Sunday, March 14, 2010

Kota Gelanggi

Kota Gelanggi is an archaeological site reported in 2005 as potentially the first capital of the ancient Malay Empire of Srivijaya ca. 650-900 and one of the oldest pre-Islamic Malay Kingdoms on the Malay Peninsula.

That the city was part of the "Ayuthia Kingdom" (Ancient Siam now known as Thailand) & may be the unidentified Naksat city of the Siamese folklore. Hence, the the word "Gelanggi" could be a mispronounciation of the Thai word "Ghlong-Keow" meaning box of emeralds or treasury of jewels.

The Malay annal, "Sejarah Melayu" (meaning History of Malay) has mentioned that the main fort of Kota Gelanggi was made of black stone & was named "Kota Batu Hitam" in Malay meaning "Black Rock City". Sejarah Melayu is a 17th Century Malay text.

Ancient Tamil inscriptions otherwise inform us that during the era of south Indian Chola Dynasty in 1025, after destroying the Malay Kingdom, Gangga Nagara.

The 12th Naksat Cities - the lost city

Kota Gelanggi was also reported to be the 12th city, the lost city of The Naksat Cities. The Naksat cities are a chain of twelve inter-linked cities or muangs of the ancient Malay Kingdom of Tambralinga(today capital city of province Nakorn Si Thammarat). The cities acted as an outer shield, surrounding the capital Nakorn Si Thammarat, and were connected by land so that help could be sent from one city to another in the event of surprise attacks.

The term Naksat refers to the Lunar calendar system, the Naksat Pi, which is based on a duodenary cycle of years, with each year being associated with a particular animal.

Eleven of the twelve cities have been identified and are all located on the Malay Peninsula. The eleven cities with their associated animal "years" are Narathiwat (Rat), Pattani (Ox), Kelantan (Tiger), Kedah (Big Snake), Patalung (Little Snake), Trang (Horse), Chumporn (Goat), Krabi (Monkey), Kanchanadit (Chicken), Phuket or Takuapa (Dog) and Kraburi (Pig). The missing city, Muang Pahang, is associated with the Year of the Rabbit. It has also been speculated that Kota Gelanggi is the twelfth city.

Reference to the cities appear in the chronicles of Nakorn Si Thammarat and the chronicles of the Phra Dhatu Nakorn.

The discovery of lost city

The history
The reported site of this ancient city is in the dense jungles of the southern Malaysian state of Johor Darul Takzim, near a forest reserve currently managed as a water catchment area, the Linggiu Dam, by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) of Singapore. This description locates the site somewhere within a 140 square kilometre are of the forest reserve surrounding Sungai Madek and Sungai Lenggiu.

Kota Gelanggi is referenced in the Sejarah Melayu or Malay Annals, an early 17th century Malay historical text. In it, Kota Gelanggi is said to be found on the upper reaches of the Johor River. The main fort of Kota Gelanggi was reportedly made of black stone (or Kota Batu Hitam in Malay). Its name 'Kota Gelanggi' was apparently derived from the Malay mispronunciation of the Thai word 'Ghlong-Keow' or 'Box of Emeralds', hence in Malay, 'Perbendaharaan Permata' ('Treasury of Jewels'). Some scholars believe that the city formed part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, and may thus be the unidentified 12th Naksat city of ancient Siamese folklore. Ancient Tamil inscriptions inform us that the city was raided by the Chola conqueror Rajendra Chola I, of the South Indian Chola Dynasty in 1025, after he had destroyed the Malay Kingdom of Gangga Negara. The latter is generally equated with the ruins and ancient tombs which still can be seen in the district of Beruas, Perak Darul Ridzuan. Old European maps of the Malay Peninsula further show the location of a city known as 'Polepi' (i.e. 'Gelanggi') at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula (see Sebastian Munster's (1614) Map of Taprobana).

