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Pandyas – Sources & Territory


  • Pandyas were one of the muvendars that ruled the southern part of India, though intermittently, until the pre-modern times.
  • Ashoka, in his inscriptions, refers to Cholas, Cheras, Pandyas and Satyaputras as peoples of South India.
  • Korkai, a town historically associated with pearl fisheries, is believed to have been their early capital and port.
  • They moved to Madurai later.
  • Many early Tamil inscriptions of Pandyas have been found in Madurai and its surroundings.
  • Madurai is mentioned as Matirai in these Tamil inscriptions, whereas Tamil classics refer to the city as Kudal, which means assemblage.
  • In one of the recently discovered Tamil inscriptions from Puliman Kompai, a village in Pandya territory, Kudal is mentioned.
  • In Pattinappalai and Maduraikkanchi, Koodal is mentioned as the capital city of Pandyas.
  • It finds mention in Ettuthogai (Eight Anthologies) also.
  • So, historically Madurai and Kudal have been concurrently used.


  • The history of the Pandyas of the Sangam period, circa third century BCE to third century CE, has been reconstructed from various sources such as megalithic burials, inscriptions in Tamil brahmi, and the Tamil poems of the Sangam literature.
  • The Pandyas established their supremacy in South Tamil Nadu by the end of the sixth century CE.
  • A few copper plates form the source of our definite knowledge of the Pandyas from the seventh to the ninth century.
  • The Velvikkudi grant of Nedunjadayan is the most important among them.
  • Copper plates inform the essence of royal orders, genealogical list of the kings, their victory over the enemies, endowments and donations they made to the temples and the Brahmins.
  • Rock inscriptions give information about the authors of rockcut cave temples, irrigation tanks and canals.
  • Accounts of travellers such as Marco Polo, Wassaff and Ibn-Batuta are useful to know about political and socio-cultural developments of this period.
  • Madurai Tala Varalaru, Pandik Kovai and Madurai Tiruppanimalai provide information about the Pandyas of Madurai of later period.
  • Though pre-Pallavan literary works do not speak of Sangam as an academy, the term Sangam occurs in Iraiyanar Akapporul of late seventh or eighth century CE.
  • The term Sangam, which means an academy, is used in late medieval literary works like Periya Puranam and Tiruvilaiyadal Puranam.

Seethalai Saththanar, the author of epic Manimekalai, hailed from Madurai.


  • The territory of Pandyas is called Pandymandalam, Thenmandalam Pandynadu, which lay in the or rocky, hilly regions and mountain ranges except the areas fed by the rivers Vaigai and Tamiraparni.
  • River Vellar running across Pudukkottai region had been demarcated as the northern border of the Pandya country, while Indian Ocean was its southern border.
  • The Western Ghats remained the border of the west while the Bay of Bengal formed the eastern border.

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