About 52km away from Nabarangpur, a small town in the southern part of Odisha; there is a historical monument called “Podagada” (Ruined Fort). Apart from the sculptures, ruined fort temples & coins, the rock inscriptions in Brahmi at this place, speak about the Nala rulers who rose to prominence during 6th Century AD. In spite of being a rich source of history, Podagada monuments unfortunately haven’t come to limelight in terms of archaeological survey or development as a tourist spot. Well endowed by nature, the tribal dominated belt has potential for tourism sector.
Two inscriptions point us towards the historical linkage of Podagada with the Nala dynasty. The kingdom of the Nala dynasty was established in Trikalinga region comprising parts of the modern districts of Bastar, Koraput and Kalahandi.
The copper plate inscriptions found in Kesaribera (or Kesaribeda) in Nabarangpur has mention about the Nala King Arthapati and was issued from Puskari (modern day Umerkote Tehsil of Nabarangpur district). As per the rock inscriptions at Podagada, the capital of Nala kingdom was at Puskari. It also records that a village called Kesalaka was granted by Arthapati in favour of Brahmins belonging to Kautsa gotra. The locality has been identified as Kesaribeda village near Umerkote. During the reign of Arthapti, the Nala capital Puskari was invaded by the Vakataka king Prithvisena II (son of Narendrasena) and destroyed it. The Nala king was probably killed in the battle. Arthapati’s inscriptions suggest that the king was a devotee of Maheshvara (Shiva) and Mahasena (Kartikeya). it also mentions that he was from the family of Nala.
Arthapati was succeeded by Bhavadattavarman. An inscription of Bhavadattavarman’s successor Skandavarman indicates that Bhavadattavarman lost the control of Pushkari, possibly to the Vakatakas or the Chalukyas. Probably during the rule of Bhavadattavarman, Nala power was extended towards the North. Here the Nalas came into conflict with the Vakatakas. But while Bhavadattavarman was busy annexing the heart of the Vakataka kingdom, the region around Puskari was probably attacked by the Western Chalukyas under the leadership of Kirttivarman I who claimed to have destroyed the Nalas and their residence. The Nalas have sometimes been regarded as traditional enemies in the records of he western Chalukyas. Inscriptions of the time of Chalukya Vikramaditya I refer to the home of the Nalas as Nalavadi-visaya, identified with the modern Ratnagiri in Bellary district of Karnataka. An Aihole inscription credits the Chalukya king Kirtivarman I with the destruction of the Nalas. The fact that Bhavadattavarman’s Rithapur charter was issued from Nandivardhana instead of Puskari, the original headquarters of the Nalas, seems to suggest that they had extended their sway, for at least a short period, to the ancient Vidarbha and Nandivardhana, which was the capital of the Vakatakas. This is corroborated by the record of Vakataka Prithvisena II, who is stated to have restored the glory of this family, apparently by siding the Nalas and even carry arms into the enemy territory. It was probably the Vakatakas or the western Chalukyas under Kirttivarman I who were responsible for the attack on the Nala capital Puskari and its devastation. The Vakataka king Prithivisena II is said to have restored the glory of his family, apparently by defeating the Nalas.
Arthapati’s brother Skandavarman took to the thrones by about 480 AD. The inscriptions at Podagada mentions him as a son of Bhavadattavarman. The inscription states that Skandavarman retrieved the lost glory of the Nala family, and re-populated the deserted city of Pushkari. It also records the construction of a Vishnu shrine by the king.
About 60 gold coins were discovered between 1939 and 1957 which speak volumes about the rulers of the Nala dynasty. 32 gold coins discovered in 1939 belong to the kings Varaharaja, Arthapati and Bhavadattavarman. These coins had figures of the Nala legends on them. In May 1957, 28 gold coins were discovered from the forest of Kodinga tehsil of Nabarangpur district. As per history, the place was under Nalas and subsequently it went to the Nagas. No archaeological survey has been done in this district till date and antiquities so far available are very low. The sun and moon statues found here talk about the art, culture and civilisation of the Nala dynasty.
Podagada has immense potential of tourism with places like the ruined queen palace, foot print of goddess Laxmi, Sati stone, Bhairab temple, Madagam Dongri, Bhai Bhauni, Nandagada, Gumphs, Punji, Belghari, Tangapani etc which are of historic importance but are lying unprotected.
Apart from Podagada, Nabarangpur district also has other tourism attractions like:
- ancient Shiva shrine, Shahid Smrutisthambha at Papadahandi
- Chandan dhara & Gosain Dor water falls in Jharigam block
- Shrine of Ghumreswara Shiva lingam situated in Tentulikhunti block
- Chatahandi Shiva shrine and caves situated in the Nabarangpur block
- Shrine of Kelia Shiva lingam and goddess Parvati nestled in lush green hills in Dabugam block
- Maa Bhandaragharani, the presiding deity of Nagarangpur
- Maa Pendrani, the presiding deity of Umerkote
- Khatiguda dam on river Indravati & water reservoir
* Could not find a picture of the historical site on web. Requesting everyone who has a photograph to pass on. Will put it in the blog with due credit.
- Inscriptions of Odisha, Vol 1 by Snigdha Tripathy