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    Smile Kodungallur - Treasure-trove of History

    KODUNGALLUR:

    Some times we step into places which open up a treasure- trove of knowledge. One such thing happened to me during my tour of Kerala, when we visited Kodungallur to worship Devi Bagavathy in the famous Temple there.

    As one interested in the History and Culture of the Land of Malabar which was known as Chera Nadu or Chera Eezham, I wanted to know more about this part of ancient Tamil Kingdom. How this had become Kerala etc. A genuine query in my inquisitive mind. But could not progress much due to lack of resources and nonavailability of research material on the subject for me. After the darshan of Devi when we came out of the Temple, my son, who knows my interest in books, got me a copy of an old book, a bound volume for Rs.20/- sold in the temple stall. This book was so old the pages have become yellow and brittle, if not handled properly the pages will break to pieces! The title of the book was "Golder Tower" the author V.T.Induchoodan, published by Cochin Devoswam in 1970.

    When I returned home, I started reading the book. I found the book was a work of love by the author on the History and culture of ancient Chera Nadu , with particular reference to Temples around Kodungallur. The author's familiarity with the subject was astounding. The references that he had given in the book indicate the erudition of the author. He had done a lot of research on the subject. His familiarity with Tamil Classics connecting the Cheras was an added advantage to the Author. Naturally first I wanted to know more about Author V.T. Induchoodan, if possible to contact him. Unfortunately I found that he had passed away in 2002 at the age of 82. Then I learnt that, he was a researcher, Scholar and Writer in Malayalam and English. He was editor of Malayalam daily "Desabhimani" official Newspaper of Communist party, for some years. Later on he had come out of the Party and dedicated himself to research and Cultural activities. He was the son-in-law of Mahakavi Vallathol Narayana Menon., The Great Malayalam Poet .

    Reading this book gave me fresh impetus to continue my studies in the History and Culture of Chera Elam (Keralam) or Chera Nadu of yore, the Capital of which was Mahodayapuram or Vanchi other names for Kodungallur. I am writing on the subject purely from the information gathered by me from various sources, and I claim nothing in this of my own. If some one could claim any factual error in my writing I am open for corrections and I thankfully welcome such corrections.

    Kodungallur, known as Cranganore was the ancient port city of Muchiri or Muziris of kingdom of Chera Nadu. This was the Capital during the reign of last Cheraman Perumal. Kodungallur had a chequered History from ancient times. This has been mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman explorers in their records. It is claimed that Thomas the Apostle of Jesus landed with his followers in 52 AD and established the first Christian community in India. This is the earliest Syrian Christian Centre known as Syrian Nasranis in Malabar Area. Nasrani is the term used for the followers of "Nazarene messiah ( Jesus)".

    Similarly the Cheraman Jama Masjid in Kodungallur is the oldest and perhaps the first Mosque in India built around 612 AD. It is said the last Cheraman Peruman had gone to Mecca to learn about Islam and became a Muslim there. And, this last Cheraman became sick while returning to India and died in the port town of Salalah(Oman). This has also been confirmed by the present descendant of Cheraman family Raja Valiathampuran of Kodungallur in an interview. Interestingly I was in Salalah (Oman) for 18 months during my eight years' stay in Sultanate of Oman. The locals and my Malabari friends used to say there was "a kabarastan of Malabari King" in Salalah. Now I feel sorry that I did not care visit the place during that time.

    The History of Jews also records that the first Group of Jews landed in Cranganore (Kodungallur) at about Circa 70 to escape the persecution of their community in their home land. Then they proceeded to Kochi where they were granted land for settlement by the then Chera King.

    The Rule of Chera Dynasties can be divided into two periods. The first was the Cheras of Sangam Era,who ruled a wide area including Kongu Nadu upto present day Karur as capital and flourished along with Cholas and Pandyas in South. The mighty Cholas destroyed the Chera Kingdom, which became divided into small principalities in the coastal areas only. But in 800 AD the second Chera Empire was established under Kulasekhara Varman more famously known as Sri Kulasekhara Alwar, famous Vaishnavite Saint who was a scholar in Tamil and Sanskrit religious literature. His "Perumal Tiruvaimozhi" (பெருமாள் திருவாய்மொழி) in Tamil and Mukundamala" in Sanskrit are sung even today.

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    Chera Nadu showed phenomenal Economic and Cultural growth during the reign of Kulasekharas from 800 AD to 1102 AD with their Capital at Mahodayapuram or Tiruvanchikulam,very near to the present day Kodungallur. Brahmin families from North were brought and settled in Chera Nadu. With them they brought Vedic Culture and Sanskrit. Malayalam as a language refined liberally with Sanskrit was separated from Tamil during period of Kulasekharas only. It is my desire to write about the origin and identity of Namboothiri Brahmins of Kerala and their rich contribution to the healthy fusion of two main steams, Aryan and Dravidian Cultures in Kerala. The Malayalam Calendar more famously known as Kollam Era was introduced by Rajasekhara Varman in 825 AD", second king of this dynasty. There was an all round cultural renaissance of Art, Architecture, Literature and education took place during this period, in Chera Nadu. It is believed Chilappathikaram (சிலப்பதிகாரம்) the famous Tamil Epic, was written by Ilangovadigal while he was residing near Kodungallur. Adi Sankaracharya also belong to this period only.

    During its glorious time Vanchipattanam or Muzirri was the busiest Port in the South western part of India handling ships from as far as Rome and , Babylonia, Misr (Egypt), and Arabia in the west and as far as China, Siam and Swarnabhoomi in east. But there was a sudden end to this when an unprecedented Flood in Poorna (Periyar) River deluged the city and the port in 1341 AD. Thus the glory of Kodungallur was interned into the History of Chera Nadu.

    Brahmanyan,
    Bangalore.
    Last edited by bmbcAdmin; 20-08-2012 at 07:03 PM. Reason: Images added

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