Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala : Part - 2

The great Significance of Kodungallur in the history of Kerala and Tamil Nadu : Part - 2

(12) The great Epic story of Kannahi, Kovalan, Mathavi and Manimehalai

The other great significance of Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur), is that the three principal characters among the four in the great 'epic story' of Silappathikarem, namely Kannahi, Mathavi, and Manimehalai whose native place was the Chola country (which formerly covered the central, and east of central regions of the present day Tamil Nadu), after the great tragedy that befell them in the Pandiyan country (which formerly covered the southern regions of the present day Tamil Nadu), finally found refuge and solace in the Kerala (Chera) country of this period.

The story goes to relate that two leading rich Tamil Merchants of Kaviripoompattinam (Poompuhar) the capital city of the then Chola country had their son and daughter namely Kovalan & Kannahi wedded to each other. Some months after their wedding, the annual sea festival was celeberated in the Chola capital at Kaviripoompattinam known as “Indra Vila”. The entire city went gay during this period rejoicing this festival with music, dance and other cultural activities taking place, with the sea bathing by many in the adjoining sea and worship at the temples of various religious sects namely the Saivite, Vaishnavite, Vedic, and in the Bhuddhist and Jain Pallis, celeberating the festival known as “Indra Vila” in the name of the rain God Indra.

In this festival the young Dancer Mathavi performed her first dance recital “Arangetram” on stage which was witnessed by the Chola king Killivalavan and many others including Kovalan who went to this festival leaving Kannahi at his home. The young and beautiful Maathavi and her dances captured the mind of young Kovalan, who met Mathavi after the dance and became friendly with her. This finally ended up with both living together happily over months completely forgetting about wife Kannahi, not even thinking of going and seeing her from the time he left home for the Indira Vila.

Maathavi belonged to the class of women of the oldest profession. This gradually paved way for the rapid drain of Kovalan’s financial resources and coming to a beggerly state which ended up with much uneasiness among Kovalan and Maathavi. This finally ended up in their breakaway and Kovalan returning back to his lawfully wedded wife Kannahi who accepted him whole heartedly and with warmth inspite of his misdoings to her. However some time later Mathavi became pregnant to Kovalan and delivered a baby girl who was named as Manimekalai.

Kovalan thereafter lived with Kannahi happily for some time, but with their much diminished financial resources Kannahi offered her Gold Anklets for him to sell and meet their financial requirements. Kovalan thought of going to Mathurai the capital of the Pandiyan kingdom to find good prices for the Gold Anklets of Kannahi. There he went and showed the Anklets to some renowned Goldsmiths to obtain the best prices for same. But one of them happened to be the Goldsmith of the royal houseold of the king. He was aware that the Golden Anklets of the Pandiyan queen have been robbed, and the palace authorities still did not know as to who robbed it from the Royal Household.

The Goldsmith on seeing the Anklets which was shown to him by Kovalan which looked very similer to the lost Anklets of the Pandiyan queen went and reported same to the king that the person who was suspected of having robbed the queens Anklets was at his household having come to him to sell same. The Pandiyan king Neduncheliyan who ruled his country honestly and faithfully to the rule of law made a hasty decision and without having the Anklets brought by Kovalan properly checked, taking to grant what the Goldsmith said orderd him to be be-headed. Accordingly Kovalan was beheaded by the warriors of the Pandiyan forces.

This news reached Kannahi who immediately pursued to the Pandiyan Court and demanded she be allowed tro see the Pandiyan king immediately. The message was passed to the Pandiyan king who gave permission for her audience with the king. Kannahi wailed out and cried and accused the Pandiyan king of having beheaded her husband who was not a thief but an honest person, and claimed that in fact the Anklets was her own and demanded their identification of same with the Queens Anklets. To this the king said the Queen’s Anklets were studded with Rubies. Kannahi immediately replied and accused the king that he what he has done was wrong and his rule of law have defaulted. Kannaki claimed her Anklets were studded with pearls, and she dashed the other Anklet in her possession on the floor and the pearls from within shattered all over the floor.

The king Pandiyan Neduncheliyan was stunned that his rule of law has defaulted due to he having not checked on same prior to ordering Kovalan to be beheaded, and was greatly distressed over what had happened. This untold grievance lead to his sudden collapse on the throne and to his death. The queen too with much greivance over what happened at the hand of the king unable to bear same collapsed and died therafter.

However Kannahi became so furious over the great injustice done to her husband cursed vehemently the Pandiyan king and his city of Mathurai to be burnt, and very miraculously the king’s palace caught fire which speard throughout the city of Mathurai with much destruction. This tragedy happened on the Amavasai day being a Friday of the Tamil month of Aadi (second half of July) of that year. After all these destructive happenings Kannahi left Mathurai (in the present south Tamil Nadu) and moved towards the Chera Nadu (Kerala) and reached a hillock named Neduverlkuntram. She spent some time here, and she died in much grievance over her great loss on the fourteenth day (being Pournami day- in the first half of August) since the burning of Mathurai , and her death was witnessed by the jungle tribesman who claimed to have seen her going to the heaven.

During this period in Kaviripoompattinam the Chola seaport capital a sea erosion took place with many parts of this seaport capital city of Cholas going under sea. This made many from this capital to shift to other regions. With the happenings in Mathurai to Kovalan, his mother succumbed to death in deep grief. The Kovalan’s father, Maathavi and Manimehalai too left Kaviripoompattinam and moved to the Vanji Nagar in Chera Nadu where they settled down seeking solace.


Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition
Sillappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal - Puliyoor Kesikan Edition
Sillappathikarem - by Ilangi Adihal - S.V.Subramanian Edition

".........Mathurai maa theiva maa Paththinikku
vithimurai solli alal veedu kondapin
karuththuru kanavart kandapin allathu
iruththalum illen nittralum illen
Kotravai vaayit potrodi thaharththu
keel thisai vaayit kanavanodu pukunthen
met thisai vaayil variyen peyarkena
iravum pakalum mayanginan kaiyattru
uravu neer Vaiyai oru karai kondu angu
avala ennaal misaivai theralit
kadal vayiru kiliththu malai nenju pilanthaangu
avunarai kadantha sudarilai Neduvel
Neduverl Kuntram adivai theri

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - Katturai Kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition

There are further reference which confirms this temple is reached on a Kuntram (hillock) by travelling upward along the course of Vaigai river as noted below.

