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A girl student from Suresh Sudha Azhagan Memorial Government Hr Sec School in Thirupullani in Ramanathapuram district has stumbled on three Eelam coins (Eela karunkasu) recently. The Eelam coins were issued during the reign of Raja Raja Chola I in Sri Lanka. After Raja Raja Chola invaded Sri Lanka in 993 AD, the island nation was under the Chola rule for more than 70 years.

Cholas issued gold, silver and copper coins during their reign in Sri Lanka. These coins known as Eelam coins are found in the coastal stretches of Ramanathapuram and neighbouring districts now and then.

Cholas issued gold, silver and copper coins during their reign. These coins are found in the coastal stretches of Ramanathapuram and neighbouring districts now and then. The girl was able to identify the Eelam coins thanks to the training she received from the Heritage Club functioning in the school.

Muneeswari, who brought the coins to the club, said that her father found them during construction work. She was taught in the school about ancient coins including Eelam coins. “I knew these three coins were Eelam coins and I brought them to the school,” she said.

Heritage clubs in schools 

When Thangam Thennarasu was school education minister in 2009, he issued an order to form Heritage Clubs in the school. The objective was to sensitize the students about topics like history, heritage and archeology. The clubs were formed in 2010. The government school management has kept the heritage club active for nearly a decade.

In the last ten years, the students have found numerous artifacts. Some of their interesting findings include Roman pot sherds, sculptures, stone structures and stone inscriptions. The students also found an eleventh century Buddha statue lying in a farmland.

Students from the school heritage club found 11th century Buddha statue in a farm land

Students from the school heritage club found 11th century Buddha statue in a farm land

In the last ten years, the students have found numerous artifacts. Some of their interesting findings include Roman pot sherds, sculptures, stone structures and stone inscriptions. The students also found an eleventh century Buddha statue lying in a farmland. In October this year, some of the students from the club found rare Chinese pot sherds near the school. “The students are trained to find heritage items in their locality,” says V Rajaguru, convener of the Heritage Club in the school.

Another student found a couple of Eelam coins in the year 2016. The students have written essays about their findings. The essays were combined and the heritage club with the help of Ramanathapuram Archeological Research Foundation published a book called ‘Thedi Thirivom Va’ in 2018.

What is Eelam coin?

Retired archaeologist C Santhalingam from Pandya Nadu Centre for Historical Research said that Eelam coins or Eela Karunkasu was in issue in Sri Lanka during the period of Rajaraja, Rajendra and Kulothunga Chola I. One side of the coin typically has a Ceylon man holding a flower in his hand, and on his left are four circles. Above them is the crescent and below is the flower. “These coins are usually found in the coastal regions of South Tamil Nadu due to the connection we had with Sri Lanka,” he said. While Eelam gold and silver coins are rare, copper coins are found during construction works in these parts, he said.

Santhalingam who has been associated with the heritage club said that the school especially the convener Rajaguru was keeping the club active. “It is important that we teach our children to look for heritage,” he said.

Role of Heritage club among students

Rajaguru said that sixty students are selected every year for the club. They are given lectures on archaeology and heritage regularly. They are taken for field trips mostly to the temples and ancient ruins in the locality. “The focus is to sensitize them about history and heritage. They are encouraged to look for heritage symbols in their locality. In the last ten years, our students have come out with remarkable findings,” he added.

Thangam Thennarasu, Minister for Industries, Tamil Official Language and Tamil Culture, Archaeology said that Heritage Club at Thirupullani Govt School turned out a wonderful thing. After they were laid to office in 2011, these clubs were not given importance. There are very few of them active now. “In this case, the school teacher V Rajaguru has kept it alive because of his passion and commitment,” Thennarasu said.


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