Not much is known of the early history of Southern India, comprising roughly the peninsula to the south of the Turigabhadra and Krisna rivers. Its population chiefly consists of what are called the Pre-Dravidian and Dravidian races. Among the former are the Minavar, the Villavar, and other cognate tribes, (who represent the earliest inhabitants of the land. The Dravidians, however, are believed to be “later immigrants.” They had developed a higher culture, and their principal members, the Tamils, attained so dominant a position in Southern India as to give its greater part the name Tamilakam in ancient times. Then came the Aryans, and there are dim traditions of their southward movements reaching back to the age of the Vedic. Risi Agastya, who is said to have established Brahmanical settlements on the distant Podiyur hill (Tinnevelly district), besides those in the Deccan. With the influx of the Aryans, an important and vigorous element was, no doubt, introduced into the body politic of the South, but beyond superimposing their religion and to some extent their institutions, they could not essentially alter or modify the structure of Dravidian society, languages, and customs. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

During the Kushana Dynasty, an indigenous power, the Satavahana Kingdom (first century B.C.-third century A.D.), rose in the Deccan in southern India. The Satavahana, or Andhra, Kingdom was considerably influenced by the Mauryan political model, although power was decentralized in the hands of local chieftains, who used the symbols of Vedic religion and upheld the varnashramadharma . The rulers, however, were eclectic and patronized Buddhist monuments, such as those in Ellora (Maharashtra) and Amaravati (Andhra Pradesh). Thus, the Deccan served as a bridge through which politics, trade, and religious ideas could spread from the north to the south. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Dravidian social order was based on different ecoregions rather than on the Aryan varna paradigm, although the Brahmans had a high status at a very early stage. Segments of society were characterized by matriarchy and matrilineal succession — which survived well into the nineteenth century — cross-cousin marriage, and strong regional identity. Tribal chieftains emerged as "kings" just as people moved from pastoralism toward agriculture, sustained by irrigation based on rivers, small-scale tanks (as man-made ponds are called in India) and wells, and brisk maritime trade with Rome and Southeast Asia. *

Ancient Southern Indian States

The traditional division of Southern India was into three kingdoms: 1) the Ceras or Keralas of the Malabar coast, occupying what are at present known as the States of Cochin and Travancore; 2) the Pandyas, whose territories included the modern districts of Madura and Tinnevelly; 3) and the Cholas, who ruled the tract to the north of the Pandya dominions up to the Pennar river along the east coast, called accordingly Colawandahm, from which is derived the English name Coromandel. The boundaries of these realms varied as their power waxed or waned in the course of their dynastic intrigues and internecine wars. There were also other petty principalities, too numerous to mention, but their chiefs maintained a precarious existence inconstant dread of their stronger neighbours. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

As with Pataliputra in the northeast and Taxila in the northwest (in modern Pakistan), the city of Madurai, the Pandyan capital (in modern Tamil Nadu), was the center of intellectual and literary activities. Poets and bards assembled there under royal patronage at successive concourses and composed anthologies of poems, most of which have been lost. By the end of the first century B.C., South Asia was crisscrossed by overland trade routes, which facilitated the movements of Buddhist and Jain missionaries and other travelers and opened the area to a synthesis of many cultures. [Source: Library of Congress]

It is noteworthy that none of the great southern kingdoms is referred to in Vedic literature, nor do they appear to have been known to the Sanskrit grammarian, Panini. But I^atyayana, the celebrated commentator on the AstJdhyayi, whom Sir Ramkrishna Bhandarkar assigns to “the first half of the fourth century before Christ,’ 2 was acquainted with both the Pandyas and the Cholas. They are mentioned along with the Keralaputras (i.e., the Keralas; in the second Rock Eclict of Ashoka also. Megasthenes, the Seleucid ambass’ador at the court of Cahdragupta Maurya, speaks of the Pahdyan kingdom, its wealth, and the strength of its army; and the Jlrtbasdstra of Kautilya bears obvious evidence of familiarity with the South. Then, in the, Ramayana an allusion is made to the grandeur of Madura, the Pandya capital. Next, Patanjali (circa 150 B.C.) knew Kanci (Conjeeveram) and Kerala (Malabar); and the author of the Periplus \c. 81 A.D.) and the geographer Ptolemy (c. 140 A.D.) give some details regarding the principal ports and marts of the South. All these references doubtless indicate that the three kingdoms existed from a fairly remote antiquity.

Southern India in Greco-Roman Times

Discoveries of Roman gold coins in various sites attest to extensive South Indian links with the outside world. The prosperity of Southern India was due to the fact that it produced spices, pepper, ginger, pearls, beryls, precious stones, and other articles of luxury, then in great demand among the peoples of the world. Thus, there grew up early a flourishing trade with western countries like Arabia, Chaldea, and Egypt, and also with the Far East and the Malay islands. We learn from the Bible that the “Ships of Tarshish” sent by Hiram, king of Tyre, brought for the temple constructed by the latter’s mighty ally Soloman “ivory, apes, and peacocks” and “a great plenty of almug trees and precious stones” from Ophir (modern Sopara in the Bombay Presidency). Some of these commodities must have come from the South, as rite Hebrew. word tttki-im for peacock appears to be connected with the Tamil term tokai. Ancient Egypt also imported muslin, cinnamon etc. from Southern India, and one remarkable relic of commercial relations between the two countries is the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, a Greek farce on papyrus containing the story of a Greek lady who was ship-wrecked somewhere on the Kanarese coast. Likewise, the Greeks got ginger, pepper, and rice, etc. from South India, as the Greek words for them seem to have been derived from Tamil names. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942] About 45 A.D. Hippalus, an Alexandrian merchant, discovered the phenomenon of monsoons, which made it possible for mariners to cross the Arabian Sea in a much shorter time than they could do by keeping close to the coast. This gave considerable fillip to trade between South India and the Roman Empire. Pliny informs us that Roman gold to the extent of over a million sterling flowed annually into India in return for spices, pepper, pearls, beryls, tortoise-shell, aromatics, silks, and other Oriental luxuries; and this estimate can hardly be regarded as an exaggeration, considering the large finds of Roman coins of the first two centuries A.D. at several places in Southern India.

To further their trade, Roman merchants are said to have established settlements at certain ports like Kaverlpaddanam (Puhar) and Muziris (Cranganorc), where they even built a temple of Augustus. Tamil writers also speak of “Yavana” ships visiting their ports with wine, vases, and gold, which were exchanged for the products of South India. Indeed, we are told that Dravidian rulers sometimes employed as their bodyguards “powerful Yavanas, dumb Mleclhas, clad in long coats and armour” — so impressed were they by the smartness, prowess, and constancy of these foreigners. Thus, South India was early brought into contact with the outer world, and her people^ grew mighty and prosperous by their maritime and commercial activities.

