Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala : Part - 3

The great Significance of Kodungallur of Kerala in the history of Kerala & Tamil Nadu : Part - 3

(21) The great Tamil Vaishnava Saint Kulasekara Aalvaar of Kodungallur

Towards the beginning of the nineth century A.D. the ruling Chera king of Kudamalainadu, had a son named Kulasekaran born at Vanjikkalam (Kodungallur in Kudamalainadu) in the month of March under Punarpoosm star. He was also known by the name Senghol Poraiyan as seen in Tamil Saiva work 'Periya puranam'.

Kulasekaran {A.D.801-820} succeeded his father on the Chera throne and ruled the region of Kudamalainadu in east Kerala, with his capital at Kodungallur, the traditional capital of the kings of the Chera dynasty.

At a subsequent period he gained control over whole of Kerala. He has claimed for himself the titles “Kolik-kon”, “Kudal-nayagan”, “Kongar Kon” confirming his authority over Koliyur (the Uraiyur of the Chola country), and Kudal (the Madurai of the Pandiya country), and also over the Kongu country. It was probably during this period the Uthahai of the Kongu country became the second capital of the Kulasekara dynasty with a member of the Kulasekara family appointed to rule over this region.

This could be referred as the second Chera Empire in the annals of Chera history, though it was not as large as the first Chera empire during the period of Cheran Chenguttuvan during the second century.

Kulasekaran became an ardent devotee of - "Sri Rama" (regarded as an incarnation of "God Vishnu"), and hence the Vaishnavites of this period referred to him as Kulasekara Perumal in reverence. He made pilgrimages to Thiruvarangam (Sri Rangam) in Cholanadu, and Thiruvenkatam (Thiruppathi) in Thondainadu - among others, and has composed a set of hyms - in Tamil in praise of God Vishnu named as 'Perumal Thirumoli', and in Sanskrit named as 'Muhunda Mala'. He abdicated the Chera throne and went to forest to lead a holy life in deep meditation, and was venerated as one of the twelve great Tamil Vaishnava Saints known as theKulasekara Aalvaar.

Kulasekara Aalvaar built a Vaishnava temple at Vanji Nagar (Kodungallur), and named the region of this temple shrine as "Thirukulasekarapuram". There are some oral traditions that it was at the Thirukulasekarapuram temple, the Chera kings were crowned as kings. Also the Sanskrit work of Kulasekara Aalvaar titled 'Muhunthamaala' was sung on Lord Krishna the deity in this temple.


In the Mahadevar (Siva) temple at Thiruvanjikkulam in Kodungallur, there is a "Samadhi" of this great Chera Emperor cum Vainava Saint - seen even today. These monuments probably underwent many renovations and modifications over the subsequent periods.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

".....Pon puraiyum vet Kulasekarane Maasi Punarpusaththu elil Vanjikkalatthu thonri anbudane nam Perumaal sempot koyil anaiththu ulakin peruvaalvum, adiyaar thaangal inbamuru perung kuluvam kaana manmel irul ariya ventreduththa visaiyit sonna nanporul ser Thirumoli nootrinethu paattum nantraaka enakkarul sei naki neeye......."

Prapantha Saaram - by Vethantha Guru (Desikan), 8th Pasuram

"......Cherar kula ko veetrirunthu murai puriyum kulakko moothur Kodungallur......."

Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse one

“…..the Chera king Kulasekaran of the Villavar (people of Chera Nadu) had destroyed the valour of the enemies with his mace……”.

Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam

“….. maatralarai veeram keduththa sengol Kolli kavalan, Villavar Cheran Kulasekaran mudiventhar sihamaniye….”

Perumal Thirumoli thaniyankal – by Manakkaal Nambi

“…….ponnanj silai ser nuthaliyar verl Cheralar kon Kulasekaran….”

Perumal Thirumoli thaniyankal – by Udaiyavar

“……..Kolli nakar kon Kulasekaran……………………………
nanjinum kodunththolil nadaththum theeyarai anjura adakki
nal arathinutru ulloar vinjura thanich sengol vilanga oachidum
Vanjiar venthanaam mannar mannane…….”

