Vizhinjam in historical perspective

Members of Heritage Walk Trivandrum at the rock-cut cave shrine at Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.— Photo: S. Gopakumar  

he coastal village of Vizhinjam, 17 km from Thiruvananthapuram, has been in public attention for the proposed seaport project. However, not many from outside the region may have heard of the historical significance of the place.

Vizhinjam was the administrative capital of Ay kingdom, which is believed to have ruled over parts of the southern India between the 8th and 10th centuries A.D.

The region had witnessed several battles in which the Chola and Pandya dynasties attempted to gain control of the port town.

The most prominent among the monuments at Vizhinjam is a shrine, which is believed to be one of the earliest rock-cut cave temples in Kerala.

Dated to 8th century, the shrine has a central cell with an independent sculpture of Dakshinamurthy and on either side of the cell are unfinished sculptures of Siva and Parvathi.

Former Director of the Archaeology Department S. Hemachandran said the practice of establishing shrines cutting through rocks was believed to be one that belonged of the Pandya dynasty. This was also considered to be the smallest rock-cut shrine in southern India. The protected monument is under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India since 1965.

The spot was one among those visited by Heritage Walk Trivandrum, a group of history enthusiasts, on Sunday. Located close to the shrine is a twin temple structure inside a marketplace.

Recently, explorations led to the discovery of the remnants of a fort by the seashore near the lighthouse at Vizhinjam. S.V. Rajesh, Assistant Professor, Department of Archaeology, University of Kerala, said studies had hinted at the possibility of the fort being constructed between the 8th and 9th centuries. It was considered to be among the oldest forts in Kerala.

Archaeologists have also discovered artefacts, including pottery and coins, during research conducted in the region. Studies have revealed that maritime commerce flourished in Vizhinjam between the 7th and 12th centuries.

Dr. Hemachandran said the Ay kingdom had also established an educational centre known as Kanthalloor Salai, which was believed to have existed between the 9th and 10th centuries.

Vizhinjam gradually lost prominence after the 10th century after coming under constant attack of the other kingdoms.

Recent explorations have led to the discovery of remnants of a fort by the seashore near the lighthouse

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 5:29:19 PM |

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