Udupi: Discovery of Ancient Inscription Proves Tulu Did Have an Independent Script

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Udupi: The Tulunadu kingdom had flourished in the past for a few centuries. Hence Tulu has remained an important Dravidian language of southern India.

But, it has been a common opinion that there was no script for the language. The discovery of a new inscription in Tulu assumes great importance in this background.

An epigraphical study was organized at Kota Hire Mahalingeshwara temple this week, in association with the National Trust for Computation and Archival of Oriental Media, Udupi. Prof Murugeshi Turuvekere, assistant professor at MSRS college at Shirva has made a study of the inscription and has provided the following information.

The pillar inscription found in the said temple premises has two faces with 27 lines of text in Kannada and Tulu languages. The Tulu text is in Tulu’s own script.

This undated inscription records a grant to the deity at Kota to take care of the maintenance of a hand-lamp (kai-velaku) by the king, Kulashekharaluva.

The earliest inscription credited to his rule and so far discovered was found in Basrur. It was dated in 1175 AD and it praises the king as emperor (chakravartin).

But, the inscription under study simply calls him by name without any epithets. Hence this inscription is considered as the earliest belonging to the time of Kulashekhara Alupendra.  In that case, the date of the Tulu inscription can be made out as of 12th century.

Prof Murugeshi has expressed his gratitude to temple authorities Ganesh Bhat and Srinivasa Adiga for their kind support, and also his thanks to Suma, Sangeeta, Shridhar Bhat and Prashant Shetty for their cooperation.
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