What you’re seeing here in this picture is a large piece of stone being used as lining in a road-side ditch somewhere in Bengaluru. Well, actually, it turns out the stone slab is much much more than a lining or a fence slab. It is in-fact an inscription stone that was used to record history some many centuries ago – yes that stone in the road-side ditch? That’s an artifact of history that has reached us from many hundreds of years ago.
Bengaluru alone is said to have had over 150 inscriptions lying around as recorded in some works of archaeology in the early twentieth century. All of these had been documented earlier, but now it appears that we have lost over 100 such inscriptions or inscription stones.
One history enthusiast, a P L Udaya Kumar, actually went on a search of these inscriptions only to discover that there were hardly 30 left standing.
Many veeragallus, known in English as hero stones, have been lost to construction and wanton disregard for our history. Veeragallus are simple monuments erected to commemorate acts of valour or sacrifice – the heroes being remembered through such stones need not be royals but simple common folk.
One such veeragallu discovered by a group of heritage enthusiasts called the Revival Heritage Hub has created much interest. The abandoned hero stone that the Revival Heritage Hub discovered turned out to be the oldest inscription to be found in Bengaluru area. It also contains the oldest existing Kannada writing.
And who does the hero stone talk about? One Kittayya from the eight century – so we have a historical record that is more than 1,200 years old lying abandoned only to be discovered through the efforts of enthusiasts.
Kittayya was being remembered for his valour in a battle against Rashtrakutas during the time of the Ganga dynasty.
The inscription mentions a place by name Perbolala, which historians identify with today’s Hebbal, a thriving locality in north east Bengaluru.
So there you have it. The oldest inscription to be found in Bengaluru, 1,200 years old, commemorating Kittayya’s valour against an invader, probably defending Hebbal, so much history in a little piece of stone and yet we came so close to losing this artifact of history to modern-day construction and neglect.
By the way, a replica of the Hebbal hero stone is available for sale should you want one for your home – a simple search on the internet should get you the details. The proceeds are meant to be used for a nice Ganga dynasty-style mandapathat will be built to house the Kittayya Hebbal hero stone.
Seems like a nice project, isn’t it?