References to Kota Gelanggi were reported in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by colonial scholar-administrators including Dudley Francis Amelius Hervey (1849-1911); who published eyewitness reports of the city in 1881; and Sir Richard Olof Winstedt (1878-1966); who stated that an Orang Asli was prepared to take people to the site in the late 1920s. The ancient city was also known to the adventurer-explorer Gerald Gardner (1884-1964), who discovered the ruins of Johore Lama while searching for Kota Gelanggi.

The discovery

Raimy Che-Ross published "The 'Lost City' of Kota Gelanggi: An Exploratory Essay Based on Textual Evidence and an Excursion into 'Aerial Archaeology'" in the Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society.

That article announced the discovery of a pre-Malaccan city in the forests of Johore. Since then, the "Lost City" was featured in the press and has become the subject of intense discussion and speculation by academics, heritage-enthusiasts and the general public.

News of the discovery attracted the notice of international media. The Malaysian Cabinet has now designated it a national priority, with a formal expedition into the jungles being planned. Verification of the discovery will have a great impact on regional history and archaeology, not to mention the potential significance for the tourism industry.

Raimy Che Ross
RAIMY CHE-ROSS was a Malay Tutor at the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (1994), a Graduate Intern at the National Gallery of Australia (1998) and a Visiting Scholar with the Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre at Trinity College, Cambridge (2003).

His latest publications include studies on Munshi Abdullah's manuscripts and lithographs, the Jewish Diaspora in pre-WWII Penang, the Private Papers of Baginda Omar, IXth Sultan of Terengganu, and rare Jawi and Javanese letters from Raffles discovered in the New South Wales State Library. Raimy is now working on a catalogue of the Cambridge University Library Malay Manuscripts Collection, a monograph on Royal Malay letters and artefacts at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle, and exploring pre-Malacca sites in Perak.

The site's existence was announced dramatically as a 'discovery' by the Malaysian Press on 3 February 2005.

Recent evidence of the city's existence and approximate location was presented as the result of a decade-long research project based on Malay manuscripts, cartographical and topographical surveys, aerial inspections and assessing local folklore. A preliminary discussion on the subject based on these sources was published as a lengthy academic paper entitled The "Lost City" of Kota Gelanggi (JMBRAS, Vol. 77 Pt. 2, pp.27-58) in 2004. Prior to that, its author, Raimy Che-Ross, an independent researcher, had tabled and discussed his findings with experts at the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore, the Johor Chapter of Badan Warisan Malaysia (Malaysian Heritage Trust) and to archaeologists at the Jabatan Muzium dan Antikuiti Malaysia (Museums and Antiquities Department of Malaysia), between January-June 2004.

The paper was given wide coverage by the Malaysian Media, who prematurely reported the introductory article as the announcement of a major 'discovery'. This prompted the then Minister for Heritage, Culture and the Arts to himself announce ambitious plans to 'discover' the city by selected museum and government officials.

On April 28th 2006, the Malaysian National News Service (Bernama) reported that the "Lost City does not exist". Khalid Syed Ali, the Curator of Archaeology in the Department's Research and Development Division, said a team of government appointed researchers carried out a study over a month in July last year [2005] but found no trace of the "Lost City".

However, Khalid later added that 'the Heritage Department (Jabatan Warisan) does not categorically deny that it exists, only that research carried out until now [over the month of July] has not shown any proof that can verify the existence of the ancient city of Linggiu ' (Azahari Ibrahim, 'Kota Purba Linggiu: Antara Realiti dan Ilusi', Sejarah Malaysia, July-August 2006, p.37). When pressed for details, he revealed that Che-Ross was not involved in the museum's search team for the lost city.

Three elder Orang Asli headmen from the Linggiu Dam area nonetheless insist that the city indeed exists. According to Tuk Batin Abdul Rahman, 85, 'the city is very large, I have seen it myself because it was located near my village. I estimate its fort to be approximately forty feet square, with three holes like windows along its walls'. He added that the area was formerly inhabited by him and fifty Orang Asli families, before being moved by the British due to the Communist threat in the late 1940s-50s. He further said that he had first stumbled across the fort in the 1930s, while foraging for jungle produce. Tuk Batin Abdul Rahman's statements were independently verified by Tuk Batin Daud, 60 and Tuk Batin Adong, 58, who added that their people had visited the site on numerous occasions before, and had seen the black stone walls themselves (Amad Bahri Mardi, 'Kota Gelanggi hanya wujud pada nama', Berita Harian, Sunday, 20 February 2005, p.18). Two old manuscript drawings believed to depict the ruins are in the possession of Tuk Batin Adong. The rough outline coloured sketches show a large building surrounding a steep hill. Two circular apertures are found on the walls on each side of the entrance into this structure.

