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Title: Gandaberunda  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Nayakas of Keladi, Coat of arms of Karnataka, Karnataka
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Left:Gandaberunda as roof sculpture, Rameshwara temple, Keladi, Shivamogga District. Right:Decorative motif in the ceiling of Brihadeeswarar temple

The Gandaberunda (also known as the Berunda) is a two-headed mythological bird outside of main Hindu mythology thought to possess magical strength. It is used as the official emblem by the Karnataka government because of its immense strength,capable of dealing with ultimate forces of destruction,and it is seen as an intricately sculptured motif in a Hindu temple.[1]


The bird is generally depicted as clutching elephants in its talons and beaks demonstrating its immense strength. In a coin (kasu) found in Madurai, it is shown holding a snake in its beak.[2] All 2-dimensional depictions show a symmetrical image similar to the Double-headed eagle, other images show the long tail feathers resembling a peacock which is the national bird of India. In the Chennakeshava temple of Belur (1113), Karnataka, Gandaberunda (2-faced bird identified with Vishnu) depiction is a carved scene of "chain of destruction". Initially, a deer is prey to a large python, followed by being lifted by an elephant and a lion attacking the elephant, and the lion shown as devoured by Sharabha. The last scene depicted is of Gandaberunda destroying Sharabha.[3] The Gandaberunda was a physical form displayed by Narasimha, Man-Lion incarnation of Vishnu.

After Narasimha had slain demon Hiranyakashipu, through the taste of blood, Narasimha did not let go of his dreadful form. Demigods were even more afraid of the supreme lord now, than before of the demon. Shiva, the best friend of Vishnu, thus incarnated himself as Sharabha, a part-lion and part-bird beast which was the terror of the lion. Gandaberunda, having two heads, fearful rows of teeth, black in complexion and with wide blazing wings fought with Shiva-sharabha for eighteen days and finally held it between his two beaks and killed Sharabha.[4]


A roof sculpture depicting a Gandaberunda is found on the roof of the Rameshwara temple in the temple town of Keladi in Shimoga District, which was the capital of the Keladi Nayakas. The Gandaberunda was also used by the Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore as the Royal emblem. The Karnataka Government adopted this symbol as the state symbol and can be found on bus terminals and tickets issued by Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. Coins(Gold pagoda or gadyana) from the rule of Achyuta Deva Raya are thought to be the first to use the Gandaberunda on currency.[5]


Gandaberunda is the official emblem of Karnataka state government.It was the royal insignia of erstwhile Mysore kingdom. The Deccan herald quotes "When Dasara completed four hundred years this year, another major feature associated with Mysore kingdom, the royal insignia Gandaberunda quietly celebrated 500th year.

The City Herald tried to dig into the roots of the Gandaberunda, its adoption as royal insignia and stumbled upon some exciting stories associated with it. The Gandaberunda is an imaginary two headed bird. Even after five centuries its first usage in the mints for making coins during the period of Vijayanagar empire around 1510, the Gandaberunda is still flying high as the symbol of seat of power of Karnataka - the official insignia of State.

Though the 400th year of Dasara, which was tipped for the most grand celebrations, failed to live up to its expectations, the 500th year of adoption of Gandaberunda got a floral celebration, with a 10 ft flower model of the imaginary bird put on display at Dasara flower show here.

Historian Prof P V Nanjaraje Urs, who has done a wide research on the Mysore State, tells that the Gandaberunda was first used as a sign on coins in Vijayanagar mints, many of coins which still exists. Since then, the tradition passed on to generations. In mid 16th century, history has it that Yaduraya embarked on a Vijaya Yathra across the Mysore State to consolidate their rank. During the Yathra, an ascetic encountered and gave him a red cloth. The King offered pooja to it and accepted it as a blessing. He won all acclaim thereafter." Following his stature raising to new heights, he announced red cloth as Rajdhwaja or State flag. To add the principles of dharma and sathya, the flag got a slogan as "Sathymevodhbhavaramyaham" with imaginary bird Gandaberunda. The bird was surrounded by elephant headed lion on two sides and a lion carrying Mahishasura’s head on the top.

Bengaluru FC, a football club based in Bangalore, has a Gandaberunda in the club crest.

Historically it has been used in the crests and official seals of the:

  1. Chalukyas
  2. Chagis
  3. Kota Kings (Dharanikota Kings)
  4. Hoysalas
  5. Keladi Chiefs
  6. Kadambas
  7. Nandyalas (Vijayanagara Empire)
  8. Gobburis (Vijayanagara Empire)
  9. Wodeyars of Mysore

In Media

Ganda Berunda is a Kannada film directed by S.V. Rajendrasingh Babu and produced by Vajramuni. The film was released in the year 1984. The music was composed by Sathyam. Bollywood actor Amrish Puri has performed negative role in this movie.[6]

Similarity with the emblem of holy roman empire

The double-headed eagle is also commonly associated with the Byzantine Empire. and the Holy Roman Empire established by Merivingian kings. In Byzantine heraldry, the heads represent the dual sovereignty of the Emperor (secular and religious) and/or dominance of the Byzantine Emperors over both the East and west. If you look at the emblem of Ayuthya kingdom of Thailand, then the kingdom also carry this sort of Emblem. This mysterious emblem is clue to world history.[7]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ganesh Coins of Tamilnadu, 13.48
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

1.Brahma took the avatar of Gandaberunda & not vishnu

External links

  • "Evolution of Gandabherunda"-article by S. Srikanta Sastri
  • A unique sculpture of Gandaberunda or berunda from Balligavi: [1]
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