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390-year-old lamp post in Nalgonda dedicated to Kasi Viswanatha unravels trade links of Telangana

February 07, 2024 01:33 pm | Updated 01:33 pm IST - HYDERABAD

The 20-foot-tall lamp post on the edge of river Krishna in Nalgonda, Telangana, was a geographical marker on the trade route | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

A newly-discovered Deepastambham (lamp post) on the edge of River Krishna in Nalgonda district casts a fresh light on trade ties in the region in early medieval times. Archaeologists working in the area found the 20-foot tall pillar with hollows for lamps and a multi-lingual inscription in Mudimanikyam village of Nalgonda in Telangana.

Besides the lamp post, archaeologists found a small flat roofed structure near the Krishna river bank in Nalgonda district, Telangana | Photo Credit: By Arrangement

“The pillar and a small flat roofed structure near it was found by Ashok Kumar. It is on a slope from the village leading to the river bank. We have not found anything like this in the Krishna river valley. Nor are there records of similar structures,” says M. A. Srinivasan who found the pillar along with Ashok Kumar of Public Research Institute for History, Archaeology & Heritage (PRIHAH). 

While Dhwajasthambam (flag poles) are part of temple architecture, lamp posts are rare in the Deccan while they are common in temples in the west coast including Goa. 

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“Based on the inscription engraved on the lamp post near the ruined Śiva temple, the pillar can be dated to June 1635 and it is written in Telugu mixed with Tamil language. It is dedicated to Kasi Viswanatha and because of its height, it would have served as a lighthouse on the riverine trade route,” said M. Munirathnam Reddy, Director (Epigraphy), Archaeological Survey of India who has studied the inscription. The inscription was engraved by Madiraju Narasayya of Yidupulapāti and erected by Polinedu, son of Vali Munulayya. “Similar pillars have been found in Tamil Nadu but they don’t have inscriptions,” he informed.

The village is about 180 kilometres from Hyderabad which was ruled by the Qutb Shahi rulers at that time. European travellers, including the French diamond trader Tavernier who made five trips to the Hyderabad kingdom in the same period, describe land trade routes. But make reference to riverine trade.  

The team of archaeologists also discovered an eighth century inscription recording a grant during Badami Chalukya rule in the region showing that the village was part of trade route over the millennia.

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