Chera dynasty

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CapitalEarly Cheras
  • Vanchi
  • Karuvur
  • Muchiri (Muziris)
  • Thondi (Tyndis)

Kongu Cheras

  • Vanchi Karur (Karur)

Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas)

Venadu Cheras

Common languagesTamil
Religion Hinduism
Today part of India

The Chera dynasty was one of the principal dynasties in the early history of the present day states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and union territory of Puducherry in southern India.[1][2] Together with the Cholas of Thanjavur and the Pandyas of Madurai, the early Cheras were known as one of the three major political powers of ancient Tamilakam (southern India) in the early centuries of the Common Era.[1][3][4]

The Cheras owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean (Graeco-Roman) merchants. The geographical advantages, like the favourable Monsoon winds which carried ships directly from the Arabia to Kerala as well as the abundance of exotic spices in the interior Ghat mountains and the presence of a large number of rivers connecting the Ghats with the Arabian Sea combined to make the Cheras a major power in ancient southern India.[5][2]

Along with the Ay-Vels in the south and the Ezhimala Mushakas in the north, the early Cheras formed the three principle ruling polities of ancient Kerala.[6] The age and antiquity of the Cheras is difficult to establish.[7] The exact location of the Chera homeland is also a matter of scholarly debate.[8][9] The early Cheras of the Sangam period (early centuries of the Common Era) are known to have established bases at various locations such as Vanchi, Karuvur, Muchiri (Muziris) and Thondi (Tyndis) among others.[9] After the end of the Sangam period, around the 5th century CE, there seems to be a period where the Cheras' power declined considerably.[10]

The bardic collection known as the Sangam (the Academy) literature mentions the names of a number of Chera rulers, and the court poets who extolled them. The internal chronology of this collection is still far from completely settled and a connected account of the history of the period is an area of active research. Uthiyan Cheral, Nedum Cheral Athan and Chenguttuvan are some of the rulers referred to in the Sangam literature.[4] Chenguttuvan, the most renowned of the Early Cheras, is also famous for the traditions surrounding Kannaki, the principal female character of the Tamil epic poem Chilapathikaram.[11][9] Other sources for the early Cheras include rare inscriptions and coins, classical Sanskrit works and accounts by Graeco-Roman writers.[9]

The 'Kongu' Cheras are also known to have controlled Karur Vanchi in central Tamil Nadu at various points in time.[9] The Cheras of Makotai/Kulsekharas (former Muchiri, modern Kodungallur) were in power between c. 9th and 12th century in Kerala.[12][13] The exact nature of the relationships between the various lines of Chera rulers is somewhat unclear.[9] It is known that the Cheras were intermittently subject to the Pandya Kingdom and the Chola Empire among others.[10] The rulers of Venadu, based out of the port of Kollam in southern Kerala, claimed their ancestry from the Kodungallur Cheras.[10] Ravi Varma Kulasekhara, their most ambitious ruler, set out to expand his kingdom by annexing the ruins of the other southern kingdoms.[14] In the modern period the rulers of Cochin and Travancore (in Kerala) also claimed the title "Chera".[13]


The etymology of "Chera" is still a matter of considerable speculation among historians. One approach proposes that the word is derived from Cheral, a corruption of Charal meaning "declivity of a mountain" in Tamil, suggesting a connection with the mountainous geography of Kerala.[a] Another theory argues that the Cheralam is derived from cher (sand) and alam (region), literally meaning, "the slushy land".[b] Apart from the speculations mentioned, a number of other theories do appear in historical studies.[c][d]

In non-Tamil sources, the Cheras are referred to by various names. The Cheras are referred as Kedalaputo (Sanskrit: "Kerala Putra") in the Emperor Ashoka's Pali edicts (3rd century BCE).[17] While Pliny the Elder and Claudius Ptolemy refer to the Cheras as Kaelobotros and Kerobottros respectively, the Graeco-Roman trade map Periplus Maris Erythraei refers to the Cheras as Keprobotras.[18]

The term Cheralamdivu or Cheran Tivu and its cognates, meaning the "island of the Chera kings", is a Classical Tamil name of Sri Lanka that takes root from the term "Chera".[19]


Early Cheras (c. 1st - 4th century AD)[edit]

An approximate representation of the Chera kingdom in the Sangam period (c. 1st - 4th century AD).

