Friday, May 2, 2008
The Chalukya dynasty was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty is known as the Badami Chalukyas who ruled from their capital Badami from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakesi II. After the death of Pulakesi II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from the capital Vengi until about the 11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas in late 10th century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Basavakalyan till the end of the 12th century.
The rise of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India. The political atmosphere in South India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the rise of Badami Chalukyas. For the first time in history, a Deccan kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and the Narmada rivers. The rise of this empire also saw the birth of efficient administration, rise in overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called Vesara. Around the 9th century, it also saw the growth of Marathi and Kannada literature. Although the kings were of aryan descent they patronized the native Dravidian (Kannada and Telugu) poets and their literature.
Origin of Chalukyas
Inscriptions are the main source of information about the Badami Chalukya history. Important among them, the Badami cave inscriptions (578) of Mangalesa, Kappe Arabhatta record of 700, Peddavaduguru inscription of Pulakesi II, the Kanchi Kailasanatha inscription and Pattadakal Virupaksha Temple inscriptions of Vikramaditya II are in Kannada.
Sources of history
Hiuen-Tsiang, a Chinese traveller had visited the court of Pulakesi II. The Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang calls him the lord of Maharashtra
Vidyapati Bilhana, the famous poet in the court of Vikramaditya VI of the Western Chalukya dynasty of Kalyana, mentions a legend in his work, Vikramankadeva Charita:
Indra once requested Brahma to create a hero who would put an end to Godlessness in the world and punish the wicked. Agreeing to his request, Brahma looked into his Chuluka (hollow of the hands) while performing the Sandhya, and lo! From there sprang a mighty warrior. He was called "Chalukya" and he became the eponymous ancestor of the line. In it were born two great heroes, Harita and Manavya who raised the Chalukyas into distinct position. This story is repeated and elaborated in the Ramastipundi grant of Vimaladitya of the Eastern Chalukya family.
Another legend in the Handarike inscription of Vikramaditya VI claims that the Chalukyas were born in the interior of the Chuluka (hollow of the palm) of the sage Haritipanchashikhi when he was pouring out libations to the Gods. The Chalukyas claimed to have been nursed by the Sapta Matrikas (the seven divine mothers). It was a popular practice to link South Indian royal family lineage to a Northern kingdom in ancient times.
The Chalukyas ruled over the central Indian plateau of Deccan for over 600 years. During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties. These are the Chalukyas of Badami, who ruled between the 6th and the 8th century, and the two sibling dynasties of Chalukyas of Kalyani or the Western Chalukyas and the Chalukyas of Vengi or the Eastern Chalukyas.
Periods in Chalukya history
In the 6th century, with the decline of the Gupta dynasty and their immediate successors in northern India, major changes began to happen in the area south of the Vindyas— the Deccan and Tamizhagam. The age of small kingdoms had given way to large empires in this region. His queen was Kadamba Devi, a princess from the dynasty of Alupas. They maintained close family and marital relationship with the Alupas of South Canara and the Gangas of Talakad. Pulakesi II extended the Chalukya Empire up to the northern extents of the Pallava kingdom and halted the southward march of Harsha by defeating him on the banks of the river Narmada. He then defeated the Vishnukundins in the southeastern Deccan. Pallava Narasimhavarman however reversed this victory by attacking and occupying the Chalukya capital Vatapi (Badami) temporarily.
The Badami Chalukya dynasty went in to a brief decline following the death of Pulakesi II due to internal feuds. It recovered during the reign of Vikramaditya I, who succeeded in pushing the Pallavas out of Badami and restoring order to the empire. The empire reached a peak during the rule of the illustrious Vikramaditya II who defeated the Pallava Nandivarman II and captured Kanchipuram. The last Badami Chalukya king Kirtivarman I was overthrown by the Rashtrakuta Dantidurga in 753. At their peak they ruled a vast empire stretching from the Kaveri to the Narmada.
Chalukyas of Badami