Kuruparamparai Puraanam – by Vijayaragavan - chapter on birth of Kulasekara Aalvaar

“……..Kudalarkon kodai Kulasekaran……”

“…….Kolli kaavalan, Koodal naayagan, Kolikkoan, Kulasekaran…..”

“…….Kongar kon Kulasekaran

“……..koor vel Kulasekaran…….”

“…….kottra vel thaanai Kulasekran……”

“…….Kolli nakark irai Koodal Komaan…..:

“…….Kolli Kavalan kaavalan Maaladhi mudimel kolamaam Kulasekaran…..”

“…….kol navilum vel valavan kudaik Kulasekaran…..”

“…….kooraantha velvalavan Koliyar koan kudai Kulasekaran…….”

“…….Koliyar koan kudai Kulasekaran…….”

Perumal Thirumoli - by Kulasekara Perumal - verses 1 to 10

"......seerin malintha thirunagara athanit Sengot Poraiyan ennum kaarin malintha kodai nilalmet kavikkum kottra kudai nilal keelth thaarin malintha puyaththu arasan tharani neeththu thavam saarnththaan........"

Periya Puranam (Thiruthondar Puranam) - by Seikeelaar, Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse 10

"........respected freinds,
in 2006 i had an opurtunity to go to thiru-anjai-kalam (thiuvanchikulam). i saw the sundaramoorthy nayanar samadhi inside the mahadevan temple. the temple had been modelled on chidambaram. the place has also a samadhi for kulasekhara
alwar the historic kodunkoloor bagawathi amman is considered by the locals as kannagi dheivam........"

PSVP Webpage of Mr Gandhiram on his personal visit to Kodungallur

KCHR Webpage Map on Kodungallur and on the location of Kulasekarapuram Krishnan Koyil

".......From Kodungallur 3 km down south-east was the Vainava sacred shrine Thirukulasekarapuram. It was the one time capital city of Athikulasekarar who ruled Kerala. Closer to same was the palace of the king of Kodungallur. The (Chera) kings had their crowning ceremony in this temple. It is said that it was the temple built by Kulasekara king, and Kulasekara Aalvaar sung the 'Muhunthamaala' on it's presiding deity........"

Kerala Vijayam - by Paranitharan, Part - 1, page 181

(22) The great Tamil Saiva Saint Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar of Kodungallur

The Chera king Kulasekaran had a son by the name Rajasekaran. He unlike his father was an ardent devotee of God Siva. He spent most of his time in religious activities and meditation with much devotion, at the Siva Temple at Thiruvanjaikkalam in Kodungallur. It was during this period king Kulasekaran abdicated the throne, and went to forest to spend rest his life in deep religious life and meditation.

The Chera ministers with the unexpected move of the king Kulasekaran, after some days of discussion decided to make his son Rajasekaran as the successor. They then met him at the Thiruvanjikkulam temple where he spent his life in full religious devotion, and requested him to take over as the next king of Chera country as his succession came to him legitmately. Rajasekaran hesitated and later accepted, under the condition that his religious devotion and activities be allowed to continue over his responsibilities as a king.

With the acendence of Rajasekaran on throne {A.D.820-844} he was known by his royal name as Cheraman Perumal and inherited the the large empire encompassing the Chera Nadu, Chola Nadu, Pandiya and Kongu Nadu. He more fittingly bore also the title as Peru-Ma-Kothaiyaar (the great chief Chera king), as the other regions of Kerala were possibly ruled by members of the Kothai dynasty but were under Rajasekaran, and the Kodungallur the capital city of Cheras was re-named after him as Makothai (also know as Mahothaiyapuram).

He ruled the country in peace less of any wars, and appears to have developed new friendly ties with the Chola and Pandiya kings who were under the control Cheras, and became more liberal towards them.

It was during this time one of the great Tamil Saiva Saint of Tamil Nadu - the Suntharamurththi Naayanaar made a pilgrimage to the Thiruvaarur Siva Temple in Chola country. The Chera king Cheramaan Perumaal with utmost desire to meet this great Tamil Saiva Saint, also went to Thiruvaarur at this same time.

