The Eastern Ganga dynasty reigned from Kalinga and their rule consisted of the whole of the modern day Indian state of Orissa as well as parts of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the 11th century to the early 15th century. Their capital was known by the name Kalinganagar, which is the modern Srimukhalingam in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh bordering Orissa. Today, they are most remembered as the builders of the Konark Sun Temple an UNESCO World Heritage site at Konark, Orissa.
The dynasty was founded by King Ananta-Varman Chodaganga Deva (1078 1147), grandson of the Chola king Virarajendra Chola and nephew of emperor Kulothunga Chola I. Anantavarman was a religious person as well as a patron of art and literature. He is credited for having built the famous Jagannath Temple of Puri in Orissa. King Anantavarman Chodagangadeva was succeeded by a long line of illustrious rulers such as Narasimha Deva I (1238 1264).
The rulers of Eastern Ganga dynasty defended their kingdom from the constant attacks of the Muslim rulers. This kingdom prospered through trade and commerce and the wealth was mostly used in the construction of temples. The rule of the dynasty came to end under the reign of King Bhanudeva IV (1414 34), in the early 15th century.
The history of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty can be traced to the period when the Nandas ruled over this region in 4th century B.C. After Mahapadma Nanda subjugated northern India, he assimilated Kalinga into his vast empire. Pre-Mauryan black polished potteries and punch marked coins belonging to that era indicate that Kalinga was a prosperous state under the Nanda rule. Chandra Gupta Maurya overthrew the last Nanda king in 322 B.C. During the time of Chandra Gupta, Kalinga declared herself independent. His grandson Asoka invaded Kalinga in 261 B.C. and incorporated Kalinga into his extensive empire. The Kalinga war is recorded as the bloodiest war ever in the history of India. Over a hundred thousand were killed and half as many taken prisoners. The terrible bloodshed caused by the war filled Asoka with guilt and remorse; subsequently he embraced Buddhism and followed the principle of Dharma Vijaya.
In the early 1st century B.C. Kalinga became independent under a Chedi chief Mahameghavana.The third ruler of the Mahameghavana dynasty Kharavela who reigned in the second half of the 1st century B.C was the most illustratous king to have ever ruled over Kalinga. The Hathigumpha inscription found in Udayagiri (now in Orissa) furnishes a detailed account on the life and military expeditions of this great king.
After the fall of Mahameghavahana Dynasty Kalinga was divided into different kingdoms under feudatory chiefs.Each of these chiefs bore the title Kalingadhipathi(Lord of Kalinga). The reality is that most of these Kalingadhipathis actually ruled over only a part of the Kalinga region. A new dynasty known as the early Eastern Gangas established themselves during this period in southern Kalinga. Indravarma-I the founder of this dynasty defeated the Vishnukundin king Indrabhattaraka and established his rule over the region with Kalinganagara as his capital. They also had a secondary capital at Dantapura. The Ganga kings assumed various titles viz.Trikalingadhipathi or Sakala Kalingadhipathi(Lord of tri-Kalinga or entire Kalinga). Mukhlingam near Srikakulam of Andhra Pradesh boardering Orissa has been identified as Kalinganagara, the capital of the early Eastern Gangas. After the decline of the early Eastern Gangas reign, the Chalukyas of Vengi took control of the region. Vajrahastha-I, a descendent of the early Eastern Ganga dynasty took advantage of the internal strife and revived the power of the Ganga dynasty. It was during their rule that Saivism or the worship of Lord Shiva took precedence over Buddhism and Jainism. The magnificent Madhukeswara temple at Mukhlingam was built during this period. In the middle of the 11th century the Chola general Karunakara brought Kalinga under the rule of the Chola dynasty for a short period.
