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Official language Tamil
House Velir (Satyaputo) - Fraternity of Truth
Family Dynasties *Athiyamān
*Vēl Pāri
*Vēl Āviyar
*Ilanji Vel

The Velir were a royal house of minor dynastic kings and aristocratic chieftains in Tamilakam in the early historic period of South India.[1][2][3] They were vassals and rivals of the Ventars (Chera, Chola and Pandya kings).[4] They had close relations with them through marriages and coronation rights.[5][6]


According to the Tholkappiyam, the earliest work of Tamil literature, the Velirs came from the city of Dwarka under the leadership of sage Agastya and may have belonged to the Yadava clan.[2][7][8]

Potsherds with early Tamil writing from the 2nd century BCE found in excavations in Poonagari, Jaffna bear several inscriptions, including the clan name "vela", a name related to "velir" from the ancient Tamilakam.[9]

Velir chiefs[edit]

Athiyamān Nedumān Añci and his son Ezhini, were Adigaman chieftains, based in Thagadur. They were contemporaries of Auvaiyar. The Sangam poem "Thagadur yathirai", now lost, was written about his battle with the Chera king.[1] Another Velir was Irunkōvēl who ruled from Koval (modern day Tirukovilur) on the banks of the Pennai, (the present Ponnaiyar River) which presently discharges into the sea at Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu. It is likely that the course of the river has changed to the south over many centuries. Other Velir chiefs of repute include Alumbil Vel, Alandur Vel and Nangur Vel.[10]

The most famous Velir dynasty was the Athiyamān dynasty, and this dynasty's powerful and most famous king was Athiyamān Nedumān Añci. His son Elini ruled Kudiramalai of the ancient Jaffna kingdom and Vanni, a co-ruling contemporary of the famous king Korran. These kings belonged to a prolific Tamil horseman tribe.[11][12] The ancient Tamil Naka Oviyar tribe of the Velir house, whose nation stretched to the Tamil emporiums of Mantai and Kudiramalai, included the king Nalliyakkotan who ruled this region and is paid tribute to in the Ciṟupāṇāṟṟuppaṭai.[citation needed]

Each of the Velir dynasties ruled from their own capitals and utilized the seaport of Arikamedu.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Chattopadhyaya, Brajadulal (2009). A Social History of Early India. CSC and Pearson Education. pp. 31–32. ISBN 9788131719589. The Vēlir chiefs/heroes are the subject of many puram poems, and were considered to be chiefs of hill tribes, who frequently indulged in cattle raids into the plains... What is clear about these chiefs is that they held their own lands in relative independence from the 'crowned kings' and that the Tamil country was dotted with numerous such tribal principalities clustered around modern Salem, Dharmapuri, Pudukkottai, Nagercoil, Kanyakumari districts and the hilly districts of Kerala...the poems do not indicate that the Vēlir were the chieftains of the agricultural tracts 
  2. ^ a b Mahadevan, Iravatham (2009). "Meluhha and Agastya : Alpha and Omega of the Indus Script" (PDF). Chennai, India. p. 16. The Ventar-Velir-Velalar groups constituted the ruling and land-owning classes in the Tamil country since the beginning of recorded history and betray no trace whatever of an Indo-Aryan linguistic ancestry 
  3. ^ Fairservis, Walter Ashlin (1992) [1921]. The Harappan civilization and its writing. A model for the decipherment of the Indus Script. Oxford & IBH. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-81-204-0491-5. 
  4. ^ Upinder, Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. India. p. 384. Apart from the Vendar, there were number of chieftains known as Velir... The kings and chieftains often fought against each other by forming alliances. The lesser rulers no doubt had to pay tribute to the more powerful counterparts. 
  5. ^ Venkatasubramanian, T. K. (1986). Political Change and Agrarian Tradition in South India. Delhi: Mittal Publications. pp. 63–67. 
  6. ^ Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta (1955). The Colas. Madras University historical series. 9. University of Madras. p. 49. 
  7. ^ Shashi, S. S. (1989). Encyclopedia of Indian Tribes. p. 216. 
  8. ^ Pivot politics: changing cultural identities in early state formation processes By M. van Bakel page 165: "The Velir were an instrusive group in South India... It is now suggested that (...) may have been associated with the Yadava of Dvaraka..."[1]
  9. ^ Mahadevan, Iravatham (2003). Early Tamil Epigraphy: From the Earliest Times to the Sixth Century A.D. Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-674-01227-1. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  10. ^ Seneviratne, Sudharshan (1994). "The Twilight of the Perumakan: South Indian Polity Restructured and Incorporated". In van Bakel, Martin; Hagesteijn, Renée; van de Velde, Piet. Pivot Politics: Changing Cultural Identities in Early State Formation Processes. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis. p. 172. ISBN 978-90-5589-007-1. 
  11. ^ Historical heritage of the Tamils, page 256
  12. ^ Kolappa Pillay Kanakasabhapathi Pillay. (1963). South India and Ceylon. University of Madras. pp. 39

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