Thursday, June 30, 2011

History Of Kerala - Part 1

Even though there are legends which say how Kerala came about,  it can be safely said through the records  of the burial monuments  and  a reasonable assumption that the people spoke an archaic form of Tamil.  The monuments found in these parts are reasonably younger than their counterparts  and so the historians have bracketed the time between 10 BC and 5 AD for this set of people. It is believed that Mauryan invaders  continued their conquest  southwards, found the megalith making tribes  and controlled the surrounding areas as well.  Cheras and the other minor chieftains of Kerala developed during these times with the contact of the more civilized Mauryans.

The Cheras
Vanchi was Cheras capital city  with Tyndis and Muzris their ports on the Arabian Sea,  they flourished in trade. They ruled over the central portion of the present day Kerala  and attracted Romans with their trade practices. Yavana ships were comingin at Muziris waiting with Gold and taking pepper, which was black gold to them. Roman gold coins unearthed in Kottayam and Eyyal have provided authenticity for these.
They had the best of Geographical advantages, namely the pepper  and the other spices, the rivers connecting the mountains  with the seas and the discovery of the favourable winds which used to carry the sailing ships  directly to Kerala in just 40 days.    The harbours the Romans used were Tyndis near Quilandy, Naura near Kannur, muziris near Kodungallur and Bacare near Alappuzha. Smaller colonies of jews and syrian christians were the results of these trade practices.  It is said that St thomas one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ landed at Muziris in the 1st century  and converted  some of the people.  After this came the  Arab contacts  and Islam, who came to Kerala at aboout 9th century.

 The emergence of Namboodiri Brahmins Settlement in Kerala
The 4th and the 5th centuries  saw the decline of the Roman empire and so the decline of the harbour towns Tyndis and Muziris. At this time Kerala saw the emergence of the Namboodiris  and by 8th century it had become 32 brahmin settlement colonies and this seems to have paved the way to the political and cultural separation of Kerala from the Tamilnadu. Sankaracharya was one among these Namboodiri Brahmins who became a great philosopher of those days .  Now the whole of Kerala came under a network of temple centered Brahmin settlements. These temples had large and extensive land, a number of tenants  and the privileges that go with them. More advanced techniques were used for cultivation and a strong sense of solidarity prevailed.  Then came the numerous caste systems with upper, middle and the lower classes and a fighting feudal class warriors. As days went by these settlements  and the establishments gradually brought in a new malayalam language and a new malayalee culture.  The new as well as a separate identity of Kerala was in the making.  

Starting of the Malayalam Era / Kollam Era in 825 AD
In the 9th century Pandyas took over Vanchi the chera's capital city  and the vanquished Cheras made Makotai or  Mahodayapuram near Muziri their capital  around the great  Siva temple of Tiruvanchikulam. In 16th century itself the palace was in ruins and there is no trace of it in the recent times.  Chera Kingdom slowly came back and the revival is seen to be the by product of the Aryan Brahmin settlements Kolathunad, Purakizhanad, Kurumpanad, Eranad, Valluvanad, Kizhamalanad, Vempalanad and Venad were the Brahmin settlements of those times. The founding of the Kollam city in the Venad area became the beginning of the new era. The new Kollam Era became the malayalee era and started out in 825 AD.

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