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  Indian History #13 (544.4 KiB, 17,804 hits)

THE (LATER) CHALUKYAS

Overview

  • This article deals with the later Chalukyas, who ruled south central India including Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in the 10th-12th centuries CE
  • For the earlier Chalukyas who ruled in the 6th century from Badami, see this earlier article
  • The later Chalukyas were divided into two contemporaneous kingdoms:
    • Western Chalukyas who ruled from Kalyani (Karnataka)
    • Eastern Chalukyas who ruled from Vengi (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Both the Western Chalukyas and Eastern Chalukyas were descendants of the Chalukyas of Badami. In a sense they were cousins, but they were in conflict with each other
  • The Eastern Chalukyas were allied with the Cholas, and the Eastern Chalukya kingdom was absorbed into the Chola Empire in the 12th century. On the other hand, the Western Chalukyas were bitterly opposed to the Cholas, and the two were in constant conflict for over two centuries
WESTERN CHALUKYAS
  • The Western Chalukyas ruled most of the western Deccan between the 10th and 12th centuries
  • The Western Chalukyas came into prominence under Tailapa II after overthrowing the Rashtrakutas in 973 CE.
  • The capital of the Western Chalukyas was Kalyani (Karnataka). Their territories included most of Karnataka, almost all of Maharashtra and parts of Andhra Pradesh
  • The most important ruler of the Western Chalukyas was Vikramaditya VI (1076-1126 CE)
  • The Western Chalukyas were in constant conflict with the Cholas over control of the fertile region of Vengi in Andhra Pradesh
  • A series of defeats by the more powerful Cholas gradually weakened the kingdom, with its territory shrinking significantly in the mid 11th century (c. 1050 CE)
  • The continuous wars with the Cholas eventually exhausted the Western Chalukyas, and the dynasty was overthrown by feudatories including the Hoysalas in 1190 CE

Society under the Western Chalukyas

  • The Western Chalukyas followed the administrative and social set up of the preceding Rashtrakuta kingdom to a large extent
  • They minted punch marked gold coins, called Pagodas, with Kannada and Nagari legends
  • Merchants organised themselves into large guilds that transcended political divisions, allowing their operations to be largely unaffected by wars. Powerful guilds included the
    • Manigramam (Cochin)
    • Nagarattar (Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu)
    • Anjuvannam (Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu)
    • Ainnurruvar (Aihole, Karnataka) – this was the most powerful guild
  • These trade guilds fiercely protected their trade interests and recorded their achievements in inscriptions known as Prasasti
  • Trade ties flourished with Magadha, Nepal, Cambodia, Persia, China and the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad.
  • Important trade items included precious stones like diamond, emeralds, topaz etc and spices such as cardamom, saffron and cloves
  • With the rise of the Western Chalukyas and the Cholas, patronage for Jainism declined. Buddhism had already been in decline in South India since the 8th century following the preachings of the Adi Shankara
  • Jainism gradually declined and only flourished in two regions: Shravanabelagola and Kadambahalli, both in Karnataka
  • The only places of Buddhist worship that remained were Dambal and Balligavi, both in Karnataka

Literature under the Western Chalukyas

  • The Western Chalukyas patronised Kannada and Sanskrit literature
  • Ranna (c. 980 CE) wrote in Kannada the Saahasabheema Vijayam which narrates the duel between Bhima and Duryodhana, and the Ajitha Purana which describes the life of the second Jain tirthankara Ajithanatha
  • A unique and native form of Kannada literature called Vachanas developed at this time. They were written by mystics who expressed their devotion to God in simple language to be understood by the masses. Basavanna, Akka Mahadevi and Allama Prabhu are famous among them
  • The Kashmiri poet Bilhana wrote the Vikramankadeva Charita in Sanskrit, which recounts the life of Vikaramaditya VI
  • The Sanskrit scholar Vijnaneshwara wrote the Mitakshara, a treatise on law. The composition, which was based on earlier writings, was later translated into English by the British and given currency in the Indian court system

The Mahadeva Temple at Itagi (Karnataka) was built in 1112 CE by Mahadeva, a general in the army of the Western Chalukya ruler Vikramaditya VI

