Annadatri-carita (study)

by Sarannya V. | 2020 | 34,082 words

This study analyzes the Annadatri-Carita: an epic poem connected with a regional history written by Prof. K Balarama Panicker. The plot of the drama is based on a Sangam period myth connected with the epic Mahabharata. The author introduces Utiyan Ceralatan as Vancishvara, an ancestor of the last Travancore ruler named Chithira Thirunal Balarama Va...

The identification of the geographical location of the capital city of the ancient Cheras is still under some controversies. “Ayiramala”, “Kuttanatu”, “Kutanatu”, “Karur” etc. are supposed as the capital of ancient Ceras.

According to the references from the Sangam works, the first capital of Utiyan Ceralatan was located at “Kuzhumur”. In later period, it was shifted to another place namely “Karur” or “Karuvur”. This transfer might be happened in the old age of Utiyan Ceralatan and it was indicated in the second song of the Puram by Muranciyur Mutinakarayar.

nin katarpiranta nayirupeyarttunin
ventlaippunarikkutakatar kulikkum…[1]


The sun, that in thy eastern sea is born,
In thy foam-crested western ocean seeks
His rest at eve.[2]

In the opinion of Prof. Elamkulam P.N Kunjan Pillai, “Kuzhumur” or “Kuzhur” was located at the Kuttanatu region. He quoted the lines from Akam 168 to prove his argument. This song mentions about the palace of Utiyan in the shade of “Pallankunnu” where plenty of fields and herd of cows and a stream located.[3] Kuttanatu, which is located on the banks of Pampa River, has a notable position in agriculture since the ancient period. This might be the reason for the statement of Prof. Elamkulam P.N Kunjan Pillai about the capital of Utiyan Ceralatan. But, K. Sivasankaran Nair refutes this argument. In his opinion the capital of Utiyan was the Karuvur Vanci located in the banks of the river Amaravati.[4] K.G Sesha Aiyar in his book Chera Kings of Sangam Period concluded that the Vanci was lied in the Tiruvancikkulam or Kotungallur region of the middle Kerala.[5]

Puram 11 expresses that a Cera king, Palai Patiya Perum Katumko was ruling in the “Vanci” near the river “Porunai”. The Sangam epic poems Cilappatikaram[6] and Manimekhalai[7] refers “Vanci Mutur” as the capital of Ceras. Though Patirrupatu does not gives much references of Karuvur, it mentions about Vanci Mutur. The Purananuru does not mention Karur anywhere. With reference to Akananuru, two poems (Akam 263, 396) cited Vanci and one (Akam93) mentioned Karur.[8] From these, it was clear that their capital city was famous in the name “Vanci”. Even now, the identification of its exact location is a very complicated one.

The flag of Ceras were white in colour and is marked with a design of bow and arrow. The Patittrupatt praises that Netum ceralatan conquered north India and marked the images of bow and arrow in the Mount Himalaya. Thus he attained the designation “Imayavarmpan” which means the “one who made Himalaya as boundary”. The goddess “Ayiramaladevi” or “Korravai[9] was the deity of Cheras. This goddess probably was absorbed by Bhadrakali in later period.[10]

Even though ancient Kerala was a part of Tamilakam, under the Chera monarchy people of the middle Kerala region had acquired a distinguish existence because of some unique geographical specialties and diversity in livelihood. But the Ceras did not attained any resources for the survival of an empire such as a permanent military, group of government officers, proper method of tax collection and production of coins.[11] Moreover, they had not any centralized governance like that of the Colas or Pandyas.

Footnotes and references:


Purananuru-2nd Song by Mutinakarayar


SeshaAiyar K.G, Cera Kings of Sangam Period, (London: Luzac& Co., 1937),6


Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai P.N, Annathe Keralam, Published by the Author, (Kottayam: Distributed by National Book Stall, April 1970), 11.


Sivasankaran Nair K., Prachinakeralathinte Charithram, (Kottayam: DC Books, July 2017), 11.


Ibid, 85


Cilappatikaram was written by Elam ko Atikal. It deals with the famous story of Kannaki, Kovala and Madhavi.


Manimekhalaiwas the work of Sattanar. Even though the full name of the text was Manimekhalai Turavu(Austerity of Manimekhalai) the text became famous in the name Manimekhalai. It depicts the story of Manimekhalai, the daughter of Kovalan and Madhavi. This work reflects the Buddhist concepts throughout the story.


Sesha Aiyyar K.G., Cera Kings of the Sangam Period, (London: Luzac& Co., 1937), 81


“Korravai” was the ancient form of Goddess Durga.


Dr. Adat Dharamaraj, An Outline of Keralodaya Mahakavya, (University of Calicut, 2003) 145


Kochu K.K., Kerala Caritravum Samuharupikaranavum, (Thiruvananthapuram: Keralabhasha Institute, March 2012), 102.

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