Alupa Kings who ruled Tulunadu for centuries are known to have changed their capitals from Ancient Mangalore to Ancient Udyavara.It appears that certain major geomorphic changes that affected the coastal rivers and the ports during the relevant historical periods prompted them to do so.
Have you seen the picturesque Udyāvara beach and the barrier spit?
Udyāvara is a historical coastal town Southwest of Udupi and the river flowing nearby also bears the same name. Presently the west-flowing Udyāvara River takes an abrupt turn, very close to the shore, towards north and flows northward parallel to the beach forming a narrow barrier spit consisting of coastal sands in between the river and the Sea.
Well, you may be surprised to know that the present fluvial and beach scenery was not like this some 120 to 150 years ago. Infact, earlier the River Udyāvara was directly joining the Arabian Sea near Pithrodi and the barrier spit found now is a subsequent phenomenon developed during the river-mouth migration event.
The place- name ‘Udyāvara’ is quite interesting. The term Udaya + avara essentially means sunrise field or ground. The word ‘Udaya’ stands for rise or onset and represents sun rise or morning sun in general. The Sanskrit word ‘Udaya’1(=rise) exists in Tulu in the form of ‘udipu’ ( ‘d’ pronounced soft as in English ‘the’).
The word ‘udaya’ 2 has also another lesser known meaning, ie ‘uncovered’. To me the usually explained meaning of ‘sunrise ground’ appears a bit odd since the place is on the West coast that is well known for sunset scenario rather than sunrise! The other possible usage of’ uncovered ground’ sounds meaningful when we see evidences of rounded water worn pebbles in the area that suggest that the area was a deserted former river-plain or an uncovered ground after the alteration and migration of the former river-plain.
It has been hinted in earlier posts that Alupa Kings were maritime merchants, or in other words their power and affluence was derived from the marine trade based on large country cargo boats known variously as ‘Pandi’, ‘Naga ‘, Kappal etc. It has also been suggested that the surname ‘Pandya’ adorned by these kings implied their Pandi -owner status. The Alupa Kings, as interpreted in earlier posts, originally hailed from the ‘Alupe’ village, located in the eastern part of present Mangalore city proximal to NH 48. The ancient Alupe town was on the northern banks of River Nethrāvati and it can be deduced that the cargo boats sailed about four kilometers upstream along River Nethrāvati and anchored in the port of Alupe, the original headquarters of Alupa Kings.
Thus it is obvious that the dynasty/family name ‘Alupa’ was a stylized form of the ancient place-name Alupe. In other words the much confused and misinterpreted title ‘Alupa’ originally meant the landlords from Alupe.
Pithrodi has been interpreted as ancient burial ground (Post 178) where mortal remains as well as the memory of the ancestors (‘pithrs’) were preserved. Burying the dead was a common custom among the Megalithic civilization. The practice of cremation of the dead in the Indian subcontinent came into being during the period of late Harappa civilization. The cremation ritual may have been introduced in the Karāvali region by the immigrating Tulu tribes during the period ca.800-400 BCE. Before the introduction of cremation rituals the burial of the dead appears to be the accepted custom in the region. To have a burial ground there must have been a settlement in the area. Thus it appears there was an ancient settlement or habitation on the bank of River Udyāvara.
On account of natural hazards in the native Mangalore-Alape Port region, possibly on account of drying up of the original Mangar/Pandeswara Port in Mangalore, the Alupa Kings were forced to shift their base (capital) to Udyāvara during ca. 720-750 CE. Since the Alupas were maritime merchants it is understandable that they shifted to another suitable port. This also suggests that Udyāvara was a natural port amenable for maritime trade at that time.
Legends among the older generation in and around Udyāvara describe that in the olden days, cargo boats used to sail up to Katapadi along the River Udyāvara. The Pithrodi area was possibly earmarked as a respect to early ancestors, and the immigrant Tulu fishermen who settled in this area in several batches occupied an area to the east of Pithrodi which is even now known as “Padinal pattana” (= 14 colonies), which was a cluster of fourteen fishing colonies. The large number of fishing colonies in the area suggests that the region was a well developed fishing port and Udyāvara was a well-populated progressive city in ancient times.
On the northern bank of Udyāvara river we have Pithrodi, Padinal Pattana, Gajane etc whereas on the southern bank we have fort area(Kote), Bolar gudde, Yenagudde, Mattu, Pangala and other hamlets and villages.
Two other localities in Udyāvara suggest historical connections: Bolar gudde and Gajane. Bolar gudde is said to be the ammunition storage centre during Tipu Sultan’s regime. The name ‘Bolar’ is reminiscent of the similar historical place-name in Mangalore city.Bolar gudde was also known as Belara gudde suggesting that it was a locality of fair skinned 'white'tribes(Bela or Bola)in the antiquity.
Gajane locality could be either (a)an ancient waterlogged, marshy area('gajani') or (b) even a historical ‘khajane’ (Treasury) of royal times.The latter opinion prevails among the locals while the former view appears a distinct possibility.
Recent geographic changes
The rivers of the West coast have changed their courses several times in the history. One of the major changes during the last two centuries is development of barrier spits along the beaches covering the estuary zones of these rivers. River Gurupur according to revenue records changed its former course abruptly during 1887 and joined River Nethrāvati after developing a barrier spit (‘Bengre’) between the river and the sea. Many of the coastal rivers similarly changed their courses about 120 to 150 years ago but the exact date or year of change has unfortunately not been documented so far.
Any of the readers who have authentic historical temporal records about these natural fluvial changes may kindly write in comments.
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