Quite often we tend to think of ancient languages, scripts etc especially tamil to be confined only to palm leaf manuscripts or to temple inscriptions. There is another equally important source to study the evolution of the script but their main purpose was something more gallant. Hero Stones or Nadukkal are found not confined only to Tamil land but are spread all over India, they are raised to remember the bravery of a fallen solider or even a villager - usually who fought to save the village livestock from cattle raiders,or the village persay from enemy soldiers or even from wild animals.

I was fortunate to stumble across one very unique stone not in person, but when i was interacting with the great scholar Sri. Michael Lockwood, while searching for a pallava inscription, came upon his reference of a Hero stone in Chengam - Chengam Nadukarkal No 13 to be precise.


After the release of the recent movie Aravaan, there is renewed interest in such hero stones and their specific purpose. It would be interesting to read what is in this particular stone and why is it so unique.

For starters, the text is in two blocks around the central relief. The period assigned is the 7th C CE, Pallava period, the script used is Vatteluthu.


The portion on the top comprising 9 lines refer to the hero holding the bow and knife depicted below.

Text courtesy : Tamil Nadu Department of Archaeology and Mr Michael Lockwood


1. Ko - Visaiya
2. Mayindira-parumarku
3. muppattu nangavadu [|*] Vanako-
4. arasisaru marumakkal Porrokkai-
5. ar ilamagan Karundevakkatti tan-
6 nerumai-p-
7 puratte va-
8 di patta-
9 n kal [||*]

Meaning - : ” Records the death of Karundevakkatti, the younger son (ilamagan) of Porrokkaiyar who was the nephew ( marumakkal) of a Bana Chieftain.’

The portion to the side is what is interesting. The ancients did not stop with recording the death of the the hero, they go on to honor another…

10 [koviva] - [ read: Koriva - by Mr Lockwood]
11 n-n=ennu
12 n-nay i-
13 ru kalla-
14 nai-k-kadit-
15 tu-k-kattiru-
16 ndavaru [||*]

Meaning: “Also mentions that a dog named Ko[ri*]van bit two thieves and kept watch.”

Images courtesy: http://tamilnation.co/heritage/dolmens.htm
and http://www.tnarch.gov.in/epi/ins11.htm

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10 Comments so far

rhoda alex

the swing from David and Arjuna to Kovan - hats off to the sheer range of posts here vj

June 14th, 2012 at 8:42

Great revelations. Great study and a big contribution to society from you. Please do keep them coming for the benefit of people.

June 14th, 2012 at 23:16

Very Nice. I had an aunt - a dog lover- who used to remember him & keep his favorite eats on his death anniversary every year.

June 15th, 2012 at 10:11
Ayyampet J.Balachandran

அன்பு நண்பரே,
தங்களது மேற்படி கட்டுரையில் நமது மகேந்திரர் காலத்தில் ஏற்பட்டது என்ற நிகழ்வை சொல்லவில்லையே? நாய் என்று அலட்சியமாய் நம் முன்னோர் இருக்கவில்லை. அதையும் சிறப்பித்துள்ளனர்.என்னே உயர்ந்த பண்பாடு.
Ayyampet J.Balachandran.

June 15th, 2012 at 17:02


June 20th, 2012 at 15:45

கோழிகளுக்கும் கூட இரண்டு நடுகற்கள் இருப்பதாகப் படித்திருக்கிறேன்.

June 20th, 2012 at 17:34

sure Pandian - will look for it and post


June 29th, 2012 at 7:13

நன்றி விஜய். ஆவலுடன் எதிர்பார்க்கிறேன்.

கிருஷ்ணமூர்த்தி அவர்கள் எழுதிய “நடுகற்கள்” என்ற புத்தகத்தில், கிட்டத்தட்ட தென்னிந்தியாவில் உள்ள அனைத்து நடுகற்களைப் பற்றிய குறிப்புகள் உள்ளன. கிளி, குதிரை, எருது, பசு ஆகியவற்றிற்கும் கூட நடுகற்கள் இருக்கின்றனவாம்.

July 5th, 2012 at 8:45

அன்பர் விஜெய் அவர்களே - வாழ்க தங்கள் நற்பணி. Pls kindly pass on your expertise to future generations too so that our heritage and rich culture are passed on for all time. From the day I read Kalki’s ponniyin selvan, I have been fascinated by Pallipadaiveedu’s and Nadukkarkal. Will eagerly wait for you to enlighten us further. Godbless you with health wealth and the longing thirst to rediscover our mindblowing past. Best wishes.

December 13th, 2012 at 15:23

thanks for the nice words Palani. will certainly write more. anbudan vj

January 11th, 2013 at 15:52

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