Friday, November 13, 2015

May 27, 2015: Talk on "Cholas in Karnataka" by archaeologist P. Venkatesan at the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department

Attended a lecture on "Cholas in Karnataka" by Thiru P. Venkatesan, Superintending Archaeologist of the Archaeological Survey of India​. Though the actual lecture was comfortably short compared to the extremely long one that I attended in December, it was packed with loads of information and trivia, The lecture began with the welcoming address following which Thiru Venkatesan took over. He started with a gist of Karnataka's history from the palaeolithic period to the rise of the Cholas in Tamil Nadu. He, then, described in  detail the Chola conquest of Karnataka and the Tamil and Kannada inscriptions that help us trace the route of the Chola armies. The first major battle took place at Kaliyuru where the Chola army under Raja Raja Chola defeated a confederacy of 18 chieftains and successfully established Chola rule in Gangapadi. The event is commemorated by 18 herostones for each of the 18 fallen chieftains. During construction projects, workers have unearthed skeletons at the spot thereby confirming that Kaliyuru indeed was the site of a great battle. Following the battle, the Cholas conquered the Ganga capital Talakad and renamed it Rajarajapuram. The Kempapura inscription of 996 AD commemorates the early stages of the Chola invasion. The next places conquered by the the Cholas include Tadimalingi and Balamuri. At Mallurupatna nearby is found a Chola temple in a dilapidated condition. There are Tamil inscriptions on the plinth of the temple. Marehalli near Malavalli has a temple with a Kannada inscription which gives its name as Rajasraya Vinnagara after Raja Raja Chola. The Chola Narayana Temple at Agara has an endowment by Raja Raja Chola towards the Durga idol. At Hanasoge (Old Kannada "Panasoge") in Coorg, Raja Raja Chola defeated a local chieftain of the Chengalvan family with the assistance of his rival from the Kongalvan family. The event is commemorated in a Kannada inscription of Raja Raja Chola I known as the Malambi inscription. Another place associated with the Cholas is Chikkati where there is a sepulchral shrine strangely shaped in the form of a dolmen. Thiru. Venkatesan feels that Raja Raja Chola's expedition might have ultimately led him right upto the source of the Cauvery at Talakaveri in Coorg though he has no concrete evidence available to back it up.

The inscriptions at the Chellesvara Temple in Atakuru near Madduru record the treacherous killing of the Chola prince Rajaditya in the Battle of Takkolam (949) by the Ganga king Butuga at the behest of Rashtrakuta, Krishna III. The inscription is engraved in a herostone dedicated to a dog which took part in the battle. Thiru Venkatesan also had an interesting tale to tell about the dwarapalakas at the Airavateswarar temple in Darasuram which were originally carted off from Kalyani. The dwarapalakas are now hosted at the Thanjavur Art Gallery.

During the course of the speech, we also got to know a few interesting etymologies like the origins of the word "Madivala" from "Madaivilaga" and "Gulbarga" from "Kollibhaga" (Tamil Kollipakai). The lecture lasted for a couple of hours and ended with the guest lecturer being felicitated by Mr. T. S. Subramanian. This is the second lecture held by the Tamil Nadu Archaeology Department which I have attended and both were extremely informative for people interested in the subject. Such events are not to be missed.

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