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Inscriptions help trace history of Bengaluru’s lakes

Areas like Jakkasandra, Bommasandra, Hongasandra and Ramasandra ending with 'sandra', indicate that there existed a waterbody 'as big as the sea' because epigraphists believe 'sandra' is a corruptted form of 'samudra'.
Last Updated : 24 December 2023, 20:11 IST
Last Updated : 24 December 2023, 20:11 IST

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Bengaluru: Over 50 inscriptions discovered over the years within BBMP limits provide evidence for epigraphists to estimate the ages of lakes and areas in the city, many of which are centuries old.

Udayakumar P L, founder and project director (Honorary) of the Bengaluru Inscriptions 3D Digital Conservation Project at Mythic Society, explained how evidence inscribed on stone helps epigraphists point to the existence of lakes from several decades to centuries ago.

“Usually, explicit references to lakes are made in dated inscriptions recording land donations in the past. These records help us conclude that the lake has existed since at least the date on the inscription. But many lakes could even pre-date those inscriptions,” he said.

Another way to identify the age and historical names of lakes (and the areas around them) is to look at etymological evidence. Areas like Jakkasandra, Bommasandra, Hongasandra and Ramasandra ending with “sandra”, indicate that there existed a waterbody “as big as the sea” because epigraphists believe “sandra” is a corruptted form of “samudra”. 

“This practice of naming ponds or lakes as seas was seen between the 13th and 15th centuries, which is how we can conclude that the lake existed at least since then, without requiring inscriptional evidence,” said Udayakumar.

Unlike Western Ghats, where “ghatta” means a mountain pass, the term in Bengaluru, although contested, could also mean lakes. Thus, the term Hesaraghatta, considered one of the oldest and biggest lakes in the city, emerged.

In their most recent lake-related discovery, epigraphists unearthed a 7th-8th century Durga sculpture on the periphery of the Bellandur lake in 2022. This helped them conclude that the lake has existed since at least 750 AD.

Udayakumar said: “Pre-10th century, Durga idols used to be installed on the tank bund. The goddess is seen standing on a buffalo with a particular posture – a design typical to that era.” This sculptural evidence can be seen in lakes like Doddagubbi, Begur and Hebbal dating to between 700 and 800 AD.

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Published 24 December 2023, 20:11 IST

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