Ancient Churches, Heritage - Saturday, January 30, 2010 3:37 - 32 Comments
Champakulam Kalloorkkadu church is one of the most ancient churches in India. It belongs to the Archeparchy of Changanacherry, of the Syro Malabar Church. Champakulam church is the mother church of almost all Catholic Syrian churches in Alleppey district in Kerala State. It was founded in AD 427. The Christian community of Kalloorkkadu originated from the Niranom Church which was founded by St Thomas the Apostle himself. Champakulam comes among the second generation of ancient St Thomas Christian churches in Malabar which were formed from the so called seven first generation churches founded by St Thomas the Apostle himself.1
Champakulam is a remote village in Kuttanadu Taluk of Alleppey district. The ancient church at Champakulam has a unique place in the history of Christianity in Malabar. It was involved in many historic events. It had a pivotal place in the efforts of reunion of Catholic Syrians and the Jacobite Syrians in the 18th century. Originating from Niranom church, Champakulam had very close relations with the Jacobite Syrian group and many Jacobite Syrian priests and their prelates even the Mar Thoma VI celebrated Holy Offices here.2
The church was bolstered by the Devanarayanans of the Chempakassery kingdom and had very close relations with the Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Swamy Temple which was the head quarters of the Kings of Chembakasserry. Even today, Champakulam church participates in the famous Champakulam Moolam Boat race, which is a commemoration of the Procession of the idol of Lord Krishna to Ambalapuzha by providing rope and bamboo every year for the boat race as a ritual.
Champakulam church is called Kaloorkkadu church in the ancient records with reference to the name of the place. Kalloorkkadu angadi was very famous in the past when Purakkadu port was a prominent port between Musiris and Kollam.3
Kalloorkkadu was on the commercial route from the eastern Kerala like Aarpookkara, Kudamaaloor, Kuruppampady and Kaduthuruthy and others, to the port at Purakkadu and the spice trade was through this route until Alleppey gained more prominence. The port at Purakkadu has been mentioned in many ancient books like Periplus of the Erythrean Sea and the Book of Duarte Barbosa. Periplus of the Erythrean Sea mentions about pepper trade from cottonora which has been interpreted by many as Kuttanadu.4
Duarte Barbosa also mentions about Porca.5
The Chembakasserry Dynasty and Champakulam church
The Chembakasserry Kingdom was founded in 12th century based at Kudamaalor by a Namboothiri with the help of a group of Nair warriors expelled from the Samoothiry of Calicut. These kings were called “Devanarayanans”.6
They later invaded to the west and took over the Ambalapuzha area and moved his head quarters to Amabalapuzha. The famous Ambalapuzha temple was the palace of the king. This kingdom was called as Kingdom of Porca by the western historians with reference to the port at Purakkadu.
Antonio de Gouvea reports that the Church at Purakkadu was founded by the King as a gratitude for the blessings and favours he received from the God of the Christians during his war with the Queen of Wadakkumcoor. He had a lot of Christians in his army and during the war; one of the Cathanaars blessed the Christian army and asked the king to have a private flag for the Christian army with a cross in it. Continue…
- 1.Bernard Thomas, Keralathile Marthoma Christianikal (St Thomas Christians of Kerala) p412 (Publisher John Pellisserry, cited in Changanacherry Athiroopatha Innale Innu vol II Ed Jacob Nellikkunnathu, p260) Mailakombu, Kaduthuruthi, Aruvithura, Kuravilangadu, Kalloorkadu (Champakulam), Udayamperur and Edappalli are considered to be the second generation churches. Tradition says the first generation churches as Kollam, Palayoor, Kokkamangalam, Kottackavu, Niranom, Chayal, Nilackal [↩]
- 2.Niranom Grandhavari- Patanavum samshodhanayum, M Kurian Thomas, Sophia Books Kottayam (Chronicles of Niranom, a study and analysis) p106 [↩]
- 3.Changanasserry athiroopatha innale, innu, vol II, Ed Jacob Nellikkunnathu, p261 citing A Sreedhara Menon, History of Kerala, p87
Indian geographical Journal Vol V, VI p236-238 suggests that Barake was on the mouth of river Baris which is the River Pamba and Nelcynda was an inland city on the river. Barake exports pepper from Nelcynda. According to Periplus, Nelcynda was 500 stadia away from Musiris and 120 stadia from Barake. These distances are fairly correct if we take Nelcynda to be Niranom and Barake to be Purakkadu. [↩]
- 4.Periplus of the Erythrean Sea Part II containing an account of navigation of the ancients from the Gulf of Elana, the red sea to the land of Ceylon, William Vincent DD, 1805
“ In conformity with this system, we find, that throughout the whole which the periplus mentions of India, we have a catalogue of the imports and exports only at the two ports of Barugaza and nelkunda, and there seems to be a fixed distinction between the aerticles appropriate to each. Fine muflins and ordinary cottons are the principal commodities of the first, tortoise shell, pearls, precious stones, silk, and above all pepper seems to have been procurable only at the latter. This pepper is said to be brought to this port from Cottonora, generally supposed to be a province of canara, in the neighbourhood of nelkunda, and famous to this hour for producing the best pepper in the world except that of Sumatra.” [↩]
- 5.Description of the coasts of East Africa and Malabar in the beginning of sixteenth century, Duarte Barbosa [↩]
- 6.Changanacherry Athiroopatha Innale Innu vol II, p261-262, Ed Jacob Nellikkunnathu, citing Kerala District Gazetteer, Alleppey, pp49-50 [↩]
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