THE EARLY SILAHARAS
..AS many as ten families of the Śilāhāras are known to have ruled in Mahārāshṭra and
Karnāṭaka as evidenced by their inscriptions. The history of only three of them is dealt
with here. They were all ruling in Mahārāshṭra. One of them occupied North Koṅkaṇ,
comprising the modern districts of Kolābā and Ṭhāṇā. This country was traditionally supposed
to comprise 1400 villages.  Its early capital was Purī, from which the country came to be known
as Purī-Kōṅkaṇa. Purī has been variously identified. Some take it to be Ghārāpurī or Elephanta, about seven miles west of Bombay, famous for its magnificently carved Śiva-temples.
There is, however, no inscriptional proof of this identification. Besides, the island is too small
to be the capital of a fairly large kingdom such as that of the Mauryas, who are known to have
ruled from there. Again, the island is cut off from the mainland by a considerable stretch of
the sea, and so it is inconvenient for constant and easy communication such as a capital requires. Another identification proposed is that Purī is identical with Rājapurī in the former
Janjirā State, which is situated at the mouth of a large creek on the western coast. But this
place is almost near the southern end of North Koṅkan, of which it is known to have been
the capital for some time. The capital of a country is generally near its centre for convenience
of administration. Śūrpāraka, modern Sopārā in the Ṭhāṇā District, the earliest capital of
North Koṅkaṇ, occupied such a place. This is also supported by the discovery of a set of
Aśōkā’s rock edicts there. Sthānaka, modern Ṭhāṇā, the capital of the Śilāhāras of North
Koṅkaṇ, is also situated in the Ṭhāṇā District. So Purī also must have been situated in the same
district. It may be noted in this connection that the only known stone inscription of the Mauryas
was found at Vāḍā in the Ṭhāṇā District. Cousens proposed to identify Purī with a site, one
mile north of the village Māroḷ in the island of Sālseṭṭe comprised in the Ṭhāṇā District.
This place is literally sea-girt as described in the Aihoḷe inscription, but the north and north
east sides are not so separated from the mainland as to have made it difficult for troops to be
transported one way or the other. There are extensive ruins of old temples there. We have,
however, so far no evidence that the site near Māroḷ bore the name of Purī. The exact identi
fication of this flourishing capital of the Mauryas must, therefore, be left for future research.
Purī ceased to be the capital of North Koṅkaṇ after the fall of the Mauryas. The Śilāhāras
made Sthānaka, modern Ṭhāṇā, the seat of their government.
Ep. Ind., Vol. XXVII, p. 70.
See e.g. the Bhādāna grant (No. 7), line 56 ; Khārepāṭaṇ plates (No. 19), lines 64-65 etc. In the earlier
Anjanerī plates of Bhōgaśakti the number of villages is stated to be fourteen thousand. See C.I.I., Vol. IV,
North Koṅkaṇ is mentioned in several Śilāhāra inscriptions as Purī-prabhṛiti-Kōṅkaṇa or Purī-pramukha-Kōṅkaṇa. See e.g. No. 1, line 2; No. 9, lines 20-21 etc.
A Guide to Elephanta by Hirananda Sastri, pp. 8 f.
On a copper jar found in the silt of a large cistern in the west wing of the main cave at Elephanta there
is an inscription dated Saṁvat 1143 which Hirananda Sastri doubtfully read Śri-Purī-vina(sha) yē-tra and
took Śrī- Purī- as the name of the place on the evidence of the inscription; but the intended reading seems
to be Śri-Purī-vina(ni)rggatta(ta)-, which point to an opposite conclusion. See Pl. IV in his Guide to
Purī is described as the goddess of the western ocean, and as the capital of the Mauryas in the Aihoḷe
inscription of Pulakēśin II. Ep. Ind., Vol. VI, p. 6.
P.I.H.C. (1940), pp. 86 f.
C.I.I., Vol. I,p. 118.
Bom. Gaz. (old ed.), Vol. XIV, pp. 572-73.
Cousens, Mediaeval Temples of the Deccan, p. 81.
Ep. Ind., Vol. VI, p. 6.