Kayalpatnam is an ancient historical city of India. It lies in the southeast part of Indian peninsula, on the shore of the Bay of Bengal. It is a Muslim dominant town situated in Thoottukudi district and formally it was in Tirunelveli district. It is about 400 miles from Madras and 100 miles from Tiruvandrum and Madurai.
Kayalpatnam was chief trade emporium even before the advent of Islam and it was chief port of Malabar to which Arabs and Greeks were frequent visitors. During the lifetime of our beloved holy prophet Muhammad (Sal.) Islamic missionaries were sent to Malabar to preach the peace mission of Islam.
The First settlement in Kayalpatnam occurred in 633 A.D. (Hijiri 12). The first settlers were from Mecca and Medina and landed here during the reign of the first caliph, the successor of our prophet Muhammad (Sal), Ameerul momeneen Hazarat seyedna Abubakar Siddeeq (Rali).
From 1980 onwards I closely inspected the archaeological remains of Kayalpatnam as well studied the available oldest documents in papers, leaves, and metals. I have seriously studied the various rare inscriptions found in Kayalpatnam and consulted some expert archaeologists with the contents of inscriptions and obtained their opinions. According to the eminent Historians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs visited Kayal even before the advent of Muslim missionaries of Arabia.
Through our ancient saintly scholar's records, we made out the first Muslim settlement in Kayalpatnam happened during the lifetime of Hazarath Abu Bakar Siddeeq (Rali). In 1998, Abdur Rahman Walliyullah of Cumbum, a close associate of Kayalpatnam Omar Walliyullah and Peria Muthu Wappa Waliyullah, while discussing about the early history of Kayalpatnam, confirmed Islam entered Kayalpatnam through Arab traders and Muslim missionaries during the reign of the first Caliph Hazarth Abu Bakar Siddeeq (Rali). Further he said that Sea Shore Masjid (Kadal Karai Palli) was the first mosque and added saints who ever visited Kayalpatnam never missed to pray at this mosque.
The Second settlement took place in 842 A.D. (Hijiri 227). They came from Cairo in Egypt during the tyrannical rule of Abbasi caliph Al-Multhazim (841 A.D.) and the beginning of caliph Al-Wadiq's rule, (842 A.D.), under the leadership of Muhammad Khalji (Rah). Big Jamiah mosque (Kuthba Periya Palli) was built by Muhammad Khalji in 843 A.D. (Hijiri 228). Kayal was the name of the place till the advent of Muhammad Khalji. After his arrival, the southern part of Kayal is named as Kahirfathan after the name of his own town "Kahira" in Egypt. Kahirfathan in Arabic is slowly changed into Kayalpatnam in Tamil. The northern part of Kayal is called Old Kayal (Palaiya Kayal and Punna Kayal).
The Third batch of Arabs (third settlement) came from Arabia in 1284 A.D under the leadership of Sultan Jamaluddin, who was a descendant of holy prophet Muhammad (Sal.), a business magnate, a statesman and a famous ruler of Pandiyan kingdom. His descendants are still living in Kayalpatnam and they have their genealogical table from Sultan Jamaluddin.
Indian historians and many famous foreign travelers and historians of the west perfectly made known that Kayalpatnam is situated near the Tamira Parani river about a mile from its mouth in Tirunelvelli district presently Tuticorin district and Kayalpatnam is also distinctly identified with Islam from 8th century.
Kail, was long a famous port on the coast of what is now the Tirunelveli district of the Madras presidency. It is mentioned as part of Malabar by Polo's contemporary Rashiduddin. Kail is definitely the one situated on the Tamraparani River about 1 & half miles from its mouth. (Travels of Marco polo translated by Sir Henry Yule). Famous travelers and historians like Abdullah Wasaf, Rasheeduddin, Ibn Batuta and Marco Polo gave some information about Kayalpatnam in their books. The works of Dr. Rev. Bishop Caldwell, Sir Elliot, Col-Henry Yule, Sir John Emerson Tennant, Sir Simon Casio Chitty and Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, incidentally, the latter mentioned six writers, substantiate, the view that the Arabs had settled first at Kayalpatnam and there from spread to the other parts of eastern coast of India and Ceylon.
