Thursday, 14 July 2011

Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu

Nagapattinam is located 320 kilometers from Chennai, the capital of Tamilnadu. Its long stretch of coastline runs along the Bay of Bengal for nearly 200 kilometers. Due to its prominence on the fisheries map Nagapattinam has one of the most thriving harbors in India. The city has some very famous temples such as Shri Kayahorana Swami, Neelayathatchi Amman, Sowriraja Perumal and Nellukkadai Mariamman. The name is derived from its ancient name 'Nagur'. It was called so because of the Nagurs, an ancient and now somewhat extinct aboriginal race that inhabited this place. 

Nagapattinam is a unique town that has its own historical and cultural significance. Nagapattinam was one of the constituents of Cholamandalam, and was acclaimed as the most prominent of the then cities. The city contributed to the glory of the erstwhile Chola Kingdom. It was the Cholas who built the Nagapattinam Kayaroganam Shiva temple in the 6th century AD. Some of the famous Shivite poets such as Appar, Sambandar, and Sundarar were associated with this temple.

Nagapattinam has great significance in Buddhism as well. Nagapattinam is mentioned as Padarithitha in ancient Buddhist literature. The Pallava King Rajasimha permitted a Chinese king to build Buddha Vihar in Nagapattinam. This Buddha Vihar was known as Sudamani Vihar. 

A Portuguese commercial center was established in Nagapattinam in the year 1554 and since then Christianity began to take root through Portuguese influence. The Portuguese traders took control of ten villages around the shores and built a harbor and a garrison. With the advent of Portuguese, the Velankanni Church came in to existence. 

In the year 1658 the Dutch tried to evict the Portuguese from Nagapattinam in order to establish their own commercial center. This led to a bloody battle where Portuguese were routed. An agreement ensured that all the 10 villages that were in the control of the Portuguese were transferred to the Dutch. Dutch contributed a lot to the architecture of Nagapattinam. The Dutch built as many as ten Churches and a hospital. They also struck coins with the name Nagapattinam engraved in Tamil. In the year 1781 this town fell into the hands of the British after the prolonged battles. All the 277 villages along with its headquarter Nagur were handed over to the East India Company. 

The town was completely devastated by the Tsunami that struck the southern hemisphere in the year 2005. Wide scale relief and restoration works by the state government ensured the restoration of many of the buildings and monuments.

Places to See:


Velankanni is a small town that is situated ashore Coromandel Coast 14 kilometers south of downtown Nagapattinam. Velankanni has a special place in the pages of Christian history in India. The most holy church on the Coromandel namely, The Arokiya Madha Church or the Velankanni Basilica is located in this town.


Located at a distance of 45 kilometers from downtown Nagapattinam, Koothanur is associated with the life of the great Tamil poet Ottakkoothar. The place is famous for the magnificent temple dedicated to this poet. The temple complex has a separate temple for Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning and arts.


Kodikkarai is situated just 68 kilometers from the downtown Nagapattinam. The place has been developed as a backwater and bird sanctuary. The quiet destination attracts a lot of honeymoon couples. 


Mannarkudi situated at a distance of 56 kilometers from Nagapattinam is famous for the Vaishnava shrine called Rajagopalaswamy temple.


Nagore is just 5 kilometers North of Nagapattinam. The place is famous for a Muslim Sufi shrine that is frequented by the people of various caste, creed and religion. The place considered a focal point of secularism in peninsular India. The Kandhuri festival, similar to the Urs of North India that is celebrated during the month of October is very popular among the tourists. 


Sikkal that is famous for Shri Singaravelan temple is located 5 kilometers from Nagapattinam. This is an old Shiva Temple where Lord Muruga is worshipped in the form of Singaravelan. Many Shivite saints such as Appar, Thirugnana Sambandar and Manickavasagar have evoked the place in their devotional songs. The place is also famous for a festival called Soora Samharam that is celebrated in the month of April.


Thirukkuvalai or Tiruvarur lies at a distance of around 27 Kilometers from the downtown Nagapattinam. This too is considered one of the Saptha Vaidanga Thallams. Two of the most well known temples in Tiruvarur are Thyagaraja Swamy and Angalamman temple. 


Vedaranyam is situated just 58 Kilometers off to the downtown Nagapattinam. The place is famous for the Vedaranyewarar temple that is considered among the Saptha Vidanga Thallams. The place has a historical importance as well. Vedaranyam was the center stage of Salt Sathyagraha in South India, during the Indian freedom movement............

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