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The Tale of Muziris

Where’s Muziris now? Learn more

Wednesday, 21st April 2021

In the month of August of the year 2018, when Kerala was suffering the wrath of the Rain Gods with incessant rains battering the state for three days successively, the natives who have a distinct appetite for history recalled the massive catastrophe of the yesteryears that had made the ancient seaport of Muziris disappear completely.

The incident had occurred around 1341 when the port city on India’s Malabar Coast and the earliest of its kinds in the whole of the world got washed away by the huffing and puffing waters of Periyar, the second largest river in the state dividing Kerala into North Kerala and South Kerala. The rains had caused the river to go into full spate…major portions of Ernakulam, Thrissur and Idukki were under waters and lives of people, their homes, their valuables all were exposed to the threat from the gushing waters.

The most precious historical legacy represented by the ancient port town of Muziris too could not be spared…in no time, a multitude of valuable archaeological remains of the ancient port were lost to the deluge.

As per the opinion of the Kerala historians, the seaport of Muziris was located just at the point where the Periyar River plunges into the Arabian Sea.

The banks of the river make the Kodungallur– Paravur belt and are replete with very strong and engaging archaeological evidences of ancient Kerala pointing to it being a prominent commercial and cultural hub networking with other ancient cities of the world like Rome.

When the state of Kerala turned out to be a prominent center for spice trading, the seaport of Muziris became its prominent hub.

The tale of Muziris dates back to the early 3000 BC…that was the time when the Egyptians, Assyrians and the Babylonians visited the Malabar Coast in their quest for spices. Later the Phoenicians and the Arabs joined these groups from the Middle-East. With time the Muziris seaport in Kodhungallur found a place for itself in the trade map of the world. From that time onwards Muziris became an inseparable part of the ancient history of Kerala.

In the Indian folklore talking about the adventures of Lord Rama, we find a mention of Muziris which was then called Muchiripattanam, a dense forest from where Sugriva, the monkey king and his forces commenced their search for Mata Sita who was abducted by Ravana, the demon king. Poems that were a part of the Tamil Sangam Literature talk about the Roman Ships that reached the port of Muziris for trading and came with heaps of gold to pay for the pepper they wished to purchase from the area.

Also Read : Mahabalipuram Learn the facts of this beautiful temple town.

Muziris was lost from all the maps of antiquity, leaving no trace behind due to the natural disaster of 1341, a sort of “cyclone and floods” in River Periyar. That flood cut off the water access to the Muziris port and altered its demographics massively. In the context of the floods of 1341, S Hemachandran, Ex-Director; Archaeological Department of the Kerala government said: “The apocalyptic swells of Periyar in 1341 erased this urban centre totally.”  S.Hemachandran is involved in in-depth research about the history of the region.

The only bit that survives today is the remnants from yesteryears.

The News Talkie Bureau


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