Kilinochchi a brief look
The district of Kilinochchi is one of the 25 administrative districts
of Sri Lanka. The district is administered by a District Secretariat
headed by a District Secretary (previously known as a Government Agent)
appointed by the central government of Sri Lanka. The headquarters is
located in Kilinochchi town. The district was carved out of the southern
part of Jaffna district in February 1984.
Kilinochchi has red-yellow latosol (soil rich in aluminum, silica, or
iron that is commonly found in tropical forests).
According to available recorded history the ancient name of
Tamiravarni derives from the colour of the soil. Tamira means red. Varni
means colour. Thus the name Vanni or Varni and it is a mutated name from
Tamiravarni, Tambravarni, Tambapanni or Tammanna. A river called
Tamirabharani is located in Tuticorin area and there was a connection of
land which kept both countries together during ancient times.
Mahawamsa narrates that Prince Vijaya, and 700 drifters, landed in
Sri lanka at this place around 500 B.C. and called this place Tambapanni.
Vijaya and his clan came from Sindh. They landed in Hela Diva. From
that cross breeding the name Sinhala came to all the progeny of these
immigrants (Sind + Hela = Sinhala).
The Mahavamsa describes the Pandyan ladies as originating from "Dakkhina
Madura" or "southern Madura" which most Sinhala scholars have
interpreted as modern-day Madurai in Tamil Nadu, "northern Madura" being
the city of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
However, there had been more than one Madurai in Tamil history. The
Tamil literary tradition holds that three academies were held to collate
the poetry of the Sangam age.
The last of these was held in Madurai and the second was in a city
called Kapatapuram, but the first academy was held in "Then Madurai,"
translating to "southern Madurai." In Sinhalese inscriptions and Pali
chronicles Mathottam is variously referred to as Matota while it is
called Mathottam in Tamil. Mathottam was governed as an autonomous port
by a prince and remained as the largest port of the country.
After the seventh century, the principle arena for the East-West
exchange trade had shifted from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal.
Consequently there was an increasing interest in the north-eastern
zone of Sri Lanka wherein was located Trincomalee port.
It is significant that between seventh and tenth centuries A.D. four
Sinhalese Kings Aggabodhi IV, Aggabodhi VII, Udaya I and Sena I left
Anuradhapura and ruled from the north-eastern city of Polonnaruwa,
situated on the banks of the Mahaweli Ganga within easy access to
Rajaraja I invaded Sri Lanka in 993 CE. The copper-plate inscription
mention that Rajaraja's powerful army crossed the ocean by ships and
burnt up the kingdom of Lanka. Mahinda V was the king of Sinhalas. In
991 CE, Mahinda's army mutinied with help from mercenaries from Kerala.
Mahinda had to seek refuge in the southern region of Rohana. Rajaraja
utilised this opportunity and invaded the island. Chola armies occupied
the northern half of Lanka and named the dominion 'Mummudi Chola
Anuradhapura, the 1400-year-old capital of Sinhala kings was
destroyed. The destruction was so extensive the city was abandoned.
Cholas made the city of Polonnaruwa as their capital and renamed it
Jananathamangalam. The choice of this city demonstrates the desire of
Rajaraja to conquer the entire island. Rajaraja also built a Temple for
Siva in Pollonaruwa.
To complete the task began by his father, of conquering the island of
Sri Lanka, Rajendra Chola I invaded the island in 1018 CE. As a result
of the campaign, Rajendra claimed to have captured the regal jewels of
the Pandya kings, which Parantaka I tried in vain to capture. Rajendra
also captured the crown of the Sinhala king, his Queen and daughter.
The Sinhala king Mahinda V was taken prisoner and transported to the
Chola country. He was held prisoner for over twelve years and died in
Mahavamsa gives a graphic illustration of the carnage wrought by the
pillaging Chola army in the Sinhala country, claiming the invading army
destroyed monasteries seeking treasure. Chola inscriptions however are
silent regarding the details of this campaign and draws a veil over the
Mahinda's son Kassapa became the centre of Sihalese resistance
against the Tamil Power.
The war between the Cholas and the Sinhalese raged for over six
months in which a great number of Tamils were killed. At the end of the
battle Kassapa managed to drive out the Chola army from the southeast
corner of the island and ruled as Vikramabahu I.
