THE FALL OF GOVAPURI

In the previous chapter 5, we saw that the Goa Kadamba Navy had been the backbone of protection to the West Coast of India for almost three centuries. Now, with the disbanding of the Goa Kadamba Navy, after the defeat of the Goa Kadambas by the Yadavas of Devagiri, both the Kadamba as well as the Yadava kingdoms were weakened.

  • ALLAUDDIN KHILJI

Since then as the Goa Kadamba kingdom gradually came under the sway of the Yadava Empire, the fortunes of that empire affected the Goa Kadamba kingdom too. Both became victims of invasions. Thus, when the armies of Malik Kapur, general of the Delhi Sultan Alla-ud-din Khilji, attacked and sacked Devagiri, Govapuri also was attacked and sacked in 1313 AD. The invading army under Malik Kapur destroyed the Chamundeshwari temple (near the Pilar hillock) and looted it of its gold. The Kadambas then shifted their capital back to Chandrapura.1

ARTEFACTS OF KADAMBAS OF THESE TROUBLED TIMES

  1. Figure 58 (a) Rings of a Mridang Player; (b) Nose ring & (c) Bangles

These three artefacts: rings of a Mridang (instrument) player, a gold nose ring and broken pieces of bangles were found together on the border inside the Pilar tank. We suppose that they belong to a temple dancer or palace entertainer artist (Kalavonta) who might have been attacked by the enemy soldiers during the raid of Malik Kapur, and to defend herself, she might have jumped or been thrown into the tank. These objects were found at a depth of 14 feet. In the previous chapter we have shown dancers playing the Mridang (figure 28). Generally it was a wooden instrument played with rings in the three middle fingers of the hand. These rings are said to have been made by mixing five different precious metals.

The nose ring is a representation of the mythological tortoise (Kurma), a Hindu avatar of Vishnu, who is said to have taken this form to recover things of value lost in the Deluge. According to Satapatha Brahmana, as a tortoise Vishnu placed himself at the bottom of the sea of milk, and made his back the base or pivot of the mountain Mandara. Then the gods and devils twisted the great serpent Vasuki around the tortoise, and dividing into two parties, each took an end of this snake as a rope and thus churned the sea until they recovered the desired objects, among them being Amrut (nectar or water of life), Laksximi (goddess of fortune and beauty), Sura (wine), Chandra (the moon), Surabi (the cow of plenty) and Visha (poison)2

(II). Other Metal artefacts from the Pilar tank

Mr. Themistocles D”Silva from Arossim, Salcete, residing in U.S.A., donated, to the Curator of this Museum, a Metal detector. Making use of it, Seminary Professor, Fr. Savio Gracias, together with a few Seminary students discovered in May 2016 these metal artefacts, after digging beyond 18 feet, deep into the Tank, and retrieved them from inside hard, petrified mud; they were then cleaned with chemicals:

Figure 59 – Other metal Artefacts
  1. A very small Shiva Lingam
  2. A set of three Nagas with raised hoods.
  3. Inter-twined three copper rings (the main ring has beads-like formation).
  4. A Protective Metal Amulet.
  5. A small silver arrow.
  6. A gold ring (signet?).
  7. Small Iron Weight
  8. Thick black ring (iron?)
  9. Five Finger Rings (copper).
  10. A twined copper ring
  11. An Iron Key-latch
  12. A Set of Two Cutting forks.
  13. Several iron nails of different sizes.
  14. A worn-out sickle
  15. Two copper rings (signet?)
  16. Two Pendants (Silver?)

These objects might have escaped Malik Kapur’s raid of the Chamundeshwari temple or left because of their insignificance; the temple pujaris might have then thrown them into the Pilar tank, after the departure of Malik Kapur’s armies and run away for safety.

  • TUGHLAQ ARMIES

In 1327 another Delhi army of the so-called mad Sultan, Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq, attacked and sacked Chandrapura and killed by treachery, the Kadamba ruler and his attendants3. The capital was again shifted back to Govapuri.

  • THE FINAL ASSAULT

Finally, a few years later, in 1342, Jamal-ud-din, Nawab of Honavar, Governor of the Delhi Sultanate, attacked Govapuri, with 52 vessels. Ibn Batuta, the Arab traveller, who has left a graphic account of the storming of the citadel, was at his own request, made the commander of the fleet, under the personal supervision of Jamal-ud-din. Ibn Batuta writes in his account that having spent the night in the sea off the city, the Nawab’s fleet entered the bay and advanced easily at dawn. But they found that the citizens had already set up their mongonels. A mongonel was a type of a medieval machine used to hit ships with big stones.4

While describing this battle, Ibn Batuta also gives the cause of it. A family feud arose and one of the sons of the ruler invited the Nawab. A letter was received at the court of the Nawab in Honavar from the son of the ruler of Sandabur. (The Muslim writers, now called Gopakapattana, the port of Govapuri, as Sandabur or Sindabur, from the old Sendreka name: Sindapura, as we have already seen in Chapter 4).

