Chalukyas of Badami

The most important source of history of the Badami Chalukyas Dynasty is the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II written by his court poet Ravikirti in Sanskrit language and Kannada script.

The Chalukyas seem to be a race of Rajputs from North who imposed their rule upon the Dravidian inhabitants of the Deccan tableland. The Royal Emblem of Chalukyas of Badami was “Varaha”. The earliest reference in this dynasty is of one Jayasimha, who has also been referred to as Vallabha. The first independent king of this dynasty was Pulkesin I.

Pulkesin I

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 meaning of Pulkesin is “Hair of Lion”

Kirtivarman I

The two sons of Pulkesin-I viz. Kirtivarman I and Mangaldesa extended the possessions of the family both eastward and westward. Kirtivarman-I completely subjugated the Kadambs and secured the extension of the Kingdom. Goa which was then known as Revatidwipa was annexed by Kirtivarman I. His brother Mangaldesa assumed the responsibilities of the government after his death as his son Pulkesin II was too young at the time of his death. Some scholars say that this succession was disputed and Pulkesin II overcame this rivalry. He ascended the throne in 608 AD. For two decades this able prince adopted a career of aggressive conquests in all directions and defeated the Kings of Lata (South Gujarat), Gurjara (Rajputana), Malwa and Kadamabas in the west and Pallavas of Vengi in the east.

Pulkesin II    

Pulkesin II (610–642 CE) is the most celebrated ruler of the Chalukyas of Badami. He defeated the Kadamabas of the Banavasi, Alupas of modern Southern Karnataka, Maurya of Konkan and after a naval war captured Island of Elephanta from the Mauryas of Konkan. He also defeated the Kosala, Kalinga etc. in the east. In down south, he defeated Mahendravarman-I. He also defeated Harsha Vardhana on the banks of the Narmada. He also assumed the title of Dakshinpatheshwara around the same time, on the lines of Harsha’s title Uttarpatheshwara. Read more about him here.

Vikramaditya I

In 655 AD, one of the five sons of Pulkesin II known as Vikramaditya I attempted to restore the unity of the Kingdom and was successful in throwing Pallavas out of Vatapi. The enmity of the Chalukyas continued by Vikramaditya I and he befriended with other enemies of Pallavas. He advanced to Kanchipuram but was defeated by the Pallavas. During the reign of Vikramaditya I , one branch of the Chalukyas was able to establish itself in Gujarat who in next 100 years offered vigorous oppositions to the Arabs. Vikramaditya I was succeeded by his son Vinayaditya, who continued the expeditions. The reign of Vinayaditya is assigned 680 AD to 696 AD. His reign was generally peaceful. During those times, Persia was politically unstable mostly due to the Arab Invasions.

End of Chalukyas of Badami

The successors of Vinayaditya continued to exist for next half century. The last ruler was Kirtivarman II who was also known as Rahappa. His reign was a short period of 7 years from 746 AD to 753 AD. The Chalukyas of Badami were continuously disturbed by the growing powers of Rastrakuta and Pandyas and finally were destroyed by them. The blunder of Kirtivarman II was to undermine the rising power of Dantidurga, who established the Rastrakuta Empire.

Click Here to Read about the Temple Architecture of Chalukyas of Badami

Note: Famous writers in Sanskrit from the Western Chalukya period are Vijnaneshwara who achieved fame by writing Mitakshara, a book on Hindu law, and King Somesvara III, a noted scholar, who compiled an encyclopedia of all arts and sciences called Manasollasa. The Karnateshwara Katha, which was quoted later by Jayakirti, is believed to be a eulogy of Pulakesin II.