Nallur Rajadhani: City Layout
V.N.Giritharan B.Sc (Built Environment in Architecture)
Translation from Tamil By: Latha Ramakrishnan
Publisher: Sneha Pathippagam (Madras) [First Edition: December 1996]
Preface: An Exemplary Attempt By S. Yoganathan
There are authentic historical evidences to claim that from time immemorial Tamils have been living in Srilanka as a civilized populace. Tamil Pranik stone –engravings belonging to Third Century B.C. have been excavated engravings belonging to in the Tamil regions of Srilanka. The excavatory researches that have taken place in Kandharodai, Aannaikkottai etc. establish how the Tamil had lived and grown as Megalithic civilized populace and the way civilization and cultural development had taken place in the Tamil regions of Srilanka in the above mentioned period on an equal footing with that of South India. There are so many significant excavatory evidence to authenticate this. The Romans had business contacts with the Srilankan Tamils. And we have records to prove that the highly civilized Srilankan Tamils had business contacts with Arabs and Chinese in the 5th Century A.D.
In the 13th Century A.D. a Government of Tamil-Saivite culture had come to be in Jaffna. Agriculture and Trade were the two main fountainheads of its economy. An intensely refined cultural growth stood out as the significant aspect of this state. And, as the capital of this State, Nallur rose to fame. More than that it could be seen as the cultural identity of the government concerned.
With the arrival of the Portugese, the fall of the empire came to be. And it is history that the pride and glory of Ceylon which had become enslaved in the Sixteenth Century is still fighting for its freedom.The complete history of Srilankan Tamils is yet to be written. The archelogical excavations undertaken by the Government of Srilanka have always been with the specific purpose of highlighting the pride and glory of Sinhalese and Buddhists and to ignore and even black out the worthiness of Tamils. This is indeed a well-known fact. During my years in Peradhana University as a student of history I had the misfortune of being a silent eye – witness to this practice. The department of Archeology and in particular, those like Dr. Parana Vidhana have taken great pains to fill the history of Srilankan Tamils with lots of dust and mud. And till date the official journals and books on history are actively engaged in this unjust practice. Unfortunately, the Tamil scholars who were in the Department of History in the early stage did not show any interest in throwing light on the truths of the history of Srilanka. In this darkness there came Prof. Ganapathi Pillai, who, though belonged to the Dept. of Tamil, evinced keen interest in the history of Srilanka and so entered it as an all-pervading glow. Then came Professor Indhirabala who extended and expanded this path with the help of his firm and steadfast analytical approach. And now people like Professor Padmanathan, Sitrambalam and others are engaged in probing deeper and deeper and knowing the real history of Ceylon and in this direction they are proceeding with keen interest, great sincerity and hard work. And, if their efforts give rise to a new set of historical analysists and researchers that would prove helpful in throwing more light on “Eelam” history.
Modern Science, as in all other fields, has introduced a lot of new concepts and methods in the area of historical researches too and so enabled them acquire speed, accuracy and authenticity. Especially in the field of Archeology Science has thrown in a lot of light because of which there is no room for assumptions and hypothetical conclusions. Disclosure means revealing the truth and nothing else.
The establishment of a University in Jaffna brought about many constructive changes. The foremost of it all is the system of unrestricted historical research and analyses.The Tamil region which time and nature have covered with sand, remain unseen and is yet to reveal its time- immemorial rich history. But, against all odds and in an incompatible and even hostile climate many researchers of the younger generation are actively engaged in unearthing this hidden history and they go about doing it with atmost are actively engaged in unearthing there hidden history and they go about doing there with utmost dedication and commitment, I know. And, I recognise the identity of learned friend ‘Macro non-Titasic’V.N.Giritharan among them and I feel immensely happy about it.
These intellectuals who have come into the field of historical research and investigation with great vigour and enthusiasm are indeed the need of this hour. Let their numbers multiply.I have identified Dr.Po.Ragupathy as a powerful whirlwind in the field of Archeology. The book titled ‘Early settlements’ penned by Ragupathy ,who stood in the forefront when it came to effective archeological researches in the Tamil regions, is a valid guide to the would be historical researchers. Giritharan who has in the same way as Ragupathy, keen interest and an analytical bent of mind, had taken the subject of Architecture as his graduation course of study. From that time itself, he has nurtured a lot of great dreams about Nallur Rajdhani which had developed a great grand noble history for itself. That analytical bent of mind has come out now in the form of a brief but effectively compact hand-book of research and analyses.
One and all should appreciate Giritharan for having written this book in memory of his motherland despite going through a life of sorrows and sufferings. In between those strains and traumas in acquiring the evidential proofs, with ‘patience’ and ‘seeking’ in the forefront, he has penned this book in a powerful and poignant manner. At a later period, for the researchers of the younger generations who would be living, inhaling the free air of liberty and equality this book would no doubt prove a beacon-light. In the history of ‘Eelam’ (Ceylon) Nallur has had a role to play. It was a renowned city way back at the time of Chola rule itself. Afterwards, it was the glorious capital of Jaffna state,created in a well-planned and meticulous manner. Yet, the length and breadth of this empire has not yet been fully investigated. But, undettered, on the basis of his analytical study and direct experience in the field concerned he has set out to explain logically the layout of Nallur Rajdhani.
Giritharan has the principal qualities required of a historical researcher, sincerity and patience, in full. He takes into consideration even those historical evidences which have no basis and which are quite a lot. And he sets out to analyse them extensively and establish how correct or incorrect they are. This maturity of mind which is required foremost of a historian is inherent in this young author and this fact is enough to throw light on his vast knowledge and deep insight. And, his analytical bent of mind and viewpoint are further enhanced by his distinct style of writing which is at once simple and rich. Till date I have not met Giritharan. Only through his writing I have come to know him as an intelligent writer who has a seeking for more and more knowledge and wisdom who writes for a case and with a purpose. This analytical work of his reveals to us another aspect of his self. or rather, another facet of his self. And indeed, with pride and precision.
I read this book twice for the purpose of writing a foreword to it. When I sat down to think of all that I had read my heart began to weigh heavy without my knowledge. My home is in Nallur. And my thoughts raced to that place. I can hear the bells of Nallur temple which would reach us through the cool breeze at dawn,softly,oh softly as a heart-melting symphony.I come on foot, treading along Veeramaakaaliyamman Temple, Sattanadhar, Veiyilugandha Pillayar and Kailasanadhar temple. Yamunaari brings about never fading wonder and awe within. That air, ‘Poovarasam’ blossoms, sweet flowing dialect, the head-shaking palm trees that are the symbols of the soil, bright white clouds, mug full of water……
Along with them those sand-covered mounds, the remains of fallen old buildings – all crowd the memory.Going farther down the memory lane I see our glorious past. Giritharan not only takes us all to that Rajdhani of the past but also make us heave a huge sigh. But, this sigh doesn’t give us sorrow. On the other hand, it renews and rejovenates our grit and determination. And, this will power tells us that soon Giritharan and myself would be standing in the streets of Nallur Rajdhani holding our head high in pride and joy.
The contribution of the Tamil in the field of Architecture is hailed and applauded the world over. The norms and traditions followed in architecture and carving are our great wealth. We can even say that these make one and all view the technical knowledge and skill of the Tamils in this area, with great aston-ishment.
Giritharan’s knowledge of architecture is praise-worthy. Going beyond the boundaries of his academic studies he has accumulated and enriched his knowledge in this field, taking great pains, and, with an unquenchable thirst. This book bears testimony to this trait, of the author. Especially, Giritharan’s comprehensive explanation regarding Vaasthu Sasthra.
In this book, Giritharan has high-lighted the basic principles and salient features of architecture, city layout in a simple and straight manner. The way he throws light on everything providing informations and explanations this book would be a model work, for research students, I predict, and, I know for sure that my prediction won’t be wrong. I sincerely hope that the readers would help Giritharan in enabling maps and photographs relevant to this book included in the next edition. Giritharans untiring efforts, in a hostile climate where there was no access to any relevant or necessary information, has enable the book to shape so as a useful collection. And, for this the Srilanka Tamils living all over the world and also in their motherland would extend their whole-hearted appreciation and thanks to Giridhanran, And, for this achievement Giritharan can justly feel proud and happy. This book would instil in each and every Srilanka Tamil who go through this book, pride, grit and determination, self-confidence, solemn pledges and a lot more. And, this book would strengthen and multiply such feelings. And what more a writer can want to feel happy and glorious? And I extend my whole-hearted appreciation to the Sneha Publishers for bringing out this book in a splendid manner. They can justly feel proud for this.
