Irulappatty hero-stones

Of all the hero-stones discovered so far, the oldest one is found at Irulappatty (Pappambadi), a village in Harur taluk of Dharmapuri district. It belongs to the fifth century A.D. There is a reference about the ruler Kovisaya Vinna Varman of that time. It has been recorded in the fourth regnal year of this ruler. It states that a Bana king fell in an encounter with an army that came against a Ganga king who ruled from Thagadur Nadu and its surrounding parts.10 There are differences of opinion among the scholars regarding the dynasty of Kovisaya Vinna Varman. Nagasamy emphatically argues that he was associated with the Pallavas. He is of the opinion that Vinna Varman was one of the predecessors of Simavishnu. It is also related that he ruled over Kongu Nadu, particularly the Thagadur region up to Harur.11

The other stone states that Vinna-peranati, the ruler of Vijaya Mangalam and son of a certain Ulamudukan who was a servant of the Bana King, fell in the fight along with his servant Kotrandai Kodan. Enathi is the title which was normally given by a king to a general of his army who had distinguished himself in battle and in recognition of which he was granted a territory.12 Since this title is suffixed after Vinnan, the very name of the king whose regnal year is mentioned in the record Vinnapperenati, must have been a distinguished general and the chieftain of Vijayamangalam under Kovisaiya Vinna Varman. This shows that Kovisaya Vinna Varman was a great ruler of that time.

Five memorial stones of Simavishnu’s period were discovored in Thagadur region. Of them four memorial stones are identified at Uthankarai taluk and one at Harur taluk.13 They belonged to the regnal years of Simavishnu from 19 to 27. The hero stones discovered at Puliyanur in Uthankerai taluk belonged to the 19th year of his reign. It states that the ruler of Siruppal Palasiriyar Makkal Siruppaduvanaru died when he fought for the retrieval of cattle at Karunkalipadi. It took place during the 6th century A.D.14 Another memorial stone of his 25th year of rule also describes the retrieval of cattle. The place Puramalai Nadu is mentioned in the inscription.15 Another memorial stone discovered at Kanampatty in Uthankarai taluk also deals with cattle-lifting. It is reported that Vathichelavan a great hero died while cattle-lifting. 16 This memorial stone was recorded in the 27th regnal year of Simavishnu. In the same year another stone was installed at Thinnappatty in Harur taluk. It is stated that the princes of the Ganga ruler who extended military support to Simavishnu were killed during the battle. The region ruled by the Gangas was known as Kovoor Nadu.17

It is recorded that during the time of Mahendravarman I a battle was fought for cattle lifting at Karimangalam in Dharmapuri District in which Eran, son of Puravar Petrandan Koppuligan was killed in 597 A.D.  A memorial stone was erected in honour of this great hero. This region was known as Kovoor Nadu and the Gangas18 ruled it.

Two hero-stones were discovered at Nadupatty village in Uthankarai taluk. It is stated that this area, with the name Meeva Nadu, was ruled by the Gangas and, during that time, one Kavithi Vedugan died while cattle-lifting. And the other one of the 19th year of the reign of Mahendravarman points out that the Kippai village in Meeva Nadu was ruled by the merchants and one warrior by name Kinangan died in 609 A.D.19

Another memorial stone discovered at Odaipatty in Dharmapuri district was recorded during the 27th year of rule of Siripurasan, the Ganga king. A servant of Thezhiyar was killed in the battle while capturing a place called Eruvayil. His name was Erumaiya Nakkan. It is said that Thezhiniyar might be a descendant of Adhiyaman.20 The similarities between Azhini and Thezhini are pointed out to substantiate this view.

The Gangas ruled Thagadur Nadu and it is evident from the memorial stones of Siripurusan and Sivamaran, the famous Ganga ruler of the region, that Thagadur region was subdivided into two: 1. Puramalai Nadu and 2. Ganga Nadu. Puramalai Nadu was ruled by Kantha Vanathiariser and Ganga Nadu by Mavali Vanarayar. Kantha Vanathiariyar ruled Puramalai Nadu upto 37th year rule of Siripurusa. Some of the Bana kings like Arimeri Mavali Vanarayar, Mavall Vanarayar, etc., ruled the area Ganga Nadu under the Ganga kings. A number of memorial stone inscriptions have been located in the region.21

During the 9th century, Arimeriya Parumar, a famous Bana king, ruled over a very vast region in Dharmapuri, comprising Ganga Nadu, Puramalai Nadu, and Koovur Nadu, Kooyenoor Nadu and Velkali Nadu. During this period, the Nulambas attacked the Banas and captured some territories of the Banas. One Nulamba king deceitfully killed Arimeriya Paruman and conquered Thagadur Nadu. At that time, the wife of Arimeriya Paruman was pregnant. She was taken to a safe place and protected by Sankara Kuttiyar a very loyal and devoted army general. Later, he waged a war with the Nulambas and defeated them. Thus, Thagadur Nadu was rescued. During this conflict, one of his subordinates Nagandai was killed.22 A hero-stone was erected by Sankarakuttiyar in honour of his warrior Nagandai.23  This information is obtained from the memorial stone.

