Chalukya dynasty

This article is about the Chalukyas of Vatapi. For other dynasties, see Chalukya (disambiguation).
Chalukya dynasty
ಚಾಲುಕ್ಯ ರಾಜವಂಶ
(Subordinate to Kadamba Dynasty until 543)
Extent of Badami Chalukya Empire, 636 CE, 740 CE
Capital Badami
Languages Kannada
Religion Hinduism
Government Monarchy
   543–566 Pulakeshin I
  746–753 Kirtivarman II
  Earliest records 543
   Established 543
   Disestablished 753
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Kadamba dynasty
Rashtrakuta dynasty
Eastern Chalukyas
Today part of  India
Old Kannada inscription of Chalukya King Mangalesha dated 578 CE at Badami cave temple no.3
ಬಾದಾಮಿ ಚಾಲುಕ್ಯರು
Badami Chalukya
Pulakeshin I (543–566)
Kirtivarman I (566–597)
Mangalesha (597–609)
Pulakeshin II (609–642)
Vikramaditya I (655–680)
Vinayaditya (680 -696)
Vijayaditya (696–733)
Vikramaditya II (733–746)
Kirtivarman II (746–753)
(Rashtrakuta Empire)

The Chalukya dynasty ([tʃaːɭukjə]) was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the "Badami Chalukyas", ruled from Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakeshin II. After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from Vengi until about the 11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of the 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas, in the late 10th century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) until the end of the 12th century.

The rule of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka. The political atmosphere in South India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the ascendancy of Badami Chalukyas. A Southern India-based kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and the Narmada rivers. The rise of this empire saw the birth of efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called "Chalukyan architecture". Kannada literature, which had enjoyed royal support in the 9th century Rashtrakuta court found eager patronage from the Western Chalukyas in the Jain and Veerashaiva traditions. The 11th century saw the birth of Telugu literature under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas.

Chalukya emblem of Aihole in Karnataka depicts Vishnu in Varaha form. A 6th century stone emblem.


Natives of Karnataka

Old Kannada inscription on victory pillar, Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal, 733–745 CE

While opinions vary regarding the early origins of the Chalukyas, the consensus among noted historians such as John Keay, D.C. Sircar, Hans Raj, S. Sen, Kamath and Karmarkar is the founders of the empire at Badami were native to the modern Karnataka region.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

A theory that they were descendants of a 2nd-century chieftain called Kandachaliki Remmanaka, a feudatory of the Andhra Ikshvaku (from an Ikshvaku inscription of the 2nd century) was put forward. This according to Kamath has failed to explain the difference in lineage. The Kandachaliki feudatory call themselves Vashisthiputras of the Hiranyakagotra. The Chalukyas, however, address themselves as Harithiputras of Manavyasagotra in their inscriptions, which is the same lineage as their early overlords, the Kadambas of Banavasi. This makes them descendants of the Kadambas. The Chalukyas took control of the territory formerly ruled by the Kadambas.[11]

A later record of Eastern Chalukyas mentions the northern origin theory and claims one ruler of Ayodhya came south, defeated the Pallavas and married a Pallava princess. She had a child called Vijayaditya who is claimed to be the Pulakeshin I's father. However, according to the historians K. V. Ramesh, Chopra and Sastri, there are Badami Chalukya inscriptions that confirm Jayasimha was Pulakeshin I's grandfather and Ranaranga, his father.[12][13][14][15] Kamath and Moraes claim it was a popular practice in the 11th century to link South Indian royal family lineage to a Northern kingdom. The Badami Chalukya records themselves are silent with regards to the Ayodhya origin.[16][17]

While the northern origin theory has been dismissed by many historians, the epigraphist K. V. Ramesh has suggested that an earlier southern migration is a distinct possibility which needs examination.[18] According to him, the complete absence of any inscriptional reference of their family connections to Ayodhya, and their subsequent Kannadiga identity may have been due to their earlier migration into present day Karnataka region where they achieved success as chieftains and kings. Hence, the place of origin of their ancestors may have been of no significance to the kings of the empire who may have considered themselves natives of the Kannada speaking region.[19] The writing of 12th century Kashmiri poet Bilhana suggests the Chalukya family belonged to the Shudra caste while other sources claim they were Kshatriyas.[20]

The historians Jan Houben and Kamath, and the epigraphist D.C. Sircar note the Badami Chalukya inscriptions are in Kannada and Sanskrit.[21][22][23] According to the historian N. L. Rao, their inscriptions call them Karnatas and their names use indigenous Kannada titles such as Priyagallam and Noduttagelvom. The names of some Chalukya princes end with the pure Kannada term arasa (meaning "king" or "chief").[24][25] The Rashtrakuta inscriptions call the Chalukyas of Badami Karnatabala ("Power of Karnata"). It has been proposed by the historian S. C. Nandinath that the word "Chalukya" originated from Salki or Chalki which is a Kannada word for an agricultural implement.[26][27]

Historical sources

Inscriptions in Sanskrit and Kannada are the main source of information about the Badami Chalukya history. Among them, the Badami cave inscriptions of Mangalesha (578), Kappe Arabhatta record of c. 700, Peddavaduguru inscription of Pulakeshin II, the Kanchi Kailasanatha Temple inscription and Pattadakal Virupaksha Temple inscription of Vikramaditya II (all in Kannada language) provide more evidence of the Chalukya language.[28][29] The Badami cliff inscription of Pulakeshin I (543), the Mahakuta Pillar inscription of Mangalesha (595) and the Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II (634) are examples of important Sanskrit inscriptions written in old Kannada script.[30][31][32] The reign of the Chalukyas saw the arrival of Kannada as the predominant language of inscriptions along with Sanskrit, in areas of the Indian peninsula outside what is known as Tamilaham (Tamil country).[33] Several coins of the Badami Chalukyas with Kannada legends have been found. All this indicates that Kannada language flourished during this period.[34]