Chapter 1: Nallur And The City of Singai
We can name the City of Singai and Nallur as those which had the honour of being the capital during the reign of Aryan emperors. When ‘Naga Arasargal’ (Naga Kings) were ruling, Kandharodai which was called ‘Kadhiramalai’, was enjoying the Rajdhani status. Those who rose up to that status afterwards ere these cities mentioned above- The cities of Singai and Nallur. It is evident that regarding these cities some confusion is prevailing amidst the historical researchers.One set of them are of the opinion that both those places are one and the same. But, the other set believe that both those two cities were separate and both of them enjoyed the status of Rajdhanis in two different period of time. As per Dr.C.K.Sitrambalam, Nallur and the City of Singai are but one and the same. ‘Generally, it can be said that Nallur was also called the City of Singai ‘(Article – Ceylon Kingdom – Eela Murasu,Canada, 25.2.94). From the proof provided by fr.Queroz , a note is there speaking of a well-fortified place named Chunguinayanar, that is Singai City, on the way from the shore to Nallur. And, it is this place which is the Singai City or Nallur that appear in Tamil Books, Kottagama Tamil charter and the stone inscriptions of Tamilnadu (Eela Murasu 11.3.94). Kailaya Malai which was believed to have been written by one Muthukkavirasar by the end of the 16th Century, or in the beginning of the 17th century, tells us of the history of Singai Ariyan I making Nallur as the capital of his empire. According to Swami Gnanaprakasar, Mudaliar-Se.Rasanayagam, Dr. K.S.Natarasa and such others, Nallur and the city of Singai are two different cities. ‘Historians claim that in Ceylon the reign of Arya Emperor had come into being in 13 A.D. And those kings of that Empire acquiring the titles Segarasasekaran, Pararasasekaran one after another, ruled the country from the City of Singai for a while, and afterwards from Nallur..’, (K.S.Natarasa’s Ceylon Tamil’s Literary Growth and Development. Page.6) ‘Unaware of Parakramabagu’s evil design Shenbagaperumal went to Jaffna and, as the old capital was destroyed, established a new city in Nallur in 1450 A.D. and with the Sinhalese title Srirangabodhi Bhuvanesubagu, ruled for Seventeen years…'(Mudaliar Rasanayaka’s ‘The History of Jaffna’, page 75). In the book ‘Yaazhpaana Vaibava Maalai ‘which was written on the basis of such works as Kailayamaalai and Vaiyapaadal, Mayilvaganappulavar himself says that Singaiaariyaarasan (The first aryan king) established the capital of his kingdom in Nallur itself. Of these two different view points prevailing about Nallur and Singainagar the contention of such people as Swami. Gnanaprakasar, Mudaliar Se.Rasanayagam, and Ka.Se. Natarasa that Nallur and the City of Singai were two different cities has acceptability. And, for this the following reasons can be given.
1)In a stone-cutting that was found in a place called Kottagama in Kekalai the following is inscribed.(“kangganamver kanniyanaiyar kaatinar kamar valaip pongoli neerch singai nagarariyar” ) In this ‘Venba’ (a species of verse form), of the phrase that glorified as ‘pongoli neerch singai nagarariyar ‘ (‘ Ariyar of singai City of thundering towering water).
Se. Rasanayagam has this to say: ‘.. It is this Ukkirasingam who had paved the way for the enhancement of Singai Nagar as the Rajdhani for many Aryan emperors successively. As it is glorified as (@’pongoli neerch singai nagar’) , it becomes evident that Singai nagar was the ocean banks filled with the sound of waves. And the place so situated was established beyond doubt with the help of those very many buildings constructed in Aryan style of architecture which lie hidden under the sand along the seashore of the Temple of Vallipura and also those very many signs that were found in that area..’. (The History of Jaffna 235- 236) Swami Gnanaprakasar’s perception is also the same.
2)The well-known muslim traveller ‘Ibin Bathootha’, in his notes had called the Aryan king as the Sultan of Srilanka and had spoken of the king as having a naval force with a lot of ships. And the aryan kings who had strong naval force must have established their capital close to the port only. Seen in this light Vallipuram is a better port,stronger city than Nallur. Kailayamaalai calls Nallur as Nallaimoodhoor. This tells of the past glory and ancientness of Nallur. We can see that during the reign of first Rajendra Chola itself Nallur was a place of pilgrimage with temple. Dr. K. Indirabala had already under-taken various research works regarding the stone-cutting of Rajendra Chola the First of this Dr. Si.Su. Sitrambalam says the following: “In this stone-cutting ‘Santhan’ is shown as one who had given various charities. The animals that he had given away to the Hindu temple situated in Nallur are recorded in this”. (Sinthanai-Jaffna University Literarypublication Department of Arts and culture July 1984, page 121). And, it is doubtful whether Nallur which was already having past glory and name would have been called the city of Singai. Taking into account all these aspects and arguments the contention that Nallur and the city of Singai were two different places holds good
Chapter 2: Nallur And Jaffna
As like the confusion that is prevailing regarding Nallur and the City of Singai, confusion is prevailing regarding Jaffna and Nallur also. One set of people opine that ‘Yaappapattuna’ is the Sinhalese version of Nallur and the other group holds that Yaappapattuna is the Sinhalese version of Yaazhpaanam (Jaffna). Dr. C.K.Sitrambalam, Swami Gnaprakasar and such others are of the opinion that the term ‘Yaappapattuna’ refers to Nallur only. It can be said that ‘Yaazhpaanapatinam (Jaffna City)-that which the Sinhalese books call ‘Yaappapattuna’ referred to Nallur only.’ (Yaazhpana Rajjiyam, Dr. C.K. Sitrambalam, Eela Murasu, 25.2.94). Further, as per the claims of Swami Gnaparaksar, S.W. Kumaraswami and others also it was the name ‘Yaapane’ given to Nallur by the Sinhalese which later became ‘Yaazhpaanam’.
Gnaprakasa Swamigal and the author of ‘Idapeyar’ (Name of place) Sri S.W.Kumaraswami not only held that the tale of Yaazhpaadi was a fictitious one and that such stories were abundant in ‘Vaiyapaadal’ and ‘Dakshina Kailaaya purana’ but also claimed that the ‘Vaibavamaalai’ person had tied the Kavi Veeraragavan history on the head of Yaazhpaadi and that in reality there was no such person at all, that Yaazhpaanam was not given away as gift to anybody ,that the name Yaapane Yaappaapattuna was given by the Sinhalese to
the City of Nallur was later changed as Yaazhpanam and that our bards had metaphorized the tale of Yaazhpaanan (Yaazhpaanach Charitham P .253)
The contention of such people like Mudaliar Rasanayagam, Dr. K.S.Nataraja is exactly the opposite. They hold that it is the Tamil name ‘Yaazhpaanapattinam’ which has become ‘Yaazhppapattunae’ which is Sinhalese.
“….. it is indeed a surprise how the Jaffna people had come across the name ‘Yaappapattunae’ which had appeared in a book which was written by a Sinhalese bard in Thangaalai and started using it in its modified form. Though there is harmony in meaning between the two terms Yaappapattuna and Nallur there was no need to give an already existing name to Nallur and so call it. Wonder why the Sinhalese who still retain those names that end with the term Nallur which the Tamils formerly suffixed to the various places in the country of Srilanka should have changed the name Nallur in Jaffna, and that too into a Sinhalese name. “And, one is more bewildered as to why the Tamils have failed to change the names of places and lands in Jaffna which have Sinhalese names into Tamil ones. Now, is ‘Pattuna’ of Sinhalese tongue? Even school kids would know that it is the term ‘Pattinam’. So, it becomes clear that ‘Yaazhpaanapattina’ was a Tamil name which the Sinhalese had distorted and called Yaappapattunae…” (Yaazhpaanach Charithram, P.254).
Of this issue Dr. K. S. Nataraja’s view point is also worthy of note. He has given a viable explanation regarding this matter.“.. The term ‘Yaappapattuna’ which was considered to be a Sinhalese term is actually a compund word with the term ‘Yappa and ‘Pattuna coming together. Pattuna in Tamil is the distorted form of Pattinam which refers to a coastal city or town. And, that term was used in the verse ‘Pattinppalai’ appearing in ‘Pathuppaatu’ which is one of the Tamil literary collections of the Sangam period. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis to claim that this is a Sinhalese word before Christ. …and the contention that the term Yaava has come to take the distorted form Yaapa is not acceptable. So, we cannot think that Yaapa is the Tamil version of Java. Further, it is not the Sinhalese vesion of Java too. For, there has never been the practice of calling Java as ‘Yaba’ in Sinhalese literature…. So, it is a fitting claim that the Sinhalese name Yaappapattuna was coined from the Tamil Yaazhappanap Patttinam…”
(Causes for the name ‘Yaazhpaanam’…..Dr. K.S.Nataraja, Thamizhosai, 11.11.93).In the above mentioned article K.S.Nataraja cites another reason too as a decisive proof for his claim. “Further, the practice of lifting the names of cities and towns from one tongue to another and the people of the receiving tongue using them as names for their place is not at all in vogue. Then we wouldn’t be able to say why the Nallur of Yaazhpaanam is called so and not as Yabane which is considered to be its Sinhalese version….. So, we should take the term Yapane as the distorted Sinhalese form of Tamil’s Yaazhpaanam” (Thamizhosai ,11.11.93).
