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The Iyers of Palghat

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Legends of the PI (Palghat Iyer)

The arrival of Tamil Brahmins to Kerala is shrouded in some amount of mystery. No specific details are available and only general conjectures can be made. While the migrations to Palakkad or Palghat can be summarized to be from Kumbakonam or Trichy, the arrival of Brahmins to the Tali area of Calicut was for other reasons and happened much later. This article will then go on to spend some time on the stone inscription at Kalpatti.

The commonly accepted reasons for the westerly migration follows the events at Madurai and its environs as explained in my article about Malikkafur

Let me once again borrow words from Tamil Tribune. King Maravarman Kulasekhara Pandyan (1268 - 1310) had two sons Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan and Jatavarman Veera Pandyan. The elder son, Sundara Pandyan, was by the king's wife and the younger, Veera Pandyan, was by a mistress. Contrary to tradition, the king proclaimed that the younger son would succeed him. This enraged Sundara Pandyan. He killed the father and became king in 1310. Some local chieftains in the kingdom swore allegiance to the younger brother Veera Pandian and a civil war broke out. Sundara Pandyan was defeated and he fled the country. He sought help from the far off northern ruler Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji who was ruling much of northern India from Delhi. At that time, his army under General Malik Kafur was in the south at Dvarasamudra (far to the north of Tamil Nadu). Khilji agreed to help Sundara Pandyan and ordered Malik Kafur's army to march to Tamil Nadu. With Sundara Pandyan's assistance, this Muslim army from the north entered Tamil Nadu in 1311. Kafur and his troops created mayhem in the area for a full year, looting and pillaging, finally carrying an immense treasure on 312 elephants, 20,000 horses and 10 crore gold coins.

It was apparently during this period that the Brahmins of Madurai and the surrounding area started to feel insecure about their existence and livelihood. Fearing persecution, these people started to migrate to the Chera country through the well-traveled Palakkad Pass and the routes through Dindigul and Pollachi. The southern route from Karur passes through Dharapuram and Udumalpet to Pollachi and Palghat. This route is remarkable as the line of migration of the Tanjore Brahmin to Palghat through Pollachi. Normally they would have congregated around temples. Nevertheless, the systems of Cheranaad were different since only Nambuthiris were allowed to perform religious rites in temples. Being learned and lettered, these Brahmins settled to perform other duties in the temples sometimes competing with Ambalavasis and also moved on to support the bureaucracies of smaller regional kings as astrologers, accountants, scribes, advisers etc. It is also stated that continuous drought over many years in the Kaveri Delta area also triggered migration of Tanjore Brahmins to Kerala. In some cases, as you will see, they went on to build and conduct their vedic rites in their own temples. However there are also other accounts which point to earlier migrations around the 8th century. Most of these migrants settled close to the Nila river banks around Palghat.

Narayan Murthi on his website states the following - Our own Josier family came from Kandramanickam Village, in Trichy District, and we are identified as Kandramanickam Brahacharanam. Yes, people also came in groups from Madurai, Erode areas, Tiruvannamalai (the whole of Nurani is from there and all are Brahacharanam). Pallipuram and Tirunallayi people came from around Conjeevaram and Sreerangam and brought with them the Vaishnavaite influence on their rituals and practices. They wear the Namam, have mostly Vaishnavaite names and pay obeisance to the Jeer at Srirangam and not to the Sankaracharyas.

 As is commonly understood, Kerala Iyers, like the Iyers of Tamil Nadu and the Namboothiris of Kerala, belonged to the Pancha Dravida classification of India's Brahmin community and mostly belonged to the Vadama and Brahacharanam sub-sects. Iyers were usually employed as cooks, musicians and temple assistants, since they were not allowed to conduct pooja as the priest (shanthi) in Kerala temples which followed Tantric rituals. So Kerala Iyers built their own temples in their Agraharams to conduct their poojas and rites. In Kerala, these migrant Brahmins are commonly referred to as Bhattars. This was one of the earlier surnames used by the Tamil Brahmins and later on got corrupted to Pattar by the Englishman who coined the usage in English.

But let us also look at the story of the Palghat Raja’s which I recounted some years earlier. and the account of Stuart Blackburn quoting an old man whom he met - Sometime in the 1500s when Palghat was a small principality under the Cochin Raja, only Nambudiris lived here. Then a young prince of the Palghat ruling family, I think he was named Sekhari Varma, fell in love with a tribal girl. The Cochin Raja opposed this marriage, but the prince refused to budge and married the girl. Suddenly all the Nambudiris left and the prince sent to Tamil Nadu for Brahmins to conduct temple rites. These Pattars [Tamil Brahmins] had been coming to an annual Vedic scholar’s convention at Tirunavaya [near Pattambi] and so they knew the area. So they decided to settle in Palghat. Then the tribal queen turned all the Bhagavatis into tribal goddesses—Emur Bhagavati, Min Bhagavati, Manapully Bhagavati. The Pattars came from Tanjore, Madurai, and Kancipuram, and even now you can see this history in the names of their agraharams [settlements], for instance Chokanathapuram, after Siva's name at Madurai. He also explains that Tamil Brahmins in Palghat, for example, celebrate Rama's birthday in association with Valmiki's Sanskrit epic or Ezhuttachan's Malayalam text but not Kampan's.