Portrait of Xuanzang

Travelogues of contemporary foreign travellers have provided useful information about the Chalukyan empire. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang had visited the court of Pulakeshin II. At the time of this visit, as mentioned in the Aihole record, Pulakeshin II had divided his empire into three Maharashtrakas or great provinces comprising 99,000 villages each. This empire possibly covered present day Karnataka, Maharashtra and coastal Konkan.[35][36] Xuanzang, impressed with the governance of the empire observed that the benefits of king's efficient administration was felt far and wide. Later, Persian emperor Khosrau II exchanged ambassadors with Pulakeshin II.[37][38]


Court poets of the Western Chalukya dynasty of Kalyani narrate:

"Once when Brahma, the creator, was engaged in the performance of the sandhya (twilight) rituals, Indra approaced and beseeched him to create a hero who could put to an end the increasing evil on earth. On being thus requested, Brahma looked steadily into the Chuluka-jala (the water of oblation in his palm) and out sprang thence a great warrior, the progenitor of the Chalukyas".[39] The Chalukyas claimed to have been nursed by the Sapta Matrikas ("seven divine mothers") and were worshippers of many gods including Siva, Vishnu, Chamundi, Surya, Kubera, Parvati, Vinayaka and Kartikeya.

Some scholars connect the Chalukyas with the Solankis of Gujarat.[40] According to a myth mentioned in latter manuscripts of Prithviraj Raso, Solankis were born out of fire-pit (Agnikund) at Mount Abu. However it has been reported that the story of Agnikula is not mentioned at all in the original version of the Prithviraj Raso preserved in the Fort Library at Bikaner.[41]

According to the Nilagunda inscription of King Vikramaditya VI (11th century or later), the Chalukyas originally hailed from Ayodhya where fifty-nine kings ruled, and later, sixteen more of this family ruled from South India where they had migrated. This is repeated by his court poet Bilhana, who claims that the first member of the family, "Chalukya", was so named as he was born in the "hollow of the hands" of God Brahma.[42][43]

According to a theory put forward by Lewis, the Chalukya were descendants of the "Seleukia" tribe of Iraq and that their conflict with the Pallava of Kanchi was, but a continuation of the conflict between ancient Seleukia and "Parthians", the proposed ancestors of Pallavas. However, this theory has been rejected by Kamath as it seeks to build lineages based simply on similar-sounding clan names.[44]

Periods in Chalukya history

The Chalukyas ruled over the Deccan plateau in India for over 600 years. During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties. These are the "Chalukyas of Badami" (also called "Early Chalukyas"), who ruled between the 6th and the 8th century, and the two sibling dynasties, the "Chalukyas of Kalyani" (also called Western Chalukyas or "Later Chalukyas") and the "Chalukyas of Vengi" (also called Eastern Chalukyas).

Chalukyas of Badami

In the 6th century, with the decline of the Gupta dynasty and their immediate successors in northern India, major changes began to happen in the area south of the Vindyas – the Deccan and Tamilaham. The age of small kingdoms had given way to large empires in this region.[45] The Chalukya dynasty was established by Pulakeshin I in 543.[46][47][48] Pulakeshin I took Vatapi (modern Badami in Bagalkot district, Karnataka) under his control and made it his capital. Pulakeshin I and his descendants are referred to as "Chalukyas of Badami". They ruled over an empire that comprised the entire state of Karnataka and most of Andhra Pradesh in the Deccan.

Pulakeshin II, whose precoronation name was Ereya,[49] commanded control over the entire Deccan and is perhaps the most well-known emperor of the Badami dynasty.[50][51] He is considered one of the notable kings in Indian history.[52][53][54] His queens were princess from the Alupa Dynasty of South Canara and the Western Ganga Dynasty of Talakad, clans with whom the Chalukyas maintained close family and marital relationships.[55][56] Pulakeshin II extended the Chalukya Empire up to the northern extents of the Pallava kingdom and halted the southward march of Harsha by defeating him on the banks of the river Narmada. He then defeated the Vishnukundins in the southeastern Deccan.[57][58][59][60] Pallava Narasimhavarman however reversed this victory in 642 by attacking and occupying Badami temporarily. It is presumed Pulakeshin II, "the great hero", died fighting.[38][61]

The Badami Chalukya dynasty went into a brief decline following the death of Pulakeshin II due to internal feuds when Badami was occupied by the Pallavas for a period of thirteen years.[62][63] It recovered during the reign of Vikramaditya I, who succeeded in pushing the Pallavas out of Badami and restoring order to the empire. Vikramaditya I took the title "Rajamalla" (lit "Sovereign of the Mallas" or Pallavas).[64] The thirty-seven year rule of Vijayaditya (696–733) was a prosperous one and is known for prolific temple building activity.[65][66]

The empire was its peak again during the rule of the illustrious Vikramaditya II (733–744) who is known not only for his repeated invasions of the territory of Tondaimandalam and his subsequent victories over Pallava Nandivarman II, but also for his benevolence towards the people and the monuments of Kanchipuram, the Pallava capital.[65][67][68] He thus avenged the earlier humiliation of the Chalukyas by the Pallavas and engraved a Kannada inscription on the victory pillar at the Kailasanatha Temple.[67][69][70] During his reign Arab intruders of the Umayyad Caliphate invaded southern Gujarat which was under Chalukya rule but the Arabs were defeated and driven out by Pulakesi, a Chalukya governor of Navsari.[71] He later overran the other traditional kingdoms of Tamil country, the Pandyas, the Cholas and the Cheras in addition to subduing a Kalabhra ruler.[72] The last Chalukya king, Kirtivarman II, was overthrown by the Rashtrakuta King Dantidurga in 753.[73] At their peak, the Chalukyas ruled a vast empire stretching from the Kaveri in the south to the Narmada in the north.

