Rajaraja-III was succeeded by his son, Anangabhimadeva-III in 1211 AD. Anangabhimadeva-III came to power at a time when the Muslim rule in Bengal had threatened the security of the Ganga kingdom in Odisha. On the other hand, the Kalachuris were the traditional rival of the Gangas. At the same time, the Chola Empire was disintegrating in the south. Such was the situation when Anangabhimadeva III ascended the throne of the Gangas.
Resistance to Muslim invasion
Just after his accession, Anangabhimadeva III had to face the violent march of the Muslim army of Bengal under the command of Ghiyas-ud-din Iwar who ascended the throne in 1215 A.D. The Tabaqat-i-Nasiri mentions that Ghiyas-ud-din I was the Khilji ruler who received revenue from Jajnagar, Kamrup, Tirhut and several other places. However, this fact does not find corroboration from any other source. On the contrary, the Chatesvara inscription of Anangabhimadeva III found in the village of Krishnapur in the undivided Cuttack district refers to the defeat of the Muslim governor at the hands of Vishnu, the Brahmin minister of Anangabhimadeva. The inscription describes: “How are we to describe his (Vishnu’s) heroism during his fight against the Muslim King? He fought drawing arrows upto his ear killing many famous warriors, which became a grand feast to the sleepless and un-winking eyes of the gods who were interested onlookers in the heaven above.” Thus, it can be stated with historical anlysis that anangabhimadeva III did not pay any tribute to Iwaz rather foiled the latter’s attempt by inflicting a crushing defeat upon him. It is known that between 1211 and 1215 A.D.106 Angangabhimadeva had fought with Ghiyasud- din Iwaz, defeated him and saved Odisha from the Muslim menace.
Conquest of the Sambalpur-Sonepur-Bolangir tract
The greatest achievement of Anangabhimadeva III as a conqueror was his victory over the Kalachuris. The Chatesvara inscription describes that Vishnu, the Brahmin minister of Anangabhimadeva III defeated the king of Tumanna on the bank of river Bhima at the skirts of the Vindhya hills and on the sea-shore. Though scholars like N.N. Vasu and M. Somasekhara Sharma identify Tummana with a person but most of the scholars relate it to a place as the expression of the above mentioned inscription “Tumanna-Prithivi- Pathe” means “Of the king of Tummana land”. The place in question is most probably the South Kosala where the Kalachuris or Haihayas were ruling. Perhaps, the Ganga imperialism had prompted Anangabimadeva III to cross sword with Dakshina Kosala in order to put an end to the Ganga-Kalachuri struggle that had started during the reign of Chodagandadeva. This victory of the Ganga monoarch pushed the limit of the Ganga Empire covering a large chunk of area comprising Sonepur-BolangirSambalpur tract. From the records, it can be presumed that Tummana came under the away of Anangabhimadeva III in or around 1220 A.D.
Anangabhimadeva III was a shrewd diplomat. He wanted to cement matrimonial alliance with the Kalachuris for maintaining the far flung Ganga empire for the realization of that end, he gave his daughter Chandrika in marriage to the valiant Kalachuri prince Paramadrideva. By this materimonial alliance ended the long prevailed antagonism and hatred between the Kalachuris and the Gangas. The united strength of the Gangas and Haihayas became unchallengable in North-Eastern India and gave a solid resistance to the Muslim invasion when Paramadrideva, his son-in-law joined hands with Narasimhadeva I in the latter’s fight with Tughril Tughan Khan of Bengal.
Invasion of Kanchipuram and Srirangam
Taking advantage of the weakness of the Cholas, the Kakatiya king Ganapati invaded the Chola empire. The records of Ganapati show that he had his sway over the coastal districts to the east of Warangal and Kalinga. This political development prompted Anangabhimadeva to interfere in the Chola politics of the South. He marched with his grand army and overran Kanchipuram and Srirangam. This fact finds ample corroboration in the Allalanatha temple inscription of Kanchipuram where Somaladevi Mahadevi, the queen of Anangabhimadeva III recorded a valuable gift on the sout~ wall of the said temple. By this conquest, the Ganga empire crossed the river Godavari and extended upto Krishna. This event took place around 1230 A.D.