Mayil Vahanap Pulavar’s ‘Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai’ (edited by Mudaliar Kula Sabarathan) would explain clearly that a blind Yaazhpanan (a lutist) by name ‘Andhagag Kavi Veeraraghavan’ played on the flute and won many prizes and the name Yaazhpaanam resulted out of this episode.
“In those days, from the Chola Kindom a lutist by name Kavi Veeraraghavan who was blind on both the eyes sang a song in praise of alasingamagarasan who was ruling from Senkadaga Nagar, and going there the lutists sang the song playing on his lute. The song made the king so happy that he gifted this country called ‘Manatridal’ which is in the northern side o Srilanka, to the lutist. And, the lutist, ie. Yaazhpaanan in Tamil named it as ‘Yaazhpanam…”(Yaaghpaana Vaibhavamalai, page 25)
And that which was called as Senkkadaganagar by Mayivalaganap pulavar referred to the city of Singai, holds Mudaliar Rasanayagam. “..The name Singainagar must have been changed either by Mayilvahanap Pulavar or someone who wrote after him, as Senkadaga Nagar, inVaibavamaalai. During the rule of Ukkirasingan a city called Senkadaga Nagar was something never even dreamed of….” (Yaazhpaana Charithram- (The History o Jaffna) – Page 29).
“..As all the books written during the rules of the kings of Jaffna (Yaazhpaanatharasar) who came afterwards state that those kings had ruled from Singai Nagar it would be fitting to say that Ukkirasingan had shifted his Rajdhani to the City of Singai (Singai Nagar). And the name Singainagar alone must have become SenkadagoNagar afterwards…” (Yaazhpaana Charithram. Page 234).
As per the contention of A.Muthuthambi Pillai who has given another book titled ‘Yaazhpana Charithram’, Yaazhpaanam was the piece of land gifted away to a blind lutist by the kind called Aelaelasing who belonged to the 2nd Century B.C. For this claim of his he cites the following verse as proof:(“narai kottilankantru, nalvalanadu nayanthalippan…”).
‘-From the style of versification which is based on the Yaapu mode, it becomes clear that it belonged to the period after 3rd Century A-D’, holds K.S.Nataraja. ‘Vayapaadal’ would say that it was a lutist palying it for Vibeedanan who developed the highlands on the northern side of Srilanka and turned them rich and fertile. M.K. Anthonysil has also written a good write up on this issue in which he would say that the place in which one of the three sects of Paanas, the Yaazhpaanas lived came to be known as Yaazhpaanam.
“One of the old castes among tamils, the Paanaas ( )were of three catagories. One of the three was Yaazhpaanaas. The ancient instruments of Tamils were three. Yaazh(Lute), Kuzhal (Flute) and muzhavu(kind of drum). Of these those who played on yaazh were called yaazhpaanaas. in course of time this became a caste name. Therefore Yaazhpaanar is a caste name…. And, of these people who belonged to the yaazhpaanaa caste mentioned and referred to in our great Tamil classics and literary works, one group inhabited a place in the northern side of the isle of Srilanka and this place had come to be known as Yaazhpaanam.” (Veera kesari 9.12.1990.)
Taking all these into account we can but arrive at the conclusion given below : Rather than the claim that the name Yaazhpaanam had come into being from the Sinhalese version of Nallur- yaappapattunae, the contention that Yaappapattunae is the Sinhalese distortion of the pure Tamil word ‘Yaazhpaanam, is more applicable and acceptable. Though there is harmony of meaning between Yaapapattunae and Nallur, Mudaliar Rasanayakam’s argumentthat there was no need to give a previous name to Nallur and call it so, sounds true and agreeable.
Further, that which he points out in another place – “…… and also, the islamic travellers from western countries who had got down on this shore too had called it as Jappa, Sappa, and such other terms having the same intonation…” is also noteworthy. Further, the song given below, which comes in Kailayamaalai speaks of ‘Yaazhpaanam’ and Nalla Nagar as two different places and this should also be taken into account From all these, we can arrive at this conclusion only;- That Nallur and Singai Nagar were two different Rajadhanis, two different cities/towns. Yaappapattunae is but the distorted Sinhalese version of Yaazhpaanam. The claim that Yaazhpaanam has come from the Sinhalese version of Nallur, Yaappapattunae seems to have no probability at all.
Chapter 3: Nallur Rajadhani’s Historical Facts
Information’s regarding Nallur Rajdhani are a rarity indeed. Temples, Market place, royal Palaces, labourers’ colony, places of dwelling of court bards,warriors, traders, the fortress round the city, the other forts around the city etc. can be called the important places of Nallur Rajdhani. There are references about the famous temple of Lord Muruga, the Kandaswami temple in Nallur in several works in portugese tongue such as ‘Conquest of Ceylon’, ‘Early Christainity in Ceylon’ etc. From the notes of Queroz Swamigal, the author of ‘Conquest of Ceylon’ we come to know that Nallur Kandhaswami temple was the biggest temple in the whole of Jaffna and that there were huge walls by way of fortification built around it.Further from these works mentioned above we can also know that this Kandaswami temple was in the very same area where we have a church now. Kandhaiya Gunarasa says that the ruins seen enroute to Yamunaari were of this big temple wall. (Veerakesari 15.8.93).
In ‘Yaazhpaana Vaibhava Maalai’, of Singaiariyarasan 1st, establishing his empire’s Rajdhani in Nallur it is said as that given below:-
“… on an auspicious day and time suggested by the astrologers, after much deliberation, laying the foundation stone and raising four walls also, and constructing the doorway too, and along with them constructing a garden and a ‘mandap’ for the purpose of taking bath (Snana Mandap) and a canal with walls on three sides and brining waters from Yamuna river and mixing it with the water of the canal, building the Mandap of Justice, constructing stables for arrangement of rows of horses, and elephants, constructing warriors ‘tenaments, building an agrahara for Gangadhara Iyer, who was the ‘Brahmakula Thilagar’ in Kasi, and his wife by name Annapoorani Ammal to live, building Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple for the safety of the eastern side and Veeramaakaliamman temple for the safety of the western side and for the northern region Sattanadheswar Shrine, Thayalnayagiamman temple, Salaivinayagar temple and doing the housewarming ceremony with his better half Thilagavathiar he lived there.” (Yaazhpaana Vaibhava malai).
As per the ‘Udhya Tharagai’ version of Yaazhpaana Vaibhgavamaalai. The Kailai vinayagar temple was also built by the aforesaid king for the safety of the southern side. We have already seen that Vaibhavamaalaiyar’s version abounds in historical untruths. The contention that it was not Nallur but Singainagar which the king Singaraya had first made the capital of his empire holds good. Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s ‘Yaazhpaana Charitham’(The history of Jaffna) has this to say of Nallur Rajadhani:
“…Kanagasurya along with his sons and battalions come to Yaazhpaanam and fought with Vijayabhagu, and, killing him he became the king and ruled his kingdom from Nallur. As his former Rajdhani Singai Nagar had been completely ruined and turned into a waste land,seeing Nullore filled with various resources, renovated that itself, building royal streets and places and surrounding them stables of stallions and elephants that are used in warfare and a beautiful garden with full of blooming flowers with sweet smells, building workshops and dwelling places of traders and artisans who create wonders in silk and cotton, and also places which were unmatched in style and expertise and which had skilfully made windows and ventilators,and different places of dwelling for carpenters, goldsmith, painters, diamond merchants, bards, lutists well – versed in music, exclusively, areas for upper – class businessmen, for the ‘Manthras of Brahmins, dwelling places of the landlords, exclusive areas where doctors, astrologers etc., lived, separate streets for peasants and farmhands and thus he made Nallur as befitting its name, a place of excellence, making one and all wonder whether it was the city of Lord Indra, or, rather, kubera.” (Yaazhpaana Charithram,p.76-77).