Two hero-stones inscriptions erected during the 15th year rule of Vira Nulamba were discovered at Periyabompatty in Uthangarai taluk. It is depicted that the hero with a bow in his left hand stands with the arrows pierced in his chest and stomach. There are two cows on his right side and a dog on his left. Sagathurudaya Manickadayanar died while retrieving cattle and the hero-stone was erected in honour of him.24  The other memorial stone recorded during  the 15th year rule of Vira Nulamba states that Mamandiyan died while cattle-lifting and, in appreciation of his heroism, the memorial stone was set up. The Archaeological Department under Natana Kasinathan had discovered three hero-stone inscriptions near Hogenakkal in Dharmapuri.25 It is reported that they are 700 years old. In one memorial stone a hero is portrayed with a sword and a horse flanked by some soldiers. From this memorial stone it was found that soldiers accompanied merchants who carried on inter­-state business, with a view to protecting them from robbers and thieves.26 Memorial stones were erected in honour of those soldiers who lost their lives while fighting against the robbers. It is also found out that there was a route to Karnataka via Hogenakkal and 1500 merchant guilds carried on business with Karnataka via this route. The soldiers gave them protection.27

Panrikuthi pattan kal

The best example of this kind of hero-stone inscription was discovered at Reddiyur village in Uthankarai taluk. In it is depicted a hero with a dagger in his hands attacking a hog found dead before him. Two other hogs are trying to assault him. It is reported that during the time of the Nulamba king lyyappadeva, Ariyakutty, the servant of Idusappaiyanar, killed hogs and a memorial stone was erected in his honour.28

Another hero-stone of this type was discovered at Venkatapuram village in Uthankarai taluk. A hero with an arrow was fighting against the hog. This hero stone was partly damaged and the letters could not be deciphered.

Pulikuthi pattan kal

During 33rd year of rule of Vira Ramanathan, a Hoysala king, Kadathur region of Thagadur was under the control of Aarothan Irugan Perumal. His son Aanpillai Perumal bravely fought against a tiger and killed it. In the encounter, he died a heroic death. The hero-stone inscription discovered at Kadathur in Harur taluk gives the above information. This incident was recorded in 1287 A.D.29 The fight between Aanipillai Perumal with the tiger is very beautifully portrayed in the memorial stone next to the letters.

Another memorial stone of the same type was discovered at Chellampatty in Harur taluk. It was recorded 898 A.D. Mavali Vanarayaradiyan of Thagadur held his sway over Ulaikundru area. His uncle was Mazharpayyan, the ruler of Koovur Nadu. Chozhi Puliayan, a great hero, and one of his servants gallantly fought against a tiger and lost his life in the encounter. 30 This scene is beautifully depicted in the memorial stone.

The hero-stone inscriptions of Dharmapuri throw light on the social life of the people, their beliefs, customs and practices and the political history of the region. They constitute a very useful source of information for reconstructing the history of the region, particularly in the ancient and medieval period.


  1. Setter, S. (ed), Memorial Stones: A study of Their Origin, Significance and Variety, Dharwad: Institute of Indian Art History, Karnatak University, 1982, p.1.
  2. Pulavar Rasu, Nadukal Aaivukku Oru Munnurai (Tamil), An article presented at Tanjore University, p.2.
  3. Kesavaraj, V, Tenindiya Virakarkal Oru Aaivu, (unpublished Ph,D. thesis.), Trivandrum, Kerala University, 1985.
  4. Poonkundran: Chengam Nadu Karkalil Toruppusal, Tolkudigal, Arasiyal, (unpublished thesis) Coimbatore, Bharathiyar University, 1989.
  5. Selvaraj and Subramanian, Dharmapuriyum Agazhvaipagamum (Tamil), Chennai; Tamilnadu State Department of Archaeology, 1990, p.10.
  6. Ibid., p.10.
  7. Ibid., p.11.
  8. Krishnamurthy, S, Dharmapuri Varalarum Prakalatha Charithiramum (Tamil) Paupparapatty, Thagadur Maavatta Varalatru Peravai, 1989, p.21.
  9. The Dinakaran, (Tamil Newspaper) Salem, 25th, July 1994.
  10. Santhalingam, S, Varalatril Thagadur (Tamil), Paupparapatti, Thagadur Maavatta Varalatru Peravai, 1990, p.32.
  11. Ibid., p. 33.
  12. Nagasamy, R, (ed), Dharmapuri-Kalvettukkal (Tamil), Vol.1, Chennai, Tamil Nadu State Department of Archaeology, 1975, p.56.
  13. Santhalingam, S, Varalatril Thagadur, (Tamil) op. cit., p.33.
  14. Nagasamy, R, (ed), Dharmapuri Kalvettukkal, (Tamil), Vol. 1, op, cit., p.87.
  15. Ibid., p.84
  16. Ibid., p.76.
  17. Ibid., p.52.
  18. Ibid., p.8.
  19. Ibid., p.82.
  20. Santhalingam, S, Varalatril Thagadur (Tamil), op, cit, p.50.
  21. Ibid., p.56.
  22. Krishnamurthy, S, Dharmapuri Varalarum Prakalatha Charithiramuin (Tamil), op.cit. p.22.
  23. Ibid.
  24. The Dinakaran Tamil Daily, Salem, 23rd July, 1994.
  25. Nagasamy, R, (ed), Dharmapuri Kalvettukkal, (Tamil), Vol 1, op. cit., p.91.
  26. The Dinakaran Tamil Daily, Salem, 23rd July, 1994.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Nagasamy, R, (ed), Dharmapuri Kalvettukkal (Tamil), Vol. I, op, cit, p.97.
  29. Ibid., p.6.
  30. Ibid., p.49.


Dr. Major Syed Shahabuddin
Reader in History, Islamiah College, Vaniyambadi
Anbalagan, M.Phil
Research Scholar

 Source: Journal of Indian History and Culture, March 1999.

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