Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dandanayakan Fort: Hoysala Commander's Fort forms part of Bhavani Sagar Dam Catchment Area.

Dandanayakan Fort submerged in Bhavani Sagar Dam. PC: Keetru 13 Dec 2012
Bhavani Sagar Dam aka Lower Bhavani Dam and Reservoir (Wikipedia)

Bhavani Sagar Dam aka Bhavani Sagar Dam and Reservoir is the prominent earthen dam in India .  The second largest dam in Tamil Nadu  is located  on the Bhavani River in Erode district, Tamil Nadu. The dam with a capacity to store 32.8 tmc of water feeds the Lower Bhavani Project Canal and forms the water source for  the vast swathes of land (2.45 lac acres of land) in Erode & Tiruppur Districts. The irrigation project was the first major irrigation project designed and developed in India after independence in 1947 and came to full function by 1956. It is one the favorite places for picnics and known for childerns' amusement, fun and gaiety.

Whenever the water level in Bhavani agar Dam goes down (total height of the dam -  32 m (105 ft) the visitors can view  the Danayakkan Kottai ‘டனாய்க்கன் கோட்டை’ aka Dhana Nayakan fort. Whenever water level reaches full height the fort gets submerged into the water. According to historians the fort dates back to 1292 and 1341. Before the construction of Bhavanisagar Dam and Reservoir the present catchment area of the dam was occupied by the Dhana Nayakan fort as well as villages like Kooduvoy (கூடுவாய்), Peerkadavu (பீர்க்கடவு) and Kuyyanur (குய்யனூர்). Once it was decided to construct the dam the native people were provided with alternate land for living.  The fort also bears some significant inscriptions.

Kongu Nadu region (Wikipedia)
This region was known as part of Kongu Nadu. Valasundara Kavirayar, probably a seventeenth century poet, hailing from Vijayamangalam (near Perundurai) versifies the borders of the Kongu mandalam as:

வடக்கு நந்திகிரி வராககிரி தெற்கு
குடக்கு பொறுப்பு வெள்ளிக்குன்று
களித்தன்டலை மேவு காவிரிசூழ்
நாடு-குளித்தன்டலை அளவு கொங்கு.  
 - கொங்குமண்டல சதகம்

According to his poem in Kongumandala sathakam (கொங்குமண்டல சதகம்), the Kongu Nadu was bound by Varaka Giri (Panrimalai mountain (பன்றிமலை) in the Palani-Kodaikkanal ranges (பழனி கொடைக்கானல் மலை) in the south, Kudagu (குடகு) and Vellikundru (வெள்ளிக்குன்று) (Kodagu (கொடகு) in the Madikeri dist. of Karnataka and Vellingiri hills (வெள்ளிங்கிரி) near Coimbatore) in the east and Nandigiri (நந்திகிரி) (Nandi hills in Kolar and Tumkur dists. of Karnataka) in the north. The native communities of Kongu Nadu includes Kongar (கொங்கர்), Kosar (கோசர்), Aviyar (அவியர்), Oviyar (ஓவியர்), Veliyar (வெளியர்), Velir (வேளிர்) etc. Agriculture was the major occupation of many of the people in and around this vast region.

The ancient Kongu country was ruled over by the Velir chiefs.  Sources indicate about an active trade between Kongu and the classical Romans during this period. At the end of Sangam Period from about 300 A.D.- 600 A.D., there is a lack of coherent information on the history of Kongu Nadu. The South Western region of Kongu was occupied by Chera rulers; South Eastern part by Pandya kings. Adiyas and Kadavas possessed Northern Kongu.

Imperial Cholas ruled the Kongu region except the south and south-western region which were controlled by the Pandyas and the Chera kings of the Perumal dynasty. During the 10th century A.D., Kongu came under autonomous rule of the members of the collateral Chera family for nearly 300 years and they assumed the titles and names of Imperial Cholas. Thereafter the Pandyas ruled for some time.

Hoysalas, a prominent Southern Indian Kannadiga empire, ruled most of the modern-day state of Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu.  The loss of Vira Someshwara (1235–1263) against Jatavarman Sundara Pandiyan resulted in the end of the Hoysala Empire. Jatavarman Sundara Pandiyan went inside Kannada country after conquering Tiruchy and occupied parts of Hoysala territory up to the Konkana coast and established his son Vira Pandiyan as ruler of those territories. The Imperial Cholas made alliance with Hoysalas and this  alliance with the Hoysalas did no good to the Cholas and with the death of Vira Someshwara. The Pandyans got hold of the Kongu territories, Chola Nadu and some of the Hoysala countries during the time and a new clan called Kongu Pandiyar (கொங்கு பாண்டியர்கள்) was established under Jatavarman Vira Pandiyan.

