Punnata (punnATa) (ಪುನ್ನಾಟ ರಾಜವಂಶ) was a minor kingdom in South Karnataka dating back to the 5th century A.D.
However, there are many empirical evidences that take back the antiquity of this
kingdom to pre Christian era. Ptolemy (127 A.D.) the well known Greek
geographer writes about Pounnata and declares that
it was famous for emeralds. Pliny (23 A.D.-78 A.D. too mentions the emerald
stone of Pounnata. The fact that emeralds are still
found in Coiambattore region which was possibly a
part of Punnata desha as
also the discovery of Roman coins in the vicinity lend credibility to this
statement. Some Egyptian documents contain the word punt which archaeologists
aver is a reference to Punnata. An inscription found
in Chandravalli states categorically the Mayurasharma the Kadamba king
defeated Punnatas in the 4th century
A.D... Recently Dr S.Settar the eminent historian and
archaeologist has made many interesting observations about this dynasty and
tries to create a very vital link between the Dravidian culture and Punnata dynasty, He has unearthed many references to this
dynasty in the Tamil Sangam literature. He has
delineated these facts in his celebrated book, Shangam
Tamilagam mattu Kannada Nadu Nudi (2007)
Punnata was a kingdom of fast changing boundaries what with
its itinerant battles with Kadambas and Gangas. However it was based in the fertile region
irrigated by the rivers Kaveri and Kapini. Keerthipura or Kitthipura was the capital of this kingdom. (Presently it
is a small village called Kittur (kittUr)
in the Heggadadevanakote talluk
of Mysore district. During its hey days this kingdom included many parts of Coorg, Hassan, Coiambattore and Bangalore districts.
Scholars do not concur on the
etymology of the word Punnata. The word punal means a river in Tamil. (In Kannada it has become honalu) Consequently Punnata
could be the land (nADu) constantly irrigated by a
rivers. Periyapurana the Tamil classic says: The
land which is constantly watered by a river is Punnata.
Most of the information that
we have about Punnadu are based on inscriptions.
They were not necessarily erected by the kings of that dynasty. Later Punnata kings ruled between the fifth and the seventh
centuries. Three copper inscriptions that are available so far were found in Mamballi and Komaralingam. Based
on this, some of the kings that ruled in this dynasty were Tamra
Kashyapa, Rajaditya, Vishnudasa, Pruthvipathi, Skandavarma, Nagadatta, Bhujangadiraja, Skandavarma-2 and Ravidatta.
An inscription installed by Durvineetha the Ganga monarch mentions a wedding that took place between Jyeshtaa and Durvineetha. Most of
these inscriptions write about a peaceful pastoral life rather than one beset
with warfare. Dr Settar writes elaborately about the
script of these inscriptions and relates it to the antiquity of Kannada and
Punnata kingdom was once an important center of Jainism. A Jaina community which had its moorings here was known as Kitturu Sabgha. They came to Punnata region in the 3rd century B.C. as
advised by Bhadrabahu Bhattaraka
the celebrated sage. They migrated to Gujarat and its
neighboring regions later on. There they acquired the name Punnata
Dynasty has some historical antecedents that deserve further probing.
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