Tuesday, 24th April 2018
24 April 2018
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Chalukya Dynasty

Chalukya Dynasty

Chalukya Dynasty

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The Chalukya dynasty 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.

Origin of Chalukyas

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The early origins of the Chalukyas, the consensus among historians reasons that the founders of the empire had been native to the Karnataka region. According to one theory, the Chalukya descended from the “Seleukia” tribe of Iraq and that their conflict with the Pallava of Kanchi constituted a continuation of the conflict between ancient Seleukia and “Parthians,” the proposed ancestors of Pallavas. That theory has been rejected by many scholars as it seeks build lineages based simply on similar sounding clan names. Another theory that they descended from a second century chieftain called Kandachaliki Remmanaka, a feudatory of the Andhra Ikshvaku  has been put forward but failed to explain the difference in lineage. The Kandachaliki feudatory call themselves Vashisthiputras of the Hiranyakagotra where as Chalukya inscriptions address themselves as Harithiputras of Manavyasagotra, which incidentally matches their early overlords, the Kadambas of Banavasi. That makes them descendants of the Kadambas. The Chalukyas took control of the territory formerly ruled by the Kadambas.

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Another record of Eastern Chalukyas conforms to 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 many claimed became the Pulakesi I’s father. Inscriptional evidence supports Ranaranga as the father of Pulakesi I. While the northern origin theory has been dismissed by many historians, suggestions of a southern migration as a distinct possibility deserves examination.

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The complete absence of any reference to their family connections to Ayodhya in the Badami Chalukya inscriptions and their 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 without significance to the kings of the Badami Chalukya empire who may have considered themselves natives of the Kannada speaking region.There has been controversy even regarding the caste to which the early Chalukyas belonged. Evidence in the writings of twelfth century Kashmiri poet Bilhana suggests the Chalukya family belonged to the Shudra caste while other sources claim they belonged to the Kshatriya caste.

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The Chalukya inscriptions had been written in Kannada and Sanskrit. Their inscriptions call them Karnatas and their names use indigenous Kannada titles such as Priyagallam and Noduttagelvom. The names of some Chalukya kings end with the pure Kannada term arasa (meaning “king” or “chief”). The Rashtrakuta inscriptions speak of Chalukyas of Badami as Karnataka Bala (Power of Karnataka). Scholars have proposed that the word Chalukya originated from Salki or Chalki, a Kannada word for an agricultural implement.

History of Chalukyas Dynasty

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The Chalukyas are essentially divided into three broad categories:

Eastern Chalukyas: Ruled from the Vengi region

Western Chalukyas: Ruled from the Badami region

Later Western Chalukyas: Ruled from Kalyani region


The most famous rulers in the empire of the Chalukyas were Pulakesin I and Pulakesin II. The ruler Pulakesin II is said to have defeated emperor Harshavardhana in a battle on the banks of the River Narmada. He also waged a battle against Mahendravarman, the Pallava ruler and conquered him and his kingdom.

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The Chalukya dynasty is famous for developing and encouraging art and architecture during its era. The rulers of the Chalukya dynasty were great enthusiasts of art. This is evident from the fact that they built many temples near the region of Badami. A famous example of their architecture is the Virupaksha Temple in Karnataka. The sculptures that adorn the temples are beautifully carved and sculpted and represent scenes from the famous epic Ramayana. Some of the paintings at Ajanta and Ellora cave temples are considered to belong to this period.

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Pulakesin II was an admirer of art and always encouraged any art form to flourish in his kingdom. He was also fond of literature and encouraged poetry to flourish in his kingdom. The three famous poets of Kannada literature Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna were from this era. Pulakesin was an able administrator and his subjects were devoted to him. Though he was Hindu by religion Pulakesin was tolerant towards Buddhism as well as Jainism. He built many monasteries in his kingdom that provided shelter to almost 5000 monks. The Chalukya kingdom was truly flourishing till it declined after the 12th century.

Independent King of Chaluka Dynasty

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Pulkesin I 

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The real founder of Chalukyas of Badami was a chieftain Pulkesin I, who made himself master of a town called Vatapi, which is modern Badami in the Bijapur district of Karnataka in around 543 AD. He is said to have claimed a paramount position by performing the Ashwamedha Yajna. Pulkesin-his descendants and I are called Chalukyas of Badami. Pulkesin I assumed the titles of Satyashraya, Vallabaha and Dharmamaharaja. He had overthrown the Kadamabas. The Badami Cliff inscription tells that Pulkesin I performed all of the 5 yajnas which make a king paramount and they are Hiranyagarbha, Agnistoma, Vajapeya, Bahusuvarna and Paundarika. Name of the meaning of Pulkesin is “Hair of Lion”.


