The story of Neela Madhaba

The story of Neela Madhaba

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After the battle of Mahabharata came to end, Gandhari was mourning over her eldest son Duryodhan. She was furious with Lord Krishna as he didn’t agree to her requests to avert the war and the subsequent catastrophe. In the feat of rage, she cursed Krishna that he will die after 36 years along with this kins who would die fighting with each other. Krishna, with a smile said “so be it”.

36 year passed and one day Sambha who was one of the sons of Krishna was playing prank of being a pregnant woman with a group of sages visiting Dwarka. One of the sage Kanva cursed him that Sambha will give birth to whatever he was hiding and the very thing will take the clan to extinction. Sambha was hiding a mace to look like a pregnant woman, so due to the sage’s curse he gave birth to a mace. The elders in the family asked their people to destroy the mace and dispose off. The Yadavas ground the mace to powder, but a small triangular shape which was very hard remained. They threw the powder and the metallic triangle into the sea. Eventually the triangular shaped metal was swallowed by a fish which was caught by a hunter who made a poisonous arrow out of it.  

After his elder brother Balaram left for the heavenly abode, Krishna completely overwhelmed due to grief retreated to the bushes. The hunter who took the left foot of Krishna to be the ear of a deer, shot the poisonous arrow he made out of the triangular piece of metal he got out of the belly of the fish. This hunter was said to the reincarnation of Bali of Ramayana, killed by Rama who was another incarnation of Lord Vishnu. After the demise of the lord, his spirit (Bramha) took the shape of a small stone. 

The stone was later traced by a tribal king called Biswabasu who could realise its divine nature. So he established the stone inside a cave and started worshipping it as Neela MadhabaNeela is Blue and Madhaba is another name of Lord Krishna. 

There was a king named Indradyumna from the Lunar dynasty who heard about Neela Madhaba from a pilgrim who informed the Lord was being worshipped in Neelachal (Blue Mountain) in Udra pradesh (present day Odisha), near the river Mahanadi. The king then sent his people to locate the lord. One of his people, a bramhin called Bidyapati met the tribal king Biswabasu who offered him to be his guest. Bidyapati fell in love with the beautiful daughter of the king named Lalita. Eventually they got married and started living in the forest for some time. Bidyapati noticed the tribal king going out every day before break of the dawn and asked his wife about the secret. She says her father goes to worship Lord Neela Madhaba who is inside a cave up in the mountain. Bidyapati requests Lalita to convince her father to take him to the lord which Biswabasu doesn’t agree. Bidyapti denounces food till the time he could have a glimpse of Neela Madhaba. Finally the tribal king gives in and agrees to take Bidyapati to the cave, however under the condition that he will be blindfolded throughout the route. Lalita, the clever wife of Bidyapati put some mustard seeds in her husband’s pocket which dropped throughout the way to the cave. Later they helped Bidyapati to find the way to the cave. 

Bidyapati eventually returns to king Indrudyumna and briefs him in details about Neela Madhaba. The king upon hearing the story leaves for Udra pradesh to worship the deity along with his priests and Bidyapati. However upon reaching the spot, the king realised the lord had disappeared and the area was covered with golden sand of the coast. The disappointed king and started his fast on to death. He was advised to conduct Ashwamedha and build a temple for the lord. The king agreed to the advise and was told in his dreams that a log with divine signs will be found ashore which needs to be made into four idols Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan Chakra. Then these idols need to be place inside the temple built by the king. 

The king as per the divine instruction took the log to make the idols. A very old and frill looking sculptor offered to make the idols, but under the condition that nobody would disturb him till he is done with his job inside a sealed chamber. The king conceded with the sculptor and allowed him to work on making of the idol inside a closed chamber. After few days the queen while passing through the chamber couldn’t hear any sound from inside. She became anxious and informed the king. She requested the king to open the chamber and see if the old man was alive. Indradyumna was reluctant but upon insistence of the queen, finally opened the doors to find the lord of architecture Bishwakarma making the idols. But as the king broke his promise, Bishwakarma left immediately leaving the half-built idols behind. The king took it as the god’s will and installed the idols in the Jagannath temple of Purionce in every twelve to nineteen years, the bramha is placed inside the new idols and the old ones are buried in the temple premises. The ceremony is called Nava Kalebara which in Sanskrit means “new body”.

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Chhera Pahnara: Legend behind the ritual

The Ratha Jatra (Car Festival as the English media calls it) is going on. Many of us who watched the live telecast or seen it in person, would have noticed the various rituals performed before the main event. One of them is Chhera Pahnara (“ଛେରା ପହଁରା” in Odia) which is an interesting ritual involving the King (descendants of the royal family of Odisha) sweeping the floors of the chariots with a broom with a golden handle and sprinkling sandalwood water. There is a beautiful story behind this ritual which goes as follows.

