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 it’s 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’. (ಪೊನಲ್ ಎನ್ನಾಳುಂ ಪೊಯ್ಯಾದು ಅಳಿಕ್ಕುಂ ಪುನ್ನಾಡು)

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 Karnataka.

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 Sangha’.

Thus ‘Punnata Dynasty’ has some historical antecedents that deserve further probing.


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