Arunattan Malai (Karur - Tamil Nadu)

In search of ancient Tamizh – The Tamizh Brahmi Script Inscriptions

An article in the newspaper The Hindu about the place called Velayudhapalayam, where the Tamil Brahmi Script. Now what is that Tamizh Brahmi Script. It’s a very early Tamzh. The inception of Tamizh is unknown as I said in one of my earlier posts. Lemme lend a para from my own older posts which would be apt to include here as well. “The earliest written record of Tamil is more than 2000 years old. The manuscript called Tholkappiyam was a grammer book, which means the language must have been atleast a few thousand years older than that, that it has the grammer organized 2000 years ago. Amazing, isn’t it? This is the oldest language still surviving and has been recently awarded the classical language status. I am proud, that I know the language!!!”. Tamizh has kept on changing and so kept on surviving throughout.

Now, how was Tamizh some 1800-2000 yrs ago. It was pretty different than the modern Tamizh. Every letter has evolved since its inception. Tamizh Brahmi is the version or evolution of the language that existed at 1800-2000 yrs ago. Seeing the epitaphs of Brahmi Script was rather an emotional experience for me to know it’s a evolution of my language spoken by my ancestors.

Well, I should have gone there with a friend of mine. And my duty was to wake him up in the morning, as for sure he is not expected to wake up before 11 on a Sunday. I called him at 7:00 - No answer. 7:05 - No answer. 7:15. 7:30. 7:35. 7:40. And as time went on each time frame had increased no. of calls. At 7:40 I called him atleast 10 times. No answer. That’s it. I was done with it. I hopped into a bus and left for the place.

Getting down at Velayudhampalayam, I enquired the locals as usual about the temple. Oh ya, I didn’t tell you about the temple, right. Oh my, I didn’t even tell you about the little hillock. Ok. Well, Velayudhampalayam has this temple called Balasubramaniar Temple situated atop the hillock located in the centre of the township. Yup. It’s a township. It has the TNPL (Tamil Nadu Paper Ltd.) located very near. It was somewhere in this temple or somewhere enroute the flight of stairs were these inscriptions! I wasn’t sure of it.

I enquired route to the temple and I was questioned back – ‘Which Temple.?’. Very valid question in India. India has n number of temples in every place with several of them as ancient as atleast 1000 yrs old. I said “The temple on the Hillock”. I was directed to the Bala Subramania Swamy temple. It had a flight of stairs (I guess, about 400!!!) to take me up to the top of the hill to the temple.

There atop, the hard climb is justified – the view was exquisite. Atop was the Balasubrmaniar temple. This temple was built in 2nd C AD when the land for this temple was given by the then Chera King Nandi Verman. The legend says that when Lord Muruga rested here for a while enroute to Pazhani when he fought with his family for the Gnyana Pazham. However, the present structure here is very new. Older inscriptions & few sculptures have been kept here in the new structure.

Enroute the flight of stairs are the shrines of Malai Kaaval Iyan and Idumban. There atop in the temple are the shrines of Balasubramaniar, Minakshi, Sundareshwarar and Natarajar. Saint Arunagirinathar has sung hymns on this temple.

The temple has a park maintained by a local team. Also while renovating this temple few more interesting stories where sculpted out and set up all through the stairs.

This place is called Velayudhampalayam because of this temple. Lord Muruga has a weapon in his hand always which is called a Vel. Ayudham means weapon. So that is Velayudhampalayam. This place is also called Arnattan Malai, which mean it’s a natural hillock and not man made. This is also manipulated as Arunattan Malai which means the hillock which belongs to the 6 regions i.e this was centrally located to 6 regions. Other names for the place are Pugazhimalai, Pugazhiyur and Pugazhur.

I enquired the priest here about the Tamil Brahmi Script and he said it is locked up and the key is with the security guy who would be at the base of the hillock. Then he also said that the key might be with his bro who was the priest at the nearby Mariamman temple. No other go, I went down to find this security guy who was missing. So I went to the Mariamman Temple where the priest helped me out and I was back at the hillock. At this point my sweet friend who I failed to wake up in the morning called me up to say he was down with fever. Poor soul!!!