Kirtivarman I

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Pulakeshin I’s son

Kirtivarma I succeeded Pulakeshin I as the ruler of the Chalukya Dynasty.

Died: 597 AD

Parents: Pulakeshin I

Children: Pulakeshin II

Grandchild: Vikramaditya I

Grandparent: Ranaranga

People also search for: Mangalesha, Pulakeshin II, Pulakeshin I, Vikramaditya I, Kubja Vishnuvardhana

Great grandchild: Vinayaditya


Pulkesin II   

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Pulakeshin II, also spelt and Pulikeshi II, was the most famous ruler of the Chalukya dynasty. During his reign, the Chalukyas of Badami saw their kingdom extend over most of the Deccan.

Died: 642 AD, Badami

Parents: Kirtivarman I

Successor: Vikramaditya I

Children: Vikramaditya I

Siblings: Kubja Vishnuvardhana

Grandchild: Vinayaditya

Pulakesin II or Pulakesin-2 was one of the greatest King of Chalukya Dynasty.

Pulakesin II began his rule in the year 620 A.D. Immediately after coming to the throne he restored peace in his strife-torn dynasty as well as in the country which had suffered much turmoil owing to the unrest and uncertainties. While demonstrating his inherent strength as a King, he also granted pardon to all those who had opposed his succession. Simultaneously, he strengthened the law and order situation throughout his Kingdom.


Vikramaditya I

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Pulakeshin II’s son

Vikramaditya I was the third son and followed his father, Pulakeshin II on to the Chalukya throne. He restored order in the fractured kingdom and made the Pallavas retreat from the capital Vatapi.

Died: 680 AD

Parents: Pulakeshin II

Children: Vinayaditya

Grandchild: Vijayaditya

Grandparent: Kirtivarman I

Uncle: Kubja Vishnuvardhana


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The rule of the Badami Chalukya was a period of religious development. Initially, they followed Vedic Hindusim. Pattadakal is the location of their grandest architecture. The worship of Lajja Gauri, the fertility goddess was equally popular. They enthusiastically encouraged Jainsm and confirmed to by one of the Badami cave temples and other Jain temples in the Aihole complex.


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The political atmosphere in South India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the ascendancy of Badami Chalukyas. For the first time, a South Indian 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 Dynasty Art and Architecture

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Cave Temple, Badami

Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal

Cave Temple, Ellora

Two special features of Chalukya temples – Mantapa and Pillers

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Mantapa : The mantapa has two types of roof – domical ceilings the dome like ceilings standing on four pillars are very attractive or  Square ceilings.

Pillars : As mentioned earlier, the miniature decorative pillars of Chalukya temples stands with its own artistic value.

Characteristics of Temple Architecture of Chalukya

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  • The pillars of Chalukya temple are monolithic shaft whose height determines the height of mantapa and temples.
  • Chalukya architects did not use mortar. It allows ventilation of light to the innermost part of the temples.
  • The vestibules were ornamented with artificial lights which eliminated darkness as well as added some kind of mystic feelings.
  • The doorway panels of Chalukya temples are highly decorated that consist of pilaster, moulded lintel, cornice top.
  • Arabesque is a Muslim art design bearing linear artistic decoration with pattern of flower, leaves, branches or twisted branches. This design is seen in triangular spaces of domicile ceilings.
  • Chhajja, a double curved projective eave, is generally seen in Chalukyan temples. Muktesvara temple is an example of it.
  • Cornice is used in Chalukya temple for downward movement of rainwater or to save from scorching heat.
  • Use of soapstone for projection in walls carvings is common feature in Chalukya temples.
  • The Chalukya temples are mainly dedicated to different Hindu deities like Durga, shiva, Vishnu etc.
  • Chalukya architecture has both cave temples design and structured temple design.
  • Chalukya architects used stellate plan or northern stepped diamond plan for architectural design.
  • The decorative pillars with its intricate design of western Chalukya architecture is also known to Gadag style of architecture.
  • The Karnata Dravida tradition of architecture initiated by Chalukyas of Badami get matured under the hand of Hoysala. The broken ornamentation of walls with projection and recesses was followed by Hoysala artist. Chalukya architecture is also called the precursor of Hoysala art.



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