The Story of Indian Scripts - Part 1 | The cave inscriptions of Mamallapuram - Storytrails
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The Story of Indian Scripts – Part 1 | The cave inscriptions of Mamallapuram

Which are the oldest languages and scripts in India? Is there a mother of all scripts, in a land that is as diverse and variegated as India? What similarities or differences exist between the south Indian scripts, and do they have anything in common with the ones used in north India? The first of this two-part video story explores these fascinating questions and more as it traces the evolution of Indian scripts over the last 2500 years.

Just how old are Indian languages, and which are the oldest scripts in India? Is there a mother of all scripts, in a land that is as diverse and variegated as India? What similarities or differences exist between the south Indian scripts, and do they have anything in common with the ones used in north India? The first of this two-part video story explores these fascinating questions and more as it traces the evolution of Indian scripts over the last 2500 years. How are Tamil and Malayalam scripts related, and why do Telugu and Kannada scripts look so similar? How did Kanchipuram become the seat of Sanskrit learning in south India? This video begins from the Atiranachanda Cave Temple at Mamallapuram, where a set of ancient inscriptions reveal much about the movement of ideas between the north and south and the scripts and languages in use during Pallava times.


This video is brought to you in partnership with Tamil Nadu Tourism, Saint-Gobain and the Department of Museums.

Editing credits: Venkat Krishna

Music, Sound Design, Mix & Master: Vishwi (www.vishwimusic.com)

Wardrobe Sponsor: Rare Rabbit


  1. Delhi-Topra pillar Brahmi and Nagari – By Dhamijalok – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73114791
  2. The Brihadishwara Temple inscriptions – By Richard Mortel from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Brihadishwara Temple, Dedicated to Shiva, built by Rajaraja I, completed in 1010, Thanjavur (38), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64004387
  3. Different scripts of different languages of India – By Haoreima – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=121390004
  4. Pallava territories – By Venu62, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1458590
  5. Samanar Malai Jain monuments – By Ms Sarah Welch – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=100172145
  6. Tiruparuthikundram – By Ssriram mt – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50794334
  7. Kalugumalai Jain beds – By Balajijagadesh – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20907201
  8. Mangulam Tamil Brahmi inscription – By Sodabottle – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20865429
  9. Tamil_Brahmi_inscription, Arittapatti, Madurai – By Ms Sarah Welch – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73484131
  10. Jambai Tamil Brahmi – By Tnexplore – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17848630
  11. Vatteluttu – By Venu62 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18782575
  12. Sanskrit letters – By Madhumita1052 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49860172
  13. Telugu script on patterned background – By Akhsar12546 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58371399
  14. Bhattiprolu script – By Stone iscriptions – Replicas of scriptures at Govt museum Chennai, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44390417
  15. Satavahana Dynasty – By Map created from DEMIS Mapserver, which are public domain. Koba-chan.Reference: [1] – This file has been extracted from another file, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=115171752
  16. Indus Fish symbol – By Matsyameena – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=93863034
END OF STORY

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