The Fish Ensign

fish-ensign-575-01

By V.Varathasuntharam

The sight of two fish ensigns on the firteen–foot pillar on either side of the arch at the entrance to Fort Frederick arrests the attention of each and every pilgrim to Koneswaram.

These fish ensigns are in fact standing mouments of the antiquity of Koneswaram. While revealing the antiquity of Koneswaram, the fish ensigns also remind pilgrims of Goddess Amman whose eyes are akin to those of the fish for she cares for us with mother’s love.

These two pillars that are placed on either side of the arch belonged to the Koneswaram temple that was destroyed by the Portuguese. After the destruction of the temple, the Portuguese, who built the Fort with the ruins of the temple had placed these two pillars of the temple at the very entry to the precincts of the temple.

That these two temple pillars of historic significance escaped the fury of the Portuguese domination is a miracle. It is but Providence that the very cruel hands that demolished a magnificent temple thought it fit to choose these two out of the debris to be placed at the entrance of the fort.

These pillars are of historic significance since the engraving of the fish emblem, the insignia of the Pandiyan Kingdom  is referred to in an inscription known as Kudumiyamalai Sasanam (குடுமியாமலை). It is held that the inscription belonged to 13 A.D whereas certain others maintain that it belonged to 16 A. D. According to Kudumiyamalai Sasanam the fish emblem found on the pilleas was engraved by Sadaya Varman Veerapandiyan (சடையவர்மன் வீரபாண்டியன்). 

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