Where is Kalinga?
Traditionally, if you take the reference of rivers, Kalinga country was defined as the coastal strip between Mahanadi and Gautami (Main distributory of Gadavari) with its capital on the banks of R. Nagavali. Therefore, the coastal districts between Puri and Rajahmundry may be called Kalinga.
The region was divided into three distinct regions – North, Middle and South. There was a reference to the adjoining forested region – Kalinga-aratta, which may comprise the Eastern Ghats between Sabhalpur and Bhadrachalam.
All the ancient capitals of Kalinga are in the Middle Kalinga. The temple of Mukhalingam near Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh is probably a corruption of Madhya-Kalingam. The other cities Kalinga Nagaram, Dantapuri are present day Kalingapatnam and Palloor.
R. Narmada and the Vindhya Range had been the traditional boundary between North and South. This is true of the western half of the peninsula. The highway called Dakshinapatha (Southern Path) took off from the confluence of R. Yamuna and Ganges, passed Ujjain in Malwa and ended at the R. Narmada. The mouth of Narmada had been the gateway to the Arabian Sea. Beyond R. Narmada was an amorphous Dark Continent, variously called Dandakaranya, Andhrapatha etc. etc.
But in the eastern half of the peninsula, the coastal strip alternates between broad river valleys and impassable thickly forested hills. The knowledge of the region south of the Ganges Delta was little, with Tamralipti being the entry to the Bay of Bengal.
In early Sanskrit literature, the knowledge of South India had been very sketchy. By the time of Ramayana and the later parts of Mahabharat, we see a slight increase in the awareness of South. Based on various references in the epic tradition we may arrive at an overlapping map of the inhabited regions in South India. (See map)
Kharavela’s (A Kalinga King of 2nd Century BCE) inscription mentions that the Andhra country was to Kalinga’s west. The map is consistent with that fact. The Satavahana kings between 2nd Cent BCE to 2nd Cent CE had their capital at Paithan which falls on the same latitude as the capital of Kalingas (Mukhalingam).
In the ancient times we know of two campaigns of Magadhan kings into Kalinga country. One was by Mahapadma Nanda as mentioned by Kharavela. It was said that he had taken a Jaina relic from the Kalingas and the same was brought back by Kharavela when he freed Kalinga. The other campaign was the famous Kalinga War of Asoka. A single battle was fought on the right bank of R. Mahanadi, the traditional northern frontier of Kalinga. Again is consistent with the tradition.
It was only in the recent (Medieval) times, we see Cuttack becoming the capital. It was built by the later Gangas and the Gajapatis made it their capital. They were called Odhras. But their rule extended to the R. Krishna valley and beyond, and naturally called themselves Kings of Kalinga.
Now, is Odhra the same as Kalinga?
This question was answered by a Chinese pilgrim in 7th Century. Yuan Chwang travelled from Bengal to South India and returned to Gujarat and beyond. If you go by his travelogue and the observations that occur in his book called Hsi-yu-chi, we may chart his route. (See map) The unit of distance ‘Li’ may be approximately converted as one fifth of a kilometer.
There are certain places referred by him that can be identified with reasonable exactitude.
TAN-MO-LIH-TI = TAMRALIPTI = TAMLUK
TE-NA-KA-CHE-KA = DHANYAKATAKA = DHARANIKOTA / AMARAVATI
KAN-CHIH-PU-LO = KANCHIPURA = KANCHI
PO-LU-KA-CHE-PO = BHARUKACCHA = BHAROCH
There was confusion created by lack of knowledge of Kanaganahalli, which was excavated only in 1994, and both Rhys Davis and Watters thought KUNG-KA-NA-PU-LO was Konkan instead of Kanaganapura.
PING-CHI-LO was thought to be Vengi. The capital of Andhra country falls between Kosala and Dhanyakataka on a North-South line. There are two contenders for this in 7th Century. One is Vemulavada and the other Kolanupaka (Kulpak). Vengi is too far to the east to be a candidate, and it was part of the Eastern Chalukya’s Kalinga kingdom.
Let us trace the route. From Tamluk the pilgrim travelled 700 li (140 km) SW to U-TU (Odhra) country. From there 1200 li (240 km) SW to KUNG-YU-T’O, and this may be Cuttack or some other site in Mahanadi delta. Cunningham says it is near Chilka Lake.
From here he travelled another 1400 li (280 km) SW to reach KA-LENG-KA. Therefore Kalinga of the pilgrim started somewhere SW of Visakhapatnam. From here he had to make detour. He could not go to Kalinga capital as there was some political unrest. The political turmoil probably was due to the new regime of Eastern Chalukyas. Their traditional capitals are Vengi and Pishtapuram (Pithapuram near Kakinada). This makes the Eastern Chalukyas lords of Kalinga country.
From near Visakhapatnam he took a NW route to South Kosala (1800 li = 360 km). The route he took was across Eastern Ghats and thick forest lands. He probably had reached Chattisgarh. From there a short distance west to a hill monastery called PO-LO-MO-LO-KI-LI and was connected with Nagarjuna. There were some speculations identifying it as Nagarjunikonda and even Ajanta Caves. But from the distances mentioned by the pilgrim the place could be east of modern Nagpur still within Kosala country. And from Kosala he travels south 900 li (180 km) to AN-TO-LO (Andhra). Even epic traditional tells us that the country south of Vidarbha is Andhra. Pilgrim’s Andhra was not a large country, it was only 3000 li in circuit, about half the size of Odhra (7000 li) or Kalenga (5000 li). From Andhra he travelled 1000 li (200 km) S to TE-NA-KA-CHE-KA (Amaravati).
From Dhanyakataka he travelled 200 km SW to CHU-LI-YA ( Choliya – Telugu Cola capital Chippili in Cudappah District of AP) and from there 300 km onward to Kanchi. We are not sure from the records if he had really travelled to Kerala and Ceylon, but that doesn’t concern us. On his return he travelled north from Dravida Country to Maharashtra via Kanaganahalli and from Maharashtra westwards to Bharoch.
The record of the pilgrim and the geo-political references in Epic and Kharavela traditions place Kalinga country in North Coastal AP and included areas south of Chilka Lake in Ganjam District at times. Therefore the language of Kalingas was Telugu and the name Telugu itself may be a derivation of phrases Ten-kalingam (South Kalinga) or Tri-kalingam (Three Kalingas).
Ironically, the original Andhra was never a part of the currently residual Andhra Pradesh, but the newly formed state Telangana. The residual Andhra Pradesh was anything but Andhra, it was a combination of two distinct political entities – Kalinga (North Coastal AP between Krishna and Ganjam) and Renadu (the Telugu Chola heartland consisting of most of Rayalasima, and South Coastal AP). After Telugu Chodas moved south, the region south of R. Krishna became Pallava Nadu (Palanadu/Thondainadu). It was the Kakatiyas who had united all these regions with their capital at Warangal (Andhranagari) in Andhra heartland presently called Telangana, giving the entire region the name Andhra.
So… what’s the big deal? If Orissa has appropriated the name Kalinga, let it be. But it’s good to raise these issues at times just to trigger a little interest in history that’s dear.