The rule of the Chalukyas was a milestone in the history of South India. The political atmosphere changed from small empires to large ones with the arrival of Badami Chalukyas. Efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture, all these were witnessed during the rule of the Chalukya dynasty. Kannada and Telugu literature received patronage from Western and Eastern Chalukyas respectively.
Origin of Chalukya Dynasty
Origin of Chalukya dynasty has had various theories attributed to it. The consensus is that the founders of the empire at Badami were native to the Karnataka region. According to one theory, they are descendants of the Seleukia tribe of Iraq. Their clash with the Pallavas was an extension of the fight between Seleukia and Parthians. The Chalukyas claim themselves as Harithiputras of Manavyasagotra in their inscriptions, whose lineage is same as their early overlords, the Kadambas of Banavasi. They took control of the territory formerly ruled by the Kadambas. A later record of Eastern Chalukyas claims that one ruler of Ayodhya came from south, defeated the Pallavas and married a Pallava princess. She had a child called Vijayaditya who was considered to be the father of Pulakesin I. However it was a common practice to link South Indian royal family ancestry to a Northern kingdom. The caste of the Chalukya dynasty has also been in controversies. Kashmiri poet, Bilhana, suggests that they were Sudras while others assert they are Kshatriyas.
Chalukyas of Badami
Chalukya dynasty was established by Pulakesin I in 543. Vatapi was the capital and their domain consisted entirely of Karnataka and larger extent of Andhra Pradesh in the Deccan. He was the most popular ruler of Badami dynasty. He was succeeded by Pulakesin II who extended the empire to northern kingdoms of the Pallavas. The dynasty was on the verge of decline when Vikramaditya I recovered its glory partially. He was succeeded by Vijayaditya and subsequently by Vikramaditya II. The latter is known for various victories over major southern states. The last ruler was Kirtivarman II, who was overpowered by the Rashtrakutas. The Chalukyas ruled an empire stretching from the River Kaveri in the south to the River Narmada in the north.
Western Chalukya Dynasty
Vikramaditya IV is considered as one of the best ruler of Western Chalukya dynasty. Under his leadership the Western Chalukyas ended the Chola influence over Vengi and became the dominant power in the Deccan. Sanskrit and Kannada literature gained immense development during this time. Their decline started with the rise of Hoysalas, Pandyas and few other dynasties towards the end of 12th century.
Eastern Chalukya Dynasty
After the death of Pulakesin II, Vengi developed into an independent territory. For many years the Chalukyas had to accept the suzerainty of the Rashtrakutas. It was during the rule of Bhima I that they ruled independently. The fate of the kingdom turned after Darnarnava, the Chalukya king was killed in a battle in 973. His two sons took refuge in Chola kingdom. Shaktivarman I, his elder son was crowned as the ruler of Vengi but it was overseen by Chola king Rajaraja Chola. The Eastern Chalukyas had encouraged Kannada language and literature, though, after a period of time, importance was given to Telugu language.
Chalukyan architecture structured some of the most magnificent monuments of the country. The Badami Chalukyas had developed the south Indian architecture. Their monuments are found in Malaprabha Basin. The temples are mainly concentrated in modern state of Karnataka. There are temples in northern Nagara style and southern Dravidian style. Owing to the abundance of Shaiva cult, a number of temples were also built by the Eastern Chalukyan kings. They developed their own independent style of architecture which can be viewed in Biccavolu temples and Pancharama shrines. The rule of Western Chalukyas was significant in the development of the Deccan architecture. This structural design was a conceptual link between Badami Chalukyas and Hoysala architecture. Several monuments and notable temples were built.
An encyclopaedia of all arts and sciences called ‘Manasollasa’ was written during the rule of Western Chalukyas. The rule of the Western and Eastern Chalukyas was a major event in the history of Kannada and Telugu literatures respectively. Many notable writers and their creations flourished during this period. ‘Karnateshwara Katha’ is believed to be a eulogy of Pulakesin II and belong to this period. Chalukyan literature provided a great boost and encouragement to a number of scholars of that era.