"......Iyai aval mahalodum 'Vaiyai yoru valikkondu maamalai meemisai yeri komahal than koyil pukku nangaikku sirappu ayarntha Chenguttuvartkku' thiram uraippaar man......"

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - Vaalththu kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition


The Neduverlkunram in Chera Nadu has not been identified postively. This region is referred to in Silappathikaaram as NeduVel Neduverl Kuntram, which means the Kuntram (hillock} of Neduverl (God Murugan) with Neduvel (long Vel). It further states that to reach this place Kannaki travelled eastwards along the (path on the) side of Vaikai River day and night. Hence it is clear Neduverl Kuntram cannot be the Thirupparankuntram a Muruga Thalam 6 km south of Mathurai, and the Vaikai River doesnot pass adjacent to this Thalam.

Further from Silapathikaaram we come to know that the Neduverl Kuntram had been in the Chera country. Hence the possible route taken by Kannaki would have been a path adjacent to the Vaikai river and possibly then continued along Suruli river a branch of Vagai river to reach the Chera Nadu (Kerala) at Kumily in Idukki district of Kerala.

Kannaki would have travelled further from Kumily to the interior of Kerala should the Neduverl Kuntram was elsewhere. But we note presently there is a Kannaki temple at Vannathiparai a hillock (Kuntram) 7 km from Kumily. Could this Kuntram earlier been a sacred Kuntram to God Muruga still to be confirmed. In all probability Kannaki could not have travelled too far from Mathurai especilly when she was terribly greived and wiered state of mind over the unfortunate happening, that too within fourteen days.

There is an oral tradition that this is the Kuntram where Kannaki went to heaven (died), with Kovalan in a 'vanavoorthi' (an aero-vehicle). The truth of the tradition that the Kumily region would have been the site where Kannaki died could be acertained by the fact from Silappathikaaram that, Cheran Chenguttuvan left Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur) and went on land along the side of Periyar river to enjoy the scenes of hilly districts of Cheranadu. Along this tract the region which falls well with the geographic description in Silapathikaaram is the Idukki district, where the Kumily region is situated.

(13) The construction and ceremonial opening of first Kannahi (Pattini) temple by Cheran Chenguttuvan at Neduverlkuntram Kerala

The Chera king of this period the Cheran Senguttuvan while seated in his throne one day at his palace in Vanji Nagar in the presence of his younger brother a Chera Prince turned Jain Monk known as Ilango Adihal, the Tamil Poet Saatanaar who was with them and who have already heard of the full story of the Kovalan and Kannahi’s life in the Chola country, and how they met the great tragedy in Pandiyan country, and finally Kannahi met her death in the Chera Nadu, was related by him to them.

All three felt that Kannahi to be a virtuous lady who was now known also as Pattini who has performed all these miracles, has to be of very godly nature and fit to be deified, and Cheran Senguttuvan with others decided to build a temple to Kannahi in Vanji Nagar, as she finally came and met her death in Chera Nadu.

It was decided that the stone for carving the image of Kannahi for this temple should not be taken from Pothihai Hills on the boarders of Chera Nadu, but for a great Chera emperor felt that for a king of his valour it is more fitting and is of great pride to bring same from Himalayas travelling all the way towards north of India. Accordingly all the Aryan kings in the north who were earlier subdued by the Chera Emperor Imayavaraban Nedun Cheralathan were informed of Cheran Senguttuvan’s trip to Himalayas with his forces to execute same.

He also informed his ally the king Sathakarni of the Sathavahana dynasty known in Tamil as Nootruvar Kannar having the same meaning to have a large fleet of boats to be made and kept ready for his forces to cross the river Ganges and reach Himalayas to cutout the stone suited to carve the statue of Kannahi to be installed at the temple to be built by him at the Vanji Nagar.

The forces left Vanji Nagar and marched to north of India through Nilagiri, and reached the southern shores of the river Gangai river where they were greeted by his ally in the north namely the Nootruvar Kannar who is identified with Sathakarni king of the Sathavahana dynasty of this period. From here they crossed the Gangai river in special boats made and kept ready by his ally by a pre-arrangement.

On they reaching the northern sides of the Gangai river, the north Indian kings namely the Kanakan and Visayan along with other northern kings namely Uththaran, Visiththaran, Uruththiran, Phairavan, Siththiran, Singhan, Thanuththiran, Sivedan jointly confronted confronted Cheran Chenguttuvan's forces. Cheran Chenguttuvan and his forces valiantly fought with these joint forces of North Indian kings defeated them and took the king Kankar and Visayar as their captives.

Thereafter he instructed his chief of his forces Villavan Kothai to proceed to Himalayas and to cut out the stone from this mountain that was required to carve out the statue of "Kannahi' considered now as a goddess.

This stone slab was made to be carried also by the captive kings Kanakan and Visayan was cerimoniously bathed in the Gangai river and reached the southern shore of this river. He and his retinue resided for some days in this region where palace, manimandapams, performance stage, gardens, ponds, stage for receiving tributaries, and private quarters were built by his other friendly Aryan king possibly the Nootruvar Kannar who beforehand informed of his Himalayan expedition.

While he was staying here he decorated the valient soldiers of his forces who performed well in his battle with the north Indian kings, and provided them with "victory flowers" made of gold. Therafter he ordered his men Neelan and others to take the captive kings Kanakan and Visayan and show them to the two other Tamil kings namely the Pandiya and Chola to exibit his war victory. He thereafter returned with his forces to his capital Vanji Nagar where his queen Koperumthevi was awaiting his arrival.

Thereafter the work on the Kannahi statue commenced with by the Artisons who were well versed in Sitpa Noolkal with the assistance of priest, astrologer performing religious ceremonies and advicing on the good time to start the sculptural work on the Kannahi statue with a temple to house same known as
''Paththini Koattam".