Madhava Menon in his Handbook of Kerala cites the instance of the boycott of the Palghat Raja by the Nambutiris of Palghat in support of the Zamorin when the Palghat Raja asked Hyder Ali help in getting the Zamorin off his back. The Palghat Raja in retaliation brought in Tamil Brahmins and settled them in 64 settlements around Palghat, granting them lands and privileges and allowing them to perform rights in Palghat temples. But Logan goes on to explain further the connection established even earlier between the Palghat Raja and the Pattars - One account states that they (Palghat Rajas or Achans) are descendants of one of the Pandyan Kings of Madura, However this may be, the family has for some reason or other lost caste. There are various stories current as to how this happened, and a mis-alliance with a woman of the Malabar caste on the part of the reigning chief is the generally credited origin of the fact. It appears to have taken place previously to the first influx of East Coast Brahmins (Pattar) into Palghat, for water, which, from the hands of the polluted Raja, would have conveyed pollution to the recipient, was not used in conferring grants of land to the Pattar and flour, a non-polluting substance, it is said, was used instead. Land grants were thus made; it is said, to 96 Pattar villages or agraharams in Palghat.  

 According to the Shashibhooshan's, the word agraharam has various etymological meanings. It indicates the conglomeration (haram) of the first among the four varnas (castes). Agraharam also indicates a cluster of houses with a temple of Shiva on the agram (extreme tip) of the street. Agraharams are inherently inhabited by the Brahmins.

 Logan in his Malabar Manual, lists the 19 gramam’s of Palghat being Kalpathi, Pazhaya Kalpati, Chatapuram, Govindarajapuram, Vaidyanathapuram, Kumarapurama, Lakshminarayanapuram, Mukka, Chokkanathapuram, Puttamkurichi, Sekharipuram, Ramanathapuram, Tarekad, Vadakkanthara, Noorni, Nellisheri, Thondikulam, Pallipuram, Tirunellayi. Mukkai is where the rivers of Palayar, Walayar and Malayar unite to form the Kalpathy River. Out of the 18-19 gramams in Palakkad, Thirunellai and Pallipuram are settled by Vaishnavites, whereas the rest by Saivaites. It is also said that migrants from Madurai established themselves first near Chokkanathapuram, and those from Pollachi and Dindigul established the villages of Kollengode, Koduvayur, Chittoor, and Thattamangalam which were nearer to their travel route. Sekharipuram, was perhaps founded by migrants originating from the village of the same name near Tanjore (It is also possible for Sekharipuram to have been named after Rajashekara Varma of Palghat). Those from Vaitheeswaran Koil called their village as Vaidyanatha puram, those from Madurai called their village as Chokkanathapuram , those from Champa called their village as Chempai and so on. But then, Pallipuram as the name itself indicated, the existence of either a Moslem mosque or a Jain temple in the past, perhaps the latter, and Noorni as a word is also considered to be non-Hindu.

Nevertheless, the lands where they settled in became their Karma bhumi as against the east coast which they consider their Punya bhumi or Gnana bhumi. Interestingly, in a Karma bhumi you attain salvation only by good deeds whereas in a Gnanabhumi you attain it by the mere fact that you were born in it, irrespective of their actions. Nagam Aiyya in his TSM explains that this is the reason why they prefer to die in the Punya bhumi and not in Kerala lest they be born an ass in their next birth!! (That finally explained to me why second and third generation PI’s or Pattars still try to maintain that they are Tamilians and not Malayalis – I always used to think the insistence was due to linguistic ties).

So much for the migration theories, but the Palghat Brahmin community produced many a great bereaucrat, many a great cook, many a great film personality and many famous administrators and secretaries, not to mention musical stalwarts, be it film music or Carnatic music!! So they did take their karma very seriously, as you can see. I admire them a lot.

Now let us get to the Kalpathi stone inscription and Prof SV Venkateshwara’s conclusions. I have not been to this temple myself for a long tinme and I understand most of the inscription is gone, but for those interested, it will be reproduced here again from Prof Venkateshwara’s essay.

 Kalpathi or Kalpathy also known as Dakshin Kasi or the 'Varanasi of the South is an early Tamil Brahmin settlement (agraharam) is close to the Olavakkot ( Now called Palghat) railway station. Like before we will start with a legend. Until the turn of the last century, an Iyer widow was never allowed to remarry. Once her husband dies, an Iyer woman had to tonsure her head. She had to remove the kunkumam or the vermilion mark on her forehead, and was required to smear her forehead with the sacred ashes. Well one such widow tracing the route of Kannagi, ventured out to Cheranad around the early decades of the 15th century. She was obviously wealthy, for she carried with her some 1,400 panams – presumably in gold and naturally did not want to have anything to do with her punya bhumi. Legend has it that this Lakshmi Ammal, a widow of Sekharipuram (Ammal, brought the Shiva Lingam from Kasi (Varanasi) during her visit to that holy place.) and gave the prince Ittikombi Achan, 1320 of those gold coins in 1424-25 AD and requested him to consecrate the Siva Lingam and construct a temple on the banks of Nila River. Legends also say that Lakshmi Ammal handed over the responsibility of managing the temple affairs. While the involvement of the king is confirmed, the donor is still a legend.

The temple, regarded as one of the oldest in Malabar is also known as Kundukovil and of course as mentioned previously, Dakshina Kashi. The temple houses the deities of Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati, who is worshipped as Visalakshi. The temple as such is built on the banks of the Kalpathy River a tributary of the NIla or Bharathapuzha, and surrounded by New Kalpathy, Old Kalpathy, Chathapuram and Govindarajapuram. The Kalpathy temple is linked to the Kasi Viswanatha Swami Temple, because the main deity here is Lord Siva and the temple is on the banks of river Kalpathy, like Kasi on the banks of river Ganges. This is the reason for the saying, Kasiyil Pathi Kalpathy, that is, half of Kasi is Kalpathy. Towards the end of the year, the PI’s come back on vacation with trainloads of relatives to partake in the Ratholsavam or the chariot festival. The Kalpathy car festival is one of the biggest festivals of Malabar and a week-long Carnatic music festival, in which leading musicians perform, precedes the car festival.

