Saurashtra people

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India Sourashtra people
Total population
c. 510,000 (1997 IMA), although the actual number could be double this figure or even more.
Regions with significant populations

Sourashtra or "Patnūlkarar" refers to a community of people who speak the Saurashtra language. They had their original homes in Gujarat and migrated to Madurai and other places of Tamil Nadu. The origin of the name date backs to the time when the ancestors of these people inhabited the kingdom of Sourashtra in Gujarat.[1] The Tamil name by which these people is known in Southern India is Patnūlkarar, that is silk-thread workers or weavers who speak "Pattunuli" or "Khatri", a dialect of Gujarati.[2] The details about Sourashtra community is discussed by A.J. Saunders.[3] The Bhagavata calls the Abhiras as Saurastra. The Bhagavata calls the Abhiras as saurastra and Avantyas rulers (Saurastra-Avantya-Abhira) and the Vishnu treats the Abhiras as occupying the Saurastra and Avantil provinces.[4][5] Sourashtra-Patnūlkarar wear the sacred thread and are brahmins but belong to linguistic minorities. Sourashtrians are veggies by birth and their ancestral origin is Gujarat.


The word Palkar means "silk-thread people". These people are first mentioned as Pattavayaka, the Sanskrit equivalent of Patnulkaran in the Mandasor inscriptions of Kumaragupta belonging to the 5th century AD. They are also mentioned by the same name in the inscriptions of Rani Mangamma of Madurai.

Oral tradition says that, Saurashtrians migrated after the fall of 'Somnath Temple' when Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India. It is said that the Saurashtrians lived for about two centuries in northern regions of modern day Maharashtra and later moved to Vijayanagar Empire by the invitation of the Kings. Saurashtrians were highly skilled manufacturers of fine silk garments and were patronized by the Kings and their families. They were welcomed by the Naicker Kings of Madurai and were allowed to settle near the King's palace.

Geographical distribution[edit]

The speakers of the Saurashtra language, known as Saurashtrians, maintain a predominant presence in Madurai, a city, also known as 'Temple City' in the southern part of Tamil Nadu. Though official figures are hard to come by, it is believed that the Saurashtra population is anywhere between one-fourth and one-fifth of the city's total population.[citation needed] They are also present in significant numbers in Karnataka (Bangalore), Thanjavur, Ambur, Dindigul, Periyakulam, Paramakudi, Erode, Palani, kancheepuram, Rajapalayam, Nilakottai, Salem, Namakkal, Singapore,[malaysia-kualalumpur] Chennai, Trichy, Pudukkottai, Kumbakonam, Thiruvarur, Ayyampettai, Ammapettai, Dharasuram, Thirubhuvanam, Ammayappan, Bhuvanagiri cuddalore district, Walaja, Arni, Tiruvannamalai, Palayamkottai, Krishnapuram, Veeravanalur, Vellanguli Tirunelveli,pondicherry and Kottar in Nagercoil.Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh is said to house several Saurashtrian families, known as Pattusali

Saurashtras in Tamil Nadu[edit]

Patnūlkaras are mostly concentrated in the city of Madurai. H. A. Stuart writes that there were also large Patnūlkara communities in Emaneswaram Tirupathi, Arni, Vellore, Tiruchirapalli and Thanjavur. There are three group of migrants living Tamil Nadu. First migrants came to Salem Second migrant group settled Tanjore and surrounding places and third later migrants settled Madurai and surrounding places.

The noted Tamil playback and devotional music singer, T.M. Soundararajan, cited his Saurashtrian roots and upbringing for his mellifluous enunciation and rendition of Tamil music on a Television interview in the 1990s.

Notable Saurashtra people[edit]




The mother tongue of Patnūlkaras is Khatri or Patnūli or Saurashtra, a dialect of Gujarati with the mix of marathi but most of them can speak Tamil or Telugu or one of the local languages.


In recent times, the rising awareness about Saurashtra language among the young generation has led to the publication of magazines in Saurashtra language. The following is the list of magazines currently published in Saurashtra language

  • Bhashabhimani
  • sourashtratime e-journal
  • Zeek
  • Sourashtra Mithran
  • Sourashtra Samachar


  1. ^ J.S. Venkatavarma, Sourashtra Charitra Sangraham (Madura, 1915)
  2. ^ Gazetter of the Madura District (Madras, 1914), I, 74, 110.
  3. ^ "The Sourashtra Community in Madurai, South India", Albert James Saunders, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 32, No. 5 (Mar. 1927) PP. 787-799, published by: The University of Chicago Press.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Yadavas Through the Ages-page146


External links[edit]

  • Sourashtraonline [1]
  • []