The Aristocratic Villages & Royal Villages of Jaffna according to Traditional History

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The Aristocratic Villages & Royal Villages of Jaffna according to Traditional History

The Yalpana Vaipava Malai states the tradition that a group of chieftains accompanied the first Arya Chakravarti king to Jaffna. The names of these chieftains and the villages they inhabited are set down below.


  1. Thirunelveli- where Malavan (a Velalan from Penpatti-yur in Pandi) his brother, his cousin, Sampaka Malavan and another cousin of his were settled
  2. Mayiliddi.- where Nara Singka Thevan, the eldest son of Puravalanthi Thevan from Kaviri-yur  was placed.
  3. Tellippalai. -  where Senpaka Mappanam, a Velalan  from Vavikka  his relative Santhira sekara  Mappanan, Puppanam of Kaliyanakar a Velalan, and Kanakarayan a Cheddi were settled
  4. Inuvil – where Perayira-mudaiyan from Kovalur a Velalan, was placed. (This colonist afterwards abandoned Inuvil as it was an uncultivated place and settled North of it.)
  5. Pachchilaippalli. - where Nilakandan a Velalan from Kachchur, (distinguished by many Royal favours), and his brothers were placed
  6. Puloli – was given to Kanaka-puvan (or Kanaka Malavan) a Velalan from Sikarama-nakar and his four brothers 
  7. Tholpuram  - where Kupaka-Rayenthiran a Velalan from Kupanadu and Punniya-pupalan were asked to reside.
  8. Koyilakkandi  -  given to Theva-Rayenthiran of Puththura a Velalan
  9. Irupalai  - was given to Mannadu Konda Muthali of Thondai-mandalam of the very high Vellala family in the honour of which the poem of Erelupathu by the Poet Kampan was written
  10. Nedunthivu - where Irumarapum thuyya Thaninayakan of Seyyur was  settled
  11. Pallavarayan-Kaddu. - where Pallavan a nobleman of Vagnchi-nakar was settled


The source from which the author of the Vaipava Malai has obtained this information are two irrefutable ancient works, namely the Vaiya (which is in prose) and the Vaiyapadal (which is in verse) both written by Vaiya the court poet of one of the early Kings of the Aryachakravarthi dynasty, circa the  14th century. A few manuscript copies of these works are said to be available.  (source:

The eleven villages mentioned above were the earliest settlements of the Kingdom of Jaffna and are considered the pre-eminent villages. The descendents of these chieftains who according to tradition have inter-married over the years are hence the old aristocracy of Jaffna.

The Vaipava Malai also mentions nine other villages of Jaffna in connection with Prince Paranirupasinghe, at the time of the transition of the Kingdom to colonial rule. It states “that the usurper King Sankili in order to appease Prince Paranirupasinghe (the legitimate heir) appointed him co-regent over seven villages, namely Kalliyan-kadu, Mallakam, Sandiruppai, Arali, Achchuveli, Uduppiddi, and Kachchai.  After the fall of the Jaffna Kingdom; and the execution of Sankili, the Portuguese, in recognition of Paranirupasinhe’s loyalty to them appointed him the chief minister of the realm. They also reconfirmed his authority over the seven villages over which he was co-regent under Sankili. In addition they also gave him Nallur the capital, and the village of Mathakal. Many years later, before his death, Paranirupasinghe is said to have re-distributed these villages amongst his descendents as follows:”

“ He gave:

   1. Nallur and Kalliyan-kadu to Alakanmai-valla-muthali and placed him in his palace of Nallur.  
   2. Mallakam to Thanapala-singka-muthali;
   3. Sandiruppai to Vetti-vela-yutha muthali;
   4. Arali to Visaya-theyventhira-muthali;
   5. Achchuveli to Thida-vira-singka-muthali;
   6. Uduppiddi to Santhirasekara-mappana muthali;
   7. Kachchai to Iraya-redna-muthali;
   8. Mathakal to his daughter Vetha-Valliyar whom he bestowed in marriage to a Vellalan of that district.”

However none of the available Portuguese documents substantiate this information nor refer the various chieftains mentioned in this connection.

It must be remembered that the author was only a poet and not a trained historian, and as such this story may have been narrated by him in order to reinforce a prevailing tradition that the villages mentioned had families, who claimed connection to royalty or a very high caste status.

Even as late as the mid 20th century, before the social order of Jaffna had disappeared, there were families from the villages of Mathakal (Pillayar Kovil addi), Sandiruppai (Nadukurichchi), and Uduppiddi (Uyar Pullam), who claimed and were accepted as being of very high caste status.

It was also the tradition in Jaffna: that after the fall of the Jaffna Kingdom, many of the high caste families from the capital Nallur and Kalliayan-Kadu left these localities in order to avoid the close proximity of the Portuguese, not only to  avoid any confrontation, but also to avoid ritual defilement.*  These areas were subsequently populated by the lower castes such as the Chiviyar (who were either Palanquin bearers or Salt gatherers), the Kai Kulayar (Lime slakers), the Chaya Karar (dyers), and the Parayar (who were drummers and weavers) many of whom were in the employment of the Portuguese Administration.

It was only during the latter decades of the 19th century, that these areas became popular once again as suburbs of the bustling town of Jaffna.

* Note – It is interesting to observe that many of the old residences (walawus) of some of the high caste families are in the interior of the villages and not on any of the main roads. It is said that when the main roads were being built during the late Dutch, and early British periods the high caste families discouraged such thorough ways to border their residences in order to avoid being defiled by strangers and traffic that would travel on these roads.


1 comments at the moment.
Comment By Comment
Renganathan - Canada It is sad indeed that there is so much conjecture and obvious lack of concrete information about the last days of the Kingdom of Jaffna.

I have for a while been looking for a journal of a Portuguese Commander or even a garrison order book of the Portuguese so that we can understand the true sequence of events about the end days of the Kingdom of Jaffna with King Sankili and Paranirupasinghe and the Portuguese handling of the administration of the last days of the Kingdom.

Would you have any information or documentation about this period?

I think the many publication bout the last days of Jaffna only carry a part of the truth! We have not seen the whole picture as yet!
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