Chalukyas of Kalyani

The Chalukyas revived their fortunes in 973 after over 200 years of dormancy when much of the Deccan was under the rule of the Rashtrakutas. The genealogy of the kings of this empire is still debated. One theory, based on contemporary literary and inscriptional evidence plus the finding that the Western Chalukyas employed titles and names commonly used by the early Chalukyas, suggests that the Western Chalukya kings belonged to the same family line as the illustrious Badami Chalukya dynasty of the 6th century[74][75] while other Western Chalukya inscriptional evidence indicates they were a distinct line unrelated to the Early Chalukyas.[76]

Tailapa II, a Rashtrakuta feudatory ruling from Tardavadi – 1000 (Bijapur district) overthrew Karka II, re-established the Chalukya rule in the western Deccan and recovered most of the Chalukya empire.[77][78] The Western Chalukyas ruled for over 200 years and were in constant conflict with the Cholas, and with their cousins, the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi. Vikramaditya VI is widely considered the most notable ruler of the dynasty.[79][80] Starting from the very beginning of his reign, which lasted fifty years, he abolished the original Saka era and established the Vikrama Era. Most subsequent Chalukya inscriptions are dated in this new era.[81][82] Vikramaditya VI was an ambitious and skilled military leader. Under his leadership the Western Chalukyas were able to end the Chola influence over Vengi (coastal Andhra) and become the dominant power in the Deccan.[83][84] The Western Chalukya period was an important age in the development of Kannada literature and Sanskrit literature.[85][86] They went into their final dissolution towards the end of the 12th century with the rise of the Hoysala Empire, the Pandyas, the Kakatiya and the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri.[87]

Chalukyas of Vengi

Main article: Eastern Chalukyas

Pulakeshin II conquered the eastern Deccan, corresponding to the coastal districts of modern Andhra Pradesh in 616, defeating the remnants of the Vishnukundina kingdom. He appointed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana as Viceroy in 621.[88][89] Thus the Eastern Chalukyas were originally of Kannada stock.[90] After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Vengi Viceroyalty developed into an independent kingdom and included the region between Nellore and Visakhapatnam.[89][91]

After the decline of the Badami Chalukya empire in the mid-8th century, territorial disputes flared up between the Rashtrakutas, the new rulers of the western deccan, and the Eastern Chalukyas. For much of the next two centuries, the Eastern Chalukyas had to accept subordination towards the Rashtrakutas.[92] Apart from a rare military success, such as the one by Vijayaditya II(c.808-847), it was only during the rule of Bhima I (c.892-921) that these Chalukyas were able to celebrate a measure of independence. After the death of Bhima I, the Andhra region once again saw succession disputes and interference in Vengi affairs by the Rashtrakutas.[92]

The fortunes of the Eastern Chalukyas took a turn around 1000. Danarnava, their king, was killed in battle in 973 by the Telugu Choda King Bhima who then imposed his rule over the region for twenty-seven years. During this time, Danarnava's two sons took refuge in the Chola kingdom. Choda Bhima 's invasion of Tondaimandalam, a Chola territory, and his subsequent death on the battlefield opened up a new era in Chola–Chalukya relations. Saktivarman I, the elder son of Danarnava was crowned as the ruler of Vengi in 1000, though under the control of king Rajaraja Chola I.[93] This new relationship between the Cholas and the coastal Andhra kingdom was unacceptable to the Western Chalukyas, who had by then replaced the Rashtrakutas as the main power in the western Deccan. The Western Chalukyas sought to brook the growing Chola influence in the Vengi region but were unsuccessful.[92][94]

Initially, the Eastern Chalukyas had encouraged Kannada language and literature, though, after a period of time, local factors took over and they gave importance to Telugu language.[95][96] Telugu literature owes its growth to the Eastern Chalukyas.[97]


Aihole - Durga Temple Front View
Aihole - Meguti Jain Temple
Virupaksha temple in Dravidian style at Pattadakal, built 740 CE
Mallikarjuna temple in dravidian style and Kashi Vishwanatha temple in nagara style at Pattadakal, built 740 CE
Dancing Shiva in cave no. 1 in Badami
Papanatha temple at Pattadakal – fusion of southern and northern Indian styles, 680 CE

The Badami Chalukya era was an important period in the development of South Indian architecture. Their style of architecture is called "Chalukyan architecture" or "Karnata Dravida architecture".[98][99] Nearly a hundred monuments built by them, rock cut (cave) and structural, are found in the Malaprabha river basin in modern Bagalkot district of northern Karnataka.[100] The building material they used was a reddish-golden Sandstone found locally. Though they ruled a vast empire, the Chalukyan workshops concentrated most of their temple building activity in a relatively small area within the Chalukyan heartland Aihole, Badami, Pattadakal and Mahakuta in modern Karnataka state.[101]

Their temple building activity can be categorised into three phases. The early phase began in the last quarter of the 6th century and resulted in many cave temples, prominent among which are three elementary cave temples at Aihole (one Vedic, one Jain and one Buddhist which is incomplete), followed by four developed cave temples at Badami (of which cave 3, a Vaishnava temple, is dated accurately to 578 CE).[102] These cave temples at Badami are similar, in that, each has a plain exterior but an exceptionally well finished interior consisting of a pillared verandah, a columned hall (mantapa) and a cella (shrine, cut deep into rock) which contains the deity of worship.[103] In Badami, three caves temples are Vedic and one in Jain. The Vedic temples contain large well sculpted images of Harihara, Mahishasuramardhini, Varaha, Narasimha, Trivikrama, Vishnu seated on Anantha (the snake) and Nataraja (dancing Shiva).[104]

