Famous Inscription Sites in India : Art & Culture (UPSC Notes)

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Famous Inscription Sites in India

Mehrauli Pillar Inscription

• Originally, Mehrauli Iron Pillar was on a hill near the Beas River.

• Built by Chandragupta Vikramaditya. It was first built in Vishnupada (Udayagiri), M.P., but later moved to Delhi.

• The fact that the iron pole doesn’t rust shows how skilled a metallurgist is.

Iron pole with a statue of Garuda on top. Dedicated to Vishnu by King Chandra (probably Chandragupta II) between the 3rd and 4th centuries CE.

• The Mehrauli inscription says that Chandragupta fought against a group of enemies in Bengal and also led a campaign into the Punjab.

• Pillar had astrological importance during Gupta age.

• The beautiful 24-foot-tall Iron Pillar can be found in the Qutub Complex, which is also home to the famous Qutub Minar. It is in the Qutb Complex, in front of the Quwwatul Mosque. It has lines written in shardulvikridita metre in the Sanskrit language.

Banskhera Inscription

• In Uttar Pradesh, in the district of Shahjahanpur.

• An engraving from the year 628 AD says that Harsha gave two brahmans a village.

Rajyavardhana’s victory over Malwa King Devagupta

Sasanka’s murder of Devagupta.

• The Banskhera copper plate shows the family tree of the Harsha Dynasty and has the name of the famous king of the Harsha Dynasty, Harshavardhana.

Signature means, “This is my signature, and I am the great king of kings, Shri Harsha.”

• This writing says that Harsha is the one who worships Shiva.

Allahabad Pillar Inscription (Prayag Prashasti)

• In Allahabad, Uttarpradesh.

• Pillar is an Ashoka Stambha.

There is an Ashokan writing in Brahmi that has the same six edicts as the other pillars. There are also later inscriptions by Samudragupta.

Harishena, a poet and minister, wrote it in the Gupta script, which is a later form of the Brahmi script.

Samudragupta is praised, and a list of his civil and military accomplishments is given.

• The Mughal emperor Jahangir wrote something on the stone as well.

It talks about Samudragupta’s conquests in the north and south, as well as the borders of the Gupta Empire and his political relationships. It also mentions Samudragupta’s title of Kaviraja, which shows that he was a patron of poetry and a poet himself.

Inscription on the Bhitari Pillar

• In the Ghazipur area of Uttar Pradesh

• Skandagupta’s writing on the Bhitari Pillar.

Important for knowing the order of the Gupta rulers in time.

It talks about the fight between Skandagupta and the Hunas and the Pushyamitras.

Mandsaur Inscription

In the Malwa area, in the Mandsaur district of the state of Madhya Pradesh.

• Mandasor Pillar Inscriptions of Yashodharman: Written in Sanskrit at the beginning of the sixth century.

Write down that Yasodharman, king of Malwa, beat Mihirakula, king of the Huns.

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• Kumar Gupta’s name is written in Mandsaur:

Dated to the year 500.

It says that a lot of people who wove silk moved from Lata (in Gujarat) to Dasapura.

Some of them went into other jobs, while those who stayed with their original craft formed a group called a guild.

In 437 AD, a group of silk workers built a temple to the sun.

Eran Inscription

• Sagar district, M.P., on the bank of the Bina river.

• Gupta inscriptions: An epigraphic writing from the time of Samudra Gupta says that Chandra Gupta took over a part of western Malwa.

The first real proof of Sati is an inscription at Eran from the year 510 AD.

• Shrines to Vishnu from the Gupta period were found, including the famous Varah temple.

• The Malwa society came first, then BRW and iron.

• A wall made of mud and a ditch were found.

• Well-known for the “zoomorphic” version of Vishnu, the “colossal bear.”

• Coins with holes in them and a coin of Ramagupta were found.

• There have been finds of coins with punch marks and coins of Ramagupta, the Nagas.

• A Gupta-era seal with a picture of Gaja Lakshmi is an interesting find.

Besnagar Inscription (Vidisha/Bhilsa)

• Vidisha is an old city near Bhopal in the state of Madhyapradesh.

• The city used to be called Besnagar and Bhilsa. In 1956, it was changed to Vidisha.

• There is a lot written about Besnagar in Buddhist, Jain, and Brahmanical texts.

• Heliodorus pillar, Besnagar pillar, or Garuda pillar: a single piece of stone that stands on its own.

Heliodorus, a Greek who was sent by the Indo-Greek king to the court of the Shunga king, built it around 113 BCE.

A statue of Garuda sits on top of it.

The writing on it says that Heliodorous built it to honour the god Vasudeva.

• The Udayagiri Caves are close to the old Buddhist complex of Sanchi, which is just south of Vidisha.

• Bijamamandal, which is the name of a big temple from the late Paramara period, was found here.

Junagarh Inscription

• Junagarh district, Gujarat. At the base of the Girnar hills.

• Major rock edicts of Ashoka written in Brahmi script on black granite.

Rudradaman I, the Saka ruler of Malwa and a member of the Western Kshatrapas dynasty, added Sanskrit writing to the same rock around 150 CE. The earliest Sanskrit writing talks about the renovation of Sudarshana Lake, which was built by Pusyagupta, Chandragupta’s provincial governor.

• Another writing about Skandagupta is from around the year 450 CE.

• Girnar is home to a lot of Jain and Hindu temples.

Nasik Inscription

• In Nasik, Maharashtra.

