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South India under Pallavas and Chalukyas


Pallavas (560-903) AD

Controversy about origin

  1. Parthian  Connection: According to one school, they were a branch of the Parthias. But there is not evidence for the migration of the Parthians into the South.
  2. Vakataka Connection: One more school opines that the Pallavas were a branch of the Brahmin royal dynasty of the Vakataka of the Deccan. But there is no direct evidence of any connection.
  3. Indigenous Origin: Another school maintains that it was an indigenous dynasty. So the Pallavas were possibly a local tribe.

Political History of Pallavas

Simhavishnu (560-90 AD): He is considered the first important Pallava ruler, though Pallavas existed even during the time of Samudragupta’s invasion of South India. He is credited with capturing the territory of the Cholas and humiliating hisother southern neghbours including Ceylon.

Mahendravarman I (590-630): During his  reign began the long drawn out struggle between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas.

Narasimhavarman I (630-68): He is considered the greatest of the Pallava rulers.

·         He is credited with repelling the second invasion of Pulakesin II, killing him and capturing the Chalukyan capital, Badami. Hence he assumed the title of “Vatapikonda” (conqueror of Vatapi).

·         He is also said to have defeated Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. Besides, he sent two naval expeditions to Ceylon and helped his ally, a Ceylonese capture the throne of Ceylon.

·         He founded the new city of Mamallapuram (named after one of his titles, Mamalla) and built several monolithic rock-temples in it.

·         Another significant thing about his reign is the visit of Hiuen Tsang to Kanchi.

Mahendravarman II (668-70): He ruled for a very short period, since he was killed by Chalukya king, Vikramaditya I.

Parameshwaravarman I (670-700): He also had to face the invading forces of Vikramaditya I, but finally succeeded in defeating and driving them back.

Narsimhavarman II (700-28): His rule, however, is marked by peace and prosperity, literary activity, and the construction of large and beautiful temples. He is also said to have sent embassies to China, and maritime trade flourished during his reign.

Nandivarman II (731-96): The Chalukya Vikramaditya II again invaded and captured the Pallava capital during his reign. During his reign, several old temples were renovated and new ones like the Vai-kuntaperumal temple at Kanchi were considered.

Successors: His successors were Dantivarman (796-847), Nandivar-man III (847-69), Nripatungan (869-99) and Aparajita (899-903).

Chalukyas (543-755 AD)

Controversy about Origin

  1. North Indian Origin: According to Bhilhana, the author of “Vikramanacharita” and the court poet of Vikramadity VI (a Kalyani Chalukya ruler) their original home was Ayodhya. But this seems to have been done to claim legitimacy.
  2. West Indian Origin: According to another opinion the Chalukyas were related to the Gurjaras But there is no direct evidence for this opinion also.
  3. Indigenous Origin: The Chalukyas, according to third opinion, were a locak Kanarese people, who were improvised into the ruling Varna under Brahmanical influence. The third opinion seems to be more probable.

Political History

Pulakesin I (543-66 AD): Founder of the Chalukya dynasty, he established a small kingdom with Badami (Vatapi) as its capital.

Kirtivarman (566-97 AD): The son of Pulakeshin I, he Kadambas of Banavasi, and the Nalas of Bastar. On the death of Kirtivarman, his brother, Mangalesa (597-609 AD), became the regent, since his son, Pulakeshin II, was a minor.

Pulakesin II (609-42): He is considered the greatest of the Chalukya rulers of Badami not only because of the problems he had to face while coming to the throne, but also because of his subsequent military as well as diplomatic achievements.

·         He had to wage a civil was against  his uncle.

·         Though Pulakesin succeeded in defeating and killing his uncle, this civil car shook the young kingdom and rebellions began to appear. He defeated the rebel feudatory, Appayika, and pardoned his confender – ate, Govinda.

·         Establishment of his suzerainty over the neighbours such as Kadambas of Banvasi, the Alupas of South Kanara, the Gangas of Mysore, and the Mauryas of North Konkan.

·         His clash with Harsha, in which he  was able to check Harsha.

·         Conquests in the Eastern Deccan: Southern Kosala, Kalinga, Pish-tapura and the Banas of Rayalseema offered their submission.

·         Conflict with the Pallavas of Kanchi. His first expedition against the Pallavas kingdom was complete success, and he annexed the northern part of the Pallava kingdom.

·         But his second expedition against the Pullavas, however, ended in complete disaster for him as well as his own kingdom. The Pallavan ruler, Narasimhavarman I, not only drove back Chalukyan armies, but also invaded the Chalukya kingdom, killed Pulakesin II and captured Badami.

·         Diplomatic Achievement: He sent an embassy to the Persian king, Khurau II and also received one from him.

·         Visit  of Hiuen Tsang to the kingdom of Pulakesin

Vikramaditya I (644-81): After about 12 years, he not only drove out of occupying Pallava forces, but also consolidated the kingdom and plundered the Pallava capital, Kanchi.

Vinayaditya (681-93): His reign was generally preaceful and prosperous.

Vijayaditya (693-733): It was the longest and also the most prosperous and peaceful reign.

Vikarmaditya II (733-44): His regin is significant for the successful invasion of the Pallavas Kingdom three times, and the repelling of the Arab invasion of South Gujarat.

Kirtivarman II (744-55): The last Chalukyan ruler of Badami; defeated by Dantidurga, the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

Administration: The Central Government under the Chalukyas of Badami exercised a paternalistic control over the village administration, which is unlike the administrative practice of South India. The army of the Chalukyas consisted of a small standing army, but mainly of feudal levies.  And the army officers seem to have been used in civil arose.

Religion: The Badami Chalukyas were Hindus, but respected other faiths too. From the account of Hiuen Tsang, Buddhism was on the decline in the Western Deccan. But Jainism, on the other hand, was steadily increasing its popularity.

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