A Comprehensive Compendium of History, Culture, Lifestyle and Tourism of Odisha

Medieval Odisha

Chronology of the Ganga Rulers

1. Anantavaraman Vajrahasta V (C-1038-1070 A.D.)

With the accession of Anantavarman Vajrahasta V in 1038 A.D. , the Gangas got freed from the clutches of the Somavamsi kings. As the first independent Ganga king, he used titles like ‘Maharaja, Maharajadhiraja, Paramamahesvara, Paramabhattaraka and Trikalingadhipati’. His title’ Trikalingadhipati’ clearly indicates that he brought Utkala, Kongoda and Kalinga under his control. He followed the policy of rnatrirnorual alliance for strengthening his empire. His marriage with Vinaya Mahadevi, the Kalachuri princess made his position stable in the Southern India and prompted him to deal with the Somavamsis. It is presumed that he maintained diplomatic relation with distant neighbouring countries which enhanced his glory.

2. Devendravarman Rajarajadeva (1070-1077 A.D.)

Vajrahasta V was succeeded by his son Devendra Varman Rajarajadeva in 1070 AD. Being pressed by the Somavamsis of Utkala and the Chalukyas of Vengi, Rajarajadeva was determined to follow a vigorous policy. He carried on his arms far as Vengi, defeated Kulottungachoda alias Rajendrachoda II, who gave the hand of his daughter Raja sundari to Rajarajadeva. From Dirghasi inscription, it is known that Vanapati, the Brahmin minister and commander of Rajaraja inflicted crushing defeat upon the rulers of Vengi, Utkala, Khimidi, Gidrisingi, Kosala and Chola. The acquisition of the neighbouring territories by following a vigourous policy of aggrandisement enabled Rajarajadeva to bring stability to the Ganga rule. He took up the independent highsounding titles like Parama Mahesvara, Paramabhattaraka, Maharajadhtraja and Trikalingadhipati. He died in 1077 AD.

3.Anantavarman Chodagangadeva (1077-1147 A.D.)

Anantavarman Chodagangadeva was a prominent king of the Ganga dynasty. The initial phase of his reign was critical because of his infancy. But as the king grew up to adulthood, he proved his ability as a ruler and ruling over Odisha for a long period of seventy years. In fact, he founded the Gangas dynasty in the Odishan soil, which ruled till 1435 A D.

4. Kamarnava (1147-1156 A.D.)

Kamarnava ascended the throne after the death of his father through his wife Kasturikamohini. His brief rule for a decade was mostly devoted to the fight against the Kalachuris for the possession of Sambalpur-Sonepur-Bolangir tract. Like his father, he was unsuccessful in his mission. A notable event during his period was that he performed the Tulabharam ceremony by which he weighed himself against gold which he distributed among the Brahmins and his courtiers.

5. Raghava (1156-1170 A.D.)

After the death of Kamarnava his younger brother Raghava to ascended the Ganga throne in 1156 AD. He was another son of Anantavarman Chodagandadeva through his queen Indiradevi. He also took up high-sounding title, ‘Anantavarma Devidasa Ranaranga Raghava Chakravarti. Perhaps during his period Kulottunga Rajendrachoda II of Velanadu attacked Kalinga and got some success. Among his two inscriptions found inside the Jagamohana of the Lingaraja temple, one describes about Jayadeva, a reputed poet of Odisha for his eternal creation Gitagovinda. His reign was comparatively peaceful and tranquile.

6. Rajaraja II (1170-1190 A.D.)

Next Rajaraja II succeeded Raghava as he had no son and successor. He was another son of Chodagandadeva through his queen Chandralekeha. With him the lost glory of the imperial Gangas revived. At the beginning of his reign, he recovered the lost territory of the Gangas extending from Simhachalam to Godavari during Kamarnava and Raghava. However, with the attack of Prithivisvara, the Velanati Chola ruler over Kalinga who extended his sway up to Srikurmam, Rajaraja II had to accept the supremacy of the former and remained under him as a vassal king. The victory of Lakshmanasena, the Sena ruler of Bengal and the contemporary of Rajaraja II over Utkala is rejected by scholars because it is untenable. Jayadeva, the great. poet of the time also flourished during the reign of Rajaraja II.

7. Anangabhimadeva II (1190-1198 A.D)

Anangabhimadeva II, the brother of Rajaraj II, ascended the throne as he had no children. His reign was peaceful and it witnessed vigorous activities in the building of many Saivite temples. His brother-in-law, Svapnesvaradeva constructed the famous Meghesvara temple at Bhubaneswar. Probably, he built Sovanesvara Siva temple at Niali. He undertook massive works of public welfare like building of roads, digging of wells and tanks, construction of high compound walls etc. He patronised men of letters and also looked after the material and spiritual well being of his subjects. He died in 1198 A.D.