King Purushottam Dev of Odisha (erstwhile Utkala) during a visit to South India, fell in love with the beautiful princess of Kanchi, called Padmavati. King of Kanchi was happy to give the consent for the marriage. However one of the ministers from Kanchi who paid a visit to Puri during Ratha Jatra time, saw King Purushottam Dev sweeping the floors of the chariot and informed this to his master. Hearing this the king of Kanchi declined for the marriage and organised a Swayamvar. He didn’t want to give his daughter’s hands in the hands of a sweeper, so King Purushottam Dev was not invited. This annoyed  the King of Odisha and he launched attack on Kanchi.

In the battle, Purushottam Dev lost badly and retreated back to Odisha. He then went to the Jagannatha temple in Puri and expressed his grievances of having a humiliating defeat in spite of being an ardent worshipper of the lords.  The Lord himself asked him to raise the war again and assured him victory. The king conceded to the divine voice and planned for the war again.

One day before the king left with his troops, Lord Jagannatha and Balabhadra in the guise of two horse-borne soldiers set out for Kanchi. On the way the younger sibling was thirsty, so they stopped an old women selling milk and drank some butter milk from her. In return they gave a ring to the lady called Manika and asked her to hand it over the same to the king who would pass by the route and get her dues in exchange. The lady agreed. Next day while Purushottam Dev was passing by, Manika showed the ring to him and asked for her dues. The king recognised the ring which belonged to Lord Jagannatha. He was overwhelmed with the kindness of the lord, gifted a village to the old lady and declared it to be named after her as Manikapatana.

After a fierce battle, Kanchi was defeated. Both the king and the princess Padmavati were held captive and brought to Puri. As a vengeance, the Odia king decided to get Padmavati married to a sweeper in presence of her father and asked his minister to find one.

In the meantime Ratha Jatra came and as per tradition, the king was sweeping the  floor of the chariots with a broom. The clever minister immediately offered the king to marry Padmavati as there could be no better sweeper than the king himself. The king was impressed and married the princess of Kanchi right in front of the deities.

Bijubabu: An able son of Odisha

Bijubabu: An able son of Odisha

Biju Pattnaik is a popular name at home as well as internationally. More than a politician he is remembered for his daredevil acts as a professional pilot. Fondly called “Bijubabu’, he is considered a stalwart and pride of Odisha.

Born in 1916 in Odisha, Bijubabu was fascinated by airplanes from school days. So he discontinued his graduation studies in Ravenshaw and joined for training as a pilot in the aeronautic Training institute of India of Delhi flying club. Maharaja Krushna Chandra Dev of Paralakhemundi provided him financial assistance for his study.

Career as a professional Pilot

After completion of his training, he joined Royal Indian National Airways to become an ace pilot. As the second World War started, Bijubabu joined the Royal Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot. Due to his excellent performance during the World War, he served as the head of the ‘Air Transport Command’ during the years of 1940-42. During his tenure as a pilot, Bijubabu began an interest in national politics and decided to join Quit India movement. He played paramount role in delivering subversive literature to Indian troops and became a leader of underground Congress Movement with Jaya Prakash Narain and Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia. Bijubabu underwent imprisonment during 1942-45.

Bijubabu met with Jawaharlal Nehru during his participation in Indian freedom struggle and became one of his trusted friends. While India was fighting for her freedom from the British, the Indonesians were also fighting for freedom from the Dutch. Indonesia was a potential ally for Nehru. When the Dutch attempted to quell Indonesian independence on 21 July 1947, President Sukarno ordered his then Prime Minister Sjahrir to leave country. Sjahrir was asked to attend the first Inter-Asia conference organized by Nehru in order to garner public opinion against the Dutch. However Sjahrir was unable to leave the country as the Dutch controlled the Indonesian sea and air routes. At the behest of Jawaharlal Nerhu, Bijubabu startled the world by braving a perilous air voyage to Indonesia in his Vantage Dacota airplane to rescue Sjaharir and flew him back to Delhi. For this unique adventure and commitment to Indonesia’s independence (from the Dutch Occupation), Bijubabu was given honorary citizenship in Indonesia and awarded the ‘Bhoomi Putra’, the highest Indonesian award, rarely granted to a foreigner. In 1996, when Indonesia was celebrating its 50th Independence Day, Bijubabu was awarded the highest national award, the ‘Bintang Jasa Utama’.

Hardly six weeks after India got its Independence from the British, there was a situation. Maharaja of Kashmir had already signed the instrument of Accession with India. But by that time Pakistan had forcibly occupied a major chunk of Kashmir and was advancing towards Srinagar. Even one hours delay would have lost India heavily. Bijubabu was summoned by the Prime Minister Nehru to thwart Pakistan’s sinister design of occupying Kashmir. At this critical juncture, braving all possible hazards Bijubau ferried the first platoon of troop and landed in Srinagar Air Port on 27.10.1947 at 10 a.m. Pakistan was forced to recede.