Early Tamil Kingdoms

Farther south were three ancient Tamil kingdoms — Chera (on the west), Chola (on the east), and Pandya (in the south) — frequently involved in internecine warfare to gain regional supremacy. They are mentioned in Greek and Ashokan sources as lying at the fringes of the Mauryan Empire. A corpus of ancient Tamil literature, known as Sangam (academy) works, including Tolkappiam, a manual of Tamil grammar by Tolkappiyar, provides much useful information about their social life from 300 B.C. to A.D. 200. There is clear evidence of encroachment by Aryan traditions from the north into a predominantly indigenous Dravidian culture in transition. *

Ancient literature describes a homeland of the Tamils—the dominant ethnic group in southern India—that more or less corresponds with the modern state of Tamil Nadu. Writing, urbanization, and other aspects of classical Indian culture appear to have been introduced by sea between the 5th and 2nd centuries B.C. The earliest Tamil inscriptions are in Jain caves, dated to about the end of the 1st century B.C. Beginning in the 2nd century B.C. large irrigation systems were built, especially on the Kaveri River, and increased agricultural productivity made the creation of major kingdoms and civilizations possible.

The Tamils were never absorbed by the north Indian kingdoms. The Pandyan kingdom dates back to the 2nd century B.C. According to ancient Tamil literature it was founded by the daughter Herakles with help from 500 elephants,, 4000 cavalry, 13,000 infantry and Roman ships. The Pandiya kingdom produced Tamil Sangam literature, unique poetic books written in the A.D. 1st to 3rd centuries that describe trade with Europeans. Poompuhar was the center of a Tamil dynasty that traded with the Far East, Rome and Egypt in the A.D. 2nd century but was destroyed by a tsunami in the 6th century. The ruins now lie in the sea about three kilometers from the sea. Other Tamil kingdoms included Cholas on the Kaveri Basin, the Ceras in Kerala, and the great Pallava kingdom at Kanchipuram which endured from 7th to the 9th centuries. The Coljas developed a rich civilization in 10th to the 13th centuries and for a while ruled Sri Lanka, the Maldives and parts of Indonesia.

Southern India After the Gupta Empire

During the medieval period (8th–13th centuries) several independent kingdoms, notably the Palas of Bihar and Bengal, the Sen, the Ahoms of Assam, a later Chola empire at Tanjore, and a second Chalukya dynasty in the Deccan, waxed powerful. In NW India, beyond the reach of the medieval dynasties, the Rajputs had grown strong and were able to resist the rising forces of Islam. Islam was first brought to Sind, W India, in the 8th cent. by seafaring Arab traders; by the 10th cent. Muslim armies from the north were raiding India. From 999 to 1026, Mahmud of Ghazna several times breached Rajput defenses and plundered India. [Source: Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., Columbia University Press]

When Gupta disintegration was complete, the classical patterns of civilization continued to thrive not only in the middle Ganga Valley and the kingdoms that emerged on the heels of Gupta demise but also in the Deccan and in South India, which acquired a more prominent place in history. In fact, from the mid-seventh to the mid-thirteenth centuries, regionalism was the dominant theme of political or dynastic history of South Asia. Three features, as political scientist Radha Champakalakshmi has noted, commonly characterize the sociopolitical realities of this period. First, the spread of Brahmanical religions was a two-way process of Sanskritization of local cults and localization of Brahmanical social order. Second was the ascendancy of the Brahman priestly and landowning groups that later dominated regional institutions and political developments. Third, because of the seesawing of numerous dynasties that had a remarkable ability to survive perennial military attacks, regional kingdoms faced frequent defeats but seldom total annihilation. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Peninsular India was involved in an eighth-century tripartite power struggle among the Chalukyas (A.D. 556-757) of Vatapi, the Pallavas (A.D. 300-888) of Kanchipuram, and the Pandyas (seventh through the tenth centuries) of Madurai. The Chalukya rulers were overthrown by their subordinates, the Rashtrakutas, who ruled from 753 to 973. Although both the Pallava and Pandya kingdoms were enemies, the real struggle for political domination was between the Pallava and Chalukya realms. *

Despite interregional conflicts, local autonomy was preserved to a far greater degree in the south where it had prevailed for centuries. The absence of a highly centralized government was associated with a corresponding local autonomy in the administration of villages and districts. Extensive and well-documented overland and maritime trade flourished with the Arabs on the west coast and with Southeast Asia. Trade facilitated cultural diffusion in Southeast Asia, where local elites selectively but willingly adopted Indian art, architecture, literature, and social customs. *

Culture in Southern India after the Gupta Empire

The interdynastic rivalry and seasonal raids into each other's territory notwithstanding, the rulers in the Deccan and South India patronized all three religions — Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. The religions vied with each other for royal favor, expressed in land grants but more importantly in the creation of monumental temples, which remain architectural wonders. The cave temples of Elephanta Island (near Bombay, or Mumbai in Marathi), Ajanta, and Ellora (in Maharashtra), and structural temples of Kanchipuram (in Tamil Nadu) are enduring legacies of otherwise warring regional rulers. By the mid-seventh century, Buddhism and Jainism began to decline as sectarian Hindu devotional cults of Shiva and Vishnu vigorously competed for popular support. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Although Sanskrit was the language of learning and theology in South India, as it was in the north, the growth of the bhakti (devotional) movements enhanced the crystallization of vernacular literature in all four major Dravidian languages: Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada; they often borrowed themes and vocabulary from Sanskrit but preserved much local cultural lore. Examples of Tamil literature include two major poems, Cilappatikaram (The Jewelled Anklet) and Manimekalai (The Jewelled Belt); the body of devotional literature of Shaivism and Vaishnavism — Hindu devotional movements; and the reworking of the Ramayana by Kamban in the twelfth century. A nationwide cultural synthesis had taken place with a minimum of common characteristics in the various regions of South Asia, but the process of cultural infusion and assimilation would continue to shape and influence India's history through the centuries. *

Pallava Kingdom

The Pallavas were a seafaring dynasty based near present-day Madras. The Pallava kingdom ruled much of south India from A.D. 350 to 880 and helped spread Indian civilization to Southeast Asia,. The Khmer civilization at Angkor Wat began as Hindu Civilization. The Pallavas, it is believed, were initially a pastoral tribe whose early capitalwas located at Pallavapuri (Bhavatri, Nellore in Andhra Pradesh). They belonged to a sect called "Thiraiyar" and the region they ruled was called"Thondaimandalam". After their capital was washed away by the sea due to a natural disaster, the Pallavas moved southwards to Kanchipuram and settled there and established a more powerful kingdom with its territory occupying Northern Orissa,Tanjore and Trichi. The Pallava dynasty endured until the Cholas took it over the in the 9th century.

During the 5th century, the Pallavas expanded very fast, crossed the river Krishna and occupied Bellary, Sorth and South Arcot, Trichirapalli, Chengalpet and part of Tanjoretoo. At the end of A.D. 500, the territory came into the possession of Simha Vishnu, and he became the founder of the Pallava dynasty. He fought several wars and his kingdom enjoyed prosperity. After his death, his son Mahendravarman succeded him. He was a learned man, who started the work of cave temple at Mahabalipuram. Chalukya Pulkesi-II learned about the riches of Kanchi and attacked the kingdom to defeat Mahendravarma. Mahendravarman died a broken man. His son Narasimhavarman was a man of tact and intelligence. Pulekisin II, the great Chalukya ruler, learned of the riches of Kanchi and wanted to capture it. He came with a huge army and defeated Mahendravarman at Pullalur in 620 A.D. Mahendravarman’s attempts to take revenge in a series of battles with Pulikesin in the northern part of Tamil Nadu were all futile. He died a broken man in A.D. 630.

