During the period C. 550-754 A. D. there rose into power
a dynasty known as the Chalukyas, often called Early Chalukyas or the Western Chalukyas, with Vatapi or the modern Badami, in Bijapur District, as their Capital. The Chalukyas ruled over almost the whole of the Deccan, all the while contributing their best not only in the civil and political fields but also in the propagation of education, fostering literature and commerce and laying the foundations of a school of architecture which is known by their own name [B. B. Chitgupi, the Western Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami), Int. 1.].
3Nilkanta Sastri K. A., A History of South India, 163.
The Chalukyas in their records have been styled as Chalkya, Chalikya and Chalukya. The success of the Chalukyas was mainly due to the fact that the persistent inroads of the Huns and Shakas had broken up the Gupta Empire. The last Gupta king, Bhanugupta occupied a dependent position in the beginning of the 6th century.
The Vakatakas, too, were on the decline, as they were supposed to have been replaced in the middle of the 6th century by the Kalachuis, while the Kadambas were engaged in family feuds. Thus there was no strong power to keep the ambitious dynasties heading for hegemony in check.
Pulakeshin I was the first great monarch of the family and Kirti-varman I, his son who succeeded him had defeated the confederacy of the Kadambas and the neighbouring chiefs which had been formed against the rising Chalukya power. He conquered the Nalas, Mauryas of Konkan, Gangas, Kadambas and the Atukas. The Chiplun grant of the time of Pulakeshin II styles Kirtivarman I as "First maker or creator of Vatapi [Nilkanta Sastri, 143. Vatapyah-Prathama-Vidhata, Chitgupi, 43.
Ibid, 58; Bhandarkar (Bapat), 110. Some scholars are of the view that Harsha was defeated on August 2, 612 or July 23, 613 A. D.]. Kirtivarman I died in A. D. 597-98, probably leaving several minor children, and the throne, therefore, passed to his younger brother or step-brother Mangalesha (A. D. 597-98 to 610-11), also known as Mangalaraja, Mangalesha and Mangaleshvara. The new king enjoyed the birudas Rana-Vikranta and Uru Rana Vikranta, besides Prithivi Vallabha or Shri-Prithivi Vallabha. Mangalesha has been described as a Paramabhagavat, i.e. devout worshipper of the Bhagavat (Vishnu). The victory over the Katachchuris (Kalachuris) and the conquest of Revatidvipa, referred to in the Aihole inscription and echoed in the Kauthem grant, were his greatest achievements. According to the Nerur Grant and Mahakuta pillar inscription, the Kalachuri king Buddha, son of Shankaragana, was defeated before the 12th April, A. D. 602, and his entire possessions were appropriated, when the Chalukya king was desirous of conquering the northern region. While discussing the history of the Kalachurls, however, we have seen [Nilkanta Sastri, 143. Vatapyah-Prathama-Vidhata, Chitgupi, 43.
Ibid, 58; Bhandarkar (Bapat), 110. Some scholars are of the view that Harsha was defeated on August 2, 612 or July 23, 613 A. D.] that Buddha-raja was in possession of the Nasik District as late as A. D. 608. The struggle between the Chalukyas and Kalachuris, therefore, appears to have continued for some years, after which the former came into complete possession of the central and northern Maratha country. The Nerur grant of Mangalesha
also refers to the killing of the Chalukya chief Svamiraja who was apparently
ruling in the Konkan and is said to have been famous for his victories in 18
battles. Most probably this Svamiraja was placed in the Konkan by Kirtivarman I as his viceroy; and he sided with Pulakeshin II in his struggle against Mangalesha. It is also not unlikely that Svamiraja had his headquarters at Revatidvipa in the waters of the Western or Arabian Sea (i.e. fortified promontory of Redi to the south of
Vengurle in the Ratnagirl District), which is said to have been conquered by Mangalesha, and that the conqueror appointed Indravarman of the Bappura (i.e. Batpura) lineage, apparently related to his own mother, as the new governor of the region. According to a Goa Grant, Satyashraya-Dhruvaraja-Indravarman was ruling four vishayas or mandals with his headquarters at Revatidvipa in January 610 or 611 A. D., which was the twentieth year of his government, and granted a village in the Khetahardesha (Khed taluka in the Ratnagiri District) with the permission of the Ghalukya emperor of Badami. It is usually believed that Indravarman was placed as a viceroy in the Konkan by Kirtivarman I about A. D. 590, the first year of the former's rule according to the Goa Grant. But possibly he was ruling as a subordinate ruler elsewhere and was stationed at Revatidvipa only after the conquest of that place by Mangalesha some time after A. D. 597-98. It was as a result of the difficult days through which the Chalukya emperor was passing about this time that he appears to have become bold enough to issue the chapter, dated in his own regnal year.