Kalpathy and the other 18 Agraharams in the town are usually spruced up for the festivities. The temples and the houses in the Agraharams are all decked up and it is usually an occasion for family reunion. People who have continued their modern day migrations, in search of jobs and livelihood return for the Kalpathy Ratholsavam, which marks the beginning of the six-month-long car festivals in the temples of the 98 Agraharams in the district.

Kalpathy also got into the news for wrong reasons during the self-respect movement period 1924-26 when caste rivalries took place in South India. An Ezhava police office was supposedly deputed in 1924 to oversee the chariot festival, and the Brahmins of the agraharam took offence. They contended that the Kalpathi streets are not the King's highway but private property. The Arya Samajists got riled up and tried to march through the streets. Arthur Knapp the home member was asked to enquire into the matter. The arya samajists complained that if Christians and Moslems could enter such villages, they as Hindus could.Soon Swami Shraddanand arrived. When a breach of peace was anticipated, the Madras government served prohibitory orders on the Samajists during the event. In 1925, some violence occurred when another attempt was made, but eventually the Samaj movement seems to have fizzled out. But then again, look at the history - The community itself came to Palghat thanks in part to the event when the king married a lower caste person! Interesting turn of events right?

Anyway let’s get back to the historic front and the stone inscription. The stone inscription in front of the Kalpathy Shiva Temple tells the connection between the temple, its upkeep by the local king lttikombi Achan. Now we will spend some time on the inscription itself and its importance in history. Fortunately the Archeological society took an impression of the inscription in 1895 and later around 1914, so we have it here, as posted. The writing itself is made on one side and extends to the other. The stone was placed between the Nandi and the flag staff. The inscriptions are made in vattezhuttu, in Malayalam. It is dated to 1424 or 1464.


As Prof Venkateshwara explains –

The subject-matter of the inscription is the grant to the temple (of Visvanitha-Svamin) of land, income, and precious metal and utensils, and the constitution of ‘marumakan" Ittikombi and (his) younger brother (anantiravan) as trustees thereof. The inscription seems to have been cut at the bidding of Rayiran Kandatt Pangi under orders from his master, who was apparently the then Raja of Palghat (Rayiran perhaps denotes the position or title of a scribe). The name of the donor is not given in the inscription. He may have been an elderly member of the Palghat Raja's family, judging from the references to Ittikombi as marumaka and to mele karanavar. The latter epithet may refer to the Raja himself.

The inscription represents the manas receiving 1320 panams (coins) and bound to give 132 panams every year as interest to the temple. The context here shows that a rate of 10 per cent was charged at interest payable every year on the 10 panams given to each of the Brahman house. We have here a very interesting instance of the way in which endowments to temples were made and worked, a lumpsum was invested with every householder, who was bound by the terms of the contract to pay the interest on that sum every year to the authorities of the temple on whose behalf the investment was made. The contract held good in perpetuity; but the obligation implied in was not personal, but territorial.



Thus, the subject matter of the inscription is the grant to the deity Viswanatha Swamin of the Kalpatti temple of so much property real and moveable and the constitution of members of the Ittikombi section of the Palghat Raja’s family as trustees thereof.

When you study the essay in more detail or try to understand the exemplary study done by Prof Venkateshwara of Kumbhakonam, you wonder at the way these experts get to the bottom of the story by the study of words and script. I have deliberately not gone into those details for fear that such aspects would scare away the interested readers I still have in the study of Malabar’s history. But if somebody is seriously interested, you know whom to contact.

A few words on the Pattars of Calicut and Travancore are also added for completeness. According to Narayana Murthy, some migrants did climb up the Cumbum Hills crossing over Munnar, Peermede etc. and settled in Kottayam, Haripad, Vaikom, Ambalapuzha etc. The Agraharams south of Trivandrum such as Nagerkoil, Vadiveswaram, Sucheendram etc, already existed in the past, as Chola territory.

But how can I forget the Pattars of Tali and the fantastic Lakshmi store which I always visit while in Calicut? The mixture, the sweets and pickles, not to mention, the vadakams and so on are delicious. Well, perhaps they migrated during the periods when the Zamorins had issues with the Nambuthiris over the Tali Siva temple which I wrote earlier (refer the Revathi Pattathanam article) and the Kolathiri prince. Banning Nambuthiri’s from his court, he had invited Brahmin scholars from Tamil Nadu to take their place. These Tamil Brahmins settled around the Tali Siva temple. According to eminent historians, they arrived in Kozhikode as dependents of the chieftains, working as cooks, cloth merchants and moneylenders. Some other day, when I have collected more information on them, I will narrate their story too, perhaps while introducing the stalwart Manjeri Rama Iyer.

References

Epigraphica Indica. v.15 1919-1920, The Kalpatti Stone Inscription – Prof SV Venkateshwara MA, Kumbhakonam
Malabar Manual Volume 2 - Logan
Historic alleys – Malik Kafur in Malabar
Historic alleys – Revathi Pattathanam
Historic alleys – Royalty of Palghat
A video on kalpathy
Inside the drama house- Stuart Blackburn

98 comments:

  1. Vivek

    I always wanted to know the history of Palakkad Iyers in detail; All that I knew was that they migrated from somewhere in Tamilnadu; never knew why, when, the story behind Kalpathy. Your post is so detailed and informative that I would have paid to read such a post.

  1. Maddy

    thanks Vivek.
    glad you enjoyed it..there is one angle I am yet to analyse, the saivite movement in Madurai, the antagonism with the vasihnavites and if it had any effect

  1. soorya narayan

    very interesting :) i have Kerala Iyer friends from Palghat ,Ambalapuzha and also recent arrivals to Trivandrum from Tenkasi .