Though classical writings talks about Pallavas, there is no particular mention of any Pallava rulers' name. Excavations by the Indian archeological department reveals the earliest possible reign dated back to A.D. 1st or and 2nd century. The earliest known coinage was made of lead and issued by the then Pallavas between A.D. 3rd and 4th century. Around the A.D. 4th century, Pallavas defeated Ikshvakus and occupied the land around the river Krishna. An inscription in Allahabad describes Hastivarman of Vengi's defeat to Samudraguptain the A.D. 4th century. A copper plate from the A.D. mid 4th century, talked about a Pallava grant in Andhra by Siva Skandavarman. [Source: Glorious India]

Sources and Origin of the Paliavas

The origin of the Paliavas is one of the most vexed problems of ancient Indian history. They find no place among the traditional three powers of Southern India, which, as mentioned above, are the Ccras, Pandyas, and the Cholas. Accordingly, some scholars think that the Pallavas were foreign intruders, probably a branch of the Pahlavas or Parthians of North-western India. Apart from superficial similarity in names, there is, however, no evidence of any Pahlava migration into Southern India except perhaps into the Deccan. Another theory is that the Pallavas were indigenous inhabitants of the land, associated or allied with the Kurumbas, Kallars, Maravars, and other “predatory” tribes. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

After welding them, the Pallavas are believed to have emerged as a mighty political force. But Mr. M. C. Rasanayagam holds that the Pallavas were of Cola-Naga extraction, and belonged to the southern extremity of the peninsula and Ceylon. It is said that as a result of the liaison between Killivalavan Chola and a Naga princess, Pilivalai, daughter of king Vajaivanan of Manipallavam (an island near the coast of Ceylon), a son was Born to them named Ilarii-Tiraiyan, who was made ruler of Tondamandalarii by his father, and the dynasty thbs founded came to be called after the name of the mother’s native-place. Next, we may refer to the view put forward by Dr. Krishnaswami Aiyangar that the Pallavas were known in the San gam literature as Tondaiyar, and they were descended from the Naga chieftains, who were vassals of the Satavahana sovereigns. On the other hand, Dr.K.P. Jayasval was of opinion that the Pallavas were “neither foreigners nor Dravidians, but good Brahmin aristocrats from the North, military by profession”, and that they were an offshoot of the Vakatakas. The suggestion regarding the northern affinities or affiliations of the Pallavas has probably some substance; for it is significant that their earliest charters are in Prakrit, and that they were also patrons of Sanskrit learning and culture. But their Brahmanical pedigree, despite certain traditions of their connections with Dronacarya and Asvatthaman, does not appear to be based on fact. Indeed, in the Talagunda inscription the Kadamba May lira barman deplores the influence over Kanci of the “Pallava Ksatriya,” which expression doubtless indicates the Ksatriya stock of the Pallavas.

The earliest sources of Pallava history are three copper plate charters, in Prakrit, assigned on palasographical grounds to the “third and fourth centuries of the Christian era.” They mention a set of rulers named Bappadfva, Sivaskandavarman, Buddhy (ankura), and Vlravarman. Whether Bappadeva was the actual founder of the Pallava power or not, there are reasons to believe that he held sway over the Tclugu Andhrapatha and the Tamil Tondamandalam; the headquarters of the two regions were respectively Dhanyakata (Dharanikotta, near Amaravati) and Kanchi (modern Kanchipuram). His son, Sivaskandavarrrian, designated Dharmamaharaja, appears to have extended the kingdom, perhaps southward. Another important figure in early Pallava annals is Visnugopa, who is mentioned in the Allahabad pillar inscription as king of Kand. Being thus a contemporary of Samudragupta when he invaded the Daksinapatha, Visnugopa may be said to have flourished about the second quarter of the fourth century A.D. Unfortunately, his precise place in Pallava genealogy, or his relation with the monarchs of the Prakrit charters, is uncertain.

Six sets of copper-plates, inscribed in Sanskrit, reveal the names of a number of Pallava princes — some mere Yuvamahdrdjas and more than a dozen of them kings who ruled roughly from the middle of the fourth to the last quarter of the sixth century A.D. These epigraphs give the regnal year of the donor, and are not dated in any known era, but ‘on pakeographical considerations they have been rightly ascribed to the fifth and sixth centuries A.D.

According to Xuanzang, the country, whose capital was Kancipura, had “some hundred of Sanghtiramas and 10,000 priests. They all study the teaching of the Sthavira (Chcwg-tso-pn) school belonging to the Great Vehicle.” He further deposes that Dharmapala, the well-known Buddhist teacher, hailed from Kancipura. Thus, Buddhism was not decadent in the Pallava kingdom; indeed, some of the early princes of the family were votaries of this faith. Similarly, Xuanzang refers to the existence of “many Nirgranthas.” Mahcndravarman I was himself originally a Jain, and he turned a Saiva through the influence of Saint Appar. The latter 4 md Tirujnana-Sambandar zealously carried on their missionary activities in the South with the result that Buddhism and Jainism declined, and there was a marked revival of Saivism. Many of the Pallava monarchs were profound devotees of the god Siva. But th«y were also tolerant ol Vaisnavism, which flourished because of the efforts of the Alvars (Vaisnava saints). [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

Great Tallavas

The last quarter of the A.D. sixth century was the most glorious epoch of Pallava history, and happily the materials, too, at our disposal yield to us comparatively more data. A new Pallava dynasty was then founded by Simhavisnu, also known as Simhavisnupottarayan and Avanisirhha. He extended his sway up to the Kaverl at the cost of the Cholas, and is further said to have defeated the Pandyas, Kalabhras, and the Malavas in the course of his southern expeditions. He was probably a devotee of Visnu.

Mahendravarman I: Simhavisnu was succeeded by his son, Mahendravarman I or Mahendra-Vikrama, about the beginning of the seventh century A.D. A few years after his accession there began a deadly and long-drawn struggle between the Pallavas and the Calukyas for supremacy in the South. Pulakesin II claims in the Aiholc inscription 1 to have vanquished “the lord of the Pallavas who had opposed the rise of his power” and made him “conceal his valour behind the ramparts of Kancipura, enveloped in the dust of his armies.” Pulakesin II wrested from his opponent the province of Vehgi, which was put in charge of his younger brother, KubjaVisnuvardhana-Visamasicldhi. As shown elsewhere, the latter’s successors, designated the Eastern Calukyas of Vehgi, subsequently became independent of the Imperial house of Vatapi (Badami). The Ivasakkudi plates, on the other hand, depose that Maftendravarman I was victorious at Pullalur (modern Pallur, Chinglcput district). Although the enemy is not named, it is likely we have got a reference here to the Pallava motlarch’s success in driving back his Calukya adversary when he attempted a thrust on Kanchi itself. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

Mahendravarman I originally professed Jainism, and was not well disposed towards other faiths. But about the middle of his reign, or earliefr still, he abjured Jainism and turned a staunch Saiva through the influence of Saint Appar. After Mahendravarman I’s conversion, the Jains fell into disfavour, and Sadism markedly revived and spread owing to the Missionary activities of Saints Appar and Tirujnana-Sambandar. Mahendravarman 1 appears to have been tolerant of other forms of Brahmanism. It is said that he constructed a rock temple in honour of Visnu on the bank of a tank, called after him, in Mahendravadi (North Arcot district). The Mandagappattu inscription further informs us that Mahendravarman 1 dedicated a shrine to Brahma, Isvara, and Visnu, and that it was built without bricks, mortar, metal, and timber. Thus, Mahendravarman I introduced into Southern India the practice of hewing temples out of solid rocks. Indeed, one of his many birudas or epithets was Cettakdri or Caitya-kari, i.e., the builder of Cailyas or temples. They were distinguished by certain peculiarities, specially cubical pillars. These rock-cut temples have been discovered at various places, such as Dalavanur (South Arcot district), Pallavaram, Siyyamarigalarii, Vallarh (Chinglcput district). Mahendravarman I also gave a fillip to the arts of painting dancing, and music; and the musical inscription at Kudumiyamalai in Pudukotta State is believed to have -been incised at his instance. Besides, he is the reputed author of the Mattcivildsa-prahasana, a burlesque, which affords an interesting glimpse into tile revelries and religious life of the Kapalikas, PaSupafas, Sakyabhiksus, and other sects.

