Chalukya Dynasty – The History of the Chalukyas

Introduction to the chalukya dynasty 

The first dynasty of the Chalukya family was the Badami Chalukya who ruled over much of present-day Karnataka state in south India. They were founded by Pulakesin I around 543 CE. Their capital city was located at Vatapi (modern Bijapur). The next dynasty was established by Pulakeshin II after he defeated his brother Vijayaditya VI of the Western Chalukya Empire. He moved the capital to Kalyani (modern Belgaum) and reigned until his death in 648 CE.

India map image Duration of chalukyas dynasty

Table of contents:

chalukya dynasty kings list

download the chalukya dynasty kings list here

Important kings of the chalukya dynasty

Pulakesin I of the Chalukyas (535-566 CE)

  • He was known as Sri-Prithvi-Vallabh (The Lord of The Earth).
  •  He is identified with the Chalukya-Vallabhseva of the Badami inscription of Saka 465 (A.D. 543-4).
  •  He conquered Vätapi, built a fort there and performed the Ashvamedha
  • Pulakekin I performed many sacrifices, such as the Hiranyagarbha, the Agnistoma, 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 Mahabharata)
  • He married Durlabhadevi of the Batpura family. He had two sons Kirtivarman and Mangaleis. Both of them ruled successively.

Pulakesin II of the Chalukyas (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 civil war 
  • Pulakelin Il controlled just Vätapi and no other territory when he came to the throne.
  • Pulakelin II greatest triumph was, Hareba, the renowned Sakala-Uttaradhipati,” the Lord of the North.This event took place probably between CE 630 and 634

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. 
  • 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 Pithapuram he installed his younger brother Yuvaraja Kubja Vishnuvardhana.
  • 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.
  •  Pulakelin II attacked the Pallava King Mahendravarman I and defeated him but he was to pay dearly for this.
  •  He then went further south and made friends with the Cholas, Keralas and Pandayas. He then returned to Vätäpi.
  • The eastern Chalukya dynasty, which he established, later merged with the Chola royal family. 

Vikramaditya I of the Chalukyas (655-81 CE)

The 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. 
  • Vikramaditya seems to have won some notable successes against Narasimhavar, who had a short and uneventful reign. 
  • His greatest victory was, however, the defeat of Parmeśvaravarman and the capture of Karachi.
  • This victory, was, however, short-lived
  • the Pallava king soon gathered his forces, defeated the Chalukya king in the battle of Peruvalanallur, and forced him to retreat to his own dominions.
vikramaditya old Images

Chalukya dynasty administration

The royal duty of a king

  • The king was regarded as a divine protector. 
  • The Chalukyan ruler enjoyed the highest position in the scheme of administration and was the sole repository of sovereignty.
  •  The epigraphs bear testimony to the fact that he was not a mere reigning sovereign or figurehead, but a supreme executive and head of state, paying individual attention to important matters concerning the state and the people. 
  • He was commander-in-chief of the royal forces and was the ultimate dispenser of justice.

characteristics :

  • The fundamental characteristics of the ideal king were diligence, learning and courage, combined with the proficiency of high. order in war and diplomacy. 
  • The qualities most stressed are virtue, pleasing conduct, learning, sharp intelligence, proficiency in arts and sciences,
  •  knowledge of Smirtis, Puranas, Itihasa and the Mahabharata, truthfulness, mercy, liberality, devotion to dharma, political insight (nyaya), statesmanship (niti), toleration and, above all, efficient leadership and personal valour. 
  • Before being nominated as heir-apparent, the prince had to train himself in the art of warfare besides acquiring knowledge of the Sastras, Epics, Puranas, Politics and the sacred laws.


  • The king performed the essential duties of prajārakshana, prajāpālana, prajárañjana and varṇāśramadharma pratipalana as enjoined by the writers on ancient Indian polity. 
  • The Chalukyan ruler had an enlightened conception of his duties and responsibilities, being the chief functionary of the state. 
  • The primary function of the king was to protect his subjects from-internal disorders and foreign invasions. 
  • The Chalukyan rulers sincerely strove for the welfare and happiness of their people.
  • Though kings had unbridled authority, they could not have behaved like tyrants for that would have provoked rebellion. 
  • The lofty ideals of charity, impartiality, self-restraint, a liberal attitude towards learning and the learned and respect for religion were constantly in their minds. 
  • The Smrti texts enjoin upon the kings the duty of prajanu ranjana.
  •  These point out that the king can become a successful ruler only if he follows the precepts of the elder’s studies the art of government, cultivates piety and protects his subjects efficiently.
  • ”A few religious epithets, such as Paramabhagavata, Parama mälesvara and Dharmamahārāja, are used for the rulers of this dynasty. These indicate the devotion of the monarchs towards Vishnu and Siva. 
  • According to Sastri, the title of Dharm mamahäräja indicated their active promotion of the Vedic dharma in preference to Buddhism and Jainism.

