Abhinava Varanasi Kataka

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HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF CUTTACK Dr Rajashree Swain, M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D. (Utkal) Senior Lecturer in History Baba Bhairabananda Mahavidyalaya, Chandikhol, Jajpur Cuttack, now the metropolis of Orissa is one of its old cities, located in latitude 20029 North and longitude 85050 East. It is situated at the bifurcation of the Mahanadi and its main branch, the Kathjori. These two rivers form an extensive delta of which the Bay of Bengal serves as the base and Cuttack as the apogee. From the geographic
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  HISTORICAL EVOLUTION OF CUTTACK  Dr Rajashree Swain, M.A., M.Phil, Ph.D. (Utkal ) Senior Lecturer inHistory   Baba Bhairabananda Mahavidyalaya,Chandikhol, Jajpur   Cuttack  , now the metropolis of Orissa is one of its old cities, located in latitude20 0 29 / North and longitude 85 0 50 / East. It   is situated at the bifurcation of theMahanadi and its main branch, the Kathjori . These two rivers form an extensive deltaof which the Bay of Bengal serves as the base and Cuttack as the apogee. From thegeographical point of view, the city is also unique because it is surrounded on three sidesof its north, west and south by forest clad hills .  Historical evidences are scanty regarding the establishment of Cuttack  . ‘Madala Panji’ , the temple chronicle of Lord Jagannatha throws some light on it, but itsaccounts are based more on traditions. On the basis of ‘Madala Panji’, Andrew Sterling writes, “Raja Nrupa Kesari, a martial and ambitious prince, who was alwaysfighting with his neighbours, is said to have planted a city on the site of modernCuttack, about A.D. 989. The reign of Markata Kesari was distinguished for theconstruction of stone revetment, or embankment faced with that material, probablythe ancient one of which the remains are yet to be seen to protect the new capitalfrom inundation in A.D. 1006; and Madhava Kesari has the credit of building afortress of vast dimensions at Sarangher 1 .” 1    But from the ‘Madala Panji’, it is known that Nripa Kesari ruled up toSaka 875 (i.e. 953, A.D.) but regarding the foundation of Cuttack no reference ismade in it. 2   Markata Kesari , the successor of Nrupa Kesari is acclaimed withconstruction of the fort of Barabati on the bank of Mahanadi, whereas the stoneembankment along the Mahanadi is credited to one Nabaghana Singh during thereign of Ghata Kesari 3 .From the ‘Katakarajavamsavali’ , the Sanskritised version of the ‘MadalaPanji’, it is known that, “Anantaram-Nripa-Kesari-rajo-raja -rajya-kritavan-Asau-bahun-rajno-jitva-rajyani-grihitavan-Mahanadi Madhya-Kataka nama-nagaram-tadantargata-dvadasa-vatika-name-durga ca- karitavan” . 4   It means that a kingnamed Nrupa Kesari ruled the kingdom after defeating many kings. There is the city of Kataka in the middle of Mahanadi. The construction of the fort of Barabati is ascribed tohim. Markata Kesari , the successor of Nrupa Kesari ruled upto Saka 929, i.e.1007, A.D.His brother  Nrisimha Ray constructed the stone embankment around the city of Cuttack.Thus it is clear that the recollections entreasured in these texts areconfusing and the authentic history of the Kesari dynasty cannot be ascertained 2  from it . However, neither the history of the Kesari Vamsa of these traditions is totallyimaginary nor the ‘Madala Panji’ is totally devoid of historical evidences. Of course,these legendary stories might have embodied certain elements of historical truth whichotherwise remains uncorroborated or supported by historical sources.Kataka, situated on the bank of river Mahanadi, had not attained the status of ametropolis during the rule of the Somavamsis as they had their capital at ‘AbhinavaYayatinagara’ or the modern Jajpur .On the basis of  archaeological evidences , K. C. Panigrahi has tried to place his arguments that Cuttack was a “place of importance even during the Bhaumarule in Orissa” 5 . Of course, his view, to some extent, has been supported by theexistence of a few sculptural and structural remains of the ancient temples of the 8 th - 9 th century A.D. at Cuttack belonging to the Bhauma kara period . But it is doubtfulwhether it had enjoyed the status of a metropolis, during this time. Most probably, itserved the purposes of a military cantonment .During the reign of the Sailodbhava dynasty , Katakabhukti visaya is mentionedin the Parikuda plate of Madhyamaraja . R. C. Majumdar identified this Katakabhuktivisaya with Cuttack  6 . But scholars have rejected this identification of R. C. Majumdar on the ground that the Sailodbhava territory never expanded beyond the Puri-Ganjam region that was also known as Kongoda Mandala. After the conquest of Orissa by Codagangadeva during the early part of the12th century A.D., the importance of Kataka gradually increased. ‘Madala Panji’ reveals3  that ‘Biranasi Kataka’ is one among the Pancha katakas being occupied byCodagangadeva, the founder of the Ganga dynasty at the time of his conquest of Orissa.Basing on ‘Madala Panji’, Sterling described this Kataka in the name of ‘Biranasi’ but subsequently this name was being mentioned as ‘Baranasi’ in ‘MadalaPanji’. From this, one can conclude that two distorted names, i.e. ‘Biranasi’ and‘Baranasi’ were being created out of the srcinal name ‘Baranasi’. Amongst these, thename ‘Biranasi’ gradually converted to ‘Bidanasi’ and the name ‘Baranasi’ wasconverted to ‘Benaras’ in the writings of  muslim historians . Just as the city of Baranasiis situated between the rivers Baruna and Asi, likewise Cuttack is situated between therivers Mahanadi and Kathjori, and, was, therefore, named as Baranasi Kataka .Codagangadeva had occupied Orissa during the early parts of 12th century.According to ‘Madala Panji’ 7 , Codagangadeva had occupied Kataka in the guise of adancer (nata vesare asi Kataka madivasi raja hoila).   Mukhalingamplates of Codagangadeva, dated 1108 A.D . refer to his restoration as the king of Utkala ,which is also supported by his Korni plates , dated 1112 A.D . From these two plates, wecan conclude that Codagangadeva occupied Orissa or Utkala around 1108 A.D. In order to check the Kalachuris, Codagangadeva shifted his capital from Kalinganagara after1135 A.D . to Kataka , which was centrally located in his vast empire.  Land grants by Anangabhimadeva III in 1157   sakabda or 1230 A.D . at‘Abhinava Varanasi Kataka’ is mentioned in a copper plate found from ‘Nagari’village near Cuttack. This proves that a certain “Varanasi Kataka” already existed by 4
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