About the end of Mangalesha's reign there was a civil war between him and his nephew Pulakeshin II, son of Kirtivarman. The cause of the quarrel, according to the Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II, was Mangalesha's attempt to secure the succession for his own son. As a result of this war Mangalesha lost his life and the throne of Badami passed to Pulakeshin II. The son of Mangalesha, not mentioned by name in the Aihole epigraph, is usually identified with Satyashraya-Dhruvaraja-Indravarman of the Goa Grant. But even then his title "an ornament of the original great Bappura (Batpura) lineage" may be explained by the suggestion that his mother was a Bappura princess. The fact that Indravarman acknowledged in January A. D. 610 or 611 the supremacy of Maharaja Shri-prithivivallabha, identified with Pulakeshin II, renders the theory unlikely; because Pulakeshin II could have hardly allowed his vital enemy and rival to be the Viceroy of the Konkan districts. As however Pulakeshin's first regnal year corresponds to Saka 532 (expired) while the date of the Goa Grant is Saka 532 (current or expired) the identification of Maharaja Shri-prithivi-vallabha overlord of Satyashraya-Dhruvaraja-Indravarman, with Mangalesha is not beyond the bounds of possibility. The Chiplun plates of his maternal uncle Shri Vallabha Senanandaraja of the Sendraka family describes him as "one who punishes the wicked people, who receives with hospitality learned people and friends, who confers favours upon servants, who has lit up the field of battle with flames of fire that rises from the tusks of elephants of the hostile kings which are split by the sword that is held in his hands, who is the sole aim of the arrows which are the eyes of nice young women, whose keen intellect is capable of examining the essence of the meaning of various Sastras, has taught the goddess of fortune, who is fickle by nature, the observance of a true and faithful wife ". He had raised himself to the rank of the lord paramount of the south. He took the title " Parameshvara " by defeating Harsha, the war-like
lord of the north", between 630-634 A. D. Hiuan Tsang, visiting Pulakeshin II in A. D. 641 has given vivid account of the people in this part. Khushru II, king of Persia received in A. D. 625-26 a complimentary embassy from Pulakeshin II [Nilkanta Sastri, 145.].
The defeat of the Chalukyas by Narasimhavarman (the Pallava monarch) and his capture of Badami completely disorganised the administrative machinery of the Chalukyas. But the Chalukya supremacy was eventually re-established by Vikramaditya I, the third son of Pulakeshin II. The Nerur and Kochrem giants show that Chandraditya, the eldest son of the Pulakeshin II was governing the western parts of the Chalukya dominions which included Ratnagiri district and Savantvadi [Chitgupi, 76, 127, 128; Bhandarkar, 116, 117, 121.].
Pulakeshin's success against the Pallavas was short-lived. About A. D. 642, he was defeated and probably killed by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I (son of Mahendravarman I) who, in retaliation to Pulakeshin's attack on the Pallava capital, led an expedition against Badami and captured it. According to the evidence of several Pallava grants, Narasimhavarman I repeatedlv defeated king Vallabha, i.e. Pulakeshin II (or, according to one record, wrote the word " victory ", as on a plate, on Pulakeshin's back which was visible as the Chalukya king took to flight), at the battles of Pariyala, Manimangala, Suramara and other places and destroyed the city of Badami. In the Ceylonese chronicle Mahavamsha, prince Manavarman is represented as having taken shelter at the court of the Pallava king whom he assisted in crushing his enemy, king Vallabha. That the destruction of Vatapi was not an empty boast on the part of the Pallava king is proved by his title Vatapikonda and by a fragmentary rock inscription at Badami itself, which seems to say that the city was conquered by Simha-vishnu or Narasimhavishnu (i.e. Narasimha-varman I), surnamed Mahamalla.