Here with the blessings of "God Siva" of Thiruvarur the Chera king composed hyms in Tamil in his praise known as 'Mummanikkovai'. From there he went along with the Tamil Saint Suntharamurththi Naayanaar to the Siva shrine at Vethaaranniyam in the Chola country and other Siva Shrines all over the Pandiya country. He composed further hyms in Tamil in praise of God Siva known as 'Ponvanna Anththaathi' and 'Thirukkailaya Gnana Ulla', and came to be known and venerated as the Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar. All the above hyms composed by him have been included in the eleventh 'Thirumurai' (Thirumurais are a collection of the sacred hyms in Tamil, sung on "God Siva" by various Tamil Saiva Saints of Tamil Nadu and few from the Kerala).

Finally at the eager request of the Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar the Tamil Saiva Saint Sundaramurthi Nayanar opted to visit the palace of this Chera king at his capital city of Makothaiyapuram in the Chera country travelling through Kongunadu the present Uthakamandalam (Uthakai) region of Tamil Nadu.

While being here in A.D.844 the Saint Suntharamurththi Naayanaar died while on an elephant. Unable to bear the grief of the death of this great Saiva Saint, the Cheramaan Perumaal Naayanaar too met his death while on a horse soon thereafter in the same year.


The entire narration is given in the 'Periyapuranam' as above, but the relevent sections have not been given here as it is too voluminous to be given here. However interested Readers could refer the chapter on 'Kalatrarivaar puranam' and 'Vellai yaanai charukkam' in Periyapuranam. (in Tamil).

This story has been the theme of the Chola painting found even today on the inner walls of the first tier of the Karpagraham at the Thanjavur Rajarajaeswaram Siva Temple (Birahatheeswara Temple – Periya Koyil)

These two personalities have been glorified as two among the 63 – Tamil Saiva Saints, whose statues could be found either in granite stine or in bronze in many Siva Temples in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere where thet have been installed. Even in Karnataka state there are Siva temples which has been built during Chola times and later, where the statues of the above personalities could be seen even today.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"......thonmai Malainaattu paa veetrirunthu pal puhalaar payilum iyalpit palampathi thaan seveetrirunthaar Thiruvanjaikkalamum nilavi Cherar kulakk Ko veetrirunthu murai puriyum kulakko moothur Kodungallur......."

Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 1

".....thada mathil sool sootham ahula sarala nirai thuthaiyum cholai valanagar thaan Kothai arasar Makothai ena kulavum peyarum udaiththu ulakil......"

Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 4

".......aranm kol Saiva thiram thalaippa
thiruhu sinaveng kaliyaanai Cherar kulamum ulakum sei
peru thavaththaal Aran arulaal piranthaar Perumaakkothaiyaar......"

Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 5

".......manmel Saiva neri vaala valarnthu munnai vali anbaat
kanmel vilangu netriyinaar kalale penum karuththinaraai
unmeviya anbinaraahi urimai arasar tholil puriyaar
thenner mudiyaar Thiruvanjaikalaththil thiruth thonde purivaar....."

Periyapuraanam - Kalatraivaar puraanam, verse - 7

“…..thingal mudiyaar thiruvarulai paravi Cheramaan Perumal engu ulla adiyaarkku eatra poosai seitharuli…..”

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, Kalatrarivaar puraanam, verse 128

".....thaandum puravi Cherar kula Perumal thamakku thiru amuthu uundu......."

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, Kalatrarivaar puraanam, verse 72

(23) Change of name from Kodungallur to Makothai

From the Periya Puraanam we note that Cheramaan Perumaal bore the name as Perumakothaiyaar (Peru-makothai-yar) during his early part of his life and ruled from Kodungallur. It could be quite possible that it was during his time the Kodungallur was given the new name as Makothai also known as Makothaiyapuram after king Rajasekaran alias Peru-makothai-yaar.