Political Career

The political career of Buijubabu started in the year 1946 when he was elected uncontested to the Odisha Legislative Assembly from North Cuttack Constituency. In 1952 and 1957 he won from Bhanjanager and Jagannath Prasad and Sorada respectively. On 13th February 1961 Biju Babu assumed the Presidentship of the State Congress. The Congres party won 82 out of 140 seats, securing 45% of the total votes polled and he won from Choudwar constituency. The poll verdict was astounding and Biju Babu took over as the Chief Minister of Odisha on 23rd June, 1961. On 7th May 1971 he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Bijubabu was elected to Odisha Legislative Assembly in 1971 in a by-election from Rajanagar again and became the leader of the opposition. In 1977 he won from the Kendrapara Lok Sabha Constituency and became the Union Minister for Steel and Mines from 1977 to 1979 and Union Minister for Steel and Mines and Coal from July 1979 to January 1980. He was the member of the Lok Sabha from 1980-85. In 1985 he resigned his Lok Sabha seat to contest from Bhubaneswar Assembly Constituency and became the Leader of the Opposition in Odisha Legislative Assembly.

Achievements as Chief Minister

In 1990 Assembly polls he steered his Party Janata Dal into victory and became the Chief Minister of Odisha for the second time. His party could secure 123 seats out of 147 and reduced the main opposition party strength to 10 as against the required number of 15. Bijubabu contested the 11th Lok Sabha Election (1996) from Aska and Cuttack Constituencies and won both the seats. Later he resigned from Cuttack Parliamentary Seat. Bijubabu’s first spell of Chief Ministership lasted for only 15 months but during this short period he made a remarkable achievement in the history of Odisha by giving his people a powerful and efficient administration. The following were some of him outstanding contributions:

  • Choudwar and Barbil Industrial Belt
  • Cuttack-Jagatpur Mahanadi High way Bridge
  • Bhubaneswar Airport
  • Regional College of Education at Bhubaneswar
  • The Odisha Aviation Centre
  • Paradeep Port
  • MIG factory at Sunabeda
  • Thermal Power Plant at Talcher
  • Hydroelectric Project at Balimela
  • Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology
  • Engineering and Medical College at Burla
  • Odisha State Planning Board
  • Reorganisation of districts
  • Ferro Silcon complex at Theruvali
  • Engineering College at Rourkela
  • Express Highway linking Daitari with Paradeep
  • Sainik School at Bhubaneswar
  • Regional Research Laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Three-tier Panchayati Raj system

Besides he was preoccupied with Odisha’s heroic tradition and heritage. He floated the Kalinga card the enthuse the youth. In 1951, the UNESCO instituted the Kalinga Prize for popularisation of science with a generous grant from Biju Patnaik and eventually he became the Founder President of the Kalinga Foundation Trust. He even wanted the Utkal University to be named as the University of Kalinga. In his Kalinga Industrial empire he had set up the Odisha Textile Mills, the Kalinga Tubes, Kalinga Tiles, Kalinga Iron Works, Kalinga Airlines, Kalinga Refractories etc. with a view to highlighting the State potential.

During the second phase of his Chief Ministership between 1990 and 1995, his concentration was centered on the upliftment of women, tribal development, participation of NRI’s in furthering the state economy. He increased the number of districts from 13 to 30. He also fixed the minimum labour charges at Rs.25/-. He took a revolutionary step to reserve 33 percent of seats for women in the three-tier of the Panchayati Raj system. A second Steel Plant in the State remained one of his unfulfilled dreams. As a mark of his profound love for Panchayati Raj institution, the people of Odisha observe his Birth Day (March 5) as Panchayati Raj Dibasa.

The Legendary man of Odisha passed away due to Cardio-respiratory failure in New Delhi on April 17, 1997. With his departure, an era has ended in Odisha Politics.

Asurgarh: History Untold

Since the Chalcolithic period, forts were being strategically constructed for protection of life and properties of the inhabitants. There is mention about fortification in the ancient texts like Arthshastra and Manasara . Many sites like Harappa & Mahenjodaro also had implemented fortification. As per Rig veda, “Durga” means a fort or a strong hold. There are innumerable references about forts and techniques of fortification in early Indian texts. Few of them also mention the forts as “Garh” which refer to human settlements having fortified townships.

Asurgarh is one such fortified townships believed to be an early urban center of ancient Odisha, during 4th century BC to 5th century AD. Literally meaning “Fort of Demons”, Asurgarh has resemblances to that of Sisupalgarh which is in modern-day Bhubaneswar. Forts being names Asurgarh are found in different parts of Western Odisha like Barpali, Rampur, Manamunda and Adgaon. Excavation was conducted only at Asurgarh near Manamunda in Sonepur district and near Narla in Kalahandi disctrict. 