Of the Nallur under the rule of Kanagasurya Singaiarya’s son Singai Pararasasekaran, Mudaliar Rasanayagam says the following:-
“…After Kanagasurya, his first son, taking the title Singai Pararasasekaran became the king in 1478 A.D. It is he who was the first to use the name Singai as the first part of a name. He was even better than his father in ruling the country and he built Sattanadhar temple to the north of the city, Kailayanadhar temple in the south and Veiyi lugandha pillayar temple in the east and Veeramaakaaliamman temple in the western side and enhanced the pride and glory of his capital further. Bringing into being a lake by the side of Kandaswami temple and filling it with the sacred waters from Yamuna river brought in poles and named it asYamunaari (The lake of Yamuna)” – ‘Yaazhpaana Charithram’ – p.77
In the case of Nallur Rajdhani, Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s version, more than that of anyone else, which he had arrived at after going through various important historical documents, is relevant and acceptable. During the military expedition of Sabumal Kumaraya alias Shenbagap – Perumal the whole of Yaazh city, including Singai Nagar, was destroyed and he established his capital in Nallur. Gaining possession of Kottai when he went away there, leaving Nallur in the hands of Vijayabagu, Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who had been defeated by Shenbagap Perumal and sought shelter in Tamilnadu came back with his two sons Pararasasekaran and Kajarasasekaran and, waging war he retrieved from Vijayabagu his lost empire. This is history. In his time and under the rule of his son Nallur Rajdhani’s layout took on many important changes. Thus these changes took place after Nallur became a Rajdhani but they were wrongly perceived by Kailaya Maalaiyar, who has the confusion of seeing Singainagar and Nallur as one and the same, and also by Mayilvahanap Pulavar who wrote his work Vaibhava mallai based on the afore – said incorrect viewpoint, as happenings during the rule of Arya King who made Singai Nagar his Rajdhani. As more historians accept the contention of Mudaliar Rasanayagam and that it is this contention which rectifies the historical incorrectness in ‘Vaibhavamaalaiyar’s claim, I am convinced that Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s contention is true and correct. Hence, based on this contention let us accept the historical facts about Nallur Rajdhani and turn our attention towards other issues
Chapter 4: Nallur Kandaswami Temple
Let’s look at what the books have to say about the rest of the places that were in Nallur Rajdhani. Historical works offer us a lot of contradictory details about Nallur Kandaswami temple which was one of the significant features of Nallur Rajdhani. The song given below which comes in Kailayamaalai has caused the controversy. “…ilakkiya sagaptha Yenntrezhubhadha……” (Tamil cheyul) According to Swami Gnanaprakasar, Va. Kumaraswami and such others the term ‘Yennootrezhubadhu’ refers to the year 1248 A.D. And, the word Yenn In the above given verse refers tothousand(aayiram) and that which comes by adding one hundred and seventy (nootrezhubadhu) with thousand is the saga year 1170 and this points at 1248 A.D., they hold. As per one Dainel John, saga year ‘Yennoothrezhubadhu’ means 948 A.D. As per Mudaliar Rasanayaka’s contention also saga year 870 means 948 A.D. Bhuvanegubagu who was spoken of in this song was referred to as the minister of Aryan king and the one who constructed the Nallai kandan temple in such works as Kailayamaalai, Yaazhpaana Vaibhava maalai etc. But, none can hide the fact that in Nallur temple panegyric, ‘Sirisangabodhi Bhuvanegubagu was referred to as the one who brought the temple into being. It is the king called SirisangabodhiBhuvanegubagu who made Nallur the Rajdhani and ruled from there from 1450 A.D. to 1467 A.D. under the name Sappumal Kumaraya. Going by the contention of Kandhaiah Gunarasa we understand that holding as facts these two Bhuvanesgabagus an illustration to that effect had also been brought forth.He firmly concludes the first Bhuvanegubagu as but a tamil name.
“..here are two other proofs to claim that Nallur Kandhaswami temple was built by Bhuvanegavagu (as like the tamil name Veeravagu)…” (Veera Kesari 15.8.93).
“..Whatever be the case we can take it as that the Nallur Kandhaswami temple built for the first time by one Bhuvanegavaagu in the year 948 A.D. As some historical books refer to him as a minister there is nothing wrong in taking him to have been the state representative of the king or the minister..”. (Veerakesari 15.8.93).
After arriving at this conclusion K.Gunarasa had no alternative except bringing about a compromise between the two Bhuvanegavagu. In the end he could only arrive at the conclusion that the Nallur Kandhan temple which was built in two different times by two different Bhuvanegavagu was destroyed by the porthugese and rebuilt for the third time. The historical books referred by him were in fact such works as Yaazhpaana Vaibhava Maalai, Kailayamaalai only. Many eminent analysts and researchers of history firmly believe that the historical details given in these works have no historical basis or ethics at all. And, in this issue, Mudaliar Rasanayagam’s conclusion stands out as the only conclusion that is logically acceptable.
‘.Kailayamalai would say that Bhuvanegavaagu was the minister of the first king segarasan and the Vaibhavamaalai would say that it was he who built the Nallur Kandhaswami temple. But, the contention that Bhuvanegavaagu built the Nallur Kandhaswami temple could hold good only as a legend. And, KailayaMalaiyar who had heard of it, either unable to find out the identify of Bhuvanegavaagu who had lived within a span of three hundred years or in order to hide the fact that he was a Sinhalese, for some reason or other, decorated him as the minister of Segarasan. As thereis the mention in the panegyric of Nallur Kandaswami temple which hails and glorifies Sreesangabodhi Bhuvanegavaagu, nothing and none can hide it, and none can hide it for sure..’ (Yaazhpaana Charithram, p.252)
Hence, it would indeed be a surprise if the fact were to be that the NallurKandaswami temple was built by two different Bhuvanegavaagus in two different times. For, it is very unusual that the two had the same name Bhuvanegavaagu. The possibility of such a thing is indeed next to nil, to say the least.
Chapter 5: Nallur Fort And Its Surrounding Walls
The practice of Tamil kings in Building their Rajdhanis as forts was a habit born of security reasons. In books like Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai, Kailayamallai and, also in sinhalese books such as Porthukeya, ‘Gokila Sandhesam’ several reference about Nallur fort can be seen here and there.About Kanagasurya Singaiariyam who was hiding in Tamilnadu and then came back to wage war, Vaibhavamaalai has this to say: “… When Kanagasurya Singaiaryan arrived at Madurai, all the small kings who were ruling the Pandya kingdom divided into various small kingdoms, handed over their troops and weapons and with all those weapons he reached Yaazhapaanam and entered it through the western gate”. (Vaibavamaalai, page 47). And, it is too well known that the western gate mentioned here is but the western gate of Nallur fort.
In the chapter on the expedition of the Portugese army also there is a reference to this Westerngate.
” ..beyond the gate, fixing the space in front of the gates of Nallur temple as the battlefield, they started the battle on the chosen day and conducted it for eleven days…”. (Vaibhavamaalai, Page 70).
The Porthugese notes too give a detailed account of this warfare. In the book called, ‘The Conquest of Ceylon’ there are references about the
western gate of Nallur fort being at a stone throw from Veeramaakaaliyamman temple and about the battle too. That there was a northern gate to the Nallur fort and a temple of Shiva safeguarding the gate are also referred in the story of subathitta saint which comes in Vaibhavamaalai.
” …amoung those temples the temple of Shiva that slood safeguarding the northern gate, that alone would be realized first and
foremost by one who had earned the blessings of Lord Shiva…”. (Vaibharamaalai, page 53-54)
The historical books provide no references regarding the eastern gate or southern gate of the city. And, it is my wish to study the historical works such as those of Porthugese, with great care and attention and undertake research works on them. For, such efforts might unearth many more factual details.
SOME INFORMATIONS ABOUT THE MARKET – PLACE.
One of the books of Porthugese titled ‘Early Christianity in Ceylon’ (17th Century narrative) speaks about the market – place situated in Nallur
Rajdhani and inform us that the market was situated in such a way that the king could watch the proceedings of the market from his palace. It must be this market place that would have been the ‘royal market’ or designated market ( @muthrai chandai ) then. We could learn that during the rule of Tamil Kings the clothes sold in the market place bore the sign of the royal emblem and so sold.
“As like the time of Tamil Kings’ rule clothes that did not bear the sign of the royal emblem could not be sold. And, a tax was levied for
affixing the royal sign also. “(Yaazhpaana charithiram, page 148). Seems like the name ‘Muthirai Chandhai’ (Royal market / Designated market) must have come into vogue because of this only.
There are also differing opinions about Yamunaari which is one of the Rarely seen monuments of the ancientness. One group claims that this was a tank that the Tamil Kings built for bathing purposes while the other holds that this was the sacred tank of Big Kandhaswami temple. Vaibhavamaalayar says that this tank was built by the king Singairiyarasan the First. But, Mudaliar Rasanayagam who has studied history too very minutely, holds that it was Singaipararasa sekaran who was one of the sons of Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who had constructed this canal – like tank.
As this Yamuna lake is situated close to the place where old Kandhasami temple stood in the past, and as it is said to have come to be
called as Yamunaari because waters were brought from one of the sacred rivers of the Hindus, the Yamuna river, and as the chance of a big Murugan temple having existed without a sacred tank is too remote, more than the contention that it was used for bathing purposes by the members of the royal family the claim that it must have been the sacred tank of old Kandhasami temple sounds sensible. This tank, having the shape of the syllable ‘pa’ in tamil, i.e, a square – like shape, is very beautiful. Later on, during the foreign rule it must have been used by then for bathing and washing. May be that is why people like J.B. Louise must have thought that this tank was used by the members of the tamil royal family.
