Nallur Rajadhani: City Layout
V.N.Giritharan B.Sc (Built Environment in Architecture)
Publisher: Sneha Pathippagam (Madras)
Translation By: Latha Ramakrishnan

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So far we have seen the historical factors about Nallur Rajdhani and also several details about the city layout and architectural norms, styles and patterns of the ancient hindus.  Further, in several places I have given some facts about the Nallur Rajdhani that might have existed once.  Now, let us review all those in detail.  The following can be called the very first step that I took up in examining the layout of the city;  that the market place of the city was situated at the centre.


logo.gif (31909 bytes)Generally market place would be situated in the region where the main roads converge.  This arrangement is important for the success of the market.  The fact that right from Anuradhapura which was one of the important big cities of the Buddhists, in many an ancient city the market place was situated in the region where the city's main roadways meet. That's why I arrived at the conclusion that there must have been a market place in the central part of Nallur Rajdhani.  And, so I concluded that the place called 'Muthirai Sandhai(market)'   must be referring to this market placementioned above. When we  view the city's layout with having the market place as the central part, its structural order and regularity is clearly revealed.  To put it more effectively, the order and discipline of the city's layout originates from this central point and this lands further strength to my conclusion. Secondly, I arrived at the conclusion that the capital city of Nallur was divided by two principal roadways.  The following can be cited as proofs for my contention:

That there were entrances at the western and northern sides of the
Rajdhani is revealed by the historical books and notes.  The names of lands that are in vogue in the eastern regions of the city such as Kottai Vaasal, Kottai adi (Fort - Entrance, Fort - base) implied that there might have been the eastern entrance in that region.  As the historical works hold that Veeramakaliyamman temple was safeguarding the west-side entrance and the Saltanadhar temple stood for the safety of the Northern entrance, I arrived at the conclusion that the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple must have been guarding the east side entrance.  Historians claim that the king Singai Pararasasekaran had built those four temples Veeramaakaliyamman temple, Sattanadhar temple, Veiyilugandha pillayar temple and Kailasanadhar temple for safeguarding the city from all the four directions.  Taking this theory
into consideration I concluded that there must have been a southern entrance to the Rajdhani and that it must have been guarded by Kailasanadhar temple.

After deciding on these I went on to conclude that because the Rajdhani had
four gateways the city should have been divided by the two main - North
South, East West roadways that connect the four entrances to the city.
After arriving at the conclusion that the city was thus divided by the two
principal roadways it became easy to go from there and reach the that the market place was situated in the region where the two main roads

On concluding that the city had been built as having four entrances and two main roadways and four temples safeguarding the four gateways there arose some problems.  The temples seen today were those demolished by the Porthugese.  How then to find out their locations during the period of
Nallur Rajdhani?  As mentioned earlier, when I arrived at the conclusion
that the region called the 'Muthirai Santhai' (market place) must have been
the central part of the city, I could see from the present city maps that
the distance between this point and the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple and
also the distance between this central region and the Sattanadhar temple
were exactly the same.  Moreover, the fact that the Veiyilugandha pillayar
temple was situated in the east and the Sattanadhar in the west was also
taken note of (As for the rest of the temples, that they were built in the
same way as mentioned earlier, in the chapter on field research work, was
also taken note of) From these the following conclusion's are arrived at:

As the distance to the sattanadhar temple and to the Veiyilugandha
pillayar  temple from the centre place, i.e, 'Muthirai Santhai' ( the market
place), is exactly the same, these two must have been rebuilt in their same
old locations or somewhere closeby.

2. As the Nallur Kandasami temple was rebuilt in 'Kurukkal Valavu' it
could be that the Veeramaakaliyamman temple and Kailasanadhar temple were
constructed having this as the central point.  The city layout of the
Rajdhani: Moreover, as the distance of the Sattanadhar temple and that of
the Veiyilugandha pillayar temple (from the royal market) is exactly the
same, and as the place where the market place was located had been the
centre of the Rajdhani we can say that the shape of the Nallur Rajdhani city
structure might have been either square or circular.  As from the available
informations and details on the ancient architectural styles and norms of
the Hindus we come to Know that the Hindus adopted the square-shape and
also, as the tamil kings were hindus it was concluded that the Nallur
Rajdhani's architectural form was square-shaped.  As per the datas and
proofs given by the architectural books of the Ancient Hindus we can
understand that the city was castewise structured.  Further, the names of
plots / lands that exist in today's Nallur and the monuments there also lay
emphasis on this aspect it is understood that Nallur Rajdhani too had been
built thus castewise structured.  (But, in truth, it should be seen as
vocation - based than of caste - based division)