Note that the Kota Gelanggi of Johor Darul Takzim is different from the Kota Gelanggi Caves near Jerantut in Pahang Darul Makmur. The Kota Gelanggi Caves of Jerantut hold Neolithic sites, with no evidence of substantial habitation beyond that period having been found despite extensive archaeological digs in its caverns by the museums department.

Late in May 2008, the Malaysian Press reported the discovery of an ancient bronze vessel or Kendi near a river close to Mentakab, Pahang Darul Makmur that may be connected to the ancient city of Kota Gelanggi in Johor Darul Takzim. Both sites are linked by a network of rivers once believed to form a trans-peninsular trading route cutting across the Malay Peninsula.

(source: Wikipedia)

It's amazing that a federal Minister of Culture announced that the government will do everything possible to bring out the lost city. It was excitement and even the mass media published widely on the issue. But suddenly the issue and the lost city, was all really lost in silence. Gone were the excitement of the government and the mass media......

Look at the amount of money Indonesia makes from Borobudur, and Cambodia makes from Angkor Wat, the ancient city of Kota Gelanggi should be great for Malaysia. It will be Angkor Wat of Malaysia, and a tourism potential for tourist dollars. Like Bujang Valley, the lost city was a Srivijayan Hindu/Buddhist kingdom. Is the lost city reveal too much history that the authority cannot accept the fact, as it is too sensitive to disclose it at the moment for the political reality; or it was all falsified historical news?.....something fishy is happening, and the truth is not reveal....

I hope some external independent party will continue research on the lost city; may be some day some hero will reveal some shocking news, that ......and the lost city will never be forever lost.....

.....and hope that the history is not covered up or altered for the sake of politic ..... historical fact must be the truth of the past, not the falsified data to meet the political agenda of the time.... whatsoever the historical truth, the mature Malaysian are prepared to accept the historical fact.

Ligor or Nakhon Si Thammarat(洛坤)

Ligor is now called Nakhon Si Thammarat, which is the Thai rendition of its original name Nagara Sri Dhammaraja. Ligor used to be a powerful Malay kingdom in its time. It had close links with Prey Nokor, i.e. the Angkorian Khmer kingdom.

Unlike Kedah and Pattani, however, Ligor did not fully convert to Islam. Although quite a large number of its citizens became Muslim, Ligor is believed to have remained as a mainly Buddhist kingdom until it was eventually invaded and conquered by Sukhotai.

Map of Nakhon Si Thammarat

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Tambralinga was an ancient kingdom located on the Malay Peninsula that at one time came under the influence of Srivijaya. The name had been forgotten until scholars recognized Tambralinga as Nagara Sri Dharmaraja. Early records are scarce while estimations range from the seventh to fourteenth century. The kingdom ceased to exist around 700.

By the end of the twelfth century, Tambralinga became independent of Srivijaya as the empire suffered a decline in prestige. At its height between the thirteenth century and the beginning of fourteenth century, Tambralinga had occupied most of the Malay Peninsula and become one of the dominant Southeast Asian states. By the end of the fourteenth century, Tambralinga was recorded in Siamese history as Nagara Sri Dharmaraja Kingdom.

Tambralinga first sent tribute to the emperor of the Tang dynasty in 616. In Sanskrit, tambra means "red" and linga means "Siva" or "phallus".



