TRIAL EXCAVATIONS AT TALAGUNDA, SHIKARIPUR TALUK, SHIMOGA DISTRICT, KARNATAKA (2013-14)
Talagunda is situated about 3 km north of Balligave village and nearly 19 km north west of Shikaripur. As per the available records it is an ancient Agrahara known as Sthanakundura, the native place from where the Kadambas of ancient Vaijayanti or Banavasi hailed. Sporadic exploration around Talagunda has brought to light many inscriptions/hero stones, sati stones, brick structures and ceramics of early historic period. The available records reveal the site being in occupation right from the Satavahana period. This was followed by Kadamba, Ganga, Western Chalukya, Late Ganga, Kalachurya, Hoysala and Later Chalukyas of Kalyana.
In order to see the foundation details of the Pranaveswara temple, as the monument had developed sunken foundation, tilted walls and wide cracks, a trial trench measuring 2.50 m.sq. was taken up in the south east corner of the mahamandapa of the temple. This trench had yielded two sets of copper plates and thirteen gold coins of Ganga period. As a sequel to the above findings, trial trenches were laid between the temple and the famous Talagunda Pillar inscription of Shantivarman in the same premise, inorder to cross verify the Talagunda pillar inscriptional reference towards the antiquity of the place to the times of Satakarni’s. The trial excavations laid bare structural activities ranging from the Satavahanas (3rd century CE) to that of the Kalyana Chalukyas (12th century CE). The Pranaveswara temple of Talagunda was originally an apsidal brick structure dating back to the time of Satavahanas (circa 3rd century CE), which was further restored and expanded by the Kadambas by adding a square mahamandapa with lion balustrade steps in greenish grey schist stone at east and two lateral entrances at north and south. The first inscription found in the north side balustrade in all probability datable to 370 - 450 CE is the most outstanding discovery and throws new light into the study of origin and development of Kannada script. It is in seven lines and in Brahmi script written left to right in a slightly slanting nature. The use of Kannada words along with Sanskrit makes it a dual language inscription. The inscription records gifts of land to a boat man namely Vaji Naga [yya] who belonged to the Boygara family by a certain Halami of Pulindage. The second inscription found in the south side balustrade is perhaps a fair copy of the north balustrade inscription and refers to one “Chandraditya” and the temple Pranaveswara as “Mahadeva”. The inscription is definitely dated to Early Kadamba period and is earlier to the Talagunda Pillar inscription of Shantivarman (c.450 CE).
These structural activities are supported with the finding of coins of the Kadamba, Satavahana and Ganga periods. The structural activities of the Kalyana Chalukyas were found in the form of floors and walls constructed by using reused bricks.
ARETHIPURA, MADDUR TALUK, MANDYA DISTRICT, KARNATAKA (2014-15 TO 2017-18)
Arethipura (12.51125543800 N; 77.12494769200 E), the ancient Tippuru or Tippeyur as mentioned in the epigraphical records is situated 25 km southeast of Maddur and 5 km east of Kokkarabellur in Maddur Taluk, Mandya district of Karnataka. This village is situated near the outcrops locally known as Shravanabetta and Chikkabetta (Kanakagiri), both protected by ASI, Bangalore Circle.
The surface topography is in the form of undulating plain situated at an average elevation of 750 - 900m MSL. There are a few sporadic out-crops of rocks and lies on the left banks of the river Shimsha which flows about 6 km south of the site. The excavations conducted revealed 13 temples of Jain affiliation belonging to Ganga to Vijayanagara periods, 04 mandapas and a fortification wall to secure the whole complex.
HALEBIDU, BELUR TALUK, HASSAN DISTRICT, KARNATAKA (2020-21)
The excavation site (13,1229.5" N, 75.59'41.0" E) is a small mound located in Halebidu, and the area is also known as Bastihalli. The mound lies towards the south and southwest of the Jain Basadi complex, which are centrally protected monuments under the Archaeological Survey of India, Bangalore Circle.
The excavation has exposed the remains of a Jain Basadi extant only up to the adhishtana. The structure is dated to 12th century CE on the basis of architectural and sculptural features. It was built in north-south orientation and measures 20.75m x 11.5m in area, 1.30 m extant height. The adhishtana is composed of the usual mouldings including upana, jagati, tripatta kumuda and moulding with dentil decoration. The basadi faces north and has on plan, a garbhagriha, a small antarala, mahamandapa and mukhamandapa. A flight of steps is seen attached to the mukhamandapa. It does not seem to have had a balustrade or the balustrade is now missing. The exposed parts of the adhishtana shows that it was constructed with dry mortar and iron clamps were used to join together the stone slabs. The exterior of the adhishtana displays a number of offsets in the area of garbhagriha and mahamandapa. The eastern wall of the sanctum was pierced to accommodate a rectangular stone channel that served as an outlet for the abhisheka water. The channel, which projected outwards up to a length of 0.85m x 0.42m was found broken in-situ. An outer circumambulatory pathway extended all around the temple in the form of one meter-wide well-rammed floor. On this rammed passage were found numerous broken parts of the fallen shikhara and other architectural members including the decorative sculptures and antiquities. A three letter votive inscription in Kannada was noticed on the right side of the adhishtana. It reads ‘namah’ and palaeographically datable to 13th century CE.
The excavation has revealed ritual objects, sling balls, wheels, mullers, a plumb bob, a votive tank in stone and lamps, beads in terracotta. Several sculptures and architectural members which once formed part of the temple, was also found and included male and female deity (yakshas), royal devotes, corner stones with demi god and goddess.