On completion the king Cheran Chenguttuvan instructed the Kannahi statue was consecrated adorned with jewellery made by competant Artisons with Poosai valipaadukal done with flowers, with scented fumes and velvi and festival rituals and ceremonies to be performed daily to grace the Goddess, and he in his worship prayed with his circumbulation the goddess statue three time.

At this ceremony the Aryan kings who were held in tempororay captivity and the kings on long term captivity in jails were released on this occasion, the Kongar king of Kudahu, kings of Malawa, the king Kayavaahu (Gajabahu - 1) of ocean surrounded Ilangai (Sri Lanka) all were present.

After consecration ceremonies Cheran Chenguttuvan invited these kings also to be present at the Velvi ceremonies to be held on the birthday of his father Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan and preyed for Goddess Kannahi's blessing on this occasion.

After these ceremonies all king returned to their own countries.


Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition
Sillappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal - Puliyoor Kesikan Edition
Sillappathikarem - by Ilangi Adihal - S.V.Subramanian Edition

The above are confirmed by the following references:

".......Vadavarutkum vaantroai vel kodi
Kudavar Komaan Neduncheralaatharkku
Solan Manakkilli eentra mahan
Kadavut Paththini katkoal veandi
kaanavill kaanang kanaiyit pohi
Ariya annalai veetti perisai
inba aruvi gangai manni
innam theriyaa pallaan kantrodu kondu
......kadal pirakkottiya Chenguttuvan......"

Pathirttru Paththu - 5th Paththu, by Paranar - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition

"......Villavan Kothai yodu ventru vinai mudiththa
palvel thaanai padai pala eavi
pok koattu Imayaththu, poru aru Paththinik
kalkaal kondanan, kaavalan aangu en........"

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - kaalkol kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition[/i][/color]

".....vada per Imayaththu vaan tharu sirappin
Kadavul Paththinikku kalkaal konda pin
sinavel munpin seruvem koallaththu
Kanaka Visayar tham kathimudi earttri
serikalal venthan then Thamil aattral
ariyaathu malainththa Ariya mannarai
seyir tholil muthiyon seitholil peruka
uyirthokai unda onpathittru iratti entru
yandum mathiyum naalum kadikaiyum
eendu neer gnalam kootti enkol...

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - kaalkol kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition[/i][/color]

"......Mathurai moothoor maa nagar
kedu ura kothi alal cheettram kongaiyin vilaiththu
nan naadanainthu nalir chinai vengai
ponnani puthu nilart porunthiya Nangaiyai
arakkalaththu anththanar aasaan pernghani
sirappudai kammiyar thamodum chentru
meloar vilaiyum nooneri maakkal
paalpera vahutha Paththini Koattaththu
Imayavar uraiyum Imaiyachchevarai
Simaya senni theivam parasi
kaivinai muttriya Theiva Padimaththu
viththakar iyatriya vilangiya kolaththu
mutru elai nankalam muluvathum pootti
pooppali seithu kaappuk kadai nirutthi
Velviyum Vilaavum naadorum vahuththu
Kadavul Mangalam seika ena eavinan
vadathisai vanakkiya mannavre en......."

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - Nadukat kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition

".........Mangala madanthai koataththu aangkann
Chengkoattu uyar varai
senuyar silambit
pini muga nedung kat pidar thalai nirambiya
ani kayam pala ula aang avai idaiyathu
kadi pahai nunkalum kavirithal kurungalum
idikalap panna illaithu uhu neerum
undoar sunai athanul pukku aadinar
pandaiya piraviya ahuvaraathalin........."

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - Varamtharu kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition

"......Kadavul seitha pinnaal Kannaki than koattam......"

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - Vaalththu kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition

From the above it is noted Kannaki Koyil was referred to as Kannaki Koattam, Paththni Koattam and as Mangala madanthai Koattam. The latter name is equivalent to Managala Devi temple (koyil).

Today there is a granite stone temple complex known as
"Mangaladevi temple" at the village Vannaaththiparai in Kumily in the Idukki State of Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu. This temple is situated on a hill on the Surulimalai range known as the "Mangaladevi Malai" There is a Vatteluththu Inscription of Rajaraja Chola - 1 in this temple which refers to the Goddess of this temple as "Sri Poorani" and Kulasekara Pandiyan's Tamil Inscription refers as "Sri Pooranigiri Aaludai Naatchiyaar" an idol a of a Goddess badly damaged, but the temple is in a highly dilapidated condition "with no attention still from the Archaeological Survey of India in it's preservation, under whose purview it is presently kept".

Kannakiyaar Adichchuvattil Puhar muthal Vanji varaiyil - C.Govindharaasanaar - Pages 123, 131, 144, 154


From the foregoing we note the Inscription of Rajaraja Chola - 1 at Mangaladevi Temple on Mangaladevi Malai states the presiding deity of this temple is Sri Poorani. We also note from the Kulasekara Pandiyan's inscription at this temple that Sri Poorani was the Aludai Nachchiyaar (presiding deity) of the temple on the hill Sri Pooranigiri, traditionally known as the Mangaladevi Malai. Hence it is very clear Sri Poorani is the subsequent name given to Managaladevi (Mangala Madanthai of Silappathikaaram the other name of Goddess Kannaki) by possibly Vedic Priests during the period of Rajaraja Chola or earlier.

The credit of re-discovery of the Kannaki Temple built by the Chera king Cheran Chenguttuvan around (A.D.175) in reverence to Goddess Kannaki at Kumily on Idukki District in Kerala, goes to the great efforts of C.Govindharaasanaar a Research Scholar of Madurai Kamarajar University.

A Video and two Web Pages on Mangalathevi temple at Kumily in Kerala.


Chengkoattu = Chengkuntram, was situated closer to Neduverlkuntram near Kumily. This is confirmed by the reference in Silappathikaaram as('.....Mangala Madanthai Koattaththu "aangu ann[-maiyil"] Chengoattu uyar varai....." meaning ".....the Managaladevi temple "there closeby" the the tall hill Chengkoadu....".