Asurgarh of Kalahandi

The Asurgarh fort is located at about 20 K.Ms from Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters of Kalahandi. The nearest railway station is Rupra road on the Sambalpur-Vizag raliway route. Limited excavation was undertaken by Department of History, Sambalpur University and Department of Culture, Govt of Odisha in 1973. The excavation of the fort throws significant light on the history and culture of South Kosala and Mahakantara region.

Asurgarh fort was constructed as per the Kautilyan principle of Durgavidhana and ancient Indian geometrical formula. The fort is rectangular in shape and surrounded by massive defensive walls of about four meters in width and 15 to 50 meters in height. The walls are made of rubbles and mud with bricks. After the wall, a wide and deep mote girdles the fort on North, South and East sides. On the west side, river Sandol flows to close to the western rampart towards north to meet the river Utei (a tributary of Tel river) and thereby providing a natural boundary. On each side of the fort, there is an entrance. There is a shrine present near each gate: Goddess Ganga in east, Budharaja in North, Vaishnavi in South and Kalapata in West. The shrine of Goddess Dokari is present inside the fort. There is elevated ground in the central part of the fort as this is present in the ancient times at the time of palace foundation. Wide and deep mote girdles the fort on North, South and East side. On the Western side, River Sandul flows to the north to meet the river Utei which is a tributary of the river Tel and there by providing a natural boundary.

Close to the eastern ditch, there is a huge reservoir measuring 200 acres of land which is popularly known as Asursagar. It was so arranged that when the enemies surrounded the fort, a secret sluice might be opened so that the whole inside and outside of the fort would be flooded with water and consequently the hostile army washed away by the water currents. The fort would remain as an island if such a flood were created, because the fort was situated on a high level. It is presumed that the palace was constructed at the center of the fort. During 2nd half of the 19th century, Raja Udit Pratap Dev renovated the lake for agricultural purpose. The lake at present is known as Udit Sagar according to the name of Raja Udit Pratap Dev. There is a small tank on the southwest corner of the fort known as Radhasagar. The Habitation zone of the inhabitants is documented towards the south and north of the fort immediately after the fortified wall which is further superimposed by another mud wall within 100 hectares radius at each settlement zone. The mud wall has a single gate in the middle.

Historical Significance

From the 1st to 3rd century AD, Ancient Atavika land (comprised roughly the present districts of Koraput and Kalahandi in Orissa and Bastar of Madhya Pradesh) had commercial and socio-cultural relationship with the Chedi of Kalinga and Kushan Empire of the northwest. In the Amaravati stupa inscription the land is designated as Mahavana. The Asokan edicts also has mention about the Atavika people who were considered to be part of the Kalingan army which fought the battle of Kalinga in 261 BC. It was an important recruiting ground for the veteran army of Kalinga even as early as the time of the Mahabharata war. Asurgarh seems to be an important center of the Atavika territory. It was one of the ancient metropolis between 500 BC and 500 AD, contemporary to Sisupalgarh. Asurgarh – Narla served as the political – cultural and commercial hub of the Titilaka Janapada & Atavikas. The discovery of antiquities like Punch-marked coins, a piece of Chunar sandstone, Red, Black Slipped ware, Beads, etc., date back to Mauryan period. 539 silver coins belonging to the king of Kalahandi, were discovered from the site out of which 69 were from pre-Mauryan period, 272 were from Mauryan period and 198 were from the post-Mauryan rule to the Guptas. Such large group of Punch marked coins indicate that perhaps there was a Mint industry in Asurgarh. These finds indicate that Kalahandi region was civilized and prosperous in the days of Ashoka and the Atavika, who were regarded as forest dwellers, were not uncultured and had developed a high standard of civilization. There is similarity of some of the punched mark coins with those of Bijnor and Palia near Kausambi. Also there is similarity of texture and fabric of some pottery types with those found at Ahichhatra. This indicates that there was trade interaction of Asurgarh with prosperous towns like Kausambi and Ahichhatra in northern India during the days of the Maurya. The findings of red glazed Kushana pottery along with highly polished black wares, also indicate that there was cultural and commercial interaction between Kalahandi region and the Kushana Empire during the 1st- 2nd century A.D. Beads from Asurgarh must have played an important role in the trade network, because this region happens to be a rich gemstone deposit belt and it lies on a major trade route of ancient times connecting the eastern Indian site of Tosali with Kosala. Perhaps there was a bead manufacturing industry at Asurgarh. The most common materials are Carnelian, agate, crystal, glass, jasper, sapphire, quartz, ruby, garnet, stone and terrocota. Findings from the pre-historic Stone Age and Copper-Bronze Age have been found from Asurgarh. 

