The Ancient Geography of India/Champa

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The Ancient Geography of India: I.
The Buddhist Period, Including the Campaigns of Alexander, and the Travels of Hwen-Thsang
Sir Alexander Cunningham
Trübner and Company, 1871 - India

28. Champa.

From Mongir, Hwen Thsang travelled eastward for 300 li, or 60 miles, to Chen-po, or Champa, which is an old name of the district of Bhagalpur. The capital was situated on the Ganges, at from 140 to 150 li, or 23 to 25 miles, to the west of a rocky hill that was completely surrounded by the river. On its summit there was a Brahmanical temple. From this description it is easy to recognize the picturesque rocky- island opposite Patharghata with its temple-crowned summit. As Patharghata is exactly 24 miles to the east of Bhagalpur, I conclude that the capital of Champa must have stood either on the same site, or in its immediate vicinity. Close by, on the west side, there still exists a large village named Champanagar, and a smaller one named Champapur, which most probably represent the actual site of the ancient capital of Champa. [1]

The pilgrim estimates the circuit of Champa at 4000 li, or 667 miles ; and as it was bounded by the Granges on the north, and by Hiranya-Parvata, or Mongir, on the west, it must have extended to the Bhagirathi branch of the Ganges on the east and to the Daumda river on the south. Taking the two northern points at Jangira and Teliagali on the

  1. See Map No.I

[p.478]: Ganges, and the two southern points at Pachitt on the Damuda and Kalna on the Bhagirathi, the length of the boundary line will be 420 miles measured direct, or about 500 miles by road distance. This is so much less than the size estimated by Hwen Thsang that I think there must either be some mistake in the text or some confusion between the geographical limits of the original district of Champa, and its actual political boundary at the time of the pilgrim's visit. We know from his journal that the king of Mongir, on the west of Champa, had been dethroned by a neighbouring raja, and that the district of Kankjol on the east of Champa was then a dependency of the neighbouring kingdom. As Champa lies between these two districts, I infer that the raja of Champa was most probably the king who conquered them, and therefore that the large estimates of Hwen Thsang must include these two states to the east and west of the original Champa. Under this view, the political boundaries may be stated as extending from Lakhiterai to Raj-mahal on the Ganges, and from the Parasnath Hill along the Daumda river to Kalna on the Bhagirathi. With these boundaries the circuit of Champa will be about 550 miles measured direct, or 650 miles by road distance.

29. Kankjol.

From Champa the pilgrim Xuanzang travelled to the eastward for 400 li, or 67 miles, to a small district named Kie-chu-u-khi-lo, or Kie-ching-kie-lo[1] The distance and bearing bring us to the district of Rajmahal, which was originally called Kankjol, after a town of that

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 73. See Map No. I.

[p.479]: name which still exists 18 miles to the south of Rajmahal. Following the river route via Kahalgaon (Colgong) and Rajmahal, the distance from Bhagalpur is just 90 miles ; but by the direct route through the hills, via Mangaon and Bharhat, the distance is under 70 miles. As this position agrees with that of the place indicated by Hwen Thsang, I suspect that there may have been a transposition of two syllables in the Chinese name, and that we should read Kie-kie-chu-lo, which is a literal transcript of Kankjol. In Glad-wyn's translation of the 'Ayin Akbari'[1] the name is read as Gungjook, but as all the names are given alphabetically in the original, it is certain that the first letter is a k; I conclude, therefore, that the true name is Kankjol, as the final I might easily be misread as a k. In his Gazetteer, Hamilton[2] calls the place Caukjole, which is probably a misprint for Cankjole. He notes that the district of Rajmahal was formerly "named Akbarnagar from its capital, and in the revenue records Caukjole, as being the chief military division."

Hwen Thsang estimates the size of the district at 2000 li, or 333 miles, in circuit ; but as it was a dependency of one of the neighbouring kingdoms it was probably included, as I have already noted, in the area of the dominant state. When independent, the petty state of Kankjol most probably comprised the whole of the hill country to the south and west of Rajmahal, with the plains lying between the hills and the Bhagirathi river as far south as Murshidabad. The circuit of this tract would be about 300 miles, as stated by Hwen Thsang.