The second phase of temple building was at Aihole (where some seventy structures exist and has been called "one of the cradles of Indian temple architecture"[105]) and Badami. Though the exact dating of these temples has been debated, there is consensus that the beginnings of these constructions are from c. 600.[106][107][108] These are the Lad Khan Temple (dated by some to c. 450 but more accurately to 620) with its interesting perforated stone windows and sculptures of river goddesses; the Meguti Jain Temple (634) which shows progress in structural design; the Durga Temple with its northern Indian style tower (8th century) and experiments to adapt a Buddhist Chaitya design to a brahminical one; the Huccimalli Gudi Temple with a new inclusion, a vestibule, connecting the sanctum to the hall.[109] Other dravida style temples from this period are the Naganatha Temple at Nagaral; the Banantigudi Temple, the Mahakutesvara Temple and the Mallikarjuna Temple at Mahakuta; and the Lower Sivalaya Temple, the Malegitti Sivalaya Temple (upper) and the Jambulingesvara Temple at Badami.[107]

The structural temples at Pattadakal, built in the 8th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marks the culmination and mature phase of Badami Chalukyan architecture. The Bhutanatha group of temples at Badami are also from this period. There are ten temples at Pattadakal, six in southern dravida style and four in the northern nagara style. Well known among these are the Sangamesvara Temple (725), the Virupaksha Temple (740–745) and the Mallikarjuna Temple (740–745) in the southern style. The Papanatha temple (680) and Galaganatha Temple (740) are early attempts in the nagara dravida fusion style.[110] Inscriptional evidence suggests that the Virupaksha and the Mallikarjuna Temples were commissioned by the two queens of King Vikramaditya II after his military success over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram.[107] Some well known names of Chalukyan architects are Revadi Ovajja, Narasobba and Anivarita Gunda.[111]

The reign of Western Chalukyas was an important period in the development of Deccan architecture. Their architecture served as a conceptual link between the Badami Chalukya architecture of the 8th century and the Hoysala architecture popularised in the 13th century.[112][113] The centre of their cultural and temple-building activity lay in the Tungabhadra region of modern Karnataka state, encompassing the present-day Dharwad district; it included areas of present-day Haveri and Gadag districts.[114][115] Here, large medieval workshops built numerous monuments.[116] These monuments, regional variants of pre-existing dravida temples, defined the Karnata dravida tradition.[117]

The most notable of the many buildings dating from this period are the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in the Koppal district,[118][119] the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi in the Gadag district,[120][121] the Mallikarjuna Temple at Kuruvatti,[121] and the Kallesvara Temple at Bagali,[122] both in the Davangere district.[123] Other notable constructions are the Dodda Basappa Temple at Dambal (Gadag district),[124][125] the Siddhesvara Temple at Haveri (Haveri district),[126][127] and the Amrtesvara Temple at Annigeri (Dharwad district).[128][129] The Eastern Chalukyas built some fine temples at Alampur, in modern eastern Andhra Pradesh.[102][130]


Poetry on stone at the Meguti temple (Aihole inscription) dated 634 CE, in Sanskrit language and old Kannada script, with a Kannada language endorsement of about the same date at the bottom.[21]

The Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II (634) written by his court poet Ravikirti in Sanskrit language and Kannada script is considered as an classical piece of poetry.[30][131] A few verses of a poet named Vijayanaka who describes herself as the "dark Sarasvati" have been preserved. It is possible that she may have been a queen of prince Chandraditya (a son of Pulakeshin II).[132] Famous writers in Sanskrit from the Western Chalukya period are Vijnaneshwara who achieved fame by writing Mitakshara, a book on Hindu law, and King Someshvara III, a noted scholar, who compiled an encyclopedia of all arts and sciences called Manasollasa.[133]

From the period of the Badami Chalukyas, references are made to the existence of Kannada literature, though not much has survived.[134] Inscriptions however refer to Kannada as the "natural language".[135] The Kappe Arabhatta record of c. 700 in tripadi (three line) metre is the earliest available work in Kannada poetics.[136][137] Karnateshwara Katha, which was quoted later by Jayakirti, is believed to be a eulogy of Pulakeshin II and to have belonged to this period.[137] Other probable Kannada writers, whose works are not extant now but titles of which are known from independent references[138] are Syamakundacharya (650), who is said to have authored the Prabhrita, and Srivaradhadeva (also called Tumubuluracharya, 650 or earlier), the possible author of the Chudamani ("Crest Jewel"), a lengthy commentary on logic.[134][139][140][141]

The rule of the Western and Eastern Chalukyas, however, is a major event in the history of Kannada and Telugu literatures respectively. By the 9th–10th centuries, Kannada language had already seen some of its most notable writers. The "three gems" of Kannada literature, Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna belonged to this period.[142][143] In the 11th century, Telugu literature was born under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas with Nannaya Bhatta as its first writer.[143][144]

Badami Chalukya country


Bhutanatha group of temples facing the Badami tank

The army was well organised and this was the reason for Pulakeshin II's success beyond the Vindyas.[145] It consisted of an infantry, a cavalry, an elephant corps and a powerful navy. The Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsiang wrote that the Chalukyan army had hundreds of elephants which were intoxicated with liquor prior to battle.[38][146] It was with their navy that they conquered Revatidvipa (Goa), and Puri on east coast of India. Rashtrakuta inscriptions use the term Karnatabala when referring to the powerful Chalukya armies.[147]