Mudaliar Rasanayagam would say that in Nallur Rahdhani the houses were constructed in various styles for people in various professions. The way Nallur was renovated after Kanagasurya Singaiyarian won it back is described in Yaazhpaana Charithram thus.
“…Seeing that Nallur was rich with resources of all kinds he decided to renovate it and build royal palaces and roads, surrounding them elephant stalls, horses’ stables and beautiful garden with blooming, lovely flowers of all hues and tinges and then the dwelling places of caftsmen who were engaged in skilfully working on sill and cotton, and mansions with beautifully made window’s and ventilators and also separate dwelling places for carpenter, goldsmith, painter, diamond merchant, iron – smith, bards, lutists well – versed in books on music ……”
The city layout was said to be so. How much of these descriptions were true can be found out in the course of our research on the city layout plans and theories of the Hindus and also when studing the names of various roads and streets and plots ( ‘kani’ ) which are in vogue in the present day Nallur.
In a sinhalese work by name ‘Gokula santhesam’ (‘Message through kujil’) according to which the building seen in the city belonged to the
fifteenth century (this book was written to sing the glory of Suppumal Kumaraiya’s Victory of Yaazhpaanam) there are description’s about the
buildings in the city also. They are as follows:
“In Yapa Pattunae grand, tall buildings stand in rows. Golden’ flags decorate these can the aptly be compared with the City of Azhagapuri which was the capital of Lord Kubera “(Yaazhpaana Rachiyam_ Kalanidhi C.K. Sitrambalam, Eelamurasu 4.3.94).
Through the Porthugese notes we learn that there were three small forts to safeguard Nallur Rajdhani. These were built in three places called
Koppaai, Pannaithurai, and Kozhumbuthurai, Kottadi which is seen close to Pannaithurai seems to be the changed version of Kottaiadi. From the books of Porthugese we come to know that there were main roads to connect these forts to Nallur Rajdhani and that all along these main roads there were check posts. Queroz Gurukkal’s ‘Conquest of ceylon describes the details of war that the portugese waged on Nallur Rajdhani.
Chapter 6: Field Research – Work Information
As regards the preservation of the signs and symbols of ancient time the tamils generally lag behind, we should say. We brag about our past glory and the greatness of our ancient rulers but we don’t give proper care and attention for the preservation of the symbols or monuments of our ancient glory. And, Nallur Rajdhani stands as a glaring example to this. Even those handful of historical monuments existing in the city which was once the capital are in a very pitiable state. Yamunaari which is full of bushes, Pandarakulam which is plunged deep in sickening silence with debris strewn all over, the space of land where, it is believed, the Koppai fort that has ruins fold the history of an important period of time,stoodonce – all these stand, telling us numerous stories. Though there are but afew monuments that enunciate the pride and glory of Nallur Rajdhani, theexisting plot / land names, street names and the like enable us to gatherthe details of the city lay – out of Nallur Rajadhani, atleast to some extent.
The temples that are there now such as Sattanadhar temple, Veiyilugandha pillayar koil, Kailasanadhar aalayam, Veeramaakaaliamman
aalayam, Nallaikandan aalayam – all these had been demolished by the Porthugese and then reconstructed at a later stage. Though these were not structures constructed during the period when Nallur was a Rajdhani, i.e, the capital city, as they are the replicas of the temples of the city when Nallur was the ‘Rajdhani they too remain, albeit in an indirect manner, as the monuments that highlight the city layout of Nallur Rajdhani.
The Royal Market:
The junction where the street that goes eastward towards the Nallur temple and the way to the Point Pedro street come together is called ‘Muthrai Santhai’. During the period when Nallur was the capital city of Tamil kings the market place must have been here only. While travelling through this place called ‘Muthirai Santhai’, my thoughts invariably wandered for a moment towards those bygone days when the place would have been full of din and noise and hectic activities and the Arya King who used to watch its busy routine from his palace.
The Labourer’s Southeast side segment:
Generally the market would be situated the centre of the city. Going by this general rule and keeping the possibility of this market – place having been the centre of Nallur Rajdhani when we carried out the field – work through the city we could come across a lot of surprising factual informations and statistics. We found out that the names that were in vogue in the area situated southeastward to this market place were generally of the workers’ clan. ‘Thattaan Theru’ (Goldsmith’s street), ‘Saayakkara theru’ (Dyer’s street), Coppersmith street, Dyer’s street and so on indicate that the area could have been the workers’ habitat once upon a time’
Traders’ Soldiers’ and Royal Staff’s locality:
The streets on the southwest side and the names of the plots there generally give us the impression that the area could have been the habitat of traders, royal staff, soldiers’ and such other sections of the society.
King, Brahmin and the Court bard’s Area:
That the place situated Northwestward to the royal market place was a very important locality of the Nallur Rajdhani era is proclaimed by the
names of lands and streets there and also by Pandarakulam. The following can be said as areas / places of importance.
1. Sangili thoeppu (Sangili grove)
2. Sangiliyan Veedhi (Sangiliyan street)
3. Arasa Veedhi (Royal road)
4. Pandaramaaligai Valaivu (The arch of Pandaramaaligai)
5. Pandarakulam (Kulam – pond)
6. Arasakesari Valaivu – (The arch of Arasakesari)
7. Kurukkal Valaivu – (Kurukkal arch)
8. Arasaveli – (Royal space)
9. Mandhirimanai (Minister’s abode)
The very names Sangili thoeppu, Sangiliyan Veedhi, Arasaveedhi, Arasaveli, Pandara maaligai Valaivu, Pandara Kulam stand for the link that existed between the tamil regime and themselves. In the names such as pandara Maaligai, Pandara Kulam, the term ‘Pandara’, according to many, refers to the Tamil king. Mudaliar Kula Sabanathan opines that the term refers to Pararasasekara Pandaram. There were many kings, having names that ended with the term ‘Pandaram’. ‘Puviraraja Pandaram’ was one of them. One of the sons of Lakshmidevi, the legal queen of Pararasasekaran was also pandaram. The coconut grove encompassing some six acre area is called Pandara Valavu. In a portion of this grove which is close to the present Nallur market place and which isfacing the street ‘Paruthithurai Veedhi’ there is a pillar with the words’Pandaramaaligai’ engraved on it. Closely, there is a statue of Vairavarwith a small porch. And in this porch the following words are sculpted.
“Entrance of Pandara Maalagai, a place of two thousand year old and which the Tamil kings preserved and safeguarded and prayed and where the Nallai ‘Theradip Padhi Urai Padhi’. The temple of Sri Bairava and Aadhimoolam, the god of gods – is inside’.
Arasakesari Valavu The Arch of Arrasakesari:
The name of a piece of land seen in this area / locality is Arasakesari Valaivu. This place reminds one of the Tamil poet Arasakesari who had translated Kalidasa’s work in sanskrit language into Tamil. The poet Mayilvaagana Pulavar speaks of Arasakesari as the son-in-law of Pararasasekaran:
‘ ……… Arasakesari, who was the brother-in-law of Paranirubasinga and the son-in-law of Pararasasekaran translated the book called ‘Raguvamsam’ written in a worth-Indian language and, going on foot reciting it all along the way he reached Thiruvarur…’. (Vaibhavamalai 50-51)
But, Mudaliar Rasanayakam holds that he is Singai Pararasasekaran’s
brother-in-law: According to Swami Gnanaprakasa ,Raguvamsa was written during the reign of Edhirmanna Singa Pararasasekaran. It is the confusion which prevails as to whether the above – mentioned Pararasasekaran was singai Pararasekaran or Pararasasekaran the Eighth that has resulted in the contradiction seen above.
The present location of Nallur Kandaswami temple is called Kurukkal Valavu. It might be be cause it was the habitat of the brahmins during the period of the Tamil kings’ rule that the place had earned this name, i.e- Kurukkal Valavu.
Sangili thoeppu and Mandhirimanai:
The structure which is called ‘Mandhirimanai’ these days is said to belong to the Fay end period of the 19th century. Several aspects of European and Dravidian architectural styles can be perceived in this construction. The piece of land on which this Mandhirimanai stands is called Sangili thoppu. Determining whether this area belonged to the minister or the king is a bit complex. Yet, the fact that places like Arasaveli, Arasaveedhi, Sangiliyan Veedhi, Pandara Kulam, Pandara Maaligai Valavu and such other which bear exclusive significance for the royal clan alone and the fact that the place where the above – mentioned ‘Mandhirimanai’ is situated is called Sangili thoeppu are noteworthy. There could have been groves owned by the Tamil kings. Later on during the regime of the foreigners, during the period of those successors of the Tamil Kings or even after that this grove could have become the dwelling place of a minister. There is room for these possibilities too. All these are monuments that proclaim the significance of the aforesaid Northwest region.
