king Nedumudikkilli ruling Chola Nadu from Kaviripoompattinam (Poompuhar).

Cheran Chenguttuvan in a battle at Kongu Nadu was assisted by the forces of the Cholas and Pandiyas. He ruled for 55 years. He had a younger brother who abdicated being the Chera prince, and became a Jain Monk and lived in Kunavaayil Kottam the temple at the eastern entrance of the Vanji Nagar.

With the death of his father Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan in A.D.132 he set out on an expedition towards North India with his mother Manakkilli to enable her perform the religious rights to her husband and have a holy bath at the river Ganges. On his way to North India he had to meet the stiff resistance from some of the north Indian kings before he reached the Ganges river, eventhough his father defeated these kings earlier and exacted tributes from them. He thus again defeated the Konkans, Kalingas, Karnatakas, Bangalas, Gangas, the Katiyas with the Aryans of the North, who obstructed his Gangetic expedition.

The greatness of these two kings namely the father and the son can be seen from the following references in the great Tamil Literary Works of the contemperary period.


“.....singing the glory of the king who ruled the country of the Yavanas of hard words, the solid big stone (Himalayan mountain) and the southern Kumari, the one who protects the fame of the countries of Bow, Kayal Fish and Tiger (emblems of the Chera, Chola and Pandiyas)….”

“…..Should this be your effort to make all the lands within the seas from all sides of India to be the Tamil Nadu then there is no one to oppose you……”

"......he conquered the Ariyan kings shouting (in fear) and carved the bow (emblem) on the ancient northern mountain range (Himalayas) and captured the fierce kings, (later) released the Aryan kings from their captivity (was) the son given birth by Manakkilli (daughter) of the Chola king, by the the king of Kuda Nadu the Neduncheralathan with victorius flag praised by the Northerners, went through the jungles fast like the arrow for want of stone for carving the statue of Goddess Paththini defeated the chief of the Ariya kings who obstructed and reached the Gangai with noisy tributaries…”

".....the Cheralathan who reigned the world with one rule (from) the Kumari (Kanyakumari) to the northern Himalayas, (by) the daughter of the Chola of shining Solar race who gave birth to the son who, won the Kongu king at the redish battle field, and who went to the shores of the great river Gangai......"

"......the kings within the range of mountains with of granite stone where the God resides as the northern boundry the Himalayas, and the southern Kumari rose with war drums having big battles, defeated the countries of different languages of their ancient beauty and with warriors of fighting fit thy Kuttuva......"

".......though ruled the prosperous land of the Yavanas (Indo Greeks) of hard words, and the mountain range of golden shine (Himalayas)......."


The above are confirmed by the following references:

Imayavramban NedunCheralathan

"Manniya perum puhal maruvil vaaimoli
innisai murasin Uthiyan Cherarkku
Veliyan vernmarn Nallini eendra mahan
amai varal aruvi Imayam vitpori
imil kadal velith thamilakam vilanga
than koan neeri ith thahai saal sirappodu
per esai marabin Ariyar vankki
nayanil vansol Yavanar piniththu
neithalai peithu kai pitkolee
aru vilai nan kalam vayiramodu kondu
peruviran moothur thanthu pirarkku uthavi
amaiyar theiththa vanangu kudai nontraan"


Pathitruppatthu - Irrandaam Paththu - Pathikam- line 1-12[/b]

“…….Ariyar thuvantriya perisai imayam
thennang Kumariyodu aayidai manmeek koorunar marantha pakkadanthe……”


Pathitruppatthu - Irrandaam Paththu - line 23-25

“…..iru munthneer thuruththiyul
muraniyor thalai sentru kadambu muthal thadintha
kadunj chinam munpin Nedun Cheralathan…..”


Pathitruppatthu - Irrandaam Paththu - 19 line 2-5

“……Ariyar alara thaakki perisai thontru muthir vadavarai vanangu vit poriththu venchina ventharai piniththon…..”

Ahanaanooru – verse 396

“……Munneer oatti kadambu erinthu Imayaththu munnoar marula vanangu vit poriththu…..”

Ahanaanooru – verse 127

“……Cheralathan maal kadal oatti kadambu arutthu iyattriya pan amai murasin kan athirnh anna…...”

Ahanaanooru – verse 347

“……valam padu murasin Cheralathan
munneer oatti kadambu aruththu Imayaththu
munoar marula vanangu vil poriththu
nal nagar Maranthai muttraththu onnaar
pani thirai thantha paadu saal nankalam
pon sei paavai vayiramodu aambal
ontruvaai niraiya kuvai yi antru avan
nilam thinath thurantha nithiyaththu anna….”


