(Last Updated on : 20/09/2014)
History books normally center on the activities and achievements of the kings of India, overlooking the accomplishments of the queens. The main reason for this is the consorts of the rulers were usually not associated with the actual administration of the kingdom except perhaps in a few cases. Some names of queens who were actively involved in administrative activities are available from the inscriptions of their times. Most of the queens were, however not involved in the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom, but were active in the religious and cultural spheres and their names are remembered even today in this context.
The queens of the Chalukyas of Badami (Karnataka) issued royal records, administered some of the divisions of their empire and donated to charity. Vijayabhattarika was the senior queen (pattamahishi) of Chandraditya Prithivivallabha Maharaja who was the elder brother of Vikramaditya I and ruled over a part of the Chalukyan kingdom in the 7th century A.D. She was a talented poetess and has been identified by some scholars with Vijayanka, a great literary figure of those times. Another Chalukyan queen who deserves mention is Lokamahadevi the queen of Vikramaditya II who assisted her husband in the building of the Siva temple at Pattadakkal in the 8th century A.D.
Among the Pallava queens, the name of Charudevi stands out as she is mentioned as the wife of the heir - apparent (Tuva Maharaja) Buddhavarman and as having issued an inscription in her own name, recording the donation of land to a Vishnu temple in the 4th century A.D. There were many other Pallava queens like Rangapataka, the favourite consort of Rajasimha Pallava, who was associated with the construction the famous Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram in the 8th century A.D. The queens of the Chalukyas of Kalyani were also active in the sphere of administration. The names of Mailaladevi who was ruling in 1053 A.D., Ketaladevi II who was ruling in 1054 A.D. and several others are well-known.
The Chola queens did not participate in administration, but their involvement in the cultural arena was so great that their names will forever be remembered in this regard. Almost all the queens of this dynasty contributed wholeheartedly to the construction of temples in the Chola land and made generous contributions for daily worship and the organization of religious festivals. Their names and the donations which they made are inscribed on the walls of many of the temples. The names that stand out in this regard are Sembian Mahadevi (Madevi), the widow of Gandaraditya and Kundavai, the sister of Rajaraja Chola I. Rajaraja I named his daughter after his sister and she was married to the Eastern Chalukyan king Vimaladitya. Their son Rajaraja Narendra married his cousin Ammangadevi, the daughter of Rajendra Chola I and their son was the famous Chola king Kulottungal.
The name of the brave Kakatiya queen, Rudramba, who ruled over a vast empire in medieval Andhra Pradesh, will ever be remembered by students of South Indian history
Some names of queens of the Vijayanagara monarchs are available from the inscriptions which they have left behind. Two of the queens of Krishnadeva Raya were Tirumala Devi and Chinna Devi. They accompanied him to the temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala (Tirupati) and presented many expensive gifts to this deity. The exquisite life-size bronze images of the three of them can be seen even today inside this temple complex. One of the queens of Achyuta Raya, the successor of Krishnadeva Raya, was Oduva Tirumalamba, a Sanskrit scholar and poetess who authored Varadambika Parinayam.
The sculptures of many of the queens of the Nayaka rulers are seen in various temples, especially in Tamil Nadu, standing with intense devotion with folded palms, praying to the deities. Polygamy was prevalent and the kings of South India married many princesses of other royal households. The main reason for this was to strengthen their position by way of these matrimonial alliances.