  • The architecture of the Western Chalukyas was mainly in the Karnata Dravida style, drawing from the Dravida style
  • The Western Chalukya architecture formed a link between the Badami Chalukya architecture of the 7th century and the Hoysala architecture of the 12th century
  • The vimana of their temples is a compromise between the plain style of the early Chalukyas and the decorative details of the Hoysalas
  • The architecture of the Western Chalukyas was concentrated around the Tungabhadra region of central Karnataka
  • Notable temples include Mahadevi Temple at Itagi, Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi, Mallikarjuna Temple at Kuruvatti and Kallesvara Temple at Bagali
EASTERN CHALUKYAS
  • The Eastern Chalukyas ruled parts of Andhra Pradesh from the 7th to the 12th centuries CE
  • The capital city was Vengi (Andhra Pradesh)
  • The Eastern Chalukyas were descendants of the Chalukyas of Badami (Vatapi), but outlived them by many generations
  • The Eastern Chalukyas developed as an independent kingdom following the death of Pulakesin II in 642 CE
  • Much weaker than their distant cousins and rivals the Western Chalukyas, the Eastern Chalukyas formed a close marital alliance with the Cholas
  • The fertile Vengi region of the Eastern Chalukyas was the principal cause of continuous conflict between the Western Chalukyas and the Cholas
  • Following generations of intermarriage, the Eastern Chalukya kingdom was merged into the Chola Empire in 1130 CE
  • The Eastern Chalukyas were instrumental in the development of Telugu literature
  • Nannaya Bhatta’s Mahabharata is the oldest available literary work in Telugu (mid 11th century)

THE HOYSALAS

Overview

  • The Hoysalas ruled Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu between the 11th and 14th centuries
  • The capital city of the Hoysalas was Belur, but later moved to Haleibidu
  • The Hoysalas are noted especially for their magnificent temple architecture
  • Hoysalas were also instrumental in encouraging Kannada literature
  • The Hoysalas rose to prominence under Vishnuvardhana (c. 1120 CE), however were still subordinate to the Western Chalukyas at the time
  • Overthrowing the Western Chalukyas, the Hoysalas became an independent kingdom under Veera Ballala II (c. 1187-1193 CE)
  • Among contemporary South Indian kingdoms, the Hoysalas were the last to fall to Muslim invasions from the north. They resisted invasions by Alla-ud-din-Khilji’s general Malik Kafur until 1343, and the kingdom was then absorbed into the newly forming Vijayanagara Empire

The Somathapura Temple at Somanathapura (Karnataka) was built in 1268 CE by the Hoysala ruler Narasimha III

Economy, society and administration

  • The Hoysala economy, society and administration pretty much followed that of its predecessors
  • Senior ministers were called Pancha Pradhanas, ministers for foreign affairs were called Sandhivigrahi, chief treasurer Mahabhandari. Chief of army was Dandanayaka and Chief Justice was Dharmidhakari
  • Administrative divisions included Nadu, Vishaya, Kampana and Desha in descending order of their size.
  • An elite and well trained force of personal bodyguards called Garudas protected the royal family at all times. Their loyalty was so complete that they committed suicide upon the master’s death. Hero stones erected in memory of these bodyguards are called Garuda pillars
  • The Hoysala rulers were mainly Vaishnavites. Hoysala period is known for the preachings of Ramanujacharya, Basavanna and Madhavacharya, well known Vaishnava saints

Literature

  • Although Sanskrit remained popular, Kannada literature was particularly favoured by the Hoysalas
  • In 1209, Jaina scholar Janna wrote Yashodhacharite, a story of a king who intends to sacrifice two young boys to a local deity
  • Rudrabhatta, a Smartha Brahmin, wrote Jagannatha Viajaya, relating the life of Lord Krishna up to his battle with demon Banasura
  • Harihara, a Vaishnava, wrote Girijakalyana which describes the marriage of Lord Shiva to Parvati
  • In Sanskrit, Madhavacharya wrote the Rigbhasya on Brahmasutras, a logical explanation of the Vedas

Architecture

  • The Hoysalas are best known for their architecture, especially in building temples
  • The Hoysala architectural style, called Karnata Dravida, was an offshoot of the Chalukya style, which borrowed from the Dravida style
  • A prominent feature of Hoysala architecture is attention to detail and skilled craftsmanship. This high level of detail was achieved using soapstone for construction
  • Important temples include the Chennakesava Temple at Belur, Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu and the Kesava Temple at Somanathapura
Temple Location Built by Notes
Chennakesava Temple Belur (Karnataka) Vishnuvardhana (c. 1117 CE) Deity is Vishnu

Unusually large compared to other Hoysala temples

Hoysaleswara Temple Halebidu (Karnataka) Vishnuvardhana Deity is Shiva

Famous for extremely articulate and detailed sculptures

Contains a Garuda pillar in honour of Kuruva Lakshma, bodyguard of Veera Ballala II

Kesava Temple Somanathapura (Karnataka) Narasimha III (c. 1268 CE) Deity is Vishnu