administration of a court


  • The king used to look after important policy matters of government, while his ministers transacted the routine business of administration. 
  • The Smrtis ordain that he should govern the people with the counsel of his ministers. 
  • The Eastern Chalukyan records refer to ‘Mantri’ and ‘pradhana’, besides a few other ministers.
  • The ministers were appointed directly by the king and heredity was the prime consideration in such appointments as it ensured allegiance and loyalty. 
  • The office of the minister was a very important and responsible one, and consequently, it seemed that only experienced and qualified people.
  • noted for their noble lineage, virtuous conduct, truthfulness, generosity, devotion to duty, learning, valour and keen insight, with the capacity to keep official secrets, were appointed to it. 
  • There does not appear to have been any clear-cut division of civil and military functions of state officials and it was possible for the civil officials to be charged with military responsibilities as well 
  • All the official Chalukyan records issued from the military camps were drafted by the sändhivigrahikas who always accompanied the rulers on their military campaigns.
  •  All official records of the Chalukyas were drafted and written by the Sandhivigrahika or Mahäsändhivi grahika, i.e., the minister for foreign affairs or the minister for external affairs.

administration of a local village

  • The village has always been the lowest unit of administration. 
  • The boundaries of every village were demarcated correctly. 
  • The social and economic affairs of the village were in the hands of the mahajanas (village elders).
  • The village assembly consisted of leading householders of the village, especially constituted to look after the social and economic aspects of village life
  • The gámundas administered the villages in consultation with the mahattaradhikarin. 
  • The grāmabhogikas and grāmakūtas were probably government officials related to the administration of the villages. 
  • The Adur Inscription also refers to the Karanas (the village accountants). 
  • these Karanas maintained the accounts of the proceeds of taxes charged from the householders of the village for the functioning of the assembly.

administration of the state


In the Vakataka inscriptions, the term ‘rashtra’ occurs in the sense of a district, with villages forming part of it. In the dynastic epigraphs of the Chalukyas, the term rashtra occurs with reference to the empire as well as corresponding to a district. The Nerûr Plates of Mangalaraja describe him as one who follows the course of justice in his rashtra, indicating that the term rashtra denotes the Chalukya dynasty. A few Chalukyan inscriptions mention some villages as situated in the rashtra and also räshira as the division of a vishaya


The other administrative units referred to in the records of the dynasty are desa, nädu, mandala, vishaya, bloga, ähära and grama. Desa corresponds to province.


The majority of the grants of the Chalukyas refer to the gift of villages and their situation in some Vishaya. Those mentioned include Chiplun, Cholika, Gangavadi, Vam guravadi, Avaretika, Uchchhaśrnga, Kuhundi, Punaka, Nalavädi, Vanavasi, Banarajavishaya, Kauva Vishaya, Palasige, Talitatähāra and Karmmanyähära, etc. The administrative unit Vishaya usually corresponds to the present district of a varying size which includes many villages.


Vishaya was divided into smaller units generally called ähára or bhogas. They were lower units of administration as compared to the vishaya.


The lowest unit of the Chalukyan administration was grama. Several villages referred to in the Chalukyan records were gifted to various Brahmanas. The village as a unit was under the administrative control of gamunda (gavunda).


The Chalukyan kingdom included a number of cities and towns like Vätäpi, Vanavasi, Pändipura, Raklapura, Tagara, Pulikere (Lakshmeśvar) and Pattada Kisu volal. There was a separate administrative unit for these.

Map of South India

administration of the army

The strength of the Chalukyan army was of six divisions, though conventionally there were only four wings, as mentioned in their records. There was also a strong division of navy to guard the seacoast and conduct maritime operations.


The infantry formed the biggest unit of the army, and according to Chalukyan epigraphs, a large contingent of foot soldiers was employed by the ruler. There were six types of troops, viz, maula, blirtya, śreni, mitra, átavika and amitra. They were provided with proper dress, equipment, and were given arms.


The dynastic records refer to the cavalry along with the traditional wings of the army. In the shortage of local supply, horses were imported from Sindh, Persia and Arabia. Being more agile and swift in movement, horses could carry their riders expeditiously and to a longer distance.


A strong naval force was a great asset to the Chalukyas who had to maintain vigil over a long seacoast in Western India. This could as well be used for maritime trade and also for expeditions against other powers.

Military Official

  • The king was the supreme commander of the armed forces, and he headed the important encounters.
  •  The dynastic grants indicate that the ruler was always accompanied by his minister for peace and was, sandhivigrahika in the battlefield.
  •  A good number of royal commands either recording gifts or carrying other administrative orders were written by the sandhivigrahikas, whose duty included the composition and issue of royal commands.
  •  The balädhikrta or mahabalādhikṛta, i.e., ‘commander-in-chief’ or ‘the supreme commander, is also referred to in several records.

Important Offices 

o Divirapati – head of the clerks

o Akshapataladhikaranadhikrta – Chief Accounts Officer o Desadhipati-Administrative officer of desa (territorial unit)

o Vishyapatai-head of Vishaya

o Dutaka-ambassador

o Chauradhikarana – criminal investigation officer



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