The gate to go to the caves is located near the Idumban Shrine. I was accompanied by the priest of Balasubramaniar Temple and we were there in the pathway that leads to the caves.

There are actually 2 caves and 4 gates. Heavy security to preserve our heritage!!! Passing through the first 2 gates took me to the first cave where first cave.

Enroute was this interesting tree here from atop which had its roots through the rocks and finally hanging atop my head!!!

Did I tell you these caves also had Jain Beds.? Samana Padukkaigal as it is called in Tamizh, these are flat surfaces chiseled out by the Jain Monks who resided here in the 1st & 2nd C AD. These were flat surfaces sculpted out of the rocks with an elevated portion for the head like a pillow. So creative, isn’t it.? Also are some little ridges carved out. These might have been used to light up lamps with oil and some cotton fabric.

Here was the first set of inscriptions. So brainy they are to create a little ridging of the rock all through its length and then inscribing their wordings. This ridging has helped the inscriptions to survive the harsh rains.

From there the third gate. Now the route is hardly little enough to hold a person. There was the second set of inscriptions.

The place has been completely fenced by the ASI (Archeological Survey of India). Before this protection, thanks to the local lovers, the place has been littered with hearts and couple names in paints of all colors. No more mess, this place is now well fenced and protected. The second cave is pretty clean without any human interface, thanks to the difficult path which leads to the place. Same reason for the existence of bats in here. The moment I entered the cave, the smell of bats was overwhelming. Something here reminded me of the purple hand of the Lord in Namakkal. The roof of the cave has a purple tinge here as well. May be the existence of a particular mineral in this part of the world which gives this color!!! Here was the second set of writings on the floor.

The trek here was worth it, the view was amazing. From here within reach was River Cauvery. The saints must have walked upto Cauvery for a holy dip. Now cauvery here has a bridge and forms the boundary between Namakkal dt. and Karur dt. Within visibility were TNPL and EID Parrys.

Somehow the view from here atop reminded me of the flight landing in Malaysia. A view which has just only the coconut trees all over. Just exquisite!!!

These 2 caves are natural caves i.e they were not dug up by humans. One was north facing and the other was south facing. Now you must have deciphered – the travel from one cave to the other is almost walking all around the hill. The incriptions here tell about regional heads Kottri, Karuvur Ponvikan, Natthi, Perunkeeran, Aathan etc. Also these inscriptions tell about King Ilankadungo, his dad Perunkadungo and his dad Ko Aathan Sellarumporai.

While returning, just before the second gate, I spotted another area where the inscriptions were present. Another panel of writings of my own ancestors in my own language!!! I was overwhelmed.

From here I could spot other must see places – Kollimalai & Kabilarmalai. The priest informed me that the temple has a huge crowd on the days of Thai Pusam and Sura Samharam. So if you’re planning to visit the caves & inscriptions avoid these dates as he may not accompany you!!!

6 flights up and down the 400 stairs in search of the key, the priest etc etc etc was not wasted!!! My heart was content with an overwhelming sense of happiness!!! Its worth it!!!!!


TO REACH HERE:

Very near to Karur, Tamil Nadu.

From Karur: 16km

Regular buses available. Buses towards Namakkal pass through Velayudhampalayam.


Ph no. of the priests here:

Kurukkal Chandru: +91 94435 51890

Kurukkal Ramesh: +91 99522 26444

Mr. Kannan of Thanthondrimalai ASI: +91 97905 32052

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

22 comments:

  1. great post. such interesting photos and information. I am not sure the rock beds would be comfortable though

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  2. Hey gr8 work pa...
    You are feeding us with valuable ,thanks a ton :)

    keep em comin
    cheers !!!

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  3. What a fantastic place this must be! The tree with long roots is simply amazing!

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  4. Hi

    Very informative trip.

