|Capital||Aykudi, Podiyil Malai (near Shenkottah)
|Religion||Ancient Dravidian Hinduism|
|-||Established||Early Sangam age|
|-||Disestablished||c. 12th century|
Ay dynasty (Aioi dynasty) ruled parts of southern India from the early Sangam age to the 10th century AD. At their zenith, the dynasty ruled an area extended from Tiruvalla in the north to Nagercoil in the south including the naturally rich Western Ghats in the east.
Ays were a prominent political power in the region before the Cheras established themselves. Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemy (2nd century AD) founds the Ay kingdom extending from River Baris (Pamba) to Kanyakumari. The former south Travancore (Nanjanad) was also included in the Ay kingdom. According to Purananuru, the capital was at Aykudi, Podiyil Malai (near Shenkottai) and later they established administrative capital at Vizhinjam. Elephant was the royal emblem of the Ay rulers. After 10th century, the state of Venad overpowered the Ays in southern Kerala and south-western Tamil Nadu.
The origin of the Ays is still shrouded in mystery. Though some records such as the Paliyam Copper Plates of Vikramaditya Varaguna points towards an exaggerated origin from Yadavas or Ayars, its generally agreed that the Ays were a native Dravidian clan in South India.One of the noted ruler of Ay Dynasty was Vikramadithya Varagunan,he was also known as "Asokan" and is considered as the founder of Kanthalloor sala
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|History of Kerala|
Among the Ay rulers of the Sangam Age, Ay Antiran, Titiyan and Atigan are the most outstanding. Ay Antiran is mentioned in the Purananuru as the lord of Podiyil Malaya in southern Western Ghats. He is said have defeated the Kongu rulers and pursued them to the Arabian sea. He was an elder contemporary of the Chera royal Antuvan Cheral. It is a possibility that during the time of Antiran the Ays were more powerful than the Cheras. He practiced polygamy and all his wives committed ritual suicide on his death.
The next important Ay ruler was Titiyan. He was contemporary of Pandya ruler Bhutapandya, poet Kapilar and Parnar. An understanding seems have been reached between the Pandyas and Ays during this period. Atiyan was another important ruler of the Ays during the Sangam Age. Under Atiyan, the Ay state began to disintegrate. The Pandya ruler Pasumpun Azhakia Pandya invaded the Ay kingdom and subjugated Atiyan. The successors of Atiyan are known to have fought against the Pandya supremacy. An Ay ruler took part in the famous battle of Talai-yalankanam, in which the Pandya king Nedum Chezhiyan defeated several of his enemies. Later the Ays recovered from the Pandya yoke.
As other royal families in South India, the immediate post Sangam Age was a dark period in the history of the Ays. Later Ays functioned as buffer state between the powerful Pandyas and the Cheras for long time. After the decline of the Chera power the Pandyas and Cholas led multiple attacks to the Ay territories. Pandyas made successive raids to the Nanjanad area in the Ay kingdom. The Pandya ruler Jayantavarman (7th century) defeated the Ay king, and his successor Arikesari Maravarman won a battle at Sennilam, attacked Kottar and captured the next Ay ruler alive. During the time of the Kocchadayan Ranadhira (8th century) the Ays accepted the Pandya supremacy. Kocchadayan Ranadhira is known to have defeated the Ay ruler in the Battle of Maruthur.
In the last half of the 8th century, the Ay state was ruled by Sadayan (till 788) and his Karunandan (788-857). During this time the Pandyas under Jatilavarman Parantaka invaded and defeated the Ays multiple times. According to the Kazhugumalai inscription, he led a successful expedition against Karunadan and destroyed Fort Ariviyur. He also annexed the then Ay capital Vizhinjam. But, the Ay ruler fought vigorously for more than ten years in the outskirts of Vizhinjam. The Cheras helped them against the Pandyas.
However, in the 9th century, the Ay Kingdom came to be ruled by two illustrious rulers Karunandadakkan and his son Vikramaditya Varaguna. Karunandadakkan (857-885 AD) ruled with his capital at Vizhinjam. He is perhaps the founder of the famous Kandalur Salai. He addressed himself to the arts of peace and took much interest in the promotion of education and learning. Vikramaditya Varaguna (885-925) succeeded Karunandadakkan. He helped Pandyas in their fight against the newly arose political power in south India, the Cholas. After the death of Vikramaditya Varaguna the glory of the Ays departed and lost their territories to neighbouring powers such as the Cheras. By the 10th century, Kandalur and Vizhinjam became Chera strongholds. A branch of the Ay family, which had been controlling the temple of Sri Padmanabha, later merged with the ruling house of Venad (c. 1100 AD).