The Rise of the Chalukya Empire

In this article the following topics will be covered:

  1. origins of the chalukya dynasty
  2. inscription
  3. prominent kings
    •  Pulakesin I
    • Pulakesin II
    • Vikramaditya I      

origins of the Chalukya dynasty

The Chalukyas of Badami ruled in the territory comprising parts of the Kanarese and Maharashtra regions, from 535 to 757 CE , when they were superseded by the Rashtrakatas of Malkhed in the hegemony of the Deccan. In their earliest inscriptions, the Chalukyas call themselves Chalkya, Chalikya or Chalukya. They were an indigenous Kanarese family, with Kanarese as their mother tongue. The theory which seeks to identify them with the Sogdians is now discredited


The dated Badâmi inscription (A.D. 578) of Mangalesa refers to the Chalakyas as meditating at the feet of the sacred Svamil Mahasena, Le. Kärttikeya, the son of Siva, and as being Haritiputras of the Manavya gotra, who had become purified by the performance of the Agnishfoma, Agnichayana, Vajapeya, Paundarika, Akvamedha ceremonies, etc. It may be noted that the Kadambas and Chustus also claimed to be Haritiputras belonging to the Manavya gofra. In the Hyderabad grant (A.D. 612) of Pulakekin II, the Chalukyas are said to have been nourished by the Seven Mothers (the SaptaMatrikas); as those who attained continuous prosperity owing to the protection of Kärttikeya; and to whom all kings submit at the sight of their varahalaschhan a (boar crest), acquired through the favour of Narayana. From the beginning, the Chalukyas offered worship both to Vaishnavite and Saivite deities, as their early inscriptions indicate. While their boar crest indicated their Vaishnavite affiliation, the worship offered to Kärttikeya, the son of Siva, and the Sapta-Mátrikas indicated their Saivite leanings. All their early temples, however, are dedicated to Vishnu. They seem to have become Saivites later on.

Prominent Kings

Pulakesin I (535-566 CE)

The real founder of the dynasty seems to have been Pulakesin 1. He enjoyed the titles of Satyairaya and Ranavikrama. He was also known as Sri-Prithvi-Vallabh (The Lord of The Earth). He is identified with the Chalukya-Vallabhesvara of the Badami inscription of Saka 465 (A.D. 543-4). He conquered Vätspi, built a fort there and performed the Advamedha. Pulakekin I performed many sacrifices, such as, the Hiranyagarbha, the Agnishtoma, Agnichayana, Vajapeya, Bahumara and Pawndarika. The Nerur grant of Mangaleia praises him for his great wisdom, his knowledge of the laws of Manu and of the epics the Ramayana and the Afahabharata. He married Durlabhadevi of the Batpura family. He had two sons Kirtivarman and Mangaleis. Both of them ruled successively.

Pulakesin II (610-642 CE)

who was he?

Pulakelin II was one of the ablest and most powerful kings of the Palakesin Chalukya dynasty. He came to the throne only after a bloody civil (A.D. war that brought in its wake a period of anarchy and confusion. The 642) whole world was enveloped in the darkness that was the enemies,” says the Aihole Prašasti. Pulakelin Il controlled just Vätapi and no other territory when he came to the throne. He was surrounded by enemies on all sides and faced imminent danger from Appäkiya and Govinda, two kings who threatened the heart of his kingdom. He won over Govinda and repulsed Appakiya. After making his home province safe, he launched on a career of conquest, first capturing Vanavasi, the Kadamba capital. Then came the turn of the Gangas and the Alapas of Mysore.

military campaign:

He defeated the Mauryas of Konkan and occupied Puri (Gharapuri). He also subjugated the Latas, the Malavas and the Gurjaras. A Chalukya viceroy was appointed to govern the Gujarat region. Pulakelit’s greatest triumph was, however, over Hareba, the renowned Sakala-Uttaradhipati,” the Lord of the North. This event took place probably between CE 630 and 634 This event cannot be dated earlier than A.D. 630, as even the Lohner grant of Pulakelin II, dated C.E. 630, make makes no mention great achievement. The Chalukyan kingdom was known to Yuan Chwang as Maharashtra. From the north, Pulakelin II turned his attention to the south. He first subjugated Dakshina-Kosala and then captured Pighitapuram in the Godavari District. At Pighitapuram be installed his younger brother Yuvaraja Kubja Vishnuvardhana. The eastern Chalukyan dynasty, which he established, later merged with the Chola royal family. Pulakesin II now started a war which was to bring him to utter ruin. This was the war with the Pallavas of Kanchipuram, a struggle which was to become a family feud carried on with great vigour by both sides. Pulakeáin II attacked the Pallava King Mahendravarman I and defeated him but he was to pay dearly for this. He then went down further south and made friends with the Cholas, Keralas and Pandayas. He then returned to Vätäpi.

Vikramaditya I (655-81 CE)

Decline of the great empire

The great Pallava victory crippled the Chalukyas. The central authority ceased to exist. In the absence of any central authority, there was complete confusion and anarchy in the country. Badami and the surrounding regions remained under Pallava occupation for many years and for nearly thirteen to fourteen years after the death of Pulakelin II, the Chalukya throne remained unoccupied. In the meanwhile, several claimants sought to capture the throne. Finally, Vikramaditya I, with the assistance of the Ganga King Durvinita, succeeded to the throne after driving out the Pallava from the capital Vatapi. His attempts, however, to destroy the Pallava power were not very successful. The claims made in the Hyderabad grant and the Gadaval plates are somewhat exaggerated. The latter plates credit Vikramaditya with having crushed the glory of Narasimha, caused the dissolution of the valour of Mahendra and subdued Isvara. Vikramaditya seems to have won some notable successes against Narasimhavar man, who had a short and uneventful reign. His greatest victory was, however, the defeat of Parmeśvaravarman and the capture of Kafichi. This victory, was, however, short-lived, for the Pallava king soon gathered his forces, and defeated the Chalukya king in the battle of Peruvalanallur, and forced him to retreat to his own dominions.


Vikramaditya was ably assisted by his son Vinayaditya and his grandson Vijayaditya. Son and grandson joined together to beat back the Pallava army that had entered the Chalukya dominions and Vinayaditya established peace and order in the dominions. It was during Vikramaditya’s reign that his younger brother Dharairaya Jayasimhavarman was appointed Viceroy of the Gujarat region with his capital at Navasarika. He established himself firmly in the saddle by vanquishing King Vajjada, probably of the Maitraka dynasty.


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