Nagapattinam – History
Nagapattinam district was carved out by bifurcating the composite Thanjavur district on 18.10.1991. Nagapattinam is a unique District with all its historical and cultural significance.
Early Historical Period:
There are urn burials in and around the city from the Sangam period indicating some level of human habitation. There are no direct references to Nagapattinam during the c (3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE).The neighbouring port, Kaveripoompattinam (modern day Poompuhar), was the capital of the Chola kingdom of the Sangam Age, referred to widely in Tamil scriptures like Pattinappalai. The Heritage of the town is found in the Burmese historical text of 3rd century B.C. The same text gives evidences of a Budha Vihar built by the great Ashoka. The Chinese Traveler Hiuen Tsang also mentioned this Budha Vihar in his book. Nagapattinam is mentioned as Padarithitha in ancient Buddhist Scriptures.
During Pallava Period:
The inscriptions from the Kayarohanaswami temple indicate the construction was initiated during the reign of the Pallava king, Narasimha Pallava II (691 – 729 CE). A Buddhist pagoda was built under Chinese influence by the Pallava king and town was frequented by Buddhist travellers. The early works of Tevaram by the 7th-century poets Appar and Sambandar mention that the town had fortified walls, busy roads, buildings and a busy port.
During Chola Period:
Nagapattinam is one of the constituents of chola Mandalam, acclaimed as the most prominent among the ancient Tamil Kingdoms. Thirumangai Azhwar, the 9th century vaishnavite saint poet, is believed to have stolen the golden Buddha statue to fund the Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam; the authenticity of the theory is questionable. Nagapattinam was also known as 'Cholakula Vallippatinam' during the rule of Rajaraja I. In the 11th century CE Choodamani Vihara, a Buddhist monastery was built by Javanese king Sri Vijaya Soolamanivarman with the patronage of Rajaraja Chola. Nagapattinam was the prominent port of Cholas for trade and conquering gateway to the east.
According to Anaimangalam copper plate inscriptions of Kulothunga I, Sri Vijayottunga Varman of Sri Vijaya kingdom built Rajaraja Perumpalli in the name of Rajaraja Cholan and Rajendra Chola Perumpalli in the name of Rajendra Chola in1090 A D. This Buddha Vihar is also called as Sudamani Vihar. Excavations were conducted by the Archaeological department at Velippalayam in Nagapattinam and more than 300 Budha statues were unearthed and kept at the Museum in Chennai. This dilapidated Buddhist tower was razed down 200 years ago.
This favorite town of Chola Kings was also celebrated latter by Vijaya Nagara Kings. Portuguese had a commercial contact with this town during the Tanjore Nayakas rule (Sevappa Nayakkar) and (Achuthappa Nayakkar).
During Portuguese Period:
In the early 16th century the Portuguese made commercial contacts with the town and established a commercial centre in 1554 CE. The Portuguese also conducted missionary enterprise in the town.
During Dutch Period:
In 1658, the Dutch established an agreement with King Vijaya Nayakkar of Thanjavur on 5 January 1662. Ten villages were transferred from the Portuguese to the Dutch – Nagapattinam Port, Puthur, Muttam, Poruvalancheri, Anthanappettai, Karureppankadu, Azhingi Mangalam, Sangamangalam, Thiruthinamangalam, Manjakollai, and Nariyankudi. Ten Christian churches and a hospital were built by the Dutch.
They also released coins with the name Nagapattinam engraved in Tamil letters. Under an agreement between the first Maratta King Ekoji of Thanjavur and the Dutch, Nagapattinam and surrounding villages were handed over to the Dutch on 30 December 1676. In 1690, the capital of Dutch Coromandel moved from Pulicat to Nagapattinam.
During British Period:
This town fell into the hands of the British in 1781 after the two naval battles between British and French fleets were fought off the coast of Negapatam, as it was then known: the first in 1758 as part of the Seven Years' War and the second in 1782 as part of the American Revolutionary War. The town was taken by the British from the Dutch in 1781 (who had been formally brought into the war in 1780).
When the Dutch and British reached a peace agreement in 1784, Nagapattinam was formally ceded to the British. 277 villages, with Nagore as the headquarters, were handed over to the East India Company. From 1799 to 1845 CE Nagapattinam was the headquarters of Tanjore district. Nagapattinam and Nagore were incorporated as a single municipality in 1866 CE. The town remained one of the chief ports to the Madras Presidency. The port suffered decline after the inclusion of Tranquebar and Tuticorin.
Under Indian Rule:
Nagapattinam district was carved out by bifurcating the composite Thanjavur district on 18.10.1991. Nagapattinam was one of the regions severely affected by the tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.