Narasimhavarman I ascended the throne after the death of his father Mahendravarman I and vowed to revenge the insult done to him by the Chalukyas. With a large army, he defeated Pulikesi II inthe Battle of Manimangalam and Pariyalam in the year A.D. 632. He completely burnt the capital city of Pulakesi. Narasimhavarman was well built and was a great wrestler too. Badami maintained his control until A.D. 655 until Vinayaditya restored it back to the Chalukya realm. Narasimhavarman completed the cave temples of Mahabalipuram and constructed a large number of temples.

Narasimhavarman I ascended the Pallava throne about the beginning of the second quarter of the seventh century A.D. He is one of the most striking personalities among the Pallava potentates. According to the Kurram plates, he successfully repulsed the onslaughts of Pulakcsin II Calukya, who is said to have advanced almost up to the gates of Kand. Not content with this achievement, Narasimhavarman I despatched a strong force under the command of his general, Siru Tonda, nicknamed Paranjoti, against Vatapi CBadami). It was stormed in 642 A.D. and Pulakesin II appears to have been killed while heroically defending his capital. For the next thirteen years Calukya authority remained in abeyance, and Narasimhavarman I assumed the title of Vatapikonda in commemoration of this great victory. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

Another epithet of his was Mahamalla, which occurs in a fragmentary epigraph, discovered at Vatapi, and written in letters of about the middle of the seventh century A.D. Further, we learn that he sent two naval expeditions to Ceylon in support of Manavamma, a claimant to its throne, who as a refugee at the court of Nara si riiliav? rman I had rendered him loyal service. The first could not achieve any permanent results, and so the Pallava ships had -again to set sail from the port of Mahabalipuram. This time M’anavamma’s position became secure, aAd the invasion created such a profound impression on popular mind that it was long remembered like Sri Ramacandra’s conquest of Lanka. Narasimhavarman I not only distinguished himself in warfare; he was also noted for his architectural activities. He is credited with the Construction of several rock-cut temples in the Tridhinopoly district and Pudukotta. Their general plan is almost similar to those excavated by Mahendravarman I except that the facades are more ornamental and the pillars, too, look more proportionate and elegant. Narasimhavarman I Mahamalla founded^ and called after his name, the town of Mahabalipuram or Mahamallapuram, which he beautified by shrines like the Dharmaraja Ratha belonging to the group now known as the Seven Pagodas.

In Narasimhavarman I’s reign, the celebrated Chinese pilgrim, Xuanzang, visited Kanchi about the year 642 A.D. and stayed there for some time. According to him, the country, of which Kin-chi-pu-lo (Kancipura) was the capital, was known as Ta-lo-pi-c/fa (Dravida). It was 6,000 li in circuit. “The soil is fertile and regularly cultivated, and produces abundance of grain. There are also many flowers and fruits. It produces precious gems and other articles. The climate is hot, the character of the people courageous. They arc deeply attached to the principles of honesty and truth, and highly esteem learning; in respect of their language and written characters, they differ but little from those of Mid-India. There are some hundred of Sangbarawas and 10,000 priests. They all study the teaching of the Sthavira (Chang-tso-pu) school. There are some eighty Deva temples, and many heretics called Nirgranthas.” Xuanzang says that the Tathagata often came to this country to preach the Law, and Ashoka raised stupas here to commemorate sacred sites. The pilgrim further informs us that the famous Buddhist teacher, Dharmapala, hailed from Kanclpura.

Paramesvaravarman I: After the brief and uneventful reign of Mahcndravarman II, who succeeded his father Narasimhavarman I about 655 A.D. Paramesvaravarman I acceeded to the throne. During his time the old enmity between the Pallavas and the Calukyas revived, and, as usual, both sides claim victories for themselves. It is stated in the Gadval plates 1 that Vikramaditya 1 Calukya captured Kanci, laid low the line of Mahamalla, and carried his arms up to Uragapura (Uraiyur, near Trichinopoly) on the river KavcrI. The Pallava records, on the contrary, represent Paramesvaravarman I as having put to flight, at the battle of Peruvalanallur in the Lalgudi Taluk of the Trichinopoly district, the army of Vikramaditya I, who had “only a rag” left for covering himself. The evidence being conflicting, it may be reasonably presumed that neither of the antagonists was able to have a decided advantage over the other. Paramesvaravarman I was a devotee of Siva, and he built a number of temples in his realm in honour of that deity.

Narasimhavarman II: About the last decade of the seventh century A.D. Paramesvaravarman I died, and the sceptre passed on to his son, Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha. His reign was marked by peace and prosperity, said his chief title to fame is the building of the well-known Kailasanatha or Rajasiihhcsvara temple. 'I Vic AiravateSvaraKanchi and the so-called Shore temple at Mahabalipurarh have also been attributed to him. Narasimhavarman II was a patron of men of letters, and it i8 believed that the great rhetorician Dandin flourished at his court. Narasimhavarman II was succeeded by' Paramesvaravarman II, about whom we do not get much information from the sources available.

Later Rulers and Pallava's Demise

When Paramesvaravarman II died about the second decade of the eighth century A.D. the kingdom was involved in civil war, each claimant making a bid for the throne. It appears from the testimony of the lvasakkudi plates and the sculptural representations inside the Vaikunthaperumal temple atKanchi that the people eventually chose as king a popular prince named Nandivarman, son of Hiranyavarman, who was a descendant of a brother of Simhavisnu. During the reign of Nandivarman there was a renewal of the Pallava-Calukya animosity. It is said that Vikramaditya II Calukya invaded the Pallava territories shortly after coming to the throne in A.D. 733, and took their capital Kand. Nandivarman, however, soon recovered the lost ground, and drove away the enemy. The Pallava monarch had also to contend against other powers, specially of the South, like the Dramilas (Tamils), the Pandyas, and a Ganga chid who may be identified with Sripurusa (c. 726-76 A.D.). In his wars Nandivarman was ably assisted by his general Udayacandra. Further, it is alleged that Nandivarman suffered a reverse at the hands of Dantidurga, a prince of the Rastrakuta dynasty, which supplanted the Calukyas of Vatapi (Badami) in the Deccan about the middle of the eighth century A.D. Nandivarman ruled for at least sixty-five years according to an inscription eliscovered at (he Adivaraha temple at Mahabalipuram. He bore the epithet Pallavamalla, and was 11 Vaisnava by faith. He is credited with having built a number of religious edifices.[Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