The inscriptions of the later members of the Chalukya house of Badami represent Pulakeshin II as having been succeeded by one of his younger sons, Vikramaditya I (A. D. 655-81), who claims to have been the "favourite " son of his father, but who ascended the throne several years after his father's death. It appears that after Pulakeshin's death, Badami and some of the southern districts of his empire were in the hands of the Pallavas for many years, while several of Pulakeshin's sons were making futile efforts to drive out the enemy, and the viceroys of some of the provinces were ruling without any reference to the overlord (but without actually assuming independence) probably because several sons of Pulakeshin II were rival claimants for the throne. The Kaira and Bagumra Grants referred to above show that the troubled state resulting
from Pulakeshin's death ensued in or shortly before A. D. 643, and that the Chalukya sovereignty was not completely restored in distant provinces even as late as A. D. 655. As no king is placed between Pulakeshin II and Vikramaditya I in the genealogy found in the formal charters of Vikramaditya I and his successors, it is usually believed that the Chalukya throne remained vacant during the period A. D. 642-55. When, however, the Pallavas were apparently not in occupation of the entire kingdom of the Chalukyas, it is inexplicable why Pulakeshin's eldest son did not declare himself king in the unconquered regions of the kingdom or at the court of a faithful viceroy or ally, especially when some of the viceroys are found not to have assumed independence. It is likely, therefore, that during this period there were several claimants for the throne, although none of them succeeded in driving out the Pallavas from Badami or in asserting his authority over all the viceroys. Eventually, Vikramaditya I, who was probably at first fighting on behalf of one of his elder brothers [It does not appear that Vikramaditya I was a rival claimant from the very beginning, for in that case he would have probably dated the commencement of his reign in A. D. 642 and not 655.] and enjoying the assistance rendered by the Ganga king, Durvinita, possibly his mother's father, succeeded in freeing Badami from the enemies and in securing his father's throne for himself. There is a Ganga inscription which speaks of Durvinita as having acquired fame in the land of Jayasimha Vallabha (founder of the Chalukya house of Badami) by seizing the Kaduvetti (meaning Pallava, i.e. the Pallava king of Kanchi) and setting up his own daughter's son, probably Vikramaditya I [Some scholars place Durvinita's reign much too early for this (Cf. Ch, XIII p. 269). For the date of Durvinita Cf. Successors of the Satavahanas, pp. 299-302. Vikramaditva's queen Ganga Mahadevi, mentioned in the Gadval Grant, may have been a grand-daughter of Durvinita.]. It appears that the sons of Pulakeshin II received little help from their relatives, the Eastern Chalukyas, who had severed their relations with Badami as early as the closing years of Kubja Vishnuvardhana's reign. One of the rival claimants for the Chalukya throne after the death of Pulakeshin II appears to have been his "dear" son Adityavarman who is described in the Kurnul grant of his first regnal year as Maharajadhiraja-Parameshvara and Prithivivallabha and as the supreme ruler of the whole earth overcome by his own prowess. The omission of the names of Adityavarman and other claimants for the throne from the genealogy in the records of Vikramaditya I and his successors seems to be due to the fact that they were simultaneously ruling in the provinces away from Badami, and that their title to the throne was challenged or ignored by Vikramaditya, I, who ousted them. The Kauthem grant of the later Chalukyas, however, represents Pulakeshm II as succeeded regularly by his son Nedamari, his grandson Adityavarman and his great-grandson Vikramaditya I, and this tradition, mistaken as it is, may be a reminiscence of the actual fact that two elder brothers of Vikramaditya I had claimed to have been kings.
The existence of Chandraditya, another elder brother of Vikramaditya, is known from two grants [BG. p. 366. The expression Svarajya in one of the grants should be taken to mean 'the sovereignty of ourselves (i.e. the Chalukya)'. Vijayabhattarika may have been the celebrated poetess Vijja mentioned in the literary traditions.] of Vijayabhattarika, wife of the former. In both these grants, Vikramaditya is described as the dear son of Pulakeshin and conqueror of hostile kings and restorer of the fortune and sovereignty of his ancestors. As, besides, his name is placed before Chandraditya, there is no doubt that the latter enjoyed a feudatory status though there were cordial relations between the two brothers. It is difficult to decide whether Chandraditya was alive when his wife issued the grant.
