Archaeology Department

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Introduction

Most of the parts of the Tiruvallur district are covered by river alluvium.  Unclassified gneissic rocks are noticed on the western part of this district.  Small patches of Upper Gondwana and Cuddalore Sandstone formation are also encountered here.  Dyke rocks namely Dolerite are found traversed in the country rock.  Kortaliyar, Araniyar, Coovam and Adayar are the important streams draining this district.

History

This region was under a chain of regimes commencing from the Pallavas during 7th century CE ending with the Nawabs of Arcot during the early part of 19th century CE when it came under the British rule.  The town of Pulicat was the earliest Dutch possession in India founded in 1609 CE which was cede to the British in 1825 CE.

Archaeological Importance

Pre- History

Archaeologically district of Tiruvallur occupies a significant place in the world map as number of Palaeolithic sites which yields various types of Palaeolithic stone implements, is located in and around Poondi reservoir (Sathyamurthy reservoir).  More than 40  Pre-Historict sites have been found spread out in all the taluks of this district.  Important sites are Attirampakkam and Gudiyam.  Besides this, few Megalithic burial sites, especially Urn, Sarcophagus and Cairn Circles are also located.  Example : Amirthamangalam

Palaeolithic tools of this region are named as “Madras Hand-Axes”.  This type of tools used for hunting includes Hammer, Scrapper, Cleaver, Chopper and Discoid.  The source rock for making these tools is Quartzite rock encountered in the form of Conglomerate

R. B. Foote, British Geologist, Pioneer in pre-history, found number of palaeolithic sites in Tamil Nadu.  He first discovered a Hand – axe in the year 1863 from a ballistic pit in Brigadier ground at Pallavaram, Chennai.

Gudiyam Cave

A pre-historic cave, locally known as “Manathachamman Koil” is located near Gudiyam village which is 12 km from Poondi.  The seven kilometer narrow stretch of path lined with thorny plants and bushes leas one to reach this colossal “Gudiyam Cave” from this village.  The excavation conducted by Archaeological Survey of India in the year 1963 proved that this cave was frequently occupied by the early men.  In the nearby Allikuli Hills 16 caves were located.  However, they are inaccessible as they are situated at higher altitudes.

Excavations

The Archaeological Survey of India has conducted excavation at Gudiyam cave, Attirampakkam, Neyveli, Poondi, Vadamadurai and unearthed Palaeolithic stone implements.  Also, excavation at Amirthamangalam has exposed the existence of Megalithic age burials in this region.

Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Madras conducted  excavation at Tiruverkadu and recovered potteries pertaining to Early Historic to Medieval period.

The Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology has also conducted excavation at pre-historic site in Parikulam which is 3 km from Poondi.   In the course of excavation good number of Palaeolithic tools revealing  the existence of Lower, Middle and Upper Palaeolithic periods was recovered from the trenches.  They  yield of various type of tools from excavation have exposed that Parikulam was also one of the factory sites of Palaeolithic period.

Pre-Historic Museum, Poondi

An exclusive site museum on Pre-History was instituted in Poondi Village in the year 1985 by Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology to create awareness among general public about the significance of villages around Poondi reservoir.  The display includes Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic stone implements and Megalithic appendages which consists of Sarcophagus and Urns.  These antiquities throw light on the Pre-Historic and Proto-Historic culture of this region.

Protected Monument

Visaleeswarar Temple

Visaleeswarar Temple is located in Villakanampoondi near Ramakrishna Rajupet in Tiruttani Taluk, Tiruvallur District.  It is situated at 120 km from Chennai.  Exquisitely carved sculptures of Ganesha, Durga, Sabdhamadrikas and Jeyshta with her daughter and son are noticed in the temple.  Inscriptional remains remind that this temple was built during Early Chola Period, i.e., datable to 10th Century CE.  This temple is a protected monument under the control of Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology.

There are seventeen monuments in this district are being protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.  Most of the monuments are Megalithic Cist and Cairns burial sites, except one at Pulal where Megalithic Settlement is found.  Among protected monuments Dutch period Fort and Cemetry (16th Century CE)  at Pulicat and Virgin  Group containing many burrows at Attanthangal are significant to note.

Temples

The Dravidian style dominates the temples in Tiruvallur District.  There are several temples located in this district.  However, the important temples with brief note are mentioned below:

Sri Veeraragavaswamy Temple, Tiruvallur

It is located in Tiruvallur town which is 46 km from Chennai.  It was built by Pallavas who held sway upto the end of 9th Century CE.  The presiding deity Vishnu is in reclined posture.  Thirumazhisai and Thirumangai Alwars have composed songs in praise of the deity.  Stone inscriptions mentioning donations made to the temple through ages are noticed.

Sri Subramaniaswamy Temple, Tiruttani

It is situated in Tiruttani town which is 70 km from Chennai.   Lord Subramaniaswamy settled down at the top of Tiruttani hill after destroying Surpadma, the asura.  The temple has been renovated through the rule of Vijayanagar, Chandragiri and Zamindars of Karvettinagar.  Saint Appar, Sundarar and Manikavasagar have visited this temple.  Sri Arunagirinathar and Sri Ramalingaswamy have composed songs in praise of the presiding deity.

Sri Vad Arnesswarar Temple, Tiruvalangadu

It is located at 3 miles from Tiruvalangadu Railway Station.  The presiding deity  Lord Shiva is in Linga form.  His consort is Sri Vandaar Kuzhaliamman.  There are some stone inscriptions in this temple.  Inscriptional remains and copper plates mention the accounts and donations made to this temple from 5th Century CE to 14th Century CE.

Archaeological Treasures

Inscriptional remains, Copper plates, Coins, Palm leaf Manuscripts, Pottery, Terracotta Figurines, etc., are the archaeological treasures give us authenticate evidences to understand the regional history.  Besides this, Mounds (in Tamil – Medu) are the habitat regional sites of Pre-Historic period.  Finding of such sites will be helpful to understand the culture of Megalithic period through Early Historic Period.  Exploration and excavation is the key tool to collect such treasures and thereby to throw light on the Socio – Culture of ancient past.