Nandivarman’s successor was Dantivarman, his son by queen Reva, probably a Rastrakuta princess. It is believed that she was t the daughter of Dantidurga, who, after the cessation of warlike relations with Nandivarman Pallavamalla, married her to him. But in spite of this alliance, Govinda III is recorded to have attacked Kand about the year 804 A.D. and vanquished. Itts ruler Dantiga (Dantivatman). The latter, whose reign lasted a little over half a century from circa 776 to 828 A.D. also measured swords with die Tandy as — the traditional opponents of his house. So did his successors, Nandi (c. 828-51 A.D.) and Nripatungavarman (Y. 851-76 A.D.). The last important sovereign of the line was Aparajitavarman (c. 876-95 A.D.), who, having allied himself with a Gariga prince, inflicted a crushing defeat about 880 A.D. on the Pandya monarch, Varaguna in the battle of Sri Purambiyam near Kumbhakonam. These conflicts went on until the Pallava power received its deathblow by the arms of the Chola king, Aditya T, who overwhelmed Aparajitavarman and annexed Tondamandalarh. Thus, the once mighty Pallava kingdom ceased to exist as a factor in the politics of the South. Some other minor princes are, no doubt, known from inscriptions, but their position in the Pallava genealogy is uncertain.

Pallava Administration

In the course of their rule for about seven centuries, the Pallavas left an indelible impress on the administration, religion, literature, and art of die Tamil country. Let us now consider each of these aspects in brief: [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

At the head of the government was the king, called in inscriptions Maharaja and Dharmamaharaja. He was assisted by a body of ministers or councillors (rahasja dikadas) in the disposal of state business, and his orders were drawn up by his private secretary. As in the Maurya and Gupta administrations, these was a regular hierarchy of officials, civil -and ynilitary. Thus, in a Pallava inscription the king is said to have sent greetings to the princes (rajakumara), rulers of district (rattika), chief Madambas (customs officers), local prefects (deJa- dhikata) the free -holders of the various villages, (gdma-gdmabhrjaka) ministers (amaccha), guards (nrakbudikuld), gumikas (captains, or forest-officers?), d til: has (messengers?), spies (sanjaranlakas), and warriors ('bhadatmwusas).

The territory of the empire was divided into provinces (rdstras or mandalas), which were governed by princes of the blood royal or by scions of noble and distinguished families. Other smaller divisions were kottams and 1 nidus having their own officers. Regarding the organisation of the village (grunt u or garni), which was the lowest and most important unit of administiation, we do not get much information from the early Pal lava records, but during the time of the later Pallavas the village Subha with the various committees for the management and upkeep of gardens, temples, public baths, tanks, etc., so characteristic of rural life under the Cholas, appears to have existed. Besides, the Snbhd exercised judicial functions and acted as the trustee of public endowments.

There was an efficient system of irrigation and land-survey. The village boundaries were properly marked, and full details of arable and fallow lands were collected for revenue purposes as well as for making grants to pious and learned Hindus. Taxation was elaborate, and we are told that tlfe king laid claim to eighteen kinds of dues (astadasapariharas) from the village people. Some idea of these exactions may be had from the exemptions enumerated in inscriptions. For instance, the Hirahadagalli plates refer to the immunity granted from the takingof sweet and sour milk and sugar from taxes forced labour grass and wood vegetables and flowers, etc. The Tandantottam plates also give freedom from the following taxes : duty on oil-press and looms, ulaviyakuli,, the fee on marriages, urettu fee on potters, tattukdyam, duty on toddy-drawers and shepherds, fee on stalls, brokerage fee, tirumugakkanam, royalty paid for the manufacture of salt, the good cow, the good bull, vattindli, fee on baskets of grain exposed for sale in the market, areca-nuts exposed for sale in the shops, etc. Thus, the resources of the people were fully tapped and harnessed in the interests of administration, which was well organised.

Pallava Literature and Architecture

During the rule of the Pallavas there was considerable literary activity, and Sanskrit enjoyed royal patronage. Barring a few, all the early Pallava inscriptions are in that language, and even in the later ones, where Tamil is used, the pra fasti portions are in Sanskrit of a high order. KancI, the capital, seems to have been a recognised centre of learning and culture from quite early times. Hither came the famous Buddhist dialectician, Dignaga, to satisfy his intellectual and spiritual thirst, and about the middle of the fourth century A.D. the Brahman Mayurasarman, who founded the Kadamba line, is said to have completed his Vedic studies here. The Vedic colleges were then located in temples endowed by the rich and the devout. Further, Simhayisnu (last quarter of the sixth century) is represented as having invited the great poet, Bharavi, to his court, and it is believed that Dandin, the celebrated writer on.poetics, lived in the reign of Narasimhavarman II Rajasimha (end of the seventh century A.D.). Among other contemporaries of Danclin, we may mention Matvidatta. One of the Pallava kings, Mahendravarman I, was himself probably an author of repute. To him has been attributed a burlesque named the Matlavilasa-prahasana. Some scholars are also of opinion that “the Sanskrit plays published recently in Trivandrum as Bhasa’s were abridgments, made during this period, of earlier works of Bhasa and Sudraka for being staged at the Pallava court.” Whatever the truth, the Pallava monarchs were certainly patrons of men of letters. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

The religious revival of the period gave an immense impetus to the architectural activities of the Pallava princes. Their edifices are doubtless among the noblest monuments in South India. We see in them three or four distinct types. Those found at Dalavanur (South Arcot district), PJtllavararn, Vallam (Chingleput district) represent a new style, initiated in South India by Mahendravarman I. They are excavated out of solid rocks, and are distinguished by circular litigants, peculiar forms of dvarapalas, prabhatoranas, and cubical pillars. To the second stage belong the temples constructed by Narasimhavarman I Mahamalla. His earlier shrines at Pudukotta and Trichinopoly district are rockcut like those of Mahendravarman I except that they have more ornamental facades and pillars of better proportions. Subsequently, Narasimhavarman I Mahamalla built Katbas as the Dharmaraja, carved from a single granite boulder, at Mahabalipurarii. Then followed the structural temples of brick and stone, or of both, with lofty towers rising in tiers. The best specimens of these are the Kailasanatha at Kanchi and the so called Shore temple of the Seven Pagodas group. One noteworthy feature of some shrines is that they are adorned by beautiful life-like images of Pallava kings and their queens. The evolution and development of Pallava architecture continued until the rise of a new style called after the great Cholas. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

Chalukya Dynasty

The Chalukyas were the dominant power in the Deccan region of southern India during A.D. 6th to 8th century. During the A.D. 10th century they regained their power and ruled in the 12th century. The Chalukyas who ruled from Badami were the Western Chalukyas. The one who ruled from Kalyani are referred as Later Western Chalukyas and the Chalukyas of Vengi are known to the historians as the Eastern Chalukyas. The legendary history of the Chalukyas makes their origin very controversial. They claimed descent from Pulakesin I (reigned 543-566), who established himself at Badami (in Bijapur) and who asserted their independence at the decline of the Satavahana empire and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakesin II (reigned 609-642). [Source: Glorious India]

The Early Chalukyas held power in northern Karnataka from the 6th century until 757, and were rivals to the Pallavas. Vengi (in East Andhra Pradesh) became the centre of the Eastern Chalukya dynasty, which ruled there from 624 until the 11th century, surviving the fall of the Early Chalukyas in Badami. The Late Chalukyas gained ascendancy in the Deccan about 973, centered at Kalyani. The history of the Kalyani Chalukya kingdom was largely one of war with the Cholas and defense against the incursions of the Turks and Arabs who were plundering North India. The kingdom broke up in 1189.