In 4th century A.D., the fort of Asurgarh appeared to have belonged to king Vyaghraraja of Mahakantara, to whom Samudragupta claimed to have defeated in course of his Southern campaign. The next important king known to have held sway over Asurgarh was Maharaja Tustikara, the donor of Terasingha copperplate grant. However the excavation indicates that the fort area was deserted in 5th-6th century A.D. and it is presumed that Tustikara was the last ruler of Asurgarh region. In 7th century A.D., Chinese pilgrim Yuan-chwang travelled through this area but has not mentioned about Mahakantara, so it is presumed that at this area had lost it’s importance by 7th century A.D. The discovery of charcoal, coal, bone and ashes indicate that the residence of the last dweller of this fort were destroyed due to the natural calamities or fire.

Asurgarh region flourished from 3 rd century B.C. to 6 t h century A.D. with such important features like: – fortified settlements, structural features (both religious and secular), a rich ceramic industry, terracotta, bead and mint industries. Thus the fort of Asurgarh bears testimony to the antiquity of an early urban center of ancient orissa.

Water Management System

People of ancient India had realised the importance of water (Jala) and they used the synonym Jivana (life) for it. The rise and fall of many civilisations rested on the proper management of water resources. As per the ancient literatures, those who had effective control over their water resources, did enjoy considerable social, economic and political powers. People used to dig dams, pond and reservoirs to preserve water for multiple purposes. Small and big ponds are invariably noticed in early historic towns and metropolises of Odisha. Two huge tanks have been identified in Western Odisha, one at Maraguda urban complex in Nuapara district and the other at Asurgarh urban center in Kalahandi district. Asursagar also known as Udit Sagar, covers an area of more than 200 acres of land. Its alignment is from east to west exactly corroborating the cardinal directions of tank as outlined by Varahamihira (6th century A.D.). The water of this tank had multiple utilization. In case of external aggession, the water could be channeled to fill up the encircling moat. Also in case of scanty rainfalls, the water preserved water could be utilized for agricultural purpose during scanty rainfall.

In close proximity to the Southern rampart and ditch of Asurgarh, a small pond was excavated, which is now a shallow land, yet the site still retains its original name known as Radhasagar. The excavation in this site revealed nude terracotta figurines (female fertility deities) and square plinth of the brick structure (identified as shrine). Besides domestic utility, small tanks had their religious bearing in ancient India. It was also known as Puskara (lotus pond) in Sanskrit. In the beginning such ponds were dug independently. Later on, however, temple structure was added or vice versa adjacent to the pond. Small pond was also needed for the consumption of the king and priest. Ancient Indian texts also speak about pond associated with the fertility rite. In Orissan context, finding of nude terracotta figures and temple structure in Asurgarh lend us to belief that ponds were imperative for fertility rites.

Asurgarh: Political-Commercial Site

Asurgarh was an important political and commercial center situated on the high road joining South Kosala and Mahakantra with Kalinga. According to late scholar Paramananda Acharya, it was situated on a short route through which salt and other commodities were transported from Mahamagiri to Dakshina Kosala. The discovery of terracotta ornaments, glass bangles, gems stones suggest the habitation of royal and aristocratic people during 4th and 5th century A.D.. The discovery of Terasingha copper plate of Maharaja Tustikara near the site is datable to 5th century A.D. The place of issue of the charter, Parvatadvaraka, which literally means “the gateway of the hill” represented the site under consideration. It served as a royal residence with proper fortification; free from external danger from the western side of Mahakantara region. The iron artifacts portray urban trend culture based on agricultural patterns.

Important Shakta center of ancient Odisha

There is legend about Asurgarh that there were 64 deities. The villagers worshiped a deity named Dokry as the guardian deity, which was inside the fort. Among the 64 deities, Goddess Ganga was in the East, Kalapata in the west, Vaishnavi in the North and Budharaja in the south. The third excavated site, which has been pointed out as a mound in a topographical map, is perhaps there was a temple. The important discovery is a spherical shaped sculpture made of brick. Late Dr. N. K. Sahu has identified a circled brick wall as a ruin of a Yogini temple; which may be compared with Yogini temple of Ranipur Jharial. Among the terracotta objects, includes animal figurines, goddess, a silver ambulate seal, silver ring and a large quantities of bones and skeletons. It may be possible that human sacrifice was prevailed during this period.

The discovery of Terasingha copper plate grant of Maharaja Tustikara (5th century A.D.) near Asurgarh indicates that Tustikara was perhaps the last ruler of Asurgarh region who was a great devotee of goddess Stambhesvari, who was responsible for the spread of Stambhesvari cult.

Tourist Information

By Air: Raipur (260km) in Chhatisgarh is the nearest airport. Other airports are Bhubaneswar (420km) and Vishakhapatnam (350km) respectively. Buses and private vehicles are available to reach Asurgarh.