It should be noted the Chengkoadu referred above is not the Thiruchengkodu situated west of present Erode, which is far out in Tamil Nadu, and far out of the course of Vaikai river. Further the hillock village Vannaaththiparai at Kumily, could have been the Neduvelkuntram which was sacred to God Murugan (Neduvel Nedu Verl) at that time.

The Poet Ilango Adihal has confirmed same, 'as being interpreted by Kannaki herself' as follows in the Silappathikaaram.

"......naan avan than mahal Ven Velaan kuntril vilaiyaattu yaan akalen....."

Silappathikarem - by Ilango Adihal, chapter - Vaaththu kaathai - U.V. Saminatha Iyer Edition


Nootruvar = hundred, and Kannar = Karnar - Likewise Satha = one hundred and Karni = Kannar. Hence Nootruvar Kannar king is no other than the Satharkani of Sathavaakana dynasty of Kalinga region of that time.

(14) The spread of Kannaki Cult to other countries with the consecration of the first Kannaki (Pattini) temple at Neduverlkuntram

The ceremonial consecration of the first Kannaki Temple at Neduverlkuntram in the Iddukki district of Kerala bordering Tamil Nadu, was witnessed by many kings of other countries, and the subordinate kings of the Chera Emperor Chenguttuvan, ruling within the former Chera Nadu (Kerala state) who came there on his invitation.

Among them were the kings of Kudagu Nadu, Kongar Nadu, Malava Nadu, Chola Nadu, Pandiya Nadu, the king Gajabahu of ocean surrounded Sri Lanka, kings Kanakar and Visaiyar of north Kalinga region, the other Ariyan kings who were released from minor captivity and from major captivity in jails, who attended this consecration ceremony.

Many of these kings on their return to their respective countries highly captured by the godly powers and miracles of Kannaki venerated her as a Goddess in newly built temples in their own countries as Goddess - Kannaki, Paththini and Mangaladevi, who much later also came to be known as the Baghavathi Amman especially in Kerala.

In Kodungallur

The Chera emperor Chenguttuvan after the consecration ceremony of the first Kannaki temple at Neduverlkuntram, built another Kannaki temple just out side his capital city the Vanji Nagar, which as confirmed by "Manimekalai" had the 'statues of both Kannaki and Kovalan' venerated unlike at the temple in Kumily.

This Temple undoubtedly is the present Baghawathi Amman Temple in north Kodungallur (former vanji), confirming the reference in "Manimekalai' that this temple was just outside the city of Vanji (puranagar), where the traditions relating to Kannaki worship exists even today.

However some ugly practices prevalent in this temple in connection with her worship, probably came upon at a latter date should be abolished, and much more reverence given to the actual worship of Kannaki now known as Baghawathi Amman in this temple.

In Thiruvananthapuram

It could have been a possibility that the Aye king of Venaadu too participated as an invitee at the consecration ceremony of the first Kannaki temple at Kumily held by Cheran Chenguttuvan - the overlord king of Kerala of that period. On his return he possibly constructed a temple in her veneration, and arranged for the annual festivals and daily rituals of worship to be conducted at this temple.

It is porbably this temple which is presently known as the Baghavathi Amman Temple located at Aattukal in Thiruvananthapuramam. It celeberates an annual festival known as "Attukala Pongala" which mean the Pongal Festival (boiling of Rice and Milk), an all ladies festival participated by as much as 2 1/2 to 3 lacks of ladies in worship of the deity Baghavathy Amman, which has traditions connected with the Kannaki worship even today.

The present tradition that Kannaki personaly came to Aattukkaal in Thiruvananthapuram has no credence, as she could not have come all the way to this region from Mathurai in Tamil Nadu under wiered and grevious condition after the great tragedy, trekking a very long distance within fourteen days. Further there is no mountain at Attukaal sacred to God Murugan, where Kannaki spent her last days as per Silappathikaaram.

In Mangalore

It is confirmed in Sillapathikarem, that the king of the Kongar dynasty of Tuluva Nadu too was present at the consecration ceremony of the Kannaki temple at Kumily. The Tuluva Nadu of that period had as it's capital the present Mangalore.

Also from Silappathikaaram it is seen Kannaki Koatam (temple) was also known as the "Mangala Madanthai Koatam" a direct equivalent of "Mangala Devi temple", and it is 'quite possible' the king of Tuluva Nadu on his return to his capital city, named it after Kannaki as "Mangala Urr" which possibly became the present Mangalore, and also built there a temple to Goddess Kannaki named as Mangaladevi temple.

However the present traditions only holds, that this temple is venerated to Goddess Sakthi known as Mangaladevi, undoubtedly it is the 'forgotten truth' of the worship of Kannaki as Mangaladevi in Mangalore, which presently forms a part of Karnataka state of India.

In Chengannur

There is also a Baghawathi temple at Chengannur in Allepey district in Kerala with Kannaki traditions. It is said that Kannaki came to Chenkunnu in Kerala and did penance under a tree. Kovalan appeared before her in a vimana and took her to heaven.

This tradition too could not be accepted as correct, as the Chengannur has been confused at some time or the other with the Chengkuntram appearing in Silappathikaaram, in which it is very clearly stated that the Chengkuntram was a hill within the close vicinity of Neduverlkuntram where Kannaki demised (as discussed under 'Notes' in Section - 12 of this article), and clearly not the place far west in Allepey district.

But it is quite possible with the acceptance of Kannaki worship in many parts of Kerala during the period of Cheran Chenguttuvan, possibly a subordinate king or chieftan ruling this region of Kerala would have built this Kannaki temple which is now known as Baghavathi temple and having the above mentioned tradition.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

".......The festival commences on Karthika day of Malayalam month Makaram-Kumbham (Feb-March). Pongala festival is a ten-day long festival and on the 9th day of the festival is the famous Pongala.