A Chinese text recorded that at the end of the tenth century, a Srivijayan ambassador sent to the court of China reported the attack from Java and requested protection. During the winter of 992, it was learned from Canto that this ambassador, who had left the capital of China two years before, had learnt that his country had been invaded by She-po (Java) and as a consequence, had remained in Canton for a year. In the spring of 992, the ambassador went to Champa with his ship, but since he did not hear any good new there, he returned to China and requested that an imperial decree be promulgated placing San-fo-chi under the protection of China. About the same time, the Chinese court received Javanese envoys that brought corroborative information to China. They reported that their country was continually at war with San-fo-chi, but what they did not say was that the aggression came from them.

In 995, the geographer Masudi spoke in grandiloquent terms of the "kingdom of the Maharaja", king of the islands of Zabag; among theirs exploits were Kalah (Kedah) and Sribuza (Srivijaya).

At 999 it appears that a Sri Vijaya king had moved his court to Vijaya court at Prey Nokor (i.e. Angkor) by judging from his incomplete coronation name "Yang Pu ku Vijaya Sri" found in an inscription of the region. This “movement” is believed to refer to the “relocation“ of his throne from Ligor to Lavo. This Srivijayan king is believed to be Sujitaraja, also titled Jayaviravarman, Preah Botomvaravamsa n also Sri Kshetraindraditya. He was King of Nagara Sri Dharmaraja (Ligor). He was a Ligorian Malay prince with Srivijayan blood. He also married a Khmer princess. At that time, the Srivijayan realm had sort of split into 2 sub-realms, i.e. the mainlandic Angkorian realm n the islandic realm. Nagara Sri Dharmaraja (Ligor) as well as Kedah had then become a sort of bridge connecting the 2 sub-realms. Looked at in another way, they had also become contested territory, sort of a battleground, between Angkor n Palembang, with the Chola Tamils n their Javanese allies also coming in as interested, competing outsiders.

Sri Vijaya's attack on the Cakravartin (Angkorian) Empire
At the same time, the Mon tradition recalled the conflict between Lavo and Haripunjaya. The story is reported in various Pali chronicles composed in Chiangmai. The Chamadevivamsa, written at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and the Jinakalamali, finished in 1516, contain the following account:

"A king of Haripunjaya named Atrasataka went to attack Lavo where Ucchittachakravatti reigned. At the moment when the two sovereigns prepared for battle, a king of Sri-dhammanagara named Sujita arrived at Lavo with a considerable army and fleet. Confronted by this surprise attack, the two adversaries fled in the direction of Haripunjaya. Ucchita arrived first, married the queen and proclaimed himself king.

Sujita, the king of Ligor, established himself as master of Lavo. At the end of three years, his successor, or perhaps his son, Kambojaraja, went to attack Ucchita again at Haripunjaya, but was defeated."

The conflict between Lavo and Haripunjaya mirrors the feud between the Javanese and the Sri Vijaya that grew in a bigger scale to become the dynastic crisis of the Cakravaltin establishment. Under the Javanese attack, the Srivijaya was obviously looking for an escape and in a twist of destiny, the Angkorian site became their target.

Scholars have mistaken this attack as a conquest of the mighty Angkorian Empire over its weaker neighboring states, Lavo and Haripunjaya. On the contrary, it was the Angkorian court that was under attack since the story clearly indicates that the conqueror was from Sri Dhammaraja or Ligor.

The ruler of Lavo, Ucchittachakravatti, was quoted as a Chakravati, a reference to the Angkorian Monarch of the time. He was either Jayavarman IV or a successor of him. As Lavo was the military command post of the Cakravatin Empire, the control of Lavo resulted in the capture of the Angkorian throne.

The Viravamsa Dynasty
After the reign of Jayavarman V, inscriptions appear to show three kings, Udayadityavarman, Jayaviravarman and Suryavarman were reigning concurrently at the Angkorian site. Scholars speculated that they were contending over the Angkorian Throne.

While in fact, they were all belonged to the Ligor court and were joined in their fight to take control of the mainland. A passage of the Khmer chronicle (RPNK: Botomvaravamsa) shed some light to the enigma.