The Cheras are referred as Kedalaputo (Sanskrit: "Kerala Putra") in the Emperor Ashoka's Pali edicts (3rd century BCE).[17] The earliest Graeco-Roman accounts referring to the Cheras are by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century CE, in the periplus of the 1st century CE, and by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE. [20] Greeks and Romans are called "Yavanas" in early Indian literature.[21] One of the earliest Sanskrit works which refers to the Cheras is probably the Aithareya Aranyaka in which the Cherapadah are noted as one of the three peoples who did not follow some ancient injunctions. There are also brief references by Kathyayana (4th century BCE), Pathanjali (2nd century BCE) and Kautilya (c. 4th century BCE) though Panini (5th century BCE) does not mention the land.[22]

A large body of Tamil works collectively known as the Sangam (the Academy) literature describes a number of southern Indian rulers.[23][24] Among them, the most important sources for the Cheras are the Pathitrupathu, the Akananuru, the Purananuru.[22] The Pathitrupathu, the fourth book in the Ettuthokai anthology, mentions a number of rulers and heirs-apparents of the Chera family.[4] Each ruler is praised in ten songs sung by the court poet.[25][23] However, the book is not worked into connected history and settled chronology so far.[26] Uthiyan Cheral, Nedum Cheral Athan and Chenguttuvan are some of the rulers referred to in the Sangam literature. [27] A method, known as Gajabahu-Chenguttuvan synchronism, is used by some historians to date the events described early Tamil Sangam literature to the 1st century AD.[27] Despite its dependency on numerous conjectures, the method is considered as the sheet anchor for the purpose of dating the events in the Sangam literature.[28][29][30]

Archaeological discoveries[edit]

Archaeology has found epigraphic and numismatic evidence of the early Cheras.[31][21] Two almost identical inscriptions discovered from Pugalur (near Karur) dated to the c. 1st - 2nd century CE, describe three generations of Chera rulers of the Irumporai clan. They record the construction of a rock shelter for Jains on the occasion of the investiture of Ilam Kadungo, son of Perum Kadungo, and the grandson of Ko Athan Cheral Irumporai.[21]

A number of coins, assumed to be of the Cheras, mostly found in the Amaravathi riverbed, are a major source Early Chera historiography.[32] This include a number of punch marked coins discovered from Amaravathi riverbed. The issuing of punch marked coins were followed by square coins of copper and its alloys or silver. Most of these early square coins show a bow and arrow, the traditional emblem of the Cheras, on the obverse with or without any legend.[33] A number of copper coins, with symbols such as bow and arrow, elephant goad, and elephant, and few lead coins were also discovered from Pattanam in central Kerala.[34][35] A bronze die for minting punch marked coins was discovered from the riverbed in Karur.[35]

Other discoveries include a coin with a portrait and the legend "Mak-kotai" above it and another one with a portrait and the legend "Kuttuvan Kotai" above it. Both impure silver coins are tentatively dated to c. 1st century CE or a little later. The reverse side of both coins are blank.[32] The impure silver coins bearing the legend "Kollippurai" and "Kol-Irumporai" was also discovered from Karur. All legends, assumed to be the names of the Chera rulers, were in Tamil-Brahmi characters on the obverse. The macro analysis of the Mak-kotai coin shows close similarities with the contemporary Roman silver coin.[33] A silver coin with the portrait of a person wearing a Roman-type bristled-crown helmet was also discovered from Amaravathi riverbed in Karur. Reverse side of the coin depicts a bow and arrow, the traditional symbol of the Chera dynasty.[32]

