Friday 15 November 2013

A Chanakya link to this town

Bangalore today is acknowledges as one of the oldest cities that existed on this side of Karnataka. True, its antiquity may not be as old as some of the religious and pilgrim places in India but there are several villages and small towns in and around Bangalore that are as old, if not, more old than many such places in south India.
One such town, which today, is known for its special economic zone, is Nandagudi and its antiquity goes back to hundreds of years even before there was a place or rather city called Bangalore or the village Benda Kalaooru.
Nandagudi has been in the news recently for the decision of the State Government to set up a SEZ there. Located just 45 kilometres from Bangalore in Hoskote taluk, the State Government proposed SEZ generated a lot of “heat and dust” and political parties and NGOs jumped into the fray backing and opposing the acquisition of land.
In the brouhaha over the issue of land acquisition and displacement of farmers, what was forgotten was that Nandagudi has a history dating back to the Nandas or the period when the Maurya dynasty took shape.
Much like Nandigram in West Bengal, Nandagudi too saw farmers in the forefront of the protests against the acquisition of the 31007 acres for the proposed SEZ and a modern township.
Even as political parties took sides and made hay, “scoring “brownie points over each other”, the history of Nandagudi and its link with Kautilya or Chanakaya took back seat.
As the name itself suggests, Nandigudi was more than two thousand years ago, a province of the Nandas who were overthrown by Chandragupta to found the Maurya dynasty.
Chandragupta was helped in his endeavour to build the first kingdom if India by Chanakya. This was sometime in 321 BC and if we calculate the timeline, it would be more than 2334 years ago. So ,we can safely say that the antiquity of Nandagudi goes back even years before this date.
Nandagudi, more than to thousand three years ago, was the capital of  Uttunga Bhuja who ruled over these areas. This King traced his lineage to the Pandavas. He belonged to the kakatiya clan, which says its ancestry is derived from Janamejaya, the King of Hastinapur.
Janamejaya was the son of Parikshit and the grandson of Abhimanyu. He was followed on the Hastinapur throne by Satanika and then by Kshemaka who was the last Puru King. He ruled for 50 years before he was killed by his commander Vishrava.
Kshemaka had two sons, Vishnuvardhana and Uttunga Bhuja. Both of them came away from north India and settled down in the south. While Vishnuvardhana made Dharmapuri the capital of his kingdom, Uttunga choose Nandagudi.
Nandagudi then became the capital of the Kingdom with four hundred or more villages. His son, Nanda, improved Nandagudi and called it Nandagiri. One of his ministers was Dandasasi Nayaka.
The Nandas are believed to have invaded south India. Three ancient Tamil poets, Mamulanar, Parankorranar and Attiraiyanar, write about this invasion. They talk of how the Nava Nandas came to Kosar and Vadugar and the defeat of their Tamil king of Mohur (Mohur in South Arcot).
Then, Nanda married a Chola princess of Kanchi in Tamil Nadu. His son was Vijayapala, who was said to have governed the province wisely. Over time, Nandigiri came to be known as Nandagudi. This account of the place and its history is dated in history to about 400 AD or nearly two thousand years ago.
Another legend, and this is true, is associated with the nine Nanda princes. All of them were taken prisoners by Uttunga Bhuja. These princes together were called the Nava Nandas. They were releases , thanks to the intervention of Chanakya or Kautilya and they returned to rule.      
This account is contained in the Sanskrit drama, Mudra Rakshasa or the Signet of the Minister by Vishakadatta. The Mahavamsa, a Buddhist text. also corroborates this fact. It says, “Nava Nanda (Nava bharato), tato asum”.
However, the name Nandagudi has created confusion in the minds of historians and research scholars on the origin of the place and the usurpation of Nanda Empire by Chandra Gupta as dramatised in the Mudra Rakshasa and as contained in several pother Greek and Indian accounts.
The Mysore Gazetteer states that the Rakateya family that ruled over Nandagudi had links to the Pandavas and that the line of the Kings of this province proceeds from Janamejaya,  Satanika, Kshemaka and his two sons, Vijayarka and Somendra. It says the sons of Vijayaraka and Somendra called Vishnuvardhana and Uttunga Bhuja, left north India and settled to the south of the Godavari.
When Nandagiri was built, it was initially the place where the four castes of Hindus were located. Even today, there are old buildings at Nandagudi which residents claim mark the site of Patalipur, the erstwhile capital of Uttunga Bhuja.
What happened to the capital of Uttunga. It is mystery that is waiting to be resolved. Perhaps, the Cholas overran Nandagudi or the Gangas who had nearby Kolar as their capital. What we are sure is that over a period of time, Nandagudi lost its importance and it could never again regain the glory of earlier times.
Many other towns and cities in and around Bangalore such as Bangalore itself, Anekal, Yelahanka, Magadi, Manne (near Nelamangala), Chennapatna, Ramanagar, Sira, Kanakapura grew in importance and relegated Nandagudi to the obscure town that it is today.  

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