Korkai

Korkai

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Korkai is a small village in the Srivaikuntam
Srivaikuntam
Srivaikuntam is a panchayat town in Thoothukudi district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located on the banks of the river Thamirabarani.-Geography:...

 taluk of Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

. It is situated about 3 km north of the Thamirabarani River
Thamirabarani River
The Thamirabarani River originates from the famous Agastyarkoodam peak in the hills of the Western Ghats above Papanasam in the Ambasamudram taluk and flows through Tirunelveli & Tuticorin districts of the Tamil Nadu state of southern India...

 and about 6 km from the shore of Bay of Bengal
Bay of Bengal
The Bay of Bengal , the largest bay in the world, forms the northeastern part of the Indian Ocean. It resembles a triangle in shape, and is bordered mostly by the Eastern Coast of India, southern coast of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to the west and Burma and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the...

. Korkai was the capital, principal center of trade and important port of the Early Pandyan Kingdom
Early Pandyan Kingdom
The Early Pandyas of the Sangam period were one of the three main kingdoms of the ancient Tamil country, the other two being the Cholas and the Cheras. As with many other kingdoms around this period , most of the information about the Early Pandyas come to us mainly through literary sources and...

. At that time, it was located on the banks of the Tamraparani River
Thamirabarani River
The Thamirabarani River originates from the famous Agastyarkoodam peak in the hills of the Western Ghats above Papanasam in the Ambasamudram taluk and flows through Tirunelveli & Tuticorin districts of the Tamil Nadu state of southern India...

 and at the sea coast, forming a natural harbour. Due to excessive sedimentation, the sea has receded about 6 km in the past 2000 years, leaving Korkai well inland today. The famous urn burial site, Adichanallur
Adichanallur
Adichanallur is an archaeological site near Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu, India. The town is known locally as Aathichanallur, and has been the site of a number of very important archeological digs.-Archaeological excavations:...

, is located about 15 km. from Korkai.

In ancient times, Korkai was a well known center of pearl fishery; it is mentioned often in the Sangam literature
Sangam literature
Sangam literature refers to a body of classical Tamil literature created between the years c. 600 BCE to 300 CE. This collection contains 2381 poems composed by 473 poets, some 102 of whom remain anonymous The period during which these poems were composed is commonly referred to as the Sangam...

 and in classical western literature. Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

 refers to the place as Kolkhai and says that it was an emporium. The Periplus
Periplus
Periplus is the Latinization of an ancient Greek word, περίπλους , literally "a sailing-around." Both segments, peri- and -plous, were independently productive: the ancient Greek speaker understood the word in its literal sense; however, it developed a few specialized meanings, one of which became...

says that the Pandyan kingdom extended from Comari towards the north, including Korkai, where the pearl fisheries were.

The 2000-year-old 'Vanni' tree is in Korkai.

Correct identification of Korkai by archaeo­logical excavations came in 1838. The findings of mega­lithic burial urns at Korkai indicates that it was fairly well popu­lated during megalithic times. Carbon dating of the artifacts in the area indi­cates an age of 785 BC. The finds of black and red pottery ware with old Tamil Brahmi scripts (two to four letters in a line or two), apart from drawn graffiti of the sun, fish, bow and arrow have been dated to a period between 3rd century BC and 2nd century AD. The occurrence of Roman ware, and rouletted ware indicates external links. Archeologists have found ruins of chunku­ cutting factories, centres for split opening of pearl oysters at the site.

Palaeo-channels traced from the satellite imagery scenes all around Korkai indicate that the Tamiraparani river has shifted its course progressively east and south and earlier it had mixed with sea near Thoothukudi. Interpretation of satellite imagery indicates that in the 1st and 2nd century CE, the Tamiraparani river might have flowed towards northeast from Eral, parallel to the coast and joined the sea south of Thoothukudi. Korampallam tank, Peykulam, and Arumugamangalam tank might be the relicts of palaeo channel of the Tamiraparani river. Within a short span of nearly 2000 years, now Korkai is nearly 6 Kilometers away from Bay of Bengal and 3 Kilometers north of Tamirabarani, which was once a port and in the banks of the Tamirabarani and Thoothukudi
Thoothukudi
Thoothukudi , also known as Tuticorin, is a port city and a Municipal Corporation in Thoothukudi district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Thoothukudi is the headquarters of Thoothukudi District....

 has no river.

See also

  • Early Pandyan Kingdom
    Early Pandyan Kingdom
    The Early Pandyas of the Sangam period were one of the three main kingdoms of the ancient Tamil country, the other two being the Cholas and the Cheras. As with many other kingdoms around this period , most of the information about the Early Pandyas come to us mainly through literary sources and...

  • Economy of ancient Tamil country
    Economy of ancient Tamil country
    The economy of the ancient Tamil country describes the ancient economy of a region in southern India that mostly covers the present-day states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The main economic activities were agriculture, weaving, pearl fishery, manufacturing and construction...

  • Industry in ancient Tamil country
    Industry in ancient Tamil country
    During the Sangam age, industrial activity was considered ancillary to agriculture and was mostly domestic, not factory-based. Simple workshops where the blacksmith made the wheel or the carpenter his wooden wares could be called factories of a sort. Weaving, pearl fishing, smithy and ship building...


Further reading