Introduction – Annigeri is a small town in Navalgund taluk of Dharwad district. It is famous because of the birth place of the famous Kannada poet Pampa who is also known as Adikavi Pampa. The earliest inscription at Annigeri is of the Badami Chalukya king Kirtivarman II (746-753 CE). This puts Annigeri under the direct rule of the Badami Chalukyas.
Kirtivarman II was the last king of the Badami Chalukya dynasty as soon after him the dynasty was eclipsed by Dantidurga, a Rashtrakuta king, in about 752 CE. The Rashtrakutas ruled from their capital Manyakheta.
With the revival of the Chalukyas, a new line ruling from Kalyani, Annigeri went to the Chalukyas again. Many inscriptions of the Western Chalukyas (Kalyani Chalukyas) are found here. The earliest one is from the Western Chalukya king Somesvara II dated 1075 CE. He mentioned Annigeri as the capital of the Belvala country, which probably is same as Belvola-300 of later times.
In about 1157, the Kalchuri king Bijjala took over Annigeri from the Western Chalukyas. Annigeri continues to enjoy the status of a capital to Belvala-nadu region during the Kalachuris. Dandanayaka Sridharayya was governing this region under Bijjala and he made various grants and gifts to temples here. Annigeri area is referred as Dakshina-Varanasi in these inscriptions. For the first time, mention of Amriteshvara temple came in the inscription of the Kalchuri king Bijjala. Before it, no inscription talks about this temple or its presiding deity.
After Dandanayaka Sridharayya, Dhannugidandanayaka governed the Belavala-nadu region under the Kalchuri king Rayamurari Sovideva. However this rule was very short lived. Soon after the death of Bijjala, the Kalchuri empire was routed from Karnataka by the Western Chalukya king Somesvara IV. Dandanayaka Bammideva was instrumental in this victory of the Western Chalukyas.
But this control of Western Chalukyas over Annigeri was also short-lived. Soon after the death of Somesvara IV, in 1190 CE, his empire was divided between his feudatories and Annigeri came under the Suena or Yadavas of Devagiri.
Annigeri continued to be the capital of Belavala region under the Suenas. It became the point of contention between the Suenas and the Hoysalas. For some time, during the rule of Ballala (1173-1220 CE) of the Hoysala dynasty, Annigeri passed over to them in about 1197 CE. However soon it was back to Suenas under king Kannara (1247-1261 CE).
After the Suenas, we have evidences that Annigeri passed to the Vijayanagara rulers. An inscription of Muhammad Shah of the Adil shahi dynasty suggests that the region was under their control during the seventeenth century CE.
Amruteshwara Temple – This temple is constructed in typical Western Chalukya style and dated to about 1050 CE by the experts. It is built in black soapstone and probably the first instance of this material in the case of the Western Chalukyas. Adam Hardy puts the temple to the Lakkundi school and mark it as the predecessor of the Mahadeva temple at Ittagi. The temple was largely patronized and extended during the Hoysala rule.
The external façade of the temple is devoid of much sculptures. The sculptures on upper level of the vimana only surviving, other on the lower level are gone missing. All the three major niches on three directions are empty now.
- On a pillar set up in front of the Banasankari Temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XI – The record belongs to the reign of the Badami Chalukya king Kirtivarman II and is dated in the sixth year of his reign, corresponding to 752 CE. It commemorates the construction of a chediya (Jain temple) by Kaliyamma, the gamunda of Jebulageri and the erection of a sculpture in front of it by Kondisulara Kuppa alias Kirtivarma-gosasi. Regarding gosasi, see Ep. Ind. Vol. VI, p. 255.
- On a hero-stone set up in front of the Chavadi – South Indian Inscriptions vol XI – This badly damaged inscription refers itself to the reign of the Rashtrakuta king Akalavarsha. Since the date portion is damaged, it is not possible to say to which Akalavarsha it should be assigned. The alphabet, is however, too late for Krishna I therefore he can be Krishna II (878-914 CE). It seems to record the death of a hero in a cattle-raid.