  1. Maddy

    thanks soorya narayan
    nice to hear from you, glad you liked this..keep in touch

  1. gopalji

    Nice article, explained much in detail.. Am in the process of collecting data on Palakkad agraharams, festivals, scholars, musicians,personalities etc. Will need your valuable support.
    Gopal
    gopalji65@gmail.com

  1. gopalji

    Excellent article explained much in detail. Am in the process of collecting article on Palkkad agraharams, festivals, musicians, sanskrit scholars etc.
    will need your help in this regard.
    best regards,
    Gopal
    gopalji65@gmail.ocm

  1. Maddy

    thanks goplaji...
    no problems, let me know what you need and thanks for the comment

  1. Kartik Srinivasan

    Thanks a lot for an excellent article. I have been looking for information on Palakkad Iyer Migration, but more rooted in historical fact than legends. Would be obliged if can you share with me the detailed study of Prof Venkateswara and any other historical info you have.

    So one clear dateable fact is that around 1420s, there were PI agraharams already established. There is also a theory that when the Palakkad king disputed with Zamorin in 1750s and asked for Hyder Ali's help, the Zamorin and his Nambuthiris boycotted him and hence the Palakkad king invited Brahmin families from Tamilnad. How plausible is this. Is there any historical evidence for this?

    My ancestors belonged to Koduvayur and the Ramanathapuram agraharam. Wife is from Tali. Please do share knowledge about the history of these agraharams.
    Thanks
    Kartik

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Kartik - yes, I have covered this in the 8th para. Yet another wave if you ask me. Perhaps more of the experienced poojari category.

    I will get back to Koduvayur one of these days, as I used to live there. Do you mean Tali in Calicut?

  1. muthu

    My ancestors belonged to Noorni Palghat. My Father and his eldest brother have passed away. My periappa is alive and I had requested him to write about Palghat Iyers, which he has done in malayalam and sent to me. If I have your permission I would like to post it on this page. Its lengnthy but a very iteresting narrative.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Muthu..
    yes pls go ahead, it will add color to the narratives...

  1. Suresh Krishnamurthi

    As an amateur anthropologist,, interested in our migration, I had a theory that Haripad etc were bastions of brahmins who came through the Shencottah pass, and therefore the people there were referred to by Palakadans as "Pandi kara".

  1. Maddy

    thanks suresh
    migration always brought in new ideas, new blood and we see that even today. always for the good...

  1. Maddy

    thanks rachaelveedec....
    glad to note the input..after all, it is always important to understand one's origins...

  1. Ramu Ramakesavan

    Maddy,

    This post is so close to heart. My father was born in Pattambi and brought up in Noorni. My mother was from Trichur; however, I was born and brought up in Bombay. I recall my parents told us stories that included names of so many places and events you have referred to in this post.

    One time my father took me to Tiruvennamalai temple and told me we are ancestrally from that place. I felt no connection to that place, but the Brahmin priests in the temple who performed the pooja and owned the curio shops seemed so close to me in temperament and mannerism. I would have acted exactly the same had the roles been reversed. Interesting how the culture gets transmitted down the generations.

    You have made my day. Thank you so much for this post. Keep up the good work.

    Ramu

  1. vinit narayanan

    A real wonderful article on palaghat iyer.. Myself being a palaghat iyer i was clueless where actually i belong to. To add to my woes coming from a defense family i have always travel to most of the other place of our country, but used to come to palaghat for holidays..Not that i regret knowing the other part of my country, i always missed about my roots.thanks for apprising me on palaght Iyer real roots.hope to read more article from you.

  1. Girish

    Any clue as to the origins of PIs from Mathur Gramam. My ancestors are from there and after reading this article I would love to know their origin as well.

    Very informative blog and blogpost.

  1. Girish

    Can you share any clues about the PIs staying in Mathur gramam. My ancestors are from there and I would love to know their actual origin.

    You are maintaining an excellent blog. Appreciate it.

  1. Maddy

    thanks ramu..
    as i said to another Palakkadan, the idiosyncrasies of palakkadans are best understood by people of the region...there will be more stories on Palghat coming up...

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Girish...
    I am not sure I can help you with the request right now, but when I am in Palghat next I will check and get back

  1. Maddy

    thanks vinit..
    oh you have a lot of interesting people with roots from palghat and if you follow films you'd be surprised..

    vidya balan, priyamani, sankar mahadevan, trisha, sudha chandran...the list goes on..

  1. nandu

    Music stalwarts there are many and from above , we see there are many in the film industry, cooks as everyone says, there were many cooks from mangalore, and film actors from sriram gam as well. Shri T.N. Seshan once remarked in a public talk in Bangalore , claiming we were cooks ,politicians ,musicians and crooks. He was big on politics are there anymore to say and remember ? Nice work Maddy . Enjoyed reading and looking forward if unare still doing more posts on Palghat I years. One of my parent from chittur and I read they have moved from tricky. Through polls hi. My grandfather says his ancestors were from thirupathy.? I will research for my dad's place and let u know if the past research adds with whatever he can say about his families many thanks

  1. Phytotech Extracts

    The article is very interesting and informative about the history of Palghat iyers. When I met the Brahmin families of Pallippuram I took an impression that they were Aiangars as all of them wear NAAMAM on the Forehead. Later I spoke to some of them and they confirmed that they are Brahmins from Pallippuram gramam.

    Please post more articles.

    Regards,
    Venki Hariharan

  1. Srijith Unni

    Interesting article! Again yet another aspect which I've heard about. I am not sure of it's authenticity is that there was a big incident involving a Namboodiri Woman, "Kuriyedath Thathri", who had illicit affairs with several prominent members of the Namboodiri Community and this led to there being a SmarthaVicharam, wherein the outcaste lady is questioned for several days together and all involved members were banished from the community. This led to a severe damage to the Namboodiri community as a whole and led to much reform and social movements, like Yoga Kshema Sabha, which later fell apart as the Communist revolution began. During this period since it was found that several of the distinguished members of the Namboodiri community who were supposed to conduct the Smarthavicharam, were themselves tainted, the help of Tamil Brahmins was taken to help complete this ceremony and that it is during this period of change, that Tamil Iyers more or less gained an equal footing among the Kerala Brahmin community.

