Mar 29, 2014

Ashokan major rock edict of Sannati

March 17, 2012 was the beginning of search for Ashokan edicts of Karnataka began at Gavimath, Koppal. With every find the search became increasingly interesting and challenging at times. The search was not limited to searching the Internet and visiting sites but also trying to locate the sources of history of the discovery of the edicts, their transliterations and translations. With my friend Shilpa's epigraphy notes, I could find impression sheets, transliterations & translations for some of the inscriptions. Mr. S B Hiremath of history department in Karnatak University helped me by lending a book on Asokan edicts and also allowed me to refer volumes of Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum. Before 2013 came to an end all sites were visited with the last one being Siddapur edict, and by mid Jan 2014 all accessible information about the edicts were gathered. So the search was almost over.. unless some new discovery turns up.

November 28, 2013
Our day started early at Shahapur. I was up and ready to move by 5-30, so was Suresh the cab driver. We had hot and fresh tea at the main square of Shahapur town. I was pretty excited about seeing the first major rock edict of emperor Ashoka at Sannati however I had to be patient until dawn so that it was light enough to see the outline of Shahapur hills. Yes, the plan was to see the sleeping Buddha hill. Indeed the hills looks like Buddha - many call this Nature's tribute to Gautama Buddha. Ideally the hill should be seen at dusk, when Sun is behind the hill it creates a beautiful silhouette of sleeping Buddha. We let Buddha sleep and start our journey towards Sannati.

Though the distance between Shahapur and Sannati is 20 odd kilometers, the journey lasted almost an hour because we had to stop often to make sure we were heading in the right directions. Also, the last 4 kms were terrible, the road surface was a 3D sine wave, just I or II gears :-( Finally we made it to Bhima river, we were on the bridge looking at Yadgir district on the right and Gulbarga district on the left.

Bhima as seen from Sannati barrage
Here's a map of the area showing Bhima's path and locations of Sannati, Chandrala Parameshwari temple, Kanaganahalli and the stupa site. All these places mentioned are historically connected.


Sri Chandrala Parameshwari temple
Buddhist center of Sannati-Kanaganahalli

Close to the Buddhist center is a recently built Stupa. The building was locked and a peep through the windows reviled a empty hall.

Opposite the modern Stupa are two more creations- Ashoka Stambha and a life size statue of Samrat Ashoka. In the background is the site of the ancient stupa and the inscription. There was one security guard watching us closely. Suresh befriended him quickly.

A serene looking Ashoka. On the pedestal was this inscription:
HIS GREATNESS | Ashoka was a marvelously talented man of extraordinary qualities and one of the greatest kings who ever ruled in the world. He was a great conqueror, builder, politician, ruler, righteous social reformer, philosopher, saint, a man of compassion and vision, a lover of wildlife and a keen environmentalist. The mission he organized to spiritually win the world was instrumental in spreading an humble doctrine of India to the wide stretches of the world. - Madhukar Piplayan


It was barely 8-15 AM then and the security guard told me visitor are allowed after 9-30 AM - ASI rules. He told us the area is heavily protected, it is guarded round the clock. I could not curb by eagerness.. my request to let me in earlier than usual was considered. As we stepped into the fenced area, a board blared in bold types- strictly no photography and videography. I was taken back, no photo?? Anyway, let me see the place first. Around the ruins of the stupa was the collection of sculpted parts - sculptures which told stories from lives of Gautama Buddha and Samrat Ashoka. This site is important because of several reasons of which two are- 1. presence of major rock edict and 2. sculpture of Ashoka with his name engraved on the panel.

I looked around for some time and the ban on photography was bothering me. I inquired about the caretaker of this site; he would be coming shortly. As I relaxed on a bench I had an idea, I made phone call to my friend who had introduced me to ASI officers. Luckily I got him and I was assured of obtaining permission in an hour. Great :) Mean time, a person had appeared - he happened to be a policeman on site duty. Wow! Also there were 6 or 7 uniformed security guards and gearing for their shift!

