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German Memories in Asia: Travelling through Ancient Kingdoms!

After nearly a decade when I was traveling with the German students through Elephants Pass, watching the same Lagoon where I crossed at midnights struck how things were changing the world over in an unbelievably short time.

While the German students were videoing the Lagoon my mind recalling the once flourishing Nallur city offs the coast of the Jaffna Lagoon, which was once the capital of the Naga kingdom. The Northern part of Sri Lanka throve during the Naga Kingdom from 6th century BC to the middle of the 3rd century AD. Nagas were of the Tibeto - Burman origin, a Mongoloid race and migrated to India 4000 BC, driven by some political disturbances from Central Asia through the North Eastern frontier of the Himalayan mountain range.

Nagas were a prominent non- Aryan race in India and their names are still preserved in various parts of India. The Indo - Aryan invasion in the Indian subcontinent had driven them South and they invaded further South towards Sri Lanka.

This may coincide with the theory of the Aryan invasion in the North- western sector of India and their expansion to other areas driving away the indigenous people of the Indus valley civilization, the Dravidians further south.

The Nagas were dependent on the sea for their living and established trade with India, and developed art and culture. They also worshipped serpents, which is in the icon of Lord Siva. Kudiramali, a place near Silapaththurai, a western coastal sleepy village off the Gulf of Mannar too was a seaport and a capital of the Naga race.

There are legendry stories about an "Alli" queen who ruled that area and had a great liking for pearls. Her warriors were women and she hated men. During her time pearls were exported to Arab countries and in return Arab horses were imported through this port. That is how that port derived its name Kudiramalai (Horse Mountain).

Due to natural causes the sea engulfed the Kudiramalai area probably by tidal waves caused either by a strong cyclone or earthquake.

Memories impinged on me of moments when I had visited a decade ago Queen Alli's ruined palace. The roaring waves of the Gulf of Mannar were battering the walls of the ruined palace, which to a great extent was submerged by the sea.

Amazingly the ruined palace was still withstanding those mighty sea waves for some thousands years, though it has lost a major portions to the sea. When I stepped into the cave-like inside of it I marveled at the architecture of the upper portion of the wall's entrance. Other than the walls, I hardly found anything inside but the vibrations of the battering waves outside of the wall, which was echoing inside in a mysterious way.

While I was watching the Lagoon I pondered how the capital had shifted from Kudiramalai to Nallur. Ruins of the palace of the then Naga capital in Nallur have been revealed in recent excavations embodying many stories of the lost Naga kingdom.

The vicinity of the lagoon was suddenly lost by the mangroves aside of the highway by the speedily hurrying vehicle and brought my attention to the northern highway towards Jaffna town.

While our vehicle was passing the Jaffna Lagoon and the then Elephant Pass camp vicinity we reached the Iyakkachchi area, an early settlement of Yakkas, a tribal group who were living in the era of Nagas together in the Island.

The 'Yakkas', possibly early immigrants from Persia, were numerous and very powerful, and held themselves aloof and confined themselves mostly to the mountain fastnesses of the North- Central region of the Island, whereas the 'Nagas' confined themselves to the seaboard.

Ptolemy, the famous Greek-speaking geographer and astronomer who lived in the Roman Egypt called the Mahaweli River as Phasis fluvius, which means the Persian river, indicating that the Yakkas, who dwelt there, were connected to the Persians.

The Yakkas also could have been the indigenous people of Persia and might have escaped to Sri Lanka when the invaders were advancing towards their territory by sea or land from Persia.

Kuveni was the queen of Yakkhas and became the consort of Prince Vijaya(B.C. 543-504) who eventually bacame the first Indo-Aryan king of Sri Lanka with the Kalinga ancestory. Later he married a princess from the Dravidian Kingdom of "Pandy" in South India.

Some of the German intern students were tired and in a sleepy mood. They might have not had enough sleep because of the strange environment. For students it is an option to travel out of Germany to complete their internship. Several students are coming to Asia, especially to AGSEP in Sri Lanka. The students who were with me in the Northern relief mission are also one batch of students of those who were in their overseas study tour.

When we were passing by the last end of the then Elephant Pass Military camp, sea birds were flying around the shallow water and busily fishing for their night meal.

About the Author: Rajkumar Kanagasingam is author of a fascinating book on German memories in Asia and you can explore more about the book and the author at AGSEP

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