Saturday, 30 March 2013

ATR of Vyasaraja Matha

                        The Action Taken Report (6months)
Published by Administrator of the Vyasaraja Matha of Sosale, regarding the developments of the matha.
This is an official communication from the Administrator and his team posted on the web, Tatwa Chandrika magazine and at the website of the matha on the action taken report for six months. The report is as follows: 

1.00 The Government of Karnataka has appointed Sri. K. Jairaj, IAS, Addl. Chief Secretary, as Administrator of Sri Vyasaraja Mutt (Sosale) on 26th May 2012. After retirement, Sri. Jairaj continued to be the Administrator of the Mutt. Consequent upon taking over the charge by the Administrator, several measures have been initiated to stem rot in the institution and to invigorate measures relating to probity in official practices, accounting Mutt resources, streamlining administration and protecting Mutt properties.
2.00 The Administrator has appointed a core group of four retired individuals with an extensive service in the Government/Public Sector to assist him in his duties. These officials are in place.
3.00 The main changes in the past six months (May 2012 to November 2012) are indicated below:
A) Finance & Accounts
• When charge of the Mutt was taken over on 26th May 2012, it was astonished to note that there was no effective system of accounting or maintenance of Bank balances by the Swamiji.
• Donations received by the Mutt and offerings made by the devotees and put into boxes (Hundies) were appropriated by private individuals with no accounts there on.
• The Administrator instituted a system of proper accounting and documentation from scratch. The services of a reputed Chartered Accountant were hired and daily accounts were started, including computerization of Accounts by installing Tally package.
• Separate Bank accounts were opened in which seva receipts, rentals and others were deposited.
• Opening of the hundies (Hundi boxes where devotees offer their money in cash) was under proper supervision and with mahzars every month. The amount collected were deposited in Bank accounts.
• Strict control of expenditure was initiated and carefully monitored.
• Regular income and expenditure statement have been drawn up each month and pasted in the office board of the Mutt for public information.
• As a result of the official streamlining which has taken place, the income of the Mutt as on October 31st 2012 was Rs. 70,65,362/- There has been a surplus of Rs. 36,83,273/- as per balance sheet prepared as on 31st October 2012.
• The Administrator has initiated a system of comprehensive audit by a qualified Chartered Accountant. The audit for the period from 26th May 2012 to 31st August 2012 has been presented before the Advisory Committee meeting held on 5.11.2012.
• At the time of take over, there was no acquaintance roll of the employees in the Mutt. Monthly payments were made either by cash or by deferred payments without maintaining any acquaintance roll.
• The Administrator made a thorough and comprehensive appraisal of the staff requirement and responsibilities. Following this, the pay of the staff was increased by an average of 35 per cent over present wage with effect from 1.9.2012. The monthly outgo of staff salary for 55 employees is Rs. 1.68 lakhs.
• The staff salaries are currently being paid only through cheques.
• Some changes in staff have been initiated bearing in mind the requirement and efficiencies In administration. In coming months, measures including medical insurance will be instituted.
• The Mutt did not possess an effective system of inventory in relation to immovable properties. The Government order on 26th May 2012 indicates several cases of sale, lease and wrongful alienation of properties of the Mutt in different places in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
• Immediately on taking over Mutt properties at Tirumala (Tirupathi) consisting of Brindavanam and a choultry had been taken over. These properties were wrongfully alienated by the Swamiji as per report of the TTD Chief Vigilance Officer. On take over, this property has begun to yield an average daily return of Rs.11,000/-
• Steps have been initiated to take back the possession of other properties wrongfully alienated in Karnataka , Tamil Nadu & Andhra Pradesh.
• Valuable properties of the Mutt in the form of shops & establishments have been leased at an extremely low rent and with no documentation at Gandhi Bazaar, Chickpet in Bangalore and in Mandya district and at Udupi. Systematic documentation of each of these locations has been started.
• The Administrator and staff after discussions with the tenants of the premises in Gandhi Bazaar have increased rent by 30 per cent with consent of the tenants and this will fetch an addition of about Rs. 16,160/- .per month along with the existing rents of Rs. 22,530/- being received.
• The Advisory Committee has approved permanent civil repairs of the Mutt building at Benne Govindappa Street, Mysore, Sosale and Mysore, which will be initiated shortly. These repairs likely to cost Rs. 10,28,632/- will be executed under the supervision of Captain Sri. Raja Rao, former Secretary to Government of Karnataka, Water Resources and a devotee of the institution.
• To guide the Administrator in the Management of the Mutt affairs, the Govt. of Karnataka in its order dt.26.5.2012 has constituted an Advisory Committee of eminent personalites consisting of Justice Sri M.N.Venkatachalaiah, former Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice S.R. Venkatesha Murthy, former Judge to the Karnataka High Court, Sri Sheshachandrika, eminent Journalist and recipient of Rajyotsava award in 2012 and other individuals. The Advisory Committee met on four occasions namely on 26.6.2012, 26.7.2012, 22.8.2012 and 5.11.2012 and deliberated all policy issues concerning the Mutt including staff, properties, rentals and related matters.
• The Administrative changes have been initiated to tone up administration in branches at Benne Govindappa Street, Chickpet, Tirumala and T.Narasipura respectively.
• The Administrator with the help of several individuals started “Tatva Chandrika”, official magazine of the Mutt, which was discontinued for some time now.
• An official website of the Mutt namely inaugurated by Smt. Sudha Murthy, Chair Person, Infosys. The website is a forum to communicate with all the devotees about the activities of the Mutt.
• Comparing to the hopeless position which existed in the Mutt on 26.5.2012 namely, the lack of official discipline in management of properties, absence of proper financial management and upkeep of accounts and the indiscipline work force, the Vyasaraja Mutt (Sosale) now is gradually limping back to normalcy. There is all-round accountability and discipline in its work, needs of the devotees are being met and religious practices in the institution are being carried out scrupulously and as per religious tenets.
• The Administrator expects that the official surplus of the institution will reach atleast Rs. 50,00,000/- (5 millions) before the end of March 2013.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Accommodation at Tirupathi

Vyasa Raja or Vyasa Raya is one of the most important Madhwa saints. He is ranked alongside Madhwacharya and Jaya Theertha or Teekacharya in his knowledge and eradication of Madhwa philosophy.
The seer occupies a unique place in the annals of Madhwa papampare. He is the founder of both Vyasa Koota and Dasa Koota and it was he who gave an impetus to Dasa Sahitya.
Vyasa Raja’s Guru was Bramanye Theertha of Abbur and his vidya Guru was Sripadaraja of Mulabagal. Vyasa Raja and Srinivasa Theertha, also of Vyasaraja Matha and successor of Vyasa Raja, were products of the Vidyapeeta of Sripadaraja at Mulabagal.
Sripadaraja deputed Vyasa Raja to perform poojas to Srinivasa at Tirupathi. Vyasa Raja stayed on in Tirupathi for 12 long years from 1486 to 1498 and every day performed pooja to Srinivasa.
He also set up a matha in the hill town and it came to be known as Vyasaraja matha.
The Vyasaraja matha in Tirumala has once again started offering accommodation for pilgrims visiting the lord of seven hills. The rooms can be booked at any one of the Bangalore One Centres in Bangalore.
The matha has tied up with Bangalore One Centre to facilitate pilgrims to book accommodations at Tirumala. There are 75 Bangalore One centres in Bangalore and devotees and pilgrims can book accommodation at any of the centres.
In case you need further details, please call 080 26610097.

