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The Nagarathar Collection
History of Nagarathar
Nattukottai Chettiars also called Nattukottai Nagarathars, are believed to have migrated to Kanchipuram during Kaliyuga era, year 204 and lived there for 2,108 years. Again no written record is available for this. They are said to have moved to Kaviripoom Pattinam, a coastal city and port also known as Poombugar, Capital of Chola Nadu, in Kaliyuga era, year 2312. They lived in Kaviripoom Pattinam for 1463 years until Kaliyuga era, year 3775.They were then known as Nattukottayars. Silapathigaram and Periyapuranam describe Kaviripoom Pattinam and bear testimony to the greatness of Nattukottayar community there. They are said to have traveled from Kaviripoom Pattinam to Melaka during Chola Dynasty as traders in Gem, Pearls, Silk and Spices. But available records indicate they traveled to Kandy, Colombo in 1805, Penang, Singapore 1824, Moulmein 1852, Rangoon 1854, Mandalay 1885 and later to Medan - Indonesia, Hochimin City (Saigon) Vietnam, Pnompen Cambodia, Vientiane Los, Southern Thailand, various States in Peninsular Malaysia, established money lending business and subsequently some of them settled there.
It has been said that available records at Patharakudi madam, Thulavoor madam indicate the arrival of Nattukottayrs in Pandiya Nadu during Kaliyuga era, year 3808. They first settled in Ilayathankudi and were called Nagarathar as they had attained Thanavanigar status while at Poombugar.

Nattukottayar are said to have lived in splendour at Kaviripoom Pattinam. While the King lived in the City in his castle (kottai), Nattukottayar lived in their countryside mansions (Kottai). Hence, 'nattupurathil kottai katti valnthathal' they were then called 'Nattukottayar'. 'Thanavanigar' status attributes to their mercantile activities in Poombugar.

Their principal obligation to the Royal family was to Crown the King during Coronation ceremony. King Poovandi Cholan's misdeed caused 8,000 Thanavanigar families inclusive of women and all female children to perish in suicide to save their Honour, Reputation and Dignity. Only male children at Kurugulam (Community Boarding School) out of Town survived. After nine years (Kaliyuga era, year 3784) King Poovandi Cholan requested young Thanavanigars to crown his son Erajapooshna Cholan. They consented and to comply with tradition that only married person could perform crowning ceremony young Thanavanigars married 'Vellalar' community women.

King Sounthara Pandiyan of Madurai Nagar wishing for good immigrants to dwell in his Kingdom, requested King Erajapooshana Cholan and in Kaliyuga era, year 3808, Thanvanigars migrated to Pandiya Nadu. They first settled in Ilayathankudi and were called 'Nagarathars'. Ilayathankudiar retained Ilayathankudi Kovil. To the others, King Sounthara Pandiayan granted Mathoor Kovil, Vairavan Patti Kovil in Kaliyuga era, year 3813. Irraniyur Kovil, Pillayar Patti Kovil, Illuppakkudi Kovil in Kaliyuga era, year 3815. Soorakkudi Kovil and Velangudi Kovil in Kaliyuga era, year 3819.

Note: Many Scholars opine; Thanvanigars migrated to Pandiya Nadu at the invitation of King Sounthara Pandiyan. Others say, the male children at 'Kurugulam' fled under the guidance of the Guru and sought refuge in Pandiya Nadu.

Salvage operations going on at Poombugar site has unearthed some ancient Temples buried in the sea. Tamilnadu State Government announced their plan to excavate stone carvings at ancient Temple sites. We hope these would produce some source of information on early Nagarathar community in Poombugar.

Temple inscriptions carved in stone, copper plates and 'Olai Chuvadi' (palm-leaf manuscripts) available in Madalayams and Libraries bear testimony to the aforesaid grants from King Sounthara Pandiyan. Subsequent British Administration is said to have authenticated referred grants and issued Document of Tile to the various Temples. (I have during my younger days seen the Title Deed signed by the then Governor of Madras Presidency, in respect of the 12 odd acres of land granted to Soorakkudi Kovil).

Historians belive, when Thanavanigars arrived at Chola Nadu, King Manuneethi Cholan honoured them by granting 'Singak kodi' (Flag with Lion emblem/logotype) and decreed that they would be the Prinicpal Vaisigar and Maguda Vaisigar. He permitted them to inhabit in three streets at Kaviripoompattinam, excepting the North Street wherein other merchant community had already taken residence.

It is said that, before the 8,000 Thanavanigar families, inclusive of women and all female children, perished in suicide, their male children, perished in suicide, their male children from the aforesaid seven groups, were left in
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