Silver coins issued by Emperors Augustus and Tiberius have over a period of time been discovered in large numbers from the Coimbatore-Karur region.[32]

Major Cheras according to the Sangam literature[edit]

Family tree of the rulers of the Chera dynasty (c. 1st - 4th century AD). Compiled from A Survey of Kerala History (1967) by A. Sreedhara Menon
  • Uthiyan Cheral Athan - earliest known ruler of the Chera family, Uthiyan Cheral was also known as "Vanavaramban" Cheral Athan. His headquarters was at Kuzhumur in Kuttanad. He is sometimes identified with the Chera king who prepared food for the warring cousins at Kurukshetra War in the epic Mahabharata (Akananuru). In the battle of Venni, Uthiyan Cheral was wounded on the back by the Chola ruler Karikala. Unable to bear the disgrace, the Chera committed suicide by slow starvation.[36]
  • Nedum Cheral Athan - "Imayavaramban" Nedum Cheral Athan, son of Uthiyan Cheral Athan, is the hero of the second decade of Pathitrupathu which was composed by the poet Kannanar. In the poems, Nedum Cheral Athan is praised for having subdued "seven crowned kings" to achieve the title of adhiraja. With characteristic exaggeration, Kannanar also lauds the king for conquering foes from Kumari to the Himalayas. Nedum Cheral Atan, famous for his hospitality, gifted Kannanar with a part of Umbarkkattu. The greatest of his enemies were the Kadambas whom he defeated in battles. He also attacked Yavana ships and held Yavana traders ransom. Nedum Cheral Athan was killed in a battle with a Chola ruler. The Chola is also said to have been killed by a spear thrown at him by Nedum Cheral Athan. Subsequently both queens performed sati in respect of their husbands.[36]
  • Palyani Sel Kelu Kuttuvan - son of Uthiyan Cheral Athan. Credited as the conqueror of Kongu (hero of the third decade by Palaik Kauthamanar[4])[36]
  • Kalankakkanni Narmudi Cheral - hero of the fourth decade by Kappiyattukku Kappiyanar[4], led an expedition against the Adigaiman Anji of Tagadur. Initialy defeated by Nannan of Ezhimala in the battle of Pazhi, later defeated and killed Nannan in the battle of Vakai Perum Turai.[36][37]
  • Chenguttuvan - "Kadal Pirakottiya" Vel Kezhu Kuttuvan, son of Nedum Cheral Athan, celebrated by poet Paranar in the 5th decade, ascended to the Chera throne after the death of his father. He is often identified with the legendary "Chenguttuvan Chera", the most illustrious ruler of the early Cheras. Under his reign, the Chera territory extended from Kollimalai in the east to Thondi and Mantai on the western coast. The queen of Chenguttuvan was Illango Venmal (the daughter of a Velir chief).[37][36]

In the early years of his rule, Chenguttuvan successfully intervened in a succession dispute in the Chola territory and established his relative Killi on the Chola throne. The rivals of Killi were defeated in the battle of Nerivayil, Uraiyur. A combined land and naval expedition against the Kadambas was also successful. The Kadambas had the support of the Yavanas, who were routed in the battles of Idumbil and Valyur. The fort of Kodukur in which the Kadamba warriors took shelter was stormed and the Kadambas was beaten. In the following naval expedition the Yavana-supported Kadamba warriors were crushed. He is said to have defeated the Kongu people and a warrior called Mogur Mannan.[11]

Ilango Adigal author of the legendary Tamil epic poem Chilapathikaram describes Chenguttuvan as his brother. He also mentions Chenguttuvan's decision to propitiate a temple (virakkallu) for the goddess Pattini (Kannaki) at Vanchi.[38] A certain king called Gajabahu, often identified with Gajabahu, king of Sri Lanka (2nd century CE), was present at the Pattini festival at Vanchi.[39][37] In this context, Chenguttuvan can be dated to either the first or last quarter of the 2nd century CE.[11]