Other activities during the ten-day festival include various ceremonial rituals like Kappukettu, during which the story of Goddess Kannaki is recited. It is a musical recitation and goes on for the first nine days of the festival. The musical recitation of Kannaki's story ends with the part of the Goddess annihilating the Pandya King. The story signifies victory of good over evil, light over darkness and justice over injustice. Immediately after the end of the recitation, it begins the rituals for Attukal Pongala, which begins with making fire in the temple hearth known as Pandara Aduppu. The fire will then be passed to the women ready to offer pongala and the same fire spreads to all the tens of thousands of women, who are offering pongala.

Two Web Pages on Attukaldevi Temple Festival at Thirvananthapuram in Kerala.


It appears the Aye dynasty king of Venaadu (present Thirvananthapuram), being subordinate of Emperor Cheran Chenguttuvan ruling at that time in Vanji, possibily would have been an invitee of the latter at the Kannaki Temple consecration ceremony at Neduverlkuntram the present Kumily region in Idukki district. He on his return to his country would have built a temple in veneration to Kannaki and started daily religious rituals with an annual festival in honour of the deity in his own kingdom at Venaadu, which over years would have developed to today's big Attukaala Pongala Festival of Thiruvananthapuram.

Similerly in Mangalore in east of present Karnataka state which has been part of the former Tulu country, we note the great "Magaladevi Temple" the "Magala Madanthai Koatam" of Silappathikaaram havong the same meaning, ceremoniously celeberating the annual festival.


(15) The great Tamil Literary works composed from Vanji Nagar in Kerala

In Vanji Nagar the present Kodungallur - the capital city of the Chera (Kerala)Nadu, there had been many Tamil Poets who have composed great Tamil poetic works which are available to us to this day.

Among them are the two great "Kerala (Chera) Tamil Epics" namely the "Sillapathikarem" and "Manimehalai" of the second century A.D.which speaks much about the people, their lifestyles, religions, traditions and culture of the Tamil people of then Chera(Kerala), Chola and Pandiya countries known then as the Muth Thamil Nadu.

The first was the Manimekhalai composed by the poet Saaththanaar at the royal court of the Chera king Seran Senguttuvan at Vanji. The second was the Silappathikaram composed by Ilango Adigal the younger brother of Cheran Chenguttuvan who composed same from his residence at Kunavaayil Kottam a little out side the city north of the Vanji city (Kodungallur) and identified as the present Thirukanna Mathilakam. He lead his life as a Jain Monk while his elder brother Seran Chenguttuvan the Chera king professed the Saivite religion.


These two "Kerala Tamil Epics", are among the ancient Tamil Literary works treasured today by the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and worldover.

We have another set of poems called the "Paththuppaatu" in Tamil, composed by ten different Tamil Poets of Chera Nadu on the ten different Chera kings of the period first century B.C. upto second century A.D. speaking on their glory, and complied into one single work as Pathuppaattu. Unfortunately the first Paththu and last Paththu of the Paththupaatu is missing and now left only with eight Paththus. Each work is called as a Paththu as the glory of each ten king were summed up in ten Verses.

The Chera(Kerala) Kings on whom the Paththus were composed and their respective Poets, are as follows:

First Paththu - sung on king Uthiyan Cheralathan by a poet unknown (presently lost to us)
Second Paththu - sung on king Imayavaraban Neduncheralaathan (A.D.42-100) by poet Kumattoor Kannanaar
Third Paththtu - sung on king Palyaanai Selkelu Kuttuvan (brother of the above) by poet Paalai Kauthamanaar
Fourth Paththu - sung on king Kalangaai Naarmudi Cheral by poet Kaappiyaatru Kaapiyanoor
Fifth Paththu - sung on king Kadal Pirakkottiya Senguttuvan (A.D. 100-155) by poet Paranar
Sixth Paththu - sung on king Aadukoatpaadu Seralaathan by poetess Kaakkaipaadiniyar Nachchellaiyaar
Seventh Paththu - sung on king Selvak Kadungovaliyaathan by poet Kappilar
Eighth Paththu - sung on king Peruncheral Irumporrai by poet Arisil Keelar
Nineth Paththu - sung on king Ilamcheral Irumporrai by poet Perungkuntroor Keelaar
Tenth Paththu - by a poet unknown (presently lost to us)

There is another Literary work of this period known as "Kurunthohai". There is another work called the "Muththolaayiram" which has three sections. Each section deals with the kings and their three Tamil kingdoms (Muth Thamil Naadu) namely Chera, Chola and Pandiya of that period. This work belongs to the period first centurt A.D. and composed by Poet Thollaasiriyar of then Pandiya Nadu.

(16) The active trade of the Greeks and Romans with the Kerala (Chera) country

With the invasion of Alexander the Great (B.C.321) up to Indus River in the north-western region of then India, and the settlements of Greeks at that time in the regions of the present Pakistan and Afganistan, and with the coming of the Greek seaport city in Egypt known as Alexandria paved the way for Greek trading with many parts of India.

This also made them to travel to the western coasts of India specifically to important Seaport city of then Kerala namely the Muziri, and the inland city the Karur near present Kodungallur.

But it was during the rise of the Roman Empire under Julius Caeser (B.C.60-44) and with its expansion under his nephew Augustas Ceasor (B.C.27-A.D.14), and with the discovery of the favourable wind to Musiri in the Kerala (Chera) country in India, named "Hippalaus" after a Greek Marinor who discovered same, the travel to India from from the Ports of Alexandria, Aden, Socotra, Ormuz, Ctesiphon, Caesarea, Taxila, Broach in the Arabic sea became much easier and shorter,

The the direct route discovered to the port of Musiri with this favourable wind paved the way for the very active trade of the Romans with India especially with the Chera, Chola and Pandiya countries in the south.

The presence of the Roman - Traders and their Guarding Warriors in the Musiri Port became so great that they erected a temple in honour of their emperor the Augustus Ceaser at this seaport city of Musiri. This is confirmed by an A.D.225 record named the Peutinger Tables. “Tabula Peutingeriana” (Peutinger Tables) now in the National Library at Vienna (Switzerland).