8. Rajaraja III (1198-1211 A.D.)

Anangabhimadeva II was succeeded by his son Rajaraja III in 1198 A.D. His reign witnessed the increasing desire of the Muslims to invade this land. The Tabaqat-i-Nasiri of Qazi Minhaj-us-siraj mentions that under the instruction of Bakhtyar Khilji, Muhammad Sheran and Ahmad Sheran had advanced to occupy Lakhnor (in Bengal) and Jajnagar (Jajpur in Odisha). The death of Bhaktyar Khiljl, while leading the Muslim army in a campaign against Kamarupa (Assam) put a stop to the plan. The Muslim governors of Bengal, however, continued their attacks on Odisha during the reign of his successors.

9. Anangabhimadeva III (1211-1238 A.D.)

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.

10. Narasimhadeva I (1238 – 1264 A.D.)

With the succession of Narasimhadeva I to the Ganga throne in 1238 A.D., the Ganga Empire reached its zenith. His twenty-six years of glorious rule witnessed extraordinary achievements in every aspect of the Ganga administration. His aggressive and offensive military policy created panic in the minds of the Muslim rulers of Bengal and Oudh. This led the imperial Gangas to the pinnacle of power, glory and splendour. For the first time, he bore the title Gajapati exhibiting the vast possession of elephants and this title was borne by the later Ganga rulers occassionally and by the Suryavamsi kings invariably. The Sun temple at Konarka was the magnificent creation in the field of architecture that brought Narasimhadeva. He was popularly known as Langula Narasimhadeva among the people of Odisha.

11. Bhanudeva I (1264-1279 A.D.)

Narasimhadeva was succeeded by his son Bhanudeva I. Yuzbak, the Governor of Bengal marched as far as Jajnagar (Jajpur) in or around 1275 A.D. and took away some elephants. It is presumed that the Muslim sway was extended upto Jajpur. Bhanudeva was a benevolent ruler. His donation of lands, mango gardens and trees to the Brahmins shows that he promoted Brahmanism. The coming of Narahari Tirtha, the Dvaita Vedantin and his acceptance of the images of Rama and Sita from Bhanudeva I suggests that the worship of Sita-Rama began during his period. However, the disintegrating tendency of the Ganga empire started right from the days of Bhanudeva I when several feudatories like Matsys of Oddadi, the Chalukyas of Elamancili and the Pallavas of Virakutam showed defiant attitude towards the Ganga suzerainty. During his reign, Chandrikadevi, the daughter of Anangabhimadeva III and the wife of Paramadrideva built Anantavasudeva temple at Bhubaneswar.

12. Narasimhadeva II (1-.279-1306 A.D.)

Narasimhadeva II ascended the throne with the death of Bhanudeva I in 1279 A.D. As he was a minor, Narahari Tirtha became his regent for long twelve years. During his time Tughril Khan-i-Yuzbak, the governor of Bengal fought with Balban, the Sultan of Delhi. So, Narasimhadeva II enjoyed a comparatively peaceful time during his period. He facilitated trade and commerce by improving communication facility and brought prosperity to the land. Like his forefathers, he bore highsounding titles like ‘Vira Narasimhadeva, Sri Narasimhadeva, Pratapa Vira Sri Narsimhadeva etc. He also performed Tulapurusadana. He patronised the Brahmanas and established many Brahmana shasanas (villages). His court was crowned with the men of letters. Among them, Sambhukara Vajapeyi’s Sraddhapaddhati, Vidyakara’s , Nityachara Paddhati and Karmadipika and Sankhadhara’s Smriti Samuchaya were famous Sanskrit works of the time. He died in 1306 A.D.

13. Bhanudeva II (1306-1328 A.D)

The decline of the Ganga empire started with the accession of Bhanudeva II. After subjugating Warrangal in 1323 A.D. Ulugh Khan ( Muhammad Tughluq) had a raid in Jajnagar area who took away forty elephants from him. This clearly shows that Bhanudeva II had to deal with the Muslims. However, no loss of any part of the Ganga territory is evident during his period. The fact remains that the aggressive imperialism of the Gangas had come to an end. He also considered himself as the Deputy of God Jagannath.

