Chutu (cuTu) (ಚುಟು) is a minor dynasty that ruled in parts of Karnataka during 200-300 A.D. under the aegis of Saatavaahana dynasty.(Some scholars have opined that they were independent kings because the word ‘rAjnO’ was the prefix to their names found on the coins minted by them) Chutus and Saatavaahanas were related to one another. They ruled over the region then known as ‘kuntala rAjya’ with ‘Banavasi’ as their capital city. Almost all the details that are known about this dyanasty are reconstructed on the basis of a few inscriptions and lead coins that give us scanty information. The first of these inscriptions was found in Banavasi. It is written in Prakrit language and Brahmi script. This mentions a queen Shivaskanda Naagashree, daughter of ViNhukaDa cuTukulAnanda (cuTukadananda?) sAtakarNi. This was installed in the twelfth year of cuTukulAnanda’s rule. Another inscription talks about the bestowal of the village lATavi to Brahmins. Building of a pond (taTAka), a vihaara and a ‘naagashilpa’ are the topics dealt with in this inscription. The naagashilpa is to be seen even now at the site of Madhukeshvara temple. This was found in a village called ‘maLavaLLi’ in Shikaaripura talluk of Shivamogga district. A saatakarNi is mentioned in this inscription also. Most scholars opine that a few lead coins bearing the names of cuTukulAnanda and muDAnanda were minted by these kings. Based on this material it is surmised that cuTukulAnanda saatakarNi-1, Shivaskanda naagashree and cuTukulAnanda saatakarNi-2 are among the kings who ruled during the regime of this dynasty. (The excavations made by Raghunathabhat on the banks of Varada river near Banavasi have unearthed a coin which mentions ‘sivalAnanda’ adding one more name to the list of kings. They belonged to aananda vamsha and maanavya gOtra. The coins are called ‘Ananda Coins’ because of this reason. It is obvious this small kingdom was taken over by more powerful Kadamba dynasty.

Coins minted by this dynasty are found in many places of Karnataka. Mervyn Smith in Chitradurga (1888) and General Pearse in Karwar are among first to discover these coins. Excavations in Chandravalli (1947) by Mortimer Wheeler and Banavasi at a later date resulted in many more finds. They have a diameter of about one to one and a quarter inch. They weight is between 200-250 grains. Symbols such as a railed tree, arched hill and nandipada and swastika are inscribed on them. Names of the relevant kings are written in Brahmi script. Even the smaller coins found at Chandravalli are attributed to these kings because of many common features. It’s a pity that we know so little about one of our ancient kingdoms.


Further Readings :

1.      ‘Coins of Karnataka’ by A.V. Narasimha Murthy, 1975, Geetha Book House, Mysore .

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