May 8, 2009

Pantalayani Kollam, a port no more

Though this port has been mentioned from very early times, it must have become popular some time after the 9th century and came to the forefront when two things happened, one being the move of the Arab & Chinese traders from Quilon & Cranganore to base their trade in Calicut, and the second when the Zamorin took charge. Since then it has been mentioned in many history books and accounts, though the names have varied slightly or largely. Today it is a small town that has been forgotten. Today it sits forgotten, bordering the more populated town of Koyilandi or Quilandy, housing one of the nine original mosques established by Malik Ibn Dinar. It is close to the historic Tyndis (Tanur or Thondi 3 miles north). The sacrificial rock , Balikallu or VelliyanKallu (white rock - Maris Erythrm of Periplus, Pai Chiao or Chia-Chia-Lu in Chinese) is right across (more on that another day) where many a soul was butchered, 3 leagues distant. Geographically, it is approx. lat. 11° 26', a little way north of Koyilandi.

Let us start by listing some of the different names used for this port that is shown as Kollam, to the North of Calicut, in a 21st century map posted here.

Fundaraina, Bandinanah, kandaraina, Bandirana, Fandarayna, Flandrina, Pandarani, Panderani, Pandalayani, Frandreeah, Fangarina, fandarain, Pandaramy, Pandarane, Fandreeah, Patale(Pliny acc to Logan), Pantalani, Panter Alandrina, Qandarina, Chulam, Pantar – In English & Portuguese books

In Chinese-Fan-ta-la-yi-na Pan-ta-Li, Tao Yi Chi Lio, Pan-ki-ni-na

This port has always interested me, though I have never visited the exact locale myself. It is a short distance, some 20 miles or ~30 km from Calicut city and in history this was a major port near Calicut. I had briefly referred to the place in the Kolathiri-Zamorin rivalry story under the post Revathi Pattathanam, and other blogs covering the visit of Chinese traders & Zheng He. However it has been a problem place in history, for its distance from Calicut has varied from 5 miles to 20 miles on the coast line in various accounts.

CKR also provides us the information about the location of a Zamorin palace there - The Calicut Granthavari records the demise of a Zamorin from Panthalayini Kollam in 1597 and the coronation of his successor at the same location. But the records do not mention 'Panthalayini Kollam'. Instead, the name mentioned is 'Ananthapuram'.

Pantalayani Kollam as I mentioned earlier figured in the ancient scandal that further alienated the Kolathir and Zamorin families. According to Sreedhara Menon’s ‘Survey of Kerala History’ the Viceroy (KVK Iyer states kinsman of Viceroy) of Pantalayani belonging to the Kolathunad family met & fell in love with a Thampurati of the Zamorin family during a visit to Calicut and thence eloped to Pantalayani. The enraged Zamorin attacked & captured the port area and then aimed his sights at the Kolathiri Raja. This shows that the place had much importance and was a sizeable and rich place in those times, providing revenue to the Zamorin.

In his book ‘History of Kerala’, KV Krishna Iyer mentions that Kollam has a significance which is that ‘Ko’ is king and ‘Illam’ is house or palace, so Kollam is the abode of the king. As you saw there was a Zamorin’s palace at Anathapuram in Kollam.

Iyer also opines that pearl diving was popular off the Pantalayani coast line in ancient times and there were many oyster beds present. He confirms that Jews may have been present there after 68AD. He quotes Nilakanta Sastri in stating that Chulam could have been either Calicut or Pantalayani Kollam which belonged to the Zamorin.

As it started, it was the 2nd greatest center of Jews (SS Koder). Prof Jussay also confirms the fact that a number of Jews resided there. Some believe that Ben Yiju, the Adenese trader even lived there. Was this really the hometown of Ben Yiju? Greek historian Roxani Eleni Margarti thinks so while Goitein is emphatic in identifying Yiju as a resident of Mangalore or Manjarur.

Pliny (78)
He mentions Patale as the destination of ships sailing the Hippalus winds, which according toLogan could have been Pantalayani.

