Kanthalloor: The 'Nalanda' of south India

January 03 2021

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The capital city of Kerala can boast of an ancient university which according to historians, cultural activists and academicians, was established 1,200 years ago.

Ullas Sreedhar, historian and journalist, while speaking to IANS, said "Kanthalloor was a university constituted by Aayi kingdom in 852 AD, this can be seen as the first university with multi discipline subjects being taught in this part of the world."

To revoke the memories of Kanthaloor University, 'Kanthalloor Sabha' - a gathering of historians, journalists and cultural activists recently conducted a programme on Vedas, Mantras and science of earlier days."

Writings in copper plates preserved at the museum of Padmanabhapuram Palace have mentioned about Kanthalloor University and its rich history.

Historians said that the university was spread across 500 acres of land and the majestic Kanthalloor Shiva temple at Valiyasala in Thiruvananthapuram is the only remnant of those days.

The argument is that the university existed in the premises of the temple or rather the students of 'Kanthalloor Sala' used to pray in this Mahadeva temple as it was under the 'Gurukula' system of education those days.

Senior journalist and historian of Thiruvananthapuram, Malayinkeezhu Gopalakrishnan said "Kanthalloor university was in existence during those days and this was mentioned in the manuscripts of olden times."

Kanthalloor University had taught 64 disciplines including Mathematics, Chemistry, Martial Arts, Astrology, Astronomy and Ayurveda, according to research scholars and historians who are conducting studies of Thiruvananthapuram and its history.

Kishore Kallara, teacher and historian who had produced and directed the documentary 'Enittum Kanthalloor' while speaking to IANS said, "It is a 1,200-year-old university which had taught more than 64 disciplines including Martial arts and Mathematics."

Kishore who is a teacher at Kanjirampara Lower Primary school and a telefilm director, said "I was astonished when children in General knowledge class were mentioning Kanthalloor Sala as the Nalanda University of south India and here my inquisitiveness commenced and I ended up making this documentary."

The lower primary school teacher has conducted several shows of his documentary in various schools, universities and academic institutions.

Malayinkeezhu Gopalakrishnan said that while there is a hot debate between historians and academicians on whether the university existed at Valiya Chola Sala Purayidam and Neyyatinakara, the possibilities of the university being situated at Valiyasala is more certain as the ninth century 'Anandapura Varnanam' has explicitly referred to it.

After the documentary of Kishore Kallara, interest has cropped up among students and academicians on Kanthalloor Sala.

"We are trying to conduct seminars in association with likeminded academics and institutions and expect the culture department of Government of Kerala and Government of India to support our initiative to revive the memory and remnants of a rich ancient past which is linked to the high level of knowledge our state has had long back," Kallara said.


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  • Source
  • IANS