The Poompuhur U
Ever since the expedition last year, people have kept asking me
(regardless of the discoveries at Mahabalipuram) about
the U shaped anomaly at Poompuhar. Almost without
fail, I have said something along the lines of, "I’ll be getting the
map we plotted of it soon, so I can go in to more detail then." Well
finally, nearly a year on, I have that map (see image below), so I
guess its about time I kept my promise and say a few more things
about that phase of the expedition.
But first a brief look
at the more recent history of Poompuhar itself.
OK... so for those of you who haven’t read
Underworld or read much on
the expeditions website, here are a couple of interesting notes
about the anomaly. It is off the coast of, what is today a small
fishing village called Poompuhar by roughly five
kilometers, and is situated at a depth of (according to the records
from my now departed dive computer) 23 meters, standing roughly 1
meter out of the silt ocean floor.
Poompuhar in ancient times was the port capital of
the Cholas, and indeed puhar means "estuary"
or "river mouth of the sea." It was also referenced quite
heavily in the literature of the time. Details of the town have been
found as far back as the Brahmi-inscription, written in north
India in the second century B.C. During the reign of
Karikala Cholan, Poompuhar became a great city and
Inscriptions at Thiruvengadu talk of a grand festival
of Indra later Chola’s times.
After the 6th century (AD) Kalabras, Poompuhar came under the rule of the Pallava,
who built Pallavaneesswaram temple, but the city hit a
decline until the rise of the Cholas in roughly 850AD
when the city again retained some of its former glory.
Now, however, Poompuhar stands as a monument to time
more than anything else. Its once great temples stand hollowly
recreated in the concrete of modern times, whilst the ruins of the
originals have been embraced by the relentless ocean and lie within
a couple of hundred meters of the shore. All that remains of the
once great city are a few grand buildings and some scattered fishing
Poompuhar is also one of the centers if the Tamil
epic story of Silapathikaram which is a wonderful story
and you should read up on it if you get chance.
The U shape
OK... you have put up with the history lesson so here are my
for’s and against’s the anomaly being man-made
turns by a series of angles, which are very sharp and well
defined (only the large ones can be seen on the map).
wall’ that you can see in two places around the anomaly
following the inner wall. Even in examples of angled objects
in nature I have not seen an example where there is an
‘outer layer’ like this.
No logical shape
usually found together rarely are buildings built on their
own away from anything else
occur in nature for example the "Giant's Causeway" in
Northern Ireland. The picture below were taken
last year when I visited the "Giant's Causway."
The ocean bottom of
the area is flat and featureless, with this exception.
The bottom is deep
silt. It is currently impossible to determine whether anything
smaller lies in the direct vicinity.
terrible (though not as bad as the quarry I dived in recently)
making it hard to take ‘birds-eye’ shot of the structure (or
should that be fish-eye?).
is now a coral reef. Any examinations must take this into
account and further study should not endanger the coral or the
ecosystem around it (most divers are conservationist...does it
is not really a U shape at all. Though there are
definitely regular shaped angle to it. This excerpt from my
logbook (the dodgy picture I drew at the time anyway) shows how
distorted your view can become in that level of visibility.
And for another
piece of interesting log-book art here is something I drew at
Though I know there is nothing conclusive here, it was the
overwhelming opinion of both myself and the other divers who we
involved first hand that the anomaly was man-made. However to
date the ‘smoking gun’ piece of evidence has yet to be found
which could definitively state it one way or another. The members of
the NIO team with us, whose official
stance is that it is a natural formation, rarely vary from the
official line that it is natural but more research needs to be
However, on the last night of the expedition (the party night)
I personally managed to get a confession out of one of them, who
will remain nameless, but does look something like a pirate. He
“Mike, personally I
think it will turn out to be man-made, but until
we have the definite proof we just can’t risk saying that!”