Poompuhar is an ancient Indian port situated along the coast of Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu. No one knows when this town was created, but it has been mentioned in Tamil Sangam literature works like Manimekalai (4th Century BC), Silappathikaram, Pattinappaalai, etc. Also known by the name Kaveri Poompattinam, a significant portion of this port town was submerged into the sea due to repeated Tsunami, erosion, and floods. Government is now trying to establish this town as a tourist attraction in Tamil Nadu.
To get to Poompuhar by bus, one needs to reach Karuvi, Mayiladuthurai or Sirkazhi. From there, direct buses are available. The above photo shows the Silappathikaram Art Gallery. It seems, this famous Tamil Sangam-period story of Kannagi, Madhavi and Kovalan was set in this very town. The sculptors at Mamallapuram Art College have carved a few sculptures depicting the story in brief and that has been showcased at this museum. There is a Rs. 5/- entrance ticket for this.
Silappathikaram Story (in short): Kovalan is a rich shipping merchant at Poompuhar and Kannagi is his wife. But Kovalan is attracted towards a dancer called Madhavi, falls for her, and lives with her for sometime. He loses a major portion of this wealth and comes back to Kannagi. Since they are short of money, he decides to sell Kannagi’s golden silambu (a jewel worn on the legs) in Madurai. As he approaches a gold merchant there to sell it, he is captured and sent to the King who had been searching for a similar-looking silambu that was stolen from the Queen. Kovalan is mistaken to be the thief and is executed.
The above sculpture shows Kannagi about to break the silambu to prove to the King that the jewels inside it consisted of ‘mani’, that belonged to her, and not ‘muthu’, that belonged to the Queen. Once the King realizes his error in judgement, he faints and dies on the spot, and so does the queen. I know this story because I memorized a few verses of Silappathikaram for school competitions and have won many prizes reciting it 🙂
Another good tourist spot in Poompuhar is the Light House along the beach. This lighthouse was constructed and opened just four years back! Needless to say, the view from the top of the lighthouse is too good. It is well maintained and there are circular steps to reach to the top. Here is a view from the top,
There are large stones all along the Beach coast (to prevent the water from further eroding the land, I guess) but there is a small opening (shown above) that allows people to go to the water and experience the waves. I saw a few people swimming here. BTW, this town is also called ‘Kaveri Poompattinam’, which is roughly ‘Kaveri Pugum Pattinam’ or the town where Kaveri Enters (the sea).
On the extreme right, you can see the river Kaveri entering into the sea through those two stone bunds or whatever. There are a few monuments built to be tourist attractions (like the one shown below and in the first photo of this post) but none of them are maintained well.
There is one Temple near the beach, but I didn’t go inside. It seems there are other old Temples nearby. There is also a Marine Archaeology Museum which contains a few old coins and objects excavated from nearby. It’s a small museum – go if you have time. I wanted to go to the Danish Fort, in Tharangabadi, 22 KM away. But I didn’t have enough time on that day.
To me, the view from the top of the Lighthouse alone was worth the trip.