A historical Atlas of South Asia edited by J.E. Schwartzberg, University of Chicago press, Chicago, printed in 1928, shows that famous Korkai and Kayal were situated on the delta of the Tamira Parani. Bishop R. Caldwell writes in his book "History of Tirunelvelli" that both places are situated on the delta of Tamira Parani. Korkai within five miles, Kayal within two miles on the sea but each was originally on the seacoast. A well known Indian historian K.A. Nilakanda Sastri narrates in his book "History of south India" that once the wealthy commercial cities of Korkai and Kayal on the Tirunelvelli coast, which were flourishing in thirteenth century are now buried under sand dunes miles from the sea. According to Vascodagama, Kayal was on the Tirunelvelli coast where pearls were found. It was under Mussalman King. (His book'Reteriro) Travelers like Masudi and Ibn Batuata testify to the presence of Muslims and mosques all along the west coast. There were Muslim settlements on the east coast of which Kayalpatnam and Nagore were the most important. (History of India' Nilakanda Sastri)
Maps showing Religious movements on the 8th to 12th centuries in India published by Menesto University in U.S.A., in which Kayalpatnam and Nagore are identified with Islam. According to Abdullah Wassaf, a Persian historian, a contemporary of Marco polo Kayal was the port of Malabar. During the reign of Malabar King Sultan Shaik Malabar, his administrative office was at Kayalpatnam. He died on Hijiri 628 (1231 A.D) and buried here. His tomb is near panchayat board very close to the house of Sahib Thambi Alim, former principal of Mahalara Arabic College on the way to Koman Street. Descriptions were given in Arabic on the tomb.
Kayal was very ancient place. Five thousand years ago it was the capital of second Tamil Sangam, called Kapadapuram. According to historians Kapadapuram was very close to Tiruchendur. Once Kapadapuram was called as Alaiwaiport. Abraham Pandithar says that Greeks in those days named it as Periplus port. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, in his book "Discovery of India" mentioned Madurai was the capital of Pandiyan Kingdom and Kayal was its port during the reign of Pandiyan Kings.
A great Tamil Scholar Mr. S.M.L. Lakshman Chettiar (Alias Samala) wrote in his book "Tirunelvelli District" that Kayalpatnam was a very famous port in Pandiyan kingdom during 12th and 13th centuries. Thousand years ago Muslims from Arab countries arrived by ships and settled here. Kayalpatnam was also called as Sonoharpattinam. Kayalpatnam port was closed on 1937.
First mosque in Kayalpatnam: Sea Shore (Kadal Karai) Masjid
Sea Shore Masjid (Kadal karai Palli) was the first mosque which was built by the Arab traders and missionaries (mostly sahabas), who landed at Kayalpatnam in Hijiri 12 A.H (633 A.D) during the lifetime of Hazarat Abu Bakar Siddeeq (Rali). According to professor Dr. Kabeer of Calicut University a mosque was built in Kayalpatnam during the reign of the second Caliph the great ruler of the Arabs and the aliens, Ameerul Momeneen Hazarat Seyedna Umar Farooq (Rali.), (13 A.H & 23 A.H). No doubt that Sea Shore (Kadal karai) mosque was the first mosque in Kayalpatnam, which was situated near the present Kosmarai Dargha. I assume that this Sea Shore (Kadal karai) mosque was built between 633 A.D to 640 A.D. This mosque was on the south side of Kosmarai Dargha, which was ruined hundred years ago. But two precious inscriptions were found near the Sea Shore (Kadal karai) mosque. One inscription describes about the land and subsidies were given by the Pandiyan king to this sea Shore (Kadal karai) mosque. Through this inscription we learn that Pavithra Manikka Pattinam and Kayal Thurai were the other names for Kayalpatnam. Another inscription is a tombstone of Sayyid Ahamed Bin Shaheed Ibnu Muhammad Kareem Madani. He died in Hijiri 430 (1038 A.D). He was a great scholar and a famous saint. His contemporary was saint Nathar Wali of Tiruchi.