Status report on Vyasaraja Matha

Published by Admin on Thu, 03/07/2013 - 18:00
1. The devotees of the Mutt were expressing their concerns over financial irregulaties and mismanagement of properties and illegal alienation. In the year 1991, Sri.B.R.G.K.Achar had filed a writ petition in the High Court of Karnataka praying for an enquiry. Pursuant to court order enquiry was conducted by a Committee headed by Endowment Commissioner which submitted a report dated 03.09.2011. Out of 11 allegations 9 were held proved. Major irregularities are as follows:
a. Choultry at Tirumala was leased by collecting Rs. 1.27 Cores.
b. House in Govindarajapuram leased for Rs. 15 Lakhs
c. Illegal transactions with regard to 559 acres of land in Pattemvenlapalli of Chittor District of Andhra Pradesh
d. Property in Srirangam leased out
e. 79000 Sq. Ft Land in Madurai sold.
f. Tirumala property was again offered at Rs. 2.60 Crores. Advacne amount of Rs. 35 lakhs collected. Cheques issues and bounced. Swamiji was arrested in criminal case. Penalty of Rs. 35 lakhs paid.
g. Mysore choultry mortgaged for Rs. 25 lakh and money deposited in Swamiji’s account
2. The State Govt after examining the case, appointed Shri. K. Jairaj Addl. Chief Secretary as Administrator on 26.05.2012.
3. The jewellery of Mutt were recorded in an inventory conducted by a Court Commissioner appointed by City Civil Court Bangalore in the year 2006 in a suit filed by Vyasaraja Seva Samiti.
4. The administrator got another inventory done in 2012. 17 invaluable antique jewels worth crores of rupees are missing.
5. Swamiji has challenged appointment of Administrator in the High Court. One Sosale Prakash has also challenged the same order.
6. Both writ petition have been dismissed by order dated 02.01.2013. Swamiji and Sosale Prakash have challenged the said orders in writ appeals. The division bench has not granted any interim relief to them.
This is the matter that has been in public domain, It was published in the Tatwa Chandrika magazine and also on the net by the Administrator of the Matha, Sri K, Jairaj.  

Thursday, 28 March 2013

The White Kannadiga

A Britisher, he was born in Bangalore and he is today fondly remembered as the grandfather of archaelogical research of Karnataka. His magnum opus is a compilation, study and research of  nine thousand inscriptions or epigraphs of old Mysore region.
Apart from being an epigraphist of note, he was also an educationist and he took education to the village and introduced what is called the “hobli system” of education which is followed to this day.
At home in Kannada, he was also a master of Hindi and Sanskrit. Since he was a Britisher, English was his mother tongue.
Though scores of epigraphists have followed him and conducted path breaking research, his contribution still stands the test of  time and it is rated as one of the best works of its kind.
He built a house in Bangalore and it exists today, a tribute to the European style of building. He called it “Pen Rhiw”, which in Welsh language means “Top of the hill”. This magnificent house is situated on Sankey Road in Bangalore. It was built in 1873.
The house once belonged to the  B. Lewis Rice or Benjamin Lewis Rice (1837-1927) who is better known as Lewis Rice or B. L. Rice). He went to England to study and returned in 1860 with a degree in arts. The Mysore Government then appointed him as Principal of Bangalore High School, which later became the  precursor to Central College.
His industrious nature and dedication soon earned him a promotion and five years later, he was appointed as Inspector of Schools for Mysore and Coorg. He then became the Director of Public Instruction in Mysore and Coorg in 1868. It was during this period that he introduced the “hobli system” of education, whereby schools were started in important hoblis and this was the first attempt to bring education to the rural folk.
The Mysore Government then made him the Chief Census Officer in 1881 and Secretary to the Department of  Education in 1883.
Rice was a natural at learning languages. A year after becoming principal of Bangalore High School, he took the higher secondary examination in Kannada, Hindi and Sanskrit. He also learnt Tamil and Sanskrit. He was also one of the few foreigners to learn Grantha, a form of ancient script that is primarily used to write Tamil and Sanskrit texts.
As Inspector of Schools, he set Kannada question  papers for students of  Bangalore High School. His high degree of proficiency in Kannada can be gauged from the fact that in one of his reports he wrote about the rather low standard of Kannada of some of his students. This is remarkable for an Englishman whose mother tongue was English and not Kannada.
However, Rice’s fame rests not on these achievements but on his  epigraphical records. As Inspector of Schools, he traveled far and wide and visited nook and corner of  Mysore State. During these tours he came across many Kannada inscriptions in the vicinity of schools, temples and old buildings.
The inscriptions slowly aroused his interest and he began taking more interest in them. Coincidentally, the then Chief Commissioner of Mysore, L.B. Bowring, commissioned someone to take photographs of 150 inscriptions, most of them lying across several places in north Karnataka. Some of these photographs were given to him as he was considered to be an expert in Kannada. Thus began Rice’s tryst with epigraphy. This was in 1872.
Rice began deciphering the epigraphs. However, he was faced with one problem. Several of  the inscriptions were in Hale or old Kannada and neither Rice nor any scholar he knew understood it. Rice took the help of a scholar and set about deciphering the inscriptions.
In 1879, he brought out the first volume of Mysore inscriptions and subsequently several other volumes followed. Among all these volumes, experts rate the one on Shravanabelogala the best. Then came his magnum opus-Epigraphia Carnatica-which is a compilation of nine thousand inscriptions spread across Karnataka.
Epigraphia is the first such intensive and systematic survey of inscriptions in India. The works doe not merely have translations but it has complete transliterations and transcriptions of inscriptions.
Even to this day. the Epigraphia volumes are usually the most frequently-consulted books and it is a must for all epigraphists.
Unfortunately, Rice’s work on epigraphs slowed down as the government burdened him with the task of preparing Gazetteers for the State and for every district. This led to another masterpiece-the Mysore Gazetteer.
The first gazetteer was published in 1876 and the second in 1897.  Like Epigraphia, the Gazetteers are classics and both are reference books for students, teachers, scholars and bibliophiles.
In 1885, Rice was made part-time Director of Archaeological Research. Here, he spent 215 days scouring 654 towns and villages for historical relics. He then visited several taluks on his archaeological expeditions. He undertook these tours on his faithful white pony.
Rice had other works to his credit. The first work of his was ‘An Introduction to Sanskrit in 1868’. He then published a ‘Report on the 1881 Census, Catalogue of the Sanskrit Manuscripts in Mysore and Coorg, and the Karnataka Bhasha Bhushana, a work on grammer.
In 1892, he discovered three inscriptions inscribed in rocks, carrying the same text of an edict of Asoka. In 1906, before retiring from service, he completed six volumes of ‘Bibliotheca Carnatica’, a collection of all major literary texts in Kannada, Sanskrit and other languages
Rice was married to Mary Sophia Garrett, the daughter of another missionary in Bangalore. The couple had ten children and lived in a large, beautiful bungalow on Sankey Road, which today houses an upmarket boutique. This is Pen Rhiw and Rice was perhaps its most famous occupant.  
Though Rice went back to England with his wife in 1906, he never forgot Kannada and Kannadigas. Once Rice came across a Kannadiga at an exhibition in in London in 1924.
Initially, Rice was circumspect as an Englishman would be. However, the ice melted soon and he burst out at the Kannadiga...   “Ayya, Kannadadalli matanadonave? Muddada Kannada kiviya mele bhidu tumba dinagaladuvu.”
Is this not remarkable. Look around you today and you find young people in Bangalore talking in half-baked English. Some of them seem to be ashamed of talking in Kannada. Here, we have a White man who spoke, wrote, translated and earned fame in Kannada. Truly, he is a White Kannadiga.