The origin of the Calukyas is lost in the mists of myths. According to one tradition, they sprang from the water pot of Hand when he was in the act of p6uring out a libation; while according to another, as recorded in the Vikramankadevacarita of Bilhana, they arc represented to have descended from a warrior, who was produced by Brahma from the palm of his hand to rescue the world from unrighteousness. We are further told that the family originally belonged to Ayodhya, from where it went to the South. Shorn of the fantastic, the above legends indicate that the Caiukyas were a northern Ksatriya race 1, and that the hero Hariti was their progenitor. Vincent Smith, however, rejects this conclusion. He believes that the “Caiukyas or Solarikts were connected with the Capas, and so with the foreign Gurjara tribe, of which the Capas were a branch, and it seems to be probable that they emigrated from Rajputana to the Deccan.” But any definite proof of this is lacking. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

The Calukya power in the South had a modest beginning under Jayasimha and his son, Ranaraga. The latter’s successor, PulakcSin I, who came to the throne about the middle of the sixth century A.D. was, however, a figure of some note. He made Vatapi (modern Badami, Bijapur district) his capital, and even indulged in Imperial pretensions by celebrating an Asvamdha or horse-sacrifice. The next member of the dynasty was Kirtivarman. He defeated the Mauryas of north Konkan as well as the Kadambas of BanavasI (north Ivanara) and the Nalas, whose exact location is uncertain. According to certain epigraphs, his arms penetrated right up to Bihar (Magadha) and Vanga (Bengal) in the north, and the Chola and the Pandya territories in the far south, but in the absence of any other corroboration it is doubtful if the alleged exploits are founded on fact. When Kirtivarman died, his younger brother brushed aside the minor nephews and assumed the crown himself. Apart from the vague claim of having subdued the country between the western and eastern seas, Mangalaraja or Mangalesa is said to have taken Revatidvlpa (modern Rcdi, Ratnagiri district) and subjugated the Kalacuris of northern Deccan. It was also during his time that an exquisite cave-temple of Visnu was excavated at Badami. Mahgalaraja’s last days were clouded by court intrigues leading to a civil war. Eventually all attempts to settle the succession on his son came to nought, and he met his death while fighting against the forces of his energetic and vigilant nephew.

Chalukya Rulers

The accession of Pulakeshin II did not mean the termination of his initial troubles. The struggle for the throne had engulfed the affairs of the Calukya kingdom in such a whirlpool of chaos that the powers, reduced to subservience by his predecessors, now ventured to raise tire standard of their aggressive activities. Par- amcshvam-Sri-Prithvi-Vallabha-Satyasraya, as the new monarch is styled in inscriptions, faced the storm with courage, determination, and success, and thus won for himself the place of honour in the dynastic niche. He first repelled the attack of Appayika and Govinda 1 beyond the Bhlmarachl (Bhima); captured Vanavasl (in north Kanara), capital of the Kadambas; overawed the Gahgas 2 of Gahgavadi (part of modern Mysore) and the Alupas of Malabar (?); and also subdued the Maury as of north Konkan seizing Puri, “the glory of the western sea.” Next, the Latas of southern Gujarat, the Malavas, and the Gurjara (of Bhrigukaccha?) are said to have submitted to the might of Pulakc$in II. But his most valorous achievement was the defeat of the great Harsavardhana of Kanyakubja, whose personal command of the army proved of no avail against the Calukya sovereign’s superior strategy. With all these victories to his credit, Pulakeshin II became, as stated in the well-known Aihole-Mcguti record dated the Saka year 556 A.D. 634, the undisputed master of the three Maharastrakas consisting of nine and ninety tliousand villages. Furthermore, the kings of Kosala (Mahakosala) and Kalinga felt terror-stricken at the approach ol his forces, and the fortress of Pistapura (modern Pithapuram) surrendered to him without much opposition. The kingdom having enormously grown in dimensions, Pulakeshin II entrusted the administration of the eastern territories to his younger brother, Kubja-Visnuvardhana-Visamasiddhi, about 6x5 A.D. The latter made some additions to his charge by conquests, but he does not appear to have broken away from Vatapipura. It was perhaps his son and successor, Jayasiriiha I, who asserted the independence of the branch house at a favourable opportunity. Towards the south, Pulakeshin II measured strength widi the Pallava prince, identified with Mahcndravarman I, and threatened his capital Kahclpura (Conjceveram).

1 The rulers of this collateral line, known as the Eastern Calukyas of VcrigI, held sway, with various ups and downs of fortune, over the Andhra country and a portion of Kalihga for about five hundred years. Mere possession of such a fertile and strategic territory was enough to give the family an important place in the political affairs of the Deccan. But some of its members were also noted for their military abilities; for instance, Vijayaditya II (r. 799-843 A. IX) and Vijayaditya III (c\ 844-88 A.D.) are said to have fought, and won victories, against the Rastrakutas, the Gahgas, and other contemporary powers. About the last quarter of the tenth century A.D. the kingdom of Vehgl suffered a decline, and was overrun by Rajarflja IChola. Saktivarman ( c. 999-1011 A.D.) partially retrieved the lost ground, but the next monarch, Vimaladitya (c. 1011-18 A.D.), and his successors were unmistakably under the influence of the Cholas of Tan j ore. This was partly due to matrimonial relations between the two houses, for Vimaladitya took the Chola princess, Kuiiidava, as his spouse, and their son«Rajaraja Visnuvardhana obtained the hand of Rajendra l 9 s daughter. The offspring of the latter union was Rajendra Chola II, afterwards called Kulottuhga I. He assumed both the crowns in 1070 A.D. and having driven away his uncle Vijayaditya VII from Vengl, he successively appointed his sons, Rajaraja-MummadiCoda and Vlra-Coda, as Viceroys of that region. Thus resulted the amalgamation of the Eastern Calukya and the Chola realms, and this mixed dynasty had a prosperous career for almost two centuries. Ultimately it collapsed owing to the incursions of the Kakatlyas of Warangal, the Hoysalas, and other hostile neighbours (see also D. C, Ganguly, Eastern Calukyas, Benares, 1937).

When the Calukya arms reached beyond the Kaveri, the Co]as, the Pandyas, and the Keralas averted hostilities by their readiness to form an alliance with Pulakeshin II. Pulakeshin II not only distinguished himself in warfare, but also cultivated the softer art of diplomacy to.. strengthen his position. According to the Arab writer Tabari,' thi the former maintained friendly relations with Khusru II, king of Iran or Persia, who received from his Indian contemporary a special envoy in 625 A.D. bearing letters and presents. The Persian sovereign, too, sent an embassy to the Calukya court, and it is generally supposed by scholars that the reception of the Persian mission is portrayed in one of the Ajanta cave paintings. This view is, however, doubted by Sten Konow.

