UPSC IAS exam preparation - Ancient and Medieval History - Lecture 27


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The Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi
and the Chalukyas of Kalyani

[हिंदी में पढ़ें ]


After the death of Pulakesi II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from their 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 Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) till the end of the 12th century.


The dynasty of the Eastern Chalukyas, also known as the Chalukyas of Vengi, had about 30 rulers who ruled for about 450 years with Vengi as their capital. The rule of Eastern Chalukyas can be seen in four distinct phases.

2.1 First Phase (625-753 A.D.)

During this phase, the Eastern Chalukyas had close relations with the Chalukyas of Badami.
  1. Kubja Vishnuvardhana was the founder of the dynasty, younger brother of Pulakesin-ll, who conquering several areas on the East Coast of India placed them under the control of his younger brother. Vishnuvardhana after a few years sought and secured the permission of his elder brother to assume independence and founded his own dynasty. Vishnuvardhana had two titles, 'Vishama Sidhi1 and 'Makaradwaja'. His kingdom was visited by the famous Chinese, Buddhist travellor, Hiuen Tsang, who left a very good account of the conditions of the period in Andhra desa.
  2. Jayasimaha-I: He succeeded his father Vishnuvardhana-I and his reign was politically uneventful. But he has the credit of using Telugu in his inscriptions for the first time in history.
  3. Others: Indrabhattaraka, Mangi, Jayasimha-ll and Vishnuvardhana-ll were the other rulers during the first phase, but their reigns were not marked by any significant developments.
2.2 Second Phase (753-972 AD)

It began with the overthrowal of the Chalukyas of Badami by the Rashtrakutas of Western Deccan, who frequently interfered in the internal affairs of the Eastern Chalukyas throughout this phase.

1. Vijayaditya-I: During his reign the first attack on the Vengi kingdom by the Rashtrakutas took place and he had to purchase peace with them.

2. Vishnuvardhan-IV: The Rashtrakutas again invaded the Vengi Kingdom and Vishnuvardhana made peace with them by offering his daughter (Simhala Devi) in marriage to Rashtrakuta king, Dhruva.

3. Vijayaditya-ll: His succession was disputed by his brother, Bhima Salki, who enjoyed the support of the Rashtrakutas. But in the end he was able to overcome the opposition of his brother and the Rashtrakutas, and assumed the title of "Narendra Mrugaraja".

4. Vijayaditya-III
  1. 1.Known as "Gunaga" (full of virtues), his period was a period of prosperity and glory for the Eastern Chalukyas.
  2. 2.Panduranga, his commander-in-chief, defeated the Eastern Gangas of Kalinga, and also captured 12 Kottams in Nellore district from the Pallavas.
  3. 3.He is credited with introducing Telugu poetry in his inscriptions.
5. Bhima-I: He succeeded his uncle, Vijayaditya, but had to overcome the opposition of his cousins and the usual interference of the Rashtrakutas.

6. His successors: Bhima-I was succeeded by Vijayaditya-IV (who ruled for just 6 months before he was killed by the Eastern Garigas of Kalinga), Bhima-II (ruled for 12 years), Ammaraja and Danamava. The period of all these rulers was a period of political chaos due to the frequent interference of the Rashtrakutas and the invasions of the other neighbours. 

2.3 Third Phase (972-999 AD)

It began with the defeat and murder of Danarnava in 972 AD by the Telugu Choda king, Jata Choda . Bhima, who occupied the Vengi Kingdom, and came to an end in 999 A.D, when the Vengi Kingdom was restored back to the Eastern Chalukyas.  During this interregnum of 27 years, Shaktivarman and Vimaladitya, the two sons of Danarnava, were refugees in the court of the great Chola King Rajaraja-I of Tanjore. It was also the period of overthrowal of the Rashtrakutas by the Chalukyas of Kalyani (also known as the Western Chalukyas).

2.4 Fourth Phase (999-1070 AD)

It was a period of close alliance between the Chalukyas of Vengi and the Cholas of Tanjore. During this period, the Chalukyas of Kalyani tried to interfere frequently in the affairs of Vengi, but were mostly thwarted by the Chola-Eastern Chalukya alliance.

