Important Kingdoms in South India




Important Kingdoms in South India:

1. Chola Dynasty:

known as Cholamandalam (Coromandel is an anglicised form of ‘Cholamandalam’.To the south of Cholas, the Pandyas had established their rule from Pudukottai to Kanyakumari. Towards their west, the Cheras had created their kingdom in Kerala. They are mentioned as ‘Kedalaputra’ (Keralaputra/Sons of Kerala) in contemporary literature. These kingdoms were in constant conflict with each other to establish political supremacy. In many stories of Sangham literature, we find mention of the first Chola king ‘Karikala’, who brought together eleven small kingdoms and built a strong army and by defeating the Chera and Pandya kings, established the Tamil dominance.

2. The Vakataka Dynasty:

The power of the Satavahanas started growing weaker from the 3rd century CE. The Vakatakas took advantage of this situation and established an independent kingdom of their own. Vindhyasakti was the founder of the Vakataka kingdom. He was succeeded by Pravarasena I, who expanded the Vakataka Empire to Malwa and from Gujarat to Kuntala (Kolhapur), Kurnool (Andhra Pradesh). Pravarasena I performed four Ashvamedha sacrifices and took up the title ‘Samrat’

  • Division of Empire:

After Pravarasena I, the Vakataka kingdom got divided and two main branches were created. Among them, Nandivardhana (Nagardhan-Ramtek, Nagpur district) was the capital of one branch. The capital of the second branch was at Vatsagulma, i.e. modern Washim (Washim district). Pravarasena’s grandson Rudrasena I (son of Gautamiputra) carried forward the Nandivardhana branch of the Vakatakas. Pravarasena’s other son, Sarvasena carried forward the Vatsagulma branch of the Vakatakas.

3. The Vakatakas:

Prabhavathi, daughter of Gupta emperor Chandragupta II, was married to the Vakataka king Rudrasena II. Varahadeva, minister of Harishena, was a follower of Buddhism, at whose instance, Cave no.16 of Ajanta was excavated. The excavation of other caves at Ajanta and the murals were done during the reign of Harishena. Vakataka king Pravarasena II composed ‘Setubandha’ in Maharashtrian Prakrit, while Kalidasa’s Meghadoota, has references to the historical geography of Vakataka period.

4. The Chalukya Dynasty

During the rule of Harshavardhan in North India, the Chalukya dynasty ruled in the south for approximately 200 years. In the beginning of 6th century CE, Jaising (founder of the Chalukyas) established his capital at Vatapi (Badami). His grandson Pulakeshin I was the first important king of the Chalukyas. He built the fort of Badami. He performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice and took up the title of ‘Maharaja’. He also took titles like ‘Prithvivallabha’ and ‘Satyashraya’. After Pulakeshin I, his son Kirtivarman I came to power. During his reign, he conquered the Kadamba of Vanavasi (Karwar) and Mauryas of Aparanta (North Konkan) and expanded his rule.

  • Pulakeshin:

Pulakeshin II was the greatest king of the Chalukya dynasty. He performed the Digvijaya and strengthened the power of Chalukyas. His achievements are described in the eulogy (Prasasti) composed by poet Ravikirti. He defeated the Kadamba kings, Maurya, Nala, Kalachuri, Rashtrakuta, Lata, Malwa and Gurjara dynasties and established the Chalukya rule over Vidarbha and other parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. After defeating Harshavardhan, Pulakeshin II took up the title ‘Parameshvara’. With the conquest in the south, his empire extended from Narmada to Kaveri and from the east coast to the west coast. It is said that Khusrau Pervez, the Shah of Persia had sent his ambassador to the court of Emperor Pulakeshin II.

  • Later Years:

The Pallavas of Kanchi defeated Pulakeshin II. Vikramaditya, the son of Pulakeshin II, in turn, defeated the Pallavas. The struggle between Chalukyas and Pallavas continued over a prolonged period of time. The last king of Chalukyas, Kirtivarman, was defeated by the Rashtrakuta king Dantidurga.

5. The Pallava Dynasty:

Around the 6th century CE to 9th century CE, the Pallavas were known as the most powerful rulers in South India. There is a mention of Sinhavarman and Shivaskandavarman Pallava who ruled over the regions of the eastern coast. Kanchi was the capital of the Pallavas. Simhavishnu conquered the province of Cholas and extended his rule from Krishna to Kaveri. After Simhavishnu, his son Mahendravarman ascended the throne.

  • Mahendravardaman:

After Simhavishnu, his son Mahendravarman ascended the throne. He was a great scholar. He wrote the Sanskrit play ‘Mattavilasa’. He wrote books on subjects like music, dance, sculpture, painting etc. These art forms received patronage under him. During his reign, several temples were built at Tiruchirappalli, Chengalpattu and in east and west Arcot district. The war between Pallavas and Chalukyas took place during his reign.

  • Narsimhavaran:

Narsimhavarman, son of Mahendravarman defeated the Chalukya Emperor Pulakeshin II. During Narsimhavarman’s reign, many temples were built at Mahabalipuram. They include the monolithic temples (Rath Mandira's) as well. Hiuen Tsang, the well-known Chinese traveller, was in his court for a certain period of time. The literary works by Narsimhavarman are important as a major source of Pallava history.

  • Decline:

The Pallava rule ended in the 9th century CE. The Chola king, Adityavarman, defeated the Pallavas and destroyed the Pallava kingdom. During Narsimhavarman’s reign, many monolithic temples (Rath Mandir) were built. One of the Rath Mandir was the Yudhisthira Rath Temple at Mahabalipuram.

