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Thread: The great significance of Kodungallur of Kerala - Part 4

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    The great significance of Kodungallur of Kerala - Part 4

    (7) The Musiri the earliest known seaport city of Kerala near Kodungallur

    The Musiri is the earliest known seaport city of the Kerala (Chera Kothai) kings at the estuary of the confluence of three rivers, at the present Alikode in west Kerala adjacent to the sea.

    The scenic description of the then Musiri port is seen in the contemporary period Tamil Literary work "Puranaanooru" as follows: :

    “…..With the fish piled up and the paddy heaped within the elevated house of boats (ambi) with the pepper bags (too) within this house (outer) fortification, brought the load to the shore of the sea where the seaport Musiri was situated possibly along the rivers (undoubtedly along Aan Porunai, Chulliam Periyaaru, and Chalakkudi), (where) the ships with gifts of gold (too) brought to shore by small ships (thoni) – (thus) the products of hills and the seas unloaded and distributed to those who came there (for trading) was the Kuttuvan’s Musiri (port) with noise of the roaring sea…..”.

    The Greeks and the Romans with the discovery of the favourable wind named "Hippalus" (in A.D.47), travelled to the nearest seaport of India namely the Musiri in much quicker time of forty days from the Ocelis port of Arabia.

    The first known reference to Musiri from the external sources comes from the Roman Historian named Pliny in A.D.77, who refers that:

    "....Musiri as a seat of goverment under the rule of Chera kings was a seaport city at the height of prosperity frequented by ships and was of leading importance. Muziris of the Cheras abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia and of Greeks. From the Tamil historical sources we note this king was the Imayavaramban Neduncheralathan (A.D.74 - 132)....."

    Further reference to Muziris is made in A.D.100 by a Greek historian named Periplus who states:

    “….Musiri was not a desirable place of call, with pirates being in the neighbourhood who occupied a place called Nitrias (the Naruvu as known to Tamils north of Musiri occupied by Kadambar) and besides it is not well supplied with wares for traffic. Ships besides anchor at a great distance from the shore and cargoes have to be landed and shipped by employing boats. During this time the Caelobothras (Keralaputhra) was the sovereign of that country…..”

    The Musiri being the seaport city of the Chera kingdom is also confirmed by Ptolemy in the year A.D.150. He refers to:

    ".....Musiri Emporium as a sea port city that was ruled at that time by Kerobothras....."

    which is a corruption of Cheraputhras or Keralaputhras, as found in the Asokan Inscriptions, meaning the people of Kerala (Chera) country.

    Further from the Ptolemy's geographical cordinates it is clear that the Muziris emporium a seaport city was situated immediately north and at the mouth of the Pseudostomos river, identified as the "specific reference" to the "AanPorunai river" (present Pullut river), entering the sea as a confluence of three rivers the other two being the Periyar and the Chalakkudi rivers.

    Hence the sea port city of the Chera Naadu of the first and second century A.D. known as Musiri could be very positively located at the river (mouth) estuary of the confluence of these three rivers the principal river among them being the Periyar river, where they meet the sea around the present Alikode region near the Kodungallur.

    The above are confirmed by the following References

    "….Kothai Musiriyar Koman....."

    Muththolaayiram – section 3 (on Cheras), verse 116

    “…..Meen noduththu nelkuvai yi
    misai ambiyin manai marukkunthu
    manaikkuvai iya kari moodaiyal
    kali summaiya karai kalak kurunthu
    kalam thantha pot parisam
    kalithoniyaan, karaiserkunthu
    malai thaaramum kadal thaaramum
    thalai peithu, varunarkku eeyum
    punal am kallin polanthaar Kuttuvan
    mulanghu kadal mulavin Musiri anna....."


    Puranaanooru – verse 343

    "....the voyage from Syagrus a cape in Arabia reckoned at 1335 miles, can be performed by aid of the west wind which is there called "Hippalus".....To those who are bound for India, Ocelis is the best place for embarkation. If the wind called Hippalus be blowing Muziris the nearest mart of India can be reached in forty days. It is not a desirable place of call, pirates being in the neighbourhood who occupied a place called Nitrias, and besides it is not well supplied with wares for traffic. Ships besides anchor at a great distance from the shore and cargoes have to be landed and shipped by employing boats. At the time I was writing this Caelobothras was the sovereign of that country......"

    Ancient India as described in Classical Literatue - translated by J.W. M'Crindle - page 111-112 (Natural History by Pliny (A.D.77), Vol 6, chapter on Geography of India

    "....Then follow Naura and Tyndis the first marts of Limyrike, and after these Muziris and Nelcynda the seats of Goverment. To the kingdom under the sway of Ceprobotras, Tyndis is subject, a village of great note situate near the sea. Muziris which pertains to the same realm is a city at the height of prosperity, frequented as it is by ships. It lies near a river at a distance from Tyndis of 500 stadia whether measured from river to river or by the length of the sea voyage and it is 20 stadia distant from the mouth of its own river. The distance of Nelcynda from Muziris is also nearly 500 stadia whether measured from river to river or by sea voyage but it belongs to Pandion......."

    Periplus Maris Erythraei - translated from Greek by J.W M'Crindle (extracted from Classical Accounts of India by R.C, Majumdar, Page 305)

    "......Then comes Naura and Tyndis, the first markets of Damirica, and then Muziris and Nelcynda which are now of leading importance. Tyndis is of the kingdom of Cerobothra, it is a village in plain sight by the sea. Muziris of the same kingdom abounds in ships sent there with cargoes from Arabia and by the Greeks. It is located on a river distant from Tyndis by river and sea five hundred stadia, and up the river from the shore 20 stadia. Nelcynda is distant from Muziris by river and sea five hundred stadia and is of another kingdom Pandian......"

    Mouziris, an emporium ...................................117 deg 14 deg
    Mouth of the river Pseudostomos.....................117 deg 20 min 14 deg


    The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea - translated from Greek by Wilfred H Schoff, page 44


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    Last edited by virarajendra; 2nd February 2011 at 05:49 PM.

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