Jan 24, 2015

Ruins of a Stupa, Kanaganahalli-Sannati

November 28, 2013
The intention of visiting Sannati was to see and photograph the only major rock edict in Karnataka. On reaching Sannati-Kanaganahalli, there was more to see than expected. There was ruins of a Buddhist stupa, excavations in progress. The site is heavily protected, even a policeman was posted on site, round the clock. Here's the post about the inscription - Ashokan major rock edict of Sannati
Ruins of the Stupa..

A board posted by ASI reads as follows:
The remains of a Maha-Stupa, which is unique in several aspects, were brought to light through excavations at Kanaganahalli (forming part of Sannati) by the Archaeological Survey of India during the years 1994-2001.  It is referred to a Adholoka Maha-Chaitya (The great stupa of the netherlands) in the inscriptions. It is a well developed stupa constructed in locally available limestone with elaborate ornamentation, ayaka platforms in the cardinal directions. The vedika (drum) anda (dome) portions were built of heavy, dressed, wedge shaped blocks of limestone and the inner core was filled by alternate layers of rubble and earth. The stupa measures nearly 22m in diameter (at the railing) and rose to a heigh of 17m. The Stupa has shown at least three constructional phases- via, Maurya, Early Satavahana and Later Satavahana periods, datable from 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD. As many as 10 small and big brick structures in the form of votive Stupas, chaitya - grihas, pavilions for accommodating sculptures and Buddha-padas and the plan of a vihara-complex are also laid bare around the Stupa. These structures appear to have been destroyed due to severe earthquake.
In addition to the structural remains, as many as 60 dome-slabs with exuberant sculptural rendering of selected Jataka stories, main events in the life of the Master, portraits of Asoka - the Mauryan emperor and more than Satavahana monarchs and certain unique depictions of Buddhist 72 drum-slabs decorated with variety of dharma-chakras, Stupas, the first sermon, Bodhi tree, Naga Muchulinda, vihara complexes including Jetavana are discovered. More than 10 inscribed sculptures of the Buddha in round, of which two are standing and others are seated; over a dozen ornate Buddha-padas are also found. Besides fragments of ayaka-pillars, umbrella stones and shafts, parts of sculptures of Yakshas and lion, the innumerable carved architectural members of the railing and other parts of the Stupa have also been unearthed. Significantly the excavations have yielded more than 250 Brahmi inscriptions with varied palaeographical features.
The magnificent Stupa, the sculptural fragments, the inscriptions, coins and other antiquities from Kanaganahalli throw immense fresh light on the historical, cultural, religious and chronological aspects of the Maurya-Satavahana times besides the spread of Buddhism, ramification and standardization of Buddhist art, architecture and iconography by providing clinching evidences.

The site as seen on Google Maps. Its located in black soil fields of Kanaganahalli village, on the left bank of river Bhima. The Stupa's circular plan is clearly recognizable here. Around the circle are several rectangular patches- these are red brick piles.

As seen from east. The electrical poles with a transformer is a good reference point. The ASI team here is working hard collecting pieces, identifying them piece by piece and trying to put them together to recreate the original form. Its like trying to assemble a complex jigsaw puzzle. Besides the officers the main person involved in this activity is Hajimsaheb, a man of great experience with historical artefacts.

as seen from south-west
ruins of a brick structure
stone pillars supported by metal pipes are part of the circular railing
brick structure on the south-east side if the Stupa
part of the railing on north-east side
railing pillars and sculptures placed in approximate locations
hundreds of such sculptures to be assembled to solve the big puzzle
part of the base where the rubble inside is exposed
railing pillar with lotus mural and a model stupa in the background
closer look at the stupa wall created by dressed lime-stone blocks
slabs laid on the walkway between the main wall and railing
shaped blocks form a shallow channel around the main wall

Dharma Chakra mounted on a pillar
About 100' away from the stupa ruins are blocks arranged in two concentric circles, each of the blocks have sculptures of real world and mythological animals. Some of the animals depicted are bull, buffalo, elephant, lion, horse, pig, and donkey. Majority of the sculptures depict imaginary creatures with body of lion.

The blocks found here are definitely not enough to completely recreate a Stupa but definitely some of the important parts are here while many of them are lost, never to be recovered. Nevertheless ASI team is carrying out the work diligently..

Check out the following post- Buddhist sculptures at Kanaganahalli-Sannati site.


Team G Square said...

Wonderful post. Thanks for the information.

siddeshwar said...

you are welcome, TGS

Christine Cornument said...

Thank you again for your work. I have a personnal question : I'm thinking to visit Kanaganahalli -Sannati during my next trip to India, the day between Bijapur and Gulbarga. It will be a sunday, so I wonder if it's possible ? I imagine ASI is always working but what about week-end ? I don't find many information about this place and like it will be a longest road, I would be sure to have the possibilty to see the archeological place.
Thank you for advance for your answer

siddeshwar said...

Hi Christine, you should be able to visit the site on a Sunday. Once you reach Kanaganahalli village, inquire for the ASI curator Hajimsaheb and seek his help. The site is quite interior, so it would be good to go by a cab. In case you need any further info, please email me. Thanks for your interest.