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History of Kumbakonam

TIRUKKUDANTAI OAR VARALATRU ARIMUGAM: S. Sabarinathan; pub. by Oscar Publications, 51, Naickamar Street, West Mambalam, Chennai-600033. Rs. 75.

THIS BOOK is a kind of encyclopaedic reference on the place called Tirukkudantai (known as Kumbakonam now) from the historical, socio-political, mythological and literary perspectives. There are 10 chapters and a bibliography of works in Tamil and English.

The author has given a detailed socio-political history of Tirukkudantai in different periods from the pre-historic to the post-Independence period. The archaeological evidence pertaining to the Palaeolithic and the Neolithic periods suggests that the land encompassed by Kudantai belongs to the pre-historic period.

Some of the historical events pertaining to this place are well accounted. During the Chola rule this place had a local sabha with political autonomy to decide the administrative matters of the town. Krishanadevaraya, the emperor of Vijaynagar visited the town to attend the famous Mahamaham festival.

During the Marathas's rule Sankaracharya came as a refugee because of Hyder Ali and the person who gave asylum to him was Kabir. A ghat and a street in Kumbakonam were named after Kabir. The societal pattern formed in this town and the supremacy of the Brahmin community during the Maratha and the British rules were documented in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The mythological stories connected with the town also find a place. The Government College of Kumbakonam was popularly called as the Cambridge of South India and the Tamil scholars like G.U. Pope, Thiagaraja Chettiar, U.V.Swaminatha Aiyer served in this college. There is mention of Ramanunjan and his interest in mathematics while he was studying in the 10th standard in this place.

Research on the name Tirukkudantai with other equivalents such as Kudavayil and Kumbam forms part of a chapter. It also mentions the negative connotations attributed to the place Kumbakonam as "a cheat" and "a crooked person" in the Winslow's dictionary (1862) and the Tamil lexicon. Later this was corrected and the historical reason behind this was also explained in the book.

The work will be a useful addition to researchers working on South Indian history and readers who desire to know more about the pilgrimage town Tirukkudantai.


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