By Train: Kesinga railway station connects Kalahandi with major cities of India. Buses and private vehicles are available to reach Asurgarh.

By Road: Bhawanipatna is the nearest major bus station which is connected by road with the railway station as well as the nearest airports. 

Acknowledgements:

  1. OHRJ, Vol. XLVII, No. 3 ASURGARH – AN EARLY URBAN CENTRE OF ORISSA by Prabhas Kumar Singh

  2. http://www.indiamapped.com/monuments-in-india/asurgarh-fort/
  3. http://www.nationalpubliclibrary.org/articles/eng/Asurgarh#History

 

 

Bali Harachandi: Tourist’s Delight

Bali Harachandi: Tourist’s Delight

Odisha is blessed with a vast coastline and several rivers get into the Bay of Bengal across it. There are many fantastic beaches which are delight for the tourists. After the Chandipur beach, my favourite is the Bali Harachandi beach. The main attraction of the latter is the vast secluded stretch of sea beach on one side with lush green cover on the other .

Bali Harachandi is situated at about 25km from the holy city of Puri, which is the nearest railhead. The nearest airport Bhubaneswar is at 60kms far but one can reach the easily by road. Located off the national highway no. 203, the place gets its name from the local deity Harachandi who is a form of Goddess Durga and “Bali” in the local language means Sand. As Goddess Harachandi is worshipped in a temple built on sand, the place is named as Bali Harachandi. Painted in pure white, the temple attracts devotees from nearby places who believe in Goddess Harachandi.

Facing towards the eastern direction, the temple houses the presiding deity is Asta-Bhuja (Eight-Armed) Mahisamardini Durga worshipped as Bali Harachandi. The latter is also regarded as goddess of water and navigation and believed to protect the boatmen and fishermen from potential danger in the sea. The temple is a protected monument of Odisha State Archaeology and under the Endowment Department, Government of Odisha.

Bali Harachandi Temple
The Bali Harachandi Temple
Bali Harachandi Temple
Entrance to Inner Sanctum (Garbha Gruha)

After paying obeisance at Goddess Baliharachandi temple, one can proceed to the confluence of river Bhargavi with the Bay of Bengal. The scenic beauty of this place is ideal for group picnic.

River Bhargavi
Enroute to the sea beach across River Bhargavi

A brief boat-ride enroute to the beach is enjoyable. After that one has to walk a few hundred meters to the beach where stretches of sand and greenery on one side, the mighty blue sea on the other side are truly mesmerizing experience. The sunrise and sunset scene on beach is amazing. Best part of this beach is that it’s secluded, hence one can have quiet sun bath here.

Baliharachandi Beach
Vast patch of the sandy beach
Baliharachandi beach, Odisha
Bali Harachandi beach on Bay of Bengal
Baliharachandi beach, Odisha
Bali Harachandi Beach

 

 

How to reach Bali Harachandi?

  • From Puri , drive on NH-203 towards Bramhagiri & Satapada, take left diversion at Kathuari Chowk and drive further about 5km to reach village Palanka. Bali Harachandi is just 1km from this village.

Kharavela: The Legend

Kharavela: The Legend

Aira Maharaja Mahameghavahana Kharavela (193 BC – 170 BC) was one of the greatest kings of ancient India. The main source of information about this great ruler is his seventeen line rock cut at Hati Gumpha cave in the Udaygiri hills near Bhubaneswar, Odisha. According to the inscriptions, Kharavela belonged to the Chedi clan. He possessed many auspicious signs on his body, was gifted with many qualities and was handsome in appearance. He was the first great historical monarch of ancient Kalinga who belonged to the soil.

Early life

For first fifteen years of his life, Kharavela was groomed through for his future role. The princely education system of ancient India is depicted in the inscriptions of Hati Gumpha. The future kings in their early life were obliged to pass through a system of education and learning, in order to dispense their royal duty effectively. They were required to be proficient in five main subjects:

Lekha (Writing): Mode of state correspondence, necessary for administration.

Rupa (Coinage): Science of currency or money.

Ganana (Arithmetic): Subject of absolute need, specially for administrators.

Vyavahara (Law): Knowledge of judicial system as well as of the established Law of the land.

Vidhi (Procedure): wide subject which included the usages and customs, various established rules relating to Niyama or Samstha or Dharmasastra. 

Similar subjects of education have some other ancient works like Kautilya’s Arthashastra.

Apart from these five subjects, Kharavela also earned knowledge in various other arts.

Crown Prince Kharavela

At the age of 15, Kharavela became the Yuvaraja (Crown Prince), to assume his royal responsibilities. With a sound educational background, he as the Crown Prince acquired practical experience of administration while learning more and more of the above branches of knowledge.

At the age of 24 years, Kharavela was crowned as the king of Kalinga and began his glorious rule. He belonged to the third generation of the Mahameghvahana dynasty (250BC – 400 AD).