6. The Rashtrakuta Dynasty:

Dantidurga was the first powerful king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The rule of Rashtrakutas extended from Vindhya ranges to Kanyakumari in the south. After Dantidurga, his uncle Krishna I became the king. He uprooted Chalukyas rule. The famous Kailas temple at Ellora is ascribed to Krishna I. The succeeding Rashtrakuta rulers became influential in North India as well. Amoghavarsha was a capable king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Amoghavarsha composed the texts entitled ‘Ratna Malika’ and ‘Kavirajmarg’. He established a new city at Manyakheta (Malkhed) near Solapur. The Rashtrakuta dynasty declined because of the attacks by Parmars and Chalukyas of Kalyani.

7. The Shilaharas:

There were three branches of this dynasty – Shilaharas of South Konkan, north Konkan and Kolhapur. They called themselves as ‘Tagarapuradhishwar’ (Tagar-Ter, Osmanabad district). Jimutvahan is considered as the founder of all the three branches. They ruled for almost three hundred years as the feudatories of Rashtrakutas and later the Chalukyas.

  • Shilaharas of South Konkan:

The history of this dynasty is known with the help of one of the copper plates found at Kharepatan. ‘Sanaphulla’ established the south Konkan branch of Shilaharas. The Kharepatan plates declare that Sanaphulla obtained lordship over the territory between Sahyadri mountain and the sea through the favour of Krishna I. His son, Dhammayira set up the village of Vallipattana and built a fort there. Later King Adityavarma expanded his kingdom from Thane to Goa. Rattaraja was the last ruler of this dynasty.

  • Shilaharas of North Konkan:

Kapardin established the north Konkan branch of Shilaharas. Rulers of this branch were initially the feudatories of the Rashtrakutas. Their capital was at Sthanak (Thane). Aparajita was another important king of this branch. He ruled for around thirty-five years. Chittaraj followed Aparajita as king. His brothers fought for their claim to the throne. Taking advantage of this, the Shilaharas of Kolhapur and Kadamba captured some of the regions in North Konkan. Mummuni, brother of Chittaraj, built the huge temple of ‘Amreshwar Mahadev’ at Ambarnath. This is considered as the beginning of the Bhoomija style of temple architecture in Maharashtra.

  • Shilaharas of Kolhapur:

The modern districts of Satara, Sangli, Ratnagiri, and Belgaum were included in this kingdom. Jatiga established the Kolhapur branch of Shilaharas. Bhoj II was the important king of this dynasty. The cities of Kolhapur, Valivade and Panhala were the capitals of this kingdom. The Shilaharas of Kolhapur are credited with the creation of the magnificentKoppeshwar Mahadev’ temple at Khidrapur.

8. The Gonds:

The Gond dynasty was established at Chanda (Chandrapur) during the Yadava period. Kol Bheel was the founder of this dynasty. He brought the people of the Gond tribe together and encouraged them to rebel against the Naga dynasty. He established the capital at Sirpur. In the later period, Khandkya Ballala Singh built a fort at Ballarpur and shifted the capital from Sirpur to Ballarpur. The temple at Achaleshwar was constructed during his period. Neelkanth Shah was defeated by Raghuji Bhosale of Nagpur and the Gond territories were merged in his kingdom. Sixty-two Gond kings ruled for many centuries in Devgad, Nagpur and Chandrapur in Maharashtra.

  • Rani Durgavati:

The struggle of Rani Durgavati of the Gond dynasty, against the Mughals, is considered important. After the death of her husband, Durgavati fought against the Mughal forces led by Asaf Khan in a battle at Narrai. It was an unequal battle with trained soldiers and modern weapons in multitude on the Mughal side and a few untrained soldiers with old weapons on the side of Rani Durgavati. Perceiving her imminent defeat, Rani Durgavati killed herself, rather than surrendering to the Mughal forces.

9. The Yadavas:

Yadava dynasty is one of the important dynasties of mediaeval Maharashtra. Bhillam V (1185 – 1993 CE) is the important king of the Yadava dynasty. He expanded the kingdom by defeating the Kalachuri. He established his capital at Devgiri and got himself crowned. In the later period, Singhan was an important ruler of this dynasty. He defeated the Hoysalas, Shilaharas and expanded the rule of Yadavas.

  • Khilji's Invasion:

In 1294 CE, Alauddin Khilji invaded the Deccan. Ramchandradeva, the Yadava king was defeated by Khilji. From here onwards the Yadava rule began to decline. In 1307 CE, Alauddin sent his commander Malik Kafur to carry out a campaign over Devgiri. He defeated the Yadavas, who accepted a feudatory status to the Delhi Sultanate. In 1310 CE, the Yadava king Shankaradeva was killed by Malik Kafur. In 1318 CE, the rule of Yadavas was brought to an end by the Delhi Sultanate.

  • Maharashtrian Society:

The Yadava period has special importance in the history of Maharashtra. During this period there was a notable development in the cultural sphere of Maharashtra. The Mahanubhav and Warkari sects had a beginning in the Yadava period. During this period, Patan in Khandesh, Solotagi in Karnataka and Paithan in Maharashtra become important learning centres.

  • Yadavas: Literature

Sanskrit texts were written on subjects like Dharmashastras, ‘Purva Mimansa’ (philosophical text), Nyaya and Vedanta in this period. The critical work on Yajnavalkya by Aparark, ‘Chaturvargachintamani’ are among the important Sanskrit texts. ‘Sangitaratnakara’, text-based on Indian music, by Sharangdeva is considered relevant even today. ‘Lilacharitra’ written by Mhamimbhatta of the Mahanubhav sect, ‘Viveksindhu’ by Mukundaraj, ‘Bhavarthdipika’ by Dnyaneshwar belong to this period. Similarly, the composition of saint poets like Namdeo, Janabai, Chokhoba of the Warkari sect composed poems, which are known as ‘Abhangas’.

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