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Author: Dr. A. K. Shastry
Place: Sirsi, Uttara Kannada
The history of Sirsi taluk is perhaps as old as that of Karnataka, for Banavasi, the Capital of the ancient Kadambas is located in the present Sirsi taluk. There are different versions regarding the origin of the name, ‘Sirsi’. Shirassu, Shirisa tree, Siri, etc. are presumed to be the different original names which subsequently became ‘Sirsi’. An inscription on the herostone of 1027 AD found at Thamadi Kallala of Siddapura taluk mention a village named ‘Sirise’ – ಸಿರಿಸೆ. Another reference can be found in the Francis Buchanan’s work ‘Journey through the Northern parts of Kanara’. He refers to Sirsi as Sirse – ಸಿರ್ಸೆ.
The Mauryas before the Christian era, Satavahanas from 1st to 2nd century A.D. and for a short period the Chutus and the Pallavas of Kanchi ruled over this area. The Kadambas of Banavasi had their politicals way from 3rd Century to 6th Century. Then it came under the Chalukyas of Badaini, Rashtrakutas of Malkhed, Kadambas of Hangal, and the Nayakas of Sonda (Feudatories of the Vijayanagara emperors), respectively. In the 17th and the 18th Centuries, the Sultans of Bijapur, the Marathas and the Mughals conquered the North Kanara District. Sode or Sonda in the present Sirsi Taluk was conquered by Hyder in 1763, and in 1799, after the fall of Tipu, the territory was included in the Madras province by the British. In 1956, the North Kanara became a part of the newly created Mysore State and subsequently in 1977, ‘North Kanara’ was renamed as ‘Uttara Kannada’. The people of the taluk, with their unique culture, have played a significant part in political, economic, social, religious and cultural activities through the ages.
The historical source materials relating to the Sirsi Taluk are vast and varied. A brief summary of these sources are as follows : Stone and copper plate inscriptions, forts, temples, mathas, Buddhist Chaityas, Jains Basadis, tanks, hero and mahasati stones, coins, palm leave and archival materials, and accounts of the foreign travellers.
About 500 inscriptions are so far brought to light. They are published in South Indian Inscriptions, VoI. XX, Karwara Jilleya Shasanagalu by R. N. Gurav, ‘Epigraphia Carnatica’, ‘Epigraphia Indica’, ‘IndianAntiquary’, ‘Kannada Nadina Shasanagalu‘ by P. B. Desai, ‘Corpus of Kadamba Inscriptions’ by B.R. Gopal etc.
Banavasi, the seat of the Kadainbas is very rich in monuments. Buddhist Chaityas, Jaina Basadis, Madhukeshwara, Parvati Ganapati, Narasimha, Rudrapada and Basavalingeshwara temples and a fort, stand testimony to this fact. The coins of the Satavahanas, the Chutus and the Romans were found in Sirsi Taluk.