Tam: பூம்புகார் pūmpukār
‘Seaport’ [Poompuhar, Kaveripoompattinam] Town/Ancient Seaport, Tamil Nadu
From Tam: pukār, ‘mouth of a river’; ‘seaport’
Puhar was an ancient seaport on the east coast. At one time it served as both capital and chief port of the Chola kingdom.
The modern town is near Mayiladuthurai, between Pondicherry and Nagapattinam.
The original port was built on the large estuary of the Kaveri river.
It was destroyed by successive floods and persistent erosion from the 4thC BCE onwards. But archaeology has revealed evidence of submerged piers and harbour walls which all confirm descriptions in ancient Tamil literature of a prosperous and cosmopolitan seaport town:
The river Kaveri entered the eastern seas at this point, making an estuary so deep and wide, a harbour so safe, that a great merchant ship could come into port without lowering its sail…
As the most important trading centre of the entire Tamil coast, Puhar was a meeting place of many nations and peoples. Caravans from inland places brought their goods for export there — bright gems and gold from Magadha across the Ganga, sweet – smelling sandalwood and spices from the Chera country, the fruit and grain of the Kaveri plains, fine cotton textiles from the south. Meanwhile, pearls and branching coral came into Puhar by sea from Korkai and Lanka, and the Yavanas brought their wares from as far away as Egypt and Greece, in big ships carefully guarded against pirates [Holmstrom, 1996].