Where have all the oranges gone

It is known as the land of  coffee, oranges, honey and Cauvery. It is also known for its fascinating landscape comprising of hills, valleys, peaks and misty mountains.
Known as the Scotland of the South, it has always been a hit with tourists. The coffee grown here is natural and, hence, it has immense demand.
Till a few years ago, the oranges grown here were so famous that came to be called as Coorg Kittale or oranges of Coorg. The district of Coorg has attained fame as one of the best producers of honey, oranges and coffee.
Unfortunately, the oranges seem to have almost vanished from the market, leaving consumers to taste the Nagpur variety of oranges. The honey too seems to have witnessed difficult times. As far as coffee goes, good times are smiling and coffee growers are happy to have passed over a difficult phase when process crashed and coffee cultivation became unviable.
Coming back to Coorg oranges, they were planted amidst rolling coffee estates and spices gardens. The unique soil, climate and natural growth gave a distinct native touch to the Coorg orange.
Coorg thus became India’s natural ecosystem of agricultural and horticultural crops.
Orange cultivation occupied a pride of place as an intercrop in coffee plantations. Oranges also helped coffee growers by insulating them from volatile coffee prices.
The oranges grown in Coorg is called Mandarin and this is one of the four major varieties of citrus fruits grown in India. The other three are Pummelos and their hybrids, Citrons and citron lemons and rough lemons of various types. Some of the Citrus species indigenous to India include Citrus indica, latipes, megaloxycarpa,
Karma, jambhiri, aurantifolia, aurantinum, medica, sinensis,  madurensis and Citrus limonia.
Mandarin oranges.
Mandarin is the most important citrus fruit in India and it is widely cultivated as Nagpur santra, Assam Sohniamtara and Coorg orange.
The mandarin oranges of Coorg were probably introduced from Central India about 300 years ago. Coorg orange is also sometimes referred to as loose jacket orange, Khasi (in the north east), Rangtra, Kamala, Sikkim and Yemmedoddi. All these are strains of mandarin and each of them are known for being  juicy. They also have a unique taste and have a rich flavour or quality.
Coorg orange has always commanded a premium in the market because they almost always have an attractive golden tinge (colour) and they are easy to peel. They also have lesser number of seeds than other varieties of orange and they have a blend of acid and sweetness.
Unfortunately, diseases have taken a heavy toll of Coorg oranges and it almost vanished from the region. Intervenial chlorosis, mottling, die-back of young shoots, general chlorosis, unfruitfulness and pre mature death of the plants all affected oranges. Many of these symptoms are classified as Frenching, Die back and Citrus decline.
The citrus experiment station at Gonicoppal and the Chetthali Research Station (Central Horticultural Experiment Station ) took up extensive work on diseased farms and they have done commendable research on citrus die back
Coorg orange witnessed a drastic decline in acreage from about 24,000 hectares under cultivation in the 1960s to 1,400 hectares today. Each plant that once yielded a minimum of 50 kg to 60 kg of oranges now produces only about 10 kg.
Today, Coorg is on the way of regaining the glory of becoming  the orange basket of the State. Slowly but surely, the oranges of Coorg are making a comeback to the market.
Coorg accounts for a substantial majority in the cultivation and  production of oranges. The production of oranges in Karnataka in 2012-13 stood at 50000 tonnes as against 45,000 tonnes in 2011-12.
The State has reported fairly good yields from the taluks of Siddapura and Thithimani in Coorg. At present, 10,000 hectares are under orange cultivation in Karnataka.  
Once regarded as the pride of Kodagu, they did face tough times and almost became extinct. However, Mandarin-the high-yielding and fine-flavoured pulp fruit- that has been an inter-crop among coffee plantations for almost two centuries is making a recovery thanks to the effort of the Department of Horticulture. The Geographical Indications (GI) Registry granted a GI certificate for the crop and this has given the much needed boost to India’s Mandarin.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The first ever wildlife swap

