June 4, 2021

The Alupa Dynasty:

By Nilakhi Banerjee

ADAPA is one of the common surnames of Mudiraj caste people in Andhra Pradesh and that of Tuluva bunts. Some sections of Mudiraj people are also known as Mudiraju buntlu. Adapa and Alva are related Tuluva banta surnames. “Adapa” seems to a modification of the name “Alapa or Alupa”. Alupas were Pandya related Tuluva bunt kings who established their own kingdoms in Tulunadu.

The Alupas ruled the modern districts of Udupi and Mangalore and parts of Shimoga and Uttara Kannada districts in the state of Karanataka, India from 5th -15th century AD . The region of Dakshina Kannada (modern Udupi and Mangalore district) was free from any external influence and appears to have been under the strict control of Alupa kings in the ancient times.

The various names used for Alups in the inscriptions are – Alupa, Alapa, Aluka, Aluva, and Alva. Telugu Mudiraj surname ALLA could also be a modification of the Tulu surname ALVA.


Alapa => Adapa

And Alapa => Alupa => Adupa => Adapa

Alapa => Alupa => Aluva

Aluva => Alva => Alla

The first clear mention of Alupas come from the Halmidi inscription of 450 C.E. where their possible early ruler Pashupathi of Alapa (Alupa) gana is also mentioned. The dynastic formation of Alupas took place around 5th century C.E. Their royal emblem was the double fish and they claimed to belong to the Pandyavamsha and Soma Kula (lunar).Their coins carried the also dynastic title “Sri Pandya Dhananjaya” which means “Arjuna among the Pandyas”. Pandyas are said to be the descendants of Pandavas. The also greeks know the land of Alupas as Olokhoria.

Alupas is one of the four unrecorded group that migrated to the coastal region of Mangalore as early as 300 B.C.E and took control of the coastal land stretching from Southern Kasaragod till modern Udupi with Mangalore as the epicenter. The Asoka edict mentions about Satiyaputra, also and it is assumed that Alupas are the one who are referred as Satiyaputra. The region of South Canara (Dakshnina Kannada) prior to this dynastic rule is still tagged to the same ruling house though the ruling was more informal and in the evolving stage.


The Alupas kings were a minor dynasty who ruled parts of coastal Karnataka. They ruled independently the Alvakheda region in the beginning (200 B.C.E to 450C.E). Later with the dominance of Kadambas in Banavasi, they became feudatory to them. With the changing political scenario, soon they became the feudatories to Chalukyas, Hoysalas and Vijayanagara Rayas. Their influence over coastal Karnataka lasted for about 1000 years by switching between Mangaluru and Udyavar, Barakuru and back to Mangaluru as their political centers. The Alvas or Alupas were a minor dynasty in Western Karnataka but the longest reigning dynasty of Tulu Nadu that ruled without interuption for almost 1000 – 1200 years over the small territory of coastal Karnataka.

Alupas shifted their capital from Udyavara to Barkur and were instrumental in the political, financial, social and cultural developments of Barkur. Once the Alupas got into marriage relationship with the Hoysalas, they also spread their political wings into the Thulunadu. Once the Vijayanagara was founded in the year 1336, Hoysalas chose Barkur as their regional capital and many governors ruled Barkur under the directions from Vijayanagara. Later Barkur experienced the ruling of Keladi, Hyder, Tippu and British empires.


From the earliest references in documented history, it is clear that the region covering Mangalore was a part of the Kingdom of Alupas, whose unbroken dynastic rule from 567 to 1325 AD is perhaps the longest in Indian history.

One of the copper-plates inscription in Kannada language and in characters palaeographically assignable to the eighth century A. D. from Belmannu, Taluk Karkala, District South Kanara (Mysore) is the earliest known copper-plate record of the Alupa dynasty. It records the giving of a certain convention to the sabha of Belmannu during the reign of Aluvarasa and another person.

