Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hero Stones (Nadukal), Devikapuram

Hero Stones (Nadukal), Devikapuram
Hero Stones are generally denoted as Nadukal meaning erected stone and this memorial stone was erected to commemorate some memorable event. The stones were erected to commemorate the death of heroes in Vetchi battles (Tamil chieftains and soldiers wear Vetchi flower (Ixora coccinea) while invading a country and the soldiers will go in to the border areas and steal the cattle.) and Karanthai battle (Tamil chieftains and soldiers wear Karanthai flower (Sphaeranthus indicus/ Sphaeranthus hirstus) and defend against invasion and cattle raid.  

Hero stone is a memorial commemorating the honorable death of a hero in battle of Tamil People. A hero stone can display a variety of adornments, including bas relief  panels, statues, and figures of carved stone. Usually they are in the form of a stone monument and may have an inscription at the bottom with a narrative of the battle.

Hero Stones are considered as a variant of menhirs. The distinctions of hero stones are its size when compared with menhirs. Tamil Sangam literature refers hero stones as Nadukal or Veerakkal in Tamil. Hero stones were erected as a memorial for heroes, who showed extreme bravery to defend their territory and lost their life for the sake of their country and countrymen and the stones may or may show figurines and inscriptions about the hero, name of the king and the battle and the name of the person who erected hero stones.

The Sangam Tamil grammar work, Tholkappium as well as another Sangam Tamil literary work 'Puraporul Venpa Malai' details the procedure, rules and stages of erecting hero tones. The well-known Sangam literature ‘Purananuru’ refers 'Nadukal' in its poems. 
இல்லடுகள்ளின் சில்குடிச் சீறூர்ப்
புடைநடு கல்லின் நாட்பலியூட்டி
நன்னீராட்டி நெய்நறை கொளீஇய
மங்குல் மாப்புகை மறுகுடன் கமழும்’ - Purananuru (புறநானூறு) (306)
(Meaning: The hero stones were implanted near the houses of families engaged in extracting toddy. During the dawn people performed ablution to the hero stone and lit the ghee lamp and offered food items. The fragrant smoke from ghee lamp spread across the street.)
The Tamil Nadu Department of Archeology found several hundred hero stones that had been erected in the memory of warriors who sacrificed their lives defending their community or region. Those that are carved with inscriptions detail the acts of the hero, the battle involved, and the name of king in whose name the battle was fought. The stones are found alone or in groups, usually near an irrigation tank or lake outside a village.

The monolithic hero stone monuments mostly bear inscriptions displaying a variety of embellishments, including bas relief panels, statues, and figurines of carved stone. The inscriptions may bear some data about the hero stone: 1. name of the hero; 2. his chieftain; 3. name of the war; and 4. the name of the person who erected the hero stone. Till date there are five hero stones with Tamil Brahmi inscriptions. 

About 20 hero stones found in and around Devikapuram village ranging from 12th century to 18 century. It denotes that the village Devikapuram was an important center in medieval period.

Several types of Nadukal found in various places in Devikapuram, They are;
1. Vediappan,
2. Satikal,
3. Ayyanar,
4. Thoru,

5. Navakandam etc.