• Has cultures from the Chalcolithic and Neolithic eras.

• Talks about what Gautamiputra Satkarni did.

• His mother, Gautami Balasri, wrote the music.

• Talks about the borders of his kingdom and how he beat Saka King Nahapana, which brought back the Satavahanas’ honour.

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• The NBPW is there.

• It is on an old trade path that linked the ports of western India to cities in the north and south of India.

• During the Saka-Satavahana era, from 200 BC to 200 AD, it was an important place to live.

• Buddhist rock-cut caves that look like they were built out of wood.

Hinayana Buddhism has chaitya rooms and viharas.

The front of Chaityagriha has a lot of carvings.

Reliefs of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, female gods, and other figures were found.

Local kings, traders, artists, and the kings of the Satavahanas all went there.

Nanaghat Inscription

Nanaghat is a mountain pass in Maharashtra’s Western Ghats. It was part of an old trade route and is known for a large cave with Sanskrit writing in Brahmi script.

• Calls Satakarni-I “Dhakhinapatha-pathi,” which suggests that he had power over Deccan.

• The inscriptions on the Nanaghat: They tell about the Satavahana kingdom.

This is said to have been said by Naganika, the queen of the Satavahana kingdom and the wife of King Satakarni.

You could say that she is the queen mother, who paid for this cave after her husband died.

Known for connecting the gods of the Vedas and Vaishnavism.

The fact that Samkarsana (Balarama) and Vasudeva (Krishna) are mentioned shows that the Satavahana family was a big fan of the Bhagavata tradition.

Hathigumpha Inscription (Elephant Cave Inscription):

• From Udayagiri, which is near Bhubaneswar in Odisha.

• Writing: Written by the Jain king Kharavela of the Kalinga country in the second century BCE.

Looks towards the nearby Rock Edicts of Ashoka at Dhauli.

Seventeen lines of Prakrit written in Brahmi writing on a natural cave on Udayagiri hill called Hathigumpha.

Talks about Kharvela’s military victories, how he felt about Janism, his building projects, how he was open-minded about religion, how he liked music, dance, and other forms of art, and how he found a picture of a jina.

• Talks about Kharavela’s war trips and shows that he was a Jaina because the inscription starts with the Jain Namokar Mantra.

Aihole Inscription

• In Bijapur district, Karnataka.

• It’s east of Pattadakal, and both of them are west of Badami.

• First capital of the western Chalukyas, which was eventually moved to Badami.

• Chalukyan architecture, which includes a lot of stone churches from the 5th century CE.

 Earliest structure temples.

At Aihole, there are 70 churches, but only four are important.

o The Ladh Khan temple is a building with a flat roof and a hall with columns.

o Durga temple mimics a Buddha Chaitya.

o Huchimalligudi temple.

o Meguti’s Jain temple.

• Caves:  Ravana Phadi cave- rocks cut temples.

A Buddhist Chaitya Cave, which is partly carved into the rock.

• The writing on Aihole says, “Aihole Prasasti in Meguti Temple”

Ravikirti, the court poet of Badami Chalukya king Pulakesin Satyasraya (Pulakeshin II) in the year 634 A.D., wrote this poem.

 In Sanskrit tongue and old Karnataka script

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Describes in detail what Pulakesin II did to his neighbouring countries, such as the Pallavas.

The story tells about how Pulakesin II beat Harshavardhana.

Kudumiyanmalai Inscription

• Pudukottai district, Tamil Nadu.

• The Pallava writing at Kudumiyan Malai says that Rudracharya was a great singer.

• Writing on the rocks of the cave temple.

It is a famous musical inscription because it shows the musical notes for seven classical ragas. It was possibly written by Mahendra Pallava in the 7th century.

Uttaramerur Inscription:

• In Kanchipuram district, Tamilnadu.

• Used to be a Brahmin town. It was set up as a brahamdeya village by the Pallava king Nandivarman II (720–796 CE).

• On the walls of the Vaikunda Perumal Temple is the famous writing from the time of Parantaka I.

• During the time of Parantaka Chola, inscriptions on the granite stones of the Shiva temple shed light on how Chola’s village government worked, especially Sabha, the assembly of Brahmin villages, and show that villages had a lot of freedom under Cholas.

• It also talks about who can be on the committee for local government, how they are chosen, what makes them ineligible, and how they are put together.

• Requirements include owning a certain amount of land, having a house, being between the ages of 35 and 70, and “knowing mantras and Brahmanas” (from the Vedic material).

Land ownership can be different if a person knows at least “one Veda and four Bhashyas.” One must also “know a lot about business” and be “good.”

• How the Sabha members are chosen

There were 30 rooms, it says. All of the people who lived in these 30 wards would get together and choose one person to represent them in the village meeting.

All the qualified people who wanted to be a representative would write their names on palm leaf tickets. Then, priests would hold a complicated drawing of lots in the inner hall of the building where the assembly meets to choose the representative.

Disqualification: The inscription then describes a number of things that make a person and their family ineligible, such as: o Not having submitted accounts while serving on a committee before.

Killing a Brahman, drinking alcohol, stealing, or committing adultery, which are the first four of the five “great sins.” Hanging out with outcasts and eating “forbidden” foods.

Lumbini Pillar Inscription

The Lumbini Pillar Inscription, also known as the Paderia Inscription, is a royal commemorative inscription written in ancient Brahmi writing. It is located in Nepal and tells about Ashoka’s visit to the place where Buddha was born.