Al Idris (1150)Fandarina is a town built at the mouth of a river which comes from Manibar, where vessels from India and Sind cast anchor." From Bana [Thana] to Fandarina is four days' journey. Fandarina is a town built at the mouth of a river which comes from Manibar [Malabar] where vessels from India and Sind cast anchor. The inhabitants are rich, the markets well supplied, and trade flourishing. North of this town there is a very high mountain covered with trees, villages, and flocks. The cardamom grows here, and forms the staple of a considerable trade. It grows like the grains of hemp, and the grains are enclosed in pods. From Fandarina to Jirbatan, a populous town on a little river, is five days. It is fertile in rice and giain, and supplies provisions to the markets of Sarandib. Pepper grows in the neighboring mountains..

W Logan asks in his Malabar manual, Did the Kotta river flow into the Agalapuzha and find an outlet into the sea at Pantalayani Kollam in those days? Not improbable. If you look carefully at today’s terrain you see no river mouth at Panthalayani Kollam. Korapuzha opens into the Arabian sea, a few miles is South of Kollam, between Talakulathur and Kappad.

Where is Jirbatan? Some historians think it was Cannanore. Sarandib is apparently Sri Lanka. In those days Malabar was Ma-pe-eul to the Chinese and Calicut was Ku-Li.

Ibn Batuta (1343)
Sates that it was one of the three principal ports and one where the Chinese ships moored during the monsoon. He states that it was a great fine town with many bazaars and gardens. The Musalmans occupy three quarters and each has a mosque.

Friar Odorico (Sometime between 1321-1330)
Mentions can be found in the reports of Friar Odorico De Pordenone (The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the ... By Richard Hakluyt Pg 412) who passed by around the period of 1330, he mentions pepper & trade at Flandrina. He also mentions that Christians and Jews reside there, warring frequently and that the Christians always won these wars. H ealso mentions crocodiles in the rivers. He mentions (like the Chinese dis in 1407) that people worshipped the ox and an idol that was half man, half ox. He talks of ‘narabali’ or people sacrifice and the ‘sati’ custom. He state sthat women drank wine, men dis not and that women shaved off their eye brows and eye lashes.

Abdul Razzak (1442)He mentions presence of Chinese bagchan in Calicut, calling the harbor perfectly safe, bringing merchants from every country. The town is inhabited by a considerable number of mussalmans, and pirates dare not attack the vessels of Calicut. In the harbor one may find everything one desired. However this is to be understood as the port of Calicut since he mentions sailing by the port of Bandirana, on his way to Mangalore. So by 1440 the port of Calicut is also quite popular.

Varthema (1505-1510)A day’s journey from Dharmapatanam, subject to the King of Calicut. This place is a wretched affair and has no port. The city is not level and the land is high. According to him, it is North of Kappad (Capogatto).

Barbosa (1516)
Calls the place Pandanare, and mentions Kappat (Capucate) nearby where there is a great port with many moors, many ships and where sapphires can be obtained on a strand.

Zainuddin Mukadam (1540-80)
States that Pantalayani became prosperous because of the Muslim population after explaining the visit of the Cheraman Perumal, then the building of the mosque by Malik bin Dinar etc. He mentions the boats from Pantalayani that went to fight with Cabral, the fighting with Portuguese at Pantalayani in 1524, the burning of the town and the Juma mosque in 1550, further attacks of the Portuguese etc.

Pyrard Laval (1607)
There are many marshes and salt pits to cross between Coaste and Caleecut, and two rivers to cross by boat, about a league from one of which is a very fine town which we passed at night called Coluote (P Kollam) where the Portuguese once had a fortress and a residency as at Calicut, but they have lost one as the other. I saw it as I passed for it was not altogether demolished; it was even stronger than that at Calicut.

Logan (1890-1900)Establishes that it is 2.5 miles North of Quilandy. He adds that this was where the EIC ship Morning star struck a mud bank and was wrecked in 1793. He points out that this was the mud bank that ‘supposedly’ protected Vasco Da Gama’s ship during the monsoon months of 1498. South of the Mohammedan burial ground is a small bay where ships could dock. Arabian ships used to call at this port if they were blown off course even in the 19th century and early 20th century. The Mecca trade was administered out of Pantalayanai Kollam.