    Interesting photos and text

    thanks

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  5. Bhushavali, the name i found in the profile hoping thats right?.
    I have gone through (almost) all your previous posts. I really feel great on visiting one such informative, entertaining and amazing display of the flavour and experience of your travels, trips and tours.
    As I decided to follow, I've even feel previleged to know that there were 99 followers and I wanted to be the 100th follower and so did I. All the previous comments for which you responded as 'flattering you' didn't actually, but did say the facts and you are really awesome and have tremendous quality of intricately involving yourself so much into experiencing the world around you. Wishes and God bless you.

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  6. great.... :) :) i've to check out this place :) :)

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  7. @Julie,
    Thanks for dropping by & commenting dear... I guess they didn't have many options in 1st &2nd C AD!!!

    @Sathish,
    Thanks pa. Its all your wonderful support that keeps me going.

    @Jose,
    Thanks buddy!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Krishna,
    Thanks dear.. :)

    @Mission Space,
    Yeah. My name's right!!!
    Thank you so much for considering my blog really good. I am glad you like it.. :)
    Thank you so much for following my blog. I am really very happy to hit a century in followers.
    Thank you so much for your wishes. :)

    @Meow,
    Sure da. Do visit!!!

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  9. this truly is fascinating....thanks for taking us ont eh journey and enlightening us culturally...

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  10. You document your travels so wonderfully and complete with pictures and amazing background stories. Thank you for a great post, there is no way I would've have learned the facts if without.

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  11. Very interesting and informative. The shots are beautiful. I had been to TNPL on work before. But I did not knew of this place then.

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  12. @Magic Eye,
    Thanks dear.. :)

    @Brian Miller,
    Its my pleasure dear.. :)

    @Ocean Gal,
    That's flattering. I am glad you liked it... :)

    @Rajesh,
    Oh no!!! Come back to TNPL for a visit of your colleagues. Make a chance to visit Arunattan Malai. Its an amazing place!!!

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  13. "The saints must have walked upto Cauvery for a holy dip."

    nice inference!! tat was the best part of the post... conjured up images of saints walking on the streets... brought life to your description...

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  14. The green color that you mentioned is because of the presence of 'Beryl' which was one of the key exports from Karur region to Rome during the period you have specified.

    And the Jain beds you have mentioned were probably not carved by the monks themselves. You can find similar beds in Chittannavasal near Pudukkottai where the inscriptions clearly say that they were commissioned by the reigning king for the use of the Jain monks.

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  15. @Bhuvanesh,
    Thanks Bhuvanesh. I'm glad that you could visualize the scene with my writings.. :)

    @Swami,
    Oh. Ok. That's a new great piece of info. And yeah, I've heard about the Pudukkottai Jain Beds as well. Yet to visit the place myself.
    Btw, welcome to my blog. Guess this is your first visit here. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. Do drop in often.. :)

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    Replies
    1. haai..... am planning to visit this velayudampalayum, balasubramaniyam temple! is it still the same or adversely changed due to lack of maintenance? and where exactly is the temple in karur?
      kindly reply asap................

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    2. Its is in a very good state of maintenance. This is not in Karur town. Its 17km from Karur in a place called Arnattan malai also called TNPL..

      Delete
  16. Nice Blog with details.

    Another place of interest is the VennaiMalai Murugan Temple. It one of the 4 important temples in Karur (Pasupatheeswarar, Mariamman, Thanthonrimalai & Vennaimalai). It on the way to Velur from Karur next to the Lakshmivilas Bank Headquarters.

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  17. @Senthil,
    First - Welcome to my blog. Great to have you here. :)
    Yes, I've seen Vennaimalai Murugan Temple while going to Vazhachal Forest from the base. However I haven't gone up to the temple yet. Expecting to go soon!!! :)

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  18. Wonderful Bhusavali !! Keep Going

    Seshadri

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  19. Hi Seshadri,
    Thanks dear... Thanks for your visit & comment. DO drop in often!!!

    ReplyDelete

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