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TRIBHUVANA MAHADEVI (c. 846 CE)


There are at least three queens named Tribhuvana Mahadevi in Orissan history, but the most famous was the first of them, Tribhuvana, the Bhauma-Kara queen. She also took the titles Gosvamini and Sindagauri. She was the daughter of Rajamalla-I of Western Ganga dynasty of Mysore and was married to Santikaradeva I of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty. According to contemporary Arab and Persian geographers, the royal power of Bhaum belonged to a woman who had an army of 300,000 soldiers. The Arab geographer Ibn Khurdadhbih speaks of this famous woman ruler of Orissa in his geography in 846. She does not appear to have been a regent and ruled in her own right, issuing proclamations and copper plate inscriptions under her own name.

According to contemporary records and copper plates of Orissa, during her rule the country advanced in three branches of administration; foes were extirpated, glory spread abroad and there was harmony among the people. One such plate, which compares her with the goddesses Katyayani and Sri, records her handover of power to her grandson Lonabhuhara, and describes her powers and achievements, stating, ‘I kept my officials in check so that they did not oppress the people. I helped those in distress by maintaining charitable houses and by making offerings to the poor and the needy. I provided resources against the disasters of famine, war and pestilence. I promoted education, the arts and architecture. I preserved the caste system. I made the trade flourish of large elephants, pepper, aloes, rattan, cotton, and the white conch that is blown like a trumpet.’

She foiled invasions by the Palas of Bengal and the Rastrakutas and was a great patron of art and architecture. Her period of rule overlaps with the early flourishing of the Kalinga school of architecture in Orissa. Later Bhaumakara queens also made their mark, such as Prithvi Mahadevi, wife of Maharaja Lalitaharadeva, Gauri Mahadevi, Vakula Mahadevi and Dandi Mahadevi who ascended the throne in 926. Some of these queens were regents, but all issued coins and were active in the administration.
 
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