Ilango Adigal, author of the epic Chilapathikaram
  • Adu Kottu Cheral Athan - successor of Chenguttuvan (hero of the sixth decade by poetess Kakkaipadiniyar Nachellaiyar).[39]
  • Selva Kadumko Valia Athan - Selvakadumko Valia Athan was the son of Anthuvan Cheral and the hero of the 7th set of poems composed by Kapilar. His residence was at the city of Thondi. He married the sister of the wife of Nedum Cheral Athan. Selva Kadumko defeated the combined armies of the Pandyas and the Cholas. He is sometimes identified as the Ko Athan Cheral Irumporai mentioned in the Aranattar-malai inscription of Pugalur (c. 2nd century CE).[39][40]
  • Perum Cheral Irumporai - "Tagadur Erinta" Perum Cheral Irumporai defeated the combined armies of the Pandyas, Cholas and that of the chief of Tagadur. Celebrated by poet Arichil Kizhar in the 8th decade. He captured Tagadur which was ruled by the powerful ruler Adigaman Ezhni. He is also called "the lord of Puzhinadu and "the lord of Kollimala" and "the lord of Puhar". Puhar was the Chola headquarters. Perum Cheral Irumporai also annexed the territories of a minor chief called Kaluval.[41]
  • Illam Cheral Irumporai - (praised in the 9th decade by Perunkundur Kizhar[4]) Illam Cheral Irumporai defeated the Pandyas and the Cholas and brought immense wealth to his base Vanchi.[41]
  • Yanaikatchai Mantaran Cheral Irumporai - Mantaran Cheral Irumporai ruled from Kollimalai in the east to Thondi and Mantai on the western coast. He defeated his enemies in a battle at Vilamkil. The famous Pandya ruler Nedum Chezhian (early 3rd century CE[42]) captured Mantharan Cheral as a prisoner. However, he managed to escape and regain the lost territories.[43]
  • Kanaikkal Irumporai - Kanaikkal Irumporai is said to have defeated a chief called Muvan and imprisoned in him. The Chera then brutally pulled out the teeth of the prisoner and planted them on the gates of the city of Thondi. Upon capture by the Chola ruler Sengannan Kanaikkal committed suicide by starvation.[43]

Decline of Early Cheras[edit]

After the end of the Sangam period, c. the 5th century CE, there seems to be a period where the Chera family's political prestige and influence declined considerably.[10]

An approximate extend of Kalabhra supremacy in southern India.

Little is known for certain about the Chera family during this period. Tradition tells that the Kalabhra (Kalvar[42]) rulers kept the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers in their confinement. The Kalabhras were marginalised c. the 5th century by the rise of the Chalukyas, Pallavas.[13] The Rashtrakutas were other major power in southern India. They all claim to have overrun the Cheras. A number of inscriptions mentions their victories over the kings of Cheras.[44][45] [46] Small buffer kingdoms, such as that of the Ay-Vels, oscillated their allegiance in these period between major rulers.[47][48][49] By 8th century CE, Chera kingdom seems to have divided into two separate polities, one based at Karur in central Tamil Nadu and the other one based at Kodungallur in Kerala. Royal inscriptions, the major source of information about the rulers of this period, obnoxiously refer both clans as the Cheras. Identification of the Cheras in each record is a matter of major scholarly discourse.[9][10]

The Chera kingdom and chieftaincies, c. 11th century.[50]

Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas) (c. 9th - 12th century AD)[edit]

A line of rulers, described in royal charters and temple inscriptions as the Chera kings, are known to have ruled what is now Kerala between c. 8th and 12th century AD.[3] The base of their rule was the city of Makotai/Vanchi (Sanskrit: Mahodayapura), modern Kodungallur. The history of Kerala during this period is an active area of scholarly research and debate. Historians tend to identify Nayanar saint Cherman Perumal and Alwar saint Kulasekhara Alwar with some of the earliest rulers of this kingdom.[51][52]