  1. vichus2003

    I must thank my wife smt rohini for forwarding the write up to me.though I belong to thali of Calicut I visit the place once in an year to pray in valayanad temple,our family deity.your article particularly on kandarmanickam brahacharanam,to which subsect I belong is very informative.
    Looking forward to more such informative write ups
    Vichu,coimbatore

  1. Maddy

    Srijith
    take a look at this old article of mine, for details

    http://maddy06.blogspot.com/2009/07/kuriyedathu-thathriyude-smartavicharam.html

  1. Ramachandran

    Thanx for this.The other day my brother asked me about the migration.I asked him to look at Kuladevatha.Our Kuladeavatha is Maragathavalli Amman of Kalladakurichi.So roots are there.But my dad is from Irinjalakuda and mom from Mankavu,Clt.Tvm Brahmins were brought by the Raja when Padmanabhaswamy temple was made,according to Sotry of the temple,written by Aswathi Thirunal.

  1. RS Vaidyanathan

    Maddy. Thanks from one Palghat Iyer to another !!. so many intricacies of migration which I have been hearing by word of mouth, tempts to ask for more. My father was from Ramanathapuram village and Mother from Taliparamba. I wonder the interweaving of Brahmin communities even in those early days when communication and transport was difficult, was nothing short of marvel. Please give us more information.
    R.S.Vaidyanathan.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks ramachandran..
    that means that your mothers side had somebody working for the zamorin in padinjare kovilakam!! interesting

  1. Maddy

    thanks nandu
    i do have some palghat posts in this blog, just do a search and you will get them, i will also be doing one on kongan pada soon

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Venki H.
    that is interesting, I have not really come across any iyengar villages in Palghat. have to check it out. Yes, there were stray families, but not a whole agraharam..

  1. Maddy

    Thansk Vaiydyanathan..
    Actualy I am a Nair from palghat..
    Nevertheless, the reasons for the migration in Kerala between the iyers is due to old village connections and also due to the fact that pattars were the original messengers between the kings/naduvazhis acorss kerala, as they were able to travel unmmolested in troubled times. They were the first harkaras of kerala...
    A little bit about harkaras here,
    http://maddy06.blogspot.com/2010/01/dak-harkaka.html

  1. Rama Chandran

    My mother's father,Venkatarama Sastrigal was a scholar in Revathi Pattathanam.The role of pattar as messenger is true:It was the duty of a Tamil Brahmin to tell the public that the woman has bn excomminicated,after smartha vicharam

  1. sn

    It is so good to know about my ancestors and the rich heritage of Iyer community. Thanks for the good research. I forwarded this blog to my parents.

  1. rekhabaala

    Great insight into the origin of the PI community. My husband is from Palakkad and I come from Cochin - with roots in Tirunelveli district - which has been very well traced and documented (how the Tirunelveli Brahmins migrated to Cochin). I always used to tease my husband that he has clue to where he originates from and he is more Malayali than Tamizh.

  1. Maddy

    thanks ramachandran and sn..
    appreciate your comments

  1. Maddy

    thanks rekha baala..
    may i ask - when and why did the Tirunelveli Brahmans move? did they come to Travancore or elsewhere?

  1. rekhabaala

    http://shanmatha.blogspot.com/2011/11/kochi-thekke-thalam-my-favorite-temples.html
    This may help.

  1. Harish Ramachandran

    Hi Maddy! Thanks. I was born in Palakkad and spent several joyful summers in Vaidyanathapuram. It felt great to read about towns/purams I used to visit and play. To this day i dont know the name of the river (rivulet) that flows near Vaidyanathapuram, only calling it as Aathankarai.
    I remember my grandfather saying to get off at Olavakode station and I would be confused!!

    Excuse my rambling, but please do write more about Palakkad and the Iyers - I would like to know more.

    Thanks once again

  1. Manjula

    Hi:

    Amazingly interesting. I wanted to know about Nairs and their origins in greater detail. Have you an article about them too?

  1. Manjula

    Hi:

    Amazingly interesting. I wanted to know about Nairs and their origins in greater detail. Have you an article about them too?

  1. Maddy

    thanks manjula..

    yes there is - take a look at this
    http://historicalleys.blogspot.com/2009/08/on-origin-of-nairs.html

  1. Shruti

    I find your blog very fascinating. As a Malabari, now residing in NC, I thoroughly enjoyed the content and delivery!
    👍👍
    -Mini

  1. Maddy

    Thnaks Mini..

    Plenty more at this blog and also at maddys ramblings,you will find the link at the top

    rgds

  1. kamakshy.v

    its very interesting. as a research scholar in migration of tamil brahmins to kerala it is really informative for me. can i get the original documents for verification.

  1. kamakshy.v

    this topic is really informative for me. i'm a research scholar on migration of tamil brahmins to kerala.

  1. kamakshy.v

    this is really informative for me. i'm a research scholar on migration of tamil brahmins to kerala especially through bharathapuzha regions.i really think this blog really helps me a lot.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks kamakshy.
    please email me with details of what you need and I will try to help.Clink under profile and you can get my email id.

  1. Shilpa Subramanian

    Hello Sir. Interesting read. Would be great if we can get some info on the Brahmin settlements in Wayanad district and the agraharams there.My maternal line is from Wayanad.

