King Ashoka’s edict (ca.250 BC) of Girnar mentions his people-friendly services in several regions of southern India.Buddhism, in southern India apparently was introduced during Ashoka's regime. The word 'Sangham' in the early literature of Tamils was influenced by or borrowed from Buddhism. During the beginning ten centuries of the CE Buddhism thrived well in southern India coexisting side by side with mainstream Hinduism and Jainism.
The Bhagavthi cult of Kerala and Karavali is a direct descendant of Buddhist Tara Bhagavathi cult that was widespread in southern India. Statues of Tara have been found at Kolivada, Banvasi, Balligave and Dambala (Dhammavolal). Buddhist idols have been found at Kadri (Mangalore) and Kapu area (Udupi district). The architecture of Aihole Durga temple,of early Chalukyan art(6 to 8th Century CE) in Bagalkot district, has been considered to be of Buddhist style.There are also an ancient temple in Aihole dedicated to Bhagavathi.
Prof. Rahamath Tarikere (2006) lists numerous geographic locations and lakes/ tanks in Karnataka that have names connected to icons of Buddhism. He cites several ancient places that have names connected to typical Buddhist words like Dharma, Hema, Vajra, Manju, Avalokita, Lokeswara, Tara,Bhagavathi, Chandra, Kadali and Joga.Some of the places with Buddhist names are enlisted below:
1. Tara. (Tara,Taare,Tavare) Places reminiscent of Tara Bhagavthi:
Tavarekere or Tarikere at Kadri (Mangalore),Tavarekere (Tarikere, Bangalore, Mandya, Nagamangala, Magadi, Mangalore, Chennagiri, Shira, Turuvekere, Nelamangala, Tumkur, Arasikere); Taarikere (Hoasadurga, Holalkere), Tarikere (Tarikere, Kunigal, Maddur).
Taarihalli (Hospet), Taarehalli (Jagalur), Tavargera (Kushtagi), Tavarekoppa (Shimoga, Hanagal), Taariahaal(Hubli), Tavaragi (Hirekerur), Tarapura (T.Narasipura).
Bhagavathi kaaDu (Hosanagar, Belthangadi), Bhagavathi kaTTe (Tarikere), Bhagavathi kere (Bhadravathi, Hiriyur), etc.
Dharmastala (Belthangadi), Dharmapura (Hiriyur, Devanahalli), Dharmaapura (Sandur, Arakalgud), Dharamsagar (Hospet), Dhammavolal (>.Dambala).
Dharma-Shastavu temples of Tulunad are considered to have originally been Buddha Chaitalayas that have been later converted to Aiyappa shrines. Dharma-Shastavu was one of the names of the Buddha.
4.Loka,Lakya,Lakka: (places dedicated to Avalokiteswara/ Lokeswara)
Lokapur (Mudhol), Lakya dam, Lakkavalli (Tarikere), Lokavalli (Mudigere), Lakka/ Lokki(Chikmagalur), Lakkolli (Mundagodu), Lakkanahalu, Lokadoallu (Holalakere), Lakkundi (Gadag),Lokkigundi(?), Lokikere (Davanagere, Kudligi, Tarikere), Lakkeguli(Ankola), Lokanatha temple(Rona).
5.Vajra: .( places reminiscent of Vajrayana Buddhism)
Vajra (Hosadurga),Vajralli(Yellapura), Vajrahlli(Nelamangala),Vajradahalli(Madhugiri), Vajramatti (Mudhola), Vajrahoshalli (Dodballapur), Vajjanakurke (Koratgere) etc.
6.Manju . (places named after Manjunath or Manjusri)
Manjeswar (Kasargodu), Kirimanjeswara (Kundapura), Manjenahalli (Kadur), Manjuguni (Ankola) etc.
7.Mangala: There are three Mangalurs in Karnataka (Dakshina Kannad, Badami, Yelaburga).The Mangala is a word frequently used in Buddhist literature and is also name of one of the 24 Buddhas.
Besides,there are several villages with Mangala as prefix or suffix in their names. Mangalapade, Nagamangala, Nelamangala, Binnamangala, etc may be places where centers of Buddhism existed in the past.
Similarly,the Bhaagamandala (Kodagu), place-name of origin of the River Cauvery, may be of Buddhist origin.
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