The Cheras of Kodungallur were intermittently subject to the Pandyas and the Chola Empire. They strategically fought battles and formed alliances with the Pandyas and the Cholas.[53][54] The Chera kingdom was eventually dissolved in 12th century, and most of its autonomous chiefdoms became independent. Venadu in southern Kerala was one of these daughter states. [55][56][57][3] In the modern period the rulers of Cochin and Travancore (in Kerala) also claimed the title "Chera".[13]

The Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas) according to:
Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai[58] M. G. S. Narayanan[59]
  • Kulashekhara Varma (c. 800–c.820 CE)
  • Rajashekhara (c. 820–844 CE)
  • Sthanu Ravi Varma (844–c. 885 CE)
  • Rama Varma (c. 885–917 CE)
  • Kota Ravi Varma (917–947 CE)
  • Indu Kota Varma (944–962 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varma I (962–1019 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varma II (979–1021 CE)
  • Vira Kerala (1021–c. 1028 CE)
  • Rajasimha (c. 1028–c.1043 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi Varma III (c. 1043–c.1082 CE)
  • Ravi Rama Varma (c. 1082–1090 CE)
  • Rama Varma Kulashekhara (1090–1102 CE)
  • Rama "Rajasekhara" (c. 800–844 CE)
  • Sthanu Ravi "Kulasekhara" (c. 844–883 CE)
  • Kota Ravi "Vijayaraga" (c. 883–913)
  • Kota Kota "Kerala Kesari" (c. 913–c.943 CE)
  • Indu Kota (943–962 CE)
  • Bhaskara Ravi "Manukuladitya" (962–1021)
  • Ravi Kota "Rajasimha" (c. 1021– c.1036 CE)
  • Raja Raja (c. 1036–1089 CE)
  • Ravi Rama "Rajaditya" (c. 1036–1089 CE)
  • Adityan Kota "Ranaditya" (c. 1036–1089 CE)
  • Rama "Kulasekhara" (1089–1122 CE)

Venadu Cheras[edit]

When the Kodungallur Chera (Kulasekhara) kingdom was eventually dissolved in 12th century, most of its autonomous chiefdoms including Venad became independent.[55][56][57][3] The rulers of Venadu, based out of the port of Kollam in southern Kerala, claimed their ancestry from the Kodungallur Cheras.[10] The Venad rulers had an oscillating relationship with their powerful eastern neighbours, the Pandyas of Madurai. With Kolathunadu in northern Kerala, it remained the most significant kingdom in Kerala till the emergence of the Zamorin's of Kozhikode.[60] Ravi Varma Kulasekhara, the most ambitious ruler of Kollam, carried out a successful military expedition to Pandya and Chola lands in the early 14th century AD.[14] [61]

The rulers of Venad owed their importance to exchange of spices and other products with the Middle Eastern and Chinese merchants.[62][63][64][65] Venetian adventurer Marco Polo claimed to have visited Venad capital Kollam, a major centre of commerce and trade with East and West Asia. European colonisers arrived at Kollam the late fifteenth century, primarily in pursuit of the Indian spices and textiles.[65][66][67][37] In Venad royal family, like most of other royal houses in Kerala, law of succession followed was based on matrilineal inheritance. The eldest son of the sister of the ruling king, not his own son, had the legal right to ascend the throne after the death of the king.[68][69][70]

In the modern period, the rulers of Venad paid an annual tribute to the rulers of Madurai.[71][72] By this time, the old state of Venad was divided into several autonomous collateral branches such as Trippappoor (Travancore), Elayadathu, (Kottarakara), Desinganad (Kollam), and Peraka Thavazhi (Nedumangad).[73][74][75] In the 18th century, Marthanda Varma (1706–1758), of the Trippappoor (Travancore), successfully developed the state of Travancore. Varma routed all of major Nair nobles in Travancore, organised a standing army, defeated most of the chiefdoms in central Kerala, entered into strategic alliances with Europeans, supported Kerala traders in the place of the Europeans, and eventually formed one of the first modern states of southern India.[76] In the modern period the rulers of Travacore also claimed the title "Chera".[13]


