Tuesday 8 October 2019

Karikala Cholan's Achievement In Stopping The Overflow of Kaveri River

Karikaala Cholan and Kallanai Dam.This article is not about Kallanai Dam.Image purposed as an eye-candy
The Kaveri river flooded the nation annually,such that the lower valley of the river got coined as ' Punal noodu' - the land of floods. ( Punal = water ) 

Karikala Cholan constructed embankments for the river and solved the issue.The Pattinappaalai ( A Tamizh poetic work of Sangam period ) briefly quotes Karikalan who dug tanks which increased the land's prosperity :

குளங் தொட்டு வளம் பொருக்கி


By the same token, the copper plates in Thiruvalangadu ( a village in India ) of the VI year of Rajendra Chola I mentions the advent of Karikaalan in constructing embankments for the Kaveri river.

Thiruvaalangadu - houses one of the 32 revered Shaiva temples in Tondaimandalam.You can find its reference in Thirumurai

Let's look at what the literature has to say about the prosperity of Kaaveri.

The closing lines of Porunaraatruppadai ( another Sangam literature ) by Mudattaamakkanniyaar describes the mesmerising yield of the river : 

கூனிக் குயத்தின் வாய் நெல் அரிந்து
சூடு கோடாகப் பிறக்கி நாள் தொறும்
குன்று எனக் குவைஇய குன்றாக் குப்பை

Porunaraatruppadai  242-248

Meaning : They reaped paddy with the edges of their sickles by bending their backs.They made heaps of rice-sheaves as high as hills and stacked the paddy daily in never-decreasing ricks which looked like hills.

நுரைத்தலைக் குரைப்புனல் வரைப்புஅகம் புகுதொறும் புனல் ஆடு மகளிர்

Porunaraatruppadai 240-241

Meaning : Women bathe in the foamy and roaring waters when it enters the bound area.

Such a glorious depiction of Kaveri is only possible if Karikaalan had intelligently regulated the flow of the river.

Ceylonese Labour

Late Ceylonese legendary chronicles describe how Karikaalan invaded Ceylon and brought back thousands of coolies.

Vincent Arthur Smith theorises that these coolies helped with the embankment process. However, our Irish historian presents a loophole here. He adds that Karikaalan founded Kaaveri Pattinam 

This is not possible because Kaaveri Pattinam existed long before the times of Karikaalan. It is even quoted in Jaataka Tales.

Kaveri Pattinam

Hence,one cannot be sure if Karikaalan used Ceylonese manpower to achieve his task.In fact,it is quite impossible to use literature as a source to estimate the length of the embankment as well.

Nevertheless,Karikaalan's contribution is definitely inspiring.

Remembering Ganesha who took the form of a crow to topple Sage Agastya's water bottle - which initiated the flow of Kaveri and the name attributed to it ( Kaa in Kaveri is in reference to Kaaka ( crow in Tamizh ) because our naughty boy became a crow.


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