  1. Shaktivarman: He recovered the throne of Vengi Kingdom by murdering Jata Choda Bhima with the help of Rajaraja Chola. When the Western Chalukyas invaded the Vengi Kingdom, the Chola emperor again came to the rescue of Shaktivarman and drove back the Western Chalukyas.
  2. Vimaladitya: He succeeded his brother and ruled for about 8 years. During his period of exile in the Chola court, he was married to Rajaraja Choia's daughter, Kundavai (Alvar Sri Parantakan Sri Kundavai Pirattiyar).
  3. Rajaraja Narendra (1020-60 AD) : Son of Vimaladitya and Kundavai, he had to fight for the throne against his half-brother, Vijayaditya (son of Vimaladitya and his second wife, a Telugu Choda princess). He succeeded in driving away Vijayaditya (who had the support of Western Chalukyas and Eastern Gangas) with the help of his maternal uncle, Rajendra Chola, who also gave his daughter, Ammanga Devi, in marriage to Narendra. He shifted his capital from Vengi to Rajamahendri. His court was adorned by Nannaya, who wrote Mahabharata in Telugu.
  4. Rajendra (1061-1118 AD) : The son of Rajaraja Narendra, succeeded to the throne after a prolonged battles against his paternal uncle Vijayaditya VII. His mother Ammangadevi was the sister of Vira Rajendra, the Chola king. Adhirajendra (the son and successor of Vira Rajendra, the Chola king) was killed in an uprising and he had no male issue. So, Rajendra united Chola and Eastern Chalukyan kingdoms and ruled upto 1118 AD under the title Kulottunga-I with the capital at Gangaikonda Cholapuram.

The Eastern and Western Chalukyan dynasties, so long as they were collateral branches of the same ruling stock did not create much trouble for each other. But when Vatapi was taken over by the Rashtrakutas, hostility between the rulers of Western Deccan and the Eastern Chalukyas became marked.

This hostility, however, meant merely a lot of fighting in which the latter fared mostly badly; the exceptional instances were very occasional. Vishnuvardhana IV (Eastern Chalukya) (AD 772-AD 808) became subordinate to the Rashtrakuta Krishna I. He made the mistake of supporting Govinda II (a desultory prince) against Dhruva, his competent younger brother and had to reverse his policy on Dhruva's success.

As Vishnuvardhana IV ruled for long he had enough time to be subordinate to a number of Rashtrakuta rulers. But his son and successor Vijayaditya II (AD 799-AD 843) rebelled against Rashtrakuta aggression but it was only an exhibition of valour without prudence for he was expelled by Govinda III. He had to accept humiliation till the accession of Amoghavarsha I, whose military incompetency was sufficient to bestow an opportunity on even Vijayaditya II for a military success against the Rashtrakutas.

Inflated by the success he assumed titles like Maharajadhiraja and Paratnesvara. His fame as a temple builder, however, was quite deserved. Among his successors Gunaga Vijayaditya III (AD 849-AD 892) fell in line with his ancestors in being defeated by the Rashtrakutas, in his case Amoghavarsha I.

But his inscriptions, however, claim a chain of victories for him over even such distant princes like the Pandyas. It was Chalukya Bhima I (AD 892-AD 921) who firmly secured a measure of independence for his line from the Rashtrakutas. Both Vijayaditya III and Bhima I were ably served by a competent general by name Panduranga.

After the death of Bhima I, his son Vijayaditya IV ruled for six months and he was succeeded by the latter's son Amma I whose death was followed by a civil war and an interference from the Rashtrakutas. Bhima II, the brother of Amma I, frustrated Rashtrakuta designs and ascended the throne of Vengi.

In the reign period of Amma II there was again effective interference from the Rashtrakutas who drove him from Vengi to Kalinga and appointed one Batapa to the Eastern Chalukyan kingdom. This was about the middle of the 10th century AD.


Karka II, the last ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty of Manyakheta (modern Malkhed in Gulbarga district in Karnataka), was overthrown in AD 974 by Tailapa or Taila II, who started a new line of Chulukyas known as the Chalukyas of Kalyani. The dynasty produced some of the greatest rulers though the genealogy of the rulers of the Chalukyas of Kalyani is still in the realm of debate.

The kingdom established by Tailapa, with its capital at Kalyani (Karnataka) is known as later Chalukya or the Chalukyas of Kalyani (The earlier Chalukyas being the Chalukyas of Badami). There were many Chalukya dynasties. Of them, the four most important were: the Chalukyas of Badami or Vatapi (also known as early western Chalukyas), the Chalukyas of Vengi (also known as eastern Chalukyas), The Chalukyas of Kalyani (also known as western Chalukyas) and the Chalukyas of Gujarat.