Logan also mentions the fact that the bathing tank of the mosque at P Kollam had a granite slab temple inscription in ‘vattezhuthu’ signifying that it was a temple handed over to the Muslims to covert into a mosque. Close to this mosque, into the sea is a rock on which one can find a foot print chiseled in the rock (Velliyan kallu?). This is supposedly Adam’s footprint, a place where he stooped before going to Adam’s peak in Ceylon. He concludes by saying that both the temple and the footprint are of Jain origin.

Note here that Quilandy or Kovilkandi had a separate port and here was where the pilgrims to Makkah embarked on their sea voyage. The Cheraman Perumal embarked to Makkah from Poyanad (Polanad?)after spending a day at Pantalayani Kollam! Later his written instructions from Arabia asked people going to Malabar to land in Quilon, Pantalayani Kollam or Kodungallur (Muziris).

According to Logan, one view now disputed, the Kollam era is related with the Kollam at Pantalayani due to the deduction that the Kollam year started with the sailing away of eth Cheraman perumal from those shores to Makkah.

Portuguese times 1498-1600
Starting from the time the Zamorin (residing at that time in the Ponnani palace) recommended that Vasco D agama take his ship to the safety of the mud banks in Pantalayani Kollam, the port of Pantalayani Kollam figures in numerous books and accounts. In most of these cases, the town is sacked or attacked by the Portuguese or the Moslem ships set forth from Pantalayani and Ponnani. They also mention of Kunhali Marakkar launching many attacks from this port. Many accounts describe the heavy rains that lashed the town when the Gama was returning from the audience with the Zamorin and how he failed to find his quarters etc.

About a third of the Moslems living there have lost their life in fights with the Portuguese according to Logan. There is a general belief that the Marakkars, the Zamorin’s admirals were settled in Pantalayani Kollam (See my blog on marakkars) before they moved to Kotakkal.

Wang Dayuan was the first to mention the availability of precious stones at Fandarina. This was in 1349. Asia's maritime bead trade By Peter Francis (pg 123) mentions that the port was frequented by Chinese traders. Once Chinese trade declined, the port also started to fall apart until Varthema’s visit when he pointed out that it was a miserable place.In those days Malabar was Ma-pe-eul to the Chinese and Calicut was Ku-Li. Mongol dynasty documents of 1296 state that it was prohibited to export more than 50,000 ting in paper money worth of goods to Maprah (Malabar), Peinan (Malaya?) & Fantalaina.

Sankey (1881)
Letter from Col R. H. Sankey, C.B., R.E., dated Madras, 13th Feb, 1881: "One very extraordinary feature on the coast is the occurrence of mud-banks in from 1 to 6 fathoms of water, which have the effect of breaking both surf and swell to such an extent that ships can run into the patches of water so sheltered at the very height of the monsoon, when the elements are raging, and not only find a perfectly still sea, but are able to land their cargoes. Possibly the snugness of some of the harbors frequented by the Chinese junks, such as Pandarani, may have been mostly due to banks of this kind? By the way, I suspect your 'Pandarani' was nothing but the roadstead of Coulete (Coulandi or Quelande of our Atlas). The Master Attendant who accompanied me, appears to have a good opinion of it as an anchorage, and as well sheltered.

Hobson Jobson Dictionary
Malabar manual – W Logan
History of Kerala – KV Krishna Iyer
Tuhfat Al Muhahidin – Zainuddin Makhdum
The Jews of Kerala – PM Jussay
US Navy Map – Sacrifice rock to Beypore 1944


Raghu Menon said...

Though I have not done any study on this topic, I would like to chip in with local stories about this place. The story goes that the Ettu Veettil Pillamar landed on this port long long ago and while they walked in to the land, saw a big tree with lots of branches like a Pandal. And they also saw the wild animals were very friendly to each other and they thought that this would be an apt place to settle down. They established the eight houses here and also built the famous Akhora Siva Temple. Still the eight families exist here and since they came from Kollam side they called this place Pandalayini Kolla. My relatives who live here say that for the temple festivals, representatives of the Ettu Veettil house in Kollam (Ouilon) come to Pandalayini Kollam. These are local legends and may not find place in any history books, but may be yes also. - Raghu.