“……kallaa malavar vil idam thali yi
varunar paarkkum veru varu kavalai
moli peyar theeththar aayinum
palitheer kaathalar sentra naade…..”


Ahanaanooru – verse 127

"van sol Yavanar vala naadu van perum kal
then Kumari aanda seru Vil, Kayal, puliyan
manpathai kaakkum koman, mannan thiram paadi"


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji Kandam, Vaalththu Kaathai, verse 25

"Kumariyodu vada Imayaththu oru moli vaiththu
ulaku aanda Cheralatharkku...."


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji Kandam, Vaalththu Kaathai, verse 1

“Emnaattu aang kan Imayavarambanin
Nal naal seitha naalani velviyil vantheeka entru vanangi veanda”


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal.

Cheran Chenguttuvan

“…Vadavar utkum vaalthoi velkodi
Kudavar Komaan Neduncheralaathatku
Cholan Manakkilli eentra mahan
Kadavul Paththini Katkol vendi
Kaana vil kaanam kanaiyin pohi
Arya annalai veetip perisai
Inpal aruvi gangai manni………”


“….Kadat pirakoattiya Chenguttuvan…..”

Pathitruppatthu - iynthaam Paththu - Pathikam- line 1-10 & 22

“…….Kadavul nilaya kal oangu neduvarai
Vada thisai ellai imayamaaha
Thennam kumariyodu ayidai arasar
Murasudai perum samam thjathaiya aarpu ela
Sol pala naattai thol kavin aliththa
Poraadu thaanai polanthaar Kuttuva…….”


Pathitruppatthu - iynthaam Paththu - Pathikam- 43 line 6-11

“……ma neer Kadambu erinthu Imayaththu
Vaanaver marula malai vil pottiya
Vaanavar thontral, vai vaal Kothai……"


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji kaandam, Kaatchi Kaathai, line 1-

“……numpol venthar numodu ihali
Kongar seng kalaththu koduvari kayal kodi
Pahai purathu thanthanar ayinum aangu avai
Thisaimuha velaththin seviyaham pukkana
Konganar, Kalingar, kodum Karunadar,
Bangalar, Kangar, palvel Kattiyar
vada Ariyarodu van thamil mayakkaththu un
kadamalai vettam en kanpulam piriyaathu
Gangai peryattru kadumpunal niththam
em komahalai aattiya an naal
Ariya mannar eer-iynooruvarkku
Oru nee ahiya seru vemkolam
Kan viliththu kandathu kadungkan kootram
Imil kadal veliyai Thamilnaadu aakkiya
Ithu nee karuthinai ayin eatpavar
Muthneer ukahin muluvathum illai
Vadathisai marungin mannarkku ellaam
Then Thamil naathu seluvil Kayal, Puli,
Manthalai eatrtra varaiha eengu ena…..”


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji kaandam, Kaatchi Kaathai, line 151-172

“…..vil thalai konda viyanper imayaththu oar
kal kondu peyarum em kavalan aathalin
vada thisai marungin mannar ellaam
edu thirai kodu vanthu ethireer aayin
kadal kadambu erintha kadum poar vaarththaiyum
vidar chilai poriththa viyan peru vaarththaiyum
keatu vaalumin keleer aayin
thoal thunai thurakkum thuravodu vaalumin…….”


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji kaandam, Kaatchi Kaathai, line 183-190

“….vansol yavanar vala nadu aandu
ponpadu neduvarai puhunthon ayinum….”


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji kaandam, Kaatchi Kaathai, line 141-142

“selavam nillaathu enpathai velpoar
than Thamil ehalnththa Ariya mannarin
kandanai allayo kaval venthe….”


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji kaandam, Kaatchi Kaathai, line 152-55

“………Ariya arasarai arum sirai neekki……"

Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji kaandam, Nadukal Kaathai, line 195

"Kumariyodu vada Imayaththu oru moli vaiththu
ulaku aanda Cheralatharkku thihal oli
gnayittru Cholan mahal eendra mayinthan
Kongar sengkalam verttu
Gangai peryartru karai pohiya
Chenguttuvan…."


Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adigal, Vanji Kandam, Vaalththu Kaathai, verse 1

".....vadapula Imayaththu vaanguvill poriththa
elu ural thini thoal iyal ther Kuttuvan......"


Paththuppaattu - Sirupaanaattrupadai by Naththathanaar, line 48-49

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