India is a developing economy and it is still an emerging power. The race for development has taken a heavy toll of  environment and the Government seems to be at its wits end in dealing with problems relating to ecology, environment and human displacement.
The Indian Government seems to believe in the adage that what is good for it should be good to the people. Thus, we have the unique spectacle of people in almost all the states protesting against what they call is their Government’s inability to address ecological concerns and bullheadedly going ahead with projects that spell disaster for ecology and environment.
Be it the Narmada project or development of Western Ghats, Kaiga Nuclear project, Silent Valley in Kerala, mining in Karnataka and Kerala, there have been howls of protests and massive demonstrations against them or jostle the parties into coming to an understanding.
But to be fair to the Government, it has not been able to feel the pulse of the people and it has often floundered in tackling issues related to flora and fauna. However, just an year ago, there was a silver lining in the cloud when the Government itself stepped forward to come out with what we could call the first wildlife swap in India.
This swap took place in Karnataka and that too in the pristine forests Of what has already been designated a wildlife corridor.
This first path breaking initiative was floated by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and it has helped restore a 25-km wildlife corridor, which had been disrupted by a 220 KVA power transmission line in the Kudremukh National Park in Chikamagalur district.
This “conservation swap” was first mooted by the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of the MoEF and the State Forest department. This sled to the State Government physically dismantle the Kemmar-Kudremukh line on April 17, 2012, paving the way for the restoration of the corridor.
The transmission line was originally supporting the now defunct Kudremukh Iron Ore Company (KIOCL)’s mining operations. The mining operations was shut down by the Supreme Court in response to a litigation by local wildlife conservation groups. The judgment is a landmark in the annals of Indian judiciary.  
The State Government had applied to the  FAC in early 2010 for permitting it to install a power line to evacuate power from the thermal power plant of the Udupi Power Corporation (UPC) at Nandikur.
As the proposed 400 KVA power line cuts through an 8.3-km stretch of evergreen forest corridor in Balur State forest of Chikmagalur district, a field inspection of the ecological impact was conducted by an FAC expert committee. The committee consisted of wildlife researcher K Ullas Karanth and A J T Johnsingh, retired dean of the Wildlife Institute of India.
Based on the ecological analysis, FAC proposed the “conservation swap” scheme for the first time in India. They recommended that to compensate for the loss of the 8.3-km wildlife corridor because of the power line, the State Government must dismantle an existing 25-km power transmission line passing through Kudremukh National Park.
However, this recommendation was not implemented initially due to delays on part of KIOCL. By then, construction of the new power line had started. The new power line led to protests by local wildlife groups.
The FAC intervened in the fracas and it viewed the violations seriously. The Chief Secretary of Karnataka, S.V. Ranganath, and the Principal Secretary of Forests, Kaushik Mukherjee, gave an undertaking to the FAC on October 12, 2011.
The undertaking promised that the existing power line through Kudremukh would be dismantled before the Udupi Power Corporation transmission line got commissioned.
Finally, on April 17, the physical dismantling of the Kemmar-Kudremukh power line began, after alternative power was provided to a few affected villages on the eastern edge of the park.
Kudremukh National Park today is recognised as the largest block of tropical evergreen forests in Western Ghats, which are now known as one of 38 global biodiversity hotspots of the world. The park is an astonishing treasure house of biological resources and the source of Tunga, Bhadra and Nethravathi rivers. A proposed tiger reserve, Kudremukh is home to many endangered species like the tiger, elephants, lion-tailed macaques, king cobra and great Indian hornbills.
What this conservation swap shows is that the Government can be goaded to take corrective action provided it is convinced. Can we hope that this first swap will be the harbinger of many other such ecologically important deals.

Tunnels of Gajendra Moksha

History is generally linked with myths and legends and it is difficult to sift one from the other. It becomes an impossible task in India as our country has a rather poor record of writing history .
Much of India’s ancient history and here I am talking about the Vedic Age, Epic Age and even phases in ancient Indian history, where the spoken word was given importance and Kings and Emperors deemed it haughty, unbecoming and egoistic to write down their achievements. Things did change for the better when the Muslims invaded India and since then writers were employed in the court to pen down the life history of the Emperors.
Thus, we have Abu Fazl, the courtier of  the Mughal Emperor, Akbar, writing Ai-i-Albari.  Another book is Jahangir Nama, an autobiography by Akbar’s successor, Jahangir.
In the south too, the Muslim Kingdoms commissioned historians and writers to write about their court and achievements. Thus, we have fairly accurate accounts of the reigns of the Adil Shahi Kings of Bijapur, the Nizam Shahis of Golconda, the Bahamanis of Gulbarga and Bidar  and even the Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar in Hampi.
However, even in the south, historical accounts have got themselves mixed up with myths and legends and it rather becomes a painstaking task to get to the truth.
Several such myths exist even today about Hyder Ali and his valorous son and heir Tipu Sultan who ruled the Mysore Kingdom with Srirangapatna as their capital.
Though Tipu died on May 4, 1799 and the Mysore Kingdom reverted to the Wodeyars who then shifted the capital from Srirangapatna to Mysore, myths and legends still abound about Tipu and even about Srirangapatna.
New discoveries in Srirangapatna seem to give a fresh impetus to the mystery of Tipu and he has now become a larger than life personality.
Almost a hundred years after his death, a new underground dungeon was accidentally discovered in Srirangapatna. A few months ago, two tunnels were discovered adjacent to the sprawling Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangapatna.
Archaeologists are still studying the “whys” and “hows” of the tunnels. They were discovered when the Gajendra Moksha Kalyani or pond adjacent to the Ranganatha temple was being cleaned.
The discovery gives credence to stories of Tipu that he had an underground tunnel running from his palace to the Ranganatha temple which he used often. Another story tells us that he could see the idol from the balcony of his palace which was situated opposite the temple.
Officials of the Indian Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have dubbed it the most sensational archaeological discoveries in the history of Srirangapatna.
There are several stories that tell us how these tunnels were used by members of the royal family-Wodeyars and even Hyder and Tipu-and their military generals.
The first tunnel, which measured three feet in diameter, was found by workers while digging up the Gajendra Moksha pond. The workers discovered another tunnel shortly after stumbling on the first.
The ASI officials found that the tunnels are interlinked and diversify in various directions. Work is still on to find out more about the tunnels, their usage and when they were constructed.
However, some locals that I met, including temple officials, said the first tunnel may have been used to draw water from the river to fill the pond. However, the reasons for constructing the other tunnel, one of which was found near Tipu's Palace, are yet to be established.
Apart from the tunnel,  an ancient cellar was also discovered at the Gajendra Moksha Kalyani. The cellar and the tunnels were discovered during the desilting of the pond, as per the instructions of District in-charge secretary Amar Narayan.
When the renovation, a Banni tree which had taken root in the pond and existed since the past 30 years, was uprooted and it was replanted elsewhere.

