Thus Spake Cooum Chennai

The scene of great battles

Illustration: Satwik Gade  

A great city grew on my banks, but did you know that they have been sites of the clash of civilisations?

The location was close to what you now know as the spot where the dam was constructed across me at Keshavaram, where Kosasthalayar splits to do her own thing. It was near the location of this modern dam that I witnessed a bloody war of much importance, many moons ago.

In 949 AD, the combined armies of the Cholas and Cheras were led by the Chola crown prince Rajaditya, son of King Parantaka-I. The army met a fierce enemy in King Krishna III of the Rashtrakuta kingdom at Thakkolam (now technically placed in Vellore, but quite close to Kancheepuram), to whose aid came the forces of Ganga dynasty.

On a fateful afternoon, Rajaditya, the valorous Chola prince, was killed right in front of my eyes by a poisoned arrow, altering forever the history of the Tamil kingdom. Owing to the death of the prince, the crown later moved to his younger brother Arinjaya Chola and thus paved the way for the ascension of his descendants Raja Raja-I and Rajendra-I, two of the greatest Chola emperors, at a later point.

Imagine this: If not for the Thakkolam battle on my banks, you may not see the iconic Brihadeeshwarar temple today in Thanjavur since Raja Raja Chola would not have become a king.

A few kilometres down Thakkolam, the Polilore battlefield (Pullalur), again near my waters, was where the British forces faced tremendous losses in the Carnatic wars.

In 1780, Tipu Sultan faced off with British East India Company commander Colonel William Baille, inflicting deeps wounds to the British ego. As I watched the guns and canons blaze on either side, Baille was captured along with many of his troops and taken to Srirengapattna in Mysore.

But a year later in 1781, they returned to the same spot for another encounter.

The British side, now reinforced with better fire power, defeated Hyder Ali under the leadership of Eyre Coote. I remember that the Polilore field had witnessed another ancient but less decisive war as well, when Chalukyas led by Pulakesin II and Pallava King Mahendraverma-I took on each other. The former won.

Source: Venkatesh Ramakrishnan, Chennai Cooum group

Madras Week: Thus Spake Cooum

>Celebrating Madras Week

Over years, Chennai’s own river, the banks on which Madras arose, 376 years ago next week, has meandered on, stoic in the face of the assaults on it.

>Madras thrived on her banks

A group of history enthusiasts has brought a fresh perspective to the image of the river.

>The scene of great battles

A city grew on the banks of the Cooum, but did you know that they have been sites of the clash of civilisations?

>For them, Cooum is not synonymous with sewer

The Cooum, as strange as it might sound to some, still remains a lifeline to many villages in Tiruvallur district.

>Cooum snippets

In the first-person account that follows, one R. Premsingh writes, “I wish to draw the attention of the Corporation authorities to the stinking smell emitted by the Cooum river.”

>Cooum: Madras' engine of growth

Nearly everything that was and is notable in the city took root along my banks, from the houses of the powerful to the centres of commerce

>Staving off the sewage threat in Cooum

Chennai Metrowater seems to be trying to actualise the big dream of cleaning Cooum river through small steps.

>What's in a name?

A group of history enthusiasts has brought a fresh perspective to the image of the river.

>When crocodiles swam free in Cooum

If you walked by the Cooum about a 100 years ago, you may just have spotted the Cooum crocodile

>Cooum: High tide of artistic expression

From cinemas and bookstores to theatre performances and architectural marvels, I have witnessed this great city reaching new creative heights over many decades.

>Chennai Corporation to play a key role in Cooum makeover

Following a resolution by the Chennai Corporation Council this summer, the civic body is set to do a study on the restoration of heritage landscape along the Cooum river.

>On Islands Grounds and the Cooum

Do you know that Island Grounds owes its name to the Cooum?


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Printable version | Dec 2, 2021 5:03:11 AM |

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