Transfer of Capital
The Allalanatha temple inscription of Kanchipuram shows that Anangabhimadeva III transferred his capital from Kalinganagar to Abhinava Varanasi Kataka (Cuttack) on the bank of river Mahanadi. Earlier, Chodagangadeva had made Sarangagarh, a second centre of political activities of the Ganga empire, but Anangabhimadeva completely shifted the capital to the centre place like Cuttack. He named it after Varanasi, the sacred place of pilgrimage of the Hindus. With all probability, it can be stated that he must have completed this work by 1230 A.D.
His achievements as a builder
He was not only a conqueror but also a great builder. The Kanchipuram inscription states that he had built a new capital, called Abhinava Baranasi Kataka. As per the Nagari grants, issued by the great king in 1230-31 AD., he raised a temple for Lord Purushottam and two Siva temples in his new capital. The Madalapanji attributes the erection of the Puri temple of Lord Jagannath to Anangabhimadeva-III , but the statement of the Madalapanji, which was a later work is not accepted by the historians because of the fact that the copper plates grants of the Gangas clearly mention that Chodagangadeva was the builder of the great temple at Puri. However, it can be assumed that Anangabhimadeva-III, might have added some new structures to the temple of Jagannath.
His devotion to Lord Jagannath
As Anangabhimadeva-III was a devotee of Lord Purushottam, he professed great devotion to Lord Jagannath. The Drakshasrama and Kanchipuram inscriptions mentions him as the Rauta or deputy of Lord Jagannath. The Madalapanji also mentions mentions him as a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. According to some scholars in order to win the loyalty of the Nayakas and feudatory chiefs under him Ananqabhirnadeva III proclaimed himself as the Rauta or deputy of Lord Jagannath in 1216 AD. The subsequent Suryavamsi and Bhoi rulers followed Anangabhimadeva’s policy of owing unquestioning loyalty to Lord Jagannath and professed themselves as the servants of the deity. According to some scholars, this expression of loyalty and devotion to Lord Jagannath led to the origin of the practice of Chhera Pahara, according to which the king has to perform the job of a sweeper in front of the car of Lord Jaqannath at the time of the annual car festival. This practice has been continuing since then.
Anangabhimadeva III had also great esteem for Saivism and Saktism. The Draksharam inscription of 1216 A.D. mentions him as the deputy of Purushottama, Rudra and Durga. The Nagari plate inscription credits him of celebrating Hiranyagarbha Mahadana and Tulapurusa Mahadana. It also reveals his numerous gifts of lands to several Brahmins. As a benevolent ruler, Anangabhimadeva undertook massive humanitarian works for the welfare of his subjects.The Chatesvara inscription refers to the construction of roads, tanks, houses and temples for the general and religious purposes of his subjects. According to the Madalapanji he undertook a land settlement with the help of two revenue ministers like Damodar Badapanda and Isana Pattanayak. The total land revenue collected during his reign amounted four crores and forty-three lakhs of tankas. The revenue, thus collected, was spent definitely for .the welfare of his people. He provided an enlightened administration, as he himself was learned and acquainted with ‘Dharma’ and ‘Nitt texts.
Importance on preserving places of historical significance
In the medieval Odishan history, Anangabhimadeva for the first time showed a bright example of preserving places of historical significance. His Lingaraja temple inscription refers to the fact that he donated five Vatikas of land to a potter for repairing roofs of the Mandapas of that temple in every twelve years, two Vatikas of land were given to a limemaker for white washing the walls of the mandapa once in a year and one vatika of land was given to a sweeper for sweeping the mandapa thrice a day.
Patron of learning
He was also a great patron of learning. He granted lands to the Brahmanas who were well-versed in the Vedas, Puranas and Vyakaranas and also donated lands to the mathas which were, by that time centres of education, religion and culture. From Nagari plates it is inferred that Anangabhimadeva III ruled his empire by following Dharma and Niti texts. Anangabhimadevam III died in 1238 A.D.
Thus, Anangabhimadeva III was a great warrior, administrator, diplomat, pious man, lover of scholars, protector of all religious faiths, preserver of historical monuments etc. He has left an indellible mark in the medieval Odishan history.