The desilting was taken up as the famous Rathasapthami festival was scheduled to commence on February 17. It is on this occasion that the temple elephant Gajendra takes a holy dip in the Kalyani. This has been the age-old practice.
As the desilting work commenced, two smaller tunnels going in opposite directions within the main larger tunnel were discovered.
As I mentioned earlier, Tipu Sultan shared a close bond with  Ranganatha Swamy and he had constructed a big tunnel connecting his palace to the temple. He had also constructed other small tunnels to be used during emergencies in war.
What the discovery shows is that there may still be other artifacts of the period of the Wodeyars and Hyder-Tipu period that need more detailed study and monuments that need to be excavated and studied.
No wonder, historians and archaeologists always maintain that buildings tell tales. Want to as to the tale. Please check pout the tunnels and the Kalyani and for that you have to visit Srirangapatna. What better way to spend the searing Summer than drive early in the morning to the island on the Cauvery, check out the local history of Srirangapatna, watch the birds of Ranganathittu and laze around the Cauvery.  
Where else but in India could you visit a huge temple, swim in a nearby river, walk on the ramparts of a magnificent fort and go bird seeing.    

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Bottles of blood, brain, kidney and human remains

How many Hollywood and Bollywood potboilers have we seen, showing bodies being thrown up when excavations were on and how bottles of blood and human remains sprung up from nowhere and sent actors into of spasms of  terror and incoherence, bringing the audience to the edge of their seats.
There have been one movie after another that could be labeled more scarier than the other. How many times have we felt a slight tingling of the nerves and hoped that the events that have become parts of reel history become real.  
Well, the spooky part did happen in real a life and how. This was in Bangalore and let me tell you it gave the cops the fright of their life and sent shivers down the spines of those who came in contact with it.
If you are a Hindi film buff, let me tell you it could beat the best of any film Ramsey have thrown at us or it could easily outsmart Mahal or Woh Kaun Thi.
The setting was the headquarters of the Bangalore district police called Om Mahal.  This building once belonged to the royal family of Nepal and it is now the headquarters of the district police. It is located at the junction of Millers Road and Cunningham Road and just diagonally opposite to Chandrika Hotel.
The Om Mahal houses the office of the Superintendent of Police, Bangalor rural district and other offices.
The Bangalore District police wanted a construct a guest house and they began digging the earth in the sprawling premises. When the digging started, the workmen were startled out of their wits when they came across hundreds of bottles.
Surprised and a little apprehensive, the workmen opened one bottle and out came the remains of a human being. By then, the workmen had dun up bottles of all sizes, shapes and colour.
The bottles yielded skulls, lungs, hearts, livers, kidneys and even  brains.With enough blood spilling out of the bottles, the workmen’s tryst with the unreal, surreal and ghosts and ghouls was complete.
Generally cops are tough and though they are superstitious, they are rarely fazed by bodies. Yet, the human remains in bottles, neatly cut and packed and blood in the bottles sent them shivering. Several cops looked terrified and the spooky stories soon began to make rounds.
What sealed the cops fear about spooky stories, was another tale of a secret chamber below a staircase in Om Mahal which had not been opened for years. Policemen had given a it a miss as they had been told that misfortune would befall the one who tried to unlock the room. The key had been conveniently lost and even the skeleton key had remained unused.
However, saner sense prevailed and the cops sent the remain for chemical examination and took up investigation of the case. They later realised that the bottles of blood and human remains had been dumped in a yard when the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) which had been housed in Om Mahal moved to their sprawling establishment in Madivala.
The blood and human remains were the “property” of the Forensic Science Laboratory which has stayed put at the property from 1960's to 1993.
When they shifted to Madivala, they left all these bottles behind because the erstwhile Bangalore City Corporation (BCC) refused to transport human body parts.
As the officials did not know how to dispose them, they dumped them in the earth. In those days, there were no incinerators and they had to be imported from abroad which was very costly.
What about Om Mahal. The tale here takes a twist. Police records show that Om Mahal has been claimed by six persons hailing from the Nepal royal family. Devyani Rana, whose controversial marriage to the then crown prince of Nepal resulted in a bloody carnage and death of the entire family of Nepal King Birendra, is one of the descendants of one of the claimants to the Mahal.
The property, once a palace spread over 4.23 acres, was acquired by the Defence after the Chinese aggression in 1962. Thereafter, it has continuously housed the district police office which was moved into this building from the office of the Commissionerate of Police on Infantry Road.

Monday, 25 March 2013

A fountain for a parrot

Bangalore has many fountains and unfortunately some of them have disappeared while others have fallen prey to neglect and apathy.
But did you know that the first ever public fountain built in Bangalore was only in the 20th century and that too it was in Cubbon Park.
Bangalore then was two cities-the civil lines administered by the Wodeyars and the Cantonment which was under the British.
The Cubbon Park has been commissioned by the British in 1870 and the fountain came to be constructed in the park only sixty five years later.
It was sometime in the 1930s and the Royal family of Nepal-the Ranas- had taken shelter, rather refuge, in Bangalore. The Maharani Bajang of Nepal wanted a home for her pet parrot in Lalbagh. The Maharani had seen Lalbagh and she was fascinated by the flora and fauna.
She had seen the dovecot or Pigeon house in Lalbagh and she was enthralled by the concept. She wanted a similar structure to come up in Lalbagh so that it could be a home away from home for her pet parrot.
When she discussed the idea with the then Dewan, Sir Mirza Ismail, he suggested diplomatically suggested building a fountain in Cubbon Park.
He convinced the Maharani that Cubbon Park would be a better alterative and it would be nearer to the royal residence of the Nepal family. This residence today is the headquarters of the Bangalore district police and it is located at the junction of Millers Road and Cunningham Road. This is the Om Mahal. It still exists and some traces of the royal furnishing can still be seem in the form of huge mirrors that are placed at the landing of the majestic staircase.
The Maharani appreciated the Dewan’s idea and she agreed to it. She provided Rs 7000 towards the construction of a fountain in Cubbon Park as part of the project. However, before the fountain was built, the Maharani expired in Bombay and the parrot vanished.
This is the Fairy Fountain in Cubbon Park which was built in memory of the royal parrot which was never found. Not for a day did the parrot roost in the fountain.
Today, the fountain is still in the park but there is neither a board not a sign specifying its unique history. The Om Mahal too exists but the royal family does not.
Decades ago, the fountain sprayed water and it had colourful fish in it. Today, there is neither water nor fish.
The fountain is near the office of the Department of Horticulture. Check it out when you go to Cubbon Park. Old timers still have found memories of the fountain and the soft sounds of music that wafted down from the band stand in Cubbon Park.
Those days are gone now and one hopes that the fountain would not become a piece of history.
Cubbon Park is centrally located in Bangalore and there is absolutely no problem in gaining access to it. There are a number of bus stops around the park surrounding it on all its sides such as Corporation from Hudson Circle side, Nruputunga Road stop from K R Circle side, Ambedkar Veedhi and Vidhana Soudha from Gopala Gowda side, Indian Express stop and Coffee Board near GPO side,  KSCa stadium, Cubbon Park from MG Road-Kasturba Road side and even Kanteerava stadium from Mallya road side.
There areplenty of autos available. Parking is available in the park itself. 
The park is surrounded by a number of museum and iconic structures like Vidhana Soudha, Raj Bhavan. GPO, High Court, Press Club, KGID  Building and museums like Government museum, Venkatapa Art Gallery, Visvesvaraiah Technical museum, Aquarium and  Stamp museum in GPO.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The Lalbagh that is not

