Nagappattinam – A medieval port of South India

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Nagappattinam – A medieval port of South India


Nagappattinam, a famous sea port of the imperial Cholas, is presently the headquarters of a District in Tamil Nadu, India. During the medieval Period, under the imperial Cholas, this port city played a vital role politically, commercially and culturally. From the time of the Pallavas of Kanchipuram around 8th century CE, the port city was referred to as Nagai. Though we do not get any direct reference from the records of the Pallavas, there is an inscription on a stone slab in the Naganathar temple at Nagappattinam that refers to donation of gold to the temple of Naganathar by a big smith probably a goldsmith of the town Nagai. The sacred saivite literature Teevaram refers to the port city as being fortified by big walls and the ships like vangam anchored in the harbor of Ten Nagai. In the succeeding period this city flourished as a main port of the imperial Cholas where the Chola Navy was stationed. During the time of Rajendra Chola I (1012-1018 CE) the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola I (985-1014 CE) crossed the Bay of Bengal with his Navy from seaport of Nagappattinam and conquered Kedah in the year 1017 CE. During the times of Vijayanagar, Nayaks and Dutch East India Company, the port was busy with foreign trade. This paper traces the emergence of the port city and Maritime contacts to Southeast Asian Countries in the medieval period in the light of available inscriptional and literary evidences in detail.


S. Rajavelu, in Van Tilburg, H., Tripati, S., Walker Vadillo, V., Fahy, B., and Kimura, J. (eds.)





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