The extend and nature of state formation of the Chera kingdoms, from ancient period to early modern period, cannot be interpreted neither in a linear nor in a monochromatic way. Each ruling family had its own political prestige and influence in southern India over their life spans.[9][78]

The extend of state formation in the Sangam period southern India is a matter of considerable debate among historians.[4] Although earlier historians visualised Sangam polities as full-fledged kingdoms, some of the recent studies rule out the possibility of state formation.[3][2][79] Reaching any conclusions based on the Sangam poems and archaeological evidences is another topic disagreement.[80][81] It is assumed that the institution of sabha in south Indian villages, for local administration, was first surfaced during the Sangam period.[42]


The Early Chera economy can be described as a predominantly "pastoral-cum-agrarian" based system. The emphasis on agriculture increased with time, and provided base for larger economic change.[42]

Spice trade[edit]

Silk Road (Red) and Spice Routes (Blues)

Indian Ocean spice trade with the "Yavanas" and trade with the north India provided considerable economic momentum for Chera polity. Overseas trade was the major economic activity.[42]

Chera spice exchange with the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean (Graeco-Roman) navigators can be traced back to before the Common Era and was substantially consolidated in the early years of the Common Era.[2][82][83] In the 1st century of the Common Era, the Romans conquered Egypt, which helped them to establish dominance in the Indian Ocean spice trade. The earliest Graeco-Roman accounts referring to the Cheras are by Pliny the Elder in the 1st century CE, in Periplus Maris Erythraei of the 1st century CE, and by Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE.[18]

The Periplus Maris Erythraei portrays the trade in the territory of Keprobotras in detail. Muziris (Tamil: Muchiri) was the most important centre in the Malabar Coast, which according to the periplus, abounded with large ships of Romans, Arabs and Greeks. Bulk spices, ivory, timber, pearls and gems were exported from the Chera region to the Middle East and Mediterranean kingdoms.[84]

It is known that the Romans brought vast amounts of gold in exchange for black pepper.[2][85][86][87] This is testified by the Roman coin hoards that have been found in various parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Pliny the Elder, in the 1st century CE, laments about the drain of Roman gold into India and China for luxuries such as spices, silk and muslin. The spice trade across the Indian Ocean dwindled with the decline of the Roman empire in the c. 3rd-4th centuries CE.[2] With the exit of the Mediterraneans in the spice trade, their space was picked up by the Chinese and Arab navigators.[3]

Society and culture[edit]

Early Cheras[edit]

In general Sangam poems reflect the Dravidian cultural tradition as well as elements of the arrival of the northern Indian/Sanskritic cultural tradition, which by now was beginning to come into contact with the Tamilakam.[42] It is logical to conclude that most of the Chera population followed native Dravidian religions.[88] Religious practise consisted predominantly in conducting sacrifices to various gods, such as to the pre-eminent god Murugan.[42] The worship of departed heroes was also a common practice in the Chera territory, along with tree worship and other kinds of ancestor worship. The war goddess Kottavai was propitiated with elaborate offerings of meat and toddy. It is theorised that Kottavai was assimilated into the present-day form of the goddess Durga.[88] It is thought that the first wave of Brahmin migration came to the Chera territory around the 3rd century BCE with or behind the Jain and Buddhist missionaries. It was only in the c. 8th century CE that the Aryanisation of the Chera country reached its organised form.[89] Though the vast majority of the population followed native Dravidian practices, a small percentage of the population, mainly migrants, followed Jainism, Buddhism and Brahmanism. These three philosophies came from regions in northern India to the Chera territory.[88] Populations of Jews and Christians were also known to have lived in Kerala.[90][91][92]

Sangam literature does make a number of references to social stratification, as expressed by use of the word kudi (“group”) to denote "caste".[42] A striking feature of the social life of the Sangam period is the high status accorded to women.[93] [79]

