Satavahana Empire

Satavahana followed the Mauryas in Deccan of India. Satavahana dynasty ruled from Pune in Maharastra to Coastal Andhra Pradesh in the second century BC onwards. This dynasty was built up on the ruins of the Maurya Empire and around 1st century AD, they were the most prominent in the Modern Andhra Pradesh Region.

  • They have been mentioned as Sātavāhanas, Sātakarnīs, Andhras and Andhrabhrityas in the Puranas and Coins.
  • Most of the information about the Satavahana kings is interwoven with myths and the information has been collected by a large number of coins minted in Lead, Silver and an alloy of copper.
  • The origin of Satavahanas is a mystery but they are considered to be Brahmins and most kings use the names of their mothers with their names.
  • The coins issued by Satavahanas had Bilingual legends. The name of the Kings was mentioned in Prakrit as well as some south Indian Language.
  • Satavahana Kings promoted Buddhism. Nagarjunkonda and Amaravati l became important Buddhist centers during the Satavahana Era.


Simuka was the founder of the Satavahana Dynasty and he is believed to have destroyed the Shunga Power. He did so with the aid of the Rathikas and Bhojakas. He reigned for around 23 years and was beheaded by his brother Kanha, who succeeded him.


Kanha was the second ruler of the Satavahana Dynasty. He extended the empire to further south. He was succeeded by Simuka’s son Satkarni-I.


Satkarni-I or Sri Satkarni was son of Simuka and was a great ruler among the Early Satavahanas. Naganika was the name of his queen and he has been described as the Lord of Dakshinpatha. Kanha extended the empire to further south, Malwa and Narmada valley. He performed Ashvamedha Yajna and Rajsuya Yajna.

Satkarni II

Satkarni II was the longest ruling king of the Satavahana Dynasty and date of his accession is considered to be 166 BC. He has been mentioned in the Hathigumpha inscription of the kharvela, in which he is depicted as enemy of Kharvela. In this inscription, it is mentioned that Kharvela disregarded Satkarni and dispatched to the western regions an army of strong cavalry. Satkarni II was succeeded by Lamobodara followed by Apilaka and some other rulers like Hala.


Hala was one more great king of the Satavahanas who was 17th King of the Satavahana line. He had compiled the “Gatha saptasati” or Gaha Sattasai which mainly a text on love theme. Gatha saptasati is in Prakrat. He is also mentioned in another text Lilavati. These rulers were small rulers only and are considered to be under the suzerainty of Kanvas. The expansion of the Satavahanas was checked just after Satkarni II. The Shakas pushed them southwards and the western Deccan was occupied by the Shaka King Nahapana.

Gautamiputra Satkarni (Reign 78-102 AD)

The lost power of Satavahana was revived by Gautamiputra Satkarni who is described as the Destroyer of the Shaka, Pahalava and Yavana Power. Gautamiputra Satkarni is known to have made a total and sharp recovery of the Satvahans. His achievements have been mentioned in the Nasik Inscription, by his mother Gautami. His empire extended from Eastern Malwa, Western Malwa, Narmada Valley, Vidarbha, Western Rajputana, Saurastra and even Kalinga. Nasik Prasasti describes Gautamiputra as the ruler of the Aparanta, Anupa, Saurashtra, Kukura, Akara, and Avanti. In south his reign was up to Kanchi in South. He assumed the title of raja-raja and Maharaja. After Gautamiputra Satkarni, the Puranic inscription name other Satavahanas such as Pulumayi, Sri Satkarni, Siva Sri, Sivaskanda Satkarni , Madhariptra Sakasena, Sri Yajna Satkarni. One more important is Vasithiputra Pulumayi-II.


Pulumayi-II is known as Vasithiputta or Vashishthi Putra Satkarni. He was son of Gautamiputra Satkarni and was an efficient king like his father. He extended the power of Satvahanas to further south and it was now extended up to Bellary district of Modern Karnataka. The Girnar Inscription of Rudradaman mentions that Rudradaman defeated the Dakshinapathpati Satkarni twice, but did not kill him because of the close family relationship. This has been corroborated as “that Pulumayi-II was married to daughter of Rudradaman. (However, there is confusion in this) Pulumayi-II has been described in largest number of inscription and this proves that he had a vast empire. In the evening of Pulumayi-II ‘s life, the Shakas revived under Chastana. The last Satavahana Ruler was Pulumayi-IV. Not many details have been found about him except that he built a tank in Vepura.

The Legacy of Satavahana Kings

Satavahanas are considered to be the flag bearers of Aryanism to Deccan. They were the first Native Indians who had issued the coins with portraits of their kings. All the coins of Satavahanas used Prakrit dialect and also on backside the southern language (Telugu or Kannada). Prakrat seems to be the official language of Satavahanas. The Satavahanas worshipped the Hindu Deities such as Rama, Krishna, Vasudeva etc. but they also patronized the Buddhism. The Nagarjunkonda and Amaravati became the important centers of Buddhism during the reign of Satavahanas and their successors. Saatavahana Built many Chaitya and Viharas. Most of them were rock cut from the solid rock in North Western Deccan and Maharashtra. The Karle Chaitya of 1st century BC is one of the most important Chaitya. The Viharas of the 1 century AD at Nasik bear the inscription of the Gautami Putra Satkarni and Nahapana. The Amaravati Stupa was built in the reign of Satavahanas.

Satavahanas: Administration, Economy and Life

Satavahanas administration was simple and inspired by the Mauryas. The King was the protector of the religion and had divine attributes. He possessed the qualities of ancient Gods. The Kingdom was divided into the Janpadas and subdivided into Aharas. The ruler of each Ahara was an Amatya.

Ahara was divided into Grama which was under the headmen called Gamika.

Two feudatories viz. Mahasenapati and Mahataravalara were created in the Satavahana Dynasty.

  • King was called Rajan or Raja and he had the right to mint the coins.
  • A Senapati was appointed as the provincial governor.
  • Gandhika have been mentioned as the traders of perfume and they were prosperous.
  • Gautamiputra Satkarni is claimed to have re-established the four fold Varna System and this
  • The most important features of the state formation under Satavahanas were:
    • It was a result of a continuous process.
    • It was influenced by Mauryan Administration
    • It was influenced by North India
  • Uddiyan was an important wool making center.
  • Gaulmikas were administrators of the rural areas under the Satavahanas.

Important Notes for Examinations

Satavahanas ruled in Modern Andhra Pradesh , but most of the inscriptions of Satavahanas have been found in Maharashtra.

  • Nanaghat Inscription of Naganika (wife of Satkarni-I) has been found near Pune (District).
  • The Two cave inscriptions found at Nasik are of Gautamiputra Satkarni. At Nasik, Inscription of Pulumayi II has been found.
  • The Karle cave inscription is of Vashishtiputra Pulumayi II.
  • The office of the Amatya appears or the first time in the Satavahana inscriptions.

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