- On a slab set up in front of the Temple of Purada-Virappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XI – dated Saka 996, corresponding to 1075-76 CE – This inscription which is very much damaged and mutilated appears to belong to the reign of the Western Chalukya (Kalyani Chalukkya) Bhuvanaikamalladeva (Somesvara II). Reference is made to the Belvala country and its rajadhani Anni[gere] and to an agrahara in the Masavadi division.
- On a slab set up in front of the Mailarappa Temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XI – dated in Chalukya-Vikrama year 22, the tithi and week-day agree with Sunday, July 26, 1097 CE – This much damaged inscription of the reign of the Western Chalukya king Tribhuvanamalladeva (Vikramaditya VI) seems to register a gift of money made by Mahamatya, Rajadhyaksha Baladevayya Nayaka, of the Atreya gotra. The money was to be utilized for dakshina to Brahmanas on the full-moon day of Sravana.
- On a slab set up in front of the temple of Ulivi Bassappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – dated 1139 CE on calculation – The inscription is partially damaged. The extant date portion contains the details, which fell within the regnal period of the Western Chalukya king Jagadekamalla II. The record registers a gift the details of which are lost.
- On a slab set up in the Hanumantadeva temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This record is dated the 2nd regnal year of the Kalachuri king Bijjala, corresponding to 1157 CE. It records a gift of land to the god Dhoresvara of Annigere known as Dakshina-Varanasi, for worship and repairs, by Dandanayaka Sridharayya, the Perggade of Belvala-nadu, in conjunction with his ministerial officials. The epigraph gives a brief account of the donor’s family and describes Annigere as the rajadhani-pattana (chief town) of Belvala.
- On a slab set up in the prakara of the Amritesvara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the fifth regnal year of the Kalachuri king Bijjala, corresponds to 1161 CE. Bijala who is praised for his valour, is referred to as Bhujabalachakravarti and Mahamandalesvara. It registers a gift of land at Annigere to the god Amruteshwara of the excellent Dakshina-Varanasi Tirtha, by Dandanayaka Sridharayya. One of the gifts was meant for reciting the Purana in the temple. Annigere is described as rajadhani-pattana. The inscription is badly damaged.
- On a slab set up in front of Gullikeri Basavanna – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the sixth regnal year of the Kalchuri king Bijjala, corresponding to 1162 CE. It records a gift of land to the goddess Chandika of the holy place of Annigere by Mahapradhana, Sridharayya, the Perggade of Belvala-nadu, at the request of Pattana-verggade Kesiraja. A portion of the gift land was assigned to the learned Brahmana who would perform the worship. Kesiraja whose genealogical account is given, belonged to the Vaji-vamsa. Annigere is described as the rajadhani of the Belvala country.
- On a slab set up in front of the temple of Ulivi Basappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – The record belongs to the reign of the Kalchuri king Thribhuvanamalla (Bijjala). It mentions Vasudevanayaka and refers to the administration of Belvala-desa. It seems to refer to Annigere also. It is badly damaged and the details are lost.
- On a slab set up in front of the temple of Pavadi Basappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – dated Saka 1095, corresponding to 1173 CE – The inscription belongs to the Kalchuri king Rayamurari Sovideva. It registers a gift of land for ablution, offerings, etc., to the deity, for feeding the ascetics, imparting education and for conducting music, dance and other services in the temple for the god Nagesvara at Annigere, constructed by Nagagavunda of the place. The gift was made under instructions from the king in the presence of Dhannugidandanayaka, the governor of Belavalanadu, and other officers, the Trivarga-samaya, the one Thousand and Pura-pattana. An account of the Kalachuri rulers and of the family of Dhannugi as well as of Nagagavunda is given in some detail. Annigere is referred to as the rajadhani of the four ages.