Look up any tourist books and even the web and you are told that it was Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan who pioneered the Lalbagh Botanical Garden at its present location in Bangalore.
Even records with the State Government, Department of Horticulture that manages Lalbagh and even British records seem to suggest that the present location is the spot where Hyder initially set the ball rolling for Lalbagh by planting a few cypress trees.
Even the website of the Department of Horticulture seems to say that the British further developed Lalbagh from its original location.
However, recent research has indicated that the present day Lalbagh was not the exact location where Hyder and Tipu had commenced their garden. Moreover, the research has also put paid to the myth that pone of the biggest trees in the garden-the silk cotton- was planted by Tipu Sultan.
The research, however, agrees on the fact that the mango trees were indeed planted by Tipu.
This research was published in one of the issues of Current Science and it was conducted by a group comprising Meera Iyer, Harini Nagendra and M.B. Ranjini.
Their work was published in the magazine as “Using satellite imagery and historical maps to investigate the original contours of Lalbagh Botanical” (submitted June 2011) and accepted by Current Science..
The article states that only a tiny portion of the original gardens developed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan is part of present-day Lalbagh. The researchers studied the original contours of Lalbagh using historical maps and old paintings and recent remotely sensed images to arrive at several important conclusions.
They contend that the major portion of the original Lalbagh has been swallowed up in the name of development and a part of it now forms the Wilson Garden crematorium and the Wakf burial ground.

The researchers examined the actual boundaries of the Garden as it was in the period of Tipu Sultan. They used two maps drawn in1791. This map was drawn by the British after they defeated  Tipu Sultan in the Third Anglo-Mysore war.
The Siege of Bangalore took place in February–March 1791 and e Lord Cornwallis led the British army. They captured the fort of Bangalore and also overran Lalbagh and Bugle Rock , both tourist spots today, from where a small Mysore Army personnel fired at the British soldiers.
The British captured Bangalore on March 21, 1791 and following the victory, Lord Cornwallis asked surveyors in the British Army to prepare maps of the Fort and its surroundings upto a distance of eight kms, including the Peta and Lalbagh. These maps can be currently seen in the British Library.
These maps predate the Great Trigonometric Survey, and therefore do not conform to the standard projection system followed by later maps. However, the researchers obtained digital maps and superimposed them on the base map of the city drawn in 1987.
Soon after the superimposition, the researchers found that the gardens during Tipu’s period consisted not of one contiguous area, but were a series of five rectangular plots of varying sizes.
This fact corresponds with historical information which suggests that the gardens developed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, including those at Sira and Srirangapatna, were laid out in the Islamic charbagh style basically a series of plots separated by walks.
Even, Francis Buchanan, a Scottish entomologist, has recorded that the gardens of Tipu and Hyder were divided into plots which were separated by walks. Some of the historical paintings of Lalbagh also back this view.
The researchers found that of the original five gardens demarcated on the maps, four are well outside present day Lalbagh. Only a portion of the southern most plot falls within the boundaries of the present day Lalbagh.
Using GPS coordinates, the researchers have debunked the long held fact that the biggest silk cotton tree in Lalbagh was planted by Tipu. They state that the silk cotton tree never existed in the patches that made up Lalbagh during the period of Tipu.
However, the mango tree believed to have been planted by Tipu was within the southernmost rectangular plot.
The research conclusively proves that the five plots were abandoned early in second decade of the 1800s. There is historical and contemporary records in 1800 to prove that Lord Cornwallis handed over the Cypress Garden or what remained of it to Benjamin Heyne, a botanist in the East India Company.
Heyne was handed the management of  two of the rectangular gardens. He was only able to attend to the garden intermittently. He held the post till 1808. He reported in 1812 that the garden had been abandoned and most of it had been brought under the cultivation of rice and ragi
The garden was consolidated into a single plot when it was taken over by a military paymaster, Major Gilbert Waugh in 1814. He held on to the garden as his private property before it reverted back to the British and they developed the Lalbagh of today.
Make no mistake, this post doe not demean the contribution of Hyder and Tipu in developing Lalbaghs at Bangalore, Srirangapatna, Sira and Malavalli. What we would like to stress is that the original rectangular design perhaps has been post to posterity and what remains of the original garden is only a patch of green.

Asia's largest cacti collection

This is the largest garden of cacti or cactus garden in the whole of Asia. It is also generally believed to be the largest outdoor landscaped turf of its kind in Asia.
Almost all the plants here grow in deserts. Yet, they have been grown here and some of them are highly ornamental. More than 3,500 such species are planted and they are a veritable delight and a visual treat.
Some of these plants have medicinal properties and they attract practitioners of  Ayurveda, Unani and other forms of medicine.
Covering an area of seven acres it had one of the most comprehensive collection of Indian succulents apart from cacti. This collection is not only the largest in the world and some of them extremely rare, but a few have already been declared as endangered.
This is the Cactus Garden which has been renamed as National Cactus and Succulent Botanical Garden and Research Centre of Chandigarh. The garden is in the heart of  Panchkula, a satellite town of Chandigarh.
A major crowd-puller, its variety of prickly plants and greens is stupendous. Many of the cactus that are planted here thrive in the deserts and it is a pleasure to watch them out here.
The garden has many cacti that flower once an year. Of course , there are the regular catci that flower only once in several years. The outdoor Cactus Garden has 25 raised ground features, three water bodies with water ways. On raised mounds, about 800 species of Cacti and Succulents have been naturalised.
The Garden has 272 species of genus Mammillaria and 160 species has been naturalized outdoor. The magnificent Aloe speciosa, Aloe ferox and several other exotic species can be seen here. Mamillarias, Astrophytum and Notocacti have been planted.
A Bonsai collection of succulent and non succulent plants has also been created. The garden has nine glass houses housing practically all the know genera of cactus. It has highly representative collections of Haworthias, Aloes and Gasterias.  
Just as Lalbagh in Bangalore hosts the annual flower shows every Independence and Republic Day, the Cactus garden hosts the annual Cactus show held in March which draws lakhs of people.
The well-laid out garden has three greenhouses that nurture rare and endangered cacti of India. A majority of the plants are gifts from across continents.
The garden was developed in 1987 and today it is the only centre in India to house the complete collection of Genus Caralluma, a cacti of Indian origin. The Echinocactus grusonii is mainly used as landscape plant and the Mexican species, Burseraa, can be found here. This cacti are like a tree. Apart from Burseraa, three species of Fouquiria spendens – Cactus from Arizona
and Adenia Venenata which is said to be collected from Yemen itself. A thick elongated cactus, Carnegia gigantea (Saguaro Cactus of Arizona), a slow growing plant, can attain height of 30 feet to 40 feet  
The entry fee is Rs. 10 per head.

