Kudiramalai

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Kudiramalai
කුදිරමලෙයි
குதிரைமலை
Hamlet
Kudiramalai is located in Sri Lanka
Kudiramalai
Kudiramalai
Coordinates: 8°32′0″N 79°52′0″E / 8.53333°N 79.86667°E / 8.53333; 79.86667Coordinates: 8°32′0″N 79°52′0″E / 8.53333°N 79.86667°E / 8.53333; 79.86667
Country Sri Lanka
Province North Western Province

Kudiramalai (Sinhala: කුදිරමලෙයි, Tamil: குதிரைமலை, Greek: Hippuros, English: Horse Mountain) is a headland cape, point and ancient port town on the west coast of Sri Lanka.[citation needed] It was once a flourishing emporium of international trade and the capital of an ancient Kingdom based in Jaffna peninsula of the Naka, before the capital was moved to Nallur in the medieval period.[citation needed] Situated on the Gulf of Mannar's coast close to Silavaturai, the town has a shared history with the proximally located Karaitivu island, the ancient port town of Mannar and the historic and famous Thiruketheeswaram temple. Kudiramalai is the northernmost point of the Puttalam District, and proved to be a useful subsidiary southern port of Mannar in the classical period, serving the island's northern kingdoms of the Jaffna Peninsula and Vanni country as one of their southernmost border towns. It lies directly west across the Vanni from Trincomalee (Thiru-Konamalai), home of the historic Koneswaram temple. The shores from Kudiramalai point 20 km north up to Vankalai village formed the most famed pearl fishing banks in the classical and medieval eras.

Famous rulers of this land included Queen Alli Arasani, Chief Korran, his father Pittan, and Korran's contemporaries Chief Elini and Athiyamān Nedumān Añci (father/son duo) and Kumanan.[1] Traders brought several horses in watercraft to the island during the Sangam period. The port was known as Hippuros to ancient Greeks (literal translation of Kudiramalai in Greek - Horse Mount/Hill) and finds mention in the Periplus of the Erythrean Sea of Ptolemy. Archaeological excavations have revealed Kudiramalai to have been a site of ancient habitation from the 1st century BCE-to the 7th century CE and later. Kudiramalai's ruins attract visitors from around the world. It is now a barren dry zone landscape, with red earth terrain typically seen in Northern and North Western Sri Lanka, and sand dunes once serving as sites of habitation.

History[edit]

Classical period[edit]

The place shares the famous millennia old legends of the Tamil Queen Alli Arasani with Mannar, during whose rule major changes to the western coastline occurred. According to legends she often travelled from Kudiramalai to Mannar. She traded internationally the pearls of the Mannar seas with horses from Arabia. The port town acquired its name Kudiramalai from this. Due to natural causes, the sea engulfed much of Kudiramalai in a cyclone or tsunami. Queen Alli's ruined palace can still be seen in Kudiramalai. Although a major portion has been lost to the sea, some of its walls have managed to withstand the waves of the Gulf of Mannar. A cave like structure, ancient architecture adorns the upper portions of the palace wall's entrance. Alexander Johnston (1775–1849) in a testimony revealed he had in his possession the history of Queen Alli who ruled North Western Sri Lanka eighteen hundred years before him.[2]

The ancient Tamil chief Korran ruled Kudiramalai between the 1st century BCE- late 1st century CE. He was a commander in chief of the Chera Dynasty under the King Makkotai. An avid horseman and great patron of poetry, Korran ruled from and administered the locality surrounding the ancient capital. He earned the epithet Kattuman Korran or "Horseman Korran" due to his love of horse riding. His father was Pittan, another famous Chera chief. His full name was sometimes credited as Pittan-Korran, following Tamil naming conventions detailed in the Tolkappiyam.[3]

Korran oversaw the trade with Phoenicians, the Romans, the Seres and the Egyptians.[4][5] Inscriptions in Tamil-Brahmi script from the 1st century BCE-1st century CE bearing his name (Korra-Puman - Korra The Chieftain) were excavated on an amphora fragment at the international Roman trading port of Berenice Troglodytica in present day Egypt.[6] Korran's rule is described at length in the Purananuru and he is eulogised in several poems of Sangam literature.[7][8] He ruled this area alongside two other chieftains, Elini Athiyamān Nedumān Añci and Kumanan. Chief Elini of Kudiramalai is described at length in the Purananuru and Akananuru. Kudiramalai was known as Hippuros, a famous port of the island to the ancient Greeks. The historian Pliny states that in the reign of the Emperor Claudius in 47 CE:

