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KOLAVATI (11TH CENTURY)


Kolavati was queen of Orissa and a great builder of temples. She belonged to the Solar dynasty by birth and was married to the powerful king Chandrahara of the Somavansi dynasty. Chandrahara was responsible for freeing Koshala and Utkal from the Cholas. He died in 1054 leaving Kolavati and her son Udyotakesari, who succeeded him as Mahasivagupta IV. As was the practice in Orissa, Kolavati continued to manage large parts of the kingdom including large building projects such as the Brahmeshwar temple in the Siddhatirtha area at Ekamra, now in Bhubaneswar, commissioned in the eighteenth year of her son’s reign and completed between 1055 and 1065. The temple possesses four smaller temples at four corners and is surrounded by a stone compound. One of the inscriptions, now believed lost, stated that Kolavati presented many beautiful women to the temple. This is possibly one of the early pieces of evidence for the existence of the devdasi tradition, or the practice of dedicating female slaves to service at the temple. They were trained as dancers, musicians and sacred courtesans.
 
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