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Nagapattinam district,Tamilnadu

Nagapattinam is a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the administrative headquarters of Nagapattinam District. The town came to prominence during the period of Medieval Cholas (9th–12th century CE) and served as their important port for commerce and east-bound naval expeditions. The Chudamani Vihara in Nagapattinam constructed by the Sri Lankan king with the help of Chola kingdom is an important Buddhist structure of the times. Nagapattinam was settled by the Portuguese and, later, the Dutch under whom it served as the capital of Dutch Coromandel from 1660 to 1781.[1] In November 1781, the town was conquered by the British East India Company. It served as the capital of Tanjore district from 1799 to 1845 under Madras Presidency of the British.It continued to be a part of Thanjavur district in Independent India. In 1991, it was made the headquarters of the newly created Nagapattinam District. Nagapattinam is administered by a Selection-grade municipality covering an area of 14.92 km2 (5.76 sq mi) and had a population of 102,905 as of 2011.

A majority of the people of Nagapattinam are employed in sea-borne trading, fishing, agriculture and tourism. Kayarohanaswami Temple and Soundararajaperumal Temple, Nagapattinam are the major Hindu pilgrimage sites. Nagapattinam is the base for tourism for Sikkal, Velankanni, Poompuhar, Kodiyaikkarai, Vedaranyam, Mannargudi and Tharangambadi. Roadways is the major mode of transport to Nagapattinam, while the city also has rail and sea transport. The town, along with the district, was severely damaged by the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004.

History

There are urn burials in and around the city from the Sangam period indicating some level of human habitation. There are no direct references to Nagapattinam during the c (3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE). The neighbouring port, Kaveripoompattinam (modern day Poompuhar), was the capital of the Chola kingdom of the Sangam Age, referred to widely in Tamil scriptures like Paṭṭiṉappālai.

The early works of Tevaram by the 7th-century poets Appar and Tirugnanasambandar mention the town had fortified walls, busy road building and a busy port. The inscriptions from the Kayarohanswami temple indicate the construction was initiated during the reign of the Pallava king, Narasimha Pallava II (691–729 CE). A Buddhist pagoda was built under Chinese influence by the Pallava king and the town was frequented by Buddhist travelers. Thirumangai Azhwar, the 9th century vaishnavite saint poet, is believed to have stolen the golden Buddha statue to fund the Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam; the authenticity of the theory is questionable.

In the 11th century CE, Chudamani Vihara, a Buddhist monastery, was built by Javanese king Sri Vijaya Soolamanivarman with the patronage of Raja Raja Chola.Nagapattinam was the prominent port of Cholas for trade and a conquering gateway to the east.

In the early 16th century the Portuguese made commercial contacts with the town and established a commercial centre in 1554 CE. The Portuguese also conducted missionary enterprise here.In 1658, the Dutch made an agreement with King Vijaya Nayakkar of Thanjavur on 5 January 1662, by which ten villages were transferred from the Portuguese to the Dutch — Nagapattinam Port, Puthur, Muttam, Poruvalancheri, Anthanappettai, Karureppankadu, AzhingiMangalam, Sangamangalam, Thiruthinamangalam, Manjakollai, Nariyankudi. Ten Christian churches and a hospital were built by the Dutch. They released Pagoda coins with the name Nagapattinam engraved in Tamil. As per agreement between the first Maratta King Egoji of Thanjavur and the Dutch, Naagapattinam and surrounding villages were handed over to the Dutch on 30 December 1676. In 1690, the capital of Dutch Coromandel changed from Pulicat to Nagapattinam.

This town fell into the hands of the British in 1781 after the two naval battles between British and French fleets were fought off the coast of Negapatam, as it was then known: the first in 1758 as part of the Seven Years’ War and the second in 1782 as part of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War. The town was taken by the British from the Dutch in 1781 (who had been formally brought into the war in 1780). When the Dutch and British reached a peace agreement in 1784, Nagapattinam was formally ceded to the British. 277 villages, with Nagore as the headquarters, were handed over to the East India Company.

From 1799 to 1845 CE Nagapttinam was the headquarters of Tanjore district.[1] Nagapattinam and Nagore were incorporated as a single municipality in 1866 CE.The town remained one of the chief ports to the Madras Presidency. The port suffered decline after the inclusion of Tranquebar and Tuticorin ports. After India’s independence, Sirkazhi continued to be a part of Thanjavur district until 1991, and later became part of the newly created Nagapattinam district. Nagapattinam was severely affected by the tsunami which followed the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.

Culture and tourism

Tourism plays a key economic role for the town, even though fishing is the major occupation. Nagapttinam is a base for heritage and historic points like Nagore, Velankanni, Sikkal, Kodiyakkarai, Vedaranyam, Mannargudi and Tharangambadi.

Nagore Durgha, a 16th-century minaret located in Nagore, is one of the important pilgrimage centres of the town. Kanduri festival is a 14-day event celebrated for the annual urs(anniversary) of the saint Hajrath Shahul Hamid (1490–1579 CE), in honor of whom the minaret was built. The festival is celebrated in commemoration of the anniversary of the saint’s death, and pilgrims from various religions participate in the rituals and rites. The festival is also seen as a sacred exchange between Hindus and Muslims expressing solidarity of mixed faith in the region. It is believed that 60 percent of the shrines were built by Hindus and historically the minaret garners many domestic and international visitors. There are three other prominent mosques; one near Nagai Pudhur Road, one near the new bus stand, and another at Moolakadai Street.

Kayarohanaswami Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple has been in existence from the 6th century CE and has been reverred by the verses of Tevaram, the 7th–8th century Saiva canonical work by Appar, Campantar and Sundarar.The temple is one of the seven temples of the Thyagaraja cult, classified as Saptha Vidangam, where the presiding deity Thyagaraja is believed to portray different dance styles.The temple is also known for the shrine of Neelayadakshi, the consort of Kayarohanaswami.

Soundararajaperumal Temple is a Hindu temple in the town dedicated to Vishnu. It is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu revered in Nalayira Divya Prabandham by Thirumangai Azhwar, one of the 12 poet saints called Azhwars belonging to the 6th–9th century. Nagapattinam is base to some of the prominent Hindu temples like Sikkal Singaravelan Temple at Sikkal, Vedaranyeswarar Temple at Vedaranyam, Ettukudi Murugan Temple and Koothanur Maha Saraswathi Temple.

Velankanni is a pilgrimage centre located 10 km (6.2 mi) from Nagapattinam. The town is known for the Basilica of Our Lady of Good Health, a Roman Catholic church built during the 17th century. Pilgrimage to the basilica is common during September when people of many faiths, especially Hindus, Muslims and Christians of all denominations visit the basilica.[44] The town has four prominent churches; the Lourdhu Madha (Sindhathurai Madha) Church, the Madharasi Madha Church, T.E.L.C. Church and the Protestant Church.