Friday, March 1, 2013

Kongu Nadu (Tamil: கொங்குநாடு)

Kongu Nadu (Tamil: கொங்குநாடு) is a region comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu India. The region is bounded on the west and north-west by the Karnataka state, on the west by the Kerala state, on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Madurai regions of Tamilakam.

There is no definite origin for the word Kongu, several scholars have given their views. The name Kongu Nadu is believed to have been gained from 'Kongadesam', "Konga" a derivant of the term "Ganga", meaning 'land of the Gangas' see Western Ganga Dynasty.Kangayam is the old capial of Kongu Nadu, (Sanskrit: Ganga+eyam = Gangeyam : seat of the Western Ganga Dynasty. Kongu means in Sangam Tamil . A more appropriate meaning is honey or nectar of flowers as the Kongu country had vast stretches of forests. According to V. Ramamurthy, in his 'History of Kongu: Volume 1' says, "It [Kongu] was believed to be rich in honey or nectar of flowers."

The geographical extent of Kongu Nadu is roughly confined to the territories of the ancient Tamilakam.
It was the origin and seat of the Sangam period Cheras.Chera is also referred to as Kongan many times. His mountains are the Kolli Malais and his seat Karuvur on the banks of Anporunai.
The geographical region is called Kongunadu in Tamil, which is derived from Kangu (கங்கு) meaning 'border' (Komaralingam copperplates) and Kanganadu (கங்கநாடு, lit.: the land of the Ganga people).Kangeyam(Sanskrit: Ganga+eyam = Gangeyam : seat of the Western Ganga Dynasty). This region was located within Kaveri catchment basin. 17th century poet Valasundara Kavirayar refers to the borders of Kongunadu in his work Kongumandalasatakam.

Kongunadu comprises the modern day districts of Coimbatore District, Nilgiri District, Tirupur District, Erode District, Salem District, Namakkal District, Dharmapuri District, Karur District, Krishnagiri District (all taluks of these districts), Dindigul District (the taluks of Palani taluk, Oddanchatram taluk, Dindigul taluk, Vedasandur taluk and Kodaikanal taluk northward slopes only), Tiruchirappalli district ( Thottiyam taluk,Pachamalai hills), Villupuram district (Kalrayan hills only), Perambalur district (Pachamalai hills only) and Vellore district (Tirupattur taluk only).

Economy of the Kongu region

Kodumanal was a 2,500-year-old industrial estate discovered in Kongu Nadu.
Kongu Nadu is the most industrialised and prosperous region in Tamil Nadu. The economy of the Kongu region can be attributed mainly to the following fields/industries.
Agriculture/Milk – the whole of Kongu Nadu
Aluminium - Salem
Automobiles – Coimbatore, Karur, Namakkal, Tiruchengode, Erode, Hosur
Cement - Salem, Sankagiri, Coimbatore
Education – Coimbatore, Namakkal. Erode, Tiruchengode
Paper – Karur, Pallipalayam, Erode
Poultry – Namakkal
Pump and Wet grinder – Coimbatore
Sago – Salem
Steel – Salem, Mettur
Textiles – Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Karur, Tiruchengode, Kangeyam, Salem
Turmeric – Erode (largest market in South India), Gobichettipalayam
White Silk – Gobichettipalayam – first automated Silk reeling unit in India
Kongu Nadu has the highest urban proportion in the State and contributes 2/3 of the Tamilnadu's State revenue.

Kongu Nadu Cuisine

The Kongu Nadu cuisine is basically a collection of exotic recipes being created by the people residing in the Kongu region. The cuisine is quite extensive for a simple reason that the region is very vast. Some of the aspects that make Kongu Nadu cuisine very special are:
The recipes have their own nativity and style.
Unlike other cuisines, Kongu Nadu cuisine does not involve marination of any raw material. As a result the food has a different taste and unique texture.
Addition of roasted groundnut paste in curries and Khormas creates a very different flavour
Turmeric is always added into curries as freshly grated and ground after roasting. This gives the product a deep yellow color and an aromatic substance
Kongu Nadu cuisine is not very oily, which is not the case with other cuisines
The cuisine is healthy and nutritious owing to use of considerable amount of pulses
The recipes had no sort of standardization and the recipes found their origin based on the specialty of that particular city of Kongunadu.
"Arisemparupu" is famously known only in Kongu region.
This is evident from the following instances:
Use of copra (dry coconut) due to the abundance of coconut trees in the region.
Pickles happens to form an important part in the food
The traditional Kongu people were mostly vegetarians for religious reason. The word for a slaughterhouse is Kacāppu kaṭai (Tamil: கசாப்பு கடை), where kacāppu was borrowed from Urdu: کسائ‎ kasāy "butcher", because Muslims were the first to butcher for commercial purposes. Beef is taboo; cows are considered divine.
Sweets like Teluvu Halwa,Teluvu Payasam, Elanir Halwa, and Elanir Payasam formed part of the regular food in Kongu Nadu."Oppitu" or "Vazhai" is a type of sweet made with the basic ingredients rice, karupatti (Palm Jaggery) Cardamom, Ghee.