There was a nephew of Maharaja who, arranged by Prah Dhammavidhi rsiphatta, wedded the late queen and ascended the throne under the name of Botomvaravamsa. He commissioned Virauraja as his Obyuvaraja and Udayaraja as his Obraja. After the death of Botomvaravamsa, Prah Virauraja who was Obyuvaraja ascended the throne. After the reign of Virauraja, Prah Udayaraja who was commissioned as Mahaobjraja ascended the throne.

According to the passage, arrangement had been established by the Angkorian high priest to accommodate the new leadership. Jayaviravarman (Preah Botomvaravamsa) who was the nephew of the late Angkorian King and was set to ascend the Angkorian throne while Suryavarman (king Virauraja) became his Obyuvaraja (second king) and Udayadityavarman (Udayaraja) became his Obraja (army marshal).

We shall see that Jayaviravarman and Udayadityavarman were brothers and were related to the court of Chrestapura (Lavo) and despise their true origin from Ligor, they were no strangers to the Angkorian court. They were the collaborators of the younger Suryavarman I, who was the son of Jayaviravarman (also called Sujita, Preah Botomvaravamsa n Sri Kshetraindraditya) who alone would be the ultimate ruler of the Angkorian throne.

Jayaviravarman (1002-1006)
He was the elder brother of Udayadityavarman and was mentioned in the inscription of Prasat Khna as Sri Narapativiravarman. His title indicates that he was then Narapati or ruler of Lavo and army marshal of Jayavarman V. The inscription of Ta Praya (Stele de ta Praya), confirms that he hold the position since 962 during the reign of Harshavarman II. The same inscription indicates that he was the brother in law of Jayavarman V and served as his army general, thus an insider of the Angkorian court. The Inscription of Prasat Trapan Run (BEFEO28: Nouvelles Inscriptions du Cambodge: La Stele du Prasat Trapan Run) introduces him as the Mala king (Maulimalaraja), connecting (i.e equating) him to the Sri Vijaya king Sujita of the Mon chronicle.

Obviously Sri Vijaya of the Malay archipelago (i.e. islandic Srivijaya) was a cardinal state of the Angkorian Empire, and as part of the Cakravatin establishment its ruler could hold an important function for the Middle country. The fact that he was himself the army general (senapati) of the Angkorian Empire explains why king Sujita had a large army at his diposition to overrun Lavo and the Angkorian throne. The part B of the inscription mentioned that he ascended the throne at 1002 and still reigning on 1006 when he granted a piece of land in Aninditpura (Dvaravati) to his master priest Kavindrapandita. The chronology set him as a contemporary king of Suryavarman I who according to many inscriptions was also reigning at 1002 AD. Other inscriptions reveal his active role in the state affair during his late reign that ended in 1006, obviously during his old age.

Suryavarman I (1002-1050)Many inscriptions attest the reign of Suryavarman, as early as at 1002 AD (Saka 924). If the date is exact, Suryavarman was crowned at the same time as king Jayaviravarman that leaded to the speculation that either the twos were contending the Angkorian throne or was only one king using different titles. We shall see that neither speculation is true. To start, the inscription of Phimanakas (BEFEO XIII, K292, P 12) make it clear that for his ascension on 1002 AD (924 caka), Suryavarman I was ascending Sri Dharmaraja throne.

"Dhati vrah pada kamraten kamtvan an cri suryavarmmadeva ta sakata svey vrah dharmarajya nu 924 caka."

The same inscription mentions that he was lined from the Suryavamsa dynasty and inherited the title of "Kamtvan", a reverence to a Kam king. It is reflecting a strong connection with the Kambojean court of Tambralinga. These evidences support the Khmer tradition that Suryavarman I (Virauraja) had served as the second king (Obyuraja) to king Jayaviravarman (Botomvaravamsa). Some sources mentioned that he was in fact the son of king Sujita or Jayaviravarman himself. While the latter was ascending the Angkorian throne in 1002 AD, Suryavarman I was anointed at the same time to rule Sri Dharmamaraja. It was only after the death of Jayaviravarman that Suryavarman I ascended the Angkorian throne, presumably on 2007 AD.