THE (LATER) PANDYAS

  • The Pandyas, along with the Cheras and the Cholas, are considered to be among the oldest Indian dynasties
  • The Pandyas are mentioned as the hosts of the third Tamil Sangam (3rd century BC-3rd century CE), and as hosts of the supposedly even earlier first two Sangams
  • However, this article only deals with the later Pandyas, who rose to prominence in the 13th century, and about whom concrete literary, archaeological and epigraphical evidence is available
  • Throughout their existence, the capital city of the Pandyas was Madurai
  • After several centuries of submission under the Cholas, the Pandyas rose to prominence under the Maravarman Sundara Pandyan in the 13th century (1216-1238 CE). In 1217 CE, Maravarman Pandyan defeated the Chola monarch Rajaraja III, thereby ending centuries of Chola suzerainty in southern India
  • At its peak, the Pandyan kingdom extended from the Godavari in the north to northern Sri Lanka in the south
  • The Pandyan kingdom reached its zenith under Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan (1250-1268 CE) who dissolved the Chola Empire, which had already been in decline
  • Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan was given the title of Pon Veindha Perumal
    for gold plating the roofs of the Chidambaram Temple and the Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam. He also built a gate at the Srirangam Temple engraving the names of all four dynasties of Tamil Nadu i.e. Cheras, Cholas, Pallavas and Pandyas, recognising the contribution of each
  • The Pandyan kingdom was disestablished in 1311 following defeat by Malik Kafur, the general of Alla-ud-din-Khilji, who was on an expedition to subjugate South India.
  • The city of Madurai passed to the Madurai Sultanate, established in 1335 CE by Sayyid Jalal-ud-din Ahsan. However, the Sultanate itself was dissolved by the rising Vijayanagara Empire in 1375 CE
  • Following this, Madurai was ruled by Nayaks, governors of the Vijayanagara Empire. Following the collapse of Vijayanagar in 1646 CE, the Nayaks ruled Madurai independently until the arrival of the British in 1736 CE

LAST WEEK: CHOLAS
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  Indian History #10 (562.2 KiB, 6,143 hits)

THE CHALUKYAS OF BADAMI

This post focuses on the early Chalukyas (6th-8th centuries CE) of Badami. The later Chalukyas (Western and Eastern) will be dealt with in later posts

Overview

Chalukya territories under Pulakesi II (c. 630 CE)

Chalukya territories under Pulakesi II (c. 630 CE)

  • The Chalukyas ruled large parts of central and southern India between the 6th and 12th centuries
  • The Chalukyas consisted of three related dynasties
    • Badami Chalukyas – earliest dynasty, 6th-8th centuries CE
    • Eastern Chalukyas – 6th – 11th centuries
    • Western Chalukyas – 10th-12th centuries
  • Chalukya rule was concentrated around present day Karnataka
  • The Chalukyas were the earliest known proponents of Kannada and were an important contributor to the growth of Kannada language
  • Inscriptions from Chalukya period are mainly in Kannada and Sanskrit

About the Chalukyas of Badami

  • The Chalukya kingdom was established by Pulakesi I in 543 CE
  • The capital of the Chalukya kingdom was Vatapi (modern Badami)
  • This family of early Chalukyas is known as Chalukyas of Badami
  • The Chalukyas of Badami ruled over all of Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh

About Pulakesi II

  • Pulakesi II, the son of Pulakesi I, was the most famous Chalukya emperor
  • Pulakesi II defeated Harshavardhana on the banks of the Narmada and halted the southern expansion of Harsha’s kingdom
  • Pulakesi II also extended the Chalukya kingdom up to the northern portions of the Pallava kingdom in the south
  • Pulakesi II is famous for the Aihole inscription, which gives details regarding his defeat of Harsha

Chalukyas and Pallavas

The Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal, Karnataka

The Virupaksha Temple at Pattadakal, Karnataka

  • The Chalukyas of Badami and the Pallavas (of Kanchipuram) were in constant and continuous conflict for more than 200 years
  • Pulakesi II defeated the Pallava king Mahendravarman I and occupied large parts of northern Pallava kingdom
  • However, Mahendravarman’s son Narasimhavarman I defeated Pulakesi II, annexed large parts of the Chalukya kingdom and occupied Badami temporarily
  • This was again reversed by Chalukya Vikramaditya II who defeated Pallava Nandivarman II and carved a Kannada inscription on the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram

Architecture under the Chalukyas of Badami

  • The architecture of Badami Chalukyas marked an important phase in development of South Indian architecture
  • Their style of architecture is also called Karnata Dravida architecture
  • Most of their architectural work is concentrated in small area of the Chalukyan heartland in northern Karnataka
  • The earliest phase of architecture consists of cave temples at Aihole and Badami (6th century). These temples had plan exteriors but exceptionally well finished interiors including pillared verandah, columned hall etc
  • The second phase was in Aihole and Badami (7th century).
    Important temples include: Lad Khan Temple (Aihole), and Meguti Jain Temple, Durga Temple, Huccimalli Gudi Temple at Badami
  • The final and mature phase was in Pattadakal and Badami (8th century). Famous temples include: Bhutanatha Temples at Badami, Sangameswara, Virupaksha and Mallikarjuna Temples at Pattadakal
  • Chalukya architecture is known for its fusion of nagara and dravida architectural styles
  • Pattadakal is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