P.N. Subramanian said...

It is for the first time that I am learning about a Kollam north of Calicut. Very interesting. Thanks.

Calicut Heritage Forum said...

Thank you for highlighting this little-known,port-town which most have been witness to several important events in the history of Calicut. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted to find out its past. There is a place called Nagaram and a temple named Nagareswara in P.Kollam, indicating that it was a prosperous trade centre and perhaps an independent city-state which was subjugated by neighbouring rulers like Kurumbranad Raja and the Zamorin from time to time. It is intriguing how two flourishing ports (Calicut and P.Kollam) situated only 25 kms. apart, flourished in those days. One possible explanation is that Calicut functioned mainly as an entrepot between South East Asia and Europe, while P.Kollam specialised in exporting the abundant spices from Wynad hills (via Tamarasseri). There was no question of Calicut eclipsing P.Kollam by 1440, as Abdul Razzak would seem to suggest; or else, why did the Zamorin in 1498 ask that Vasco da Gama be taken to P.Kollam from Kappad to escape the fury of the impending monsoon? Travelling from Ponnani, Calicut was closer for the Zamorin. Moreover, the palace where he received Gama was in Mananchira. Is it possible that the wily Moors had advised the Zamorin to keep the unwelcome visitor from Portugal away from their trade centre?
Raghu Menon's reference to the Ettuveettil Pillais is quite relevant, although as he mentions, it is only a local legend. The Ettuveettil Pillais were hanged by Marthanda Varma at Kalkulam in Travancore in 1733. The eight families and the temple (Pisharikavu and not Aghora Siva temple at Panthalayani, as mentioned)have much older ancestry as revealed in local inscriptions. However, these eight families of Ravari (Vyapari?) Nairs have a distinct identity and were patrilineal till recent times. Interestingly, in the Pisharikavu temple festival (Kaliyattam), Chettys from Tamil Nadu have a ceremonial role in the procession. Every year representatives of the Chetty families come and participate in this festival. All this points to the fact that P.Kollam was indeed a flourishing trading centre. Even today, the place has a silk bazar!

Maddy said...

Raghu - That is very interesting indeed, though I wonder if the Ettuveetil pillamar were prominent in the very early periods such as 1000-1400AD, the heydays of Kollam. Maybe a point to check..

But the important aspect is that there was a migration from Quilon-Kollam to Kollam. Another question is if the Pillamar would promote Shaivism as I thought they promoted Padmanabha or Vaishnavism in Travancore.

Thanks PNS - Curious that such a prominent place just wasted away...

CKR - your comments are always illuminating & detailed and I always learn much from it.

The interesting part is that between Calicut & Mangalore, other ports like Koyilandi and a few smaller ones existed. Each had a very specific purpose, Koyilandi for example was where the Makkah voyages originated. Kollam as you rightly said was the trade center.
The mud banks at Kollam were used to protect ships during monsoon, as you saw Ibn batuta also mentioned Chinese ships sheltered there during monsoon, that was probably the reason why the Zamorin suggested Gama to park his ships there. However it was also prudent to keep a stranger at a distance, but in 1498 was Kollam a bigger trade center than Calicut? If it was bigger then that logic does not hold. why lead the fox to the chicken coop?

if you recall, the fight between the Chinese & the Moors took place some time then as stated by Joseph the Indian and Kollam was possibly in the decline after that.

Truly fascinating - I hope we can find more details on Kollam as time goes by, I have always wondered if the real documents to check are the records that the Chettiar traders kept. While most people concentrate on Granthavari's and foreign visitor's books, Gujrati Vanias & Chetty's kept voluminous records though mostly commercial. If only they have been preserved they would be a treasure trove.

I hope CKR you could contact some of the prominent Gujarati & Chettiar families that remain in Calicut to check on this!!

Raghu Menon said...

