No. 38─HATUN ROCK INSCRIPTION OF PATOLADEVA
N. P. CHAKRAVARTI, NEW DELHI
Towards the end of May 1941, Sir Aurel Stein sent to Mr. K. N. Dikshit, the then Director
General of Archaeology, a photograph of a rock inscription which was received by him from the
British Political Agent at Gilgit. In a letter dated the 8th May 1941, Major G.C.L. Crichton,
Political Agent, Gilgit, wrote to Sir Aurel Stein at Srinagar as follows : “ Captain A. W. Redpath,
Assistant Political Agent, Gilgit, when touring in this Agency noticed some writing engraved on a
rock near a place called Silpi in Punial. Silpi is just south of the junction of the Ishkoman and
Gilgit rivers. Thinking that the writings might be of Archaeological interest, Captain Redpath
had them photographed and has suggested sending the prints to you..... As far as Captain
Redpath knows, the writings have not previously been photographed or reported to the
Archaeological Department. I trust they will be of interest to you ”.
In his letter of the 17th May 1941, to Major Crichton, Sir Aurel wrote : “ It is certainly in
Sanskrit and in Brāhmī characters of the type known in Kashmir as Śāradā. As far as I can judge
without being able at present to refer to any palaeographic tables, the writing is not likely to be
later than the 8th-9th century A.D. and may be a good deal earlier. The photograph of the left
portion of the inscription permits me on hasty examination to read a number of words which make
it certain that it contains a record emanating from a local ruler of some importance, which invests
it with interest.
“ Being pressed by urgent tasks in different fields and not being as expert epigraphist, I cannot
undertake the decipherment and publication of the inscription. For this, the available photographs,
especially of the right hand portion, would not suffice. I am sending the photographs to the Director
General of Archaeology, suggesting preliminary examination by a competent epigraphical scholar.
“ For a full decipherment, a proper paper impression (estampage) will be needed. I believe,
such could be conveniently secured with the help of my old surveying assistant, Khan Sahib Afrazgul
Khan, who I believe has seen such estampages taken while with me, and whose skilful application
to varied tasks has often been appreciated by me. ”
As I was at that time at the headquarters of the Department as the Deputy Director General,
Mr. Dikshit passed on the photographs to me for examination and report to Sir Aurel. The photograph, particularly that of the right half of the epigraph, was unsatisfactory and the decipherment
was made more difficult by the small size of the prints and the several cracks, some of them quite
large, appearing on the engraved portion of the rock. I could, however, make out a good part
of the inscription and, in my preliminary report, pointed out to Sir Aurel that it contained the name
of a Shāhi ruler of Gilgit whose name along with that of another ruler of the same dynasty was also
known from the Buddhist Sanskrit manuscripts recovered from Gilgit.
In reply Sir Aurel wrote to me on July 12, 1941, from Srinagar : “ I was specially pleased to
come in your reading upon the title Paṭōla-shāhi and in your quotation from the Gilgit Mss. upon
the full title Shāhānushāhi known from references to Kushāṇa rulers.. Ever since I first read that
title correctly in the SHAONANO SHAO of the Kushāṇa coins I have been interested in Indian
renderings of the ancient Iranian title (see my paper on ‘ Zoroastrian Deities on Indo-Scythian
Coins ’ in Indian Antiquary 1888 ; also the notes on Shāhi chiefs in my translation of the
“ The late survival of the full imperial title in a small Hindukush territory is very curious.
This makes me particularly wish for any approximate dating you would propose for the inscription
on palaeographic grounds. I was unable myself to refer in camp to any copy of Professor Bühler’s
Indian Palaeography on this point.