DEVAPRAYAG BRAHMI INSCRIPTIONS
No. 23.─DEVAPRAYAG BRAHMI INSCRIPTIONS
B. CH. CHHABRA, NEW DELHI
In May 1948, I toured in those parts of the Himālayas that go by the name of
Uttarākhaṇḍa. Owing to the difficulties of transport, I got stranded, so to say, at Dēvaprayāg.
Every cloud, they say, has a silver lining. In the case of my enforced stay at the said holy place
the silver lining appeared in the shape of a chance discovery of quite a number of short inscriptions
in early characters, crowding a small area on a rugged rock, very centrally located.
The village of Dēvaprayāg is within the former Tehri State, ‘ situated in 30º 10′ N and 78º 37′
E, at the confluence of the Alakānandā and Bhāgīrathī rivers, the combined stream being then
called the Ganges ; elevation 1,550 feet. The point of junction forms one of the five sacred
confluences in the hills, and is annually visited by many devout pilgrims. The village stands
100 feet above the water’s edge on the scarped side of a mountain, which rises behind it to a
height of 800 feet.’ The accompanying sketch map will show the position of Dēvaprayāg in
relation to some of the well-known land marks such as Badrīnāth and Kēdārnāth in the
north-east, Dehradun in the north-west, and Hardwar in the south-west.
The rock bearing the inscriptions is situated the famous temple of Raghunāth, which
is comparatively of recent origin. The rock forms the back wall of the rectangular courtyard
of the temple. It contains about 40 inscriptions in characters of three different types : Brāhmī,
ornamental Brāhmī and Dēvanāgarī. The inscriptions of the last type are very few. One of
them is pretty long and is dated Saṁvat 1736. Those of the second type are more or less equal in
number to those of the first type. In this article I deal only with the Brāhmī inscriptions. At
the end I have given one of the inscriptions of the ornamental type as a sample. This seems
to read Bhaddrabalaḥ. The characteristic feature of the ornamental type of the script represented
here is the use of a ‘ cone ’ placed on the top of some of the letters, as may be seen in the present
instance on the letters ba and la. I intend to deal with these ornamental inscriptions in a
separate paper. Likewise, the later inscriptions will be dealt with separately.
The Brāhmī script represented in the inscriptions discussed here is of a period ranging from
the 2nd to the 5th century A.D. The earliest variety is represented by the inscriptions Nos. XIV
and XVIII. In the last mentioned inscription, the subscript y may be observed to retain its
tripartite form, which is an indication of its being early. The flat and angular bases of d, p, m, v,
and h, etc., in some of the inscriptions also indicate an early period. The inscriptions Nos. XV and
XVI illustrate what is known as the nail-headed or acute-angled variety of the late Brāhmi script.
According to J. F. Fleet, the script represented in all these inscriptions will be ‘ a variety,
with southern characteristics, of the Central Indian alphabet of about the 4th century A.D. The
letters m, s and h here are throughout of the so called southern type. Since these inscriptions
are in the north, we need not call the script as peculiar to Central India alone. The treatment of
the mātrās in some of the inscriptions is worth noticing. Medial ā in the syllable mā in Nos. I,
II and III is differently indicated. In No. I it rises from the left limb of the consonant and ends
in a flourish. In No. II it is placed on the right limb and is bent downwards. In No. III it is
attached to the right side of the consonant, not on the top, but a little below. The same mātrā in
dā of No. IV is again different, bending like a hook. Medial i where its use is superfluous in
No. III is ornamentally treated, while its normal form is seen in Nos. V, IX, X and XVI
 District Gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Vol. XXVI, British Garhwal, compiled by H. D.
Walton, 1921, p. 214. The name of the village is more commonly spelt as Deoprayag.
 CII, Vol. III, p. 18.