uraga and AlavAy

Venkatraman Iyer venkatraman_iyer at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 5 17:11:28 UTC 1999

>>Kalidasa in his Raghuvamsa calls the capital of the Pandya kings of
>>Tamil region as "uraga". Kalidasa's use of this name for Madurai is
>>very significant. The name uraga is based on the name Alavay found
>>to be attested for the first time in the post-Classical Tamil text,
>>tEvAram, of 7th century...

>This may very well be a correct inference,  but it is at odds with
>the views of E. Hultzsch [_Gadval Plates of Vikramaditya, c.
>A.D. 674_, EI X (1909-10): 102], who cites Venkayya's equation of
>Kalidasa's Uragapura with Uraiyur, an ancient capital of the Cholas
>near Tiruchi ..

  It looks V. Venkayya, from Andhra, mixes "uragapura" with
 "uRaiyUr", a part of Tiruchy in the Chola heartland. Pl. note
  uRaiyUr has no connection with Pandyas that early.

  On the contrary, S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar, Some contributions
  of South India to Indian culture, 1924, University of Calcutta
  correctly identifies uragapura woth Madurai. In p. 338,
  "Then comes Kumari with a cape and harbor. It is also referred
  to as a holy bathing place, and the coast region is then described
  as extending eastwards till it reaches Korkai where pearl
  fisheries are and the Periplus offers the interesting piece of
  information that they are worked by condemned criminals. Then
  follows another coast region with a region inland called according
  to the Periplus, Argaru, [1] taken to be the equivalent of Uraiyur.
  These two regions of the coast country are somewhat differently
  named in Ptolemy. He calls the region between Nirkunram and Camorin
  as in the country of Aioi (Tamil Aay).  [...]
  [1] Is this (Periplus' Argaru) not more correctly Uragapura
  (Halasya or Madura), the capital of Pandyas? UraiyUr, the Chola
  capital and the country dependent thereon must have begun far
  north of this region - somewhere about ToNDi in the Ramnad district

  S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar in 1920s has written that uragapura's
  identification with Madurai is correct. He further
  hints that uragapura-hAlAsya name was first attested in the
  Periplus, even prior to Kalidasa! Is there a discussion on
  Argaru in Lionel Casson, The Periplus Maris Erythraei, 1989,
  Princeton or uragapura in Ptolemy, The Geography, Dover?

  V. Iyer

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