  1. 'Ayin Akbari,' ii. 178.
  2. 'Gazetteer of India,' in v. Rajamahal

30. Paundra Varddhana.

[p.480]: From Kankjol the pilgrim Xuanzang crossed the Ganges, and travelling east-ward for 600 li, or 100 miles, he reached the kingdom of Pun-na-fa-tan-na[1] This name M. Stanislas Julien renders as Paundra-Varddhana, and M. Vivien de Saint-Martin identifies it with Bardwan. But Bardwan is to the south of the last station, and on the same side of the Ganges, besides which its Sanskrit name is Varddhamana. The difference in the direction of the route might be a mistake, as we have found in several previous instances ; but the other differences are, I think, absolutely fatal to the identification of Bardwan with the place noted by Hwen Thsang.

I would propose Pubna, which is just 100 miles from Kankjol, and on the opposite bank of the Gauges, but its direction is nearly south-east instead of east. The Chinese syllables may represent either Punya Varddhana, or Paundra Varddhana ; but the latter must be the true name, as it is mentioned in the native history of Kashmir[2] as the capital of Jayanta, Raja of Gau., who reigned from A.D. 782 to 813. In the spoken dialects the name would be shortened from Pon-bardhan to Pohadlian, from which it is an easy step to Pubna, or Pobna, as some of the people now pronounce it. Hwen Thsang estimates the circuit of the kingdom at 4000 li, or 667 miles, which agrees exactly with the dimensions of the tract of country bounded by the Mahanadi on the west, the

  1. Julien's ' Hiouen Thsang,' iii. 74. See Map No. I.
  2. ' Raja Tarangini,' iv. 421. See also the Quart. Orient, Mag. ii. 188, for an account of Pundra-desa, taken by H. H. Wilson from the Brahmauda section of the Bhavishya Purana. The greater part of the province was to the north of the Ganges, including Gauda, Pubna, etc.

[p.481]: Tista and Brahmaputra on the east, and the Ganges on the south.

31. Jajhoti.

Hwen Thsang places the kingdom of Chi-chi-to at 1000 li, or 167 miles, to the north-east of Ujain. As the first and second syllables of this name are represented by different Chinese characters,[1] it is certain that the pilgrim must have intended them to be the eqiiivalents of two distinct Indian characters. This requirement is fully met by identifying Chi-chi-to with the kingdom of Jajhoti, or Jajhaoti, mentioned by Abu Rihan, who calls the capital Kajurahah[2] and places it at 30 parasangs, or about 90 miles, to the south-east of Kanoj. The true direction, however, is almost due south, and the distance about twice 30 parasangs, or 180 miles. This capital was actually visited by Ibn Batuta in A.D. 1335, who calls it Kajura,[3] and describes it as possessing a lake about 1 mile in length, which was surrounded by idol temples. These are still standing at Khajuraho, and they form perhaps the most magnificent group of Hindu temples that is now to be found in northern India.

From these accounts of Abu Rihan and Ibn Batuta, it is evident that the province of Jajhoti corresponded with the modern district of Bundelkhand. The Chinese pilgrim estimates the circuit of Chichito at 4000 li, or 667 miles, which would form a square of about 167 miles to each side. Now, Bundelkhand in its widest extent is said to have comprised all

  1. Julien's 'Hiouen Thsang,' Index, iii. 530, 408. See Map No. I.
  2. Reinaud, 'Fragments Arabes,' etc., p. 106.
  3. Dr. Lee's translation, p. 162; where the name is read as Kajwara, hut the original Persian characters read Kaiura.

[p.482]: the country to the south of the Jumna and Ganges, from the Betwa river on the west to the temple of Vindhya-vasini-Devi on the east, including the districts of Chanderi, Sagar and Bilhari near the sources of the Narbada on the south. But these are also the limits of the ancient country of the Jajhotiya Brahmans, which, according to Buchanan's information,[1] extended from the Jumna on the north to the Narbada on the south, and from Urcha on the Betwa river in the west, to the Bundela Nala on the east. The last is said to be a small stream which falls into the Ganges near Banaras, and within two stages of Mirzapur. During the last twenty -five years I have traversed this tract of country repeatedly in all directions, and I have found the Jajhotiya Brahmans distributed over the whole province, but not a single family to the north of the Jumna or to the west of the Betwa. I have found them at Barwa Sagar near Urcha on the Betwa, at Mohda near Hamirpoor on the Jumna, at Rajnagar and Khajuraho near the Kane river, and at Udaipoor, Pathari and Eran, between Chanderi and Bhilsa. In Chanderi itself there are also Jajhotiya Baniyas, which alone is almost sufficient to show that the name is not a common family designation, but a descriptive term of more general acceptance. The Brahmans derive the name of Jajhotiya from Yajur-hota, an observance of the Yajur-ved; but as the name is applied to the Baniyas, or grain-dealers, as well as to the Brahmans, I think it almost certain that it must be a mere geographical designation derived from the name of their country, Jajhoti. This opinion is confirmed by other well-known names

  1. 'Eastern India,' it. 452.