Kharavela: The King

Kharavela
Aira Maharaja Mahameghavahana Kharavela

1st year of reign

By the time Kharavela took to the thrones, his capital city Kalinganagari was earlier devastated by a mighty storm.  Thus it became his priority to fortify the city by going for major repairs and reconstructions. He repaired the gates, ramparts and structures of Kalingnagari. The condition of tanks and gardens also were improved for the beautification of the city. The cost of such work as per Hati Gumpha inscriptions was Thirty five hundred thousand and the entire expense was disbursed from the royal treasury, without passing on the taxes to the people. His subjects were pleased by the king’s works of public welfare.

2nd year of reign

Having strengthened the capital city, Kharavela enlarged his army which was already strong and big under the earlier Mahameghavana kings. As per Hati Gumpha inscriptions,  Kharavela launched a military attack on the powerful King Satakarni-I of the Satavahana dynasty of South. The Mahameghavahanas of Kalinga and the Satavahanas of the south were contemporary rivals. The Satavahana king Satakarni-I was ruling over the Krishna Godavari region as well as the Maharashtra region next towards the river Krishna. Kharavela proved the might of the Kalingan forces by an invasion, with a large army consisting of horses, elephants, infantry and chariots. The army struck terror in the city of Asika or Asikanagara which was probably situated between the rivers Krishna and Godavari. The expedition of the Kalingan army in western and southern directions proved that Kharavela was powerful enough to challenge the Satavahana supremacy in the Deccan.

3rd year of reign

After the successful show of strength outside his own territory, Kharavela focussed on patronising ancient musical traditions of India during the third year of his reign. Himself being well versed in the Gandarva Veda (Arts & science of Music), he arranged festivals and performances like dancing, singing and playing of vocal and instrumental music in the capital city of Kalingnagari. Large scale feast were organised to please the population of his capital.

4th year of reign

In the fourth year of his reign, Kharavela consolidated his position in a territory named Vidyadhara. According to the inscription, Vidyadhara was established by the earlier kings of Kalinga but had never been crushed before. The consolidation might mean that a turbulent area within the kingdom or on its borders was crushed and subdued. The same year, Kharavela also launched his second invasion of the Satavahana kingdom. His first invasion perhaps was inconclusive, so a more determined effort was launched to conquer the Western and Southern regions of India. This campaign resulted in great victory for the Kalingan forces. The Hati Gumpha Inscriptions describe the victory as: “The Rashtrika and Bhojaka Chiefs with their crown cast off, their umbrella and royal insignia thrown aside, and their jewellery and wealth confiscated, were made to pay obeisance at the feet (of Kharavela).” The Rashtrikas and the Bhojakas were ancient races who lived in the Berar and Maharashtra regions, guarding two sides of the Satavahana territory. The defeat of the chiefs was a blow to the Satavahana power. Kharavela’s victory over them brought a large part of the Deccan within the Kalinga Empire.

5th year of reign

In the fifth year of his reign, Kharavela once again turned his attention to the development of his capital. A canal which had been dug by Nadaraja ti-vasa-sata ago, was extended to flow into Kalinganagari through Tanasuli. Tanasuli most probably was Tosali and Kharavela might have extended the canal to his expanding capital by way of the old city of Tosali.

6th year of reign

The sixth year of Kharavela’s rule saw his great charitable activities and benevolent measures which were meant for both the urban and rural populations of the empire. He remitted all taxes and cesses to the extent of many hundred thousands of coins. It was like a display of the wealth of the king which was meant for the happiness of the people.

7th year of reign

In the seventh year, Kharavela’s chief queen, named as the ‘Queen of Vajiraghara’ gave birth to a son.

8th year of reign

Kharavela began his military campaigns in the North during the eighth year of his reign. His armies marched towards the ancient city of Rajagriha. The fort of Gorathagiri, which stood to protect Rajagriha, was stormed and destroyed. The fort of Gorathagiri, identified with the modern Barabar hill, was like a military fortification to protect the capital of Magadha, Pataliputra. When that strong fortification was demolished and the city of Rajagriha was brought under the control of the Kalinga army, the people of Pataliputra were struck with fear and terror.

At that very time something happened which will highlight the strength of Kharavela’s character. After victory over Rajagriha, when the victorious Kalingan army of Kharavela was advancing towards the capital of Magadha, the Indo-Greek invaders under their king were also advancing towards Magadha. Having occupied Mathura, the Yavana King thought of invading Pataliputra. Unfortunately the identity of the Yavana king could not be established due to the damage in the inscriptions of Hati Gumpha. It is known, however, from the inscription that when the Yavana King heard of Kharavela’s advance towards Pataliputra, in fear and panic, he quickly retreated towards his stronghold at Mathura. Magadha was thus saved from foreign invasion because of Kharavela’s military power. Kharavela thereafter followed the Yavanas towards Mathura and attacked them. They were defeated and driven out of Mathura by the forces of the Kalinga Emperor. Kharavela chose to drive the foreign invader over defeating his arch rival, the king of Magadha. The victorious monarch thereupon entered Mathura with his horses, elephants and chariots and “distributed (gifts) to all houses and inns and with a view to making gifts universal gave away the spoils of victory to the Brahmanas.” Kharavela’s northern expedition was, thus, a grand success. He had shown his power to the Magadhan people and also to the foreign power by his victories over them.

