Thursday 30 January 2014

A once thriving City that is now an obscure village

What do Banavasi, Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal, Halebidu and Belur, Somanathapura, Manyakheta or Malkhed, Mayurkhindi, Talakad, Manne have in common with Gundlavaddigeri.
Gundlavaddigeri is a small village, just a little over a hundred kilometers from the City of Hospet in Bellary taluk. It has a population of less than a thousand people and we at the post are sure that its name has never been heard of by a majority of people.
But what is it that makes us place its name along with well-known places such as Banavasi, Badami, Belur and other places.
Banavasi, as all of us know, was the capital of the Kadambas (345-525), the first Kannadiga dynasty of our State. The beauty of Banavasi was such that even Kalidasa, the greatest Sanskrit poet of all times, admired it and mentioned it in his work, Meghadoota.
Kalidasa had been sent to Banavasi as an Ambassador of the Guptas. Today, Banavasi has a few temples that speak of the glory of  the Kadambas.
Similarly, Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal are well-known for their Chalukyan temples. Badami, which was earlier known as Vatapi,  was the capital of the powerful Chalukyas (543-763) and it has some of the most magnificent temples and cave temples of the Chaluyka period, some of which were built by Pulakeshi (609-642), who is often particularly described as one of the greatest Emperors of Karnataka.
Talakad was the capital of the Gangas (400-1000) and it was one of the major cities of its times until it was sacked by the Hoysala Emperor, Vishnuvardhana. Today, Talakad is nothing but ruins in a sand.  
Similarly, Belur, Halebidu and Somanathapura are renowned for their exquisite temples belonging to the Hoysalas (1026-1343). All these places have ruins of temples.
Malkhed or Manyakheta and Mayurkhindi were once the capitals of  the Rashtrakutas (753-982) who ruled over large parts of south and Central India.
All these centres mentioned in earlier paragraphs were once known as major cities or urban conglomerates and each of them have had their tryst with history. Even today, they are in the news and they attract hordes of tourists and visitors. But how does Gundlavaddigeri get into this list of illustrious cities.
Gundlavaddigeri was earlier in Bellary district and it is today placed in Koppal district.
Archaeologists and historians now have discovered that Gundlavaddigeri was one of the biggest cities of its times in Karnataka and this was prior to the establishment of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1336 by Hakka and Bukka.
A 12th century stone deed in Halegannada (old Kannada), belonging to the Vijaynagara dynasty and some weapons used by people have been unearthed in the village.
The old Kannada inscription says that a lake was built in Gundlavaddigeri in memory of Yankubi, son of Kumbara Ponnayya. The inscription says the lake was constructed for  irrigation purposes.
The inscription has three lovely figures, a wheel of eight swords,  cow and a calf, which are the symbols of Shaivism.
Research has shown that Gundlavaddigeri was a big city before the founding of Vijaynagara. Even today, the village boasts of scores of  dry lakes and this is a testimony to the extent of the City that once Gundlavaddigeri was.
The stone inscription, measuring four feet by three feet, stood facing the North with a four-line script in Halegannada.
Gundlavaddigeri is surrounded by Gangavathi taluk towards North, Sandur taluk towards South, Koppal taluk towards west and  Hagaribommanahalli taluk towards South. All these taluks headquarters too were big cities at one point of time but while they are all fairly well-known even today, Gundlavaddigeri is even today an obscure and forgotten village.
Today, Gundlavaddigeri is surrounded by Bellary, Gangavati, Hospet, Sandur, Mundargi and Tekkalakota. Kannada is the local language here and there are less than 150 houses. The total area of Gundlavaddigeri is just 629 hectares and compare this to the thriving town it was more than nine hundred years ago.

What does this post tell us or rather what does it teach us. It tells us that just as centuries passed by, cities rose and fell and some like Gundlavaddigeri fell into obscurity, never to rise again.  

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