Vira Ballala III (மூன்றாம் வீர வல்லாளா) (1292-1343) was the eleventh and last ruler of Hoysala dynasty. In Karnataka the core area around Mysore right up to Tiruvannamalai (திருவண்ணாமலை) in Tamil Nadu was in the hands of Vira Ballala III. Around c.1310, Ballala III successfully played 'king maker' in the affairs of Tamil country by appointing Sundara Pandya (சுந்தர பாண்டியன்) as the Pandya king as opposed to his competitor, Vira Pandya (வீர பாண்டியன்). In 1327 A.D., Muhammad Tughlaq shifted his capital to Devagiri from Delhi and this has brought enormous Muslim armies dangerously close to the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudra (துவாரசமுத்திரா). As a precaution, Vira Ballala III had established three capitals: Dvarasamudra (துவாரசமுத்திரா), Kundani  (குந்தாணி) and Tiruvannamalai (திருவண்ணாமலை). He also entrusted the task of defending the Northern frontier of the Hoysala kingdom to the five Sangama brothers (சங்கமா சகோதரர்கள்) of which Harihara and Bukkaraya (ஹரிஹர மற்றும் புக்க ராயா) are the most famous.

Vira Ballala III was engaged in near constant warfare with the genocidal regime of Bahmani and the Madurai Sultanates in desperate attempts to destroy it and liberate the deep south. He was over eighty years old at this time met a tragic end in 1342 AD at the hands of  Ghiyas-ud-din Damghan Shah, a successor of Ahsan Shah. This great defender of Dharma was captured in the decisive battle of Kannur-Koppam  and skinned alive by the blood thirsty Ghiyas-ud-din.

Hoysala Administration

Hoysala Administration was similar to Western Chalukya and Western Ganga Dynasties in relation to political and geographical segregation,  local administration, army and ministry. At the apex, the Hoysala king was supported by the cabinet comprising five ministers (Pancha Pradhanas). This figure grow into higher number at a later date.

Perumal Dandanayaka 

The commanders of the army was known as Dandanayaka (or Senadhipati). Perumal Dandanayaka was the commander of Vira Ballala III and he was responsible in conquering the Kongu Nadu. In order to respect his valor and faith of his Dandanayaka, Vira Ballala gave the part of Kongu Nadu as a gift to Perumal Dandanayaka. The army commander built a fort and ruled this Kongu region. Over a period of Dandanayaka Fort was transformed as Dhannanayaka Fort (தண்ணநாய்க்கன் கோட்டை) and further damaged to Danayakan Fort (டனாய்க்கன் கோட்டை).

Someswara Mangalambika Temple

The Hoysala temple dedicated to Someswara Mangalambika (சோமேஸ்வர மங்களாம்பிகை கோவில்) temple built by Narasimha III (1263–1292) in memory of his father Vira Someswara (1235–1263) is also located nearer to this fort. During Muslim invasion, the forts and Hindu temples were ransacked by the mugal and this fort and temple were also ransacked. Over the years Hoysala came back to power and renovated the fort and the temple. One Ballaya-danadanayakkan (Valiya-dandanayakkan as per inscription) son of  Dutapillai-dandanayakkan of Aranappuram of Madurantakam in Tondaimandalam, undertook the renovation.

Renovation of Someswara Temple by  Ballaya-danadanayakkan

The  undated inscription on the wall of the central shrine, Varadaraja-Perumal temple, Alambakkam, Lalgudi Taluk, Tiruchirapalli District  comprise two sections. The first section is composed in verse as well as in prose and the other section is in prose only. The inscription in verse refers about the renovation of the temples of Dachchina Kailayamudaiyar and Tirumerkoyil (the temple in the west, i. e., Vishnu). The lithic record in prose (below the verse portion) refers about the one Valiya Dandanayakkan (Ballaya-danadanayakkan), son of  Adappillai-dandanayakkan of [Aranappuram] of Madurantakam in Tondaimandalam, who was a dandanayaka  of Narasingadevan (Narasimha III), caused the repairs to this Sri vimana  (of the a central shrine or sanctum) on which the record is inscribed. 

The inscription does not provide the name of the temple. This general or dandanayaka is identical with his namesake who is mentioned as the son of Dutapillai-dandanayakkan in the Tamil portion and as the arbhaka  (son) of Duta in Sanskrit verse in a record (S. I. I., Vol. V, No. 659, verse 1, line 1) from Tirumalavadi in Udaiyarpalayam Taluk of the same district. It is possible that their overlord Narasimha mentioned in these two inscriptions is evidently the same as Hoysala Narasimha III (1263–1292), who held sway over this area. It may be said from the above records that his reign period witnessed many benevolent acts including the construction of a tank called Madurantakappereri. One the grounds of paleography Narasimha may be considered to be identical with the second king of that name. The temple may be considered as Someswara Mangalambika (சோமேஸ்வர மங்களாம்பிகை கோவில்) temple built by Narasimha III (1263–1292). 


  1. South Indian Inscriptions. Volume 26 Introduction_2
  2. Vijayangar Chapter 6: The Great war of Liberation
  3. அணைக்குள் மூழ்கிக் கிடக்கும் கோட்டை தினகரன்
  4. பவானிசாகர் அணைக்குள் மூழ்கிக் கிடக்கும் பழம்பெரும் கோட்டை தினமலர் 01 ஆகஸ்ட் 2010
  5. பவானிசாகர் அணையில் நீர் மட்டம் குறைந்ததால் வெளியே தெரியும் கோட்டை கோவில் மாலைமலர் மே 27 2012
  6. பவானிசாகர் நீர்மட்டம் சரிவு கோயில்கள் வெளியில் தெரிகின்றன தமிழ் முரசு 08 March  2013
  7. சத்தியமங்கலம் வனம் - தமிழகத்தின் பசுமை நுரையீரல் கீற்று  13 டிசம்பர் 2012
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