Friday, 9 May 2014

Chapter 19 - The Battlefield

In those days, it was a practice to build memorial temples for war heroes. These temples were called Pallipadai. Near Kudandhai, there was a small village called Thirupurampiyam where a Pallipadai was built for the Ganga king Prathivipithan, in memory of his heroic deeds in the gory war that took place here.

In the world history, there are many famous battles that have changed the course of the history, for e.g. the Battle of Waterloo, The Wars of Panipat etc. In the same way, the war that was fought near Thirupurampiyam changed the course of Tamil history.

The Chola dynasty, like any other royal power in the world, had seen its share of ups and down. After the reign of great kings like Karikalan Vallavan, Perunalakilli, Eranchet Chenni, there was a steady decline in their power. The Pandya and Pallava kings gained more power and suppressed the Cholas. And thanks to the Pandyas, the Cholas were forced to relocate from their old capital, Uraiyur, to Pazhaiarai, which was near Kudandhai. But they still retained their titles, which proclaimed Uraiyur as their capital.

Many years passed and Vijayalaya Chola became the king of the Chola Kingdom. He was a great warrior. Tales about this king are legendary in the Chola history. It was said that he had 99 scars from various battles on his body. Poems and songs heralded the bravery of this old king.

Due to his advanced age, Vijayalaya Chola crowned his son, Aditya Chola as the king and retired from public life. During that time there arose a bitter fight among the Pallavas and Pandyas. Both were powerful kingdoms who had reduced the Chola kingdom to ignominy. The Pandya King was Varagunavarman at that time.

Because of the enmity between these two powers, the Chola Kingdom was subjected to many an inconvenience - they fought their wars on Chola territory. Nevertheless, the Chola king turned this situation to his advantage. Each time there was a war, he would join one of these warring sides with his small army.

Very soon, what was to be the final war between the two kingdoms was declared. This was the war that was to decide the fate of the three kingdoms, Chola, Pandya and Pallava. And this war happened near Thirupurampiyam. This time the Pandya king came with a huge army while the Pallava king had the support of the Ganga king, Prathivipithan and Aditya Chola and his small army.

Even though the Cholas had a small army, they nevertheless joined in because they knew that if the Pandyas won, their fate would be sealed. There were countless elephants, horses, chariots and foot-soldiers on both the sides. And when both the armies met in battlefield, it was a storm in the making. The battle went on incessantly for three days. Blood flowed like rivulets everywhere. Heaps of bodies of soldiers, horses and elephants lay decomposing.

After three days of war, a very small section of Pallava army had survived. And even they were wounded and tired. But the Pandya forces, scenting victory, were thirsty for more blood. They kept on attacking the Pallava forces with more vigour.
Ganga King Prathivipithan's Pallipadai
Photo Credit: Puli Vamsam Albums
War Memorial of Ganga King PrathivipithanPhoto Credit: Puli Vamsam Albums

In the Pallava camp, the three kings Aparajithavarman (the Pallava King), Prathivipithan (the Ganga King) and Aditya Chola held a council of war where they decided that retreating would be their best option to survive the onslaught of the Pandya forces.

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