Gandabherunda: The 'terrible' bird that's a common Rangoli motif

Gandabherunda is an imaginary creature represented by two birds having conjoined bodies, tracing its origins back to the Puranas with some fantastical episodes. Berunda, in Sanskrit literally means terrible. The bird is generally depicted as an avatar of Vishnu, clutching elephants in its talons and beak, alluding to its immense strength.

Kannadigas will especially know about this bird with magical powers, as it is also the official state emblem of Karnataka. Historically, it has been used in the crests, coinage and official seals of several kingdoms including Chalukyas, Chagis, Hoysalas, Vijayanagara and most recently the Woodeyars of Mysore. Carved images of the Gandabherunda are also found in the Shivneri and Raigad forts of Maharashtra. It is a common Rangoli motif in Karnataka and certain parts of Maharashtra.

There is also a possible link of the Gandabherunda with the double-headed eagle used later by the Roman/Byzantine empires from which it spread to the rest of Europe. Let us know in the comments if you know more about this mystical creature!

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