|Predecessor||Unknown ?Karikala Chola|
Nalankilli was one of the Tamil king's of the Early Cholas mentioned in Sangam Literature. Nalankilli is mentioned in context with a civil war between him and another Chola Nedunkilli. We have no definite details about this Chola or his reign. The only information we have is from the fragmentary poems of Sangam.
The only source available to us on Nalankilli is the mentions in Sangam poetry and Manimekalai. The period covered by the extant literature of the Sangam is unfortunately not easy to determine with any measure of certainty. Except the longer epics Cilappatikaram and Manimekalai, which by common consent belong to the age later than the Sangam age, the poems have reached us in the forms of systematic anthologies. Each individual poem has generally attached to it a colophon on the authorship and subject matter of the poem, the name of the king or chieftain to whom the poem relates and the occasion which called forth the eulogy are also found.
It is from these colophons and rarely from the texts of the poems themselves, that we gather the names of many kings and chieftains and the poets and poetesses patronised by them. The task of reducing these names to an ordered scheme in which the different generations of contemporaries can be marked off one another has not been easy. To add to the confusions, some historians have even denounced these colophons as later additions and untrustworthy as historical documents.
Any attempt at extracting a systematic chronology and data from these poems should be aware of the casual nature of these poems and the wide difference between the purposes of the anthologist who collected these poems and the historian’s attempts are arriving at a continuous history.
Nalankilli the Ruler
Nalankilli forms the subject of no fewer than fourteen poems in Purananuru. These poems suggest that Nalankilli continued to enjoy a vague hegemony among the other Tamil kings as did by Karikala Chola (Purananuru – 31). The same poet Kovur Kilar, proving that he was not a sycophant, exhorts his patron to sue for peace instead of continuing the siege of Urayur against the rival Chola Nedunkilli.
Kaverippatinam was Nalankilli’s capital (Purananuru – 30) and he enjoyed the benefits of its extensive trade. However the people were not in a contented state of mind due to the continuing civil strife. We perceive this from the melancholy tones of the poems by the poet Urayur Mudukannan Sattanar on Nalankilli (Purananuru – 27, 28, 29).
Nalankilli like many other princes of his age, cultivated literature himself, and two of his poems survive (Purananuru – 72 and 73)
Purananuru speaks of the war between two Cholas Nalankilli and Nedunkilli, which lasted until the death of Nedunkilli at the battlefields of Kariyaru. These two Cholas must have belonged to the rival branches of the Chola families, which ruled from Kaverippattinam and Urayur as their capitals.
Kovur Kilar's pleadings were of no avail and the civil war only ended with the death of Nedunkilli.
Nalankilli died at a place called Ilavandigaippalli (colophon of Purananuru – 61).
- Mudaliar, A.S, Abithana Chintamani (1931), Reprinted 1984 Asian Educational Services, New Delhi.
- Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1935). The CōĻas, University of Madras, Madras (Reprinted 1984).
- Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1955). A History of South India, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002).
- Project Madurai – Purananuru eText - http://www.tamilnation.org/literature/ettuthokai/pm0057.pdf