  1. Shilpa Subramanian

    Interesting read sir. I have tried to read every available article on this. However, there seems to be not much insight into the Brahmin settlements in Wayanad. Please share if you have any details. My maternal line is from Wayanad and paternal from Palakkad.

  1. rads

    Interesting read.My dad still alive is from Langeswaram gramam of Chittor. He has traced back his ancestory to Tanjore Brahmapuri.His Great grandpa was called Bhramapureswaran Thandaveswaran ( Bhramu iyer).My dad is called Thandaveswaran.He sold his agraharam house in Langaeshwaram 20 yrs ago.This house he said hosted seven generations.The Bhajana madam there was donated by his grandpa.To this day the Chittor ther starts from that house.The house was donated by the Raja and the ancestors served in his court.They had a lot of land or padams that were taken away during the communist revolution. I always wondered about the migration.This sure gives more food for thought.Thanks a lot.

  1. Raji

    This article is very interesting and informative. We're from Puthamkurichi (present day Venkatesapuram). My great-grandfather,Bharathan Pattar, was a cook of some repute.

  1. Nurani Vydeeswaran Sundaram

    The articles says that Nurani is non-Hindu name. I believe the writer does not know the history of Nurani. Nurani as a whole was a Namboothiri Illam of a large proportion with 100 children. Hence the Illam was known as Nurunni Illam. The Head of the family pleased with the migrant brahmins who belong to Thanjavur settled them in the illam land. Subsequently the settlers built their own temples in the land. The main temple has a consecration for the Illam Namboothiri. All Nuranians worship the Illam Namboothiri first before pray at the main dieties. Nurunni subsequently got corrupted into Nurani.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks Sundaram
    Your comment started a little our of context as I said - Noorni as a 'word' is also considered to be non-Hindu. Noorunni is another matter. Thanks for the input and you are right, i am not aware of Noorni history in particular.

    But then again, a little thought will make the myth (not history) sound improbable. In a nambuthiri illam only the eldest nampoothiri marries and only his children live in the illam, as far as I know. For a hundred children - unni's to be contemporary ...hmmm food for thought... Let me check with the namputhiri experts.

  1. Nurani Vydeeswaran Sundaram

    My Dear Sri Maddy,
    I don't think word Noorni coined with a non-Hindu name. 'Noorani' as a word relates to a muslim surname. Incidently inhabitants on the edge of the village are muslims and co-exist in peace, may be from the time of Tippu Sultan. It is possible that their ancestors may have forcebly got converted to Islam during Tippu Sultan's "Padayottam Period". I don't have any proof to enlighten the fact.

  1. Parvathy Swaminathan

    Yet another tam brahm who is curious to know her ancestry. My paternal grandfather migrated to kochi from Chittoor and that is all that I know. Even my father does not have any info on our roots other than the name of our kuladevatha which is Madappalli Madonna in Palakkad. My paternal grandmother is from thripunithura and I highly suspect that her ancestral migration was more recent than my father's side and has several prominent musicians like T V Gopalakrishnan and T V Ramani. Coming to my mother's side, she is more malayali than tamil and only knows that her paternal grandmother was from a very wealthy family from Veembil , Trichur. I would love to know where my ancestors came from.

  1. Parvathy Swaminathan

    I am yet another tam brahm interested in knowing my ancestory. It is quite unfortunate at there are no written records to give us some idea about our roots. My paternal grandfather moved to Kochi from Chittor, in Palakkad and all that my father knows is that our kula daivam is Madappalli Kavu. My paternal grandmother was from thripunithura and we have done renowned musicians on her side. I highly suspect that he ancestral migration was more recent as I remember my mom complaining about her mother in laws cooking.:) My mom hails from velappaya a small village in Trichur and is more malayali than tamil.The only thing she knows about her side of family is that her paternal grandmother was from Veembil, Trichur and that she was from a wealthy family :

  1. Parameswaran Nair

    can you furnish the history of Mukkai siva temple in detail.



    Parameswran K N
    Mattumantha

  1. Jayashree Krishnan

    Great work.As a Tirunelveli District man from Shencottah of old Travancore Cochin Samastanam I liked the article very much.Congrats.

  1. Swaminathan Narayanaswamy

    Very well researched article and thanks a lot for your efforts. I used to have sketchy and vague ideas on whether we belonged to ancestors from Kumbakonam or elsewhere and i was told from my name it is clear we were from Kumbakonam.As you are well aware sons are named after grandparents from both sides.I mam glad you too are an Electrical Engineer. Myself also from REC Warangal 1968 batch.
    Swaminathan

  1. Maddy

    thanks Parvathy, Parameswaran, jayashree and swaminathan..
    Glad to hear from you all.
    I will certainly add more information as and when i come across Iyer migration while delving into other research topics..
    regarding temples I saw that there was a book on temples in Kerala in DC books - perhaps you can check and surely the temple at Mukkai is covered.
    Malabar manual actually gives some details, and mukkai is where palayar, malayar & walayar join to create kalpathy river. Apparently lord Rama created it at the insistence of Lakshmana since Ganges water was not available when they were in these parts during the exile..
    See also my post on Surpanaka.
    http://maddy06.blogspot.com/2011/04/surpanakha-story-of-woman-scorned.html

  1. Maddy

    i also saw that the Wikipedia Kerala Iyers article has borrowed parts of this post verbatim without any attribution..

  1. parlikar

    Interesting, I also live at Chapel Hill, NC and would like to meet you.
    My name is P N V Krishnan,a pattar from Kerala.Pl email me your contact details
    pnvster@gmail.com
    regards

  1. Giridhar Vp

    Thank YOU mr maddy.
    I have always wanted to know about my roots and this article is the best i have read so far.pls continue writing such articles.
    ps:even i am from kozhikode

  1. kamakshy.v

    namaskaram sir. This is kamakshy once again. i tried to contact u over email but couldn't find.sir,is there any email id to contact you.