The reference to Kodungallur by its new name “Makothai” appears for the first time in the Thevaarap pathikam of the Tamil Saiva Saint the Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar. In his pathikam he has indicated that Mahothai was adjacent to the sea, and it was here that the sacred shrine of God Siva namely the Thiruvanjaikkalam stood.

The Kodungkolur being subsequently known as Mahothai is further confirmed, as Tamil Saiva Saint Thirunaavukkarasar states that Anjaikkalam of Kodungallur and the Tamil Saiva Saint Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar and Sage/ Poet Seikeelaar states that Anjaikkalam of Mahothai.

During the period of Perumakothaiyaar - the Kerala (Chera) king who subsequently became a Saiva Saint known as Cheraman Perumal Naayanaar, and counted as one of the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints of the then Tamil Nadu encompassing the Chera, Chola and Pandiya kingdoms.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"...Serar kulam ulakum sei peruhu thavaththaal aran arulaal piranthar Perumakothaiyar....".

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chaper 37, verse 5

“……………………………………………thonmai Malainaattu
paa veetriruntha palpuhalaarpayilum iyalpit palam pathi than
se veetrirunthaar Thiruvanjaikkalamum nilavi Cherar kulak ko
veetrirunthu muraipuriyum kulak ko moothur Kodungkolur….”

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chapter 37, verse 1

"....valanagar thaan Kothai arasar Mahodai ena kulavu peyarum udaiththu ulahil..."

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, chapter 37, verse 4

“……Kodungkolur Anjaikkalam…..”

6th thirumurai by Thirunaavkkarasar pathikam 70 verse 5

"......noakkum nithiyam pala eththanaiyum
kalaththit puha peithu kondu eru nunthi
aarkkum kadalang karai mel Mahothai
aniyaar polil Anjaikkalaththu appane.."

7th thirumurai by Suderar pathikam 84 verse 7

“…..Makothaiyil Thiruvanjaikkalam kaanilang kola valamkondu
mevinar kadi mathil thiruvaayil……”

Periyapuranam by Seikeelaar, section 13, verse 32

(24) Period of Ravivarma Kulasekaran at Kodungallur

The Chera king Rajasekara alias Cheraman Perumal Nayanar was followed by his son the king Ravi Varma Kulasekaran alias Sthanu Ravi (alias Ko-Kandan) {A.D.844 - 885} on the Chera throne at Mahodayapuram. Sthanu Ravi too was a Saivite like his father. He had a daughter by the name Kilaanadigal who married king Vijayaragavadeva from another Chera royal family ruling a part of Kerala.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(25) Period of Ramavarma Kulasekaran at Kodungallur

Towards the middle of Athiththa Chola’s rule the Chera king Sthanu Ravi died and was followed by Rama Varma Kulasekara {A.D.885-917} on the Chera throne.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(26) Period of Kothai Ravi Varma at Kodungallur

Towards this time with the demise of the Chera king Rama Varma, the king Kothai Ravi Varma {A.D.917-947} succeeded on the Chera throne at Mahodayapuram the capital of Kudamalainadu in Kerala country.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(27) Period of Indu Kothai Varma at Kodungallur

After thirty years of rule of Kothai Ravi Varma, was followed by Indukotha Varma {A.D. 944-962} on the Chera throne at Mahodayapuram.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(28) Period of Bhaskara Ravi Varma at Kodungallur

During this period the Chera king Indukotha Varma was succeeded by Bhaskara Ravi Varma - 1 {A.D.962-1019} at Mahodayapuram. Years later Baskara Ravi Varma - 2 {A.D.979-1014} appears to have assisted Bhaskara Ravi Varma - 1 in ruling his vast Chera empire which stretched from the present Calicut to the Tiruvananthapuram region encompassing the Kudamalainadu, Kongunadu and Venad, as his co-regent from Uthahai in the Kongu region.

The king Rajaraja -1 of the Chola country turned his attention on his conquest of Kudamalainadu of Chera country, and the Kongu region of the present Tamilnadu which was under the control of the Chera king.

