Arts in Karur
Karur is mentioned in a number of old Tamil works of literature.
Poets of Karuvur
Among the Sangam poets, two groups of poets deserve attention (a) those who hailed from Karur and (b) those who sang Karuvur and the ruling Chera. A large number of poets have hailed from Karuvur and their poems are seen in Kuruntokai, Ahananuru, Narrinai, and Purananuru. The following are the poets.
- Karuvur Kilar - Kuruntokai 170.
- Karuvur Kannampalanar - Ahananuru 180, 263, Narrinai 148.
- Karuvur Katappillai Cattanar - Ahananuru 309, Narrinai 343, Puram 168.
- Karuvur Kalingattar - Ahananuru 183.
- Karuvur Kosanar - Narrinai 214.
- Karuvur Cheraman Cattan - Kuruntokai 268.
- Karuvur Nanmarbanar - Aham 217.
- Karuvur Bhutam Cattanar - Aham 50.
- Karuvur Pauttiranar - Kuruntokai 162.
- Karuvur Perum Catukkattu Bhuta nathanar - Puram 219.
Another point of great interest is that all of them took the title Karuvur and none claimed Vanci, though they themselves sang Vanci. Among the poems that extol the Cheras, the Patirru Pattu(21) collection of verses occupies an important position as each group of ten verses is dedicated to one Chera ruler.
Poems on Karuvur
Peymakal Ilaveyini, a poetess, has a poem on Karur and the Chera. She says that Vanci on the banks of the cool Porunai river, was a victorious city whose fame was as great as that of the sky. Young and lovely girls with soft hairs in their fore arms, adorned with jewels played on the sands of the river bank. They created figures and sand houses on the banks, plucked flowers to decorate them and sport in the cool waters of the Porunai river. The king Cheraman Palai Padiya Perumkadungo, (who sang the Palai land) was victorious in the battlefield, by destroying the impregnable forts of the enemies. The Patini woman minstrel, who praised his conquests, received from him, enchanting jewels made of gold Kalanjus. The Bana, who sang along with the Patini, in a perfect synchronizing voice, received golden lotuses, fastened to silver strings'(10). This Puram praises the Chera Perum Kadungo and his capital Vanci, on the banks of Porunai. The old commentator on this poem, mentions that the city was Karuvur of great fame. 'Vanai muttiya Pukalaiyum, Venriyaiym udaiya Karuvur'. The verse also indicates that bards frequented the Chera court at Karur and received golden jewels and flowers.
The Chera Celvak Kadungo Vali Adan, who died at Sikkarpalli, was ruling with Vanci as his capital. The waters of the river An Porunai, skirting his fort were splashing against the walls. There were many fertile villages surrounding Vanci, growing paddy. The Chera Celva Kaungo is praised for his sumptous gift by the poet kundukat Paliyadan(11). Among the Chera rulers of Sangam age, Chera Senkuttuvan is the most celebrated for his all round contribution. Paranar, the outstanding poet of the Sangam age has sung about this ruler in ten verses in the Pattirru Pattu collection. The king is praised as the ruler of the confluence of the rivers Kaveri Kudavan aru, and Anporunai Cen Kunakku Olukum Kalush Malirnirai Yanriyum puviri punal oru munrudan kudiya kudal anaiyai(12).
The Chera Antuvan Cheral Irumporai was on the balcony of his palace, in the company of the poet Mutamosiyar of Eniccheri, when he saw the chola Muttitalaik Ko Perunar Killi, entering his capital on the back of an elephant. The poet immediately saw that the Chera mistake the Chola and put him to death. So he pointed out that the Chola's elephant, has inadvertently strayed into Karur and not with any malafide intention and that he deserved to be pardoned. A poem to this effect is found in Puram collection(13). It only shows that Karuvur was very near to the capital of the Chola - which was then at Uraiyur in Trichy.
At the same item, it was also frequently captured by the Cholas of Uraiyur. The Chera Yanaikkat cey Mantaran Cheral Irumporai had his capital at Karur. The Pandya ruler Nedun Celian, the victor of Talaiyalankanam, captured and imprisoned his opponents. The Chera Mantaran Cheral was one of those who was thus imprisoned at Madurai. Soon the Chera escaped from the prison, returned to his capital and ascended his throne(15). Even while he was in prison, his enemies were afraid of him. The commentator says that the Pandya could gift even Uraiyur (of the Cholas) and Karur (of the Cheras) thus conforming that Karuvur was the capital of Mantaran.
Another Chola - Nalam Killi also captured Vanci. Vanci is mentioned as Puva Vanci - (Vanci that is not a flower, meaning a city)(16). A third Chola who captured Karur was Killivalavan The Chera was besieged and never stirred out. The Chola army destroyed the protective forest around Karuvur fort. The trees so cut fell on the sands of An Porunai river. The Poet Alattur Kilar who was an eyewitness to the siege(17) of Karuvur by the Chola gives a description of the war. This siege of Karuvur was seen by another Sangam poet Nappasalaiyar of Marokkam(18). He mentions that 'Karuvur is surrounded by a deep moat with full of water and crocodiles. The Chera is indeed a great ruler, who embossed his royal bow emblem on the lofty Himalayas. He is known for his great chariot. The Chola is now destroying his capital Karuvur, which never witnessed destruction'. The Chera suffered worst defeat in this war. Another Chola Killivalavan, who died at Kurappalli, also captured Karuvur.In these poems the Chera capital is called Vanci, which the ancient commentator, invariably mentions at Karuvur. Thus, Karur continued to be respected as the capital of the Cheras, though it changed hands now and then, the Cholas more often and the Pandya, once invading it. But soon the Chera recaptured it and established his rule.