Tailapa's reign lasted for twenty-three years from AD 974 to 997. His rule is marked by extensive conquests. He came into conflict with the Gangas. After defeating Panchaladeva of Ganga dynasty, he captured North Mysore. He fought a prolonged battle with the Paramaras of Malwa and eventually after inflicting a crushing defeat on the Parmara Munja, took him prisoner and the later died in captivity. His reign also saw the beginning of a long drawn phase of wars against the Cholas of Thanjavur, attacking Uttama Chola. The Chalukya-Chola struggle became a regular feature during the rule of his successors.
Tailapa was succeeded by his son and successor Satyasraya, also known as Sollina or Solliga, who continued the aggressive policies of his father. Satyasraya had to face two Chola invasions led by the mighty Rajendra Chola. The Chola armories plundered the entire Chalukyan territory, Captured Banavasi, the seat of power of the Kadambas and large parts of Raichur Doab, and sacked the Chalukyan capital of Manyakheta. Another Chola army moved towards Vengi and forced Satyasraya to withdraw his forces from Vengi.

After Satyasraya's death in 1008, his nephew Vikramaditya V ascended the throne. During his reign, nothing of consequence took place. He was succeeded by his brother Jayasimha II in AD 1015. Jayasimha II (1015-1042) had to face the adversaries on several fronts. He had to face the wrath of the Parmara Bhoja, King of Malwa, wanting to avenge the fate of Munja. The Chalukyan kingdom was invaded by Bhoja (1018-1055) who captured Lata (Gujarat) and parts of Konkan. But it was Rajendra Chola who proved to be his most formidable foe. After many successive defeats of the Chalukyan forces, the Tungabhadra River became the tacit boundary between the two empires. Akkadevi, sister of Jayasimha II, is famed in the history for fighting battles and superintending sieges.

Jayasimha II was succeeded by Someshvara I (c.1042-1062 AD). During the last years of his reign when his power began to decline, he drowned himself in the Tungabhadra River.

These continuous wars dealt a blow to the Chalukya resources and resulted in the weakening of the empire. The last notable Chalukya ruler was Vikramaditya VI (1076-1126), who is famous for introducing the Chalukya -Vikram era in place of Shaka era. In 1085, his armies advanced towards Kanchi and captured some Chola territories in Andhra. He fought many battles against the Hoyasalas of Dwarasamundra, the Kaktiyas of Warrangal, the Yadavas of Devagiri and the Kadambas of Goa, who were the feudatories of the Chalukyas. But in spite of having defeated them, he could not finally suppress their power and within three decades of his death, most of the leading Chalukyan feudatories asserted their independence.

Apart from his chivalrous exploits, Vikramaditya VI was also famous for patronizing men of letters. Bilhana, the author of the Vikaramankadevacharita and Vijñanesvara, the commentator of the Mitakshara commentary on the Smritis, adorned his court. Vikramaditya VI is said to have obtained brides by svayamvaras, or ‘self choice’.

After the death of Vikramaditya VI, the Chalukyas had to face repeated rebellions of their vassals, who soon asserted their independence. By the middle of the twelfth century, the Chalukyan kingdom of Kalyani became almost a shadow of itself and the kingdom was divided into the Kaktiyas of Warrangal, the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra (present day Halebidu in Hassan District of Karnataka)and the Yadavas of Devagiri.

5.0 Administration

The government being monarchical, all powers were vested in the king. It was also hereditary and succession went generally to the eldest son. Generally, the yuvaraja was in charge of the administration of the central region. There were a number of high-ranking ministers to advise the king. Most of the officers held charge of certain departments of administration. Sandhi-vigrahika was the officer in charge of the department of peace and war. The antahpuradhvaksha was in charge of the management of the royal palace. Another official designation that figures in contemporary records is tantradhyaksha which appears to mean superintendent of administration. Bhandari was the treasurer in charge of the royal treasury. Most of the officers were described as dandanayakas as they were required to discharge military service also. Sahani was in charge of cavalry. Anayasahani was in charge of elephants. Most of the officers were paid in kind. They were given land grants on tenure basis.

The kingdom was divided into several provinces which were administered through provincial governors. They were known as mandalesvara or mahamandalesvara. The most common territorial divisions were called nadu, vishaya or kampanu and thana. Nadu was a bigger administrative unit. Kampana or vishaya was a part of nadu. Thana was a territorial division used as a military cantonment. The village official or gavunda looked after the welfare of the villagers. 