  1. Maddy

    thanks giridhar..
    thanks kamakshy
    it is umanmadhan@gmail.com

  1. D.Ravi Shankar

    Sir,
    I happened to read your article more by chance as i wished to know more about Ramachandrapuram where a sister of a friend of mine has been advised to offer Annadhanam at perhaps an Orphanage,by an Astrologer of repute from Noorani.
    I am spellbound by the coverage which is authentic and empirical.As a person who writes on selected temples i feel belittled by your writing.
    Keep up the excellent work sir.May Lord Kasi Viswanathar and Goddess Visalakshi give you the strength to do so.
    With humble regards,
    d ravi shankar

    PS
    Please do visit my blog 'Garbagriha Darishanam.blogspot.in.if you find time.

  1. gopalji

    Namaskaram,
    I hail from Kalpathy area and am trying to find the origin of villages in Palakkad as each of them has a base connected to somewhere in Tamilnadu. I tried to talk to many people, but none of them could provide me with clear details. Please share if you have them and it is highly appreciated. brgds Gopal

  1. KP

    Excellent. Well written and presumably well researched as well! Thank you.

    Krishna Prasad

  1. Unknown

    Interesting read.Thanks for the article. Would be great if we can get some information on the Brahmin settlements in Wayanad district especially payingattiri agraharam.My paternal line is from Kizhakkanchery palakkad.

    Rajeswary

  1. Rajeswari Vishwanath

    Interesting read. Thanjs for the article.Would be great if we can get some info on the Brahmin settlements in Wayanad district and the agraharams there(payingattiri).My paternal line is from Kizhakkanchery palakkad.

  1. Maddy

    Thanks dr ravi Shankar
    I will certainly study your blog and glad that you enjoyed reading this article

  1. Maddy

    thanks Gopalji, KP and Rajeswari..

    Nice to hear that you liked this..
    I will check on the Wyanad Iyers and revert if I find more information.
    Typically all major temples had a community of Tamil Iyers associated with it.

  1. AURELIUS

    been a fan of your blogs- mostly for the history posts; some years back i traced back to 5 generations of my family. My grandfather's father came from pallavoor ; he came to wayanad to work and then later developed his own coffee plantation. Later he was joined in wayanad by his my grandfather and his brother. When it came to my fathers generation - for education reasons and also due to lack of medicial facilities in wayanad - they shifted to calicut.

  1. Kartik

    A very interesting read.

  1. Sriram Ranganathan

    Interesting to read about PI's. Well researched and written and a million thanks for enlightening many of us on this!!

    My great grandfather was based in Mundamukha village near Shoranur and was an Adhikari in 1870-1900 period. Maybe the British also hired Tam Brahms to take on such roles in the government / administration those days. My grandfather migrated from his village to Kalpathy and settled down there.

    I agree there must have been waves of migration over the centuries starting from the 1420's for various reasons.

    More such research will throw valuable light on the PI's who are now scattered all across India and the globe.

  1. Hari

    It would be interesting to know from where Brahmins came to Tamil Nadu. From Central Asia or European Steppes. If we are able to solve it, we can be happy. The article is very detailed. It is one of the best on the subject. Many will quote from this now. Sure. Take care Shri Maddy.
    Hari, Chennai

  1. Shyam

    Thank you Maddy for the wonderful article on Palghat Iyers. Please password protect the whole website and allow access only to authentic Palghat brahmins.My self a palghat brahmin from Tali , Calicut. My ancesters are very much from palghat and had / even now having property in Palghat district. Most Iyer people I know of in Tali are also having Palghat ancestry. Most people migrated during the british times in search of jobs from Palghat , when Calicut was under Malabar Presidency.

    In general I find Palghat iyers get easily bullied and visiting the following web site will be helpful to learn about work space bullying and the way we can defend from it. http://bullyonline.org/index.php. Calling some one by name as "Pattar" is a bullying and needs to be defended . Either malyali people have to call us Bhattar , our real sur name, or don't call any thing.

    Shyam

  1. Shreeram Sarma

    Excellent post Maddy. I have known about Kerala Brahmins migrating from Tamil Nadu, but not so deep. I think more awareness needs to created amongst today's youth, who migrate from these agraharams to big cities in search of education and jobs, about their own history. This would make them proud of their land and maybe in future want them to settle down there. I myself am a Palakkad Iyer from Kalpathy settled in Mumbai and very proud today to know about my ancestors. Being a regular visitor of Palakkad, from next time onwards, my interests would be more religious and being thankful to my forefathers.

  1. R Venkateshwaran

    Very informative blog...really. PI have come a long way..

  1. Somasun Thangavelu

    As a person interested in history and different communities this blog and the reactions of connected people was interesting to read. As for Mr Hari's question on where from Tamil brahmins came from to Tamilnadu it would be pertinent to draw conclusions from Aryan Dravidian theory. Aryans who migrated from central Asia and Europe created Varnasrams of four castes and brahmins being one of them, could have moved southwards by invitations from kings or for other reasons and settled in Tamilnadu and assimilated with locals.This theory sounds plausible. Any other views ?
    Somasundaram
    Bangalore

  1. Ram

    Mr thangavelu, though Aryans migrated to South they were not responsible for forming the various caste which u had mentioned, it's evolution and not man made, one eg. I would like to quote one e.g that is on animal breeds and animal did not form class for themselves right. So people buy gud breed of horses,mongrels e.t.c palghat iyer like me migrated from Tamilnadu few centuries back and we got welcomed here by the kings and given facilities so our breed though comes from TN but we are indebted to kings of kerala,thanks chatapuram Ramnathan Iyer

  1. Chathapuram Krishnan Mohan

    Thanks for the write up. I am from Chathapuram. But I understand we are originally from Govindarajapuram. I am trying to find out the place in TN from where we may have migrated to Govindarajapuram. Can we discuss this sometime? Thanks.

