Arikamedu Excavations - Ariyamkuppam Mangrove (Pondicherry aka Puducherry)

India has had a commercial and business connection with Europe since thousands of years ago, since about end of BCE, since the rule of Early Cholas in Tamil Nadu! There are several places in India where coins and stuff belonging to various other countries have been excavated. One such location is Arikamedu in Pondy where Roman artifacts and coins were found.
Today Arikamedu site is a pretty unique site. It has a pretty big avenue, has a fishermen boat parking space (is that even a right terminology??!!!), has a small English fort ruins, has a submerged port of almost 1 CE.!!! That's called multi-faceted! 
Its located in the shores of Ariyankuppam Mangroves. But the mangroves as it is, is not accessible easily. I tried my luck to spot any fisherman, so I could ask for a paid boat ride to see the mangroves up and close. Not so lucky enough. However just a km ahead of this place, along the backwaters is exactly where Chunnambar is located. So I did see the Ariyankuppam Mangroves anyways, but did I see it as detailed as I saw Pichavaram? No!!!!
Bike can be driven inside the site. I took one bike ride and walked the second round. A dirt road is there to take you in a circle from the entrance, back to it.

A short walk lead me first to the ruins of an English man's small fort. There were the 2 entrance pillars and the house with 5 arched doorways. To the side was an out-house. The entire was totally in ruins. I really wish the ASI, rebuilt a bit of it, like in Sadras, so it can stand against the ravages of nature for few more decades. 
The outhouse was the picturesque lot. It was engulfed by huge Peepul tree that grew all around it!
The walls were made of bricks and something in it was really interesting. The sizes of the bricks. See, the guy who built it already saw that there were some bricks lying around in this place. Yes, you guessed it right. Those were the Indo Roman bricks created about 2000 years ago. He took some of those and he got some more of his times and built this house / fort / office or whatever it is! See the size variation of the bricks. Those bigger ones on the right, are the Indo Roman ones. Is it big? Nope. Its huge.... Notice the size of the adult human finger on the right, in relation to the size of the brick??? The smaller ones on the left, are about 300 years old, from British Raj era.

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Further more down the lane, there was a sloppy bylane that led to a cute little opening through which the backwaters was accessible. In older days, during business with Romans, they stopped their ships here and brought in the goods through this passage. Today sadly its pretty much suffocating with plastics and rubbish.

Further down are those huge and very colorful fishermen boats and also some small catamarans.
Walking a bit more took me to another little by lane where a portion of a burial urn is visible above the ground.
Excavations have been happening here since 1930s beginning with Mortimer Wheeler. The last large scale excavation happened in 1991-92 by ASI under Ms.Vimala. Its been discovered that an entire port is submerged below the ground. Walls are running beneath the ground, there are store houses, wells, horse stable and a lot more! These excavated spots are marked specially. Coins, and some artifacts like sculptures, pottry etc have were found here. Further ahead, very close to the entrance is a spot where I saw a brick circle on the ground. That's a submerged well of the port!
By the time I was back at the entrance, came in a bunch of school kids from Karnataka to understand the glory and ancient-ness of Indian history!!!
Pondy trip isn't over yet!!! Coming back with more...

TO GET THERE:
From Pondicherry Railway station: 8 km southwards on Cuddalore road. 
You'll spot a flyover. Go beneath it and turn left on Veerampattinam road. There's a Y junction. Take the left road which begins with a cremation ground. Its a very small lane that goes through a typical village filled with hens and goats and even children criss crossing all the time. Drive slow! Almost at the end of the road, a left turn leads to the excavation site.

On Google Maps: http://goo.gl/maps/7cgB0

Dedicated to Venkat

Bhushavali N

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

8 comments:

  1. I have heard about this place. Should visit next time am in Puducherry. Nice post, Bhusha.

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  2. Great blog and thanks for the detailed information. I managed to visit Arikamedu yesterday and located these ancient artifacts. Pity the ASI isn't focusing on this site much now.

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    1. Glad you visited the place and saw the locations Ashok!!

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  3. Hi , am an architecture final year student . My research and design topic is about developing Arikamedu into a tourist destination . I am in need of its architectural history and evolution so that i bring back the life and ambiance of the place in my design. If anyone has info regarding this, kindly mail it to me - voltair108@yahoo.co.in

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  4. Hi, were there any guides available there? Or did you just use Google for this? Nice write-up. Thanks!

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