Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Chitrapu is a picturesque peninsula like semi-island along the Karavali coastline located southwest of Mulki town. It is formed in the coastal stretch where the Rivers Shambavi (Mulki) and Nandini (Pavanje) join together before disgorging into the Arabian Sea.The area west and southwest of Chitrapu, including Sasihitlu and Mukka is infamous for severe sea erosions especially during the peak monsoons.

Shekar Chitrapu
Shekar Chitrapu has compiled informative and useful geological and historical data available on Chitrapu in his Kannada essay ‘Chitrapu gramada Charitre: Ondu adhyayana haagoo upalabda maahitigalu’ (History of Chitrapu village: A Study and Available data) published in a regional souvenir.

River mouth drift
Shekar Chitrapu has documented the drift or migration of the combined river mouth of the Rivers Nandini and Shambavi at the sea front near Chitrapu during the recent history.This fact is also established by comparision of Survey of India toposheets documented for the years 1916 and 1968 and later satellite imageries of the area.
The northward migration of the river mouth is due to upliftment of the crust especially around Mangalore.An eastwesterly ridge traversing peninsular India along Mulki/Mangalore in the West Coast and Pulicat in the East Coast has been documented by geological studies.The rise of the ridge has been slow and steady over the years leading to gradual or abrupt migration of river mouths and other relevant Geomorphological features.

However, available data and evidences suggest that the Rivers Shambavi and Nandini were independently joining Arabian Sea before 19th century. The data is in conformity with the palo-geography of Gurupur- Netravathi duo.River Gurupur was joining the Sea independently of River Nethravathi until Nineteenth Century CE and one fine monsoon day in the year 1887 River Gurpur abruptly took a southerly turn and joined River Nethravathi before emptying into the Sea.
The story must have been similar in the case of Shamabavi and Nandini Rivers even though the year of joining of these two rivers has not been documented so farThe status of River Shambavi joining directly into Arabian Sea (independently of River Nandini) is supported by the fact that the present Bappanadu was a port where ships in the olden days used to dock.
The merchant ship of Bappa Beary was mysteriously stranded in the estuary here, according to local legends, and it was cleared after he offered to build a temple in honour of Durga Paramesvari.The temple is known as Bappanad Durga Paramesvari temple and it was rebuilt in the present site during later years.

Chitrapu Niyogis
A class of Telugu Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh is known as Niyogis. Niyogis are well known for for accomplishing intelligent executive works. Niyogi means appointed person or staff. One of the hundred and odd surnames of Telugu Niyogi Brahmins of Machilapatam, Andhra Pradesh, is ‘Chitrapu’. ‘Aruvel Niyogis’ (=six thousand appointed staff) were said to have been deployed during Vijayanagara reign for supporting administrative works of the warriors (Kshatriyas). Possibly, these six thousand recruitees were drawn from different parts of southern India including the Karavali.
Thus the Chitrapu Niyogis were possibly originally drawn from the Chitrapu near Mulki during 13-14 century CE.The connection of Niyogis to Karavali-Kerala is further supported by the fact that the Niyogi surnames also include ‘Uppala’ and ‘Malyala’.

The place name Chitrapu (Chitra+apu, the ’Chitra’ village) apparently is derived from the name of Alupa King Chitravahana I (680 -730 CE) who ruled Karavali and parts of Sahaydri like Edivolal (present Banavasi) areas during early Eigth Century CE. Chitravahana I was a powerful King among Alupas. He married queen Kumkuma Devi of Chalukya dynasty which was ruling at ruling at Badami.
There is one more King Chitravahana II documented in Alupa history (760-800 CE). However, the name Chitrapu may have been associated with the famous Chitravahana I who was ruling in the Mangalapura and Banavasi regions.

Alupa family has been considered to have originated at ‘Alupe’ village in eastern part of presnt Mangalore city.Then it needs to be explored why this village chitrapu was named after the King Chitravahana

One possible reason is that Chitrapu area was a flourishing port and urban area developed by Chitravahana I during 7th and 8th Centuries CE.Other reason could be that Chitravahana I or his mother hailed from this area, which was later renamed after the popular King of the time.

There are atleast two more villages in the Karavali named ‘Chitrapura’: one near Baikampadi (Mangalore) and another in the proximity of Shirali (Uttara Kannada). Compared to the antique name of Chitrapu, the new name ‘Chitrapura’ implies a subsequent date in the history. It is not clear whether these villages were named after Alupa King Chitravahana II (760-800 CE).

Readers with additional data on the area may add their comments

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Blog Archive

Books for Reference

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  • Puttubalakeya Pad-danagalu. Ed: Dr B.A.Viveka Rai,Yadupati Gowda and Rajashri, Sri Dharmasthala Manjunatheswara Tulu Peeta. Mangalore University.2004
  • Se'erige. Ed:Dr K.Chinnapa Gowda.Madipu Prakashana,Mangalagangotri,2000.
  • Studies in Tuluva History and Culture.by Dr P Gururaja Bhat (1975).Milagres College,Kallinapur,Udupi.
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  • TuLu NighanTu. (Editor in Chief: Dr U.P.Upadhyaya, Govinda Pai Research Centre,Udupi. Six volumes. 1988 to 1997
  • Tulu Patero-A Philology & Grammar of Tulu Language by Budhananda Shivalli.2004.Mandira Prakashana Mangalore. p.317. (The book is in Tulu Language using Kannada script)
  • TuLunadina ShasanagaLa Sanskritika Adhyayana. By Shaila T. Verma (2002) Jnanodaya Prakashana,Bangalore, p.304.(Kannada)
  • Tuluvala Baliyendre. Compiled by N.A.Sheenappa Hegde,Polali,Sri Devi Prakashana,Parkala,1929/1999

A Coastal estuary

A Coastal estuary
Holegadde near Honavar,Uttara Kannada dist, Karnataka

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