A fusion or art, poetry and music

What do you say to a work of art that is a superb fusion of art,  poetry and classical music. Such a work of art  took off in the Deccan and it was the product of a royal love for literature, painting and music.
Though the royals were Muslims, they loved classical music and commissioned works on music. One of the Emperors belonging to the Muslim Kingdom was himself a notable poet, musician and painter. He also wrote a book on music and also had a hand in illustrating it.
This art form, today forms a classic of the bygone era, a period when art, architecture and literature flourished and it gave birth to several fine arts.
Though the art form declined after the Kingdom was annexed by the Mughals, it still continues to inspire awe and amazement, so much so tat interest in this art today has reached a high not only in India but also in the West.
This is the Ragamaala or Ragamala paintings and this style of painting originated in the Adil Shahi Kingdom of Bijapur in the 16th century. It then spread to the other Muslim Kingdoms of the Deccan-Golconda, Berar, Ahmednagar and Bidar.
Apart from Bijapur and the Deccan, the Raagamala type of paintings were extensively resorted to by the Rajputs and other royal dynasties of Rajasthan and to some extent Gujarat.
However, the earliest Ragamaala painting belong to the Adi Shahi dynasty when Ibrahim Adil Shah, the second, was the Emperor.
The Ragamaala is one of the most unique styles of paintings. It combines Raga-which means melody and Maala, a garland-into a painting.
There are mainly six ragas that are used in such type of paintings. These six ragas which are sung during the seasons of the year are  Bhairava, Dipika, Sri, Malkaunsa, Megha and Hindola. They represent summer, monsoon, autumn, early winter, winter and spring.
The ragas are also related to different parts of the day like the dawn, morning, afternoon, evening, night and midnight. The Ragamala painting usually describes the story of a man and his beloved (known as nayaka and nayaki, hero or heroine) along with the time of the day and the season. Along with the ragas, the  paintings also depict the wives of ragas who are called raginis,  their sons ragaputra and daughters ragaputris.
Thus each painting has a story to tell and the story is narrated with through art, poetry and classical music. The Ragamala paintings come across as a series of illustrative paintings based on Ragamaala or the Garland of Ragas, depicting various Indian ragas.
These paintings today represent a classical example of the amalgamation of art, poetry and classical music in medieval India.
Ragamala paintings are today named as Pahari Ragamala, Rajasthan or Rajput Ragamala, Deccan Ragamala, and Mughal Ragamala depending on the province in which they are painted.
In these paintings, each raga is personified by a colour, mood, a verse describing a story of a hero and heroine. It also paints the season and the time of day and night in which a particular raga is to be sung, More astonishingly, a majority of the paintings are addressed to specific Hindu deities attached with ragas, like Bhairava or Bhairavi to Shiva, Sri to Devi.
The classification of the ragas in such paintings is based on
Sangeeta Ratnakara, an important 12th century AD text on music. This mentions for the first time ever the presiding deity of each raga.
The Ragamala paintings owe a lot to Kshemakarna, a priest of Rewa in Central India who in 1570  compiled a poetic text on the Ragamala in Sanskrit. It was in this text that he first described six principal ragas—Bhairava, Malakoshika, Hindola, Dipaka, Sri, and megha-each having five Raginis and eight Ragaputras, except Raga Sri, which has six Raginis and nine Ragaputras, thus making Ragamala a closeted family of 86 members
Most of the Ragamala paintings tend to stick to the principles enunciated by Kshemakarna. The first such painting was by the Adil Shahi emperor, Ibrahim Adil Shah, the second. Apart from being an excellent painter and illustrator, he was also a renowned musician and composer. He personally illustrated his Ragamaala paintings and also built Nauraspur-a city which he wanted to base on the nine rasas of music (This city, which was never completed, is in ruins adjacent to Bijapur and near Torvi).
To this Emperor goes the credit of  making Ragamaala a miniature painting. Each painting is accompanied by a brief caption or poem that describes the mood of the raga, most frequently devotion and love – in its various aspects.
Ragamala painting flourished throughout the royal courts of India but it went into a rapid decline after the advent of the British in India.
The earliest Ragamaala paintings are from the city of Bijapur in Karnataka. They were painted for Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur.
One of the best books on Ragamaala is Nujum-al-Ulum or the Stars of Sciences which is a  superbly illustrated encyclopedia dated 1570 was painted in Bijapur. It is presently in Chester Beatly Library in Dublin, Ireland.  
The book contains a total of 876 miniature paintings. Ibrahim owned the book and it later went out of the Adil Shahi collection and today it is in England. Both Ibrahim (1580-1627) and his predecessor, Ali Adil Shah, the first (1558-1580) were patrons of art and literature. Ibrahim commissioned the Nujum sometime in 1590.
The book has illustrations on astronomy and this is traced to a Turkish manuscript by Fuzuli (1483-1556) the Ottoman poet, writer and thinker whose real name is Muhammad bin Suleyman.
Apart from Bijapur, the other prominent Deccani centres of Ragamaala were Ahmadnagar, Golkonda and Hyderabad.
Blue, red and pink were the favourite colours of Deccan painters and illustrators and the designing patterns have a geometric thrust and tend to be highly symmetrical.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Nailing the bias against Kannada