He was assisted by senabova (karanika) or the accountant. Besides the villages, there were bigger towns and cities described as nagara. The nagara was administered by a commercial guild. Nagaradhyaksha was the chief officer of such places. The large city had three general assemblies each called mahajana, one for the general problems of the city as a whole, another dealing with problems relating to the Brahmin inhabitants, while a third controlled and regulated matters affecting the mercantile community.

The major source of revenue was land revenue. The different land taxes to be paid were siddhaya, dasavanda, niruni-sunka and melivana. Siddhaya was a fixed tax levied not only on land but also on houses and shops. Dasavanda was one-tenth portion of tax payable to the authority from out of the yield from land or revenue. Niruni-sunka was the water cess to be paid by the farmer. Melivana may be taken to mean the tax levied on ploughs. Sources of income included other kinds of taxes like commercial taxes, professional taxes, social and community taxes, and judicial fines. Perjjumka, volavaru (import), horavaru (export) and the like were customs levied on trade and articles of merchandise. Angadidere (tax on shops), gaanadere (tax on oil mills), navidadere (tax on barbers) and the like were professional taxes. Manevana (house-tax) and hosatilu (tax on the threshold) were property taxes levied by the local bodies. Dandaya was the revenue collected from judicial fines. The tax levied on marriages (maduveyasunka) was the most interesting feature of the Chalukyan administration.

6.0 Education and Literature

The temple played an important role in imparting education, maintaining students and teachers and promoting arts. The temple received munificent gifts from all people, from the king to the common man. In Karnataka, the main centres of education were the brahmapuri, agrahara, ghatikasthana and math. Brahmapuri was a separate colony of the Brahmins where the latter imparted education to students. 

The agrahara consisted of a whole village donated to the learned Brahmins by the king or any of the chiefs for conducting educational and religious activities. Comparatively ghatikasthanas were less in number.
The Chalukya period witnessed a phenomenal growth in literature, both in Sanskrit and Kannada. Among the Sanskrit writers of the period, the foremost is Bilhana, the court poet of Vikramaditya VI. Vikramankadevacharita of Bilhana is a mahakavya. Bilhana wrote many other works. The great jurist Vijnanesvara, who lived at the court of Vikramaditya, wrote the famous Mitaksara, a commentary on the Yajnavalkya Smriti. Somesvara III was the author of encyclopaedic work, Manasoliasa or Abhilashitartha-chintamani.

Under the Western Chalukyas, Kannada literature reached great heights. The three literary gems - Pampa, Ponna and Ranna - contributed to the development of Kannada literature in the 10th century. Of the three, Ranna was the court poet of Satyasraya, while the other two belonged to earlier decades. Nagavarma I was another poet of fame. He was the author of Chhandomhudhi, the ocean of prosody, the earliest work on the subject in Kannada. He also wrote Kanrnataka-Kandambari which is based on Bana's celebrated romance in Sanskrit. The next writer of note was Durgasimha, a minister under Jayasimha II, who wrote Panchatantra. The Virasaiva mystics, especially Basava, contributed to the development of Kannada language and literature, particularly prose iiterature. They brought into existence the vachana literature to convey high philosophical ideas to the common man in simple language. 

7.0 Chola-Chalukya Alliance 

With the accession of Shaktivarman I to the throne, Vengi ceased to be an independent kingdom and became an appendix of the Chola empire. The rule of Shaktivarman I saw the invasion of Vengi by the Western Chalukya, Satyasraya. But he was compelled to withdraw his army from Vengi when Rajendra Chola I invaded Karnataka. Saktivarman was succeeded by his younger brother Vimaladitya. The most important event of Vimaladitya's reign was his marriage with Kundavai, the daughter of the great Chola emperor Rajaraja I, by whom he had a son named Rajaraja (full name of sister - Alvar Sri Parantakan Sri Kundavai Pirattiyar or more popularly referred to as Kundavai Pirattiyar). Thus began the process of Chola-Chalukya matrimonial alliances which ultimately ended in the merger of the two dynasties under Kulottunga. Vimaladitya had another queen Melama, from whom he had a son, Vijayaditya VII. Vijayaditya seized power with the help of Jayasimha II of Kalyani by superseding Rajaraja. But Rajendra Chola came to the rescue of his nephew Rajaraja and enthroned his nephew as the ruler of Vengi.