The nearest place for breakfast was Chandrala Parameshwari temple. The temple is ancient with plenty of modern touches. With hardly any visitors Devi's darshan was easy. Breakfast was hot upit and tea at a small eatery next to the temple. Back at the Stupa site, the caretaker had arrived, after introductions I learnt that Hajim was a simple middle age man with lot of field experience in excavations. He had immense experience in piecing together broken sculptures. Finally I got a call from my friend, I was asked to speak to two officers and lo, permission was granted. With Hajim's permission too, I took few pictures and sharing the photo of the inscription.

Sannati inscription is engraved on a semi-dressed slab rather than a natural rocks as in other Asokan site (in Karnataka). This damaged slab seen here was much larger originally. Both faces of the slab have inscriptions. At some point of time during the construction of Chandrala Parameshwari temple, builders used the slab to make a petha ~ a pedestal for mounting a deity. When placed horizontally, the rectangular hole receives the shaft of the statue placed vertically on the pedestal.

As mentioned earlier, I have sourced some information from epigraphy notes and history books. Below are the extracts.

Sannati Inscription of Ashoka
  • It is a major rock edict.
  • It also has the rock edict nos. XII and XIV.
  • It was found in Sannati, a village in Chitapur taluq in Gulbarga district.
  • It is 27 kms from Yadgir and located on the left bank of Bhima, a tributary of river Krishna.
  • Sannati is known for Chadralamba temple, a well known pilgrimage center.
There's a fort in Sannati called Seturajanakatte but an eminent archaeologist opined that it must be 'Satavahara Kote'. The king's name was Beturaja. This site was first noticed by Kapatrao Krishnarao. His article was published in Karnataka Samskruti Samshodhana. In his article he highlights the importance of this place. Dr. M Sheshadri, the director of state arcaeology (1964-65) conducted excavations. In 1966 Dr. P V Desai former director of KRI opined that Sannati is a well known and important Buddhist centre of Karnataka. In between Sannati and Kanaganahalli, we find a number of cultural and architectural remainders belonging to pre-Shatvahana. It includes tap, tides and decorative parts of Buddhist Viharas. Also vessels made of mud and beads made of crystals & other stones and ornaments made of conch. All these antiquites belong to early historic period. Here we find 46 inscriptions in Sannati and most are of one line i.e. label inscriptions including Ashokan inscriptions. Most are of Shatvahana and Rashtrakuta period. Some are written on sculptures. In the complex of Chandralamba temple, there is a temple of Mahakali locally known as Mahakaliagni. It was constructed after the downfall of Buddhist.It is renovated several times but the Garbhagriha has Rashtrakuta features. The Garbhagriha is in square shape  and it has Antarala and Mukhamantapa. There are 6 pillars and some half pillars. In the Garbhagriha is an idol of Chamundi. It is broken into two at the pedestal of the goddess. The discovery of Ashokan edict at Sannati was in Jan-Feb 1989 by R V Shivsharma (Assistant Superintendent) and J Varaprasad Rao (technical staff) of ASI Hyderabad. I K Sharma also visited and declared that it belongs to Ashoka. Also a well known archaeologist S R Rao (known for Sindhu lipi decipherment) also visited this place. He hints that it is Ashokan Brahmi or of a little later period. The pedestal where this inscription is engraved is a brownish granite 2.33m x 1.21m x 0.3m thick. Usually Ashokan edicts are found on natural boulders and pillars but here in Sannati a block is prepared and on both sides inscriptions are engraved.
  • Major edicts are 24 and special rock edicts I & II available in Dhauli are found in Sannati as well i.e. the Kalinga version. It is written as a special rock edict for neighboring people.
  • All Major Rock Edicts were within the kingdom.
  • Zhonnagiri > Suvarnagiri > Svarnagiri > Sonagiri > Sannagiri
  • The 2 edicts XII and XIV on the first face (A) of the slab in Sannati were discovered by Sarvashri R V Siva Sarma and J Vara Prasada Rao.