Second mosque in Kayalpatnam: Big Jamiah (Kutba Periya) Masjid
Big Jamiah mosque (Kutba Periya Palli) was built by Muhammad Khalji and his friends in 843 A.D (Hijiri 228). He was one of the 13th descendants of the first Caliph, Hazarat Sayedna Abu Bakar Siddeeq (Rali) and he is a saintly person. His tomb is in the graveyard of big Jamiah mosque. His pedigree (family tree) was mentioned on the tomb stone. Some of his important descendants were Shaik Ali Nusky Wali (Buried at Magudoom Mosque), Omar Wali (Buried at Thaika Saahib Thaika), Muttu Wappa Wali alias Syed Ahamed Sahib wali (Buried at Periya Muttu Wappa Thaika) and Periya Shaikuna Miskeen Sahib Alim. Still many of his descendants are living in Kayalpatnam. Sultan Sayyid Jamaluddin a descendant of our holy prophet Muhammad (Sal.) who lived in Kayalpatnam between 1284 to 1320 rebuilt big Jamiah mosque into a huge mosque and it was completed by his son in 1329 A.D. It is in Nainar Street, the first street of Kayalpatnam. It is one of the most significant Islamic monuments in south India. Inscriptions inside the mosque denote the year of construction by Muhammad Khalji and reconstruction by Sultan Sayyid Jamaluddin. Sultan Sayyid Jamaluddin ruled Pandiyan kingdom for a short period immediately after the death of Sundra Pandiyan in 1293 A.D. It was once said by a great person that more than 25000 saints were buried in the two graveyards of Jamiah mosque. In few of the old tombstones the name of the town was mentioned as Vaguthai and Pavithra Manikka Pattinam.
Third mosque in Kayalpatnam: Black (Karup-Udaiyar) Masjid
Mosque is a place for prayers (Salat), remembrance of Allah (Dhikr), recitation of the Quran, seclusion(Itikaf) and for many other good functions. Needless to say as a hadith states "The places on the earth which are dearest to Allah are the mosques". The pious Muslims who used to wear long black dresses at that time mostly practiced seclusion (Itikaf) in this mosque. Therefore this mosque was called as Black (Karup-udaiyar) Masjid (based on their black dress). The exact date of the construction of this mosque was unknown. According to the inscription in the mosque, a Pandiyan King named Veera Pandiyan gave land and paddy fields for the maintenance of this mosque. This King ruled Pandiyan Kingdom approximately on 946 A.D. Hence we assume that this mosque was built 1050 years ago. Pavithira Manikkaa Pattinam, Kayal karai and Kahirur were the other names for Kayalpatnam as per inscriptions. This mosque is near Muhyideen Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
Fourth mosque in Kayalpatnam: Kattu Mogudoom (Kattu Mogudoom) Masjid
It is in the southern end of Kayalpatnam touching Veerapandipattinam. Sayyid Mogudoom Walliyullah was born in Madina in 446 A.H. and his parents named him as Muhammad. He was one of the seventeenth descendants of our beloved Holy prophet Muhammad (sal). His father Sayyid Muhammad (Rah) a great scholar, was greatly respected by the people of Madina. His mother was Mogudoom Fathima alias Sayyid Ali Fathima was a holy lady. The Mosque and Dargha were called Mogudoom Palli and Mogudoom Dargha after her name Mogudoom Fathima. It was told that Mogudoom Waliyullah came here after getting instructions and blessings in a dream from our Noble prophet Muhammad (Sal). The exact date of his arrival was unknown. He built the mosque during his stay (500-539 A.H). He spread Islam in Pandiyan kingdom and helped Pandiyan kings whenever they approached him. He was killed in a war (shaheed) and buried here around 539 A.H. His father and Erwadi Sayyid Ibrahim Waliyullah's grandfather were brothers.
The celebrated Islamic scholars and saints like Hujjuthul Islam Imam Gazzalee (Rah) (450-505 A.H), Ghouthul Alam Muhyiddeen Abdul Khadir Jailani (Rah) (470-560 A.H), and Mogudoom Wali (Rah) (446-539 A.H) were all lived in the same period. Two inscriptions were found at Mogudoom Mosque, one near the pond and the other in between the Mosque and the Dargha. The inscription found near the pond is very important in history because it clearly indicated the boundaries of Kayalpatnam and other ancient names for Kayalpatnam. Inscriptions strongly confirmed Kayalpatnam was called as "Vaguthai" and "Pavithira Manikka Pattinam". As per inscription, Korkai was on the north side and Veerapandian Pattinam was on the south side of Kayalpatnam. The inscription found near the pond belonged to the period of first Maravarman Sundra Pandiyan. According to Mr.N.Sethu Raman's book of Imperial Pandiyan, the king ruled Pandiyan Kingdom between 1216 to 1240 A.D. According to the inscription Kayalpatnam was called "Pavithira Manikka Pattinam" and "Kayal Thurai". Kattu Mogudoom Palli was called "Sonavapil-lar Palli".
