Ancient  Tamil Nadu History

The practice of burial of the dead in the urns, the worship of the Sun and the Mother Goddess explains the links between the Tamils and Sumerians.  As there is no general calendar for the entire India it is very difficult to calculate the Royal rule historic period and fix the historic events of the long and hoary past of India.  It was only after the advent of the Europeans rule, the use the Christian era came into effect and the period was calculated.  The History of Tamil Nadu prior of the world, the language and the conditions of society at that time.

Pre Historic age in Tamil Nadu

The origin of human race on the planet earth took place several thousands of years ago. The early history of human beings is called the pre-historic age, Written records are not available for the pre-Historic period. However, the pre-historic people had left many things such as pieces of pottery, stone and metal tools, simple drawings, bones and skeletons. These materials provide some clue to know the history of the pre-historic period. Material remains belonging to the pre-historic period have also been unearthed in many places of Tamil Nadu.

The period between the genesis of the world and the dawn of civilization is the Paleolithic period.  The Period before the Sangam age is called pre-historic period.  The archaeological excavations such as urns, skeletons, (fossils) and the evidences from the language, civilization and the anthropology are the tools to understand the pre-historic period.

The pre-historic period in Tamil Nadu may be classified into
         1.  Old Stone Age
         2.  New Stone Age
         3.  Metal Age
         4.  Megalithic Age

Sangam Age in Tamil Kingdoms

The history of the Tamil country becomes clear only from the Sangam period. The word Sangam means an association. Here, it refers to the Tamil Sangam, an association of Tamil poets, which flourished in ancient Tamil Nadu. These Tamil poets had composed the Sangam literature. The period in which these literatures were composed is called the Sangam Age in the history of Tamil Nadu. During this age there were three Tamil Kingdoms, namely the Chera, Chola and Pandy kingdoms in the Tamil country. They were popularly known as Moovendar.

Sangam literatures are the major historic sources of Sangam period.  We do not have enough stone inscriptions about this age.  Mangulam inscription talks about pandiyan of sangam period. The Romans coins found at Aruganmedu (Arikkammedu), works of the Romans and Greek authors like Pliny and Ptolemy, the Greek book “Periplus of Erythraean sea “, confirm the trade links of ancient Tamils as explained in Sangam literature. The Pandiya Coins pertaining to the period between 2nd Century BC and 2nd Century AD with rectangular shapes were found with fish emblem on one side and bull or elephant figure on the other side.  These showed us the economic conditions of Sangam period.  The twin epics, (Silappathikaram and Manimegalai) were the documents about Sangam period and served as indicators of Post-Sangam transition period towards decline.


The historical sources for the Sangam Age may classified into

        1. Literary Sources
        2. Archaeological sources and
        3. Foreign Accounts.

The Dark Period

Kalabhras Period between the years 200 – 575 (375 Years) was called Dark Period in the history of Tamil Nadu.  Very little historical evidence was left and we don’t have many texts on this spell. Civilization and culture could not flourish during this period.  Hence it is called dark period, both in the history and the civilization of Tamils.  The inscriptions of Velvikudi tell us very little of the political revolution / terrorism of the Kalabhras.  A Kannada inscription helps us know about the Kalabhras.  A kannada inscription helps us know about the Kalabhras.  Many of the “Pathinen Keezhkanakku” poems were written during the fag end of this period and hence threw some light on Kalabhras period.

Tamil Kingdoms

The Age of the Pallavas

The factual Sangam literature is a more reliable source in the history than that of the religious and puranic imaginations of Pallava period.  But in contrast the Sangam period was devoid of inscriptions whereas many of the Pallava inscriptions had contributed to the history as a reliable source.  Inscriptions, Copper palates, Cave temples, Granite temples, lakes, scriptures, murals, literature, religious texts and musical notes are sources for Pallavas period. Aihole inscription of Pulikesi and copper plate of Vinaiyathithan talk about the Pallava period.  Hieun Tsang’s (Xuanzang) travelogue talks of Pallava period.

The Medieval Period

There were three important kingdoms, namely Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms in the Tamil country during the Sangam Age. In addition to these three kingdoms, there were also local chieftains. The most famous among the local chieftains were the Seven Patrons, popularly known as Kadaiyelu Vallalgal.

The inscriptions of Thanjavur, Uthiramerur, Thirumukoodal and Thiruvotriyur, besides the copper plates of Leiden, Sarala, Karanthai and Thriuvalangadu, enlighten us on the Cholas. Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, Thailand and the islands in Burma have the inscriptions in Tamil on the medieval commercial and trade contacts of Tamils, the Merchant Guilds (Thisai ayirathu ainootruvar).  We can know about medieval period of Pandiya, Chola and Chera from our literatures like, Periyapuranam, Kalingathuparani, Moovarula, Guru Paramparai, Koilozhug, Thalapuranam of Madurai and keralorpaththi.  “Song Dynasty” of China Hall, Kenneth (1985) says that the Song court maintained diplomatic relations with Chola India, Fatimid Egypt, Srivijaya, The Kara-Khanid Khanate of Central Asia, and other countries that were also trade partners.  The travelogues of Chinese, Chau Ju-kua, an inspector of foreign trade, complied his work about A.D. 1225, the notes of the Arabian writer Hakkel, Estaki, and Venice traveler Marco Polo (1293 AD).  Sinhalese Mahavamsam and Dheepavamsam also tell about the medieval period.

The Nayak Period

We know about the rulers of Vijayanagar Empire, Nayaks and marathas from books like Madhura Vijayam by Ganga Devi, Kongudesa Raja Saritham, Thanjavur Andhra Rajulu Saritham, travelogue of Ibn Battuta (AD 1300 – 1370) a Mohammedan traveler and letters of Christian missionaries.  The supplementary sources are the folklores like Ramappaiyan ammanai, Raja Dehesingu padal and Kennadiyan Padaipor.

Maratha Period

Earlier Nayaks ruled Madurai and Thanjavur.  Subsequently Thanjavur and Senji came under the control of Marathas.  Venganna who worked under Vijayaragava nayak a cunning man sought the help of Idal Khan, the Bijapur Sultan to make Sengamalathasan as king.  Ekoji, a cousin of Shivaji was sent by Idal Khan for the purpose and made him as the king.  Ekoji captured power and ruled Thanjavur from 1676 to 1683. His son Shaji, Serfoji I, Thokoji, Tujaji, Amar Singh, and finally Serfoji II ruled namesake after getting some share in the revenue from the English. Thus Maratha rule came to an end.

British Period

The archives of East Indian Company, French and English Governments, the dairy of Anantha Rangam Pillai, some of the biographies, manuscripts of Mckenzy, the correspondence of English officials, folk songs and poems of contemporary Tamil Poets are the sources for the history of British Rule.

Post-Independence period

Archives at the district level have enough evidence. Gazette Notifications inform us about the Government orders and their activities. Present day literatures, history books, biographies of Cholars, travelogues, books of political party’s magazines and newspapers educated us on modern history.  The time capsule sunk in the Delhi created a great excitement.  Today’s news tomorrow’s history.