|DS Division||Valikamam South|
Chunnakam (Tamil: சுன்னாகம், Sinhala: හුණුගම Hunugama) is a town, located six miles north of the city of Jaffna. It is one of the important commercial centers in Jaffna. The original name of Chunnakam is Mayilani.
In Northern Sri Lanka, Chunnakam is only second to Jaffna in terms of population density and commercial activities in and around its neighborhoods.
According to Tamil scholars, name Chunnakam derived from two Tamil words, Chunnam+Gramam, Chunnam means Limestone and Gramam means village, Limestone are widely found in the nearby areas, on the contrary some Sinhala scholars argue the word Chunnakam is from the Sinhala origin as 'Gama' in Sinhala means village and they also argue in Chunnakam. However, the claims did not yield any scientific proofs to substantiate their claims to be true. One of the great Sri Lanka Tamil poets, Kumarasamy pulavar gave a new definition to its name in his poem beginning as முடிவில்லா துறை சுன்னாகத்தான் வழி ... , from which, scholars believe that the rising Sun from the East reflecting on the temple of Siva located on the presentday station road, has the impression of seeing a shinny mountain, which is presumably the Heaven, the home of Lord Siva made him to inspire for the poem mentioned above here, சுன்னாகம் can be divided into two parts of nouns as சுல் + நாகம் = சுன்னாகம், where சுல் means silver and நாகம் means mountain giving the compound noun the meaning as "Shinny Mountain"
Regardless, historically in the recent centuries Chunnakam has been an area dominated mostly by Sri Lankan Tamils and up until the 80's there was a small Sinhala population from the south along with Indian Tamils, Moors, and other South Indian Non-Tamils such as Malayalis lived in Chunnakam area.
This ethnic diversity among its residents gave Chunnakam a characteristic of a major city.
Chunnakam is about 5 miles2 in area as it has Punnalai Kadduvan on its East, Uduvil on its South, Sandilipay on its West and Mallakam on its North as bordering villages. Chunnakam has population of about 60,000.
Main attraction of Chunnakam is its super massive produce market, the largest in Sri Lanka with overcrowded human traffic overflowing in its streets thus causing frequent traffic jams along the KKS road, especially on traditional fairdays such as Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On a typical fair day it takes a vehicle to arrive to Chunnakam central bus station from the public library located a quarter mile apart along KKS road, about painstaking 30 minutes.
Regardless of the importance of this great town it was never given the status Urban, even though places like Valvettithurai, which is nowhere close to the might of Chunnakam by any means, enjoy the Urban Status. Currently Chunnakam is governed by Uduvil regional development council.
Unlike other places in Northern Sri Lanka, people of Chunnakam also adapted to diversive political beliefs. During the days of Town Council era, residents always preferred candidates from LSSP to Federal party or Tamil congress and in the 1982 presidential election, the then JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera collected majority votes within Manipay constituency from the two poll booths in Chunnakam only.
There was even a popular rumor about Mr. Wijeweera being kept in a secret place in Chunnakam when he was wanted by the Sri Lankan government following the infamous uprising by his men in the late 80's. However, that turned out to be untrue as he was captured in a place in the central province.
Places of worship
There are quite a few worship places within the town limits of Chunnakam.
Notable Hindu temples in Chunnakam
- [Sri Kathiramalai Sivan Devasthanam] www.chunnakamkathiramalaisivan.com (Established by Tamil King UkiraRajasinkan)
- Maylani Annamaar (Annamageswarar) Temple
- Maylani Sivan Temple
- Maylani Murugan Temple
- Mylani Vadali Amman Temple
- Choolani Yana Vairavar Temple
- Paruthikalati Vairavar Temple
- Chunnakam Iyanar Temple
- Chunnakam Pillayar Temple
Notable Christian Churches in Chunnakam
- St.Antony's Parish Catholic Church in Chunnakam (www.chunnakamstantonys.com)
- St.Mary's Catholic Church In Erlalai
- St.Mary's Catholic Church in Uduvil
Notable Colleges and Other Schools in Chunnakam
- Skandavarodaya College, Kanderodai, Chunnakam.
- Sir Pon Ramanathan College, Maruthanarmadam, Chunnakam.
It also serves as a campus of University of Jaffna for Faculty of Finearts
- All Girls High School, Uduvil, Chunnakam.
It is one of the few ivy-league schools found in entire Sri Lanka.
- Mylani Saiva Vidyalayam (Middle School)
- Nakeswari Vidyasalai (Primary School)
- Roman Catholic Mixed School (Primary School)
- St. Antony's Kindergarten (Run by St. Antony's Parish)
Late Mr Ponnar Nagalingam of the leftist political party LSSP was elected Chairman of Chunnakam Town Council from its inception till it was dissolved by UNP government in late seventies.
- Yaalpaana Charithram by A.Mutthuthambipillai, p.123,Tamil Mann Publication