Land governance

The government, at higher levels, was closely modelled after the Magadhan and Satavahana administrative machinery.[38] The empire was divided into Maharashtrakas (provinces), then into smaller Rashtrakas (Mandala), Vishaya (district), Bhoga (group of 10 villages) which is similar to the Dasagrama unit used by the Kadambas. At the lower levels of administration, the Kadamba style prevailed fully. The Sanjan plates of Vikramaditya I even mentions a land unit called Dasagrama.[148] In addition to imperial provinces, there were autonomous regions ruled by feudatories such as the Alupas, the Gangas, the Banas and the Sendrakas.[149] Local assemblies and guilds looked after local issues. Groups of mahajanas (learned brahmins) looked after agraharas (called ghatika or "place of higher learning") such as at Badami which was served by 2000 mahajans and Aihole which was served by 500 mahajanas. Taxes were levied and were called the herjunka – tax on loads, the kirukula – tax on retail goods in transit, the bilkode – sales tax, the pannaya – betel tax, siddaya – land tax and the vaddaravula – tax levied to support royalty.[149]


Bahubali at Jain Cave temple No. 4 at Badami, 6th century

The Badami Chalukyas minted coins that were of a different standard compared to the coins of the northern kingdoms.[150] The coins had Nagari and Kannada legends.[22] The coins of Mangalesha had the symbol of a temple on the obverse and a 'sceptre between lamps' or a temple on the reverse. Pulakeshin II's coins had a caparisoned lion facing right on the obverse and a temple on the reverse. The coins weighed 4 grams and were called, in old-Kannada, hun (or honnu) and had fractions such as fana (or fanam) and the quarter fana (the modern day Kannada equivalent being hana – which literally means "money").[151] A gold coin called gadyana is mentioned in a record at the Vijayeshwara Temple at Pattadakal, which later came to be known as varaha (their royal emblem).[150]


Vaishnava Cave temple No. 3 at Badami, 578 CE

Both Shaivism and Vaishnavism flourished during the Badami Chalukya period, though it seems the former was more popular.[152] Famous temples were built in places such as Pattadakal, Aihole and Mahakuta, and priests (archakas) were invited from northern India. Vedic sacrifices, religious vows (vrata) and the giving of gifts (dana) was important.[153] The Badami kings were initially followers of Vedic Hinduism and dedicated temples to popular Hindu deities in Aihole. Sculptures of deities testify to the popularity of Hindu Gods such as Vishnu, Shiva, Kartikeya, Ganapathi, Shakti, Surya and Sapta Matrikas ("seven mothers"). The Badami kings also performed the Ashwamedha ("horse sacrifice").[154] The worship of Lajja Gauri, a fertility goddess is known. Jainism too was a prominent religion during this period. The kings of the dynasty were however secular and actively encouraged Jainism. One of the Badami Cave temples is dedicated to the Jain faith. Jain temples were also erected in the Aihole complex, the temple at Maguti being one such example.[155] Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakeshin II was a Jain. Queen Vinayavati consecrated a temple for the Trimurti ("Hindu trinity") at Badami. Sculptures of the Trimurti, Harihara (half Vishnu, half Shiva) and Ardhanarishwara (half Shiva, half woman) provide ample evidence of their tolerance.[154] Buddhism was on a decline, having made its ingress into Southeast Asia. This is confirmed by the writings of Hiuen-Tsiang. Badami, Aihole, Kurtukoti and Puligere (modern Lakshmeshwar in the Gadag district) were primary places of learning.


Vishnu image in Cave temple No. 3

The Hindu caste system was present and devadasis were recognised by the government. Some kings had concubines (ganikas) who were given much respect,[156] and Sati was perhaps absent since widows like Vinayavathi and Vijayanka are mentioned in records. Devadasis were however present in temples. Sage Bharata's Natyashastra, the precursor to Bharatanatyam, the classical dance of South India, was popular and is seen in many sculptures and is mentioned in inscriptions.[157] Some women from the royal family enjoyed political power in administration. Queen Vijayanka was a noted Sanskrit poet,[132] Kumkumadevi, the younger sister of Vijayaditya (and queen of Alupa King Chitravahana) made several grants and had a Jain basadi called Anesajjebasadi constructed at Puligere,[158] and the queens of Vikramaditya II, Lokamahadevi and Trailokyamahadevi made grants and possibly consecrated the Lokesvara Temple (now called Virupaksha temple) but also and the Mallikarjuna temple respectively at Pattadakal.[159]

The Chalukya era may be seen as the beginning in the fusion of cultures of northern and southern India, making way for the transmission of ideas between the two regions. This is seen clearly in the field of architecture. The Chalukyas spawned the Vesara style of architecture which includes elements of the northern nagara and southern dravida styles. During this period, the expanding Sanskritic culture mingled with local Dravidian vernaculars which were already popular.[45] Dravidian languages maintain these influences even today. This influence helped to enrich literature in these languages.[160] The Hindu legal system owes much to the Sanskrit work Mitakshara by Vijnaneshwara in the court of Western Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI. Perhaps the greatest work in legal literature, Mitakshara is a commentary on Yajnavalkya and is a treatise on law based on earlier writings and has found acceptance in most parts of India. Englishman Henry Thomas Colebrooke later translated into English the section on inheritance, giving it currency in the British Indian court system.[161] It was during the Western Chalukya rule that the Bhakti movement gained momentum in South India, in the form of Ramanujacharya and Basavanna, later spreading into northern India.

