TIRUNELVELI: Officials of the Department of Archaeology have identified a rare inscribed copper plate of 16th century in the Agasthiyar temple at Kallidaikurichi, 40 km from here.
The copper plate, featuring Tamil letters on both sides, establishes the Tamils’ eagerness to run free inns for travellers. It was identified by District Archaeological Officer M. Senthil Selvakumaran and curator of Courtallam museum Chandravaanan, after their subordinate Mahadevan gave them a tip.
With the help of temple trustee S. Sankaran and others, the officials extracted the message in the plate.
Contributions from members
The first page carries the line drawings of Lingam and Deviyar, and a message on both sides speaks about the Kaikkola Mudaliars’ tradition of offering free food to travellers. With the contributions from the members of the community—known for their weaving skills—at times of marriages and deaths and during the Tamil months of ‘Aadi’ and ‘Thai,’ the free roadside inns should be administered, says the message.
“If anyone from this community refuses to pay his contribution, it should be obtained from the individual by forcibly stopping his work [weaving]. And those who still refuse to give the contribution for ‘annadhaanam’ will incur the sin of killing a cow on the banks of the Ganges,” the plate warns.
Kaikkola Mudaliars of Kottar, Kooniyoor and Rajapalayam had been entrusted with ensuring the unhindered collection of the contribution for ‘annadhaanam.’
“Since Agasthiyar is still the family deity for the most members of this community, the copper plate has been kept in the temple dedicated to the sage,” Dr. Senthil Selvakumaran said.