As per the informations imparted by the ancient architectural writings
of the ancient hindus the north and northwestern region were considered
proper for the brahmins and astrologers and the eastern region for the king.
But, the informations gathered from the field research work conducted in
Nallur tell us that in North western region itself, locations proper and
suited for brahmins (Kurukkal Valavu) and court bard (Arasakesari) and also
places like pandarakulam, Sangilian thoppu, sangiliyan street etc did exist.
The reason for this could be the fact that the main Nallur Kandan temple (the region where the church is seen today) and its sacred pond were situated in the
Northeastern region.  Further, as the notes and references of the Porthugese
describe the Nallur Murugan temple as a great grand shrine with forrtifying
walls, the land belonging to the temple must have been of a huge area and
circumference.  And, this would have posed some difficulties.  This could
have been the reason for most of the places that were proper for the royalty
to have been established in the Northwest region.  Still, there might have
been some places belonging to the king in the northwest region also.
Pandian maaligai varalaru (Pandian palace) that is seen in this region lends
strength to this contention.

That the region belonging to those like the goldsmiths and such other
craftsmen must have been in the southeast side. So opine the architectural
books of the Ancient hindus.  As lending credibility to this claim we come
across the dyers' street and such other places belonging to the labour class
in the south-eastern region of Nallur.  Likewise, the soldiers and the
palace staff must have dwelt in the southwest region and the informations
gathered from field research work and the architectural books of the ancient
hindus prove this point.  As the architectural books of the hindus say that
the market place should be in the Northeast side of the city, the conclusion
that in Nallur Rajdhani also there should have been a road round the
fortifying walls on its inner side, was arrived at.

So far we have seen how the city layout of the Nallur Rajdhani had been
planned and constructed.  When we look at the city structure of the ancient
hindus we see that some of them were built as temple-cities and some others
as Rajdhanis (capital cities).  In Nallur Rajdhani's case our research work
proves that it was structured in such a way as to be atonce a temple city
and also a Rajdhani.  This is the reason why Nallur Rajdhani's city layout
differs from that of the other cities.  And, this is its significant aspect

1.Veiyilugandha Pillayar temple
2. Nallur Kandhan temple
3. Kailasanadhar temple (DIAGRAM)
4.Sattanadhar temple
5. Veeramaakaaliyamman temple
6.The main junction close to the Royal market place.

Reference books :
Yaazhpaana Vaibhavamaalai   -  edited by Kulasapaanaadhan
Yaazhpaana Charithram     -  Mudaliar Se. Rasanayakam
Yaazhpaana Charithram    -  Aa. Muthuthambi pillai
(The history of yaazhpaana) ezhathu Thamizh Ilakkiya Valarchi
(The literary growth of Jaffna Tamil)  -  Kalanidhi Ka.Se. Natarasa
Thamizh Manaiyadi Sasthram                         -  P.S. Aacharya
((The Sasthras of Tamils for  laying foundation for house)
Thamizhagam -  Oorum Paerum    -  Ra. Pi. Sethupillai
Conquest of Ceylon       -  Queroz. F Vol. 184
Tamils and Ceylon     -  C.S. Navarathnam
The kingdom of Jaffna      -  S. Pathmanathan.
Urban and Regional planning   - Rame Gowda.
Urban Geography       - Prof. Jeyasingam.
Early Christianity in Ceylon     - Fr. Rev. peiris, Fr. Meersman.
Living Architecture -  Indian    - Andreas Volwashen.
Monumental Art and Architecture of India    - K. Sundaram.
The arts and crafts of India and Ceylon - Ananda coomarasamy.

1.Yaazhpaana Rachiyam  - Kalanidhi C.K. Sitrambalam
2. Vaiyapaadal - Kalanidhi K. S. Natarasa
3. Yaazhpaanathu Periyakoil - K. Gunarasa)
4. Yaazhpaanam Endra peyar thoendriyadhe evvaaru?
    (How the name Yaazhpaana came into being?)  -  M. K. A. Anthanisil
5. 'Yaazhpaanam endra peyarin kaaranam patriya karuthaaivu' (analysing the
    origin and source of the name Yaazhpaana) - Kalanidhi K. S. Natarasa
6.'Eelam and the Hindu Religion' - Polanaruvaik kaalam - Kalanidhi.
7. The Kings of Jaffna during Porthugese period - swami Gnanaprakasar.
8. Nila Alavaith thinaikala Varaipadangal (Land Survey Plans from the Dept.
of Surveying), (Diagrams of the different length and breath of space for
different divisions of land).  Jaffna Town planning  Assessment Surveys:
Sheet No. A2/45/4w, A2/45/3E.
9.Rowland De Sylva's essay on Anuradhapura Town Planning.

 V.N.Giritharan ©2000-2003