Ashokan Edicts from Sannati: Early Brahmi Inscriptions from Sannati

(A) The First Face

It contains in all twelve lines. The upper and the lower four are separated by a short horizontal stroke at the left margin indicating that they are two different edicts. The ridged border and the sizing of the rock to prepare the nalika (water chute) has caused serious damage to the letters of the text. The beginnings in some lines and the right extent of the inscribed part are badly damaged as a result, the full text of the existing edicts cannot be made out. The writing is somewhat indifferent. The lines are not straight but leaning towards left though the letters are subjected to polish, the traces of which can be felt. The letters forms recall Minor Rock Edicts I-II of Nittur and Udegolam etc.

The extant record on this face is incomplete, as the slab is broken at either sides, but does provide some clues for identification and proper assignment. The text is in lines of Brahmi characters of the Ashokan times, the language being Prakit. In line-9, the clear mention "iyam dhamma lipi devanam piyena" is enough to assign the edict to Asoka. In the available portions, however, there is no mention of the personal name of Asoka.


Text Edict XII (lines 1-8)

1. ...pa...lana...
2. ...aka [te] na he...
3. ...tam anta pasada ca cha...la pasa...
4. ...galahati save ata pisada...kita a...
5. ...ga ata pasadam sesamavayeva pa sa ma
6. ...sava pasada bahu suta ca kiyaya [na] gama
7. cama nu ta atha kiti salava
8. mahavata vaca raji mika anebini

TRANSLATION (Full Text)

1. King Priyadarsin, beloved of Gods, honors men of all religious communities
2. Both with gifts and with honors of various kinds (irrespective of wwhether they are ascetics or householders).
3. But th beloved of Gods does not value either the (offering of) gifts or the honoring (of people) so (highly) as the following, viz., that there should be a growth of the essentials of Dharma among men of all sects.
4. But a promotion of the essentials (in Dharma is possible) in many ways its toot is thus guarding (one's) speech, that neither praising one's own sect or disparagement of other sects should take place.
5. It should be moderate in every case even on appropriate occasions.
6. if one is acting this, he is promoting his own sect and benefiting other sects
7. If a person acts otherwise (he) not only injures his own sect very severally but also harms other sects.
8. All (this) out of devotion to his own sect with a view to glorify his own sect if he is acting thus, he rather injures his own sect severally.
9. Therefore, concord alone is meritorious i.e. they should both hear and obey each others morals. For this is the desire of Devanampriya that all sects.
10. Become well informed and acquire pure knowledge of the doctrine and those who are attached to their respective (sects) out to be spoken to (as follows). Devanampriya does not value either the (offering of) gifts or honoring (the people) so highly as the following.
11. That promotion of the essentials of all sects should take place and many officers are occupied for this purpose, the mahamantras in-charge of dharma the mahamantras in-charge of the (matters relating to) ladies.
12. The officers in-charge of (my cattle and) pasture lands and other classes (of officials). And the result of their acts is the promotion of one's own sect and the glorification of Dharma.

Text Edict XIV (lines 1-4)

1. eyam dhamma lipi devanampiyena ...vasa...
2. no hisavate save ghati [te]...
3. tasa tasa a [-] sa madhuliyaye...[jane] tatha[...]...
4. kalanam va alochayatu lipa [i] kalapa [la] dhavata

TRANSLATION (Full Text)

1. This record relating to Dharma has been caused to be written by king Devanampriya beloved of Gods.
2. Either in abridged (form) or of middle (size) or at full length.
3. And the whole was not suitable everywhere.
4. For (my) dominions are wide, and much has been written, and I shall certainly cause still a lot (more) to be written.
5. And (some) of this has been stated again and again owing to their sweetness, so that people may act accordingly.
6. Thus there may be some (topic) which have been written incompletely either on account of the locality, or because (my) motive was not liked or owing to a fault of the scribe.

