Spectrum: Memories in every corner

Incredible stories of valour come alive in Amachavadi, a village near Chamarajanagar, in the form of memorial stones

Memorial stones dedicated to individuals from all walks of life can be found at Amachavadi in Chamarajanagar district. PHOTO BY AUTHOR

Knowing my interest in ancient temples and memorial stones, my friend invited my wife and I to visit Amachavadi, a village located around eight km away from Chamarajanagar town. One would be taken by surprise by the number and variety of memorial stones that Amachavadi has. It perhaps has almost all types of memorial stones under various categories and subclasses classified by Karnataka Itihasa Academy.

When we arrived at Amachavadi, we were greeted by two sati stones, which had text written in Sanskrit, on either side of the road. As I was admiring the stones, a villager informed that one of the hero stones was ancient. On further research, I found out that this particular hero stone was erected during the period of King Ereganga Nitimarga I of the Western Ganga dynasty. King Ereganga Nitimarga observed the Jain ritual of Sallekhana and his son erected the famous Doddahundi nishidhi and its inscription in his memory. Today, one can view the nishidhi at the Government Museum, Bengaluru. As several battles have taken place in and around the village, one can find many hero stones dedicated to soldiers here.

One for every act of bravery

During our stay here, we were taken around by our knowledgeable friends to see the wealth of hero stones and other memorial stones in the village. One that we saw was of a lady taking her cattle to graze in a forest, which is indicated by a tree’s branch in the lowest panel. A snake bites her and she reaches the afterworld. The beauty of the stone lies in the fact that the snake is depicted bigger than the lady to convey the message that the snake was a powerful one, but on the evil side. 
The lady is escorted to heaven by two angels.

 A similar stone present nearby describes the valour of a person fighting a wild beast. The hero is attacked by a large feline. He defends and tries to overcome the beast. However, he dies in the attempt, and the stone has been erected in his memory. The artwork on these stones have been wonderfully carved by experts of that 
era.

There are some grand and eye-catching hero stones that depict the battles fought in the area. From the sharp features of the figures, it is evident that the work on these stones was done by an expert artisan. One of the hero stones shows two cavalrymen fighting foot soldiers. In another such battle scene, we see four brave people sacrificing their lives fighting the enemy. They are escorted to the feet of Shiva by angels.

It is said that the Mysore King Kanthirava Narasaraja Wadiyar II fought a battle with one of the feudatories in this area when he was the crown prince. Many of the stones have been erected to celebrate the brave acts of the soldiers during the time of war. In a poignant hero stone, we see the hero being killed while protecting a lady. One can see the body of a child at the feet of the two warring men.

There are many sati stones found here as well. These were erected when a widow committed sati. These stones are depicted with an upturned arm with the palm open, facing the viewer. It is normal to show a lemon held in the palm. At the bottom, the lady and her husband are depicted. A benevolent enthusiast has collected many such stones and preserved these in an open field, by embedding them in a brick wall. 

Temples of yore

Amachavadi is said to be an important trade centre during the early Ganga rule. Due to its proximity to the border of the Chola kingdom, this village was also a constant battleground. It has been ruled by both the Gangas and the Cholas. Thus, many temples have been constructed here by these dynasties.

The most notable one is the Veerabhadra Temple, which is located just about a kilometre away from the village centre on top of a little hill. The temple was built by a feudatory of the Chola kings. The temple’s idol, Veerabhadra, stands six feet tall on a pedestal, which is about two feet in height. There are inscriptions of that period in the temple. The temple is full of attractive brasswork. A beautiful Nandi completes this granite ekakuta. The shikara above the garbhagriha and the gopura at the main entrance are in the Chola style. A choultry built by the kings in the village is in ruins now. The village also has two other temples of that period — Malleshwara and Gopalakrishna, besides shrines of village deities. 

As we left Amachavadi, my wife and I were overwhelmed by what we saw there. Rich in history and culture, Amachavadi has the potential to become a tourist destination. So, take some time out and engage with a unique history through memorial stones.

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Spectrum: Memories in every corner

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