He was obviously the Kambojaraja of the Chamadevivamsa and the Jinakalamali chronicles that went out to attack the Lavo court forcing them to settle at Haripunjaya. Inscriptions of his name were more numerous in the western site that suggests his involvement in the conquest and reestablishment of Lavo. It was not clear that he received immediate support from the Angkorian court. The inscription of Ta Prom mentions his marriage to the princess Viralaksmi of Chrestapura. Descended from Yasovarman of the pre-Angkorian line, princess Viralaksmi was clearly a ticket of legitimacy to the Angkorian throne. According to the Khmer chronicle, she was the queen of the last Angkorian monarch, presumably Jayavarman V or his immediate successor whose reign was cut short by the crisis.

The inscription of Tep Pranam (JA March-Apr: Le Stele de Tep Pranam, George Coedes) contains a small addition in Khmer Language by Suryavarman to the Sanskrit part of king Yasovarman I to commemorate his involvement in the building of Saugatasramas in the royal palace (vrah Thlvain). This could be an attempt to show his support for the past Angkorian tradition and at the same time to stress on his relationship with Yasovarman I whose legitimacy over the Angkorian throne was incontestable. To command their loyalty, he had Angkorian dignitaries to sworn in the oath of allegiance, and as a reminder, he had their names engraved on the inner surface to the entrance of the Royal Palace. He received his Devaraja cult from the chaplain Jayendrapandita. His support for Buddhism earned him the posthumous name Nirvanapada at the time of his death in early 1050.

Udayadityavarman II (1050-1066)
He received his Devaraja cult from the same chaplain Jayendrapandita. His crown name indicates that he might be a direct descendent from Udayadityavarman I. His reign was particularly plagued with internal crisis. During his sixteen years reign, Udayadityavarman II had to cope with a series of uprisings. The repression of the unrest, entrusted to a General Sangrama, is recounted in epic style by a Sanskrit stele placed at the base of the Baphuon, the temple of the royal linga to which Sangrama made a gift of his booty.

The first revolt took place in 1051, in the south of the country leaded by Aravindahrada. Well trained in the archery, leader of an army of heroes, he was vanquished by Sangrama and fled to Champa. Another revolt took place at 1065 in the northwest. A valiant hero of the king named Kamvau, becoming an army general, secretly planned the attack and left the city with his troop. During the fight with Sangrama, he wounded the latter in the jaw but was killed by three arrows. The last revolt took place in the east, by two brothers named Sivat and Sidhikara with the accomplice of a third warrior named Sasantribhuvana. They were put-down by the same general Sangrama.

Harshavarman III (1066-1080)
Harshavarman III, who ascended the throne in 1066, kept himself busy with repairing the structures ruined in the wars of the preceding reigns. The inscription of Ta-Prohm (BEFEO VI, La Steles de Ta-Prohm, George Coedes) identified him as a descendant of King Bhavavarman I and the queen Kambojarajalakshmi. This connection proved his origin from Sri Dhammaraja even-though we know nothing about his relationship with either Suryavarman I and Udayaditya II. Between 1074 and 1080, he himself was involved in the quarrel with Champapura.

Through one of his inscription, the Champa king Harivarman IV claimed to have defeated the troops of Cambodia at Somesvara and seized the prince Sri Nandavarmandeva who commanded the army with the rank of Senapati. Perhaps it was during this battle that the prince Pang, younger brother of the king of Champa, and later king himself under the name of Paramabodhisatva, went to take the city of Sambhupura (Sambor). After destroying all its sanctuaries he gave the Khmer war prisoners to the various sanctuaries of Sri Isanabhadrasvara (at Mison) as servants. He received the posthumous name Sadasivapada. (ESSA:The Mahidharapura dynasty of Cambodia).

What the above is saying in outline, is that:

A Malay king of Ligor named Sujita, alternately also titled Jayaviravarman, Preah Botomvaravamsa n Sri Kshetraindraditya, actually became king of the Angkorian empire in 1002 AD, after capturing Lavo (now Lopburi in Thailand), which was like the military HQ of the Angkorian realm. He was able to achieve that incredible feat because he was then Chief Commander of the Angkorian army.

