Home | TNPSC Micro Topics | Pandyas Kingdom – Trade & Economy

Pandyas Kingdom – Trade & Economy



  • Kings and local chiefs created Brahmin settlements called Mangalam or Chaturvedimangalam with irrigation facilities.
  • These settlements were given royal names and names of the deities. Influential Brahmins had honorific titles such as Brahmmadhi Rajan and Brahmmaraiyan.


  • It was not the Khalji’s invasion from the north that brought the Muslims into Tamil country for the first time.
  • Arab settlements on the west coast of southern India, from the seventh century, led to the expansion of their trade connection to the east coast of Tamizh country.
  • This was because the governments of the east coast pursued a more liberal and enlightened policy towards the overseas traders.
  • Their charters exempted traders from various kinds of port dues and tolls.
  • In Kayal, there was an agency established by an Arab chieftain by name Malik-ul-Islam Jamaluddin.
  • This agency facilitated the availability of horses to Pandya kings.
  • In the inscriptions, the traders are referred to as nikamattor, nanadesi, ticai-ayiratuainutruvar, ainutruvar, manikiramattar and patinen-vishyattar.
  • They founded the trade guilds in Kodumpalur and Periyakulam.
  • The goods traded were spices, pearls, precious stones, horses, elephants and birds.
  • In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, horse trade was brisk.
  • Marco Polo and Wassaff state that the kings invested in horses as there was a need of horses for ceremonial purposes and for fighting wars.
  • Those who were trading in horses were called kudirai-chetti.
  • They were active in maritime trade also.
  • The busiest port town under the Pandyas was Kayalpattinam (now in Thoothukudi district) on the east coast.
  • Gold coins were in circulation as the trade was carried through the medium of gold.
  • It was variously called kasu, palankasu, anradunarpalankasu, kanam, kalancu and pon.
  • The titular gods of the traders are Ayirattu Aynurruvaar Udaiyar and Sokka Nayaki Amman.
  • The periodically held fairs were called Tavalam in settlements called teru where the traders lived.


  • The Pandya rulers created a number of irrigation sources and they were named after the members of the royal family.
  • Some of them were Vasudeva Peraru, Virapandya Peraru, Srivallaba Peraru and Parakirama Pandya Peraru.
  • The tanks were named Tirumaleri, Maraneri, Kaliyaneri and Kadaneri.
  • On either side of the rivers Vaigai and Tamiraparni, canals leading to the tanks for irrigation were built.
  • The Sendan Maran inscription of Vaigai river bed speaks of a sluice installed by him to distribute the water from the river.
  • Sri Maran Srivallabhan created a big tank, which is till now in use.
  • Like Pallavas in northern districts, Pandyas introduced the irrigation technology in the southern districts of Tamil country.
  • In building the banks of the tanks, the ancient architect used the thread to maintain the level.
  • Revetment of the inner side of the banks with stone slabs is one of the features of irrigation technique in Pandya country.
  • In the time of the later Pandyas (around 1212), an official constructed a canal leading from river Pennai to the lands of Tiruvannamalai temple.
  • In dry-zone Ramanathupuram also, tanks were created.
  • In these areas, such irrigation works were done by local administrative bodies, local chiefs and officials.
  • Repairs were mostly undertaken by local bodies.
  • Sometimes, traders also dug out tanks for irrigation.
  • Iruppaikkuti-kilavan, a local chief, built many tanks and repaired the tanks in disrepair.
  • The actual landowning groups are described as the Pumiputtirar.
  • Historically they were locals and hence they were referred to as nattumakkal.
  • The communal assembly of this group is Cittirameli-periyanattar.


  • The mission of promoting literacy was carried on through many ways.
  • Appointment of singers to recite the Bhakti hymns in temple has been seen as the attempt of promoting literacy.
  • In theatres, plays were staged for a similar purpose.
  • Bhattavirutti and salabogam were endowments provided for promoting Sanskrit education.
  • Brahmins studied the Sanskrit treatises in educational centres kadigai, salai and vidyastanam.
  • From 12th century, monasteries came up and they were attached to the temples to promote education with religious thrust.
  • A copper inscription says that an academy was set up to promote Tamil and to translate Mahabharatam.
  • The important Tamil literary texts composed in the reign of the Pandyas were Tiruppavai, Tirvempavai, Tiruvasagam, Tirukkovai and Tirumantiram.

Horse trade of that time has been recorded by Wassaff. He writes: “…as many as 10,000 horses were imported into Kayal and other ports of India of which 1,400 were to be of Jamaluddin’s own breed. The average cost of each horse was 220 dinars of ‘red gold’.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *