Introduction – Chaudadanpura was an important pilgrimage site in the medieval times however at present it is reduced to a small village. It is located on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river, a major river in Karnataka state. The place has been referred as Gope, Muktikshetra, Shivapura in inscriptions, Chaudadanpura seems to be a later appellation of the same.
A local tradition assigns the present name, Chaudadanpura, to 12th century CE. As per the legend Shivadeva Wodeyar, who was living here, donated this place to Chaudayya who was a great devotee of Shiva and belonged to the community of boatmen. As the place was donated to him hence it was called as Chaudadanpura.
Viragamottara (stanza 374) mentions a place named Muktinilaya located on the banks of Tungabhadra. Muktinilaya is mentioned to be equally revered by Brahma and Vishnu. Vasundhara Filliozat suggests that this Muktinilaya might be same as Chaudadanpura, as it has been referred in past as Muktikshetra.
She also narrates a story that a swami at Mailara told her that as Tungabhadra takes a curve and the meandering stream runs westwards, then turns to north, hence the place where on course ends and the other begins is called Muktikshtera. River Tungabhadra is compared with Ganga in the inscriptions found here and called as southern Ganga. Similarly, Muktikhstera is called as southern Varanasi (Kashi).
Vasundhara suggests that Chaudadanpura held a considerable importance during the Lakulisa movement period. When lakulisa sect witnessed a setback during twelfth and thirteenth century CE, Chaudadanpura emerged as a great center of Virashiavism. However the earliest inscription found in the temple speaks that Muktikshetra was blessed with Brahmans reciting Samaveda, Gayatri etc which are against the Lakulisa practices.
Shivadeva – Story of Chaudadanpura would be incomplete without mention of Shivadeva. It was he who came here and established a great Lingayata center. As per an inscription (no 4 of this article) when Shiva was asked by his ganas about how to spread the bhakti path on the earth, Shiva replied that as Bamkanatha showed the path to Basavayya, he will show the same to the people by Shivadeva.
An inscription (no 4 of this article) tells that Shivamuddudeva was worshiping Dhavaleshvara at Srigiri (Srisailam). He told that Shiva is the only god and Keshava, Jina and Buddha are his servants. Shivamuddudeva advised Shivadeva to go to Muktikhstera, where holy Tungabhadra flows, and worship Shiva there. Another inscription (no 5 of this article) tells that lord Mallikarjuna told Shivadeva to go Muktikhstera where he resides with Uma as Muktinatha.
Shivadeva arrived at Muktikhstera in 1226 CE. An inscription (no 6 of this artcile) tells that Shivadeva took strict vows and pledges when he entered Muktikhstera. He pledged that he will not embrace women with the arms which embrace the linga nor he will cast any greedy look on them, nor will unite with them, nor will give place to them in his thoughts. He further pledged that he will not cross the limits of Muktikhstera. He declared capital punishment on him if he desire any fruit, svarga and mukti. He shall do daily worship without hankering after any fruit good or bad. After taking these tough vows he performed bhasma-snana.
An inscription (no 6 of this artcile) states that Samgana Basava said that serving Linga and Jangama is the best of religious duties. Shivadeva was highly influenced with Basava and hence he honored both with pleasure. Though Basava does not approve much temple building activities however the inscriptions also tell us that Shivadeva built a temple at Muktikhstera and also repaired a dilapidated temple fully in stone till its finial. He also built stone embankment on the bank of Tungabhadra.
At some time later, the house of the Guttas, local rulers under the Chalukyas and later to the Hoysalas, came under the influence of Shivadeva. The Gutta kings paid many visits and made grants to Shivadeva and lord Muktesha. On support of this royal patronage and support, Shivadeva created Shivadevapura, a real seat of Amarganas on the earth. He founded a Virashiava matha at Chaudadanpura whose control is still in the hands of his descendants, the Wodeyar family, staying in Dharwar.
The fame of Shivadeva spread to great distances. As per an inscription here, when Kannadevi’s hudband died, Siddha Revanadeva advised her to go to Mukteshavara linga where Shivadeva lives. He asked here to worship lord Muktinatha and get blessings to the saint. Kannadevi came to Muktikhstera and started living there. While living at Muktikshetra built a temple dedicated to Kalideva in memory of her husband.
An inscription (no 9 of this article) dated in the 24th regnal year of the Yadava king Ramachandradeva mentions pranalinga of Siddha Shivadeva. This suggests that Shivadeva was no more on the earth at that time. Hence Shivadeva departed the earth before 1292 CE. In his 66 years at Muktikhstera, Shivadeva built up a stronghold seat of the Lingayata movement.
Vasundhara Filliozat mentions that though Basava was the founder of the Lingayata sect but it was Shivadeva who revived this after the death of the former. Sharif Kavi, a nineteenth century CE poet, composed Shivadevavijaya which mentions the life of Shivadeva and Lingayata movement. As this is a very late work and has survived not in full so not much reliance can be put on it.
Monuments – The village is famous for its Mukteshvara temple and a matha.
Mukteshvara Temple – This is the main temple of the Mukteshvara temple complex. The temple is consisted of a garbha-griha, sukanasi and a ranga-mandapa (closed hall), all aligned on the east-west axis. All these elements have an opening on the east except the ranga-mandapa which has two openings, one on east and one on south, both entrances have porches attached.
At a later point of time a modern mandapa was added to the temple however the former has no structural connection with the latter. This mandapa has an opening on east and west and stood detached from the main temple, however as this is constructed on the same east-west axis of the temple so appears to be a part of the same.
Garbha-griha is square in plan as usual for a Hindu temple. It houses a small linga which is not placed over any pitha (base). These types of lingas are assumed to be swamvabhu (self-originating) lingas. As evident from inscriptions of the temple, Shiva came here with Uma himself to stay and bless devotees. The vimana over the grabha-griha is pyramidal shape and has three stories of diminishing size. It is topped with a square dome with its angles protruding up like lotus petals.
Ranga-mandapa has four pillars in center which constitute a square of similar size as that of garbha-griha. There is a unique Surya image placed in this mandapa which was brought from the nearby town of Narsipura. Surya is shown standing below a canopy made of seven hoods of a serpent. A Sapta-matrika panel is also found in a niche in the same mandapa.
Iconography of the temple is hard to reconstruct as the temple has been plundered as suggested by Vasundhara Filliozat. She mentions that remains of mortises on the capitals suggests that carved steles or bracket figures were placed on those however none of these exist at present. She numbered such mortises and states that about 160 such carved steles have been removed from the temple. Foekema differs with 160 number and estimates it to 75. Whichever may be the case, at present the temple gives a look of a deprived one from decoration however it would not been the case when it was constructed and was decorated with all the bracket figures.
The tower of the temple has three steles on each side like gable ends. The first stele is empty while others have either Shiva in his various forms or a goddess. On south we see Shiva as Bhirava accompanied with two ghosts and a dog. On the west we find a seated image of Shiva which Vasundhara Filliozat suggest might be of Sadyojatamurti. On north we find Shiva as Maheshvara.
To the south of the extended mandapa of the main temple, there is a small west facing shrine. This shrine is consisted of a cell and a mandapa. The shrine was referred as the ‘temple of Gomuni’ by Walter Elliot, which is also its present nomenclature. As the inscription mentioning construction of a temple by Kannadevi in memory of her husband and dedicating that to lord Kalinath was found inside this temple hence it might be the very same temple constructed by that lady in 1262 CE.
There are few other shrines in the complex however none has any considerable style or architecture. All are small in proportion with their major features already lost. All are made up on a single cell having a Shivalingas inside. A permanent shed has been recently constructed where all the stele inscriptions are put at single place.
There is no proper foundation inscription about this temple. The earliest inscription found here talks about construction of a Shiva temple by Attiraja during the reign of the Chalukyan king Vikramaditya VI. This inscription is not dated however the event would have taken place in between 1105 and 1115 CE. As the place mentioned in that inscription is Muktikhstera hence it is not very certain whether the temple mentioned in the inscription was the main temple or a subsidiary shrine.
Another inscription dated in 1225 CE mentions that Shivadeva repaired a dilapidated temple from its base to top till finial. If this was the same temple built by Attiraja, was it possible that within 100 years it had to be repaired in such a large scale.
Inscriptions – There are nine major inscriptions found at this place. Apart from these, there are few fragmentary records on the steps leading to river Tungabhadra. Only of these fragmentary record is dated to 1565 CE, others are just records of pilgrims.
- Stone inscription of Vikramaditya VI – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 112 – Language Sanskrit & Kannada, script Kannada – the date is lost, J F Fleet dates to 1115 CE, however Vasundhara Filliozat dates it between 1101 and 1115 CE – a part of the record is lost – The record starts with homage to Shiva and mentions that a temple constructed of stone gives more merit than that of constructed with brick, which in turn is more meritorious than mud and mud meritorious than wood. The record further eulogized Tribhuvanamalla of the family of Satyasraya which evidently refers to Vikramaditya VI of the Chalukyan dynasty. Boundaries of his empire are given as sea on west and east, snow (Himalaya) on north and setu (bridge) on south. Govindarasa was administering Banavasi 12000 under the Chalukyan king. Then comes the genealogy of the Guttas who were descendants of Vikramaditya, who was blessed by Mahakala of Ujjain and the master of Pataliputra and moon to the family of king of kings Chandragupta. In this Gutta family, there was born a king named Magutta. His son was Gutta. His son was Mallideva. Then comes the description of a Shiva temple built by the descendants of Jata Chola who were dependants of the Guttas. River Tungabhadra is compared with Ganga and hence called South Ganga. Muktikshetra is hence referred as South Kashi. Among the Jata Chola family was born Jomma whose son was Dasa. To Dasa was born Attinrpa. Chanda was the younger brother of Attinrpa. Chanda’s father-in-law was Mahamandaleshvara. Attiraja built a temple at the bank of Tungabhadra in Muktikshetra when Mallabhupa of the Gutta family was ruling the region.
- Stone inscription of Ahavaditya Vikramaditya – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 299 – Language Sanskrit and Kannada, script early Kannada – dated Saka 1113 (1192 CE) – the record opens with invocation to Muktesha and talks about eight worlds, earth and seven oceans with seven continents. Jambudvipa is praised as the most beautiful among the seven. Malava lies south of Himalaya and it is a merit to hear about Ujjaini, a city in Malava. King Vikramaditya was the best of kings ruling over Ujjaini and acquired many siddhis. In this family of Chandragupta, after defying belief that no one will be born equal to Vikramaditya, was born Vira Vikramaditya. To this Vikramaditya was born Jomma. His younger brother was Gutta. Padmaladevi was the queen of Gutta. To them was born Vira Vikramaditya. He governed Banavase-nadu from his residence in Guttavolal. Kameya was a chief under Vira Vikramaditya. Atyarasa was a fiery king whose daughter Macaladevi was married to Nayaka Mara. Kameya Nayaka was born to Maraya Nayaka. Kameya Nayaka got six mattaru land from Vira Vikramaditya and he after bowing at the feet of Muktajiyar made that land tax-free to do repairs to the temple. Later Vira Vikramaditya also gave a grant to lord Muktesha in the presence of an assembly of mahajanas.
- Kadamba Grant of Kamadeva – Indian Archaeology 1964-65 – Sanskrit language, Nagari script – dated Saka era 1139 (1216 CE) and 35th regnal year of Kamadeva – records the tax-free gift of the village Vegavadde together with Hoddanahalli and Vikkanahalli to a number of Brahmans by king’s minister Mayideva of Nagavamsha belonging to a royal family of Kashmir. It is stated that the gifted village had been received by the donor by the king himself – there was no Kadamba king in thirteenth century CE, so there might be an errata in the journal where Kadamba actually meant Kamadeva, however it is just my hypothesis
- Stone inscription of Vira Mahadevaraya – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVII, No 244 – Language Kannada with few Sanskrit and Prakrit verses, script Kannada – dated Saka 1148 (1225 CE), third regnal year of Vira Mahadevaraya – record mentions Shiva telling Parvati and Nandinatha that as Bamkanatha followed the preaching of Basavayya, son of Sangamesha, I will spread my bhakti through Shivadeva. Shivamuddudeva at Srisailam mentions that Dhavaleshvara lingam was installed by the lord himself. He further states that Keshava, Buddha and Jina are not gods but the servants of Shiva. Shivamuddudeva told to Shivadeva that Tungabhadra is a divine river and Muktikhstera is like Kailasha on the earth. Shivadeva, taking orders from his guru, came to Muktikshetra in 1225 CE. He took up some hard vows like not to tresspass the limits of Muktikshetra, not to lie down on earth etc. He built up a Shivakatte, probably embankments on the left bank of the river. He also built a abode of Rudra and repaired the existing temple in stone up to its finial. Shivadeva showed the identity of Linga and Jangama, and thus his cult was different from the ancients. In the third regnal year of Vira Mahadevaraya of the Yadava dynasty. Then follows the genealogy of the Guutas from Vikramaditya to whom were born Gutta and Joyivikramaditya from Mailaladevi. Gutta ruled from Guttavolal and obtained the compassion of Sri Shivadeva. At the instigation of Manambenayaka, a minister of Tribhuvanamalla, Gutta made Chikka Kuruvatti an agrahara and exempted that from taxes and endowed vrttis to Shivadeva for his religious activities. Later lands were bought bu Shivadeva at the hands of every grhastha at Kuruvatti and Gope.
- Stone inscription of Mahadevaraya – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 245 – Language Sanskrit & Kannada, script Kannada – dated Saka 1184 (1262 CE) – obeisance is paid to Shiva, Kallinatha and Mallikarjuna of Sirigiri (present Srisailam). It is mentioned that when Shivadeva was residing at Sirigiri, Shiva ordered him to go to Mukhtikshetra where the lord resides with Umadevi. Shivadeva followed this divine order and came to Muktikshetra following Lingasamvujna in Saka 1148 (1226 CE). Cilala, son of Revanadeva, was the governor of Lokki in Toragalenadu. Kannadevi, the queen of Kallarasa, was enjoying Shivabhakti among the Shivaganas. When her husband died, on the advice of Revanadeva, Kannadevi came to see Shivadeva at Muktikshetra to have darshana of Muktinatha. Thus residing at Muktikshetra and serving Shiva ganas, she consecrated a linga, Kalideva. This event happened during the reign of Yadava king Mahadeva, and Guttarasa, son of Vikramaditya, the lord of Ujjaini, the lotus of Chandragupta’s family, having banyan tree as his banner. Guttarasa at the linga festival donated a tax free land in Saka 1184.
- Stone inscription of Mahadevaraya – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 246 – Language Sanskrit & Kannada, script Kannada – dated Saka 1185 (1263 CE) – Obeisance is paid to Shiva and Muktesha. Shivagana praised Shiva and thus Shiva asked the reason for the praise. The ganas replied that the dharma is vanishing from earth in this Kali age and the period of Carvaka, Saugata and Bauddhagama. Hence it is the time to protect the world. Shiva replied with description of Muktikshetra on the bank of Tungabhadra which washes off sins. This is the place of initiation to liberation. Saying this Shiva appeared in the form of a linga at this place. Shri Shivadeva was born in highest rank of birth and realizing that four ashramas are pointless, he has entered into Shivashrama. Shivadeva took many tough vows and gave pledges to lord Shiva. Samgana Basava preached worship of Linga and Jangama and this was followed by Shivadeva. Then come the eulogy of the Gutta dynasty. Vira Vikramaditya was born to king Vikrama and Mahadevi. He was the lord of Ujjaini, born in the family of Chandragupta, sun to the lotus family of Guttas and worshiper of the holy lotus feet of Sparshalinga at Galaganatha. To his queen Mayilaladevi was born Gutta who ruled from Guttavolal. He also obtained Shivadeva’s compassion thus obtaining his grace. At the time of offerings made to God Somanathalinga by Guttarasa called Bommagavunda, son of Ramagavunda, of Bevolala to Shivapura, which was already offered to the holy feet of Shivadeva, Gutta ordered Bommagavunda to donate 6 gamga mattaru of land of black soil to the north of Bevolala. At the time of lunar eclipse, Saka 1185, Shivadeva created Shivadevapura, real seat of Amaraganas, heaven on earth. Then comes the eulogy of king Mahadevaraya of the Yadava dynasty who was the lord of Dvaravatipura, having a golden eagle on his flag, born in Vrshni dynasty, three eyed Shiva in fighting with Malavas, frightening fever to Gurjaras, disperser in all directions of the Chola army, establisher of the Telugu kings etc. He ordered Devarasa to protect his subjects at Toragale, the southern border of his kingdom. Devarasa came for darshana of the linga worshiped by Shivadeva at Muktikhstera, southern Kashi, at the south bank of Tungabhadra. He granted 8 gamgamattaru tax free land to the god. Counting one haga of interest per year, for 15 gadyana levied on the fields donated by the assembly of Asesa mahajana of Kuruvatti, from this money Shivadeva feeds one Lingajangama.
