Koppal is a town in Koppal district of Karnataka. It is located at a distance of 380 Kms from Bangalore. It was once known as ‘Kopana Nagara’ in Chandravalli Shasana. Koppal is surrounded on three sides by hillocks and was an important town in the history of Karnataka.
River Tungabhadra is the main river of Koppal district. The Tungabhadra river is formed by union of two rivers, the Tunga and the Bhadra.
History of Koppal
Koppal, now a district headquarters is ancient Kopana a major holy place of the Jainas, has two Ashokan inscriptions at Palkigundu and Gavimatha.
The history of Koppal can be traced back to the kingdoms of Shathavahanas, Gangas, Hoysalas and Chalukya Dynasties. The name of the district “Koppal” is found in the poetic work of the great poet Kavirajamarga (during King Nrupathunga’s time of 814-878 A.D.) as “Viditha Maha Kopana Nagara”. During Ashoka’s period, the Jainism gained greater momentum in this region. Therefore, it was called “Jainkashi”. In 12 century A.D. Veerashaivaism of Social Reformer Basaveshwara became popular. The present Gavimatha of Koppal has great attraction.
Koppal Fort: is another important historical monument in Koppal. It is not known who has built it. But it was acquired by Tippu Sultan in 1786 AD from a Paleyagar and rebuilt into one of the strongest forts with the help of French engineers. In may 1790, it was besieged by the forces of the British and the Nizam. Sir John Malcolm, who participated in this siege, has described it as one of the strongest forts.
The fort is about 400 feet above the plains.
Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in the Koppal district was built in 1112 CE. Soapstone was found in abundance in this regions.The first temple to be built from this material was the Amrtesvara Temple in Annigeri in the Dharwad district in 1050 CE. This building was to be the prototype for later, more articulated structures such as the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi.
The temple was built in by mahadeva, a General (Dandanayaka) of the Western Chalukya king Tribhuvanamalla Vikramaditya VI and praises the temple as ‘Devalaya Chakravarti’. This temple can be said to be one of the best in the country both in magnificence of its architectural style and luxuriant decorative detail.
The temple, which faces east consists of a shrine with an ante-chamber,and a closed hall. There is also a pillared hall which is supported by 68 pillars,out of these 26 are large ones standing on the floor and forming the main support for the roof.The remaining,which are shorter, stand on the stone bench surrounding the hall.
The large columns are of different designs, but are arranged symmetrically with regard to the shape and pattern of each. The four central ones, very rich in design, have angular carvings.
The Mahadeva temple at Itagi dedicated to Shiva is among the larger temples built by the Western Chalukyas and perhaps the most famous. Inscriptions hail it as the ‘Emperor among temples’. Here, the main temple, the sanctum of which has a linga, is surrounded by thirteen minor shrines, each with its own linga. The temple has two other shrines, dedicated to Murthinarayana and Chandraleshwari, parents of Mahadeva.
Kinhal 13 km away from Koppal is famous for its traditional colourful lacquerware work and is also noted for manufacture of toys and images by Chitragars. Weaving, preparing of combs from horns and pottery are the other industries of this place.
Kukanoor: in Yelburga taluk, is a small town lying seven miles due north of Bannikoppa station on the Guntakal-Hubli railway line. The town, though now small, was an important place in the early and medivial days.
The group of temples that represents the early Chalukyan school is called the Navalinga group. The folklore speaks of this place as the legendary Kuntalapura of Mahabharata period.Two other important temples are those of Kalleshvara and Mallikarjuna. The Kalleshwara temple is a fine example of the Chalukyan style and is in good condition. The original form of the Mallikarjuna temple, however, is not clear the shrine and the mantapa also have been altered and built over in recent years. The Kalleshwara temple contains one Kannada inscription.
Kanakagiri: The old name of Kanakagiri town of Gangavathi taluk was Swarnagiri (means a “Hill of Gold”). It is said that Kanaka Muni, a saint, performed penance at this place. Kanakagiri was the headquarters of the southern area of the Mauryan Empire. During the Vijayanagar period, this was the chief town of the Bedar Rajas. Kanakachalapathi temple here is a specimen of the South Indian architecture of Vijayanagar times. The gopuram and walls have well-executed sculpture it has spacious halls and massive pillars.
How to get there
Air: Nearst airport to Koppal are Bangalore about 380 kms and Belgaum about 200 kms Rail: Koppal Railway Station is well connected by rail line to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Hubli. Road: Buses are available from Koppal and regularly ply between Koppal and Bangalore and other major cities of Karnataka.