In that letter, the son of the ruler informed the Nawab that he had quarrelled with his father and so was inviting the Nawab to send an expedition to siege the town and promised that he himself would convert to Islam and marry the Nawab’s daughter.

Figure 60 (a) – Stones thrown to hit Honavar ships

In his account, speaking of the stones thrown with mongonels, Ibn Batuta further says that as the ruler’s soldiers discharged the stones, one of them struck and killed instantly the man next to the Nawab. At this the Nawab’s soldiers plunged into the water with shields and swords, two tartans were opened in the rear and the horsemen mounted and sallied out immediately. Ibn Batuta’s account goes on: “We entered the city at the point of the sword and the greater part of the soldiers fled into the palace of the ruler, but when we threw fire into it, they came out and we seized them. The Nawab thereafter set them free and returned their wives and children to them. They numbered about ten thousand and he assigned to them one of the suburbs of the city and himself occupied the palace, giving the neighbouring houses to his courtiers.5

Some authors have identified Sandabur with Chandrapura. We do not agree with them, as Ibn Batuta mentions the island with 36 villages and the city surrounded by the bay. Only Govapuri has the vast expanse of the waters of the Arabian Sea, and the river Zuari, forming a bay around it. Chandrapura is situated on the banks of a tributary of the Zuari to the far south of Govapuri, and has no bay around it. It is too much in the interior to be reached at dawn from the sea as described by Ibn Batuta in his above quoted account.

Two stones presently in the Pilar Museum were probably the types of those thrown at the vessels of the Nawab with mongonels. One was found in a field close to the Gopakapattana harbour at a depth of twelve feet and the other, at the same depth near a strong spring of water inside the Pilar tank; perhaps 600 years of the flow of spring water around has given it the circles and the shape it has. At present each one of them weighs 20 kgs, in spite of being dry (out of water), for almost 40 years (in the Museum).

  • TEMPORARY RECOVERY
  • IBN BATUTA’S MOVEMENTS

After three months stay in Goa, Ibn Batuta sailed to Honavar and from there to Calicut. He returned to Goa five months later. Preparations were being made by the Hindus to capture the city and their soldiers had fled and joined their rulers, while the Muslim troops, which were quartered in the neighbouring villages had deserted the Nawab. The city was besieged and the conditions of the Nawab became very serious.

During the siege Ibn Batuta left Goa and went to Calicut and from there to the Maldive islands. He does not tell us anything about the son of the ruler who had invited the Nawab of Honavar. Nor could he give the final outcome of the battle as he himself left the town, leaving the Nawab to his fate. Probably, the Nawab was defeated and the Hindu ruler conquered the city6

  • WHO WAS THE HINDU RULER?
Figure 60 (b) Viragal from ASI Museum, Old Goa

Some historians hold that the Kadambas had reconquered Goa from the Nawab of Honavar, A. R. S. Dhume, however, has a different opinion. A copper plate, discovered at Korgaum in Pernem taluka says that Bhimabhupala belonging to the solar race of the Kshatryas, was a famous ruler, who ruled over the Konkan. He had his throne at Gopakapuri in 1351. The plate mentions 12 persons as rajas. They might have been feudatories of the Kadambas but in the year 1351 AD Bhimabhupala granted a piece of land situated in Pernem village to a certain Havala Thakur of Vatsagotra7. Dhume opines that these rulers belonged to the old Sendreka family of Ventuvallabha which continued as feudatories for centuries under the Shilaharas and the Kadambas, until after the fall of the Kadambas. One of their rulers defeated the Nawab of Honavar, probably in 1345-1346 AD. The ruler might have been Bhimabhupala who five years later made the grant of land in Korgaum.8 However, the restored glory of Govapuri was short lived.

  • THE LAST KADMBA RULER

The last time we hear of a Kadamba king is from a Viragal (hero stone) presently in the ASI Museum in Old Goa, which according to Rev. Heras is dated 1354 AD. It commemorated the death of Biravarma’s feudatory chief who died in a naval battle at sea. This Bhiravarma might have been the last Goa Kadamba ruler. He might or might not have ruled from Govapuri but from elsewhere. He might have unsuccessfully tried to rebuild the navy. Figure 60b shows the Viragal in the ASI Museum, Old Goa.

With the death of Biravarma ended the glory of the Kadambas of Goa.

1 A> R>S> Dhume, p cit. pp. 272-273

2 John Dawson, A Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, p. 172

3 A. R. S. Dhuma op cit. P 273

4 G. M. Moraes, Kadamba Kula, op cit. p. 215

5 Ibid 215-216; also see Gerald A Pereira op cit. p. 65

6 Ibid

7 Quarterly publication of Directorate of Archives and Archaeology, Panjim, May 1977, pp. 49-54

8 A. R. S. Dhume, op cit. pp 241-242