Northeast region having royal and divine significance:
We can name the following as the important historical monuments that are seen in the north – east region.
2. The place where the church is located today. This is the place where
the old Kandaswami temple had been.
3. The front portion of a palace which reflects the style of Dutch
“Ollandhu” architecture. (This is called `Kalthorana Vaayil, Sangili thoppu
The land on which this porch is situated bears the name `Pandiya Maaligai Valavu’ (the arch of Pandiyan palace). These above mentioned historical monuments proclaim loudly that this place was one of royal and divine significance.
Chapter 7: Fort Entrance , Fort Base, And Veyilugantha Pillaiyar Temple
Having the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ (Market) as the focal point and viewing things it becomes clear that some sort of structural evenness which can be perceived there is indirectly pointing at the city layout of the ancient Nallur Rajdhari. At the same time what the historical books say of the West, North gateways of Nallur Rajdhari also came to my mind and so when I set out to see whether I could find out any information about the East, South gateways of the Rajdhari from the present Nallur city lay-out, more informations came my way.
1. Sattandhar temple
2. Church (the place where the old Nallur temple stood)
3. Veiyilugandha Pillayar Temple
4. The present Nallur Kandhan temple
5. The place where the old Veeramma kaliyamman temple should have been.
6. The spot where the old Kailasanadhar temple should have been
The piece of land that falls close to the Veiyilugandha Pillayar is called Koettai Vaasal (Fort entrance). Another piece of land in the Southeast Regions is called koettai adi.The fact that a piece of land having the name `Koettai adi’ is lying near to the Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple gives room to think on the line that the eastern entrance of the Nallur Rajdhari must have been in that region only. When an attempt was made in the same way to find out whether there is any piece of land reminding of `Koettai’ that didn’t prove fruitful. It was then that a spark flew in my mind. If the royal-market had been the focal point of Nallur Rajdhari, then the two big roads of the Nallur `Rajdhani – North-South, East-West must have met each other near the market. If that were to be so, the road from the north towards the market must have run straight without taking a curve in the direction of the Nallur Temple. Like-wise, the road from west towards the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ too must have gone straight. But, the road that runs close to the Veiyilugandha Pillayar Temple curves near the church, and meets the Point pedro street. But, it can be seen that if that street were to have come straight it would have exactly cut across the designated market
From our investigations we could find one more thing. That both Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple and Sattanadhar temple are at an equidistance from the ‘Muthirai Santhai’. Taking into account the available historical facts as well as information’s derived from field examinations we can say with conviction that Nallur Rajdhani must have existed with some kind of structural evenness and regularity.
So, all the four temples must have been at an equidistance from the ‘Muthirai Santhai’. Among the temples that were demolished during the Porthugese rule Nallur Kandhan temple, as there was a church in the place where the temple had been earlier was built in the place called Kurukkal valavu. Based on this only the Kailasanadhar temple which was built afterwards might have been constructed. Because, both Veeramaa Kaliyamman and Kailasandhar temple are at an equal distance from Kandaswami temple.
Another surprising factor is that we can also see that this distance is the same distance that the Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple and Sattanadhar temple are from the ‘Muthirai Santhai’.
Considering the fact that the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ was the centre of Nallur Rajdhani, we can reasonably contend that the temples which were in
all the four directions must have been somewhat at an equidistance from the market place. But, seeing that the Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple and the Sattanadhar temple of these days are at an exactly same distance from the place called the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ it looks like that the temples which were demolished during the rule of Porthugese must have been rebuilt in some nearby spot or at the exact spot itself. At the same time the other three temples – the Nallur Kandhasami temple, Kailasanadhan temple and the Veeramaakaliyamman temple had been built in new, different spots when their reconstuction took place. Not only that, when they were so built the other two temples must have been constructed having Nallaikandhan temple as the center.
In the course of our field research works we were able to come across another important factor also. Veeramaakaliyamman temple which is the
shrine of Kottravai, the tamils’ goddess of war’ is situated in places such as Aanaippandhi which is associated with warfare.The temple of Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple who is the defending god of farmers is located in the area adjacent to Semmani which is full of
agricultural fields. And, the other two temples have been built for the safety and security of the Rajdhani.
When we compared the informations about Nallur Rajdhani obtained through field research works and also the assumptions based on those informations with that of the Ancient Hindus of city layout norms and forms, many more facts surfaced.
Chapter 8: Ancient Books and Architecture
During the Vedic period itself the architectural knowledge and capabilities of Hindus had progressed a lot. The branch of science dealing with architecture was called ‘Vaasthu – Vidhya’. And, the books that enunciate this were called Vaasthu – Sasthra works. Mythological books like Matsyapurana, Vishnu dharmothra purana and so on, and books on Scripture like ‘Hayasirsha Pancharatra Agama’, ‘Vaiganasa Agama’ etc lay down the rules and regulations of temple – structure. In the mediaeval period some more books came into being in this branch of science. Manasara, Shilpaprakasha and the like are noteworthy. In Tamil also there appeared books such as Chinthamani, Sirparathnam etc. Though there exists some dissimilarities between these, they were having a common viewpoint in general. Usually the divine sculptor Viswakarma is called the principal author of North Indian books on architecture. Mayan is usually referred to as the principal author of south Indian works. From the rules and norms laid down by these books on architecture we can see how much religion had influenced the structural patterns of the city and its buildings. Till the mediaeval period all those available informations pertaining to the field had been orally passed on from father to son and so on. Only in the mediaeval period all those available informations about the field were for the first time recorded in the palmyra leaves in the written form of language. In the year 1920 a person called Stella Kramisch had studied very many of these palmyra leaves. Let us look at some of the important information’s that these leaves impart. In particular, let us look at the information’s on city layout.
Universe and Hindu’s Architecture:
In the philosophies of the Upanishads of Hindus, we find descriptions about ‘Brahmam’ or Brahma. He who has no beginning nor end and who is ‘Omnipresent’ is Brahma. And, gods like Siva, Vishnu, Brahma and others are the physical images of this formless Brahma. And, he who is called ‘Vasthu Purushan’ or ‘Vasthu Dhevan’ is the one who had been created out of this formless principal image. And, having him as the focal point, the field of architecture of the Hindus had progressed. The above – mentioned books on architecture describe this image with a physical form, the Vasthu Purusha as the Vasthu Purusha Mandalam (Vasthu Male zone). And, in the same way how the physical form of Vasthu Purusha was created out of the formless brahman, the architects also while shaping the formless environment into buildings
with concrete forms make it a point to do it in a way that would please and satisfy the Vasthu Deva mentioned above. From this it becomes evident that the Hindus preserved the association between Man and Universe even in constructing buildings.
CIRCLE, SQUARE AND THE VASTHU PURUSHA ZONE.
Those who view the buildings of Hindus and that of Budhists would easily comprehend one thing. Budhists building towers have been built in a
round, circular shape. But, the buildings of Hindus are of square or rectangular shape. Anuradhapuram is one of the important cities of the Budhists. How much the round or circular shape had influenced the ancient city and building style of architecture is brought out by a sinhalese professor by name Rolan-de-silva who has undertaken an in-depth study of the said issue. In the ancient Anuradhapura city which was created with the market place as the axis, round – shaped stupas (Thadhu Gopangal) around the city of Anuradhapura in a circular fashion, were built in two different streams, and these informations are authentically arrived at in his investigations. The circular form implies ‘motion’ or movement. Birth and Death, Night and Day – so the passage of time which moves on in a sort of circular motion is implied in the above – mentioned round shape. Further, this round shape would also refer to the nature or character of the world we are in. That the Budhists who believe more in the doctrine of materialism chose the round shape is no surprise at all.
Unlike it the square – shape is a decisive and clear form. It doesn’t imply motion as like the circular form. The Hindus viewed this Universe as a square shaped space created by such others and identified the impact of time on this space in terms of ‘Rasis’ (Zodiac). From this it becomes clear that as claimed by the Neo-physics the hindus too had understood this Universe as a spatial time frame. And, the fact that the hindus who identified this Universe as a square-shaped frame have structured the buildings and cities too which had been constructed based on these laws as square-shaped (or rectangular) is not something surprising.
Thus, cities and buildings were structured, keeping in line with this ‘Vasthu Purusha Mandala’ formed in square shape. Each and every god was created as small small squares. This square-shaped ‘Vaashtu Purusha Mandala’ was divided into many more small, tiny squares. And, these small, tiny squares were called ‘Padas’. Each small square would be occupied by a god. And, in the centre of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala there would be a big square comprising of many small squares. This square stood for Brahma.