During the reign of Pulakeshin 11, perhaps in the Yuan Qiwang’s testimony year 641 A.D. the celebrated Chinese pilgrim, Xuanzang, went in the course of his travels to the Mo-ha-la-ch’ a (or t’a) country or Maharastra. We are told that “its soil is rich and fertile; it is regularly cultivated and very productive.” Furthermore, “the inhabitants were proud-spirited and warlike, grateful for favours and revengeful for wrongs, selfsacrificing towards suppliants in distress and sanguinary to death with any who treated them insultingly. Their ‘martial heroes who led the van of the army in battle went into conflict intoxicated, and their warelephants were also made drunk before an engagement.” Owing to his superior forces the king of the land, named Pu-lo-ke-she (Pulakeshin), who was a Ksatriya by birth, treated the neighbouring powers ‘‘with contempt”. Indeed, his benevolent sway is said to have extended “far and wide, and his vassals served him with perfect loyalty.”

The last days of the great Calukya monarch were inglorious. For the Pallavas now under the leadership of Narasimhavarman I (c. 625-45 A.D.), who, after several successful campaigns, stormed the Calukya capital, Vatapi, in 642 A.D. and probably killed Pulakeshin II. But the resistance of the Calukyas was not completely broken, and they soon emerged from their temporary eclipse.

Pulakeshin II was followed by his second son, Viktamaditya I, called Satyasraya, who valiantly recovered his paternal dominions from the rival house of the Pallavas by about 654 A.D. He captured Kanchi (Conjeeveram), and is represented to have defeated three Pallava princes, Narasimhavarman I, Mahendravarman II, and Paramesvaravarman. Certain documents, on the other hand, credit the last-named with victories over the Calukyas. If there be any truth in thescclaims, it would appear that the struggle between the two powers continued long, and fortune was, as usual, fickle in the case of either. We further learn that Vikramaditya I did not stop with the plunder of the Pallava capital; he pressed on to the extreme south and the weight of his arms was even felt by the Cholas, the Pandyas, and the Keralas. In these wars he was ably assisted by his son, Vinayaditya, and grandson, Vijayaditya, both of whom afterwards became kings — the former ruling from c. 680 to 696 A.D. and the latter from c. 696 to 733 A.D. According to an inscription, Vinayaditya SatyaSraya acquired “the insignia of supreme dominion by crushing the lord of all the region of the North” (' Sakalot tardpatha-natha). There is doubtless an element of exaggeration in this statement, for we do not know of any paramount sovereign of the North at this time, but it appears that Vinayaditya scored a military triumph against^eme of the successors of Adityasena in the Later Gupta line. During the reign of Vijayaditya’s son, Vikramaditya II (c. 733-47 A.D.), the traditional hostilities with the Pallavas continued; Nandivarman sustained a defeat and the Calukya army entered the city of Kanci, where a mutilated epigraph of the victor, found in a temple, still bears witness to its occupation. Besides, the arms of Vikramaditya II are said to have been successful against other hereditary ene Cholas, the Pandyas, the people of Malabar, and the Kalabhras. Vikramaditya II was also noted for giving largess to Hindus, and both of his Haihaya wives built two splendid fanes in honour of Siva. In Saka 669 -747-48 A. D., Vikramaditya II was succeeded by his son, KIrtivarman II, who too, like his predecessors, fought against the Pallavas. But perhaps owing fo'Pallava pre-occupations he or his father lost Mahara3tra to the Rastrakuta chief, Dantidurga, about the middle of the eighth century A.D. The main Calukya dynasty disappeared after KIrtivarman’s reign, though the family itself was not annihilated and, as we shall see below, its scions subsequently reasserted their power. •

Chalukya Religion, Art and Literature

The Vatapi Calukyas were staunch Brahmanists, but they observed the golden rule of toleration. During their ascendancy, Jainism prospered in the Deccan, specially its southern part. Raviklrti, the Jaina author of the Aihole inscription, who constructed a temple of Jinendra, claims to have obtained “the highest favour” of Pulakcsin II. Similarly, Vijayaditya and Vikramaditya II granted villages to well-known Jain Panditas. We have, however, no evidence to show in what manner Buddhism was patronised ^y the Calukya monarchs. [Source: “History of Ancient India” by Rama Shankar Tripathi, Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture, Benares Hindu University, 1942]

It was perhaps on the wane, although it had not become extinct, as would be clear from the following testimony of Xuanzang: “Of Buddhist monasteries there were above ioo, and the Brethren, who were adherents of both Vehicles, were more than 5,000 in number. Within and outside the capital were five Ashoka topes where the Four Past Buddhas had sat and walked for exercise; and there were innumerable other topes of stone or brick.” As regards Brahmanism, the Paur|nic deities rose into prominence, and superb structures were erected at Vatapi (Badami) and Pattadakal 2 3 (Bijapur district) in honour of the Trinity — Brahma, Visnu, and Siva; these gods were also known by a variety of names. Sometimes, temples were excavated out of solid rocks; as for instance, Mangalena signalised his reign by an architectural achievement of this description, consecrated to Visnu. It has further been conjectured that some of die famous Ajanta cave-frescoes probably belong to the time of these early Calukyas. Lastly, elaborate sacrifices were then in vogue, and we learn that Pulakeshin I alone performed a number of them, such as the ASvamedha, Vajapeya, Paundarika, etc.

Early Western Chalukyas Rulers

With the modest beginning under Jayasimha and his son Ranaraga, Chalukyas ruled from about A.D. 535 to 566. The real dynasty is known to be founded by the Maharaja Pulakesin I. Pulakesi I took up many titles such as Satyasraya and was a scholar too. He ruled from Badami, the present day Bijapur. Pulakesin I was succeeded by his son Kritivirman I, who constructed several temples and buildings in the town of Vatapi. The political influence of Chalukyas spread over a wider region embracing southern part of Maharastra, Mysore and Tamil Nadu. He defeated the rulers of Vanga, Anga, Kalinga, Vattura, Magadha . He is also stated to have broken up the confederacy of Kadambas. Mangalesa, the brother of Kritivirman I, ascended the throne in 598 AD. The Kalachuris were conquered by Mangalesa and the whole of central and northern maratha country was brought into the territory. The eventual civil was between Mangalesa and his nephew Pulakesi-II cost Mangalesa his own life. [Source: Glorious India]

Pulakesi II ascended the throne in 610 and ruled until 642. The reign was troubled. Various parts of Chalukyas assumed independence. Internal rebellions and frequent invasion by Appayika and Govinda were eventually subdued. He defeated Gangas of south Mysore and Mauryas of Konkan. These conquests brought him into contact with Harsha and in A.D. 637. Harsha was defeated when Harsha invaded Kathiawad. Pulakesi II defeated the Pallava king Mahendra Varman I and crossed the Cauvery river and made friends with the Cholas, Keralas and Pandyas. Because Pallavas were not totally crushed, they took revenge and attacked Pulakesi II. Pulakesi II appears to have been killed in the battle, and the Chalukya empire began to decline after that.

After the death of Pulakesi II, Badami and some of the southern districts remained in the hands of Pallavas. Though Chalukyas’ throne remained vacant from A.D. 642 to 655, Vikramaditya I managed to ascend the throne in 655. He recovered Badami and brought the whole kingdom under his control. Vinayaditya, the next to Vinayaditya, ruled from 681 to 696 and carried on campaigns against Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas, Aluvas. By defeating the Lord of the entired Uttarapatha, he acquired the banner Palidhvaja. His immediate successor Vijayaditya ruled for nearly forty years (696 - 733). His reign was stated to have been peaceful throughout.