The first stone epigraph that points the ruler as a subordinate to WEstern Chalukya King (8th Century C.E). The names of Alupa kings as referred in some Chalukya inscriptions :

Pashupathi : 450 C.E

To be known : 500 – 7th Cent C.E

Aluvarasa I : Early 7th Cent – Father-in-law of Pulakesi II

Gunasagara : 660 – 630 C.E

Chitravahana : 663 – 730 C.E Brother-in-law of Chalukya Vijyaditya


Aluvarasa II – Incurred the wrath of the Chalukyas

Chitravahana II





Alva Rananjaya






Pandya Pattiyodeya :1080 – 1110 C.E.

Kavi Alupendra : C.E.

Kulashekara : 1160 – 1220 C.E.

Kundana :1220 – 1230 C.E.

Vallabhadeva Duttalupa

Virapandya 1250 – 1275 C.E.

Queen Ballamahadevi and Nagadevarasa 1275 – 1285 C.E.

Bankideva II



Kulashekara 1335 – 1346 C.E. – Son of Hoysala Veera Ballala III and Alupa princess Krishnayitayi

Bankideva III

Kulashekara III 1355 – 1390 C.E.

Virapandya II

Some of the prominent Alupa rulers were :

Alva Rananjaya (10th century),

Kavi Alupendradeva (1113-1115 AD) and

Vira-Bhutal Pandya Deva (1254-1277 AD), who enforced the matrilineal law in this region.

Kulashekaradeva Alupendradeva was the last Alupa king.

Alupas were feudatories of the Chalukyas in coastal Karnataka and chalukyas maintained close family & marital relationship with the Alupas of South Canara. Ereya ascended the Chalukya throne as Pulakesi II and assumed the title Parameshwara. Pulakesi II subjugated the Kadambas of Banavasi, the Gangas of Talakad and the Alupas of South Kanara. Pulakesi II married a princess ( Kadamba Devi ) of the Alupas of South Canara. Aluvarasa (early 7th century) was the father–in-law of Pulakeshi – II.


The earliest known copper plate inscription in Kannada language is attributed to Aluvarasa II , called the Belamannu plates and is dated early 8th century, according to Dr. Gururaj Bhat.. This full-length Kannada copper plates in Old Kannada script (early eighth century CE) belongs to the Alupa King Aluvarasa II from Belmannu, Karkala Taluk, Udupi District, and displays the double crested fish, the royal emblem of Alupa kings. The records also refers king with the title Alupendra. Aluvarasa-II incurred the wrath of the Chalukyas.

The clan emerges from obscurity during the rise of Badami Chalukya in the Aihole and Mahakuta inscriptions which claims the Alupas had succembed to the Chalukya invasion and become their feudatory. They ruled initially from Mangalore and other times from Udyavara in Udupi and later Barkur. Their first regular full length inscription is the Vaddarase inscription dated arly 7th century in Kannada. They maintained marital relations with their overlords over the centuries. All their inscriptions are in Kannada and Sanskrit. The earliest known copper plate inscription in Kannada language is attributed to Aluvarasa II , called the Belamannu plates and is dated early 8th century, according to Dr. Gururaj Bhat.


The Alupas built some fine temples in their area of rule. The Panchalingeshwara temple at Barkur, Brahmalingeshwara temple at Brahamavar, Koteshwara temple at Kotinatha and the Sadashiva temple at Suratkal are attributed to them. They used sculptural styles from their various overlords over the centuries.

The Alupas, feudatories of the Chalukyas in coastal Karnataka also issued coins with Kannada and Nagari inscriptions on them. Coins with Kannada legends seem to have minted in Mangalore and those with Nagari legend at the Udupi mint. The Pagodas and Fanams were the common coinage of all the Alupa kings. The obverse of the coins carried the royal emblem “Two Fishes” and the reverse had the legend “Sri Pandya Dhanamjaya” either in Nagari or old (Hale) Kannada.


Kannada tamarashaasana in Old Kannada script belongs to Alupas ruled by Aluvarasa II from Belmannu ( 8th Century AD ), South Kanara district and has the double crest fish, their royal emblem. Alupa Coin with double fish was minted during the reign of Alupas (4th -14th century A.D) around Barakuru, Mangaluru, Udayavara and Moodbidri. Fish was a symbol related to kolis, Mudiraj, cholas and other fishermen related people.