1. Brahma’s four squares.
2. Belonging to the next important gods 2 squares.
3. Belonging to the rest of the gods. 1 square.
The above cited Vaasthu Purusha Mandala would be divided in such a way with the squares of the gods comparitively of less importance surrounding Brahma. Vaasthu Purusha Mandala can be formed in 32 different ways in square – shape.From a square shaped Vaasthu Purusha Mandala 4,9,16,25,36,49,64,81……… and so on, in thirty – two different ways comprising of 1024 small squares, the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala can be made .This is enunciated in out ancient Indian books on architecture. In such Vaasthu Purusha Mandalas or zones that which is
called ‘Manduka Mandala’ comprising of 64 small squares and another called Parama Sayika Mandala comprising of 81 small squares are important :
Parama Sayika Mandala :
As for ‘Manduka Mandala’ the whole square would be divided by the two axes that go North-south and East-west. In the case of ‘Parama Sayika Mandala’ the entire squire would be unevenly divided. Thus, each and every building (be it a temple or a house) and city that are constructed according to the architectural norms or laws of hindhus stand as symbols highlighting the hindhus’ laws and principles of creation in right earnest, and, they are structured in such a way as to reveal the modes and codes of Hindhus’s laws of creation, so to say. This, in turn, reveals the key role that religion plays in our city and building construction – works. (Though there exists slight differences between the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala spoken of in North Indian books of Architecture and that explained in South Indian Works, in general, there is no great difference or disparity. In the South Indian temple cities of Madurai, Srirangam and such others this difference or deviation is clearly perceivable)
Chapter 9: HINDUS’ CITY LAYOUT AND THE CASTE
There were many factors that went into determining the city layout style and pattern of the Hindus. The Nature and structure of the land, the Nature & structure of its soil, the social system prevailant in the land as like the caste constraints and restrictions etc, scriptures all played an important role in the city lay-out style and pattern of the Hindus. According to the structure and quality of the land they had divided it into three categories.
This referred to the dry land with no water, river and other resources.
This refers to the highly fertile land with abundant water resources and cool, pleasant climate.
The average kind of land that was neither Jangala nor Anopa was called thus.
The role played by the colour of the soil, its dour, the sounds Produced by it, its flavour in the city layout pattern of the Hindus, has been well brought out by the western author Andras Volwahsen in his work called ‘Living Architecture – Indian’, of which some lines are given below:
” The colour of the soil, its sound, flavour, the feeling it produced were all taken into consideration and studied with great care. The colour of the sand identified the castes of people who were suitable to be settled there. White, red, yellow, black were important colours. The white colour soil was considered suitable for brahmins, the red for kshathrias, yellow for Vaishyas and black colour soil for soodhras. There also existed connection between the flavour of the soil and the caste system. The sweet soil was considered to belong to the brahmins, the hot and pungent soil to the Vaishyas, the soil with bitter flavour to the ‘soodhras’. The soil which when tapped would produce sounds like the bark of dogs or the bray of donkeys or thehowl of the jackal should be avoided at all cost.” (Living Architecture Indian – page 44)
The slant or declivity of the land structure was also taken into account. The city should be built on the soil that has declivity towards the northern or eastern side. The hindus believed that the south bound declivity would bring death and the south west bound slope, sufferings; west-bound slope-poverty and destruction of crops; declivity towards the north west direction-war. After the land most suited for constructing the city was chosen in this way, from out of the 32 different varieties of ‘Vaasthu Purusha Mandala’ the suitable variety would be selected by a guru having great scholarship in astrology. The city would be constructed in square shape (if it proves impossible, in a rectangular shape). Andreas Volwashsen says in his ‘Living Architecture Indian’ (page 47) that from the informations given in the ‘ancient books (‘suvadikal’) on varieties of architectural styles and patterns we come to know that the cities of perfect square – shapes belonged to the brahmins alone, and, as for the other castes they should live in rectangular – shaped cities only. And, the layout of the city which would be constructed thus with the right and suitable Vaasthu Purusha Mandala chosen would appear as follows:
1. Fortitying walls would be built round the city.
2. The city would appear as a big square comprising of so many small squares, separated by the roads, that run north-south and east-west.
3. The city would have been divided into two parts by two broad royal roads that run north-south and east-west.
4. The royal roadway thus built would differ according to the character of the city. Forn instance, in the case of big cities this royal roadway would be 12 metre width and in ordinary cities it would be of 10 metre breadth and if it is a city with just the market place, it would be of 8 metre width only.
5. To go round the city, on the interior side o the fortifying wall also a road would be built. This road would be as wide as the royal roadway. Apart from this the ancient hindus’ books on Architecture also speak of what sort of people would live in which direction of the city. We can cite the following as examples to this:
a, ‘The habitats of such people as brahmins, astrologers, the royal authorities and officers of royalty and police force should be in the North and North west regions.
b, The dwelling places of goldsmiths and those who do such other works should be in the southeast reion.
c, The dwelling places of prison authorities, soldiers, fishermen and cowherds should be in the southwest.
d, Market place in Northeast.
e, Places like the royal palaces should be in the east- So, the ancient hindus, books on Architecture say. Though these rules and regulations could not be fully adhered to while constructing a city, the dwelling places situated in the city should certainly be built with castewise divisions. All these tell us in clear terms the role that caste played in the field of city layout.
Chapter 10: THE TEMPLE CITIES OF SOUTH INDIA
The south Indian temple cities such as Srirangam, Madurai etc, reveal the fact that the South-Indian concepts and norms of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala are ideologically a little different from that of the Vaasthu Purusha Mandala enunciated in the North Indian Architectural books. The centre space where the main temple would be situated belongs to the formless brahma who has no beginning nor end. In this region the prime temple would be built. And, there would be fortifying walls built round it. The place adjacent to this belong to the rest of the gods. And the place even beyond that belong to the human-beings. The last portion belong to the evil-spirits and ‘poothas’.
1. Brahma’s reign
2. The region of the other gods
3. The region assigned to human-beings
4. The region of the ‘Poothas’.
If the North-Indian Vaasthu Purusha Mandala enunciates about creation, the South-Indian Vaasthu Purusha Mandala reveals the order and regularity that prevail in the ‘Created’ universe. This can be realized from the order and organization seen in the temple cities mentioned above The temple-city Madurai is a beautiful city with temple-towers. It is aptly called ‘Naan Maadak Koodal (The Communion of four towers). A renowned temple city it has in its fold temples such as the famous Madurai Meenakshiamman temple and Sundareswarar temple that have towers and fortifying walls and comprising of the ‘thousand-foot’ Mandap, the pond belonging to the temple and fortifying walls surrounding all these and entrance on all the four-sides of the walls and so built. Nallur was not just a temple city as like the city of Madurai. It was also the capital city-Rajdhani. That’s why Nallur had qualities of a temple city as well as of a Rajdhani.
Here, it should be stated that there is a reason for my calling Madurai as a temple-city. In Madurai city the region where the temples are
situated is in itself constructed in the manner of a city only. It is that region or place that is referred to as the temple city of Madura.
Kanagasurya Singaiariyan who was defeated by Sabumala Kumaraya had spent his last days in Tamil Nadu with his sons Pararasasekaran and Segarasasekaran. During that period the impact that the temple cities like Madurai had on prince Pararasasekaran might have been the reason why when he expanded Nallur Rajdhani he made it into a temple city.
VARIETIES OF ANCIENT INDIAN CITIES.
Thus, adhering to the rules of Vaasthu Purusha Mandala, cities of numerous varieties had been built. Thanthaga, Sarvadhopatra, Nandhiavartha, Padmaga, Swaasthika, Prasthira, Kaamukaanda, Sadhurmuga ……. So they were called in various names. Of these, some varieties were best suited for small cities or villages. We can cite as example, the variety called ‘Thanthaga’. Such small cities or villages had two main gateways. Those cities of the ‘Nandhyavartha’ variety had temple as their axis or central point. Of those varieties wherein there were two main roadways running North-South and east -west which met in the centre and which had fortifying walls too, swasthika was the very significant one. This was the most popular of all varieties.
Apart from these there were some more other varieties also. Cities of these varieties remained as each belonging to a particular caste only. For instance, we can name ‘Kheta’. In this type of city the ‘suththiras’ alone were allowed to live. As they were in the lowest strata of the caste-based social system of Hindus they were considered as half-men, or, imperfect human, so to say. Hence, the cities which were constructed exclusively for the class of people were also built in an imperfect manner. The structure of such cities was such that there were no important or central place and that the lay-out of these cities was such that lent less importance to the city as well as to its structure. The lay-out of these cities bringsforth the sad state of being, of the soodras who lived in the insignificant layer of the social strata.
