origins of the Kadamba dynasty

Kadamaba area colored in Red color

in this article the following topics will be covered:

  1. origins
  2. kadamba kindom of banavasi 
  3. kadamba kingdom of hanga
  4. prominent kings
    • Mayurasharma
    • Kakusthavarma

Origin of the kadamba dynasty

Kadamba (345 – 525 CE) was an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka that ruled northern Karnataka and the Konkan from Banavasi in present-day Uttara Kannada district. At the peak of their power under King Kakushtavarma, the Kadambas of Banavasi ruled large parts of modern Karnataka state. The dynasty was founded by Mayurasharma in 345 CE which at later times showed the potential of developing into imperial proportions, an indication to which is provided by the titles and epithets assumed by its rulers.  There are two theories to the origin of the Kadamba dynasty, a native Kannadiga origin and the other a north Indian origin. North Indian Origin of Kadambas was found only in the later records of their offshoot descendent dynasty and is considered legendary. Family name is derived from the Kadamba tree is commonly known about this Dynasty in South India region.The historians claim that this kingdom was belong to Brahmin caste through Talagunda inscription or were of tribal of origin called Kadambu. The Kadambas promptly gave administrative and political importance to their language, Kannada, after coming to power. It is claimed that the family of the Kadambas were undoubtedly of Kanarese descent. The Naga descent of the Kadambas has been stated in early inscriptions of King Krishna Varma I too, which confirms the family was from Karnataka.


Kadamba Kingdom of Banavasi 

Banavasi is an ancient temple town in Uttara Kannada District bordering Shivamogga district in the south Indian state of Karnataka having main attraction of Madhukeshwara Temple built in the 9th century and dedicated to Lord Shiva the supreme God in Shaivism which is known as a major branch of Hinduism. Recently a 5th century copper coin was discovered here with an inscription in the Kannada script which is considered as a one of the oldest coin ever discovered. The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums said that the coin’s inscription in archaic Kannada proves beyond doubt that Banavasi had a mint in the 5th century. The coin’s discovery supports those seeking classical status for the Kannada language. Adikavi Pampa, the first poet of Kannada, wrote his epic poems in Banavasi. The town once was the capital of the Kadamba rulers, an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka. They established themselves there in A.D. 345 and ruled for two centuries.

Kadamba kingdom of Hanga.

Hangal was also called as Hanungal. It is a town in Haveri district in the state of Karnataka. It is on the left bank of the Dharma River, and has ruins of some fortification on the riverbank. The town has a huge Tarakeshwara temple as well as other temples like Ganesha temple, Virabhadra, Billeshwara and Ramalinga are the important temples, and a famous Veerashaiva Kumaraswami matha. Hangal was the capital of the Hangal Kadambas. It is mentioned as Panungal in early records and identified by tradition with Viratanagara of Mahabharata days. Chattadeva was the founder of Kadambas of Hangal. He was a feudatory of the western Chalukyas. The Western Chalukyas (in 973) rose to power by defeating the Rashtrakutas with the help of Kadambas. Then Kadambas chief Chatta Deva was allowed by Taila II to rule Banavasi, he (during 980 – 1031 AD), consolidated his domain in the western Tungabhadra River basin under Chalukya shelter. Chatta Deva’s successors enjoyed considerable independence and were almost sovereign rulers of Goa and Konkan till 14th century AD. The successors of Chatta Deva occupied both Banavasi and Hangal and are known as Kadambas of Hangal.

Prominent Kings

Mayurasharma (345 CE – 365 CE)

Mayurasharma was a Vaidika Brahmin scholar who belonged to an orthodox Brahmana family which derived its descent from Hariti and belonged to the Manavya Gotra. The family was deeply devoted to the Vedic studies and the performance of Vedic sacrifices. The Kadamba tree that grew near their house gave the family its name. He was the son of Bandhushena, grandson of his guru (teacher) Veerasharma and a student at the Agrahara (place of learning) in Talagunda(in modern Shimoga district). The Gudnapur inscription further confirms Mayurasharma’s parentage and that he acquired the character of a Kshatriya. He was the founder of the Kadamba Kingdom of Banavasi. It was the earliest native kingdom to rule over state Karnataka. Mayurasharma first succeeded in establishing himself in the forests of Shriparvata (possibly modern Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh) by defeating the Antharapalas (guards) of the Pallavas and subduing the Banas of Kolar. The Pallavas under Skandavarman were unable to contain Mayurasharma and recognised him as a sovereign in the regions from the Amara Ocean (Western Ocean) to Prehara (Malaprabha River). After a period of time, due of the confusion caused by the defeat of Pallava Vishnugopa by Samudragupta (Allahabad inscriptions), Mayurasharma formed his kingdom at Banavasi (near Talagunda) as his capital. It is also known that in other battles, Mayurasharma defeated the Traikutas, Abhiras, Sendrakas, Pallavas, Pariyathrakas, Shakasthana, the Maukharis and Punnatas.

Kakusthavarma (435 CE – 455 CE)

Under Kakusthavarma the Kadamba Empire reached the acme of its greatness. The Talagunda inscription hails him as “the ornament of the Kadamba Family”. He is described as a “formidable warrior” who defied every danger. His political influence is reflected in the fact that he was able to conclude matrimonial alliances with many prominent ruling families of the day. The Talagunda inscription states that he maintained such relationship with the imperial Guptas. It is possible that Kakusthavarma’s daughter was married to Kumara Gupta’s son, Skanda Gupta. His daughter Ajjhitabhattarika was married to the Vakataka ruler, Narendrasena. Similar alliances were concluded with the Bhatari chief, the Alupas and the Gangas. It extended the Kadamba influence among a number of ruling powers. The Halsi plates and the Hamidi inscription refer to the abilities, industry and magnanimity of Kakusthavarma, and tributes to his greatness.

After Kakusthavarma, the Kadamba Kingdom was divided between his two sons, Santivarma and Krishna Varma I, who commenced their independent rule simultaneously at Banavasi and Triparvata respectively.

two coin of ancient kingdom
two coin Break of ancient kingdom
two Gold coin of ancient kingdom

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