In 1211 AD, Rajaraja-III was succeeded by his son, Anangabhimadeva-III. Anangabhimadeva-III ascended to power at a time when Muslim rule in Bengal posed a threat to the Ganga kingdom in Odisha’s security. On the other hand, the Kalachuris were the Gangas’ traditional adversary. Simultaneously, the Chola Empire was collapsing in the south. This was the case when Anangabhimadeva III ascended to the Gangas throne.
Defending against Muslim invasion
Anangabhimadeva III had to contend with the violent march of the Muslim army of Bengal, led by Ghiyas-ud-din Iwar, who ascended the throne in 1215 A.D. According to the Tabaqat-i-Nasiri, Ghiyas-ud-din I was the Khilji ruler who ruled over Jajnagar, Kamrup, Tirhut, and several other locations. However, no other source corroborates this fact. On the contrary, Anangabhimadeva III’s Chatesvara inscription discovered in the village of Krishnapur in the undivided Cuttack district refers to the Muslim governor’s defeat at the hands of Vishnu, Anangabhimadeva’s Brahmin minister. “How are we to describe his (Vishnu’s) heroism during his fight against the Muslim King?” the inscription asks. He fought by drawing arrows up to his ear, killing numerous famous warriors, which became a grand feast for the gods’ sleepless and unblinking eyes, who were onlookers in the heavens above.” Thus, historical analysis demonstrates that anangabhimadeva III did not pay tribute to Iwaz but rather thwarted his attempt by inflicting a crushing defeat on him. Between 1211 and 1215 A.D.106, it is known that Angangabhimadeva fought Ghiyasud-din Iwaz, defeated him, and rescued Odisha from the Muslim threat.
Conquest of the tracts of Sambalpur, Sonepur, and Bolangir
Anangabhimadeva III’s crowning achievement as a conqueror was his victory over the Kalachuris. According to the Chatesvara inscription, Vishnu, Anangabhimadeva III’s Brahmin minister, defeated the king of Tumanna on the bank of the river Bhima, on the outskirts of the Vindhya hills, and on the sea-shore. While some scholars, such as N.N. Vasu and M. Somasekhara Sharma, associate Tummana with a person, the majority of scholars associate it with a place, as the expression of the above-mentioned inscription “Tumanna-Prithivi- Pathe” translates as “Of the king of Tummana land.” The location in question is most likely South Kosala, which was ruled by the Kalachuris or Haihayas. Perhaps Anangabimadeva III crossed swords with Dakshina Kosala in order to put an end to the Ganga-Kalachuri conflict that began during Chodagandadeva’s reign. This victory of the Ganga monoarch pushed the Ganga Empire’s boundaries, encompassing a large portion of the Sonepur-Bolangir-Sambalpur tract. Tummana came under the auspices of Anangabhimadeva III in or around 1220 A.D., based on the records.
Anangabhimadeva III was an astute statesman. He desired a matrimonial alliance with the Kalachuris in order to maintain the far-flung Ganga empire, and in order to accomplish that goal, he married his daughter Chandrika to the valiant Kalachuri prince Paramadrideva. This material alliance brought an end to the long-standing animosity and hatred between the Kalachuris and the Gangas. When Paramadrideva, his son-in-law, joined forces with Narasimhadeva I in the latter’s fight against Tughril Tughan Khan of Bengal, the combined strength of the Gangas and Haihayas became unbeatable in North-Eastern India and provided a solid resistance to the Muslim invasion.
Kanchipuram and Srirangam Invasion
Ganapati, the Kakatiya king, invaded the Chola empire, taking advantage of the Cholas’ weakness. Ganapati’s records indicate that he ruled over the coastal districts east of Warangal and Kalinga. This political development compelled Anangabhimadeva to intervene in southern Chola politics. He marched his vast army into Kanchipuram and Srirangam, conquering them. This fact is amply confirmed in the Kanchipuram Allalanatha temple inscription, where Somaladevi Mahadevi, the queen of Anangabhimadeva III, recorded a valuable gift on the temple’s south wall. Through this conquest, the Ganga empire crossed the Godavari river and extended all the way to Krishna. This occurrence occurred around 1230 A.D.