The role that religion, caste and such other factors, played in the architectural style and pattern of the city layout of the Hindus is being revealed and highlighted even today by the informations that the books on ancient hindus’ architecture offer us.
Chapter 11: NALLUR RAJDHANI NALLUR CITY LAYOUT
So far we have seen the historical factors about Nallur Rajdhani and also several details about the city layout and architectural norms, styles and patterns of the ancient hindus. Further, in several places I have given some facts about the Nallur Rajdhani that might have existed once. Now, let us review all those in detail. The following can be called the very first step that I took up in examining the layout of the city; that the market place of the city was situated at the centre.
MARKET PLACE, CENTER OF THE CITY AND THE MAIN ROADS:
Generally market place would be situated in the region where the main roads converge. This arrangement is important for the success of the market. The fact that right from Anuradhapura which was one of the important big cities of the Buddhists, in many an ancient city the market place was situated in the region where the city’s main roadways meet. That’s why I arrived at the conclusion that there must have been a market place in the central part of Nallur Rajdhani. And, so I concluded that the place called ‘Muthirai Sandhai(market)’ must be referring to this market placementioned above. When we view the city’s layout with having the market place as the central part, its structural order and regularity is clearly revealed. To put it more effectively, the order and discipline of the city’s layout originates from this central point and this lands further strength to my conclusion. Secondly, I arrived at the conclusion that the capital city of Nallur was divided by two principal roadways. The following can be cited as proofs for my contention:
That there were entrances at the western and northern sides of the Rajdhani is revealed by the historical books and notes. The names of lands that are in vogue in the eastern regions of the city such as Kottai Vaasal, Kottai adi (Fort – Entrance, Fort – base) implied that there might have been the eastern entrance in that region. As the historical works hold that Veeramakaliyamman temple was safeguarding the west-side entrance and the Saltanadhar temple stood for the safety of the Northern entrance, I arrived at the conclusion that the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple must have been guarding the east side entrance. Historians claim that the king Singai Pararasasekaran had built those four temples Veeramaakaliyamman temple, Sattanadhar temple, Veiyilugandha pillayar temple and Kailasanadhar temple for safeguarding the city from all the four directions. Taking this theory into consideration I concluded that there must have been a southern entrance to the Rajdhani and that it must have been guarded by Kailasanadhar temple.
After deciding on these I went on to conclude that because the Rajdhani had four gateways the city should have been divided by the two main – North South, East West roadways that connect the four entrances to the city. After arriving at the conclusion that the city was thus divided by the two principal roadways it became easy to go from there and reach the that the market place was situated in the region where the two main roads converged.
On concluding that the city had been built as having four entrances and two main roadways and four temples safeguarding the four gateways there arose some problems. The temples seen today were those demolished by the Porthugese. How then to find out their locations during the period of Nallur Rajdhani? As mentioned earlier, when I arrived at the conclusion that the region called the ‘Muthirai Santhai’ (market place) must have been the central part of the city, I could see from the present city maps that the distance between this point and the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple and also the distance between this central region and the Sattanadhar temple were exactly the same. Moreover, the fact that the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple was situated in the east and the Sattanadhar in the west was also taken note of (As for the rest of the temples, that they were built in the same way as mentioned earlier, in the chapter on field research work, was also taken note of) From these the following conclusion’s are arrived at:
As the distance to the sattanadhar temple and to the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple from the centre place, i.e, ‘Muthirai Santhai’ ( the market
place), is exactly the same, these two must have been rebuilt in their same old locations or somewhere closeby.
2. As the Nallur Kandasami temple was rebuilt in ‘Kurukkal Valavu’ it could be that the Veeramaakaliyamman temple and Kailasanadhar temple were constructed having this as the central point. The city layout of the Rajdhani: Moreover, as the distance of the Sattanadhar temple and that of the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple (from the royal market) is exactly the same, and as the place where the market place was located had been the centre of the Rajdhani we can say that the shape of the Nallur Rajdhani city structure might have been either square or circular. As from the available informations and details on the ancient architectural styles and norms of the Hindus we come to Know that the Hindus adopted the square-shape and also, as the tamil kings were hindus it was concluded that the Nallur Rajdhani’s architectural form was square-shaped. As per the datas and proofs given by the architectural books of the Ancient Hindus we can understand that the city was castewise structured. Further, the names of plots / lands that exist in today’s Nallur and the monuments there also lay emphasis on this aspect it is understood that Nallur Rajdhani too had been built thus castewise structured. (But, in truth, it should be seen as vocation – based than of caste – based division)
As per the informations imparted by the ancient architectural writings of the ancient hindus the north and northwestern region were considered
proper for the brahmins and astrologers and the eastern region for the king. But, the informations gathered from the field research work conducted in Nallur tell us that in North western region itself, locations proper and suited for brahmins (Kurukkal Valavu) and court bard (Arasakesari) and also places like pandarakulam, Sangilian thoppu, sangiliyan street etc did exist. The reason for this could be the fact that the main Nallur Kandan temple (the region where the church is seen today) and its sacred pond were situated in the Northeastern region. Further, as the notes and references of the Porthugese describe the Nallur Murugan temple as a great grand shrine with forrtifying walls, the land belonging to the temple must have been of a huge area and circumference. And, this would have posed some difficulties. This could have been the reason for most of the places that were proper for the royalty to have been established in the Northwest region. Still, there might have been some places belonging to the king in the northwest region also. Pandian maaligai varalaru (Pandian palace) that is seen in this region lends strength to this contention.
That the region belonging to those like the goldsmiths and such other craftsmen must have been in the southeast side. So opine the architectural books of the Ancient hindus. As lending credibility to this claim we come across the dyers’ street and such other places belonging to the labour class in the south-eastern region of Nallur. Likewise, the soldiers and the palace staff must have dwelt in the southwest region and the informations gathered from field research work and the architectural books of the ancient hindus prove this point. As the architectural books of the hindus say that the market place should be in the Northeast side of the city, the conclusion that in Nallur Rajdhani also there should have been a road round the fortifying walls on its inner side, was arrived at.
So far we have seen how the city layout of the Nallur Rajdhani had been planned and constructed. When we look at the city structure of the ancient hindus we see that some of them were built as temple-cities and some others as Rajdhanis (capital cities). In Nallur Rajdhani’s case our research work proves that it was structured in such a way as to be atonce a temple city and also a Rajdhani. This is the reason why Nallur Rajdhani’s city layout differs from that of the other cities. And, this is its significant aspect too.
1.Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple
2. Nallur Kandhan temple
3. Kailasanadhar temple (DIAGRAM)
5. Veeramaakaaliyamman temple
6.The main junction close to the Royal market place.
Reference books :
Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai – edited by Kulasapaanaadhan
Yaazhpaana Charithram – Mudaliar Se. Rasanayakam
Yaazhpaana Charithram – Aa. Muthuthambi – pillai
(The history of yaazhpaana) ezhathu Thamizh Ilakkiya Valarchi
(The literary growth of Jaffna Tamil) – Kalanidhi Ka.Se. Natarasa
Thamizh Manaiyadi Sasthram – P.S. Aacharya
((The Sasthras of Tamils for laying foundation for house)
Thamizhagam – Oorum Paerum – Ra. Pi. Sethupillai
Conquest of Ceylon – Queroz. F Vol. 184
Tamils and Ceylon – C.S. Navarathnam
The kingdom of Jaffna – S. Pathmanathan.
Urban and Regional planning – Rame Gowda.
Urban Geography – Prof. Jeyasingam.
Early Christianity in Ceylon – Fr. Rev. peiris, Fr. Meersman.
Living Architecture – Indian – Andreas Volwashen.
Monumental Art and Architecture of India – K. Sundaram.
The arts and crafts of India and Ceylon – Ananda coomarasamy.
1.Yaazhpaana Rachiyam – Kalanidhi C.K. Sitrambalam
2. Vaiyapaadal – Kalanidhi K. S. Natarasa
3. Yaazhpaanathu Periyakoil – K. Gunarasa)
4. Yaazhpaanam Endra peyar thoendriyadhe evvaaru?
(How the name Yaazhpaana came into being?) – M. K. A. Anthanisil
5. ‘Yaazhpaanam endra peyarin kaaranam patriya karuthaaivu’ (analysing the
origin and source of the name Yaazhpaana) – Kalanidhi K. S. Natarasa
6.’Eelam and the Hindu Religion’ – Polanaruvaik kaalam – Kalanidhi.
7. The Kings of Jaffna during Porthugese period – swami Gnanaprakasar.
8. Nila Alavaith thinaikala Varaipadangal (Land Survey Plans from the Dept.
of Surveying), (Diagrams of the different length and breath of space for
different divisions of land). Jaffna Town planning Assessment Surveys:
Sheet No. A2/45/4w, A2/45/3E.
9.Rowland De Sylva’s essay on Anuradhapura Town Planning.