Anantavarman Chodagangadeva (1077-1147 A.D.)

Anantavarman Chodagangadeva was a renowned Ganga dynasty king. Due to his youth, the initial phase of his reign was critical. However, as the king matured into adulthood, he demonstrated his ability as a ruler by ruling Odisha for seventy years. Indeed, he established the Gangas dynasty in Odisha, which ruled until 1435 A.D.

Conquests and the establishment of empires

Anantavarman Chodagangadeva pursued a policy of conquest and empire building in order to establish a strong empire.

The Chola War

Chodagangadeva faced a Chola threat during the early years of his succession to power. This may have occurred as a result of Chodagangadeva’s marriage to Chodadevi, the daughter of Virachoda, a son of Kulottungachoda. This was possibly against Kulottunga’s wishes, and as a result, his son Virachoda was removed from the governorship of Vengi. This prompted Virachoda to seek refuge at Chodagangadeva’s court, with the latter bearing the brunt of Kulottungachoda’s aggression. This war occurred between 1093 and 1094 AD. Chodagangadeva lost the Chola-occupied southern part of Kalinga. Chodagangadeva, on the other hand, never lost his heart. As his power and potential grew, he defied the Cholas, as reflected in the Kalingattuparani composed by Jayamagondam, Kulottunga’s court poet. As a result, the Cholas marched to Kalinga and engaged in combat with Chodagangadeva, who defeated them and took possession of Vengi. This resulted in the Ganga dynasty expanding westward up to Vengi.

Utkala’s Subjugation

Chodagandadeva’s interest in subjugating the Somavamsis of Utkala was piqued by their weakness. Chodagangadeva’s Corni copper plate grant states that he waged war against the kings of Utkala and Vengi concurrently. He first defeated the king of Utkala, whose name is Karnadeva in Sandhyakaranandi’s Ramacharita. It is a fact that Chodagangadeva defeated Karnadeva or Karnakesari, the last ruler of the Somavamsi dynasty. Following that, the Ganga empire expanded eastward to Utkala. Chodagandadeva annexed Vengi following the annexation of Utkala, as indicated by the aforementioned copper plate grant. Chodagangadeva’s occupation of Odisha is believed to have begun around 1110 A. D.

Relationship with the Bengali Palas

After defeating Utkal and Vengi, Chodagandadeva turned his attention to Bengal. Chodagangadeva attacked Bengal beyond Dandakabhukti after Ramapala’s death. He defeated Dandakabhukti’s weak and feeble ruler and took control of the capital city Aramya. However, as revealed by the copper plate of the former, Vaidyadeva, Kumarapala’s capable minister, offered a staunch resistance to the Odishan emperor. The Nagari plate contains information about Chodagangadeva’s accomplishments in relation to Bengal. Chodagangadeva was most likely assisted in his conquest of Bengal by Samantasena, the Sena King of Radha (South-West Bengal), the Palas’ adversary and founder of the Sena dynasty in Bengal. Chodagangadeva appointed him as his nominee to rule over this Suhma territory. Vijayasena, Samantasena’s grandson, formed a friendly alliance with Chodagangadeva and ascended to the throne of Radha desa. Chodagangadeva became the ruler of a vast kingdom extending from the Ganges river in the north to the Godavari river in the south as a result of these extensive conquests.

Additional accomplishments

Chodagangadeva was referred to by a variety of names, including Anantavarman, Chalukya Ganga, Virarajendra Chodaganga, Vikrama Gangesvara, and Gangesvara Deva bhupa. According to his Ronaki inscription, he was known as Maharajadhiraja, Trikalingadhipati, Sri Gangachudamani, Rajaparamesvara, Paramabhaftaraka, Paramamahesvara, and Paramavaisnava, among others. These lofty and pompous titles attest to the fact that Chodagangadeva was unquestionably a great king of the Ganga dynasty. Though Kalinganagara was the capital of his empire, he established Sarangagarah as another political capital. Kalinganagara has been identified by scholars as modern Mukhalingam on the banks of the Vamsadhara river in Andhra Pradesh’s Srikakulam district. The reason for this is self-evident, as Sarangagarah (near Baranga in Cuttack district) was almost centrally located within Chodagangadeva’s vast empire. Additionally, he constructed several forts at Jajpur Kataka, Amaravati Kataka (near Chhatia), Choudwar Kataka, and Sarangagarh Kataka, among others.

Establishment of a well-managed administration

Chodagangadeva established a well-organized administration in order to stabilise and consolidate the vast empire. As a stranger in this strange land, he may very well understand his obligation to the Odisha people. He devoted himself to his subjects’ material prosperity through a variety of humanitarian and welfare projects. This earned him the respect of his Odishan subjects.

Supporter of literature and education

He was an ardent supporter of literature and education. His inscriptions attested to his extensive knowledge of Sanskrit, Odia, and Telegu literature. As a skilled conversationalist, he was also well versed in Vedic lore. He demonstrated his artistic ability through fine arts and poetic composition. Science advanced during his lifetime. Satananda compiled Bhasvati, a manual of rules for determining the heavenly bodies’ positions. Chodagangadeva, as an outstanding ruler, was renowned for his religious tolerance. Though he was a great devotee of Lord Gokarnesvara in his youth on the Mahendra mountain, he later became a devout follower of God Jagannath in Puri. Even so, he never imposed his own religion on anyone. His construction of the Jagannath temple in Puri and his efforts to unite all religious faiths under a single cult. i.e. the Jagannath cult was a watershed moment in Odisha’s religious history.

In the art and architecture worlds

Chodagangadeva made significant contributions to the fields of art and architecture. He began construction of the great Jagannath temple in Puri, which was completed by Anangabhimadeva III. However, it is debatable whether Chodagandadeva initiated the construction of the Jagannath temple. According to Rajaraja III’s Dasgoba plates, Gangesvara took over the construction site of Purusottama (God Jagannath) that had been abandoned by previous kings (Chodagangadeva). Chodagangadeva was also instrumental in the construction of several forts in strategic locations to safeguard his vast empire from the onslaught of enemies. Chodagangadeva’s illustrious career came to an end with his death in 1147 A.D. In 1150 A.D., his wife Kasturikamodini constructed a Jagannath temple in Tekkali to commemorate her late husband.

Chodagangadeva’s seventy-year reign was a glorious epoch in mediaeval Odishan history. Of course, his discomfort at the hands of Kalachuri ruler Ratnadeva II precluded him from wielding influence over the Sambalpur-Sonepur-Bolangir tract. Nonetheless, the vast empire that stretched from the Ganges to the Godavari demonstrates unequivocally that Chodagandadeva was a military genius. Chodagandadeva is a remarkable figure in mediaeval Odishan history as an administrator, patron of art, architecture, and culture, and liberal ruler.

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