According to the Kanchipuram Allalanatha temple inscription, Anangabhimadeva III relocated his capital from Kalinganagar to Abhinava Varanasi Kataka (Cuttack) on the banks of the river Mahanadi. Previously, Chodagangadeva established Sarangagarh as a second centre of political activity for the Ganga empire, but Anangabhimadeva relocated the capital entirely to a central location such as Cuttack. He named it Varanasi, the Hindus’ holiest pilgrimage site. With a high degree of certainty, he must have completed this work by 1230 A.D.
His construction accomplishments
Not only was he a conqueror, but he was also a master builder. According to the Kanchipuram inscription, he constructed a new capital called Abhinava Baranasi Kataka. The great king established a temple for Lord Purushottam and two Siva temples in his new capital, as per the Nagari grants issued in 1230-1231 AD. The Madalapanji attributes the construction of the Puri temple of Lord Jagannath to Anangabhimadeva-III, but historians reject this assertion because the copper plate grants of the Gangas clearly state that Chodagangadeva was the architect of the great temple at Puri. However, it is possible that Anangabhimadeva-III added some new structures to the Jagannath temple.
His piety toward Lord Jagannath
As a devotee of Lord Purushottam, Anangabhimadeva-III professed great devotion to Lord Jagannath. He is referred to as the Rauta or deputy of Lord Jagannath in the Drakshasrama and Kanchipuram inscriptions. Additionally, the Madalapanji describes him as a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. According to some scholars, in 1216 AD, Ananqabhirnadeva III proclaimed himself as the Rauta or deputy of Lord Jagannath in order to gain the loyalty of the Nayakas and feudatory chiefs under him. The succeeding Suryavamsi and Bhoi rulers adopted Anangabhimadeva’s policy of unwavering loyalty to Lord Jagannath and declared themselves to be the deity’s servants. According to some scholars, this act of loyalty and devotion to Lord Jagannath resulted in the establishment of the Chhera Pahara practise, which requires the king to perform the duties of a sweeper in front of Lord Jagannath’s car during the annual car festival. Since then, this practise has persisted.
Anangabhimadeva III had a high regard for Saivism and Saktism as well. He is mentioned in the Draksharam inscription of 1216 A.D. as the deputy of Purushottama, Rudra, and Durga. On the Nagari plate, he is credited with commemorating Hiranyagarbha and Tulapurusa Mahadana. Additionally, it reveals his numerous land gifts to several Brahmins. Anangabhimadeva, as a benevolent ruler, undertook massive humanitarian endeavours for the welfare of his subjects. The Chatesvara inscription makes reference to the construction of roads, tanks, houses, and temples for his subjects’ general and religious needs. According to the Madalapanji, he resolved a land dispute with the assistance of two revenue ministers, Damodar Badapanda and Isana Pattanayak. During his reign, the total land revenue collected was four crores and forty-three lakhs of tankas. The revenue thus accumulated was unquestionably spent on the welfare of his people. He presided over an enlightened administration, having studied and become acquainted with the ‘Dharma’ and ‘Nitt texts.
The significance of preserving historical sites
Anangabhimadeva set the precedent for preserving historical sites in mediaeval Odisha for the first time. His Lingaraja temple inscription records that he donated five vatikas of land to a potter for repairing the roofs of the temple’s Mandapas every twelve years, two vatikas of land to a limemaker for whitewashing the mandapa’s walls once a year, and one vatika of land to a sweeper for sweeping the mandapa three times daily.
Patron of education
He was also an ardent supporter of education. He bestowed lands on Brahmanas who were well versed in the Vedas, Puranas, and Vyakaranas, as well as on mathas, which were centres of education, religion, and culture at the time. According to the Nagari plates, Anangabhimadeva III ruled his empire in accordance with Dharma and Niti texts. In 1238 A.D., Anangabhimadevam III died.
Thus, Anangabhimadeva III was a great warrior, administrator, diplomat, devout man, patron of scholars, protector of all religious faiths, and protector of historical monuments, among other things. He has left an indelible imprint on Odisha’s mediaeval history.