He sent his forces to conquer these regions, which moved into the Kudamalainadu - the north and central regions of Kerala state and defeated Baskara Ravivarman Thiruvadi (Baskara Ravi Varaman – 1) the ruling king of the Kulasekara dynasty, and captured his capital the Makothaiyapuram (Kodungolur). It appears Baskara Ravi Varman -1 too accepted the Chola suzerainty and continued to rule from Makothaiyapuram in the Kerala country paying tributes.

Rajaraja Chola – 1 died in the year A.D.1014 and was succeeded by his son Rajendra Chola – 1 on the chola throne after being a co-regent with Rajaraja Chola from A.D1012.

During the period of Rajendra Chola – 1, in the year A.D.1019 with the agitation for freedom by the king Baskara Ravi Varman - 1 of Kerala, he sent a war expedition under the leadership of his second son Manukulakesari to Kudamalainadu in the Chera country who defeated the Chera King Baskara Ravi Varma – 1 captured his capital Mahothai and secured his crown, diadem and an island called Santhimathivu belonging to the Kerala king beyond Kerala in Arabic sea. In this war Baskara Ravi Varman - 1 met his death.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(29) Period of Chola rule under Chola Keralan at Kodungallur

With the secure of the Chera crown the Rajendra Chola – 1 assumed the new title as Mudikonda Cholan. Rajendra Chola –1 gave the title Chola Keralan to his second son Manukulakesari and appointed him as the chola viceroy to rule the captured Kudamalai Nadu of the Kerala country.

Rajendra Chola built a new imperial capital named as Gangaikondasolapuram west of present Chidambaram and there he built his new royal palace and named it as “Keralan Maligai” commemorating his victory over Kerala kings.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(30) Period of Vira Keralan at Kodungallur

However with the necessaity of he having to lead a war expedition with eastern Chalukiya king, he was recalled back from Chera country in the year A.D.1021, while appointing the Chera king Veera Keralan{A.D1021-1028} son of Baskara Ravi Varman to rule his country on accepting the Chola suzerainty.

With the death of Rajendra Chola – 1 in A.D.1044 his eldest son the Rajadhiraja Chola – 1 {A.D.1018-1054} who had been a co-regent of Rajendra Chola since A.D.1018 succeeded on the Chola throne. When he ascended the throne among the countries that were still under the Chola control, was the Mahodayapuram of the Kerala country.

During this period the Chera king of the Kulasekara dynasty at Mahodai were agitating to get their freedom. Rajadhiraja – 1 to contain these agitations sent forces which first proceeded to Mahodayapuram and defeated the Chera king Veera Keralan in A.D.1028, who was put to death by his elephant named Atthivaranam.

He appointed Rajasimhan {1028-1043} the son of Vira Kerala as the Chera King on he having accepted the Chola suzerainty, who continued to rule from Mahodai paying tributes to Cholas, and had friendly relations with them for some time.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"......vaar alaviya kalal Virakeralanai munaivayit pidiththu than aanaikku iduviththu Aththivaaranana kalittraal uthaippiththuaruli....."

"......midal elu Villavan kudarmadi kndu than naadu vittu oadi kaadu pukku olppa Vanji am puthumalar malainthu aangu enjalil velaikelu Kanthalur Saalai kalam aruppiththu....."

(31)Period of Bhaskara Ravi – 3 {A.D.1043-1082}

Rajasimha was followed by Bhaskara Ravi – 3 {A.D.1043-1082}on the Chera throne.

In the year A.D.1054 Rajadiraja Chola –1 died in the battle field at Koppam. Immediately his younger brother Rajendra Chola – 2{A.D.1051-1063} who was the co-regent with Rajadhiraja Chola – 1 from A.D.1051, crowned as the next Chola in the battle field itself and continued with the war with success to Cholas.

During this period one of his sons was given the title Chola Keralan in memory of his elder brother Manukulakesari who bore the same title as Chola Keralan.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"....vadathisai Gangaiyum thenthisai Ilankaiyum, kudathisai Makothaiyum kunathisai Kadaramum thandinil konda thaathai than mandalam venkudai nilal ena thankudai nilatri thisai thorum sengol ochchi........"

