Monday, 28 January 2013

The lost capital of the Gangas

Just over a thousand years ago, the present day Bangalore was nothing but a thick forest. There was no mention of Bendakaluru or any pother place by the name. Yet, this place formed part of a once prosperous and bigger City that finds mention in ancient texts and copper plates of yore.
The Cholas knew about it and so did the Rashtrakutas. Both the Cholas and the Rashkrakutas tried their best to exterminate the city but to no avail. However, nature did to the city what several dynasties could not.
Today, the city is gone and in its place is a small sleepy village which still has some links to its once glorious past. All that remains are three temples that stand as mute sentinels at the very place where the once magnificent city of the Gangas flourished.
The Gangas as a dynasty have long been consigned to the pages of history. However, the buildings they built such as the temples of Talakad, the sculptures that they left behind like the Gomateshwara at Shravanabelogala still continue to tell their tale.
Unfortunately, apart from Talakad and Shravanabelogala, both people and historians seems to have forgotten the other monuments that the Gangas left behind. Infact, we seem to have entirely forgotten the small village of Manne in Nelamangala taluk of Bangalore rural district.
Manne, more than a thousand years ago, was a  thriving city. It was also the capital of the Gangas. The earlier Gangas had Talakad near Mysore as their capital. However, one of is powerful rulers, Sripurusha (725-778 AD), shifted his capital from Talakad to Manne.
Sripurusha killed the Pallava ruler Nandi Verma, the second, at Vilande in 731 in a war. He also wrote a book in Sanskrit on taming of wild elephants called Gajashasthra. He assumed the title Permanadi after killing the Pallava King.
Sripurusha assumed the title of Muttarasa. The Javali inscriptions says that Sripurusha ruled for 62 years. He married a Chalukya princess and was given the titles Rajakesari, Bhimakopa and Ranabhajana.
The Devarahalli inscription calls Sripurusha as Maharajadhiraja Paramamahesvara Bhatara. The Salem copper plates of  Sripurusha and a few other plates are very useful in reconstructing the history of medieval Kongu and Ganga emperors. He was a close ally of the Chalukya King Vikramaditya.  741 or 742
Sripurusha  established Manne as his capital, which today presents a desolate and pitiable sight. There are just three temples to showcase the Ganga architecture here. The other structures have long crumbled to the onslaught of modernization and official apathy.
What once was a bustling city is now a mere hamlet with a few thousand people. Apart from a welcome arch that proclaims Manne to have been the capital of the Gangas, there is no other written material in and around Manne to give more details of the once beautiful city to tourists and visitors.     
All that remains are a few inscriptions scattered about the village, testifying to the grandeur of the long gone days.
Manne was also called Manyapura. The main temple in the village or rather the chief temple of Manne is Mannemma. Interestingly, this deity is reckoned to be the sister of Annamma, who is the grama devathe of Bangalore. Apart from them, the other sisters are Madapuradamma,  Madhugiri Maramma, Kuralliyamma and  Dandina Sirada maramma.
Another ancient temple is that of  Kapileswara. This is believed to be 1200 years old. Though it is in ruins, it can still give you a feeling of awe. The life-sized Dwarapalakas at the temple, beautifully carved windows and pillars are all that remain of the grand temple that it was.
Apart from this temple, another interesting structure is the Sule Gudi or the temple constructed by a prostitute. This is a Jain Basadi. Inscriptions uncovered by B. L. Rice, an epigraphist and historian, ascribed this temple to a general in the Ganga Army named Srivijaya.
The inscription says Srivijaya built the Jina temple in Mauyanagara or Manyapura. It say Sripurusha granted his General the village of Kru-Vekkur. The priest of the temple was
apparently Prabhachandra, a disciple of Pushpanandi, the learned head of his gana or group.  Pushpandi, in turn, was one of the many disciples of Toranacharyya, who is described as the wisest man of this country.
Thee inscriptions, were engraved on plates and found at Manne itself. They were engraved by Virakarmmacharya, the Royal Engraver.  
Another fine structure is the Someshwara temple which  too is in ruins.
Others temples in the village are dedicated to Hanumanthraya swamy, Eswara, Maramma, Ganesha and Kukkalamma.
Sripurusha had a palace here and once Manne became the capital, it prospered. At that time, Bangalore perhaps was so small that it did not even merit a mention. The Bangalore we see today had not been formed.
Manne soon became the centre of  the Ganga trade and commerce. Sripurusha endowed Manne with some of the most beautiful temples, palaces, lakes, wells, and other structures, including a fort. None, of them survive today.
After Sripurusha, Manne slowly began losing its importance. The Gangas too began losing ground and towards the eleventh century, they were overwhelmed by the Cholas. Manne was their second capital after Kolar.
After the decline of the Cholas, Manne was an important city for the Rashtrakutas. Tamil records state that Mannekadakam or Manne was the headquarters of Rashtrakuta Governor Kambarasa.       
Manne is about 24 kilometres from Nelamangala. To reach the place, travel on the Tumkur road till you reach Budhihal. Take a right turn there and travel for about 16 kms till you reach an arch.
The arch proudly states that this is Manne, the capital of the Gangas.
Interestingly, Sripurusha’s wife, Kanchikabbe, ruled over Agali principality in Andhra Pradesh. Today, Agali is a small village in Ananthapur district. Inscriptions dated 748 AD confirm Kanchikabbe as the ruler of Agali.

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