GANGAS OF TALAKADU

 

            Western Ganga dynasty or The Gangas of Talakadu (ತಲಕಾಡು ಗಂಗರು) constitute one of the most enduring and celebrated royal dynasties of Karnataka. They provide vital clues about the relations that existed between the Tamilian culture and Karnataka. This paved the way for a better understanding of the Dravidian antecedents of the culture of Karnataka. This dynasty came in to being as early as the fourth century. (350 A.D.) The speculation that the dynasty was found under the guidance of the Jaina saint Simhanandi Acharya is not firmly established. The early Gangas belonged to the vaidic religion. The dynasty was found by Kongunivarma and its capital was kuvalALapura which is now known as Kolar. However the capital was shifted to Talavnapura which is Talakadu in the modern parlance. This shift took place during the regime of the king Avineetha. (469-529 A.D.) This region was thickly infested with jungles and that probably is the reason for the elephant which happens to be the royal emblem of Gangas. Not much is known about the early kings of this dynasty. A sizable part of the inscriptions were declared as suspects (kUTa shAsana) by J.F.Fleet and that has added to the uncertainty. Many historians have opined that Talakadu was the capital of Gangas right from its inception to the end.

            Some of the major monarchs that have ruled the Ganga kingdom are as follows:

1.      Kongunivarma  (325-350A.D.)

2.      Madhava          (350-75 A.D.)

3.      Aryavarma        (375-400 A.D.)

4.      Madhava-3       (440-469)

5.      Avineetha         (469-529)

6.      Durvineetha      (529-579)

7.      Shrivikrama      (629-654)

8.      Bhuvikrama      (654-679)

9.      Shivamara-1    (679-725)

10. Sripurusha       (725-788)

11. Siagotta Shivamara-2 (788-812) 

12. Rachamalla     (816-843) 

13. Neethimarga Ereganga (843-870)

14. Rachamalla-2  (870-919)

15. Ereganga        ( 886-920)

16. Butuga-2         (936-961)

17. Marasimha-2   (963-974)

18. Rachamalla-3     (974-999) 

Documentary evidences about Ganga dynasty are more reliable after the ascension to the throne of Avineetha. Among these kings Durvineetha, Bhuvikrama, Sripurusha, Saigotta Shivamara, Marasimha-2 and Rachamalla-2 were more renowned. They played crucial roles in expanding the kingdom and preserving the territories. There were constants strifes with Cholas, Pallavas, Rashtrakootas and Chalukyas. Small kingdoms such as Punnatas were usually in good terms with Gangas. Durveneetha had to wage wars with Pallavas and Kadambas and secured creditable victories. His kingdom extended from Coimbatore in Tamilnadu up to Bellary in the north. He was patron of literature and arts and was a poet by his own merit. He is the author of a work called ‘Shabdavatara’ and he has a written a commentary for Bharavi’s ‘Kiratarjuneeya’. He is credited with translating Gunadhya’s ‘Vaddakathaa’. Bhuvikrama is known for his confrontations with Pallavas. Sripurusha ranks among the more important Ganga kings. He was known for his military prowess. He defeated Nandivarma Pallavavarma on the one hand and sent back the Rashtrakuta as far as Kampili in Bellary district. He could implement many administrative reforms and he is the author of ‘Gajashastra’. After Sripurusha, Gangas had to concede their absolute powers to Rashtrakutas and become their feudatories. Saigotta Shivamara had a chequered career and he was a pawn in the political feuds among the kings of the Rashtrakuta clans and spent a considerable part of his life in detention. He has authored ‘Gajashtaka’ and ‘Sethubandha’. He was the first Ganga king to adopt Jainism. Marasimha-2 was an able supporter of Rashtrakuta kings and won many battles for them. Gradually Gangas lost their hold on the political situation. The Chalukya and Chola kings became dominant and that marked the end of Ganga dynasty. Chavundaraya who served three different Ganga kings was a well known warrior and a patron of art and literature. He is associated with the Gommateshvara idol at Shravanabelagola and his patronage to Ranna the famous Kannada poet.

Ganga Kingdom comprised of Kolara, Mysore, Bangalore, Tumkur and Mandya districts of present day Karnataka. This region was known as Gangavadi. However at different points in its reign it had control over Shivamogga, Hassan, Chikkamagalur, Coorg, Bellary and Dharawar districts. Occasionally they occupied Coimbathore and Selam districts of Tamilnadu. Talakdu was their capital and Manne (maNNe=mAnyapura) and Mankunda (mAnakunDa) were their regional capitals. They practiced the Vaidic religion to begin with and later they adopted the Jaina religion. They were essentially secular and encouraged all religions. They encouraged agriculture by building canals and supported trade by adopting proper policies of taxation. Many of them had literary accomplishments and all of them were patrons of art and culture.

The ‘Architecture and sculpture of Gangas’ do not have many distinctive features even though many temples and Basadis were built during their regime. The temples at Manne (maNNe), Narasamangala, Kolara (kOlAra), Kittuuru, Nandi and the Chavundaraya Basadi at Shravana Belagola are the more important ones among them. The inscriptions of Gangas constitute copper inscriptions, stone inscriptions and memorial stones. The debate about the spuriousness or otherwise of the copper inscriptions makes decisions difficult. Generally the copper inscriptions are in Sanskrit and the stone inscriptions are in Kannada. It is possible to trace the evolution of Kannada script with their help because cover a long interval of time. The subject matter of the memorial stones is varied. ‘Athakuru Inscription’ is erected to honor the fidelity of a dog. Gangas have not contributed much to the numismatics of Karnataka either. M.H.Krishna opines that five different coins bearing the elephant emblem with out any script belongs to this dynasty.

There are certain branches of Ganga dynasty other than the Gangas of Talakadu. Gangas of Kadaravalli (kAdaravaLLi), Mandali Gangas of Shivamogga, Gangas of Asandi near Kadur, and the Tamilu Gangas of Kolar are the important ones among them.   

 

References:

1.      The Gangas of Talkad: A Monograph on the History of Mysore from the Fourth to the Close of the Eleventh Century By Mysore Venkata Krishna Rao Published by B.G. Paul, 1936

       2.     The Coins of Karnataka by A. V. Narasimha Murthy Published by Geetha Book House, Mysore, 1975

       3.     History of the Western Gangas By B. Sheikh Ali, Published by Prasaranga, University of Mysore, 1976

       4.    The Western Gangas of Talkad By R Narasimhachar Published by s.n, 1923

       5.    Kongu Nadu, a History Up to A.D. 1400 by V. Manickam Published by Makkal Veliyeedu, 2001

       6.    The Later Gagas: Maṇḍali-thousand by Hampa Nāgarājayya Published by Ankita Pustaka, 1999

       7.    Rashtrakuta Relations with the Gangas of Talakad by Shivanna, Published by University of Mysore Prasārāga, 1997

         8.   Early Gangas of Talakadu, by S. Srikantha Shastry, Mysore

 

       9.    Shangam Tamilagam mattu Kannada Naadu-Nudi by S. Settar, 2007, Abhinava, Bangalore.

    Links: 

         1. Western Ganga Dynasty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 2. karnataka history: THE GANGAS OF TALAKADU

 

 

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