Remains of a number of Hindu temples have been discovered around the
Polonnaruwa area attesting to the presence of the Tamil army.
In 1041 C.E. Rajendra had to lead another expedition into Sri Lanka
to quell the continuing attacks against the Chola army by Vikramabahu.
Vikramabahu died soon after and anarchy reigned outside the Chola
An assortment of adventurers including Sinhalese, dispossessed Pandya
princes and even a certain Jagaitpala from distance Kanauj asserted
authority over portions of the island. Chola army had to fight and
defeat them all.
Mannar located at the mouth of the Aruvi Aru had easy access to the
capital Anuradhapura, which was located on the banks of the same river.
However with the increased emphasis on the South-East Asian Sri Vijayan
Kingdom as the main centre of entrepot trade after the seventh century
A.D. the importance of the port of Mannar had diminished to some extent.
Owing to this change even the capital Anuradhapura lost much of its
Thus, the emergence of Polonnaruwa and the port of Trincomalee is
significant in terms of the changing patterns of trade in the Bay of
Bengal and Sri Lanka's interest in it. The South Indian Chola occupation
of Polonnaruva (1017-1070) was partly motivated by the commercial policy
of the Cholas aimed at controlling the western sea-board of Bay of the
The importance of Trincomalee for the Bay of Bengal and South-East
Asian trade was realized also by the Sinhalese rulers of Polonnaruva
particularly Vijayabahu I (1070-1110) and Parakramabahu (1153-1186).
However Mannar did not completely lose its glamour in the period
between the seventh and the twelfth centuries and it functioned as an
important trading centre where South Indian merchants flourished. In
addition to the ancient temple of Tiruketisvaram at Mathottam another
temple named Rajarajavarattu Mahadeva was constructed near the port in
the eleventh century for the worship of the trading communities and
soldiers living there by the Chola conqueror Rajaraja Chola I.
The new commercial policy of the southern Sung dynasty (1127-1278) of
China deviated from the "tributary trading system" in south East Asian
and South Asian waters. As a result, the role of the intermediaries in
the Bay of Bengal trade declined drastically. Once again the coastal
ports in India regained their eminent position in trade and the theatre
of activity shifted from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Mathottam
continued as the chief port of Rajarata at least up to the middle of the
The Rasavahini written in the Polonnaruva period implies that traders
collected various commodities from Mahatittha and sold them in the
interior. The Saddharmalankara refers to a merchant of Mavatupatuna who
went eastwards for trade. However, by the fifteenth century Mathottam
appears no longer to be an important port. The Kokila Sandesa written
during the reign of Parakramabahu VI of Kotte, in giving a description
of the important places along the western littoral of the Island does
not mention Mathottam.
The Pooneryn peninsula in the Northwest of the district was the venue
for a large number of conflicts during the civil war. Sri Lankan Army 15
November 2008 re-captured Pooneryn from LTTE.
Two of the three most important Forward Defence Lines of the Civil
War used to be situated in Kilinochchi district. The Nagarcoil FDL
separated Northeastern Kilinochchi from Southestern Jaffna. Muhamalai
FDL was situated near Elephant Pass, separating North Central
Kilinochchi from South Central Jaffna. These two heavily fortified
positions were the most important conflict locations in Northern Lanka.
By January 2, 2009, the SLA captured the Kilinochchi town and has
control over a large part of the district.
Kilinochchi district is located in the north of Sri Lanka in the
Northern Province. It has an area of 1,279 square kilometers (493.8 sq
Kilinochchi district's population was 195,812 in 2007. The population
of the district is almost exclusively Sri Lankan Tamil.
The population of the district, like the rest of the North and East,
has been heavily affected by the civil war.
The war has killed an estimated 70,000 people. Several hundred
thousand Sri Lankan Tamils, possibly as much as 400,000, have emigrated
to the West since the start of the war.
There are approximately 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees is India.
Many Sri Lankan Tamils have also moved to the relative safety of
The war has also caused most of the Sri Lankan Moors and Sinhalese
who lived in the district to flee to other parts of Sri Lanka. (From