According to the Talmanchi and Nerur grants, Vikramaditya I ascended the throne after September 654 and before July 655 A.D. Like his brother Adityavarman, he also claimed to have been the "dear" son of Pulakeshin II. Vikramaditya I had the birudas Satyashraya, Ranarasika, Anivarita and Rajamalla, and enjoyed not only the epithet Shri-prithivivallabha (Shrivallabha or Vallabha) but also the imperial titles Maharajadhiraja Parameshvara and sometimes Bhattaraka. In a few viceregal records he is described as a Parama-maheshvara and as meditating on the feet of Nagavardhana, who is supposed to have been the king's religious teacher. But the Talmanchi grant referring to Shri Meghacharya as the king's svakiya-guru is no doubt more reliable than the above records. Vikramaditya I, who recovered the southern part of the empire from the Pallavas, is said to have conquered his enemies in numerous battles with the help of his sword and his charger named Chitrakanta. It is further stated that he acquired for himself his father's royal fortune that had been interrupted by three kings, and thus brought the whole kingdom under his sway. By mere word of mouth Vikramaditya I is said to have restored the grants to gods and Brahmans that had been confiscated by the three hostile kings. Thus the Chalukya monarch acquired the fortune and sovereignty of his ancestors after having defeated several enemies, including not improbably some of his own brothers. The Hyderabad grant shows that Vikramaditya fought with the Pallava monarchs Narasimhavarman I, his son Mahendravarman II and grandson Parameshvaravarman I. Vikramaditya I is described in it as having obliterated the fame of Narasimha, destroyed the power of Mahendra, and surpassed Ishvara (i.e. Parameshvaravarman I) in statesmanship and thus crushed the Pallavas. He is further said to have captured Kanchi after conquering Ishvarapotaraja (i.e. Parameshvaravarman I). The Gadval grant describes him as the destroyer of the family of Mahamalla (i.e. Narasimhavarman I) and of the Pallava lineage. From these accounts it is clear that, for the complete recovery of the lost districts of his father's kingdom, Vikramaditya had to fight with no less than three Pallava kings in succession. The struggle must have covered a long period of time commencing some years before and ending many years after his
actual accession to the throne. Later records represent him as receiving the surrender of Kanchi after defeating the Pallava king as humbling the kings of the Cholas, Pandyas, and Keralas, and as getting obeisance done to him by the rulers of Kanchi who were the cause of his family's humiliation. Thus Vikramaditya I is said to have become the lord of the whole earth bounded by the three oceans, indicating the Indian Ocean, and sometimes conceived as a secondary Chakravarti-kshehtra. In some records the Kalabhras are added to the list of peoples subdued by Vikramaditya I. Epigraphic records also speak of the great assistance that was rendered to the Chalukya king by his son Vinayaditya and grandson Vijayaditya. Vinayaditya claims to have arrested at his father's command the power of forces of the Trairajya-Pallava-pati or Trairajya-Kanchipati and pleased his father by ensuring peace in all the provinces, while Vijayaditya is said to have entirely uprooted the assemblage of the foes when his grandfather was engaged with the enemies in the south. Vinayaditya's exploit has been explained as a success against the Pallava king of Kanchi as well as the latter's neighbours, the kings of the three kingdoms of the Cholas, Pandyas and Keralas [It is difficult to agree with scholars who believe that Vinayaditya defeated the Pallava lord of Kanchi, who had under him three kingdoms or a kingdom having three divisions.].
According to the Pallava records, king Parameshvaravarman I defeated the army of Vallabha (i.e. Vikramaditya I) at the battle of Peruvalanallur and, unaided, compelled the Chalukya king, whose army consisted of several lakhs, to take to flight, covered only by a rag. The Pallava king is further said to have destroyed the city of Ranarasika (Vikramaditya I), i.e. the Chalukya capital at Badami [According to some scholars, the Periyapuranam (Siruttondar, V. 6) suggests that, when the Chalukya king was leading the expedition against the Pallava country, Parameshvaravarman I sent his general Siruttondar to capture Vatapi. The Chalukya king's grandson Vijayaditya possibly succeeded in repulsing the Pallava army under Siruttondar. The claim of Ganga Bhuvikrarna, successor of Durvinita, to have defeated the Pallava king (possibly Parameshvaravarman) at Vilinda in the Tumkur region of Mysore seems to refer to a phase of this Chalukya-Pallava struggle (IGO XXVIII, 63-64).]. According to the Honour Grant [Arch. Surv. Mysore, 1939, p. 134.] Vikramaditya was encamped at Malliyurgrama to the west of Kanchi in A. D. 671. The Gadval grant of Vikramaditya shows that he emulated the exploits of his father and advanced in the south as far as the Chola capital at Uragapura on the southern bank of the Kaveri (modern Uraiyur near Trichinopoly), where he was stationed on the 25th April, A. D. 674. This suggests that the Pallava power was temporarily paralysed once again. But the Pallava king had, according to some writers, allied himself with some of the southern monarchs including the Pandya king Kochchadaiyan, and ultimately succeeded in driving the Chalukyas out of the southern region. But the Pandyas in this period were enemies of the Pallavas. The credit for the
defeat of the Chalukyas at the battle of Peruvalanallur near Trichinopoly has to be ascribed to the military genius of the Pallava king alone.