The 1,125-year-old veeragallu that leans against a compound wall in the Naganatheshwara (Shiva) temple in Begur, is testament to the fact that this city existed since the 9th Century and was called Bengaluru.
This, along with 14 other veeragallu (hero stone), which are timeless pieces of history, were to be moved to the city museum from Begur, about four kilometres from Bommanahalli junction on Hosur road. All attempts, however, made by the state department of archaeology, museums and heritage to shift these stones for conservation, have been thwarted by residents, who believe that any move to disturb the veeragallu would bring bad luck to their village.
Begur is a gram panchayat and the entire village has signed a memorandum urging the government not to shift the stones. After unsuccessfully trying for a year, the department has now decided against the move and has decided to conserve the stones in site by placing them on pedestals.
The Begur Nageshwara temple, built during Ganga regime in the 9th Century by the earliest rulers of Karnataka, has gained prominence with historians and archaeologists who include the premises in their academic research.
The veeragallu here bear inscriptions in halegannada (an old form of Kannada) and one such stone has writings depicting a battle scene -the Bengaluru Yu d d h a (Bengaluru battle). The mention, `Beguru Shaasana, AD 890, Bengaluru yuddha” demystifies the Benda Kaalooru theory. The story of how the city’s name evolved from `boiled beans” actually doesn’t have credence and remains an urban myth.
Benda Kaalooru, according to the folklore, was coined by Veera Ballala II who lived in 13th Century during the Hoysala regime.
Bengaluru Darshana, a book on the city brought out by Udaya Bhanu Kala Sangha, who is held in high esteem among historians, has a special mention by MG Manjunath on the “Origin of the name of Bengaluru“, where he writes: “There is no difference of opinion over the fact that a place called Bengaluru existed as early as AD 890. An inscription found at Begur in Bengaluru South has clearly established Bengaluru’s history.
Bengaluru kaleghadhul buttana setti sattam, the inscription on the rock said; Buttana Setti (presumably a warrior) died in Bengaluru.
According to H.S. Gopal Rao, epigraphist, historian and the former general secretary of the Karnataka Itihasa Academy, the inscription refers to the battle of Bengaluru. This veeragallu or victory stone dates back to the 10th century, on which the words are in a language and script that has been identified as Kannada.
Until this inscription was discovered, it was assumed that there was no Bangalore before Kempe Gowda I.
The object was probably discovered between 1906 and 1911, when the legendary B.L. Rice, the former director of the Mysore archaeology department and compiler of Epigraphia Carnatica was in office. It now lies in the nearly 1,000-year-old Naganatheshwara temple at Begur.
“This temple was constructed around the statue of the deity Nageshwara, which was already there during the reign of Raja Raja Chola II (1146-1173 AD). The king appointed a member of our family as the main priest. We have been responsible for performing puja and other rituals since then,” says Vijay Deekshit, a priest at the temple.
He adds: “Because of marital relationships between the Gangas and Cholas, the royal insignia of both these dynasties can be found at the Naganatheshwara temple. The architecture of this place resembles that of the Shiva shrine at Gangaikonda Cholapuram (the one-time capital of the Chola rulers) almost entirely.”
“There is a lot of credence to the inscriptions in Begur veeragallu which says that Bengaluru existed in the 9th Century. There are many theories on the origin of the city and its name. But after research, it became clear t h e c i t y ‘s n a m e w a s Bengaluru, and the government finalised on the change of the name,” says Moona, a well known Bengaluru historian.
Naganatheshwara temple at Begur is just about 15 kms drive from city, and its before the electronic city on Hosur road.