- On a slab built into the platform of the Asvattha tree near the temple of Purada Virappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – The inscription contains the description of Bijjalla who is given the epithet Bhujabalachakravarti and Soma-bhuminatha who might be Rayamuari Sovideva. It mentions Harideva-chamupa. As the epigraph is badly damaged, the date and other details are lost. Only the tithi and the weekday of the date can be made out.
- On a slab set up in front of the temple of Purada Virappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the second regnal year of the Western Chalukya king Somesvara IV, corresponding to 1184 CE. It registers a gift of 300 mattars of land by Kumara Bammarasa-dannayaka into the hands of Vira-Goggideva for worship, offerings, repairs and the feeding of the Mahesvaras in the temple of Virabrammesvara at rajadhani-pattana Annigere (also called Anyatataka) on the occasion of endowing a pura to the temple of Trikutesvara at Gadugu. The record gives a brief account of the restoration of the Chalukya empire after the overthrow of the Kalachuyas by Dandanayaka Bammideva. It recounts the genealogical details and exploits of this Chalukya general and described the achievements of the donee Goggideva who belonged to the famous Sagara lineage and was a staunch advocate of Saivism and sworn enemy of the followers of the Jaina doctrine. It is interesting to note that among boundaries of the land are mentioned five Jaina temples and Permadi which is known to have been a Jaina temple constructed during the Ganga rule in this part of the country.
- On a slab set up in front of the Banasankari temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – The record belongs to the Western Chalukya king Somesvara IV and bears two dates : (1) fifth regnal year of the king, Parabhava, which corresponds to 1186-87 CE (2) sixth regnal year of the king, Plavanga, correspondting to 1187-88 CE. It records, on the first date, the remission of tax on the lands of the Brahmanas in the five Brahmapuris of Annigere made by Dandanayaka Kesirajayaa, the Perggade of Belvala-nadu, who was an officer of Ballaya-Sahani, in the presence of the Karanas, Trivargasamaya and the body of One Thousand. It records on the second-date another gift made to the Brahmanas of Brahmapuri by Pattanadhipati Hadavala Basavayya. It describes the genealogy of the Chalukya kings and mentions Bammideva, Lingadeva, Vishnu-dandanatha, Raya-dandanatha and other officers. Annigere is praised as the crest jewel of the province of Eradarunuru. Most of the composition is in Kannada, but a few Sanskrit verses are also inserted. The record is damaged and many passages are worn out.
- On a slab set up in the prakara of the Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the third regnal year of the Yadava king Bhillama V, corresponding to 1190 CE. It registers the gift of a fixed quantity of jawar to be supplied every month for worship and offerings to the god Svayambhu Amruteshwara by Mahamandalesvara Dandina-gova Bachideva. The earlier part of the record contains the description of the rajadhani-pattana Annigere and its Mahajanas, the donor’s family, etc.
- On a pillar to the left of the southern entrance (outer side) the Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the seventh regnal year of the Hoysala king Vira-Ballala II, corresponding to 1197 CE. It records a gift of land to the god Svayambhu-Amruteshwara of the rajadhanipattana Annigere, by Singayya-dannayaka, son-in-law of Kumara Lakshmidhara-dandanatha.
- Base of the vinayaka image set up on the roof of the mandapa in the Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscription vol XX – The record states that the image was got prepared by Mallana and Nakimayya son of Dhundadeva described as the son of the thousand sameya who were the devaputrakas of god Amruteshwara of Annigere. In characters of about the 12th century CE.
- On a slab set up in the prakara of Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the twelfth regnal year of the Hoysala king Vira-Ballala II, corresponding to 1202 CE. It records a gift of land, after purchase, to the god Svayambhu Amruteshwara of rajadhani-pattana Annigere, for worship on the eighth and fourteenth tithi in the month of Magha, by Basavayya-dandanayaka, the governor of Belvala-300, who is described as one of the four dandanayakas of the king, the other three being amrita, Kalla and Masanayya. The gift is said to have been made at the command of the king whose descent in the lunar line together with the subsequent account of the Hoysala family is narrated in detail.
