Nagapattinam Knowledge Guide


There are urn burials in and around the city from the Sangam period indicating some level of human habitation. Except the mention in Ptolemy as 'Νίγαμα Μετρόπολις,' there are no direct references to Nagapattinam during the 3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE. The neighbouring port, Kaveripoompattinam (modern day Poompuhar), was the capital of the Chola kingdom of the Sangam Age, referred to widely in Tamil scriptures like Paṭṭiṉappālai.The early works of Tevaram by the 7th-century poets Appar and Tirugnanasambandar mention the town had fortified walls, busy road building and a busy port. The inscriptions from the Kayarohanswami temple indicate the construction was initiated during the reign of the Pallava king, Narasimha Pallava II (691–729 CE). A Buddhist pagoda was built under Chinese influence by the Pallava king and the town was frequented by Buddhist travellers. Thirumangai Azhwar, the 9th century vaishnavite saint poet, is believed to have stolen the golden Buddha statue to fund the Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam; the authenticity of the theory is questionable. In the 11th century CE, Chudamani Vihara, a Buddhist monastery, was built by the Sailendra king of Srivijaya Sri Mara Vijayattungavarman with the patronage of Raja Raja Chola. It was named Chudamani or Chulamani Vihara after the king Sri Mara's father As per the small Leyden grant this Vihara was called Rajaraja-perumpalli during the time of Kulottunga I. Nagapattinam was the prominent port of Cholas for trade and a conquering gateway to the east. In the early 16th century the Portuguese made commercial contacts with the town and established a commercial centre in 1554 CE. The Portuguese also conducted missionary enterprise here. In 1658, the Dutch made an agreement with King Vijaya Nayakkar of Thanjavur on 5 January 1662, by which ten villages were transferred from the Portuguese to the Dutch — Nagapattinam Port, Puthur, Muttam, Poruvalancheri, Anthanappettai, Karureppankadu, AzhingiMangalam, Sangamangalam, Thiruthinamangalam, Manjakollai, Nariyankudi. Ten Christian churches and a hospital were built by the Dutch. They released Pagoda coins with the name Nagapattinam engraved in Tamil. As per agreement between the first Maratta King Egoji of Thanjavur and the Dutch, Naagapattinam and surrounding villages were handed over to the Dutch on 30 December 1676. In 1690, the capital of Dutch Coromandel changed from Pulicat to Nagapattinam.This town fell into the hands of the British in 1781 after the two naval battles between British and French fleets were fought off the coast of Negapatam, as it was then known: the first in 1758 as part of the Seven Years' War and the second in 1782 as part of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The town was taken by the British from the Dutch in 1781 (who had been formally brought into the war in 1780). When the Dutch and British reached a peace agreement in 1784, Nagapattinam was formally ceded to the British. 277 villages, with Nagore as the headquarters, were handed over to the East India Company. From 1799 to 1845 Nagapttinam was the headquarters of Tanjore district. Nagapattinam and Nagore were incorporated as a single municipality in 1866. The town remained one of the chief ports to the Madras Presidency. The port suffered decline after the inclusion of Tranquebar and Tuticorin ports. After India's independence, Sirkazhi continued to be a part of Thanjavur district until 1991, and later became part of the newly created Nagapattinam district. Nagapattinam was severely affected by the tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.