Chandravalli, now a picturesque tourist destination at a distance of approximately four kilometers from Chitradurga town in central Karnataka, is one of the famous excavation sites of India . This has passed through many epochs of human history and the material found here during a series of excavations undertaken by various archaeologists have lead to many discoveries.

Chandravalli was earlier known as Chandanavati also. Mythology has it that this place was once ruled by Chandrhasa a Kuntala king. The name Chandravalli is attributed to this reason by some scholars. Another etymology contends that the place was moon shaped.

The excavation work in Chandravalli was started around 1909 by veterans such as R.Narasimhachar, B.L.Rice and R. Shamashastry . It acquired a wider base after the significant contribution of M.H.Krishna in 1929-30 and Mortimer Wheeler who was the director general of the archaeological survey of India rounded off the work in 1947.

The site of excavation measures approximately 700m x 750m and it is essentially a housing complex containing brick walls, drains that are covered, floors paved with red gravel and fire places. It was also a mortuary at a different time frame. The fruits of these excavations are derived from three different layers representing different periods and royal dynasties. These findings and some inscriptions found in the surrounding areas revealed that Chandravalli was inhabited right from the megalithic age and neolithic age and proceeded to harbour kings belonging to Kadamba, Shatahavahana and Hoysala dynasties in that order. Some of these relics have helped in taking the ancestry of Chandravalli to at least two thousand years.

Coins are among the more important findings at Chandravalli. Lead coins minted by the Kings of the Chutu dynasty and the Shathavahana kings who ruled during the third century A.D. are noteworthy. A ‘Maharathi’ coin measuring 3/4ths of an inch thick demands attention. Coins inscribed with names such as Mudananda and Chutukulananda also belong to the Chutu dynasty. Coins made of silver, gold and copper used by neolithic people metal is found plentifully. Some coins found here have the Buddhist symbols of bodhi tree, stupa and Chaitya temples etched on them indicating the fact that Chandravalli could have been under the Buddhist reign during those times. The Roman and Chinese coins point a finger at our oceanic relations. (Augustus Caeser and Emperor Wu Ti of Han dynasty respectively) Coins minted by Veera Ballala a Hoysala king were found at the very first layer. Coins circulated by Krishnadevaraja Odeyar-3 and Krishnsdeva Raya of Vijayanagar have also made an appearance here. Mortimer Wheeler found some fifty five coins at this site.

Many articles of daily use such as an axe, mortar and a kiln and decorative material both of the earthen and metallic variety were found at Chandravalli. Many statuettes of Ganesha, elephant, cow, cock and naked women bear testimony to the ancient origin of this place.

These items included megalithic pottery, painted vessels and bowls. They are painted in russeet colour. The drawings make use of various geometrical patterns and vessels themselves come in various shapes.

The finding of a cist containing a skeleton and pots containing bones and teeth of animals augment the theory that this place could have been a mortuary at some point of time.

A rock found near by contains an inscription erected by Mayurasharma of the Kadamba dynasty testifying that a lake was built by him after a sting of victories. This inscription in Brahmi script was erected in 350 A.D.

The Ankle caves near Chandravalli date back to pre Christian era. They contain passages, hideouts and prison cells. There are stone carvings and paintings showing Buddhist as well as Hindu influences. There is a provision to harvest rain water and corridors that ensure proper lighting.

Chandravalli is undoubtedly monumental, providing irrefutable evidence about the history of Karnataka.

References: 1. Brahmagiri and Chandravalli: Wheeler, Mortimer 1947, And Ancient India- 4 Pub. Archaeological Survey of India

2. Aiyangar, S. Krishnaswami [1995] (1995), Some Contributions of South India to Indian Culture. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 8120609999.

3.    Ghosh, Amalananda [1990] (1990). An Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology. BRILL. ISBN 9004092625.

4.    Peter Neal Peregrine, Melvin Ember, Human Relations Area Files Inc. [2001] (2001). Encyclopedia of Prehistory. Springer. ISBN 0306462621.


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