The present day Kongu Nadu is made up of various regions viz., Coimbatore, Erode, Salem, Tirupur, Kangeyam, Ooty, Gobichettipalayam, Pollachi, Udumalai, Palani, Dharapuram, Karur, Namakkal, Thiruchengode, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and parts of Tiruchy and Dindigul.
Kongunadu was blessed with enormous wealth, a pleasant climate and distinct features. Kongunadu was ruled over by The Chera, Chola, Pandya, Hoysala, Muslim rulers and finally the British. The Kongu country was one of the earliest territorial divisions and home of the ancient Tamilians. It figures in the earliest Tamil literature that, it has acted as the pass for foreign powers to penetrate or capture the Tamil country. The people of the Kongu country had preserved a characteristic type of culture which seemed to be the sustainable derivation of early "Tamilians"of the south. The puzzling megalithic culture had been widely in vogue in the Kongu country. In earlier times the Three Sovereigns of the Tamil country were the Cheras, the Cholas, and the Pandyas. There is a mention that the victory over the Kongu country to be one of the greatest events in their war-like annals. The history of the Kongu country was an integral saga and was of great value for the compilation of the history of Tamilnadu as a whole.

Archaeological sites

Kodumanal and Perur, villages on the banks of the Noyyal River in the Coimbatore district, were situated on the ancient trade route between Karur and the west coast, across the Palghat gap on the Western Ghats. Both sites have yielded remains belonging to the Sangam age. Roman coins were also found on these sites indicating that trade flourished between Romans and the kings of these regions.
A sword bit and a dagger piece found at the site were put to metallographic test. The study revealed that the sword bit contained a spheroidal graphite phase and forgewelding of high carbon cutting edge on low carbon dagger bit. A thin layer was found coating the cutting edge and probably used to protect it from rust.

Kodumanal was popular for the gem-cutting industry and manufacture of jewels. Sites bearing natural reserves of semi-precious stones such as beryls, sapphire and quartz are located in the vicinity of Kodumanal. Beads of sapphire, beryl, agate, carnelian, amethyst, lapis lazulli, jasper, garnet, soapstone and quartz were unearthed from here. The samples were in different manufacturing stages – finished, semi-finished, drilled and undrilled, polished and unpolished and in the form of raw material. Chips and stone slabs, one with a few grooved beads, clearly demonstrate that these were manufactured locally at Kodumanal
Tamil-Brahmi writings are also found in coins, seals and rings of the Sangam age. Many of them have been picked up from the Amaravathi river bed near Karur. A smaller number of inscribed objects have been picked up from the beds of other rivers like South Pennar and Vaigai.
"The advent of the early historical period in south India is generally dated to the 3rd century BCE. As mentioned earlier, recent archaelogical data from the site of Kodumanal suggests the possibility of earlier beginnings, at least the 4th century BCE."
A musical inscription in Tamil Brahimi was found in a cave in the Arachalur region, dating from the Fourth Century A.D. Iravatham Mahadevan writes that these are syllables used in dance.

Medieval Kongu King List
In Chola times. 'Kongu under autonomous rule narrates the rule of these rulers under the namenclature 'Kongu Cholas'
Achyuta Rayan; (Venadudayar family : அச்சுதராயர் )
Jatavarman Kulottunga cholan?;
Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan;
Kok-kalimurkha Vikrama cholan;
Kokkanadan Viranarayanan;
Kulottunga Cholan;
Maravarman Sundara Pandyan;
Parakesari Vikrama cholan;
Rajakesari Kulottunga cholan;
Rajakesari Vira Narayana devan;
Rajakesari Vira Pandyan;
Rajakesari Virarajendran;
Vira cholan;
Vira Pandyan;
Vira Somisvaran;
Vira Vallalan