The trading activities of the Romans in the cities of Vanji and Musiri regions of Kerala (Chera Nadu) increased and many of their gold coins have been discovered in these regions belonging to Augustus, Tiberius, etc.

The Romans provided gold in return to the goods they purchased from Vanji, Musiri and surrounding regions of Cheranadu, for export to their country the Rome.

'the Musiri of fame, where the river Sulliam Periyaaru (the present Periyar river of Kerala state) of the Seralar (Chera kings) emits the white lather (by clashing with the sea water at it's estuary), (where) the strong ships of the Yavanas (common term for Romans and Greeks) of high workmanship came with Gold and returned with Kari' (Kari means Milahu in Tamil which is the black pepper (in English),

The Romans carrying the great vessels with no limit known by measure reached the prosperous the Vanji territory……”

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.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"....Seralar Sulliam Periyaartru vennurai kalanga Yavanar thantha vinai maan nan Kalam
ponnodu vanthu Kariyodu peyarum
valam elu Musiri arrpu ela valaiyee
arum samam kadanthu padimam vaviya
nedu nal yanai adu por Cheliyan......"

Ahananooru - chapter 7, verse 148

"......alanthu kadai ariyaa arungkalam sumanthu
valanthalai mayangiya Vanji muttraththu....:"

"...meen noduththu nel kuvaiyi
misai ambiyin manai marukkunthu
manai kuwaiiya kari moodaiyaal
kalich summaiya karai lalak kurunthu
kalam thantha pot parisam
kali thoniyaan karai serkunthu
malai thaaramum kadal tharamum
thalai peithu varunarkku eeyum
punal am kallin polanthaar Kuttuvan
mulanghu kadal mulavin Musiri anna
nalam saal vilu porul paninthu vanthu koduppinum
puraiyar alloar varaiyalal evalk ena
thanthaiyum kodaa an aayin vanthoar
vaai patta iruththa eani ayidai
vartunthi intru kollo thane parunthuuyirththu
idai mathil sekkum purisai
padai mayangu aar idai nedu nal ure......"

Puranaanooru - verse 343

“….Reference to Muziris is very clearly made. Behind the name Muziris on the map there is a large lake mapped Lakus Muziris beside which an icon marked Templ(um) Augusti…”

Web Pages on Musiri map & Peutingner tables.


(17) Articles imported and exported in to by Greeks & Romans


(18) Coming of the St Thomas to Kodungallur

During this period the mighty Roman empire with it's capital at Rome in the present day Italy, was under the reign of Tiberius Caeser (A.D.14 - A.D.36) who succeeded the Roman Emperor Augustus Caeser (B.C.27- A.D.14) after his death.

We have the positive date of the accession of Tiberius Caesor at Rome as A.D.14 from history. Also in the Luke’s Gospal (in the Bible), it is stated that in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesor - that is in A.D.29, the Roman Governer governing Judea in Israel on behalf of him was Pontius Pilate.

From Lukes’s Gospal and a reference in the historical writings of the Jewish Historian Josephus of the contemporary period it is clear few years later the crucification of Lord Jesus Christ took place on the order of this Roman Governer - Pontius Pilate, who subsequently left for Rome in A.D.36 from Judea, after his removal as Governer.

We also note from the above that Pilate has also issued coins upto A.D.32. This could have been normally possible if there have been much peace in the country of his rule during the period.

Hence it is most possible that in the following year in A.D.33 that Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, as thereafter by much religious unrest in Judea which would have made him be removed, and to travel to Rome to answer the complaints made against him to Emperor Tiberius.

With the death of Lord Jesus Christ in A.D.33 and the persecution of Christians by the Romans under Pontius Pilate, St Thomas one of his twelve Apostles subsequently chose to leave Jerusalem in Judea, and reached Nubia in the present Sudan south of Egypt where he converted many to the Christian faith.

From there he reached Abyssenia the present Ethopia further south where too he preached and converted some to the Christian faith. From there he further travelled to Malabar in India the present Kerala coastal region.

The oral traditions in the present day Kerala states that St Thomas took the sea route to Kerala (Maabar) coast and landed at the former Muziri Port at Kodungallur most likely around A.D.52.

Further from a sixteenth century composition in an old Ola Manuscript called ther “St Thomas Parvam” (Ramban Song) from Palayur (near Kodungallur) written by a priest named St Thomas Ramban provides details on the arrival of St Thomas the apostle and his activities in India including an immediate coversion of a Chera king and his nephew to Christianity.

However we have no evidences confirming a Chera king of that period having been converted into Christian faith in the Kerala Tamil Literary works namely Silappathikaarem, Manimekalai, and Paththuppaattu (8 - Hero Poems out of 10, on 8 - Chera kings) of the "first and second century" composed by Tamil Poets who lived during this same period at Kodungallur (around A.D.50-200), [/u][/color] - as mentioned in "Thomas Parvam" a Tamil Christian Literary work of the "sixteenth century".

Further the Kerala Tamil Literary work of this period namely “Manimekalai” while listing out all religious faiths that prevailed prominantly in Vanji Nagaram (Kodungallur) of that period, has not mentioned of the Christian religion. The prominant religions that prevailed in Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur) of that period are given in "Manimekalai" are as follows:

(a) Ulakaayutham
(b) Bauddham
(c) Sanngeeyam
(d) Nayaayikam
(e) Vaisedikam
(f) Meemaansakam
(g) Saivam
(h) Vainavam
(i) Vedism
(j) Aaseevakam
(k) Nikandam
(l) Saangeeyam

It could be that though Christianity was introduced around A.D.52 by St Thomas, 'it became acceptable to a fair section of the
"people in Kodungallur" only after a century and half later around the beginning of the third century(A.D.201)' that too became a more prominent religion of this region.

A Malayalam chronicle named "Keralolpathi" of the ‘seventeenth century’ is the first document which mentions of 'some members of the Namboodiri community have been converted into Christianity with the arrival of St Thomas at Kodungallur in A.D.52. This statement doesnot carry much weight, as the earliest reference to "Namboodiris" are found only in this chronicle much later period, and no where else in any Kerala or Tamil - historical or literary documents, or in any inscriptions or copper plate grants of Kerala - prior to this period.