(B) The Second Face

The characters of the record on the reverse face are closer to teh ones discovered on the (A) First Face and somewhat better preserved because the slab was buried under the soil and not affected by human activity. The text, is, therefore, better preserved.The content of the major record which occupies the central portion of the stele is very similar to the Separate Rock Edict II found at Jaugada, District Ganjam, Orissa. A version of this Separate Rock Edict was also found at Dhauli in Puri District along with separate Rock Edict I. D.C. Sircar regarded this separate Kalinga edict as Rock Edict XV. Though numbered as Separate Rock Edict II in the sequence this is actually the first one to be carved. In the Sannati record, minor textual variations can be noted. There is no mention of the epithet devanam priya or piyadasi laja etc. but referneces to mahamantra (line 14) is seen and the name of the king is also not mentioned. But in Jaugada version, besides the devanampriya a viceroy named Samapa was also cited.

In Kalinga country (Dhauli and Jaugada) the Separate Rock Edict are issued in place of Rock Edicts XI, XII and XIII. While at Sannati we know about Edicts XII and XIV clearly but the rest are fragmentary in nature. Presently they could be satisfactorily identified too.


Now I look beyond the borders of Karnataka and the nearest major rock inscription is at Erragudi near Gooty in Andhra Pradesh. My heart yearns to go there...

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Mar 26, 2014

Sleeping Buddha hill, Shahapur

This spot was on my list of places to see for quite some time. We missed it during the first visit to Shahapur even though we drove by it.

November 28, 2013
The sleeping Buddha hill is seen as Mother Nature's tribute to Lord Buddha. The setting Sun and a range of untouched hills near Shahapur town create a silhouette of sleeping Buddha with a sharp nose, curly hair tied in a bun and folded hands placed on the chest. Though the hill resembles sleeping Buddha any time of the day the best time to see it is when Sun is behind the hill. These pictures were shot at dawn instead of dusk. Check out sleeping Buddha image in Wikipedia.

If there was a raised platform here, view of the hill would have been free from foreground distractions. Media has carried news about Shahpur to be developed into a tourist spot but nothing has been done so far.

Shahpur town is a taluqa place in Yadgir district of Karnataka state. Shahpur is also known for its hill fort and prehistoric sites like Bhimarayanagudi and Vibhutihalli.

Here's a rough map of the place showing Shahpur town, the hill range and the spot marked X. The spot is  near KEB substation on Shahapur-Bhimarayanagudi village.

The sleeping Buddha can be seen from a distance also i.e. from a stretch on Shahpur-Sannati road. And Sannati happens to be an important Buddhist site in Karnataka state. The only major rock edict (MRE) of emperor Ashoka in Karnataka is at Sannati-Kanaganahalli archaeological site.

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Mar 22, 2014

Megalithic burial site of Brahmagiri

March 7, 2013
Our visit to Ashoka Siddapura was incomplete because we missed out Ashokan edict and the megalithic site of Brahmagiri. Time was a constraint that day, we had to rush to Gudekote fort.

December 22, 2013
Our day started with a visit to Sangankal hill to see the Neolithic stone implements factory with our guide Rama Dasa. The day was astronomically important- it was a day of winter solstice. Having spent half day touring the hill we came back to Bellary, had lunch and immediately left to Jatinga-Rameshwara. We climbed Jatinga-Rameshwara hill < 30 minutes and spent almost an hour on the hill seeing Ashoka's inscriptio and the ancient Shiva temple. We descended the hill and drove to Siddapura. By 5-00 PM we had seen Siddapura's Ashokan edict. Next we head towards the last spot for the day - Brahmagiri Megalithic site.

Just next to Brahmagiri Ashokan rock inscription site is a narrow dirt path which runs along the base of the hill. About 800 meters into the path, our car could not proceed any further because of granite slabs protruding out of the ground.. Prakash felt they were high enough to touch the oil sump of his Indica. Our guide told us those slabs are remains of a 'More Mane' ~ megalithic tombs. This entire area was full of such granite structures, now all that we get to see are stubby remains. We decided to leave our cab and walk.

That's our guide Thipperudra and my uncle Mohan. Between them on the ground is a remains of a rectangular cist grave.

Below diagram gives the location of the Ashokan edicts and megalithic tombs.



