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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bronze statue of Karikala Chozha at Kallanai (Grand Anicut)

Of the Movendars, the Chozhas have left a lasting legacy … the heartland of the Chola dynasty was the fertile Kavery valley… and at times their kingdom encompassed the entire South India and far off places too. According to tradition, the Chola country comprised the land between two streams of Vellaru and included the modern day Trichy, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and more.  The holy river Kaveri and its Coleroon [kollidam]  dominated the landscape of rich delta of paddy fields interspersed with coconut, mango and other fruit trees.

The glory of river Kaveri formed an inexhaustible theme of early Tamil poetry and literature.  Common  names among Chola kings include Valavan and Sembiyan.  Cholas adopted Tiger as their crest and it was figured on their banner too. Some of the early day Chozha kings are mentioned in Sangam literature ~ among them most famous are : Karikala Chozhan and Kochchenganan ~ as also the town of Puhar or Kaveri Poompattinam.

Karikala Cholan was the son of Ilanchet Senni ~ the name Karikala would translate to ‘the man with charred leg’ – perpetuated in the memory of a fire accident in the early years of Prince’s life. We read that Karikala was deprived of his birth-right to rule and was confined in prison – the plucky manner of his escape and establishing to power is a favourite theme of many poets.  The battle at Venni – a village nearer Thanjavur provided the turning point in Karikala’s career.  Pattinappalai describes the destruction carried by forces of Karikala.  From the literature, it is observed that Karikala was known for his valour, faith in Vedic religion and the care for his subjects.

The Chola kingdom mingled with the river Kaveri and the raising of the banks by Karikala are mentioned by the Melapadu plates of Punyakumara.  Karikala Chola is famous for the construction of ‘the Grand Anicut’ (Kallanai).  . In January this year, Ms. Jayalalithaa, while inaugurating a memorial for Colonel John Pennycuick, the British engineer who built the century-old Mullaperiyar Dam, said a similar memorial would be created for the ancient Tamil king near the Grand Anicut.

~ now there are reports that a  14-ft statue of the king on his elephant is ready for installation. The Hindu reports that the bronze statue weighs between two and three tonnes. The image for the memorial was provided by the State government, and created by Chennai-based sculptor Kishore Nagappa “The bronze statue depicts the king astride an elephant and pointing to the kallanai. The height of the elephant is 8 ft and the king sitting on it adds another 6 ft,” said Mr. Nagappa, whose father Jayaram Nagappa created the statues of Veerama Munivar and former Chief Minister Kamaraj on the Marina, and Swami Vivekananda at Vivekananda Illam. Mr. Nagappa used ‘sandwich moulding,’ a process that is normally employed to create larger-than-life statues. “While bronze images of Gods are solid pieces, statues are made with hollow insides. Handling and putting up a solid 14-ft statue will be a Himalayan task,” he said. 

Kallanai (kall –stone & anai-bund) also known as the The Grand Anicut, is an ancient dam built on the Kaveri River, located about 20 km from Tiruchirapalli. It was built by the Chola king Karikala Cholaaround the 2nd Century AD and is considered one of the oldest water-diversion or water-regulator structures in the world, which is still in use.  Sweeping past the historic rock of Tiruchirapalli, it breaks into two channels at the island of Srirangam, which enclose between them the delta of Thanjavur (Tanjore), the garden of Tamil Nadu. The northern channel is called the Kollidam (Kolidam); the other preserves the name of Kaveri, and empties into the Bay of Bengal at Poompuhar. 

The purpose of the Kallanai was to divert the waters of the Kaveri across the fertile delta region for irrigation via canals. The dam splits the river Kaveri into 4 streams known as Kollidam Aru, Kaviri, Vennaru and Puthu Aru. It is constructed from unhewn stone spanning the Kaviri and is 329 m (1,079 ft) long, 20 m (66 ft) wide and 5.4 m (18 ft) high.  The area irrigated by the ancient irrigation network is about 69,000 acres (28,000 ha).
the one there right now (above taken in 2008) & the bronze statue...

With this statue, the wish of the delta farmers of Tamil Nadu for honouring King Karikala Chozhan is fulfilled. [bronze statue photo courtesy : the Hindu]

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

21st Nov. 2013.

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