A celebration called Chalukya utsava, a three-day festival of music and dance, organised by the Government of Karnataka, is held every year at Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole.[162] The event is a celebration of the achievements of the Chalukyas in the realm of art, craft, music and dance. The program, which starts at Pattadakal and ends in Aihole, is inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. Singers, dancers, poets and other artists from all over the country take part in this event. In the 26 February 2006 celebration, 400 art troupes took part in the festivities. Colorful cut outs of the Varaha the Chalukya emblem, Satyashraya Pulakeshin (Pulakeshin II), famous sculptural masterpieces such as Durga, Mahishasuramardhini (Durga killing demon Mahishasura) were present everywhere. The program at Pattadakal is named Anivaritacharigund vedike after the famous architect of the Virupaksha temple, Gundan Anivaritachari. At Badami it is called Chalukya Vijayambika Vedike and at Aihole, Ravikirti Vedike after the famous poet and minister (Ravikirti) in the court of Pulakeshin II. Immadi Pulakeshi, a Kannada movie of the 1960s starring Dr. Rajkumar celebrates the life and times of the great king.[162]

See also


  1. N. Laxminarayana Rao and Dr. S. C. Nandinath have claimed the Chalukyas were Kannadigas (Kannada speakers) and very much the natives of Karnataka (Kamath 2001, p. 57)
  2. The Chalukyas were Kannadigas (D.C. Sircar in Mahajan V.D., 1960, Reprint 2007, Ancient India, Chand and Company, New Delhi, p. 690, ISBN 81-219-0887-6)
  3. Natives of Karnataka (Hans Raj, 2007, Advanced history of India: From earliest times to present times, Part-1, Surgeet publications, New Delhi, p. 339
  4. The Chalukyas hailed from Karnataka (John Keay, 2000, p. 168)
  5. Quote:"They belonged to Karnataka country and their mother tongue was Kannada" (Sen 1999, 360)
  6. The Chalukyas of Badami seem to be of indigenous origin (Kamath 2001, p. 58)
  7. Jayasimha and Ranaraga, the first members of the Chalukya family were possibly employees of the Kadambas in the northern part of the Kadamba Kingdom (Fleet [in Kanarese Dynasties, p. 343] in Moraes, 1931, pp. 51–52)
  8. Pulakesi I must have been an administrative official of the northern Kadamba territory centered in Badami (Moraes 1931, pp. 51–52)
  9. The Chalukya base was Badami and Aihole (Thapar 2003, p. 328)
  10. Inscriptional evidence proves the Chalukyas were native Kannadigas (Karmarkar, 1947, p. 26)
  11. Pulakesi I of Badami who was a feudatory of the Kadamba king Krishna Varman II, overpowered his overlord in c. 540 and took control of the Kadamba Kingdom (Kamath 2001, p. 35)
  12. Jayasimha (Pulakesi I's grandfather) is known from the Kaira inscription of 472–473 CE. Both Jayasimha and Ranaranga (Pulakesi I's father) are known from Mahakuta inscription of 599 CE and Aihole record of 634 CE (Ramesh 1984, pp. 26–27, p. 30)
  13. From the Badami Cliff inscription of Pulakesi I and from the Hyderabad record of Pulakesi II which states their family ancestry (Kamath 2001, pp. 56–58)
  14. Sastri (1955), p. 154
  15. Chopra (2003), p. 73, part 1
  16. Kamath (2001), p. 56
  17. Moraes (1931). pp. 10–11
  18. Ramesh (1984), p. 19
  19. Ramesh (1984), p. 20
  20. Bilhana, in his Sanskrit work Vikramanakadevacharitam claims the Early Chalukya family were born from the feet of Hindu God Brahma, implying they were Shudras by caste, while other sources claim they were born in the arms of Brahma, and hence were Kshatriyas (Ramesh 1984, p. 15)
  21. 1 2 Sircar D.C. (1965), p. 48, Indian Epigraphy, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, ISBN 81-208-1166-6
  22. 1 2 Kamath (2001), p. 57
  23. Houben (1996), p. 215
  24. Professor N.L. Rao has pointed out that some of their family records in Sanskrit have also named the princes with "arasa", such as Kattiyarasa (Kirtivarman I), Bittarasa (Kubja Vishnuvardhana) and Mangalarasa (Mangalesha, Kamath 2001, pp. 57–60)
  25. Historians Shafaat Ahmad Khan and S. Krishnasvami Aiyangar clarify that Arasa is Kannada word, equivalent to Sanskrit word Raja Journal of Indian History p. 102, Published by Department of Modern Indian History, University of Allahabad
  26. Dr. Hoernle suggests a non-Sanskrit origin of the dynastic name. Dr. S.C. Nandinath feels the Chalukyas were of agricultural background and of Kannada origin who later took up a martial career. He feels the word Chalki found in some of their records must have originated from salki, an agricultural implement (Kamath 2001, p. 57)
  27. The word Chalukya is derived from a Dravidian root (Kittel in Karmarkar 1947, p. 26)
  28. Kamath (2001), p. 6, p. 10, p. 57, p. 59, p. 67
  29. Ramesh (1984), p. 76, p. 159, pp. 161–162
  30. 1 2 Kamath (2001), p. 59
  31. Azmathulla Shariff. "Badami Chalukyans' magical transformation". Deccan Herald, Spectrum, July 26, 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-02-10. Retrieved 2006-11-10.
  32. Carol Radcliffe Bolon. "The Mahakuta Pillar and Its Temples". Artibus Asiae publishers, Vol. 41, No. 2/3 (1979), pp. 253–268. Retrieved 2006-11-10.
  33. Thapar, (2003), p. 326
  34. Kamath (2001), pp. 12, 57, 67
  35. Pulakesi II's Maharashtra extended from Nerbudda (Narmada river) in the north to Tungabhadra in the south (Vaidya 1924, p. 171)