As we walked further we reach a small fenced enclosure.. sadly this is all that remains of a once very important prehistoric site :( In the background is the southern slope of Brahmagiri hill. Barely 300 meters from here is a small village named Roppa.



a square cist grave
Thipperudra told us such remains were spread over a large area. Land owners/farmers found them a hindrance to cultivation and they were removed. The excavated slabs were used in construction of houses. In fact Thipperudra has eight tractor loads of such slabs piled up near his house :(
one of the largest tombs of this site
This site was studied by many archaeologists and some of the reports are available online. Below are the extracts of two such reports.


Brahmagiri
Inscriptions associated with the North Indian ruler Ashoka (273-232 BC) of the Mauryan empire (322-185 BC) were first identified in the region in 1892 and indicate the area was known as Isila; excavations at the site were conducted by Mortimer Wheeler in 1947 (wheeler 1948). The site extends over an area of c. 500m east-west by 100 m north-south, with settlement remains on the outcrop slopes and mortuary remains in the form of four to five clusters of megalithics on the plains below. Ten megaliths were excavated; these were stone circles with internal subterranean stone-lined rectangular burial chambers or stone circles containing burial pits. Grave goods include ceramics, iron implements, beads, and spindle whorls. No complete houses were excavated; some post holes and pits were identified. A reservoir or water tank is located on the eastern edge of the site.

Cultural Aspects
Cultural Features: Wheeler defined three chronological phases on the basis of stratigraphic dating and changes in artifact forms: "polished stone axe culture"; contemporary terminology refers to these periods as the South Indian Neolithic, Iron Age, and Early Historic respectively. No absolute dates are available from the site. Diagnostic artifacts of the Iron Age include black ware, and red ware, and russet-coated painted ware. Postfiring graffiti are common on ceramics, especially in mortuary contexts. Iron and copper artifacts and ornaments of shell, jasper, steatite, gold and carnelian were also recovered. 

Extract from "Astronomical orientations of the megalithic stone circles of Brahmagiri" by N Kameswara Rao in Astronomical Society of India, Bulletin (ISSN 0304-9523), vol. 21, no. 1, p. 67-77.

Abstract: The megalithic stone circles at Brahmagiri which have been dated as 900 BC show clear astronomical orientations. The site lines from the centre of a circle to an outer tangent of another circle points out to the direction sunrise and moon rise (full) at the time of solar and lunar solstices and equinox. Site lines towards the maximum azimuthal elongation of the then circumpolar star β UMi (which also happens to be the brightest star near the pole) indicates that the time of the establishment of these Megaliths is earlier than 600 BC, may be between 900 to 600 BC. The megalithic people were probably aware of the 18.61 year period of the moon's solstice in addition to keeping track of the sideral day, the seasons and the year.

Coming to think to these sites, there's a close relationship between megalithic sites and Ashoka's edicts.
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Mar 15, 2014

Ashokan minor rock edict of Siddapura

December 22, 2013
The distance between Jatinga-Rameshwara and Siddapura is 7.5 kms but the time taken to cover that distance was 20 minutes. We passed through two or three villages, part of the road ran parallel to Hagari and finally reached the main road leading to Siddapura. Just across Hagari river is Siddapura village. We arrive at a junction, turn right for Siddapura village and left to Brahmagiri. I knew the approximate location of the edict, a hillock about a kilometer from the village towards Brahmagiri. At the junction was a badly scarred tourism department board.

PREHISTORIC SITE
When this prehistoric site was excavated a sequence of three cultures namely period I. Neolithic Chalcolithic, period II. Megalithic and period III. the early historic was noticed. The period I was characterized by polished cells on doleerity, parallel-sided blades, microliths, copper and bronze objects. The ceramic typology revolves mostly hand made grey were burnished as well as unburnished with dish on stand. channel-snouted bowl, deep bowl with spouted constitute main type ________ ________ domestic structures were similar to the se________ ________ ________ ________ iron implements and the ceramic asse________ ________ ________ black and red ware, black ware, ________ as well as ________ ________ ware also noticed. Shell bangled beads, terracotta, jasper and stealite have been formed. The last period is characterized by a sophisticated pottery made on ________ wheel, with painted geometric designs. ________ shreads of roulatted wase have also been collected. On the basis of material evidence this period is assignated to ________ phase.

