Monday, 9 July 2018

Tamilnadu Orissa Comparative Timeline

This is a timeline (broad and imprecise) of the dynasties that rule Orissa,with a similar timeline of they dynasties that ruled Tamilnadu concurrently, as historians have reconstructed from inscriptions on monuments, copper plates, literary sources, coins etc.

A broad and imprecise timeline

Orissa (which was called Kalinga until about the twelfth century) and Tamilnadu have some interesting historical connections, though they are separated by the Andhra Pradesh geographically, roughly a 700 km length of land, with its own history. The most famous in Tamil is the 12th century epic Kalingaththu Barani, which narrates the march of the army of Kulothunga Chola to conquer Kalinga. Orissa has its own legend of the Kanchi-Kaveri raja, a fifteenth century king of the Gajapati dynasty, who invaded Tamilnadu and forcibly married a princess of Kanchi. Remarkably two of the largest temples in Orissa, Lingaraj in Bhubaneshvar and Jagannath in Puri were rebuilt by Choda Ganga kings of Kulothunga's lineage.  The largest, Konarak, was built by another Choda Ganga king Vira Narasimha Deva. The name Choda Ganga itself derives from the eponymous title of Rajendra Chola, Gangai Konda Chola - the Chola who conquered the land of the Ganga (Vanga or Bengal), after conquering Kalinga on the way.

The researches of British archaeologists in the nineteenth century, especially the decipherment of Brahmi by James Prinsep, led to discoveries of ancient connections. Evidence of the Maurya king Samrat Asoka's invasion and conquest of Kalinga, is found in the Prakritam inscription at Dhauli near Bhubaneshvar. Asoka mentions Choda (Chola), Pada (Pandya), Keralaputra (Chera) and Satyaputra in his inscriptions, which are the earliest non-Tamil evidence of these contemporaries, and dynasties of the Sangam age in Tamilnadu. Ironically, most of the Sangam literature referring to this period, including a reference to "Vamba Moriyar" (the new Mauryas), had been lost in collective Tamil memory and were rediscovered by U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer, a hundred years after Prinsep's rediscovery of Asoka and the Mauryas.

The inscriptions of Kharavela, a king of the Mahameghavana dynasty, was also deciphered by Prinsep, though subject to later reinterpretations by Cunningham and others. Among several contemporaries, Kharavela claims to have destroyed a 113 year old federation of Tamils (Tamira desha sangaatha) and having conquered Chodas (Cholas) and Padas (Pandyas) and brought back their treasures, including baskets of pearls, carried by elephants.

The histories of Shailodbhava, Bhaumakara and Somavamshi dynasties, comes almost entirely from copper plates, and an inscription in the Brahmeshvara temple in Bhubaneshvar, now reported as lost (how!?) or alternatively, moved to the Calcutta (and lost in Calcutta, maybe).

I thank Shyam C Raman, who prepared a better, more informative timeline for the THT Orissa Site Seminar, from which I have borrowed the information. Thanks also to  Ramki J, for the Kharavela video.

My other attempts at timelines

Tamilnadu and Gujarat
Tamilnadu and Karnataka
Tamil literature
Sanskrit literature
The Rediscovery of Asoka and Brahmi

Other Links

Indian Columbus Blog of Orissa temples
Sudharanam's poem - அசோகத்தூண் கண்டெடுத்த காதை

My explanation of Kharavela inscription (video)


  1. Kalinga is wellknown name for the present day Odisha. There is another name:Utkala. I am not sure if it refers to the whole of Odisha or only northen part of Odisha. Please enlighten me.
    What is your view on the theory that Sinhalese people of Srilanka came from Kalinga?

  2. Rangarathnam Gopu20 July 2018 at 09:36

    Kalinga, Utkala and Kosala are names of three regions of what is now Orissa or Odisha. The words Kalinga and Trikalinga have also been used to describe the whole region.

    The Kalinga origins of Sinhalese is one conjecture, there is a lesses known conjecture that they went from Gujarat. I haven't seen the original sources, though.

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