Here we have to compare the contents of the Kattu Mogudoom Palli's inscriptions with that of the inscription at Tiru Pullani Koil, which was mentioned by Dr.M.Uvais in his book "Islam Valartha Tamil". Dr.Uvais noted that Tiru Pullani Koil's inscription mentioned about the land and subsidy granted by the king first Maravarman Sundara Pandiyan to Sonava Samantha Palli of Pavithira Manikka Pattinam. Dr.Uvais wondered where this famous Pavithira Manikka Pattinam was?. The contents of Kattu Mogudoom Palli's inscriptions and Tiru Pullani Koil's inscriptions were similar and also the name of the king and the name of the town were also alike. It is a must to find out which town was called as Vaguthai and Pavithira Manikka Pattinam. Saint Mappillai Lebbai Alim in his poem "Hadiya Malai" says that Saint Thaika Sahib Wali was born in Vaguthai and died at Keela Karai. He also strongly confirmed that Vaguthai as Kayalpatnam. He also born at Kayalpatnam, lived and died at Keela Karai.
Regarding Pavithira Manikka Pattinam and Vaguthai, we can gather some very important information from two old tombstones found at graveyard of Periya Jumma Palli. The following matters were inscribed on the tombstones.
1. PavithiraManikkaPattinam VaguthaiPuri Kayal Athipar Nila-Kilar Maraividam Koallam.
2. Vaguthaiyana ThenKayalpattinathu--Mannavaruku Marukar Kazi--SembiNattan--Yunbavar Maraividam.
These two old tombs made stronger the opinion that Kayalpatnam was called as "Vaguthai", "Pavithira Manikka Pattinam" and also "ThenKayal". The oldest Tamil literature now partly available is Palchanda Malai. It contained eight poems, which dealt with a Muslim king who ruled Vaguthai Puri. The people of that area were very pious Muslims and that was why the poet called them as Anju Vannathar. (Prayed five times daily). The words frequently used in Palchanda Malai poems like Vacchira Nadu, Vaguthai, Sonakar, Allah, Califa, Sonavapil-lar Palli are commonly found in the inscriptions of Kayalpatnam.
Mr.Arunachalam a great scholar was of the opinion that Palchanda Malai was written in the earliest part of fourteenth century and the king mentioned in the poems should be Muslim king who ruled Pandiyan kingdom during the end of thirteenth century or earlier part of fourteenth century. Dr.Caldwell confirmed in his book that Sulthan Jamaluddin ruled Pandiyan Kingdom immediately after the death of Sundara Pandiyan in 1293 A.D. Professor Vaiya Puri Pillai; a renowned Tamil scholar strongly said that Kayalpatnam was called as "Vaguthai Puri" and "Vacchira Nadu" in ancient days. (Refer "KAYALPATNAM"- Book, chapters- Vaguthai, Pavithira Manikka Pattinam and Kayalin kalvettu)
Another inscription of Kattu Mogudoom Palli was inscribed in 1387 A.D during the rule of Uthaya Marthandam King. According to this inscription the Mogudoom Palli was called Uthaya Marthandam Periya Palli and this area was named as Khonadu (Shonadu) Kondan Pattinam. The king had given right to Kazi (administrator) to levy import duties on goods imported into this port and to use for the maintenance of this mosque. This inscription was recorded by the Department of Archaeology,Annual Report of Indian Epigraphy for 1949-50.
The other oldest mosques in Kayalpatnam are Small Jamiah (Kutba Siru) Masjid, Mogudoom Masjid of Mogudoom street and Yusuf Appa Palli. According to available tombstones evidences and inscriptions, those mosques were constructed during the thirteenth century. But it is very difficult to predict which mosque was built first among the three. The best example of fifteenth century mosque is Erattai Kulathu Palli alias Masjid Mikail. The brothers Ahmed Nainar and Abdur Rasheed Wali built Ahmed Nainar Masjid and Kodi Mara Siru Nainar Masjid around Hijiri 950 respectively.
The constructions of following mosques were built after 1400 A.D. They are Salahuddeen Masjid, Kadai Masjid, Kutty Appa Masjid, Koman Masjid, Maricar Masjid, Hafil Ameer Masjid, Appa Masjid, Thayim Masjid and Aram Masjid.
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