Poompuhar, also called "Kaveripoompattinam" is an ancient historic town situated in Sirkali Taluk (also spelt as Taluka) of Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu. An archaeologist delight, Poompuhar is a town for those who like to wander amidst history and take a stroll through time.
It was once a major port during the reign of Cholas. The Kaveri, merging with the bellowing sea, was known as "Puhar", but to the exquisite beauty of the port town it came to be called "Poompuhar". A fine beach and calm water offer good bathing. The Department of Tourism offer shell shaped cottages to the Tourists in the Poompuhar Tourist Complex, at a moderate tariff.
History Of Poompuhar:
Details of Poompuhar have been read in the Brahmi-inscription dating back to the second century BC in 'Barkuth' of north India. The historical details of Poompuhar have also been found in the inscriptions of Sayavanam Temple at Poompuhar. The ancient Kings like Sembiyan, Musugundam, Manuneethi Cholan and Karikal Cholan who carried myths with them, added to the glory of Poompuhar town. Poompuhar grew into a great city during the reign of Karikal Cholan. Even after Sangam Chola's period Poompuhar occupied a significant place during the regime of Kalabras. After the Kalabras in the 6th century AD, Poompuhar came under the Pallava regime and during that time the Pallavaneeswaran temple was built by them. With the rise of later Cholas in 850 AD the city regained its past glory. It is mentioned as "Rajathiraja Valanaattu Nangoor Naattu Kaveripoompattinam" in the Sayavanam temple inscription of Vikrama Cholan in the same temple, calls the town "Puhar Nagaram". Later Kopperunchingan also contributed to the grandeur of the place. After the Sangam Chola period the Bay of Bengal swallowed a major part of Poompuhar town. Though Poompuhar became a prey of times, still a few small villages remain a silent witness to the cruelty of times. Thirusaikadu (Sayavanam), Pallavaneeswaram, Melapperumpallam, Keelaperumpallam, Keezaiyur and Vanagiri are mortal remains of ancient Poompuhar.
Excavations At Poompuhar:
The Sea submerged the original city and at present there is only a small village. Explorations were carried out in Poompuhar right from 1910, along the coast of the state and certain pockets in and around Karur. The archaeological department has revealed the existence of several ring-wells near the seashore. Puhar known to Ptolemy and Pliny, was a planned city built over 2000 years ago. Excavations show an extent of planning that would make most modern planners envious. During the excavations remains of the various buildings were found. A wharf belonging to the 3rd century BC was excavated at Poompuhar in 1962-63 and a similar wharf was unearthed in the subsequent excavation during 1997. Several kinds of brick figures and copper coins were also found.
The structural similarities and their functional viability are studied. The existence of such wharves corroborates the plan of ancient Poompuhar, which is splendidly explained by the Pattinappalai, one of the Sangam texts. The study stresses the need for further extensive excavations along the course of the palaeochannel to open up new vistas in the technology of marine structures of ancient Poompuhar. The National Institute of Oceanography, Goa and the Archaeological Department of Tamil Nadu Government have undertaken offshore exploration at Poompuhar and they have contributed a museum.
Sillappathikara Art Gallery:
Silappathikara Art Gallery is a beautiful seven-tiered building of great sculptural value. Scenes from Silappathikaram, the Epic of the land have been given lively shapes in stones on the walls of the Gallery. These sculptures carved by the sculptors of the Mamallapuram Art College remain the treasure house of Tamil culture.
Situated 2 km away from Poompuhar estuary, this temple is dedicated to Thirusayavaneswarar and Iraivi Kuyilinam Nanmozhi Ammai Ammal. This temple has been praised by Nayanmars in their hymns. Chola inscriptions are found in the temple.
Thiruppallavaneeswaram is an ancient and very beautiful temple. Iyarppakai Nayanar and Pattinatthar were born here. The Saivaite-saint Thirugnanasambandar praised this temple.
Melapperumpallam and Keezhapperumpallam:
These two sthalams (holy places) are situated very near Poompuhar and Thiruvengadu. The Valampuranathar temple at Melapperumpallam has Chola inscriptions. It is noted for the famous Nayanmar's hymns. Keezhapperumpallam is at distance of 2-km form Poompuhar. It is the temple where the famous "Kethu" has a separate sthalam (place).
Thiruvengadu is situated at a distance of 10-km from Sirkali and about 30-km from Poompuhar. Four great Saivaite Saints have sung hymns on it. This is the place where Meykandar was born. "Pudhan" (Mercury) has a separate sthalam in Thiruvengadu temple. The presiding deity is Sri Swetharanyeswarar.
Sempanarkoil is an antique temple referred to as Thirusumponpalli in Devaram hymns. It is situated on the bus route between Tranquebar and Mayiladuthurai (Mayiladuthurai is located at a distance of 24-km from Poompuhar). It is a temple of great historical significance.
Punjai located near Sempanarkoil has a Shiva temple that has received tributes from Devaram. It is a beautiful temple of architectural wonders of Cholas.
Thirukkadaiyur is on the bus route between Mayiladuthurai and Tranquebar. It is one of the eight temples (Atta Veerathanam) glorifying the heroic deeds of Lord Shiva. Sthalapuranam says that Lord Shiva exterminated Yama at this place to save the life of Markkandeya. It is one of the famous Saktisthalams.
It is a small village near Thirukkadaiyur. The temple here is noted for the presiding deily of "'Dasapuja Veera Anjaneyar".
Vaitheeswaran Koil is about 60-km from Poompuhar. Vaitheeswaran temple is known in Hindu scriptures as "Pullirukkuvelur", (Pul - Irukku - Vel - Ur, the words in Tamil meaning Bird (Jatayu), Rig-veda, Lord Murugan and Sun respectively) is one of the important Shiva temples in the South.
Sirkali located at a distance of 21-km from Poompuhar is the birthplace of the great Saiva Saint Thirugana Sambandar. The famous Thoniyappar Shivalayam is situated here. It is a beautiful temple of historical importance.
Nangoor is located in Sirkali Taluk (also spelt as Taluka) of Nagapattinam district. Eleven of the 108 Divya Desams are found in and around Nangoor. Thirumangai Alvar sanctified the Vaishnava temples in Nangoor.
Thiruvarur is located at a distance of 65 km from Poompuhar and 20km from Nagappattinam. This place is noted for the Thyagaraja temple and the chariot (temple car). The unique feature of the town is that it has three Shiva temples at one place. The well-known "Panchamuga Vathyam" and Paru Nadaswaram are still played during regular pujas. The Musical Trinity of Thyagaiyyar (Thyagaraja), Muthuswamy Deekshither and Shyama Sastri were born here.
It is 35-km north of Nagappattinam on the coastal line of Bay of Bengal. The Danish fort and buildings with Danish architecture are the attractions of Tranquebar. Even now the Danish Fort built in 1620 exists to exhibit Danish architecture. The Fort is now under the control of Tamil Nadu Archaeological Department and houses an archaeological Museum. This museum is open to public on all days except Friday. The Zion Church was built in 1701. It was renovated in 1782-84 and again in 1839. It is still in good condition. Town Gateway was built in 1792 on Danish Architectural style. Masilamani Nathar temple built in 1305 by Maravarma Kulasekara Pandiyan exhibits outstanding architectural skills. The front portion of the temple has been partly damaged due to Sea-erosion.
For more interesting topics related to archaeology, visit archaeology excavations.