The Vaṭṭeḻuttu, also spelled Vattezhutthu (literally "Round Script", Tamil: வட்டெழுத்து, vaṭṭeḻuttu, Tamil pronunciation: [ʋəʈːeɻʉt̪ːʉ]; Malayalam: വട്ടെഴുത്ത് vaṭṭeḻuttŭ) was an abugida writing system in southern India and Sri Lanka in the later half of the first millennium AD. Vatteluttu was the common script for writing various forms of the Tamil language in the region of the Pandyas and Cheras until the 9th century, after which it came to be replaced by the present-day Tamil script everywhere except in Kerala.
|Languages||Various forms of Tamil and Malayalam|
|used from the 5th century until the 9th century except in Kerala where it lasted until the 10th century|
|Malayalam, Grantha, Kolezhuthu, Malayanma|
It is known that the Tamil Script became current in the Chola and Pandya kingdoms by the 10th century. Southern Grantha (Pallava Grantha) script - formerly used writing Sanskrit in south India - evolved into modern Malayalam script in Kerala.
Derived from the Tamil-Brahmi script, the Vatteluttu was developed in southern India and was extensively used for writing various forms of Tamil and Malayalam. The early cave inscriptions discovered from southern India, in Tamil-Brahmi script (Damili script), have supplied some of the connecting links between Brahmi script and Vatteluttu.
Vatteluttu is attested from the 6th century AD.
Vatteluttu was adopted by the Kodungallur Cheras (from 9th century) and their successor-states in Kerala. Kodungallur Chera epigraphs in Old Malayalam are composed mostly in Vatteluttu. After the Kodungallur Chera period (12th century) the Vatteluttu went on evolving and gradually developed into "Kolezhuttu" in Kerala. Use of Vatteluttu - albeit in a decadent form - continued among certain classes in Kerala, especially Muslims and Christians up to the 19th century 
The following image shows the divergent evolution of the Tamil script and the Vatteluttu script. The Vatteluttu script is shown on the left, and the Tamil script is shown on the right.
Here are the characters used in Vatteluttu:
- Sivaramamurti, C, Indian Epigraphy and South Indian Scripts. Bulletin of the Madras Government Museum. Chennai 1999
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vatteluttu alphabet.|
- Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta The Colas, (Madras, 1935 & 1937. Revised 2nd ed. 1955) p.7
- I. Mahadevan, 'Corpus of Tamil Brahmi Inscriptions', Seminar on Inscriptions, (Madras, 1968), pp. 57-78
- A. C. Burnell, Elements of South Indian Palaeography, pp. 48-49
- Agesthialingom, S. & S.V. Shanmugam (1970). The Language of Tamil Inscriptions. Annamalainagar, India: Annamalai University.
- T. V. Mahalingam, South Indian Palaeography, (Madras, 1967), pp 201-311
- Manogaran. The Untold Story of Ancient Tamils in Sri Lanka. p. 31.