Rajaraja Narendra's long reign was a period of continuous political unrest, accentuated by the unceasing efforts of his half-brother Vijayaditya to regain the throne. When Rajaraja Narendra died the throne was seized by Vijayaditya VII, who remained as the ruler of Vengi so long as Virarajendra occupied the Chola throne. But after the death of Virarajendra in 1070, a civil war engulfed the Chola country which ended with the accession of Rajendra Chola II alias Kulottunga I, nephew of Vijayaditya. After consolidating his position in the Chola country, Kulottunga I succeeded in capturing Vengi, whereupon Vijayaditya took shelter with Rajaraja Devendravarman, the king of Kalinga. With his death in 1075 AD, the Eastem Chalukya dynasty came to an end.


Vesara is the name given to a particular architectural style which was prevalent in Karnataka for a number of centuries during the medieval era. It is essentially a combination of the 'Nagara' and 'Dravida' styles which are typical of North India and the far South respectively. The geographical position of Karnataka, the wide spread activities of the important royal dynasties and an attitude which is not unduly stubborn might have prompted this amalgamation of styles.

This phenomenon is observed right from the days of the architectural endeavours of Badami Chalukyas till the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. The word has been given two or three etymological explanations. Firstly, it is deemed to be a corrupt form of the Sanskrit word 'mishra' meaning 'mixed' denoting a mixture of two styles. Secondly, 'vesara' in Sanskrit means a mule which again is a hybrid of two animals. Interestingly, the Kannada word for mule is 'hesaragatte' which can be easily linked to 'vesara'. Thirdly, vishra means an area wherein one takes a long walk. The quarters of Buddhist and Jain monks who left urban areas to live in cave temples were called viharas.

The Vesara style temples were influenced by the Buddhist apsidal chapels and evolved during the period the Later Chalukyas. 

This is also in conformity with the prevalence of Vesara style of architecture in the Deccan and central parts of South Asia vis-à-vis Nagara style prevalent in North India and Dravida style prevalent in South India.The Vesara style is also described in some texts as the 'Central Indian temple architecture style' or 'Deccan architecture'. However many historian agree that the vesara style originated in what is today’s Karnataka. The trend was started by the Chalukyas of Badami (500-753 AD) who built temples in a style that was essentially a mixture of the nagara and the dravida styles, further refined by the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta (750-983 AD) in Ellora, Chalukyas of Kalyani (983-1195 AD) in Lakkundi, Dambal, Gadag etc. and epitomized by the Hoysala empire (1000-1330 AD).

According to scholars, the Vesara style reduces the height of the temple towers even though the numbers of tiers are retained. This is accomplished by reducing the height of individual tiers. The semi circular structures of the Buddhist chaityas are also borrowed as in the Durga temple at Aihole.

Many temples in Central India and the Deccan have used the Vesara style with regional modifications. The Papanatha temple (680 AD) in particular and some other temples to a lesser extent located at Pattadakal demonstrate panache for this stylistic overlap. The Svargabrahma temple at Alampur in the state of Andhra Pradesh has similar characteristics.
"The surfaces in these Hoysala temples are carved in high-relief with detailed repeating patterns of miniature shrine models, distinguishing them also from contemporary temples in other parts of India that have an elaborate use of human and animal figures on their decorative exterior".

The temples built in the Vesara style are found in other parts of India also. They include temples at Sirpur, Baijnath, Baroli and Amarkantak. The temple complex at Khajuraho is a typical example of the Vesara style. In the west (northern Karnataka) the Aihole and Pattadakal group of temples (5th to 7th centuries) show early attempts to evolve an acceptable regional style based on tradition. Among the better known early structural temples at Aihole are the Huchimalligudi and Durga temples as also the Ladkhan temple, all assigned to the period 450-650 AD. Equally important are the temples of Kasinatha, Papanatha, Sangamesvara, Virupaksa and others in Pattadakal near Aihole as also the Svargabrahma temple at Alampur (Andhra Pradesh). It is in some of these temples, built by the later Chalukyas, that we come across the Vesara style, a combination of the northern and the southern modes.



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PT's IAS Academy: UPSC IAS exam preparation - Ancient and Medieval History - Lecture 27
UPSC IAS exam preparation - Ancient and Medieval History - Lecture 27
Excellent study material for all civil services aspirants - being learning - Kar ke dikhayenge!
PT's IAS Academy
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