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

Khokabhai: The Maestro of Odia Music

Khokabhai: The Maestro of Odia Music

On his 81st birthday, tribute to the maestro of Odia music Akshay Mohanty aka #Khokabhai ….

“Ja re bhasi bhasi ja” – the iconic Odia song which became more popular than any song from mainstream Odia film industry, reminds you about one of the golden voices of Odisha. He is none other than Akshay Mohanty, fondly called Khokabhai. He always added the local flavor of Cuttack to his creations whether as a lyricist or composer or singer. Even without any formal training, Khokabhai excelled in all departments of music and created some immortal songs for generations to come.

His contribution to the Odia music industry is phenomenal, irrespective of different genres. Be it modern, filmy, devotional, folk or peppy numbers. Khokabhai was fond of experimenting with new concepts in his music. While he sings the ballad “Kanchi Abhijana” effortlessly, he also does equal justice to devotional song like “Eka to bhakata jibana”.

He puts the rustic Katakia flavor into “Ja re bhasi bhasi ja” while creating history with the title song of film Jajabara.

His peppy numbers like “Alo mani” to romantic songs like “Nadira nama alasa kanya” were equally appreciated by music lovers.

With 70+ movies to his credit as a music director and several songs as lyricist & singer, Akshay Mohanty has carved a niche place for himself in Odia music. His songs are still popular with music lovers from all spectrums. The legacy of the legend will continue to live in our hearts forever…

Dilemma of an Odia

The maiden trip out of Odisha Pravat took was when he went to Kolkata for his summer internship. The first hurdle that one faces while going out of his/her domicile, is communication. Pravat was no exception. With no knowledge of the native Bengali language, only options left were to either speak in English or Hindi. The latter is more practical for communicating with all strata of people. And that was his first experience of thinking in Odia, translating it in Hindi and then speaking it in Hindi (with the typical Odia accent)! The process got optimised during the one month stay in Kolkata, which was relatively safer with respect to the semantics of Hindi language. As Bengalis are no better in terms of control over the Hindi language, Pravat never felt awkward when he went awfully wrong in a pronounciation or in grammar somewhere! After he came back home, he could feel his metamorphosis!

Fate takes you to places that you have never imagined. Pravat’s next stint away from Odisha was at Mumbai, where suddenly the system he had fine-tuned to speak Hindi, was questioned. The accent had changed, people were fussy about grammar (He still makes mistakes in determining the gender of a word!) and it was damning to get exposed and being laughed at. But the warrior inside him was still strong to take up the task to further streamline the translation process! So the focus shifted to have total control over literal aspects of Hindi apart from the new accent. And bingo, it started working. Pravat got the confirmation when an usual critic said he was not sounding a non-Hindi speaking guy anymore! Pravat kept the system intact by further polishing it as and when possible.

The difference between the spans of time spent in Odisha and at his work place, was gradually increasing. So was the switching between the inbuilt and the acquired system of communication. Many a times they used to get altered, leading to funny situations. But overall the communication system was well established. Pravat was no more pronuncing ‘Very’ as ‘Bhery’, speaking without showing up his Odia accent while speaking Hindi. The feeling used to be content while speaking to people in Hindi.

During all this transformation, one thing never changed: Pravat’s attachment with the mother tongue. He’s still very particular about the semantics and accent of the classical language Odia. Pravat makes liberal use of English words while speaking in Odia. Fakir Mohan is one of his best literary figures, even after him using many Urdu words in his works. Pravat has been abstaining from Ollywood for almost a decade now (which he feels has become a copycat industry at the cost of Odia language). Pravat didn’t like the Rangabati song by Sona Mahapatra as he felt it ruined the rustic folk song that’s in blood of every Odia. Most importantly Pravat doesn’t like to crib about everything about being an Odia.

Question here is “what does that make Pravat? An opportunistic Odia from a backward state with no love for the mother tongue or a practical Odia with ambitions and love for other languages too, other than the mother tongue?”