Agriculture and pastoralism were the primary occupations of the people. Various agricultural occupations such as harvesting, threshing and drying are described in the Sangam literature. Poets and musicians were held in high regard in society. Sangam literature is full of references about the lavish patronage extended to court poets. There were professional poets and poetesses who composed poems praising their patrons and were generously rewarded for this.[94]

Kodungallur Cheras (Kulasekharas)[edit]

A Kodungallur Chera (Kulasekhara) copper plate grant in Old Malayalam

A cultural identity different from the Tamil-speaking people in the east of Western Ghat mountains gradually emerged in Kerala in the medieval period. Oldest forms of Malayalam language also are attested in the era of Kulasekharas. Organised forms of Namboothiri-Brahmin influence in all aspects of life in Kerala also emerged during this period. A new calendar system, known as Kollam Era, is also seen in medieval Kerala.[3][95][96] The famous Advaita philosopher, Shankara, was born at Kaladi on the banks of Periyar.[97] A multicultural and multi-ethnic society, with the presence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, coexisted in relative peaceful conditions in Kerala. Several notable literary works in Sanskrit and Tamil were composed during this period under the patronage of the Chera rulers (who themselves indulged in authoring several works).[98]

Kodungallur was centre of learning and science in medieval period.[99] An observatory functioned at the capital under the charge of Shankara Narayana (c. 840 – c. 900 AD), an astronomer in the court of Chera king Sthanu Ravi.[100] Narayana is the author of Laghu Bhaskariya Vyakha, a commentary on the works of Bhaskara I (early 6th century AD), a disciple of the famous polymath Aryabhata himself. We can find references to an instrument called "Rashi Chakra" marked by a "Yanthra Valaya" in Laghu Bhaskariya Vyakha. This instrument might be the same as the Gola Yanthra or Chakra Yanthra mentioned by Aryabhata. The Chakra Yanthra was developed further and called Phalaka Yanthra by Bhaskara I.[9] It seems that arrangements had been made in the city for recording correct time and announcing it to the public from different centres by the tolling of bells at regular intervals of a ghatika (25 minutes). This practice - known as nazhikakkottu - continued until the early 15th century.[101]

Much like of the Sangam period Cheras, Chera rulers of Kodungallur heavily depended on the spice trade for sustaining their economy. The Chera state had extensive trade relations with regions in the Middle East and China. The region acted as connecting hub for the merchants from western and eastern parts of Asia. The important Kerala ports of this period were Panthalayani Kollam, Kodungallur, Kollam, and Vizhinjam. Arab travellers who visited the Malabar Coast during the period have testified to the high degree of economic prosperity achieved from foreign trade. A number of copper-plates charters and inscriptions testify to the high importance given to trade guilds.[102] [103] The intimate relations of the Chera rulers and their feudatories with Jews and Christian merchants are seen in Cochin Jewish Copper Plate[104][105] (c. 1000 AD) and Tharisa Palli Copper Plates (c. 849 AD).[103][106][107]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Citing Komattil Achutha Menon, Ancient Kerala, p. 7[15]
  2. ^ Citing Komattil Achutha Menon, Ancient Kerala, p. 7[15]
  3. ^ According to Menon, this etymology of "added" or "reclaimed" land also complements the Parashurama myth about the formation of Kerala. In it, Parashurama, one of the avatars of Vishnu, flung his axe across the sea from Gokarnam towards Kanyakumari (or vice versa) and the water receded up to the spot where it landed, thus creating Kerala.[16]
  4. ^ Citing Komattil Achutha Menon, Ancient Kerala, p. 7[15]


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  6. ^ Menon 2007, p. 65.
  7. ^ Karashima 2014, p. 30.
  8. ^ Menon 2007, p. 73.
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  12. ^ Noburu Karashmia (ed.), A Concise History of South India: Issues and Interpretations. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2014
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  14. ^ a b Thapar 2004, p. 368.
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