If you are someone who loves history and is intrigued about South Indian history, art and culture, the land to begin your findings is Tanjore. And that is where I began my learning from, my love for South Indian history and my interest in the Cholas took me to Tanjore. It was a rather obvious choice, the very famous Tanjore painting originated from the region! Not to forget the Great Living Chola Temples, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage Monuments.
But this chronicle is not about Tanjore, it is in fact dedicated to a place which I had ignored till the end of journeys through the ‘historical land of Tanjore.’ After a week-long excursion along the land of Cholas, I planned an impromptu drive along the region to discover any hidden treasures. And that is how I landed at Poompuhar or more commonly known as Puhar.
For those who do not know, Poompuhar is a small district located in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu. A once flourishing ancient port city, today the region is located near the endpoint of the River Kaveri… or the point where the River meets the Ocean. It was long winding road, I decided to drive down and look where it ends… What welcomed me was the end of… what seemed like land… because the vast expansive blue waters were beckoning me.
The cool ocean breeze seemed to make one forget about the existence of the blazing suns.., there was so much of rush and so much of stillness at the same time. It was a moment that did not encourage any speech… it was a moment of the divine… it was a moment for silence… And all I did for an hour was just watch the waves caress the beach sands… Feel the waves lap at my feet and sand drift away…
Time was playing tricks again and I was heading back, but the history bug in me though fed and watered and craving for more… it was then I realised that Poompuhar was a flourishing ancient city, which had died and yet survived. It was the very beautiful sea that is said to have destroyed the city some thousands of years ago. Interestingly, the town then known as Kaveripattinam is believed to have disappeared between the 3rd and 6th century… and yet it exists till today.
This ancient port city has so much of mystic and history attached to it, poems like the Pattinappaalai were written praising the region… how the region died and yet survived is still a mystery…A walk along the beach of Puhar whispers long lost tales, some legends, some myths, what is fact and what happened, that can only be answered by the ghosts of the past.
The area was never in my must visit or must see list. I nevertheless paid a chance visit to Puhar or Poompuhar, while I was visiting Tanjore, the land of the Cholas and I regret the fact that I never added this beautiful piece of land in my must see and must visit list.