  36. Kamath (2001), p. 60
  37. From the notes of Arab traveller Tabari (Kamath 2001, p. 60)
  38. 1 2 3 4 Chopra (2003), p. 75, part 1
  39. Ramesh (1984), p. 14
  40. Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  41. S.R. Bakshi; S.G (2005). Early Aryans to Swaraj. p. 325. ISBN 978-81-7625-537-0. It has been reported that the story of agnikula is mot mentioned at all in the original version of the Raso preserved in the Fort Library at Bikaner.
  42. Kamath 2001, pp. 56
  43. Quote:"Another unhistorical trend met with in the epigraphical records of the 11th and subsequent centuries is the attempt, on the part of the court poets, no doubt, again, with the consent of their masters, to invent mythical genealogies which seek to carry back the antiquity of the royal families not merely to the periods of the epics and the Vedas but to the very moment of their creation in the heavens. As far as the Chalukyas of Vatapi are concerned, the blame of engineering such travesties attaches, once again, to the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani and their Eastern Chalukya contemporaries. The Eastern Chalukyas, for instance, have concocted the following long list of fifty-two names commencing with no less a personage than the divine preserver"(Ramesh 1984, p. 16)
  44. Dr. Lewis's theory has not found acceptance because the Pallavas were in constant conflict with the Kadambas, prior to the rise of Chalukyas (Kamath 2001, p. 57)
  45. 1 2 Thapar (2003), p. 326
  46. Popular theories regarding the name are: Puli – "tiger" in Kannada and Kesin – "haried" in Sanskrit; Pole – "lustrous" in Kannada, from his earliest Badami cliff inscription that literally spells Polekesi; Pole – from Tamil word Punai (to tie a knot; Ramesh 1984, pp. 31–32)
  47. The name probably meant "the great lion" (Sastri 1955, p. 134)
  48. The name probably meant "One endowed with the strength of a great lion" (Chopra 2003, p. 73, part 1)
  49. Kamath (2001), pp. 58–59
  50. Ramesh (1984), p. 76
  51. Chopra 2003, p. 74, part 1
  52. Quote:"His fame spread far and wide even beyond India" (Chopra 2003, p. 75 part 1)
  53. Quote:"One of the great kings of India". He successfully defied the expansion of king Harshavardhana of Northern India into the deccan. The Aihole inscription by Ravikirti describes how King Harsha lost his Harsha or cheerful disposition after his defeat. The Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsiang also confirms Pulakesi II's victory over King Harsha in his travelogue. Pulakesi II took titles such as Prithvivallabha and Dakshinapatha Prithviswamy (Kamath 2001, pp. 58–60)
  54. Quote:"Thus began one of the most colourful careers in Indian History" (Ramesh 1984, p. 76)
  55. Vikramaditya I, who later revived the Chalukya fortunes was born to Pulakesi II and the daughter of Western Ganga monarch Durvinita (Chopra 2003, p. 74, part 1)
  56. His other queen, an Alupa princess called Kadamba was the daughter of Aluka Maharaja (G.S. Gai in Kamath 2001, p. 94)
  57. Quote:"The Aihole record gives an impressive list of his military conquests and other achievements. According to the record, he conquered the Kadambas, the Western Gangas, the north Konkan by naval victory, Harsha of Thanesar, the Latas, the Malwas, the Gurjaras (thereby obtaining sovereignty over the Maharashtras), Berar, Maharashtra and Kuntala (with their nine and ninety thousand villages), the Kalingas and the Kosalas, Pishtapura (Pishtapuram in eastern Andhra) and Kanchipuram, whose king had opposed the rise of his power" (Chopra 2003, p. 74 part 1)
  58. Ramesh (1984), pp. 79–80, pp. 86–87
  59. According to Dr. R. C. Majumdar, some principalities may have submitted to Pulakesi II out of fear of Harsha of Kanauj (Kamath 2001, p. 59)
  60. Sastri (1955), pp. 135–136
  61. Sastri (1955), p. 136
  62. This is attested to by an inscription behind the Mallikarjuna temple in Badami (Sastri 1955, p. 136)
  63. Chopra (2003), pp. 75–76, part 1
  64. From the Gadval plates dated c. 674 of Vikramaditya I (Chopra 2003, p. 76, part 1)
  65. 1 2 Chopra (2003), p. 76, part 1
  66. Sastri (1955), p. 138
  67. 1 2 From the Kannada inscription at the Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram (Sastri 1955, p. 140)
  68. Kamath (2001), p. 63
  69. Thapar (2003), p. 331
  70. Ramesh (1984), pp. 159–160
  71. Dikshit, Durga Prasad (1980), p.166-167, Political History of the Chālukyas of Badami, Abhinav Publications, New Delhi, OCLC 831387906
  72. Ramesh (1984), p. 159
  73. Ramesh (1984), pp. 173–174
  74. Kings of the Chalukya line of Vemulavada, who were certainly from the Badami Chalukya family line used the title "Malla" which is often used by the Western Chalukyas. Names such as "Satyashraya" which were used by the Badami Chalukya are also name of a Western Chalukya king, (Gopal B.R. in Kamath 2001, p. 100)
  75. Unlike the Badami Chalukyas, the Kalyani Chalukyas did not claim to be Harithiputhras of Manavysya gotra in lineage. The use of titles like Tribhuvanamalla marked them of as a distinct line (Fleet, Bhandarkar and Altekar in Kamath 2001, p. 100)
  76. Later legends and tradition hailed Tailapa as an incarnation of the God Krishna who fought 108 battles against the race of Ratta (Rashtrakuta) and captured 88 fortresses from them (Sastri 1955, p. 162)