9th year of reign

In the ninth year of his rule, Kharavela built the Great Victory palace (the Mahavijaya Prasada), in his capital Kalinganagari. The cost of construction of the palace was estimated to be a whopping Thirty eight hundred thousand coins.

10th year of reign

In the tenth year of his reign, Kharavela once again led his army to the North, describing it as a march towards Bharatavarsa for conquests. This second invasion of the North also ended in victory and success.

11th year of reign

In the eleventh year of his reign, Kharavela received jewels and precious stones from his defeated enemies. That year, he achieved a great military victory in the South. There existed a confederacy of the Tamil states in the South, consisting of the territories of the Cholas, Pandyas, Satyaputras, Keralaputra and Tamraparni (Ceylon). The Kalinga ruler thought it necessary to break its power for his own hegemony in the South. The Hati Gumpha Inscription states that this Confederacy had maintained its political unity for 1300 years before the time of Kharavela. In his inscriptions, Asoka mentioned of these people as living independently outside the Maurya Empire. When Kharavela extended his power over the Deccan during his earlier invasions of the South, the Tamil powers took alarm. A struggle for supremacy in the South thus became natural and Kharavela came out successful in his battles against the Tamil States. He defeated their combined armies and destroyed their ancient Confederacy which had existed for centuries.

12th year of reign

In the twelfth year of his reign, with more military campaign, Kharavela took up his third invasion of the North. According to Hati Gumpha Inscription, Kharavela terrorised the kings of Uttarpatha by an army of hundred thousand. His soldiers entered into the Magadhan territory, and “generated great fear among the people of Magadha while making the elephants and horses drink in the Ganges.” Kharavela forced the ruling king of Magadha, Brihaspatimitra, to surrender. It was, Kharavela’s revenge upon Magadha for the role which the famous king of Magadha, Mahapadma Nanda had played centuries earlier. The Hati Gumpha Inscription describes that after his great victory, Kharavela brought back from there “the image of Kalinga Jina with its throne and endowment that had been taken away by King Nanda and the Jewels plundered by him from the Kalinga royal palace, along with the treasures of Anga and Magadha.” It is supposed that during this third invasion of the north, Kharavela’s army was led to distant lengths of Uttarapatha in the north-west India. Kharavela’s victory over the north was his greatest achievement as a conqueror. His victory over Magadha, in particular, was like the crowning glory of his heroic career.

After such a remarkable role as a conqueror and a military genius, Kharavela suddenly changed the course of his career and turned to religious activities. As a Jaina monarch, he entered upon his new role to champion the cause of Jainism.

13th year of reign

In the thirteenth year of his reign, one finds him as ‘Upasaka Sri Kharavela’ as described in the Hati Gumpha inscription. Even in that year when Kharavela was putting an end to his rule as a conqueror, the King of the Pandyas brought from the south “various pearls, jewels and precious stones hundred thousand in number” to be deposited at the feet of Kharavela in his capital Kalinganagari.

The Hati Gumpha Inscription suddenly closes itself by describing the religious activities of Kharavela in his thirteenth regional year. That year, therefore, is taken as the last of Kharavela’s reign. He might have lived for long after giving up kingship and while devoting his years to religious activities. But the accounts of that part of his life have not survived for future.

kharavela-kingdom
Empire of Kharavela                                                     (Photo Credit: http://www.selfstudyhistory.com)

Thus in a brief period of his role as a king, Kharavela achieved splendid victories in Western, Southern and Northern India. He established his supremacy over a large part of India raising thereby the status of Kalinga to that of an empire. Rightly, therefore, Kharavela has been described in the Manchapuri Cave inscription of his chief queen as the ‘Chakravarti’ monarch of Kalinga.

Credits

  1. https://selfstudyhistory.com/2015/03/07/kharavela/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kharavela
  3. Kharavela by D N Shanbag  (ASIN B003MGKWES)

Podagada: History Untold

Introduction

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.

Historical Significance

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.

CREDITS:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nala_dynasty#cite_note-FOOTNOTESnigdha_Tripathy199737-2
  2. Inscriptions of Odisha, Vol 1 by Snigdha Tripathy
  3. https://nawrangpur.blogspot.in/2009/08/podagada-ruined-fort-podagada-is.html