At the same time, Suryavarman I, who was his son by a Khmer princess, became King of Ligor cum Young King (Regent) of Angkor. While his younger brother, Udayadityavarman I, became the new Chief Commander of the army.

When Sujita died in 1007, Suryavarman I became the new Angkor king, while his nephew, Udayadityavarman II (grandson of Udayadityavarman I), became the new King of Ligor cum Young King (Regent) of Angkor.

When Suryavarman I died in 1050, Udayadityavarman II then moved up to become new King of Angkor.

When Udayadityavarman II died in 1066, Harshavarman III, another King of Ligor moved up to become King of Angkor.

Thus a succession of 4 Malay kings of Ligor actually became kings of mighty Angkor, and the Ligor kingship became for a while a sort of stepping stone to becoming king of Angkor.


Nakhon Si Thammarat

Nakhon Si Thammarat (นครศรีธรรมราช, 那空是贪玛叻,也称洛坤) or Nakhon Sri Thammarat(from Pali Nagara Sri Dhammaraja), which is a town in southern Thailand, capital of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Province and the Nakhon Si Thammarat district. It is about 610 km (380 miles) south of Bangkok, on the east coast of the Malay Peninsula. The city was the administrative center of southern Thailand during most of its history. Originally a coastal city, silting moved the coastline away from the city. The city has a much larger north to south extension than west to east, which dates back to its original location on a flood-save dune. The modern city centre around the train station is located north of Old Town.

It is one of the most ancient cities of Thailand, previously Kingdom of Ligor, and contains many buildings and ruins of historical significance. With the fall of the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya in 1767 it regained independence, but returned to its allegiance on the founding of Bangkok. In the 17th century British, Portuguese and Dutch merchants set up factories there and carried on an extensive trade.

According to the inscription no.24 found at wat Hua-wieng (Hua-wieng temple) in Chaiya near to Nakhon Si Thammaraj, the ruler of Tambralinga named Chandrabhanu Sridhamaraja was the king of Patama vamsa (lotus dynasty). He began to reign in 1230, he had the Phrae Boromadhatu (chedi in Nakhon Si Thammaraj, from Sanskrit dhatu - element, component, or relic + garbha - storehouse or repository) reparation and celebration in the same year. Chandrabhanu Sridhamaraja brought Tambralinga reached the pinnacle of its power in the mid-thirteenth century. From the Sri Lankan materials, this Chandrabhanu was a Javakan king from Tambralinga who had invaded Sri Lankan in 1247. His navy launched an assault on the southern part of the island but defeated by the Sri Lankan king. However Chandrabhanu was able to establish an independent regime in the north of the island, but in 1258 he was attacked and subjugated by Pandya. In 1262 Chandrabhanu launched another attack on the south of the island, his army strengthened this time by the addition of Tamil and Sinhalese forces, only to be defeated when Pandya sided with the Sri Lankan side; Chandrabhanu himself was killed in the fighting. Chandrabhanu’s son retained control over the northern kingdom, though subservient to Pandya, but this regime too had disappeared by the end of the fourteenth century.
It is popularly believed that the advent of the first Malays to Sri Lanka took place in the middle of the thirteenth century with the invasion of Chandrabhanu, the Buddhist King of Nakhon Sri Tammarat in the Isthmus of Kra of the Malay Peninsula (presently Southern Thailand ). He landed during the eleventh year of Parakrmabahu II (AD 1236-1270). The Culavamsa states:

When the eleventh year of the reign of this King Parakramabahu II had arrived, a king of the Javakas known by the name of Chandrabhanu landed with a terrible Javaka army under the treacherous pretext that they too were followers of the Buddha. All these wicked Javaka soldiers who invaded every landing place and who with their poisoned arrows, like (sic) to terrible snakes, without ceasing harassed the people whomever they caught sight of, laid waste, raging in their fury, all Lanka. (Culavamsa LXXXIII, 36-51)

The Javaka mentioned in this source refers to the Malays of the Peninsula . Chandrabhanu's first invasion did not succeed and he tried a second time to attack the Sinhalese Kingdom with mercenaries from South India . This second campaign failed and resulted in the death of this king.