However as many informations given in this chronicle has been disputed by the "Kerala Historians and others" as historically unreliable based on the evidences from the other sources on Kerala history and we can leave out this statement as incorrect, as historically - "Namboodiris" came into Kerala from the Tulu and Karnataka countries only after the end of 100 years of Chera-Chola war (towards the end twelveth century), and gradually settled and married among the Kerala local communities.

Up to the beginning of the third century the Chera - Kings and Emperors have been very powerful, and they being Saivites and Vaishnavites themselves - these religions along with the Vedic Religion received their great patronage, as seen from all Kerala Tamil Literary works of this very period, especially in Silappathikaaram, Manimekalai and Paththupaattu.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Cæsar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judæa...."

Holy Bible, Gospal of St Luke 3: Line 1, .
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


“….According to Josephus (Jewish Historian Ant, XVIII, iv, 2) Pilate held office in Judea for 10 years. Afterwards he was removed from office by Vitellius, the legate of Syria, and traveled in haste to Rome to defend himself before Tiberius against certain complaints. Before he reached Rome the Tiberius had died and Gaius (Caligula) was on the throne, AD 36.

“……It is interesting as well that there have been a few bronze coins found that were struck form 29-32 AD by Pontius Pilate.

Inscription by Pontius Pilate - http://www.bible-history.com/empires/pilate.html

"The body of St Thomas lies in the province of Maabar in a little town.......But it is a fact that before he came to the place where he died he made many converts in Nubia......And now let us turn to the great province Abyssinia,.....In this province Messer St Thomas the Apostle preached. And after making some converts there he went to Maabar..."

The Travels of Marco Polo - Translated by Ronald Latham, Page 276, 303,304

"St.Thomas, my namesake, the great teacher of the religion of grace (He) in company
with Avan the agent of King Cholan, Embarked in Arabia and arrived at Maliamkara…………Thereafter he made haste and soon reached Mylapore."

".......In one month’s time him to come back to the Kerala country, The nephew of the King of Tiruvanchikkulam arrived in that land (the Cholan’s land), And, kissing his blessed foot, entreated. They voyaged in a ship, And, undoubtedly, came to Maliamkara...."

".......There by his miraculous deeds, in eight days he established the religion “Returning there from Mylapore at the invitation of the King from Kodungallur in the company of the King’s nephew, "Together with the King’s family, three thousand heathens, unbelievers, As well as forty Jews who had settled in the country, Received baptism in a year and a half." Thus the capital of the Chera empire receives the Apostle and his message with an open heart, and thereafter becomes the fountainhead of faith for the whole country. Therefore "There for worship (St.Thomas) erected a church and a cross........"

St Thomas Parvam (also known as Ramban Song - by Thomas Ramban

(19) Change of name from Vanji to Kodungallur & Thiruvanjaikkalam Siva Temple

It was possibly in the early third century (after A.D.201) during the rule of the Chera king Kadungo at Vanji Nagar, the city was re-named after him as “Kadungo Uur” which possibly came to be known gradually as Kodungolur and subsequently as Kodunggallur.

In the second century Kerala Tamil Epic poems namely the Silappathikaram & Manimehalai (A.D.175) it is only referred to as Vanji Nagar. The very next reference to it is found in the Thevarams (Tamil religious hyms) of the Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar of Tamil Nadu of the period A.D.568 – 649, but as Kodungallur. Hence it is clear between the periods of A.D.175 to A.D.568 it was given the new name Kodungallur.

This Thevarams also refers to a Siva shrine in the capital city of Kodungkolur (Kodungallur) named as “Anjaikkalam” (Thiruvanjaikkalam) - the first reference we know of this shrine from the literary, religious, historical or epigraphical sources.

In the Periyapuranam of the sage/poet Seikeelar in the kandam (chapter) on the Tamil Saiva Saint Sunderamoorthy Nayanaar, there is a reference as "Kodungallurin mathil vayil" and another in the same kandam as "inji Vanji mathil vayil" referring to the same gate of the fortress leading to the inner city.

From the above it is confirmed that the royal city which was earlier referred to as Kodungkolur was still known as Vanji by it's old name during this same period, and the Thiruvanjaikkalam temple once stood within the inner city, and still stands even today guiding us on the former location of the Chera fortress within the city.

In the early days the royal city was called the "Maa nagaram" and normally encompassed a vast area with a part of the royal city being within high walls of the fortress where the king, his ministers, officials and warriors lived, and was known as the "aha nagar (inner city)", and the part of this royal city outside the fortess walls where the other people lived was called as the "pura nagar (outer city)".

Further Periyapuraanam very positively says the Kodungolur (Kodungallur) was the ancient city of MalaiNaadu where the Thiruvanjaikkalam temple existed, and was the ancient seat from where the kings of the Chera dynasty ruled.

The long time misconception among Scholars, that the Vanji Nagar the capital of the Cheras where the Thiruvanjikkalam Siva temple too was situated, was the present Karuvur near Thirutchi in TamilNadu - is thus proved wrong by these references.

Further from the Archaeological point of view, we find the above Thiruvanjikkalam Siva temple exists even today at the present Kodungallur region of Kerala under the same name, and there is a bronze statue of Nadarajar (the dancing form of God Siva) in this temple with an inscription on it referring to it as “Sabapathi of Thiruvanjikkulam” (Sabapathy – another name of God Siva).

The site of the Palaces of the Chera king could have possibly been at a site known as “Cheraman Parambu” seen even today in the present Kodungallur very close to the present Thiruvanjikkalam Siva temple. This fact is also hinted by a reference in the Periyapuranam which states “without going to his large Palace with spires he went and entered Thiruvanjaikalam with his followers the Uhiyar (Chera king) of great virtue”.

The Periyapuram describes the city of Kodungallur as follows.The gateway on the (fortress) wall of Kodungkolur with tall Gopurams (spires) touching the skys, palatial Residences, the cooling Roadways with trees, Ponds, tall Palaces of the king, dance stages and .????...........................