[p.483]: of the Brahmanical tribes, as Kanojiya from Kanoj ; Gaur from Gaur ; Sarwanya or Sarjuparia from Sarju-par, the opposite bank of the Sarju river ; Bravira from Dravira in the Dakhan, Maithila from Mithila, etc. These examples are sufficient to show the prevalence of geographical names amongst the divisions of the Brahmanical tribes, and as each division is found most numerously in the province from which it derives its name, I conclude with some certainty that the country in which the Jajhotiya Brahmans preponderate must be the actual province of Jajhoti.

Khajuraho is a small village of 162 houses, containing rather less than 1000 inhabitants. Amongst these there are single houses of seven different divisions of the Jajhotiya Brahmans, and eleven houses of Chandel Rajputs, the chief of whom claim descent from Raja Paraml Deo, the antagonist of the famous Prithi Raj. The village is surrounded on all sides by temples and ruins ; but these are more thickly grouped in three separate spots on the west, north, and south-east. The western group, which consists entirely of Brahmanical temples, is situated on the banks of the Sib-sagar, a narrow sheet of water, about three-quarters of a mile in length from north to south in the rainy season, but not more than 600 feet square during the dry season. It is three-quarters of a mile from the village, and the same distance from the northern group of ruins, and a full mile from the south-eastern group of Jain temples. Altogether, the ruins cover about one square mile ; but as there are no remains of any kind between the western group and the Khajur Sagar, the boundary of the ancient city could not have extended beyond the west bank of the lake. On the other three sides of

[p.484]: the lake, the ruins are all continuous, extending over an oblong space 4500 feet in length from north to south, and 2500 feet in breadth from east to west, with a circuit of 14,000 feet, or nearly 3f miles. This corresponds almost exactly with the size of the capital as recorded by Hwen Thsang in A.D. 641, but at some later period the city of Khajuraho was extended to the east and south as far as the Kurar Nala, when it had a circuit of not less than 3½ miles. As Mahoba must have been about the same size as Khajuraho, it is doubtful which of the two was the capital at the time of Hwen Thsang' s visit. But as the very name of Mahoba, or Mahotsava-nagara, the " City of the great Jubilee," is specially connected with the rise of the Chandel dynasty, I think it most probable that Khajuraho must have been the capital of the earlier dynasty of Jajhotiya Brahmans ; and there-fore it must have been the capital of Jajhoti at the time of Hwen Thsang's visit. But as it is up- wards of 300 miles from Ujain, or just double the distance mentioned by the pilgrim, his 1000 li must be increased to 2000 li, or 333 miles, to make it accord with the actual measurement. It is a curious fact that Abu Rihan's distance from Kanoj is also in defect in the same proportion ; and this agreement suggests that the probable cause of both errors must be the same, namely, the excessive length of the kos of Bundelkhand, which is a little over 4 miles, or exactly double the ordinary kos of northern India.

Hwen Thsang estimates the circuit of the kingdom of Jajhoti at 4000 li, or 667 miles. To meet these large dimensions it must have comprised the whole tract of country lying between the Sindh and the Tons,

[p.485]: from the Ganges on the north to Nya Sarai and Bilhari on the south. This tract includes the famous fort of Kalinjar, which became the permanent capital of the Chandel Rajas after the occupation of Mahoba by the Muhammadans, and the strong fortress of Chanderi, which became the Muhammadan capital of eastern Malwa, after the desertion of the old city of Buri Chanderi.


The ancient city of Mahoba is situated at the foot of a low granite hill, 54 miles to the south of Hamirpur, at the junction of the Betwa and Jumna, 34 miles to the north of Khajuraho. Its name is a contraction of Mahotsava-nagara, or the " City of the great festival," which was celebrated there by Chandra Varmma, the founder of the Chandel dynasty. It is said to have been 6 yojanas long and 2 broad, which is only the usual exaggeration of silly story-tellers for a large city. At its greatest extent, according to my observation, it could never have exceeded 1½ mile in length, from the small castle of Rai-kot on the west, to the Kalyan Sagar on the east. It is about 1 mile in breadth, which would give a circuit of 5 miles, but an area of only 1 square mile, as the south-west quarter is occupied by the Madan Sagar. Its population, therefore, at the most flourishing period, must have been under 100,000 persons, even allowing as high an average as one person to every 300 square feet. In 1843, when I resided at Mahoba for about six weeks, there were only 756 inhabited houses, with a population less than 4000 persons ; since then the place has somewhat increased, and is now said to possess 900 houses, and about 5000 inhabitants.