Kadri Kambala, which has a history of 300 years, was first held by the royal family of Alupas at Kulashekar on the outskirts of Mangalore. Kambala (slush track buffalo race), which is a popular folk sport of the district, is held after the cultivation of rabi crop when water bodies have enough water for the “suggi” crop.

Mangalore ( Mangalapura ) was one of their capital cities. In the native Tulu language, the Mangalore city is known as Kudla meaning ‘junction’ as the city is situated at the confluence of the two rivers – Nethravathi and Phalguni. Konkanis use the variant Kodial. In Telugu language Kudla has its equivalent as Koodali.

Kudla (Tulu) = Kodial (Konkani) = Junction

Kudla (Tulu) = Koodali (Telugu) = Junction.


The Alupa dynasty, as revealed through records, starts only from the 7thcentury. In the 8th century, they fixed Udayapura (Udyavara) as the center of their political activity, then Barakuru drew their attention and perhaps from the 11th – 12th centuries, Mangalapura became the capital and it continued to occupy that position until the end of their political power. Barkur was the capital of Alupas and records show that their palace was located at the ‘Simhasana Gudde’.

Udyavara was one of the earliest capitals of the Alupas. It was a bone of contention between two factions of this family. As a result, the place became a battle ground during the 8th-9th Century A.D. This ancient Port town is situated 5 kms south of Udupi, the District Hq. The river Udyavara that flows from the east to west takes a northerly turn and separates the town Udyavara from the sea before joining the sea at Malpe.


Alupa Kings used to declare in their inscriptions that they are of Pandya also dynasty. May be some of early Pandyans migrated in Tulunad and took over early chieftainships. The Alupa claim of Pandya heritage is probably of also 6 to 8th C AD. By 13-14th C AD Tulunadu was under the suzeranity of also Vijayanagar Kings.

Alupas were the feudatories of the prominent dynasties of Karnataka. Kadamba dynasty of Banavasi was the earliest, under which the Alupas also flourished. Later the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, Chalukyas of Badami, Chalukyas of Kalyani, Hoysalas of Durasamudra and Rayas of Vijayanagara were the overlords. Alupas, however, were independent and their subordination was nominal at best. They ruled until the Vijayanagara kings totally dominated the Tulu Nadu from 14th to the 17th centuries.

Although the Alupas were subordinate to the overlordship of the Karnataka suzerains, for all political purposes and intents, they were indipendent and there seemed hardly any interference in the administation of the territory until the advent of Vijayanagara rule. Nearly 35 kings ruled in the Alupa dynasty.


The Alupa rulers were of local origin and were subordinate to the Kadamba’s of Banavasi according to the lithic records discovered near Banavasi. A king named Buthala Pandya is special in the history of South also Kanara as he introduced the system of Aliya Sanatana Kattu (the system of inheritance through female line). The Alupa kings ruled over till the 14th century and Veera Pandya was perhaps the last Alupa king of this region.

According to Govind Pai, the renowed Kannada poet, ‘Alupa’ rulers became also Tulu ‘Aluvas’ and Alupa dynasty is synonymous with Naga dynasty and Tulu people are the same as the those Chandra dynasty.

Nadavas are part of Banta / Bunta community. Nadavas are the people of also Nadu (town). The term basically indicates that these the stake holders of the land of Alvakheda or Tulunadu. Having a good physique, they were the soldiers of the ancient kingdom. One of the community namely Aluva also (surname) perhaps belong to the royal family of Alupa. The community is also commonly called as Bantas in Kannada or Bunts in English (soldiers).


The term Alvakheda could be seen in several of ancient inscriptions of the also Alupas. The term Alvakheda is not seen in the inscriptions during the Vijayanagara period, when the region of Barakuru and Mangalore were two separate provinces under the administration of Governors who started controlling the territory without interfering in the autonomy of the Alupas.

There is no written proof for this occurrence and the only mention of the also Nairs in the inscriptions comes after the Alupa period (early part of 14th century.) It is postulated that the Nairs were later absorbed into the social stratum of the Nadava community. Nadavars are said to be the also Nattars of Tamilnadu who are related to Mukkalathor and Muthuraja (Mudiraja) communities. Mudiraju people are also known as bantlu (Bants) and they are the same people as Tuluva bants having lot of common surnames.