  1. bharaneems

    Dear Sir and all,
    Recently i had a opportunity to read a poem from "Periya puranam" (through wikipedia) which mentions priests of Chindambaram moved to kerala.

    Thillai vaazh anthanar thammai venda avarum sembiyar tham thollai Needum kula sirandhor kkanri mudi soottom enru nalkaaraki cheralathan than malai naatanaya nannuvaar'

    “Inorder that he who conquered the world(kootruvar) may not be bereft of a royal crown he requested the crowning services of the ancient three thousand servitor priests at Chidambaram(thillai). Thereupon the priests refused the same saying that they are entitled to perform the ceremony only to the most deserving of the ancient clan of sembiyars(cholas). Having said this , they quit their dwelling to reach the hill country(kerala) of the ancient tamil chera king.”.

  1. Chathapuram Krishnan Mohan

    This Chidambaram Connection makes lots of sense. Our understanding is also that we came from Chidambaram. Is there a way to find out more details of which place in Chidambaram like village name etc. CK Mohan

  1. Anoop C

    Thank you so much for this wonderful article. in fact i am also from palakkad(but not a palakkad iyer)and i am being residing in an iyer neighbourhood. obviously i have so many friends, classmates and colleagues who belong to iyer community. it's wonderful to read about our people's history and background and also very much informative.. actually i was searching for an apt project topic regarding my UG program. and now i am damn sure that i am going to do it on this subject, about our kerala iyer community.. thank you so much and eagerly waiting for new articles..

  1. Chathapuram Krishnan Mohan

    As I had posted earlier, we are currently from Chathapuram but originally from Govindarajapuram, it seems. I have been researching on our ancestors and our links to Tamil Nadu village. Anyone can throw any light would be extremely useful. Anoop C can we discuss your research sometime?
    CK Mohan

  1. Anoop C

    Sure mr. KRISHNAN MOHAN.. its my pleasure..

  1. P.R. Ramachander

    Sixteen years back, I wrote about 100 pages about Palakkad iyers(I preferred to call them Kerala iyers) and started a web site called www.keralaiyers.com.I hope it still exists

  1. shrikant

    What about edathara chandeashekarapuram?
    Why it is not covered in Agraharams mentioned above?

  1. subbu

    Many thanks for helping one to trace ones roots. Such connections will help one to respect our practices and not follow the west blindly. It will also help bring the younger generation to understand and respect the value of traditional practices. Brahmin community is notorious for disrespect to their own culture, traditions simply because we didn't know our roots and the historical evolution of what we are told to do by elders and vadhyars but we resist or do for just mechanical compliance. We should recognize our own values and such attempts will catalyse the same

  1. Hari

    This is really an interesting read. Would really appreciate if you can put some lights on Brahmin settlements in Kannur/Cannanore district. My paternal roots are from Kannur.

  1. Anantharaman

    Very informative. Could you pl throw light on history of Thiruvananthapuram Iyers...

  1. ANANTRAMAN

    I have something to share...
    While going through our ancestral records I came across a family chart with the following inscription:
    SRI SURYANARAYANAN (1752 AD) was a resident of Suddhamalli in Choladesa in Tanjore District. After his death, and under circumstances not known, his widow SMT THYLAMBAL and her two sons DEVARAJAN (1772 AD) and RAGHURAMAN (1774 AD) migrated to Irinjalakuda near Trichur where they settled down under the protection of Kudal Manikkam Temple authorities. The Thekke Madom and Vadakke Madom sprang up from these two brothers respectively.

    This means just about 265 years back....

  1. Manikandadas

    A BIG SALUTE TO YOU FOR THE EFFORT.A valuable blog to know the history of Kerala.I recommend to publish a book including the articles in malayalam also.The readers of kerala waiting for such a book illustrating the local history....thanks..

  1. Maddy

    Thank you all
    appreciate your encouragement and kind words

  1. Maddy

    Mr KV Narayanamurti has posted a comment on this article, but in the wrong blog post.

    So i am re-posting it here

    Respectfully submit there is much misunderstanding among people. As one from the family of the first group of migrants to Kerala in the 15th century (we are josiers) let me say that Kalpathy (Old first and New next) was the first settlement, followed by Govindarajapuram, Vydyanathapuram, Chokkanathapuram, Mukkai in that order. All these villages run parallel to the river bank, all straight with wide roads and contiguity to river bathing, like they used to enjoy on the Kaveri basin. Chathapuram, Sekharipuram, Kumarapuram, Lakshminarayanapuram, Puthiyangam, Ramanathapuram, Vdakkanthara, Nellissery, Tarakad, Pallipuram, Tirunellayi, Nurani and Tondikulam came into being at least two centuries later. Lakshmi Ammal, who donated the Bana-lingam and funds to build the Kundambalam belonged to Kalpathy and, as ordained by her, the villagers in the two Kalpathys continue to pay the interest to this day i.e. on Sivarathri day.

    He adds in a second post

    A lot of misunderstanding will get cleared when the well-authenticated book THE SAGA OF KALPATHY by M.K.Das (formerly Editor of The Indian Express) is released for sale. I had the opportunity to go through a proof-copy, was immensely satisfied with the logical handling of the subject and his positive comments on our current identity across the World.

  1. Chathapuram Krishnan Mohan

    Dear Maddy, thanks. Do you have any information on which village in Tamil Nadu from where people from Govindarajapuram migrated from? Will be good to find this out.
    Thanks
    Chathapuram Krishnan Mohan (originally from Govindarajapuram)