- On a pillar in the mandapa of the Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated the fifteenth regnal year of the Hoysala king Vira-Ballala II, corresponding to 1205 CE. It records a gift of money for offerings at the time of pradosha on the fourth, seventh and thirteenth tithes to the god Svayambhu-amruteshwara of the rajadhani-pattana Annigere, by Hakisettiya-Devayya. The money was deposited with the One Thousand Mahajanas of the palace, who were to utilize its interest only for the said purpose. It contains praise of the donor and his daughter. The record is damaged.
- On a slab set up in the prakara of Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – The inscription belongs to the reign of the Hoysala king Vira-Ballala II. It described the subordinate chief Mandalika Bachana who was governing the tract from the rajadhani-pattana Annigere. The purpose of the record seems to be to register a gift to the god Amruteshwara. The epigraph being badly damaged and worn out, most of the details are lost.
- On a slab set up near Sahib Mohideen’s mosque – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – On a pillar to the left of the southern entrance (inner side) into the Amritesvara temple. This is dated Saka 1153, corresponding to 1231 CE. It records the gift of income from the Pannaya tax to the god Svayambhu Amruteshwara of Rajadhani-pattana Annigere, by Ariya Revisetti who is style Komkanadesa-chakravartti (i.e., supreme lord of the Konkana country). A gift to the god Bhairava is mentioned in the supplementary portion engraved on the second face of the pillar.
- On a slab set up in the Hanumanta-deva temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – The inscription refers to the reign of the Yadava king Kannara (1247-1261 CE). Details of the date are lost. It seems to record a gift of land the boundaries of which are mentioned in the extent portion which also contains a reference probably to the deities Malligesvara and Bhogesvara. The epigraph is badly damaged and worn out
- On a slab lying in the Jain Basti – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated Saka 1189, corresponding to 1267 CE. It records the death by Samadhi of Keladi-avve, wife of Virayya who was the son of Nompisetti, lay-disciple of Somadevacharya of Mula-samgha and Kondakund-anavaya.
- On a slab set up in front of the temple of Pavadi-Basappa – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – 13th century CE – It seems to mention a person.
- On a pillar to the right of the southern entrance (outer side) into the Amritesvara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – 14th century CE – It seems to condemn the evil of gambling.
- On a pillar in the mandapa of the Amritesvara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – 15th century CE – It states that the image of Nandi was the work of Kannoja, son of Yelemela Bassoja.
- On a slab set up on the right side of the southern entrance into the Amruteshwara temple – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – The inscription refers to the Vijayanagara king Achyutaraya and dated in Saka 1461, corresponding to 1539 CE. It records the gift of Anandanidhi to the Brahmanas by the king in the presence of the god Vithalesvara on the banks of the Tungabhadra. It adds that the gift was recorded on stone in the presence of the god Amritesvara of Annigere.
- On a slab set up near as well called Hudeda-bhavi – South Indian Inscriptions vol XV – This is dated Saka 1567, corresponding to 1646 CE. The ruling king is apparently Muhammad Shah, the Adil shahi Sultan who is referred to by the Hindu prasasti and stated to be the overlord of the kingdom of vidyapura, i.e., Bijapur. It records the grant of a cowl exempting the taxes for a period of twelve years to the chiefs and representatives of Rustumpethe, newly built in Annigere-sime by Rustummajama-saheba, son of Ranadullakana-saheba, who was the agent of the Sultan.
Annigeri skulls – Annigeri came into limelight when few human skulls were discovered by the district administration during desilting a drain in August 2010. Excavations were carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India and the count of skulls rose up to 601. This made the authorities to conduct proper study to find out the cause behind this.
The skulls were sent for radio carbon dating to two laboratories, one Indian and one American. The report, submitted in May 2011, by the Institute of Physics in Bhubaneswar using carbon dating technology states that the skulls were 638 years old, give or take 60 years, placing the deaths around 1370 CE.