[p.486]: Mahoba is divided into three distinct portions :— 1st, Mahoba, or the city proper, to the north of the hill ; 2nd, Bihtari-kila, or the inner fort, on the top of the hill ; and 3rd, Dariba, or the city to the south of the hill.

To the west of the city lies the great lake of Kirat Sagar, about 1½ mile in circumference, which was constructed by Kirtti Varmma, who reigned from A.D. 1065 to 1085. To the south is the Madan Sugar, about 3 miles in circuit, which was constructed by Madana Varmma, who reigned from A.D. 1130 to 1165. To the east is the small lake of Kalyan Sagar, and beyond it lies the large deep lake of Vijay Sagar, which was constructed by Vijaya Pala, who ruled from A.D. 1045 to 1065. The last is the largest of the Mahoba lakes, being not less than 4 miles in circuit; but the most picturesque of all sheets of wator in the beautiful lake district of Bundelkhand is the Madan Sagar. On the west it is bounded by the singularly rugged granite hill of Gokar, on the north by ranges of ghats and temples at the foot of the old fort, and on the south-east by three rocky promontories that jut boldly out into the middle of the lake. Near the north side there is a rocky island, now covered with ruined buildings ; and towards the north-west corner there are two old granite temples of the Chandel princes, one altogether ruined, but the other still standing lofty and erect in the midst of the waters after the lapse of 700 years.

The traditional story of the foundation of Mahoba was originally given by the bard Chand, and has been copied by the local annalists.[1] According to the

  1. The portion of Chand's poem which treats of the war with the Chandel Raja Parmal (or Paramarddi Deva), and of the origin of the Chandela, is named Mahoha-Khand .

[p.487]: legend, the Chandels are sprung from Hemavati, daughter of Hem-raj, the Brahman Purohit of Indrajit, Gahirwar Raja of Banaras. Hemavati was very beautiful, and one day when she went to bathe in the Rati Talab, she was seen and embraced by Chandrama, the god of the moon, as he was preparing to return to the skies. Hemavati cursed him. "Why do you curse me?" said Chandrama, "your son will be Lord of the Earth, and from him will spring a thousand branches." Hemavati inquired, " How shall my dishonour be effaced, when I am without a husband ? " " Fear not," replied Chandrama,, " your son will be born on the bank of the Karnavati river : then take him to Khajuraya, and offer him as a gift, and perform a sacrifice. In Mahoba he will reign, and will become a great king. He will possess the philosopher's stone, and will turn iron into gold. On the hill of Kalinjar he will build a fort ; when your son is 16 years of age, you must perform a Bhanda Jag to wipe away your disgrace, and then leave Banaras to live at Kalinjar."

According to this prophecy, Hemavati's child, like another Chandrama, was born on Monday the 11th of the waxing moon of Vaisakh on the bank of the Karnavati, the modern Kayan, or Kane river of the maps.[1] Then Chandrama, attended by all the gods, performed a " great festival" {Mahotsava), when Vrihaspati wrote his horoscope, and the child was named Chandra Varmma. At 16 years of age he killed a tiger, when Chandrama appeared to him and

  1. In some of the manuscripts the name of the river is written Kiyan, and Kiranavati. The former is no doubt the original of Arrian's Kainas, which has perhaps been altered from Kianas.

[p.487]: pre-sented him with the philosopher's stone, and taught him polity {rajnit). Then he built the fort of Kalinjar, after which he went to Kharjurpur, where he performed a sacrifice {Jag or Yajnya) to do away with his mo tiler's shame, and built 85 temples. Then Chandravati Rani and all the other queens sat at the feet of Hemavati, and her disgrace was wiped away. Lastly he went to Mahotsava, or Mahoba, the place of Chandrama's " great festival," which he made his capital.

The date of this event is variously stated by the different authorities ; but according to the genealogies furnished by the inscriptions, the most probable period for the establishment of the Chandel dynasty, and the foundation of Mahoba, is about A.D. 800.

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