The above are confirmed by the following references:

“…… valai kulamum thalikkulamum nallidai kulamumth Thirukkulaththodu Anjaikkalam……”

6th thirumurai by Thirunaavkkarasar pathikam 71 verse 10

".......Kodungkolur Anjaikkalam......"

6th Thirumurai - by Saint Thirunaavukkarasar, Thirusheththira kovai pathkam, verse 5

"..thonmai malainaattu......Thiruvanjaikkalamum nilavi Cherar kulak ko veetrirunthu murai puriyum kulakko moothur Kodungkolur....."

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chapter 37, verse 1, 144

"Kodungkolurin mathil vaayil ani kodiththu maruhil uduth thodung gopurangal, maalighaihal, sooli kulir chaalaihal thettri nedung ko nagarhal, adarangu nirantha manithamang kamuhu vidung kothai poonthamangal niraiththu vevveru alangaritthu...."

"...ayil vel kula Maravar ventri nilavum silai veerar
an nattau ullaar adaiya nirainthu anainthaar Vanji ahal nagar vaai...".

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 37, verse 46

"Uthiyar Perumal perum chenai..........mathi thangiya manjam ani inji Vanji mani vaayilai anainthaar"

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 72, verse 22

"sikara nedumaaligai anaiyaar sentru Thiruvanjaikalaththu nikaril thondar thamaik kondu puhunthaar Uthiyar Nedunthahaiyar......"

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 37, verse 1, 144

(21) The Chera king who embraced Islam

In the early seventh century a Chera king - by the name “Cheraman” was ruling from his capital city the Kodungallur. During this time a group of pilgrims from Arabia led by Zahiruddin Taqiyuddin, on their way on a visit to the Foot of Adam (on the Adams Peak mountain) in Sri Lanka landed at Kodungallur. They met this Chera king and explained to him about the great Prophet Muhammed.
On the return of these Pilgrims from Sri Lanka through Kodungallur, the Chera king opted to go and meet the Prophet and accompanied them to Jeddah in Arabia. The king Cheraman met the Prophet Mohammad in A.D.617 and embraced Islam adopting the name Tajuddin. After some years in Arabia he wished to return to Kodungallur, but on his way he died at Shahar Muqalla (port of Zafar) in Yemen in A.D.622.
There is a tradition that a follower of the Prophet’s teachings namely Malik Bin Dinar after the death of the Tajuddin - the converted Chera king, visited Kodungallur of Kerala (Chera country). He with the assistance of the new Chera king (name not known) ruling at Kodungallur built a mosque named “Cheraman Juma Masjid” in this region. It appears that the Cheraman Juma Masjid would have been constructed at a time between A.D.622 and A.D.701 the year Malik Bin Dinar left Kodungallur and set off to Arabia.
From an early manuscript named Tarik Zuhar al Islam fil Malibar we note that it refers to a Kerala (Chera) king who embraced Islam, but doesnot give his name.
A Malayalam chronicle named as Keralolpathi of the ‘seventeenth century’ is the only document which mentions the name of this Kerala (Chera) king coverted to Islam as Cheraman Perumal. However as many informations given in this chronicle has been disputed by the Kerala Historians and others as historically unreliable, based on the evidences from the other sources on Kerala history, can reject the statement in the Keralolpathi, that the name of the Chera king who embraced Islam was “Cheraman Perumal” - as incorrect.
The only “Cheraman Perumal” we know of in the Kerala History, is the celeberated Tamil Saiva Saint Cheraman Perumal Nayanaar of the period A.D.820-844, whose composition of “Thiruvarur Mumanikkovai” - a Tamil Thiruppaadal composition on God Siva at Thiruvarur of Tamil Nadu, has been included in the 11th Thirumurai of the Tamil Saivites. Further the celeberated 12th Thirumurai namely the Periyapuranam glorifies him as Cheraman Perumal - a great Saivite Saint among the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints, who along with the Tamil Saiva Saint Suntharamurthi Nayanaar died in Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur) in A.D.844.

This historic event is also found portrayed in the Paintings of the medieval period in the great Chola temple at Thanjavur Tamil Nadu named as “Rajarajaeswarem” (Birahatheeswarem) temple. Further among the stone statues and the bronze Icons of the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints found in many Siva Temples in Tamil Nadu and elseware, we also find the Cheraman Perumal (Nayanaar). Hence the name of the Chera king mentioned in the ‘Kerololpathi’ as “Cheraman Perumal” cannot be accepted.

However it is quite possible as a Chera king he was referred to as the “Cheraman” meaning the Chera king in Tamil, but his actual name was not known. This is further strengthened by the fact the mosque built by Malik Bin Dinar was known from the earliest time only as “Cheraman Juma Masjid” and not as ‘Cheraman Perumal Juma Masjid’.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

“….a group of pilgrims led by Zahiruddin b. Taqiyuddin, while going to visit the foot of Adam in Sri Lanka landed at Kodungallur and met the Chera king. The team explained to the king about Prophet Muhammad and his mission. They also told him about the miracles shown by the prophet including the splitting of the moon which was witnessed by the kind himself. The king was attracted to the faith and he told the team his desire to embrace Islam. When the team returned after their pilgrimage to the Foot of Adam, the king accompanied them to Arabia. The king met the prophet at Jeddah on Thursday 27th Shawwal, six yeas before Hijrah (617 A.D.). He embraced Islam and accepted the name Tajuddin ( the crown of the faith) . After remaining in Arabia for few years the king returned to Malabar, but on the way he died at Shahar Muqalla in Yemen on Monday Ist Muharram in the first year of Hijrah (622 A.D.)

Tarikh Zuhur al Islam fil Malibar - Muhammad b. Malik.

“……Perumal who had gone to Makkah as mentioned in “Keralolpathi” is Cheraman Perumal. The year of his departure mentioned in the work as 332 A.D. cannot be correct, since the preaching of Islam by prophet Muhammad started only after 600 A.D…..”.

(Keralolpathi – translated by Herman Gundert, Balan publications, Trivandrum, 1961 (First Published in 1843) p. 32.)

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