The report, submitted in November 2011, by the private Beta Analytic Laboratory in Miami, US, using carbon dating methodology on a small 10g bone sample sent by the Dharwad authorities, indicates that the bone is about 180-200 years old, and bears no signs of violence. This places the period somewhere around 1810-1830 CE.
Taking the report of Indian lab, scholars propose the theory of a massacre during Adil Shahi dynasty. In that massacre, people were killed and their heads were buried deep in the earth. Prof R M Shadaksharaiah does not go with this theory and tells that if there was such a massacre then it would surely have found mention in some epigraph. With so many epigraphs found in and around Annigeri, there is no reference of any such massacre.
Prof R M Shadaksharaiah, Prof M M Kalburgi and Associate Prof J M Nagaiah, all of the Karnataka University, Dharwad, suggest that this site is related to human sacrifice practice prevailed in tantric cults of that age, between 11th and 15th century CE.
Prof M M Kalburgi is of the opinion that the skulls belong to a sect of Shiva followers known as Veera Maheshwaras. These Veera Maheshwaras were the predecessors of a sub-sect of Karnataka’s single largest community, the Lingayats. “These Veera Maheshwaras are the predecessors of the Veera Shaiva cult, who later got amalgamated into the Lingayat community. The Lingayat philosophy is based on ahimsa and is anti-temple, but the Veera Maheshwaras and Veera Shaivas were a brutal people who believed in idols, rituals and temples,” says Kalburgi.
Kalburgi’s theory is based upon the Jaina-Shaiva battles in the region in the 14th century. He claims the poetry, picture-sculptures and rock inscriptions of the period back his theory. According to him, the Veera Maheshwaras had a ritual of destroying Jain temples and killing thousands of Jains before beheading themselves as an offering to Shiva.
Prof R M Shadaksharaiah brushes aside the theory that Veera Maaheshwara cultists destroyed Jaina temples in the region and then committed suicide. He said: “Since there is no mention of the destruction of Jaina, or even Shaiva temples by the Veera Maaheshwara cult in inscriptions, we have to go by circumstantial evidence.” He also tells that if there was a mass massacre during some dynasty then it would have surely found mention in some of the epigraphs found in and around Annigeri.
Prof J M Nagaiah is convinced that the skulls belong to the early 11th century AD when people of Annigeri were put to the sword by a huge army of the Chola emperor Rajaraja I during 1007-08 AD. Nagaiah has relied on a Hottur inscription in Shiggon village of Haveri district, which is about 40 km from Annigeri. According to the inscription Rajaraja Chola I ravaged the whole countryside, murdering women, children and brahmins and “overthrew the order of the caste.”
S K Aiyangar provides reference of Bombay Gazetteer where mention of a Western Chalukya inscription dated 1071 CE from Annigere is found. The epigraph tells that the wicked Chola king, Rajadhiraja, who had abandoned the religious observance of his family, penetrated into the Beluvola country and burnt the Jain temples with Ganga Perumanadi, the lord of Gangamandala, while governing Beluvola had built in Annigerenad. The Chola eventually yielded his head to Somesvara in battle, and thus losing his life broke the succession of his family.
M Chidananda Murthy goes with the report of the American institute for the dating of skulls. He tells that these skulls belong to the people who died during the drought which fell about 200 years back as mentioned in Bombay Gazetteer.
How to Reach – Annigeri is a small town located on NH63 in Dharwad district. It is 20 km from Gadag and 35 km from Hubli. Annigeri is a railway head on Gadag-Hubli line. It is easily accessible via road from Gadag or Hubli. It is a small town so prepare for lodging and accommodation carefully. Better lodging facility are available in Hubli and Gadag.
- Aiyangar, S K (1911). Ancient India: Collected Essays on Literary and Political History of Southern India. Asian Educational Services. New Delhi. ISBN 8120618505
- Burgess, J (1885). Lists of the Antiquarian Remains in the Bombay Presidency. Government Central Press. Bombay.
- Campbell, J M (1884). Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency vol 22: Dharwar. Government Central Press. Bombay.