- Inscription of Mahadevaraya – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 247 – Language Sanskrit & Kannada, script Kannada – dated Saka 1187 (1265 CE) – The inscription begins with a salutation to Shiva. Then it proceeds to relate the events. On the orders of emperor Mahadeva, from Toragale Devarasa came specially to Muktikshtera for the purpose of granting some villages to the temple of Muktinatha. At first, Shivadeva, smilingly refused to accept the grant but after seeing the ambassador’s agony, comforted the donor by saying, “after all, you are offering it to go Viresha, it is his wish to accept the grant and I shall receive it on behalf of the Lord”. Mailaladevi, the queen mother of the Gutta kings is mentioned as one from whom the lands were obtained. The Guttas of Guttavolal namely Guttarasadeva, Hiriyadeva, Joyideva and their mother Mailaladevi were disciples of Shivadeva. Also they were the worshipers of the Sprashalinga at Galaganatha.
- Inscription at the stone pillar (Kirtistambha) – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 265 – Language Sanskrit, script Kannada – dated Saka 1210 (1288 CE) – it records that this pillar was installed at Muktikshetra by Saliveya Simhadeva, the son of general Ballala, grandson of Simha Deva and great-grandson of Devannaya, when the Yadava king Ramachandradeva was reigning. The eulogy of the Yadava kings is same as seen in the inscription no 6 of this article. Muktikhstera is said to be located in the town of Gope, in the region of Guttala in Kanndadesha. The mast was installed in the presence of Mukteshvara called Shri Shivadeva.
- Inscription of Ramchandradeva – South Indian Inscriptions vol XVIII, No 268 – Language Sanskrit & Kannada, script Kannada – dated 24th regnal year of king Ramachandra (1292 CE) – By the order of mahapradhana, sarvadhikari Parashuramadeva, the sarvadhikari Habbarasa, Devarasa, Sunkada Sitala Heggade assigned as donation perpetually the income derived from tax on the artisans, oil men, weavers, shops, load of 25 bullocks, headload etc. in the presence of 120 leading men of Gope, the southern Varanasi situated on the river Tungabhadra to God Mukteshvara. The ruling king was Ramachandra of Devagiri Yadava family.
How to Reach – Chaudadanpura is located in Haveri district of Karnataka. From Ranebennur, take Guttal Road (SH57), you need to cross Devaragudda cross & Honnatti village. After travelling about 21 km, there is a small bus stop at the left, this is actually a bus stop for Chaudayyadanapura. Take right just after this bus stop & go for about 3 km, you reach the destination.
- Burgess, James (1885). List of Antiquarian Remains in the Bombay Presidency. Government Central Press. Mumbai.
- Cousens, Henry (1926). The Chalukyan Architecture of the Kanarese Districts. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Fleet, J F (1878). Pali, Sanskrit and Old Canarese Inscriptions. George Edward Eyre & William Spottiswoode. London.
- Filliozat, Vasundhara (1995). The Temple of Muktesvara at Cudadanpura. Abhinav Publication. New Delhi. ISBN 8170173272
- Palande, M R (1959). Dharwad District Gazetteer. Karnataka Government. Dharwad.
- Rea, Alexander (1896). Chalukyan Architecture. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi.
- Rice, B L (1897). Mysore – A Gazetteer Compiled for Government. Archibald Constable and Company. London.