Rise and fall
Konark Sun Temple at Konark, Orissa, built by King Narasimhadeva I (AD 1236 1264), it is now a World Heritage Site. The Eastern Gangas arose to intermarry with and challenge the Cholas and Chalukyas in the period when the Western Gangas had been forced to abandon this role. Early ancestors of the Eastern Gangas ruled in Orissa from the 8th century. Vajrahasta III's son Devendra Varma Rajaraja Deva I waged war on the Cholas and the Eastern Chalukyas and strengthened the dynasty by marrying Chola princess, Rajasundari, daughter of emperor Virarajendra Chola and cousin of Kulothunga Chola I. Their son, Anantavarman Chodagangadeva, ruled from the mouth of the Ganges (Ganga) River in the north to the mouth of the Godavari River in the south; he founded the Eastern Ganga Dynasty and began building the great Jagannath Temple at Puri at the end of the 11th century. He assumed the title of Trikalingadhipathi (ruler of the three Kalingas which comprise Kalinga, Utkal and Koshal) in 1076, the first to rule all three divisions of Kalinga. The name Chodaganga alludes to this dynasty's Ganga and Chola heritage.
Rajaraja III ascended the throne in 1198 and did nothing to resist the Muslims of Bengal, who invaded Orissa in 1206. Rajaraja s son Anangabhima III, however, repulsed the Muslims and built the temple of Megheshvara at Bhuvaneshvara. Narasimha I, the son of Anangabhima, invaded southern Bengal in 1243, defeated its Muslim ruler, captured the capital (Gauda), and built the Sun Temple at Konark to commemorate his victory. With the death of Narasimha in 1264, the Eastern Gangas began to decline; the sultan of Delhi invaded Orissa in 1324, and Vijayanagar defeated the Orissan powers in 1356. Narasimha IV, the last known king of the Eastern Ganga dynasty, ruled until 1425. The mad king, Bhanudeva IV, who succeeded him, left no inscriptions; his minister Kapilendra usurped the throne and founded the Suryavamsha dynasty in 1434 35. The Eastern Gangas were great patrons of religion and the arts, and the temples of the Ganga period rank among the masterpieces of Hindu architecture.
Chodaganga Deva (1077 1150), the greatest of the Eastern Ganga kings, was born to Rajasundari Chola, daughter of emperor Virarajendra Chola. The king rebuilt the temple of Jagannath on the ruins of the old one. It is said that King Chodaganga was originally a Shaivite from Srimukhalingam who became a Vaishnava under the influence of Ramanuja when he visited Jagannath Puri. It must be noted that despite Kulothunga Chola I being his maternal uncle, it did not stop the Chola sovereign from burning Anantavarman's empire. Historians propose that it was probably because the king failed to pay his rent for two consecutive years. He was ousted by Kulothunga's general Karunakara Thondaiman and this victory is detailed in the Tamil classic Kalingattupparani.
From various inscriptions it is known that King Anantavarman Codaganga Deva established the present temple some time near the end of the eleventh century. A copper plate inscription made by King Rajaraja III found on the Tirumala temple near the north entrance states that Jagannath temple was built by Gangesvara, i.e., Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva.
Later, King Ananga Bhima Deva II (1170 1198) did much to continue the work of Chodaganga Deva, building the walls around the temple and many of the other shrines on the temple grounds. He is thus often considered one of the builders of the temple. He also did much to establish the regulations around the service to the Deity.
A scion of this dynasty made rich donations to the Koneswaram temple, Trincomalee on Puthandu, 1223 CE in the name of King Chodaganga Deva. Shortly afterwards, the Konark temple was constructed in Orissa.
- Anantavarman Codaganga (1078 1147)
- Ananga Bhima Deva II (1170 1198)
- Anangabhima Deva III (1211 1238)
- Narasimha Deva I (1238 1264)
- Bhanu Deva I (1264 1279)
- Narasimha Deva II (1279 1306)
- Bhanu Deva II (1306 1328)
- Narasimha Deva III (1328 1352)
- Bhanu Deva III (1352 1378)
- Narasimha Deva IV (1378 1414)
- Bhanu Deva IV (1414 1434)