The following is the extract from "An Outline of the Past and Present of the Malays of Sri Lanka", by Melathi Saldin(B.A),University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka;

By the end of the fourteenth century, Tambralinga had been submerged by the Sumatran Melayu Kingdom which had the backing of Java. Finally, in 1365 Majapahit kingdom of Java recognized Nakorn Sri Dharmaraj as Siam. Despite its rapid rise to prominence in the thirteenth century, that is, by the following century Danmaling, or Tambralinga, the former member state of Sanfoshih – Javaka, had become a part of Siam


Chandrabhanu(Ruled 1230-1270)
Chandrabhanu (died 1270?) or Chandrabhanu Sridhamaraja was the King of the Malay state of Tambralinga in present day Thailand. He was known to have ruled from during the period of 1230 until 1270. He was also known for building a well-known Buddhist stupa in southern Thailand. He spent more than 30 years in his attempt to conquer Sri Lanka. He was eventually defeated by Pandyan forces from South India in 1270.

In 1247 he sent an expedition to the island ostensibly to acquire the Buddhist relic from the island. His forces, using poison darts, were able to occupy the northern part of the island. In 1253 his forces faced an invasion of the island by Pandyan forces. In 1258 Tambralinga forces commanded by his son and two Sinhalese princes were defeated by the Pandyans. In 1270 he invaded the island once again, only to be defeated decisively by the Pandyans. The defeat was so complete that in 1290, Tambralinga was absorbed by the neighboring Thai Kingdoms.
(source: wikipedia)

After the fall of Ayutthaya, Nakorn Sri Dharmaraj enjoyed a short period of independence, but quickly subdued by King Taksin the great on his mission to reunite Siam.

With the thesaphiban reform of Prince Damrong Rajanubhab at the end of the 19th century the kingdom was finally fully absorbed into Siam. A new administrative entity named monthon (circle) was created, each supervising several provinces. Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat, established 1896, covered those areas on the east coast of the peninsula, i.e. the provinces Songkhla, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung.

Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat

A new administrative entity named monthon ("Mandala") was created, each supervising several provinces. Nakorn Sri Dhamaraj mandala or monthon(มณฑลนครศรีธรรมราช), established in 1896, covered those areas on the east coast of the peninsula, i.e. the provinces Songkhla, Nakorn Sri Dhamaraj and Phatthalung. 1896-97 the administration was located in Songkhla in the present-day Songkhla national museum. 1925 Monthon Surat was incorporated into Monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat, in 1932 also Monthon Pattani. Like all remaining monthon, monthon Nakhon Si Thammarat was dismantled in 1933.

List of commissioners:

* 1896-1906 Phraya Sukhumnaiwinit (Pan Sukhum)
* 1906-1910 Phraya Chonlaburanurak (Charoen Charuchinda)
* 1910-1925 Prince Lopburi Ramet
* 1925-1933 ?

The Naksat Cities

The Naksat cities are a chain of twelve inter-linked cities or muangs of the ancient Malay Kingdom of Tambralinga.

The Naksat cities acted as an outer shield, surrounding the capital Nakorn Si Thammarat, and were connected by land so that help could be sent from one city to another in the event of surprise attacks.

The term Naksat refers to the Lunar calendar system, the Naksat Pi, which is based on a duodenary cycle of years, with each year being associated with a particular animal.
Eleven of the twelve cities have been identified and are all located on the Malay Peninsula. The eleven cities with their associated animal "years" are Narathiwat (Rat), Pattani (Ox), Kelantan (Tiger), Kedah (Big Snake), Patalung (Little Snake), Trang (Horse), Chumporn (Goat), Krabi (Monkey), Kanchanadit (Chicken), Phuket or Takuapa (Dog) and Kraburi (Pig). The missing city, Muang Pahang, is associated with the Year of the Rabbit. It has also been speculated that Kota Gelanggi is the twelfth city.

Reference to the cities appear in the chronicles of Nakorn Si Thammarat and the chronicles of the Phra Dhatu Nakorn.