As I said it is a local legend. But I have seen the local people, insist that the Pillais became Nairs when they reached Pandalayini. I also came across a brochure of the Aghora Siva Temple where its linkages with the Quilon Kollam was mentioned. But legends are legends unless they have evidential backup. But no doubt research into the rich histories of such places is extremely interesting as it is in one way searching our own roots..

Azhuvanjery said...

Raghu, I met a lady who claimed descent from the Ettuveetil Pillai survivors of the holocaust, who touched land at Quilandy (Panthalayini) and her guess about the name was that this was the place where they tore down the sails from ship and created pandals (tents) as housing. She says that certain people (especially the women and children, were sold as slaves to fisherfolk, but instead were rendered surreptitious assistance and escaped north).
I don't know much else, but there has got to be some credence to the theory that the Ettuveetil Pillais were not rendered extinct after all.

Maddy said...

Thanks Azhuvanchery for your observation..How i wish all this had been documented by somebody or the other...but alas, not..

drsabu said...

Hi Maddy,
Aithihyamala describes the expulsion of rich Chetti merchants by the raja of (southern) Kollam and their subsequent founding of Panthalayini Kollam
It also details Tipu Sultan's patronage of Pisharikavu

Kottarathil Sankunni. (2006)Eithihyamala( 21 st ed.) ( pp 520-526)Kottayam: Current Books.


drsabu said...

Hi Maddy ,
recently i went through a small booklet chronicling the history of muslim settlement in Pantalayini.
The earliest known Muslim to have arrived here is supposedly, Tameem al- Ansari, a sahaba who took part in the Battle of Badr (AH 2/C.E 624). His grave (death circa AH 8) is in the precincts of the Parappally in Patalayini Kollam.
Adam’s foot: in front of the Parappally is a large footprint of the left leg, which is revered by Muslims as belonging to that of Prophet Adam. Another footprint of the right side, supposedly of the same size is seen on Velliyamkallu in the sea off Pantalayini coast.
Mayyith Kunnu(Burial Hill): Atop the hill are found three mosques, the largest of which is the Parappally. Aulia Pally and Khidr pally being the other two. Parapally was constructed on Friday,27 th Ramadan, AH 21. The remnants of another extant mosque is also seen atop this hill adjacent to Parappally. The remains of a fort, used for reconnaissance can also be found on this hill top.14 tombs of the Ṣaḥāba and Tabi‘in are located in Parappally compound including those of Tameem al-Ansari and Abdullah ibn Dinar-the first Qazi of Pantalayini.

LNAIR said...

Searching in the net about Ettuveetil Pillamars has brought to your blog :) Let me share some information about them which I have heard from my grandmothers . My family is from Trivandrum and from Chempazhanthy. One of the ettu veetil pillamars is Chempazhanthy Pillai and while other Pillamars were exiled, only Chempazhanthy Pillai was let free as Chempazhanthy Ammachi had helped Marthanda Varma during a battle. Both my parents are from the same family of Chempazhanthi pillai though different branches. Regarding the Siva temples, my family temple is also a Siva temple and supposed to be 500 years old and the original idol being a panchaloha vigraha. Also, Marthanda Varma had given 2000 'Para' land tax free to the family in honor of saving him from enemies. These are all stories heard from grand parents and now when I really want to ask them about Ettu Veetil Pillamar, they are no more.

Maddy said...

thanks dr sabu & LNair
will study & revert

cp.mohanakrishnan said...

nw iam laughing reading ur discussion iamm a member in that exact society.nw iamm doing rresearch fr a history book and a doccu cinema about these subject....

Maddy said...

sorry mohanakrishnan..
did not quite get your point..

cp.mohanakrishnan said...

because iam born and brougt up there exact kollam we are nt exiled ettuveettil pillas we were developed traders in historical time means the peak period of quilon before colonialisam.......we can disscus later iamm making notes...

Saravanan / C Subramanian said...

(To all)

I live in Quilandi, now/at present. I am from Tamilnadu. I made it a habit to go to Pisharikavu temple frequentely, as it reminds me Dindigul 'Kottai Mariamman temple', where I used to go regularly when I lived there.

