Chapter 9: SANGAM - AGE


The Sangam age was a glorious period for south India.

The Sangam is an Academy of Poets and great literary work emerges out of them. The Sangam flourished under the patronage of the Pandya’s dynasty. 

The probable dates of Sangam era were decided as 3rd century BC – 3rd Century AD. 

Chronology of Sangams

First Sangam – Madurai – Attended by gods and legendary sages but no work survived.

Second Sangam – Kapadapuram – Tolkappiyyam is the only literary work that survived.

Third Sangam – Madurai – Few literary works survived.

The political situation during the Sangam is known: The south India was ruled by Chola, Chera and Pandya during this time.

Each of them had two power centres one inland and one on the coast. 

Sangam Dynastys

Chera dynasty: Royal emblem: Bow

  1. They ruled over modern Kerala.
  2. Castes not known.
  3. No superstitions. Ancestors and tree worship seen.
  4. Declined as trade with Romans declined.

                                 chera dynasty


                                                            Fig 1: Chera kingdom

Chola dynasty: Royal emblem: Tiger

  1. They ruled over southern Andhra Pradesh and part of north Tamil Nadu.



Pandya dynasty:  Royal emblem: Carp

  1. They ruled over Tamil country.
  2. Hereditary monarchy with king assisted by council of ministers. There was a large body of officials for administration.
  3. Empire divided into mandalam ->nadu -> urs.
  4. Rulers kept a regular army.
  5. Land revenue was main income source. Customs duty and war booty were others.
  6. Trade was prosperous. Pearls were famous.
  7. Sati, castes, idol worship were common. Widows were treated badly.
  8. Temples had:

·         Gopuram

·         Garbagriha

·         Viman

·         Prakaras

                  ·         Gateways. 

Apart from these three there were minor chieftains who were subordinate to the Chera, Chola and Pandya but were strong and powerful in their respective regions.


south india during 1100AD south India during 600AD                                        

                                                        Fig 3: South Indian kingdoms

Sangam Polity:

Hereditary monarchy was prevalent. But king had advisors to assist him.

Each ruler had a regular army.

Land revenue was the chief source of income and customs duty was imposed on foreign trade. War booty was also a source of income. Roads and highways were protected from thieves.

was the chief god. Even deceased who had died in wars were worshipped.

Caste system was known. Women had respect and allowed to pursue intellectual pursuits. But condition of widows was bad. Sati was prevalent. But women were allowed to choose their partners.

Art, music and dancing were popular in Sangam age. Highly developed forms of music and dance were known.

Trade and agriculture flourished in this period. Internal trade was on barter system. External trade was carried with Greek civilisation using naval vessels.

Agriculture was the main occupation. Handicrafts, metal works and garments were famous in internal and external trade. Roman Empire too traded with them and roman merchants were present in Tamil country. Gold and silver roman coins are found here.

End of Sangam age:

The Kalabra's occupied entire Tamil country for 250 years. Jainism and Buddhism grew to prominence in their rule. Finally the Pallavas and Pandya’s drew them out of Tamil country and re-established their rule again.