Samuel Bochart, a French biblical scholar, first suggested eastern localities for the ports of Ophir and Tarshish during King Solomon's reign, specifically the Tamilakkam where the local people were well known for their gold, pearls, ivory and peacock trade. He fixed on "Tarshish" being the site of Kudiramalai, a possible corruption of Thiruketheeswaram.[9][10] The Classical Tamil names for ivory, apes, cotton cloth and peacocks which the Israelites imported from the Tamil country are preserved in Hebrew in the Hebrew bible.[11][12][13]

Settlements of culturally similar early populations of ancient Sri Lanka and ancient Tamil Nadu in India were excavated at megalithic burial sites at Pomparippu on the west coast just south of Kudiramalai and in Kathiraveli on the east coast of the island. Bearing a remarkable resemblance to burials in the early Pandyan kingdom, these sites were established between the 5th century BCE and 2nd century CE. Kudiramalai shared a similar Tamil name with the equally bustling international port town of Northern Sri Lanka, Kandarodai-Kadiramalai of the Jaffna Peninsula.[14][15] Other excavations have been conducted at Kudiramalai in the modern era; Bertolacci and Pridham refer to several ruins at the foot of the Kudiramalai hill and nearby Karaitivu island.

Medieval period[edit]

By the medieval period, the capital moved from Kudiramalai to Nallur. Nearby Puttalam would serve as the medieval Jaffna kingdom's second capital during the pearling season, and increased fishery activity was noted along the banks between Kudiramalai and Mannar.

Several Tamils of the Mukkuvar fishing tribe migrated from Kilakarai in mainland Tamilakkam to Kudiramalai and other Malabar cities such as Puttalam and Jaffna of the Northern kingdom from the 8th century CE. Originally Saivites, they fled to the west coast from mainland Tamilakkam to escape forced conversion to Islam. In a return for comradeship rendered to them by Arabs in a struggle with a rival chief, many of these inhabitants embraced Islam. With the rise in Portuguese influence in the 1500s, many of the Mukkuvars converted to evangelical Christianity.

A water well dated to the 11th century CE has been excavated at the town, which maintains an average diameter of three feet in construction.[citation needed]

Ruins[edit]

The ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple lie at the northern edge of Kudiramalai cliff. Ruins of a once thirty foot sized statue of a horse with its front legs in the air and a man holding its reins were also excavated.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kolappa Pillay Kanakasabhapathi Pillay. (1963). South India and Ceylon. University of Madras. pp. 39
  2. ^ M. D. Raghavan (1971). Tamil culture in Ceylon: a general introduction. Kalai Nilayam. pp. 60
  3. ^ R. Nagaswamy. (1995). Roman Karur.
  4. ^ S. Krishnarajah (2004). University of Jaffna
  5. ^ Richard Leslie Brohier (1934). Ancient irrigation works in Ceylon, Volumes 1-3
  6. ^ Steven E. Sidebotham. Berenike and the Ancient Maritime Spice Route. pp. 75
  7. ^ V. Kanakasabhai. The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago. pp.110
  8. ^ C. Rasanayagam. (1993). Ancient Jaffna: being a research into the history of Jaffna from very early times to the Portug[u]ese period. pp.87-92, 172
  9. ^ Richard Leslie Brohier (1934). Ancient irrigation works in Ceylon, Volumes 1-3. pp.36
  10. ^ A dictionary of the Bible by Sir William Smith published in 1863 notes how the Hebrew word for peacock is Thukki, derived from the Classical Tamil for peacock Thogkai: Ramaswami, Sastri, The Tamils and their culture, Annamalai University, 1967, pp.16, Gregory, James, Tamil lexicography, M. Niemeyer, 1991, pp.10, Fernandes, Edna, The last Jews of Kerala, Portobello, 2008, pp.98, Smith, William, A dictionary of the Bible, Hurd and Houghton, 1863 (1870), pp.1441
  11. ^ Tambi-Piḷḷai Isaac Tambyah. Psalms of a Saiva Saint. Introduction. pp. 3-4
  12. ^ V. Kanakasabhai. The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago. pp.110
  13. ^ C. Rasanayagam. (1993). Ancient Jaffna: being a research into the history of Jaffna from very early times to the Portug[u]ese period. pp.87-92, 172
  14. ^ de Silva, A. History of Sri Lanka, p. 129
  15. ^ Indrapala, K. The Evolution of an ethnic identity: The Tamils of Sri Lanka, p. 91