THE PALLAVAS

Pallava territories under Narasimhavarman I (c. 650 CE)

Pallava territories under Narasimhavarman I (c. 650 CE)

Overview

  • The Pallavas ruled northern Tamil Nadu and all of Andhra Pradesh between the 3rd and 9th centuries CE
  • The capital of the Pallavas was Kanchipuram
  • The most famous kings of the Pallavas were Mahendravarman I (600-630 CE) and Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)
  • Throughout their reign, the Pallavas were in constant and continuous conflict with the Chalukyas of Badami as well the Cholas and Pandiyas to the south
  • The Pallavas are most famous for their patronage of architecture (eg at Mahabalipuram)
  • Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsand visited Kanchipuram during Pallava rule and extolled their benign rule
  • Pallava Simhavishnu, along with Pandya Kadungon, are credited with ending the much disliked Kalabhra rule in Tamil Nadu c. 600 CE
  • The official language of the Pallavas was Tamil, but they patronised Sanskrit and Telugu as well

About Mahendravarman I (600-630 CE)

  • Mahendravarman I was a great patron of literature, art and architecture
  • He is the author of the Sanskrit play Mattivilasa Prahasana
  • He was initially a Jain, but reconverted to Hinduism under the Saiva saint Appar
  • Mahendravarman I is considered to be the pioneer of rock cut architecture among the Pallavas
  • He also contributed greatly to the Sanskrit dramatised dance worship Kuttiyattam
  • He is also credited with inventing the seven string veena called Parivadhini

About Narasimhavarman I (630-668 CE)

  • Narasimhavarman I was the most famous of Pallava rulers
  • He avenged his father’s defeat at the hands of the Chalukyas by defeating Pulakesi II in 642 CE and occupying Badami (Vatapi) temporarily. He then assumed the title Vatapikondan
  • Narasimhavarman I was also known by the name Mammallan
    (great wrestler)
  • The Chinese Buddhist traveller Hiuen Tsang visited Kanchipuram during his reign
  • The majority of the monuments at Mahabalipuram were constructed during the reign of Narasimhavarman I

About the monuments at Mahabalipuram

The Descent of the Ganges at Mahabalipuram, the largest open air rock-relief in the world

The Descent of the Ganges at Mahabalipuram, the largest open air rock-relief in the world

  • The known structures at Mahabalipuram were built by Narasimhavarman I
  • The structures are mostly rock-cut and monolithic
  • The monuments are Mahabalipuram have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1984)
  • There are four main categories of monuments at Mahabalipuram
    • Ratha Temples: temples in the form of chariots. There are five such structures making the Pancha Rathas
    • Mandapas: cave sanctuaries covered with bas-reliefs. There are 11 such structures
    • Rock relief: sculpted bas-relief on rocks
    • Temples: temples cut out of rock

List of important structures at Mahabalipuram

Structure Category Notes
Decent of the Ganges

(Arjuna’s Penance)

Bas-relief Giant open-air relief carved out of monolithic rock

Largest open-air rock relief in the world

Interpreted to describe the descent of the river Ganges to earth (or)

to describe the penance of Arjuna to receive a boon from Siva

Also known as Bhagiratha’s Penance

Varaha Cave Temple Rock-cut cave temple Small monolithic temple

Other cave temples include Krishna Cave Temple, Pancha Pandava Cave Temple

Five Rathas Rock-cut temple The Pancha Rathas consist of five temples, each in the shape of a chariot

The temples were all carved out of a single large piece of stone

Shore Temple Structural temple Built with blocks of granite

Sits on the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal

Unlike other temples at Mahabalipuram, this is structural not rock-cut

It is the earliest important structural temple in southern India

Recent archaeological findings at Mahabalipuram

  • There has been a long standing legend about the Seven Pagodas at Mahabalipuram, i.e. seven rock temples supposedly built on the shore. Until recently, no evidence to support the legend was found
  • However, the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004 disrupted the shoreline and has exposed previously sunken monuments at Mahabalipuram
  • The most significant development was the uncovering of a large lion statue on the shore, dated to the 7th century
  • Also uncovered was a small brick structure dated to the Sangam period, before the time of the Pallavas
  • Following this, the ASI and the Indian Navy explored the waters off Mahabalipuram in 2005 and found remains of two temples, one cave temple and a stone wall
  • Further research is awaited

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