14. Narasimhadeva III (1328-1352 A.D.)

Narasimhadeva III ascended the throne in 1328 AD with the death of Bhanudeva II. Taking advantage of the weakness of the Musunuri Nayakas, the Reddies and Velemas declared themselves as independent Kingdoms in the coastal Andhra region. At this juncture, the death of Toyyeeti Anavota Nayaka (who was ruling over that region on behalf of Kapaya Nayaka, the Musunuri ruler), Narasimhadeva III considered it as a golden opportunity to extend his sway upto Srikakulam. However, that victory was short lived because Anavota Reddi, a powerful Reddi ruler forced the Kalingan army to retreat upto, the boarder of Kalinga crossing of Godavari river. Thus, the Ganga empire was gradually leaning towards its decline. He died in 1352 A.D.

15. Bhanudeva III (1352-1378 A.D.)

Bhanudeva to ascend the Ganga throne in 1352 A.D with the death of his father Narasimhadeva III. His period witnessed a turbulent phase in the glorious rule of the Gangas. During his time, Iliyas Shah, the governor of Bengal, defied the authority of Firoz Shah, the Sultan of Delhi and thus, a war between the two was inevitable. Prior to it, in or around 1351 A.D. Iliyas had invaded Jajnagar. Further, the help rendered to Iliyas Shah by Bhanudeva III in 1353-54 A.D. in defeating Firoz Toghluq who retreated towards Delhi suggests that Iliyas had never attacked Jajnagar. At this juncture, Bhanudeva III might have thought it prudent to help Iliyas because he wanted to get rid of any possible attack to his kingdom from the side of the Sultan of Delhi (Firoz Tughluq).

The friendship of Bhanudeva III with Iliyas was costly for him. To retaliate his defeat, Firoz Tughluq invaded Bengal in 1357 A.D. and Sikandar Shah who had succeeded his father lliyas Shah, negotiated with Firoz Tughluq. In 1360 A.D., all of a sudden Firoz marched towards Jajnagar and the Ganga King Bhanudeva III was not at all prepared for that. The trechery of some of the officers of Bhanudeva III, helped Firoz to inflict a crushing defeat on the Odishan King who concluded peace treaty with the Sultan of Delhi. The destruction of the Puri Jagannath temple by the Muslim invaders described in Tarikh-i-Firoze Shahi finds no corroboration in any other contempory source. In 1356 A.D. Vijayanagara Empire launched an attack on the Ganga kingdom under the able command of Sangama, the nephew of Bukkaraya I, who defeated Bhanudeva III and snatched away the southern empire of the Gangas. Further, Anavema Reddi, the powerful Reddi ruler crossed the river Godavari and subjugated the Ganga empire upto Simhachalam under his suzerainty in 1375 A.D. During his period, the glory of the Ganga was shattered into pieces. King Bhanudeva III styled himself as ‘Sri Vira, Pratapavira Bhanudeva and Vira Sri Bhanudeva, died in 1378 A.D.

16. Narasimhadeva IV (1378-1414 A.D.)

Narasimhadeva IV ascended the Ganga throne in 1378 A.D with the death of Bhanudeva III. In 1386 A.D. directed by Kumaragiri, his brother-in-law, Kataya Vema attacked South Kalinga and devastated Cuttack. It is evident from the fact that he assumed the title Kataka Chudakara after this invasion. Narasimhadeva IV had no alternative but to go for peace by114 offering the hands of his daughter to Kumara Anavota, the son of Kumaragiri. The conflict between the Reddis and Velemas in the South weakened the Reddi power and taking advantage of this Narasimhadeva started to consolidate his sway over South Kalinga. However, the Ganga military power declined further during his period. The Odia language and grammer developed due to his initiative. He was a patron of Brahmins, scholars and men- of letters.

17. Bhanudeva IV (1414-1435 A.D.)

Bhanudeva IV, the last Ganga king, ascended the throne after the death of Narasimhadeva IV in 1414. As downfall had already begun in the Reddi Empire, Bhanudeva IV in association with Devaraya I, the king of Vijayanagara, attacked the Reddy territory; Allada Reddi of Rajahmundry had to conclude peace with both the kings of Utkala and Vijayanagara. The Chandra kala Natika of a great Odishan poet, Viswanath Kaviraj gives credit to Bhanudeva IV with the conquest of Gauda (Bengal). He had marched towards Bengal to save the Hindus from the control of Jalal-ud-dln Muhammad Shah. He took up royal titles like Srivira Bhanudeva, Gajapati Pratapa Vira Sri Nisanka Bhanudeva etc. He was the last ruler of the Ganga dynasty. When he was busy- in his southern campaign against the Reddis, Kapilesvara Routraya, his trusted minister betrayed him and by the help of the Brahmins usurped the throne. Thus, the Ganga dynasty came to an end to the glorious reign of the Gangas.

Leave a Reply