#Poonjeri - A Pallava Sea-port near Mamallapuram!

#Mamallapuram, the famous centre of #Pallava art, is also said to have been a sea-port right from the beginning of the Common Era!
#Perumpanarruppadai, one of the #Sangam classics written by the poet 'Katiyalur Uruthiran Kannanar' refers to a place called #Nirpeyar, the city which abounds in sea-borne goods as an active sea-port of 'Tondaiman llanthiraiyan' of #Kanchi!

The place called #Malange mentioned by #Ptolemy, a Greek Geographer of the 2nd Century CE may be #Mamallapuram!

On the basis of the find of #Roman coins of #Theodosius (4th Century CE) at #Mamallapuram had contact with countries beyond the sea, particularly with #Roman Empire!
But the first authentic evidence to prove that #Mamallapuram was a sea-port comes from the Tamil work "Periya Tirumozhi" written by "Tirumangai Alwar" (8th Century CE) who described this place as "Kadal Mallai"

Where the ships rode at anchor bent to the point of breaking laden as they were with wealth, big trunked elephants and gems of nine varieties in heaps!

The epigraphical sources also say that the #Pallava kings had active contacts, cordial as well as inimical with... 1/2
The nations like #Ceylon, #China and the South-East Asian Countries!

These maritime activities were most probably carried on through #Mamallapuram, the notable sea-port of the #Pallavas throughout their rule...! 2/2
From the few references made above, it is clear that #Mamallapuram flourished as a sea-port atleast during the #Pallava period, though the early existence of this place as such is yet to be proved with other concrete evidences.
Then there arises the interesting but difficult question as to the exact location of the sea-port!

Fortunately a small village called #Poonjeri, seems to answer this question!
This village is situated just 15 kms, west of #Mamallapuram on the western bank of the Buckingham canal, which is the back-waters of the sea!

The reasons for identifying the ancient sea-port at #Poonjeri are as follows:
1) The name #Poonjeri known in ancient times as Puhum-Ceri, which means “The Village of First Entry”.

So the very name of the village itself indicates that it was a place, where the ships used to enter with loads of gems & big trunked elephants as mentioned by Tirumangai Alwar!
Likewise the #Kaveripoompattinam, the famous sea-port of the Early Cholas is also the corrupt version of #Kaveripoompattinam which means, “The Pattinam where Kaveri enters to the Sea"
2) Previous excavations and explorations of ancient sea-ports at #Arikamedu, #Alagankulam, #Korkai etc., prove that they are all situated either in the backwaters area or at the mouth of the rivers which join the sea at #Kaveripoompattinam!
The whatf where the boats used to be anchored is found only on the bank of the river #Kaveri!

#Poonjeri is also situated in the back waters area (now known as Buckingham canal) near #Mamallapuram!
The back-water joins the sea at about 2 to 3 kms south of #Mamallapuram!

Probably the boats in the early days might have entered the land at the point where the backwater join the sea and came to #Poonjeri through the channel formed by backwaters!
3) The huge buried remains of Structures and Ceramic varieties of the Early Historic and Early Medieval period found at this site on the western bank of the backwaters (Buckingham canal) prove its flourishing existence in the past!
4) A few metres away, towards the Western side of the Buckingham Canal is a Small Knoll!

Running throughout on the western side of this has been noticed a set of 3 to 4 deep-cut lines like #Grooves!
It is most likely that these were meant to receive the first course of any foundation for a fortification wall!

Similar type of #Grooves are also noticed running throughout the western edge of the hills at #Mamallapuram, apparently for the same purpose!
On the northern side, these grooves take turn towards east near the Kotikal Mandapam, which is dedicated to Goddess Durga, known in Tamil inscriptions as “Vadavayil Selvi”, i.e. the Goddess of northern quarters!
So it is quite possible that the Pallavas excavated a cave-temple to Goddess Durga on the northern side of their fort!

In #Poonjeri the purpose of the fortification may be to store the imported and exported cargo during the Pallava’s times!
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