SANNATHI

 

            Sannathi, (ಸನ್ನತಿ) a small village about 25 miles Chitthapur in Gulbarga district is the most important Buddhist archaeological site in Karnataka. It is situated on the left bank of the Bheema River. Sannathi is surrounded by the river and this natural protection is perhaps responsible for human inhabitation right from the beginnings of recorded history. This site was excavated by M.Seshadri and his colleagues and that opened a new chapter as far as Buddhist relics in Karnataka are concerned. This was inhabited by the Shathavahanas from the first century A.D. to the third century A.D.  The ruins of Buddhist stupas and other material of archaeological significance were scattered around this place. Bricks, tiles, earthen vessels with colored spots, clay and crystal utensils, beads, shell bangles, earthen idols and toys, hollow idols made of clay are some of the interesting discoveries made at this place. Many relics of this period are used in the construction of Chandralamba temple dedicated to Goddess Durga. Later inhabitants have been using these relics for sundry purposes right up to modern times.

            The stupa is now razed to the ground and only the circular foundation has remained in tact. Some plaques that must have formed the covering for the egg shaped outer dome of the stupa are found in the vicinity. They contain carvings of a he-buffalo and a few winged horses in its pursuit. These figures are highly realistic and are vibrant with life energy. The stupa apparently bears resemblances to those found at Amaravathy and Nagarjuna Konda. Human carvings of the devotees who commissioned the stupa are found inside the stupa. A rectangular column found in a near by field displays a joyous couple and their servants. Many stone plaques lying around depict important incidents from the life the Buddha. One of them shows the birth of the Buddha. Another bears images of the feet of the Buddha, Bodhi tree and a throne. Most of these are made of white-green lime stone which are not very pliable.  

            About fifty inscriptions are found in the vicinity of the stupa belonging to the same period. Most of them are in Prakrit language and Brahmi script. Two inscriptions pertaining to the regime of Badami Chalukyas are also found here. They mention many names including that of ‘vAsiTIputasirisa’ and it refers to the Satavahana king VasishtIputra Sri Satakarni.

            After the fading away of Buddhism, during the Rashtrakuta regime a small temple dedicated to Goddess Durga was built here. This was later extended and it is now called Chandralamba temple. This is a good example of Rashtrakuta sculpture. The icons of Durga, Ganapathi and Mahishasuramardini are worthy of notice.

            Further excavations in this place are expected to add to our knowledge of Buddhist phase in the history of Karnataka.

 

References:

1.      Excavations at Sannathi (1986-89), James Howell(1955), Archaeological Survey of India

2.      Prehistoric Environment and Archaeology of the Krishna-Tungabhadra Doab,

      By J.Varaprasada Rao, 2002, Bharateeya Kala Prakashan

3.      Buddhist Monuments at Sannathi’ by M.Seshadri, Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, 56(1966), 35-37.

4.      The Archaeology Seafaring in ancient South   Himamshuprabha Ray, Published by Cambridge University Press, 2003

 

 

 

 

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