Nagayi, once Nalanda of south

A rich past Nagayi has several temples, and was once known as a University for 300 students. Today, it has become a favourite haunt for treasure hunters and vandals. (left) Photos by the author

Once a very big centre for higher education and known as a University to teach the Vedas and shastras during the Chalukyan period, today it lies neglected by people and historians alike. With its many temples, ancient statues of various gods, water tanks, and wells, the town has been a favourite haunt for treasure hunters.
From recorded history, it is evident that the place served as a University for 300 students. Nagayi is also noted for its inscriptions, many of which throw light on the socio-economic and cultural scenario of the times. The great minister Kalidasa Dandanatha who was part of the court of Vikramaditya and who also contributed to the glories of the Chalukya kingdom finds mention in two inscriptions dating back to 1085 A D. Kalidasa Dandanatha is described as a great leader of the army, a connoisseur of literature and the arts. He appears to have founded an agrahara for 400 Brahmins well versed in the Vedas and obtained copper grants for it from Jayasimha I. This Ghatika of 300 students was not as famous as Nalanda, Takshashila or Varanasi but still had a standing of its own in south India.
There is a temple in Nagayi erected on 61 pillars (aravattu kambada gudi ) with intricate carvings and built in the Jaina style. In front of the temple, a rectangular pillar, seven feet tall, contains an interesting inscription relating to the Chalukyan rule.

Educational hub
Two inscriptions give information on the grades of education. At the Ghatika, all the important branches of ancient Indian higher education including Vedas, shastras, puranas, nyaya and mimamsa were taught. Students, members of royal families, and scholars would all throng Nagayi alike.
Though today’s Nagayi has a lot of problems, residents here breathe easy on one front. The place has rich water resources. There are several kalyanis (traditional water bodies in temple complexes) and wells. Though the surrounding area is a dry region, the water bodies at Nagayi never go dry.  But, the place is not without fear of vandals, though.
Many who come here in search of treasures have dug around the temples, and many structures have either been displaced or destroyed. The town is full of ruins, not exactly caused by ancient dynasties, but by modern day’s vandals.
The famed Yellamma temple here is visited by pilgrims from all over the district and the state. The local deity Yellamma was the family deity of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Marriages are often celebrated in this temple.

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