We make inquiries for Siddapura edict but for some reason people tried to send us off to Brahmagiri edict. I had to emphasize that my search was Siddapura to which someone said there's no such spot. I made a face to say how ignorant they were and remained silent for a minute. Then a man came forward and volunteered to show us the spot. Good, we ask him to hop in. An extra also jumped in. We turned left, drove towards Brahmagiri for 680 meters and stopped before a cluster of houses and a rock formation. Our car remains on the road while we proceed on foot. Our guide Thipperudra lead us through barren paddy fields towards a rocky hillock about 400 meters away. We could see a stone structure similar to the one at Jatinga Rameshwara nestled among huge rocks but to reach it we had to take a short round about. We are almost there..
Total distance from where we left our car to this structure is less then 500 meters. And people say no such spot exists. Ignorance or deliberately misguiding? Anyway, thanks to Thipperudra.

Thanks to the British archaeologist Brigadier Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler. The inscription has been enclosed, out of reach to vandals.

Sadly, few days ago vandals had removed few bars from the grill. I think the bars were stolen to be sold as scrap for money. And that money would be used to fuel some useless habit like drinking or gambling. Our people, will they ever learn :(

So here we have another edict of emperor Ashoka the Great. Like his other edicts, even this inscription carried a message of peace.

While some parts of the inscription is clearly visible, some parts have faded.

This 3rd century BCE message is in Prakrit language and Brahmi script. The letters are 3 to 4 inches high. In this view the letters are inverted.

May 2013, I had done little research at KUD's history department library. With the librarian's help I had found the Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum volume containing transliteration/translation Maski, Brahmagiri, Jatinga-Rameshwara and Siddapura edicts. Unfortunately translations for were not given for Jatinga Rameshwar and Siddapur edicts. The edicts of Nittur edict or Udegolam edict are similar, perhaps they can be referred to for translation.

TRANSLITERATION
1. (A) Suvamnagirite ayaputasa mahamata-
2. nam cha vachanena I[s]ilasi mahamata
3. arogiyam vata[v]i[ya] (B) [Dev]a[na]mpiye hevam
4. aha (C) adhikani a[dha]t[i]y[ani] vasani
5. ya ha[kam u]pasake (D) no tu kho badha pakamte husam ek[am] sa[vachha]..
6. (E) [satire]ke tu kho samvachhare [yam maya sam]ghe upayite badham
7. [cha me] p[akam]te (F) i[m]ina chu kalena [a]misa sama[na] mu
8. ....Jambu[d].....[mi]sa devehi (G) pakamasa hi iyam phale (H) no [h]i i-
9. ya sake [ma]....[ne]va papo[ta]ve kamam tu kho khudakena
10. pi[pa].........na [v]ipul[e] svage sak[e] aradhetave
11. (I) [s]e.........ya[iya]m savane savite yatha khu-
12. [daka cha ma]hatpa cha imam [pa]kameyu ti ata cha
13. ..........[chira]-thi[t]ik[e] cha iyam pakame hoti
14. (J) ..........va[dh]isiti vipu[la]m p[i] cha vadhisiti [a]
15. ..........[yadhiya]m vadhisiti (K) i[ya]m [cha] sa[va]ne
16. ..........(L) [200] 50 6 (M) [ma]..........[si]taviye
17. ..........[hyi]tavyam sa[cha]m va[ta],,[ya]m im[e] dhamma-gu
18. ..........(N) [heme]va [a]m..........[acha]riye apachayitaviye su
19. ..........(O) [es]a [p]o[r]a[na]...[ki]ti di[gha]vu[se] cha (P) heme[va]...m[t]evisine cha
20. achariy[e]..........tharaham pavatitav..........m...
21. ..........sa [ta]tha kataviye (R) Chapa..........
22. ..........[na]

A close look at the engraving.

A rough map showing locations of the three edicts of Chitradurga district.


Here's the board at the junction.

