Kumari Kandam is the legendary sunken continent, according to many of the ancient extant Tamil literatures and some of the Sanskrit literatures. Almost 100 years back Tamil nationalists came to identify and associate Kumari Kandam with Lemuria, a hypothetical “lost continent” posited in the 19th century to account for discontinuities in biogeography.
Located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans but now sunken, this skunked continent is believed to be the connections between Africa to South India, through Madagascar.
The story of Kumari Kandam is not regarded as just a story, but seems to be laden with nationalistic sentiments. It has been claimed that the Pandiyan kings of Kumari Kandam were the rulers of the whole Indian continent, and that Tamil civilisation is the oldest civilisation in the world. When Kumari Kandam was submerged, its people spread across the world and founded various civilisations, hence the claim that the lost continent was also the cradle of human civilisation.
Many of the earliest extant Tamil literary works and their commentaries, mentions a Tamil continent called Kumari Kandam, which was ruled by Pandiyan Kings for 10,000 years, before getting submerged in the Indian Ocean, south of present-day Kanyakumari district at the southern tip of India.
One piece of evidence used to support the existence of Kumari Kandam is Adam’s Bridge (also called Rama’s Bridge), a chain of limestone shoals made up of sand, silt and small pebbles located in the Palk Strait extending 18 miles from mainland India to Sri Lanka. This strip of land was once believed to be a natural formation; however, others argue that images taken by a NASA satellite depict this land formation to be a long broken bridge under the ocean’s surface.
The term Lemuria has its origins in the latter part of the 19 th century. The English geologist Philip Sclater was puzzled by the presence of lemur fossils in Madagascar and India but not in mainland Africa and the Middle East. Some still believe that Lemuria was an actual continent that existed in the past.
The term Kumari Kandam first appeared in the 15 Th centuries Kanda Puranam, the Tamil version of the Skanda Puranam. Yet, stories about an ancient land submerged by the Indian Ocean have been recorded in many earlier Tamil literary works. According to the stories, there was a portion of land that was once ruled by the Pandiyan kings and was swallowed by the sea. When narratives about Lemuria arrived in colonial India, the country was going through a period when folklore was beginning to permeate historic knowledge as facts. As a result, Lemuria was quickly equated with Kumari Kandam.
REFERENCE OF KUMARI KANDAM IN TAMIL LITERATURES:
According to Silappadhikaram, one of the Five Great Epics of Tamil Literature written in 2nd century CE, states that the cruel sea took the Pandiyan’s land, part of which was present between the rivers Pahruli and the mountainous banks of the Kumari. These rivers are said to have flowed in a now-submerged land.
Kanakkathikaram, a 15th century Tamil Mathematical literary work which is in the form of poems, defines the length of 1 kāvatam (1 kātam) as 24,000 muzham (33,000 feet, 6¼ miles) and it also defines the time taken to cover it which is the distance that can be covered by normal walk in 7½ Nāzhigai or 1 Sāmam (equivalent to 3 hours). So, the distance of 700 kāvatam is equivalent to 4,375 miles (7,041 km) in modern day measurements.
REFERENCE OF KUMARI KANDAM IN CHINESE LITERATURES:
In some of the ancient Chinese chronicles, there are references to Pahruli river, Peru river and Meru Mountain (with 49 peaks) from where the Kumari River, Peru river and Pahruli river were originated (according to Tamil literature). It is said that Chinese laborers were employed by the Pandiyan King and when they went down the mines they appeared like a huge army of small ants. Therefore, they were called pon thondi erumbukal (Gold mining ants). This is also confirmed by ancient Chinese chronicles.
REFERENCE OF KUMARI KANDAM IN GREEK LITERATURES:
Megasthenes (ca. 350 – 290 BCE), a Greek ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period, authored the work Indika, the account of his travels in India. In this work, he says that Taprobane (old name of Sri Lanka) was separated from the mainland (Indian Peninsula) by a river, which means that during the period of Megasthenes, Sri Lanka could have been connected to Indian Peninsula by a small landmass in between them and was divided by Thamirabarani River (Porunai River).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL DATA SUPPORTING EXISTENCE OF KUMARI KANDAM
The marine archaeological findings at Poompuhar (Tamil Nadu) by marine archaeological research conducted by the National Institute of Marine Archaeology (Goa) reveals that much of the town of Poompuhar (Tamil Nadu) was washed away by progressive erosion and a Tsunami around 300 BC.
- Ancient Pottery dating back to the 4th century BC have been discovered off shore by marine archaeologists east of this town. The timeline of this Tsunami also coincides with the timeline (after the period of Megasthenes visit to India) of the submergence of landmass which was claimed to be existed between Indian Peninsula and Sri Lanka according to Megasthenes accounts.
- The geological survey reveals that most of the places in the land under the sea, where Kumari Kandam is claimed to be existed, has the maximum depth of the sea of 200 meters. In some of the places, the maximum depth of the sea is 2000 meters. Since, these areas has low sea depth, there are more possibilities to exist a now-submerged land in which people lived.
- Languages spoken by Australiantribes, African tribes, Andaman and Nicobar tribes and Lakshadweep tribes are identical to Tamil language. So, there are high possibilities that there might be a connecting land which exists in between India, Australia and Madagascar.
- Types of plants, trees and animals present in Africa and Madagascar are identical with that of in India. So, there might be a connecting land which exists in between India and Madagascar.