Vikaramaditya II, a son of Vijayaditya, ruled from A.D. 734 to 745. He defeated the Pallava king, ending hostilities between those two kingdoms. With this conquest, he took possession of musical instruments, banner, elephants, rubies which belonged to the Pallavas. He destroyed the power of the Chola, Kerala, Pandya. Kritivarman II, the son of Vikramaditya II, reign for the next eleven years. He was the last and glorious ruler of Chalukyas. For the next fifty years, the Chalukya power was totally eclipsed by the Rashtrakutas. Dantidurga defeated Kritivarman II to gain the control of Chalukyas once for all. The subsequent attempt by Kritivarman II to regain the control was futile. The Rashtrakutas remained the supreme power for the next two centuries until the same was destroyed by the later Western Chalukyas of Kalyani.

Later Western Chalukyas

The founder of the later Western Chalukyas was Taila or Tailapa II. He consolidated his realm with the help of earlier Chalukya family and with the help of Kadambas and recovered much of the lost territories of earlier Chalukyas. Kadambas were rewarded with the ruling of Banavasi and Goa. Taila succeeded by his son Satyasraya. Satyasraya won a victory against Raja Raja Chola who had invaded Satyasraya's region. Raja Raja's territories were thus conquered by him. The successors of Satyasraya were Dasavarman, Vikramaditya V, Jayasimha-I and Jagadhekamalla. Jayasimha repelled invasions from the North and the southern invasion from the Chola King Rajendra. He moved his capital from Malkhed to Kalyana (in Bidar). Jagadekamalla is stated to have defeated Bhoja the ruler of Malava confederacy and Chedi King. [Source: Glorious India]

The successor Somesvara I (1043 - 1068), the son of Jayasimha expelled Rajadhiraja Chola, but the capital was already plundered by the Cholas prior to it. Inscription states that he broke the succession of Rajendra Chola by killing him. Somesvara I preferred his second son Vikramaditya as his successor, but the latter declined the honour in favour of the elder Somesvara II. Vikramaditya conquered Cholas, Keralas, Ceylon as a military leader of his brother. Somesvara II soon fell into evil ways and soon lost the loyalty of his brother towards him. Vikramaditya ruled the southern part of the kingdom independently.

Vikramaditya also received submission from the ruler of konkan, and soon marched against Vira Rajendra Chola, the latter sued for peace by giving his daughter to marry Vikramaditya. When Vira Rajendra died, Vikramaditya placed his brother-in-law named Adhi-Rajendra on the throne of Cholas. After his brother-in-law got killed, Vikramaditya was defeated by the Eastern Chalukya king Jayasimha and was given with the governship of Bellary.

Again in 1076, Vikramaditya took the help of Hoysala and ascended the throne as Vikramaditya VI. The two great writers, named Bhilhana and Vijnaneswara flourished in the court of Vikramaditya VI. The next successor Somesvara III was more interested in literary matters and allowed Vishnuvardhana Hoysala to take an opportunity to declare independence. Someswara III was succeeded by Jagadhekamalla II who reigned from 1135 - 1151. Hoysalas invaded the Chalukya territory. Taila III appeared on the throne to rule for the next thirteen years. He was captured by the Kakatiya invader Prola I and the commander-in-chief of Taila-III, Bijjala Kalachuri captured the throne.

Bijjala Kalachuri strengthened the position of his kingdom. The kingdom saw rapid succession after his reign. Somesvara (1168 - 1177), Sankama II (1177- 1180), Ahavamalla (1180 - 1183) and Singhana (1183 - 1184) ruled peacefully in succession. However, the Chalukyas were able to recover their territory under the leadership of Somesvara IV, the son of Taila III. His suzerainty was acknowledged by the last Kalachuri ruler Singhana. He soon gained allegiance of Kadambas of both Goa and Banavasi, and Pandyas of Uchchangi. With the attack from the Hoysalas under Vira Ballala I and the Yadavas of Devagiri, the later Western Chalukya dynasty came to and end in about 1190.

Eastern Chalukyas

This dynasty was a branch of the Chalukyas of Badami. Pulakesin II, the renowned ruler of Chalukyas conquered Vengi (near Eluru) in A.D.624 and installed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana (A.D.624 — 641) as its ruler. His dynasty, known as the Eastern Chalukyas, ruled for nearly four centuries. Vishnuvardhana extended his dominions up to Srikakulam in the north and Nellore in the south. He was succeeded by his son Jayasimha I (A.D.641 — 673). Between A.D.641 and A.D.705 some kings, except Jayasimha I and Mangi Yuvaraju, (A.D.681 — 705) ruled for short duration. Then followed a period of unrest characterised by family feuds and weak rulers. In the meanwhile, the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed ousted Chalukyas of Badami. The weak rulers of Vengi had to meet the challenge of the Rashtrakutas, who overran their kingdom more than once. [Source: Glorious India]

There was no Eastern Chalukya ruler who could check them until Gunaga Vijayaditya came to power in A.D.848. He also failed to face the Rashtrakutas, and the then Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha treated him as his ally. After Amoghavarsha's death, Vijayaditya proclaimed independence. He started on a campaign to the south and achieved some notable success. He ruled for 44 years and passed away in A.D.892. He was succeeded by his brother's son, Chalukya Bhima (A.D.892 — 921). Rashtrakutas again attacked the Vengi kingdom during this period but were repulsed effectively by Vengi and came to an understanding with Rashtrakutas and treated them as his allies. They were able to maintain their independence until the Chalukyas of Kalyani in A.D.973 overthrew the Rashtrakutas. Contemporaries to the Eastern Chalukyas were the Eastern Gangas in the northeast and the Pallavas in the south.

Among the minor Chalukya families that ruled parts of Andhra, those of Vemulavada (presently in Karimnagar district) are the most important. Their rule extended over the present-day Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts. As subordinate rulers loyal to the Rashtrakutas, they ruled with semi-independent status for about two centuries (A.D.755 — 968). The rule of the Vemulavada Chalukyas coincided with that of the Rashtrakutas.


Kerala has a long history of contacts with outsiders and was one of the first parts of the Orient to be open to western Europe. It may have been "Ophir," where King Solomon's ships discovered apes, gold and peacocks. The Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Arabs and maybe the Phoenicians, visited the Malabar Coast before the first European explorers arrived. The Roman established a military facility here and built a temple that honored the Roman Emperor Augustus at the seaport of Cranganur. Islam most likely arrived in Kerala first, in the 7th and 8th centuries, and spread from there to the rest of India. There were also Jewish merchants from Venice. St. Thomas is said to landed here in A.D. 52. Columbus was look for its spices when he landed in America. For a while there was large Arab community in Kerala.

For a time Kerala was only source in the world for pepper. Vasco da Gama came here in 1498 and opened up a trade route that sent cotton fabrics, spices, ivory and other goods to Europe. The Dutch and French briefly controlled the region before the British took control. Ships traveling between places as diverse as Indonesia, Madagascar and Zanzibar often stopped in Kerala to load up on water and food.

Kerala has been known for its independent ways and enlightened views throughout its history. While foreigners were coming and going, Kerala was ruled a succession of kingdoms that varied in size and had complex relations with one another and histories. The kingdoms of Cochin and Travancore remained independent under the British. In the 19th century rulers in the state reduced the power of feudal lords and upper castes and raised the status of lower castes.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated September 2020

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