ಜಯತಿ ಶ್ರೀ ಪರಿಷ್ವರ್ಙ್ಗ ಶ್ಯಾರ್ಙ್ಗ [ವ್ಯಾ]ನತಿರ್ ಅಚ್ಯುತಃ ದಾನಕ್ಷೆರ್ ಯುಗಾನ್ತಾಗ್ನಿಃ [ಶಿಷ್ಟಾನಾನ್ತು ಸುದರ್ಶನಃ ನಮಃ ಶ್ರೀಮತ್ ಕದಂಬಪನ್ ತ್ಯಾಗ ಸಂಪನ್ನನ್ ಕಲಭೋg[ನಾ] ಅರಿ ಕಕುಸ್ಥಭಟ್ಟೋರನ್ ಆಳೆ ನರಿದಾವಿ[ಳೆ] ನಾಡುಳ್ ಮೃಗೇಶನಾಗೇನ್ದ್ರಾಭೀಳರ್ ಭ್ಭಟಹರಪ್ಪೋರ್ ಶ್ರೀ ಮೃಗೇಶ ನಾಗಾಹ್ವಯರ್ ಇರ್ವ್ವರಾ ಬಟರಿ ಕುಲಾಮಲ ವ್ಯೋಮತಾರಾಧಿನಾಥನ್ ಅಳಪ ಗಣ ಪಶುಪತಿಯಾ ದಕ್ಷಿಣಾಪಥ ಬಹುಶತಹವನಾಹವದು[ಳ್] ಪಶುಪ್ರದಾನ ಶೌರ್ಯ್ಯೋದ್ಯಮ ಭರಿತೋ[ನ್ದಾನ]ಪಶುಪತಿಯೆನ್ದು ಪೊಗೞೆಪ್ಪೊಟ್ಟಣ ಪಶುಪತಿ ನಾಮಧೇಯನ್ ಆಸರಕ್ಕೆಲ್ಲಭಟರಿಯಾ ಪ್ರೇಮಾಲಯಸುತನ್ಗೆ zಸೇನ್ದ್ರಕ ಬಣೋಭಯ ದೇಶದಾ ವೀರಪುರುಷಸಮಕ್ಷದೆ ಕೇಕಯ ಪಲ್ಲವರಂ ಕಾದೆಱದು ಪೆತ್ತಜಯನಾ ವಿಜ ಅರಸಂಗೆ ಬಾಳ್ಗೞ್ಚು ಪಲ್ಮಡಿಉಂ ಮೂೞುವಳ್ಳಿಉಂ ಕೊಟ್ಟಾರ್ ಬಟಾರಿ ಕುಲದೊನಳ ಕದಂಬನ್ ಕೞ್ದೋನ್ ಮಹಾಪಾತಕನ್ ಸ್ವಸ್ತಿ ಭಟ್ಟರ್ಗ್ಗೀಗೞ್ದೆ ಒಡ್ಡಲಿ ಪತ್ತೊನ್ದಿ ವಿಟ್ಟಾರಕರ
A first reading of this Kannada will not excite anybody and Kannadigas will instantly know that this is Hale Kannada or old Kannada.
But what many people would not know is that this is the earliest, if not one of the earliest, Kannada inscription and that it dates back to more than a thousand six years ago.
This is the Halmidi inscription and it is so called as it was discovered in front of a small mud fort in the village of Halmidi in Belur taluk of Hassan district.
The epigraph was first discovered in 1936 by Dr. M.H. Krishna, Director of Archaeology of the erstwhile Mysore state. Epigraphists have dated the inscription to 500 AD.
Though Dr. Krishna himself dated the inscription to 450 AD, others have put the date as 450 AD, 470 AD, 500 AD and some even 600 AD.
The inscription is written in pre-old Kannada (Puruvada-hala Kannada), which later evolved into old or Hale Kannada, middle Kannada and eventually modern Kannada.The inscription is the earliest evidence of usage of Kannada as an administrative language
Though many inscriptions having Kannada words have been discovered in many places in Karnataka, including the Brahmagiri edict of 230 BC, this is the first complete inscription in Kannada.
The Halmidi inscription is in verse  and it is important to Kannadigas as it is considered to be the earliest epigraph written in Kannada language.
The inscription documents a gift of two villages- Halmidi and Mulivalli- to Vija Arasa, son of Bhtaari, in the presence of the warriors of from Baana and Sendrika regions. The gift was in recognition of the valor shown by Vija Arasa in a war between Kadambas and Kekaya Pallavas. The concluding part of the inscription mentions a gift of a tenth part the total wet lands in the village to Brahmins. They were exempted from paying land revenue.
The first line, which is in Sanskrit, is an invocation to Vishnu. The style is pedantic and ornate. The rest of the inscription is in Kannada. However they are replete with compounded words from Sanskrit. In all, there are twenty five Kannada words.
The exact meanings of some of the words are still a mater of dispute. However,  the inscription tell us of the practice of honouring the victorious by rewarding their achievement.
The inscription  has sixteen lines and it is carved on a sandstone pillar with a height of 2.5 feet and width of one feet. It demonstrates that Kannada was used as a language of administration at that time.
The first fifteen lines resemble the cave script found in the caves of the Western Ghats as also in the inscriptions of Shathavahanas.  There is partial resemblance to the Talagunda inscription of Kadamba Kakutsthvarma.  
A large number of epigraphs discovered later are recorded in Kannada representing a transitional stage of progress from primitive and old Kannada to the old Kannada of classical age. These inscriptions show us the development of Kannada language and literature through the centuries.
One important development of the discovery of the Halmidi inscription was that it once for all put an end to many controversies surrounding the evolution of Kannada and to the views of some scholars who believed that Kannada was not as old as Tamil.
The villagers of  Halmidi had moved the inscription from the fort to the temple of Veerabhadra and protected it.
Dr. Krishna published the details of his study in the Mysore Archaeological Report and shifted the inscription to the Archaeological Museum, Mysore. Today, the priceless inscription rests in the Government Museum in Bangalore on Kasturba Road where it has been given pride of place.
The inscription has been a subject of study and noted linguists and writers including Manjeshwara Govinda Pai, T.V. Venkatachala Shastry, M. Chidananda Murthy, R.S. Panchamukhi, D.L. Narasimhachar, Ram. Sri. Mugali, and M.M. Kalburgi have researched it and published papers.
Halmadi today is being developed by the State Government. A mantapa has been built to house a fibre glass replica of the original inscription. The Kannada Sahitya Parishat too has taken an initiative to make the village an important centre of Kannada.
However, a noted epigraphist from Karnataka, Dr S.Settar has opined that another inscription by Kongunivarma of Ganga dynasty is older than the Halmidi inscription
He says there are five or six inscriptions, including the one at Taarthi in Shimoga district, which dates back to 350 AD and are older than the Halmidi stone.
Whatever the debate, one thing is sure. Halmidi silenced, and quite effectively I say, those who tried to put down Kannada and tried to paint it as an offshoot of other languages.
Want to see it. Head to the Government museum. Try to conduct your own research and add to the growing chorus of persuading the Indian Government to recognize Kannada as a classical language.