Ashoka's 2300 year old inscription and an important prehistoric site deserves something better than this.

December 22, 2013 is a day to remember for me because I have completed my mission to see all known Ashokan edicts in Karnataka. If there are any newly discovered edicts, then it would be incomplete...
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Mar 8, 2014

Ashokan minor rock edict of Jatinga-Rameshwara

March 7, 2013
We drove by Jatinga Rameshwara but it was not in our naseeb to climb the hill.

December 22, 2013
Our day started with a visit to the Neolothic site on Sangankal Gudda to see the stone implements factory with our guide Rama Dasa. The day, a Sunday, was astronomically important- it was winter solstice. Having spent half day touring the hill we came back to Bellary, had lunch and immediately started off towards Jatinga-Rameshwara and Brahmagiri. We had three places to see this afternoon- Ashokan edict of Jatinga Rameshwara, Ashokan edict of Siddapura and Megalithic burial site of Brahmagiri. Edicts were a priority, decided to finish off with the difficult one first.

This Jatinga-Rameshwara hill, a rocky hill with its peak at 180 meters above the surrounding plains.
Jatinga-Rameshwara in setting sun light, as seen from Bellary-Hiriyur road
About 2 kms ahead of Rampura bus-stand, we turned left towards Devasamudra. At the village we got directions to Jatinga-Rameshwara -its a well tread path. We could drive right up to the base of the hill where a flight of steps snakes up the rocky-woody slopes. The dirt road passes through a valley and hill towered above us, especially Dodda Jatinga looked seriously high. We imagined the climb to be a long one but there was no giving up without trying. Also, we had no idea where the Ashokan edict was.. on the flat part of the hill or at the highest point... we had to be patient for time being.

There we go.. Mama and I maintained a steady pace. Good I had only chapati for lunch, I was comfortable. Good thing about this climb was we had shady spots to stop and relax.
The flat part of the hill was in sight, our progress was good :) The flight of steps is a recent creation. I'm sure this route was an ancient one.

Soon our path was completely shaded by the hill and a stone wall came into view. I had a feeling we were very close to the edict now. Two boys were descending.. out of curiosity I asked them if they know about the Ashoka's inscription. One of them said there's no such thing very confidently. I asked where he was from; Devasamudra. People are seriously ignorant here. During our previous visit to Siddapura, a school headmaster had told Brahmagiri inscription was the only one here. Very said indeed. I asked them if they would come with us to see the inscription.. one boy was ready but the other one wanted to get back to his village. Well..

There's the stone wall, like a small fort.

Glimpse of Jatinga Rameshwara temple through an opening in the wall.

That's the enclosure built for the emperor's message of peace. The structure's architecture is very similar to that of Brahmagiri. The metal grills are of same section, probably from the same lot. On the right, in the background is the temple's entrance.

The structure as seen from the rear. Two Frangipani trees grace the otherwise bare temple complex.

A peep though the grills.. that's the lucky boulder which holds Ashoka's message for peace. The letters have faded for badly. If not for the British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler's effort to have this boulder protected, the letters might have worn to the extent of disappearing completely.

May 2013, I had done little research and found the transliteration of Jatinga-Rameshwara edict. Unfortunately the translation was not given there. For a general meaning of the edict you can refer either Nittur edict or Udegolam edict.

TRANSLITERATION
1. (A)..........[t]ana [cha va]......
2. Isi..........[vi]ya (B) Dev[a]n[a]......
3. ..........ya hakam..........
4. kho badha..........(E)..ti[reke]..........
5. [ya]m..[ya]..........
6. [na]..........
7. [h]i i[yam]..........
8. ..........
9. ..........
10. ..........[cha]......[dhi]s
11. ..[p]ulam pi..........[ya]dhiyam..........
12. (K) i....s[avane]..........[th]e[na] (L) 200 50 8 (M) [heme]va
13. [ma]t[a]-pitusu....[s]itav[i]y[e]he[m]e[va]....[na]  .a.es[u]
14. ..hy[ita]v[y]am sacham vataviyam [se] i[me]..........
15. hevam pa[va]titaviya (N) [svaa]m na te s .t.va[s]..........
16. taviya hemeva achari[ye]amtevasin[a]..........
17. ......[r]ana paki[ti]....sita[v]iy[a]..........[v]i[y]e
18. ..chariye[e]a......[a]char[i]yasa natika te..ya[tharaha]m[pava]-
19. titaviya (O) esa[po]ra[na pa]kiti d[igh]a....cha (P) [he]me[va] sa...e.a.
20. [cha]ya..........vati[tav]iye (Q) hevam [{dhamm]e Devanampiy...
21. ..[va]m kataviye (R)....dena [likhita]m
22. ..[pika]rena