I came to Quilandi this Aug(2012) only and visited Pisharikavu temple. First, I wanted to read the story/history of the temple, but when I approched shops, they had only Malayalam book. So, I asked a few persons and got a confusing linkless story.

I can ask the old people, if you want some information regarding this, as I live here, now(I would go back in 4 months). If I could be a little help for your post, I would be happy

Saravanan / C Subramanian said...


At present, I live in Quilandi (and will be here for another 4 months)

This post is interesting and I would like to improve this. Please contact me. I would be happy if I could be a little help for this

Anonymous said...

I was told that Ettuveettil Pillamar had a summer house at Chanda Kadavu , Kottayam Town. When they fled, they gave the house to a Christan Family (Palathumkal)who was touching the milk to sanctify it after milking by the servants.All the wood used to build that house was of Teak (Teak wood was forbidden to be used by anyone other than kingly people)The roof tiles were made by Quilon Tile works.There are few glass tiles that are made in France and Germany for the Quilon Tile works company.Those tiles were thatched on the roof to allow the sun rays to lighten up the rooms.

Maddy said...

thanks thomas thomas
for you comments
and welcome to my blog

Unknown said...


Unknown said...


Unknown said...

I am a resident of panthalayini. As I heard the history starts before the entry of ettuveettil pillamar at panthalayini. The originel residents of panthalayini were "Ambramoli" (amroli in certain records) family.They were vaidhyas (Doctors) by profession. It is heard that they have landed property from pathalayini to Poonor of Thamarasserry. More proofs are under collection and thanks for your information

Soman Nair

Dr. Sanjeev V. Thomas said...

Thank you for the illuminating discussion. I am a neurologist from Trivandrum wanted to visit kapad and panthalayini to get a feel of the historic place.

Steve G. said...

Hello, my name is Steve Gaskin, and I am President of the Asian Art Society of New England. I have been researching Yuan dynasty blue and white porcelain in India. I have read that. Prof. Karashima found some Yuan blue and white sherds at Pandalayini-Kollam in the 1980s. Has anyone else found any that you've heard of? Thank you for the interesting blog, also.

Maddy said...

Thanks steve
You can find more details in the source - M.R. Raghava Varier, Aspects of Urbanisation in Medievial Kerala, The case of Panthalayani Kollam as well as in other articles/books authored by him. Another source is the thesis by Vijayalekshmy. M “Trade and trading centres in Kerala (A.D 800-1500)”
Thesis. Department of History, University of Calicut, 1997

Unknown said...

Hello, My Name is Mubeen and a Multimedia Communication Student. I am currently working on a project on same Location "Panthalayini". On visiting that place I found that Currently that location is known as Parapally Maqam. I got interested in this place by knowing that Vasco Da Gama landed Panthalayini before landing in Kappad. Is there any evidence to prove this claim? My aim is to highlight Panthalayini back into Tourist and Historic hotspot in Kerala. Plz help with your valuable advice.

Maddy said...

Cant say Gama landed in P Kollam first, but he anchored there later

Linas Fathima.A said...

Will u please sgare the details of book about muslim settlement in panthalayani?

Maddy said...

thanks fathima,
other than the books mentioned here, there is no specific work on this subject you mentioned. Let me check some more and get back

Unknown said...

Iam from vallikunnam alappuzha district .My grandfather kunju ahamed kunju s/okammad and another one brother coming from panthalayani kollam at the begining of 19th century.They are white and redishbroun hair .Iam intrest to learn about my family of panthalayani kollam .Our place is also called kattanm .Anyone intrest the matter may be contactme 9447349193

Zhenghe Forum said...

I am interested to know if there are any sources on Zhenghe's destiny in Calicut. Chinese sources state that he died here but some Muslims suspect he went to Mecca after the last trip to the Indian Ocean. Also, I visited a tomb nearby claiming to be Shaykh as Sin (Chinese Shaykh). As Razzaq mentions in his travelogue that there are two congregational mosques around 1442 during his visit here. I was wondering if any Islamic evidences/sites/ still exit today there???


Maddy said...

Nothing so far Zhneg he Forum , check these articles.