  77. From his c. 957 and c.965 records (Kamath 2001, p. 101
  78. Vijnyaneshavara, the Sanskrit scholar in his court, eulogised him as "a king like none other" (Kamath 2001, p. 106)
  79. The writing Vikramankadevacharita by Bilhana is a eulogy of the achievements of the king in 18 cantos (Sastri, 1955 p. 315)
  80. Cousens 1926, p. 11
  81. Vikrama–Chalukya era of 1075 CE (Thapar 2003, p. 469)
  82. Chopra (2003), p. 139, part 1
  83. Sastri (1955), p. 175
  84. Kamath (2001), pp. 114–115
  85. Narasimhacharya (1988), pp. 18–20
  86. Sastri (1955), p. 192
  87. Pulakesi II made Vishnuvardhana the Yuvaraja or crown prince. Later Vishnuvardhana become the founder of the Eastern Chalukya empire (Sastri 1955, pp. 134–136, p. 312)
  88. 1 2 Chopra (2003), p. 132, part 1
  89. Kamath (2001), p. 8
  90. Kamath 2001, p. 60
  91. 1 2 3 Chopra (2003), p. 133
  92. Sastri (1955), pp. 164–165
  93. Sastri (1955), p. 165
  94. Narasimhacharya (1988), p. 68
  95. The Eastern Chalukya inscriptions show a gradual shift towards Telugu with the appearance of Telugu stanzas from the time of king Gunaga Vijayaditya (Vijayaditya III) in the middle of the 9th century, Dr. K.S.S. Seshan, University of Hyderabad. "APOnline-History of Andhra Pradesh-ancient period-Eastern Chalukyas". Revenue Department (Gazetteers), Government of Andhra Pradesh. Tata Consultancy Services. Retrieved 2006-11-12.
  96. The first work of Telugu literature is a translation of Mahabharata by Nannaya during the rule of Eastern Chalukya king Rajaraja Narendra (1019–1061; Sastri 1955, p. 367)
  97. Hardy (1995), p. 5
  98. Quote"The Badami Chalukyas had introduced a glorious chapter, alike in heroism in battle and cultural magnificence in peace, in the western Deccan" (K.V. Sounder Rajan in Kamath 2001, p. 68)
  99. Kamath 2001, p. 68
  100. Hardy (1995), p. 65
  101. 1 2 Hardy (1995), p. 66
  102. Sastri (1955), p. 406
  103. Quote:"The Chalukyas cut rock like titans but finished like jewellers"(Sheshadri in Kamath 2001, pp. 68–69)
  104. Percy Brown in Kamath (2001), p. 68
  105. Sastri (1955), p. 407
  106. 1 2 3 Hardy (1995), p. 67
  107. Foekema (2003), p. 11
  108. Sastri (1955), pp. 407–408
  109. Sastri (1955), p. 408
  110. Kamath (2001), p. 69
  111. Quote:"Their creations have the pride of place in Indian art tradition" (Kamath 2001, p. 115)
  112. Sastri (1955), p. 427
  113. Cousens (1926, p 17
  114. Foekema (1996), p. 14
  115. Hardy (1995), p. 156
  116. Hardy (1995), pp. 6–7
  117. Cousens (1926), pp. 100–102
  118. Hardy (1995), p. 333
  119. Cousens (1926), pp. 79–82
  120. 1 2 Hardy (1995), p. 336
  121. Hardy (1995), p. 323
  122. The Mahadeva Temple at Itagi has been called the finest in Kannada country after the Hoysaleswara temple at Halebidu (Cousens in Kamath 2001, p 117)
  123. Cousens (1926), pp. 114–115
  124. Hardy (1995), p. 326
  125. Cousens (1926), pp. 85–87
  126. Hardy (1995), p. 330
  127. Foekema (2003), p. 52
  128. Hardy (1995), p. 321
  129. The Badami Chalukyas influenced the art of the rulers of Vengi and those of Gujarat (Kamath 2001, pp. 68, 69)
  130. Quote:"He deemed himself the peer of Bharavi and Kalidasa". An earlier inscription in Mahakuta, in prose is comparable to the works of Bana (Sastri, 1955, p. 312)
  131. 1 2 Sastri, 1955, p. 312
  132. The writing is on various topics including traditional medicine, music, precious stones, dance etc. (Kamath 2001, p. 106)
  133. 1 2 Sen (1999), p. 366
  134. Thapar (2003), p. 345
  135. Sahitya Akademi (1988), p. 1717
  136. 1 2 Chidananda Murthy in Kamath (2001), p. 67
  137. Such as Indranandi's Srutavatara, Devachandra's Rajavalikathe (Narasimhacharya, 1934, pp. 4–5); Bhattakalanka's Sabdanusasana of 1604 (Sastri 1955, p. 355)
  138. Sastri (1955), p. 355
  139. Mugali (1975), p. 13
  140. Narasimhacharya (1988), p. 4
  141. Sastri 1955, p. 356
  142. 1 2 Chopra (2003), p. 196, part 1
  143. Sastri (1955), p. 367
  144. Chopra (2003), p. 77, part1
  145. Kamath (2001), p. 64
  146. Kamath 2001, pp. 57, 65
  147. The breakup of land into mandalas, vishaya existed in the Kadamba administrative machinery (Kamath 2001, pp. 36, 65, 66)
  148. 1 2 Kamath (2001), p. 65
  149. 1 2 However, they issued gold coins that weighed 120 grams, in imitation of the Gupta dynasty (A.V. Narasimha Murthy in Kamath 2001, p. 65)
  150. Govindaraya Prabhu, S (November 1, 2001). "The Southern India: Coinage of the Chalukyas". Prabhu's Web Page On Indian Coinage. Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
  151. Sastri (1955), p. 391
  152. 1 2 Kamath 2001, p. 66
  153. Chopra (2003), p. 78, part 1
  154. Vinopoti, a concubine of King Vijayaditya is mentioned with due respect in an inscription (Kamath 2001, p. 67)
  155. One record mentions an artist called Achala who was well versed in Natyashastra (Kamath 2001, p. 67)
  156. From the Shiggaon plates of c. 707 and Gudigeri inscription dated 1076 (Ramesh 1984, pp. 142, 144)
  157. Cousens (1926), p. 59
  158. Sastri (1955), p. 309
  159. 1 2 Staff correspondent. "Chalukya Utsava: Depiction of grandeur and glory". NewIndia Press, Sunday February 26, 2006. NewIndia Press. Retrieved 2006-11-12.



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