A closer look at the text. The letters are quite big, about 3 to 4 inches tall but not as big as Nittur edict.

There was a crowd at Jatinga Rameshwara temple, one of the visitor's told us that a new idol was installed in the morning. Most of these people were from Devasamudra and they were camped here since yesterday afternoon and plan to stay back for the night and descend in the morning. Our host invited us to partake pooja prasad.

View from the temple entrance: the inscription enclosure, and Dodda Jatinga.

Within the temple complex is a board giving out some basic info about this hill. Transcription of the information board:

Pre-histroic Site: Jatinga Rameshwara Temple & Ashoka's Inscriptions

This hill is about 3469 feet above the sea level about 3 miles north-west of Brahmagiri. Being one of the places where eidcts of Ashoka have been found, the place is of great archaeological interest. This place is also connected with the story of Ramayana. It is here that Jatayu, the heroic bird, fell fighting with Ravana in its effort to rescue Sita from him.

The region was inhabited right from prehistoric times is evident from the discovery of pre-historic sites of Brahmagiri and Chandravalli. A minor rock edict of Ashoka was found at Brahmagiri about 5 kms south-east of Jatinga Rameshwara. Referring to the place as Isila, indicates that it was the provincial capital of Ashoka and was the southernmost pasrt of the Mauryan dominion. The minor rock edict refers to the message issued in the name of Devanampriya and it is in Brahmi script of the 3rd century BC.

The temple is small and cozy; it has a small Mukhamantapa which connects directly to the Garbhagudi. Right opposite the main temple is smaller shrine and in the same line is the Vijayastambha. Oh, the prasad offered was holige and badnekay-palya; very delicious preparation :) While we enjoyed the mini meal, our hosts had a difficult time keeping red-faced monkeys at bay.

Behind the main temple is a natural rock shelter and a shrine. On the rock are two inscriptions.

The inscription seems to be Kannada. The larger panel has about 13 lines and the smaller panel (inset) has about 15 lines. The larger inscription is accompanied by images of Shivalinga and Nandi.

Two more shrines. Behind these shrines is a natural pit..

..sadly the pit did not have much water. If this area had received normal rainfall, this pit would have been filled. Also there's a rough cut hero-stone.

Just besides the main temple, there's a path guided by a railing on the steep western slope is a small cave like pit with a pond. The pond is known as Kamala Honda or Tavare Honda ~ lotus pond. I was surprised to see lotus creepers this high.

Back at the temple, we thanked our hosts and left. Mama and I decided to explore the base of Dodda Jatinga, we had no plans to climb it. We were told there's a temple at the summit but the climb is not so easy.

We found two very primitive looking temples close to each other. Mama mentioned they are like Morayere Mane ~ dolmen we had seen at Kumathi yesterday. Yes, indeed it seems like a recent dolmen design. A memory flash! During my school/college days I remember seeing such granite structures in burial/cremation grounds in & around Bengaluru. Some of them seemed not older than 50 years. Does it mean dolmens were built even in 20th century?

The other shrine is built on a rough platform. Mama inspects the surroundings. I must come back here some time and explore the hill thoroughly.

It was past 3-30 now, we decide to leave so that we have enough time for Siddapura inscription and Brahmagirir megalithic site. The descent was non-stop in complete shade, lasted 20 minutes.

Here's a rough map of the area showing the locations of all three edicts of Samrat Ashoka.

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