Alupa dynasty(ಆಳುಪ ರಾಜವಂಶ) (ALupa) was one of the most ancient kingdoms of Karnataka, holding sway over many parts of the coastal region in the state. The dynasty stretches far behind the period suggested by available details about the monarchs. It is quite possible that Alupas migrated to the coastal region of Mangalore as early as 300 B.C. and took control of the coastal land stretching from Southern Kasaragod till modern Udupi with Mangalore as the epicenter.Their rule extended unabatedly for almost 15 centuries starting from the beginning of the Christian era right up to the end of fifteenth century. They held sway over Tuluva Nadu, (South Canara) Haiva Nadu, (North Canara) Konkan and the Western Ghats as also the northern part of Kerala at various points of time. This dynasty and its kings are referred to in the writings of Ptolemy, the Greek geographer, (Olaikhaura) Halmidi Inscription of the fifth century, Guddnapura inscription of Kadamba Ravivarma and the Chalukya inscriptions of Mangaleesha and Pulikeshi-2 found respectively at Mahakuta and Aihole. (610-642 A.D.) It was possibly known as Alvakeda 6000 and Udayavara (Udyavara) was its capital. Their royal emblem was the double crested fish.

This dynasty is divided in to two broad divisions namely ancient Alupas (up to the middle of tenth century and medieval Alupas. (Up to the end of fifteenth century) Aluvarasa is the first Alupa king about whom inscriptional evidences are available. (650-663 A.D.) The important monarchs who succeeded him are Chitravahana-1, Aluvarasa 2, Chitravahana-2, Ranasagara, Pruthveesagara, (Aluvarasa-3) Maramma, (Aluvarasa-4) Vimaladitya and Dattalupa. The rule of Aluvarasa-1 and Chitravahana-1 was the golden period of Aluva dynasty and they controlled Mangalapura, (Mangalore) Pombucha,(Humacha) and Kadamaba Mandala and they were responsible for stalling the Pandyas of Madurai at Mangalapura.(Mangalore) However historical evidences about all these happenings are scant.

The period of medieval Alupas is better documented and it extends from Kundavarma (950 ľ 980 A.D.) up to Kulashekhara-3 and Veerapandya-2 (1390-1400 A.D.) Their rule was essentially confined to Tulu Nadu and Mangalapura and Barahakanyapura (Barakur) were their capitals. Bhujabala Alupendra, (Kavi Alupendra) Kulashekhara-1, (Jakaladeviĺs husband) Balla Mahadevi, Veera Pandya and Kulashekhara-2 were the more prominent ones among these kings. They could retain their power even though they were in constant strife with Cholas and Hoysalas. They were subservient to the Vijayanagara dynasty and later they lost their identity to the all powerful empire.

Mogaveeras, Billavas, Nadavas, Jains, Brahmins and Konkanis were the major communities that were present during the rule of Alupas.

Inscriptions, Art and Architecture: Naturally the Alupa dynasty laid the foundations for the cultural variety of coastal Karnataka.

The inscriptions found during this period are short ones written in Old Kannada or Sanskrit language using old Kannada script. Usually they are not dated and a comparative study reveals that the script was relatively stable. Their shortness prevents them from providing any assistance in re-constructing the political and social history of Tulu Nadu.

BeLmaNNu copper inscription that belongs to the former half of the eight century happens to be the earliest copper inscription found in Karnataka. This full-length Kannada copper plate in Old Kannada script (early eighth century CE) belongs to the Alupa King Aluvarasa II from Belmannu, Karkala Taluk, Udupi District and displays the double crested fish, the royal emblem of Alupa kings.The inscription found at Vaddarse village in Udupi talluk is the first full length stone inscription of Alupa dynasty. (7th century) Out of approximately 200 inscriptions inscribed during this period some are yet to be deciphered. Some usages are taken from the contemporary dialects and a detailed study may reveal useful information about the early stages of Kannada language.

Alupas have issued gold coins and circular copper coins minted at Udupi and Mangalore. They have the royal emblem of double fish on one side and the wordings ôSri Pandya Dhananjayaĺ on the obverse side. The script on the coins was either old Kannada or Devanagari.

The architectural styles of the temples in these regions are usually derived from the Badami Chalukya and Kalyani Chalukya styles. However as a consequence of long and sustained contact one can find traces of Pallava and Chola architecture. Consequently there is not much that could be ascribed to a separate Alupa style. The important temples that were built during different stages are as follows.

1.      Markandeshvara Temple , Barakur, 8th Century

2.      Mahalingeshvara Temple , Brahmavara, 9th Century

3.      Seneshvara Temple , Baindur

4.      Sri Rajarajeshvari Temple , Polali (poLali)

5.      Sri Manjunatheshvara Temple , Kadri

6.      Mahishamardini Temple , Neelavara (Durga Bhagavathi)

7.      Sri Panchalingeashvara Temple , Vittla

8.      Anantheshvara Temple , Udupi

The temple architecture and the idols have definite associations with a combination of styles and they are made of black granite, slate stone and light red stones.

Thus Alupas constitute one of the most ancient dynasties of Karnataka and they played a major role in the political evolution of coastal Karnataka.



1. Inscriptions of the Alupas

2. Coins of the Alupas

3. Copper plate of Aluvarasa-II

4. Alupas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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