".....velaikkelu Kanthalur saalai kalam aruththapin......'

Inscription of Rajhadhiraja Chola - 1
South Indian Inscriptions - Vol 3, Part 1, Page No: 64, No: 30

(32) Period of Virarajendra {A.D.1063-1070}

With the demise of Rajendra –2, Virarajendra Chola {A.D.1063-1070} was crowned as the next king of the Chola empire. On he ascending the Chola throne, again the Cheras at Venad and Mahodayaouram started agiatating to free themselves from the Chola fold. Virarajendra first sent an expedition to Venad and killed the younger brother of the Kerala king named Jananathan, while the king himself escaped from his country.

Later with the agitation also from the Chera king Bhaskara Ravi – 2, it necessiated Virarajendra Chola to go on a renewed war expedition to the great cities of the Chera country namely the Uthahai and Mahodai with big elephant cavalry to suppress the agitation. The Chera king in fear escaped with his family to safety. He defeating the Chera country returned back with much tributes, elephants and maids.

With the death of Virarajendra his son Adirajendra {A.D1070-1074} succeeded on the Chola throne in A.D.1070, after being his co-regent from A.D1067. His period of rule ended within a short period of few months due to illness.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"......kalat Keralan thannai Sananaathan thambiyai poarkalaththu angal sool pasunthalai arinthu......"

"......Uthakaiyit Keralar thang kula sengeerai yodum ver ara parinththodi melka kadal veela......'

Inscription of Virarajendra at......
South Indian Inscriptions - Vol 3, Part 1, Page No: 64, No: 30

(33) Period of of Baskara Ravi Varma - 3

After the death of Adirajendra there has been a turmoil in the Chola country with no direct male decendents in the line of the Rajaraja Chola -1 to succeed.

Eventually the great-grandson of Rajaraja Chola - 1, namely Kulothunga Chola - 1 {A.D.1074-1120} became the rightful heir to the chola throne hailing from the female decendents of Rajaraja in the year A.D.1074.

Taking opportunity of the turmoil in the Chola country the Chera kings at Aynad, Venad and Kudamalainadu agitated to gain freedom from from the Chola kings.

Kulothunga Chola - 1 in A.D.1081 waged war with the Cheras. He captured Vilignam, Kanthalursalai including Kottaru north of Kumari all of Ayenadu. The Chera king agreed to rule as a subordinate king and pay tributes. At Kottaru in south Kerala country he stationed a “Nilappadai” (ground force) known as Kottaru Nillapadai under the general Araiyan Mathuranthahan alias Chola Keralarasan.

Kulothunga Chola’s forces further moved to Mahodayapuram in Kudamalainadu of the Kerala country and defeated the Chavar forces (suicide sqads) of Baskara Ravi Varma - 3 who also met his death in this war in A.D.1082.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

"......Kudamalai naatulla Chaver ellaam thani visumbu eara maa eariya than maruthanit thalavarai kurukalar kulaiya Koattaaru utpada nerithorum nilaikal ittu aruli thiralkol veerasimmaasananth thiriya vittaruli.....'

Inscription of Kulothunga Chola - 1 at......
South Indian Inscriptions - Vol 3, Part 1, Page No: 68, page141

(34) Ravi Rama Varma {A.D.1082-1090

He was succeeded by Ravi Rama Varma {A.D.1082-1090} on the throne with his acceptance to pay tribute to Cholas. This above are confirmed by the following references

The above are confirmed by the following references:

(35) Rama Varma Kulasekara {A.D.1090 – 1102}

He was followed by Rama Varma Kulasekara {A.D.1090 – 1102} at Mahodayapuram throne. It appears some time after A.D.1090 Rama Varma Kulasekara with his powerful Chavar forces defeated the Cholas and regained full power in Kudamalainadu. It seems Kulothunga Chola - 1 didnot take any serious attempt to regain the lost territories of the Kerala country. It appears this was the ending point of 100 years of intermittant war between the Cholas and the Cheras.

The above are confirmed by the following references:

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