EASTERN CHALUKYAS

This dynasty was a branch of the Chalukyas of Badami. Pulakesin II, the renowned ruler of Chalukyas conquered Vengi (near Eluru) in A.D.624 and installed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana (A.D.624–641) as its ruler. His dynasty, known as the Eastern Chalukyas, ruled for nearly four centuries. Vishnuvardhana extended his dominions up to Srikakulam in the north and Nellore in the south. He was succeeded by his son Jayasimha I (A.D.641–673). Between A.D.641 and A.D.705 some kings, except Jayasimha I and Mangi Yuvaraju, (A.D.681–705) ruled for short duration. Then followed a period of unrest characterised by family feuds and weak rulers. In the meanwhile, the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed ousted Chalukyas of Badami. The weak rulers of Vengi had to meet the challenge of the Rashtrakutas, who overran their kingdom more than once. There was no Eastern Chalukya ruler who could check them until Gunaga Vijayaditya came to power in A.D.848. He also failed to face the Rashtrakutas, and the then Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha treated him as his ally. After Amoghavarsha’s death, Vijayaditya proclaimed independence. He started on a campaign to the south and achieved some notable success. He ruled for 44 years and passed away in A.D.892. He was succeeded by his brother’s son, Chalukya Bhima (A.D.892–921). Rashtrakutas again attacked the Vengi kingdom during this period but were repulsed effectively by Vengi and came to an understanding with Rashtrakutas and treated them as his allies. They were able to maintain their independence till the Chalukyas of Kalyani in A.D.973 overthrew the Rashtrakutas.

Contemporaries to the Eastern Chalukyas were the Eastern Gangas in the northeast and the Pallavas in the south.

The Eastern Gangas appeared in the political scene towards the close of the 5th century A.D. as rulers of Orissa. The first known ruler of this dynasty was Indravarma (6th century A.D.). He had his capital at Dantapura, but later shifted to Kalinganagara (Mukhalingam in Srikakulam district). The Gangas ruled with their capital in Andhra for nearly five centuries, until it was shifted to Cuttack at the end of the 11th century A.D. The early Eastern Gangas were ruling a small territory in Srikakulam district in the Telugu land.

The Pallava rule, which was earlier eclipsed by the onslaught of the Kalabhras, was revived during the last quarter of the 6th century A.D. by Simhavishnu, a scion of the Pallava ruling family and was firmly established at Kanchi. This new dynasty of the Pallavas is known as the `Greater Pallavas’ or the `Later Pallavas’ dynasty. The earliest Pallava ruler was Virakurcha and the most famous of them was Trilochana Pallava. An inscription noticed at Manchikallu, near Macherla in Guntur district is the earliest epigraphical record of the Pallava family. The entire territory south of the Krishna held sway over by Mahendravarman (A.D.600–630), son of Simhavishnu of the Later Pallavas. From the 7th century A.D. onwards, the Pallavas has to face the expanding Chalukya power. The conflict continued for a long time with varying degrees of success. But the extermination of the Chalukyas of Badami by the Rashtrakutas gave respite to the Pallavas to consolidate their power. The Pallavas continued till the end of the 9th century A.D., when a new power, the Cholas of Tanjore, displaced them and occupied Kanchipuram.

Among the minor Chalukya families that ruled parts of Andhra, those of Vemulavada (presently in Karimnagar district) are the most important. Their rule extended over the present-day Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts. As subordinate rulers loyal to the Rashtrakutas, they ruled with semi-independent status for about two centuries (A.D.755–968). The rule of the Vemulavada Chalukyas coincided with that of the Rashtrakutas. One peculiarity with this family is that it traced its descent from the Sun, while many other Chalukya families considered themselves as of lunar descent.

The Cholas attained the status of a major power in south India under the valiant leadership of Rajaraja I (A.D.985–1016). Two rebel princes of the Eastern Chalukya family sought refuge in his court. Rajaraja I utilised the claim of one of these princes, Saktivarma, as a pretext for intervening in the affairs of Vengi. He was successful in seating Saktivarma on the throne of Vengi and, from that time, the Eastern Chalukyas played a role subservient to the Cholas. But the Telugu country became a cockpit of battles between the Cholas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani who supported a rival claimant to the throne of the Vengi each time. An Eastern Chalukya Prince, Rajendra, occupied the Chola throne in A.D. 1070 under the name of Kulottunga I. Nevertheless, Vijayaditya VII, a cousin of Rajaraja, continued to rule over Vengi till his death in A.D.1076 when the Eastern Chalukya dynasty came to an end.

The Eastern Chalukyas occupied a prominent place in the history of Andhra Pradesh. Though they were originally of Kannada stock, they patronised Telugu and gave fillip to it. Since the time of Gunaga Vijayaditya, inscriptions show Telugu stanzas, culminating in the production of literary works. Later on, in the 11th century under the patronage of the then Eastern Chalukya king, Rajaraja, the great epic, `Mahabharata’ was translated partly by his court poet, Nannaya.
At the time of Chalukya conquest three religions, Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism, were prevalent. Of these, Buddhism was on the wane. The Buddhist Aramas were transformed into pilgrim centres by the resurgent Hinduism. Jainism lingered on, and an appreciable section of the people paid homage to the Tirthankaras. Hinduism enjoyed the status of a national religion throughout the kingdom. Temples were built which played an important role in the religious life of the people and the temples of Siva at Chalukya Bhimavaram and Draksharama are among them.

The 12th century A.D. was a period of chaos. The Western Chalukyas of Kalyani, who were at first successful in overthrowing the Eastern Chalukyas, were driven out after 17 years by the Imperial Cholas with the help of local chiefs. But the latter did not rule directly and thought it prudent to leave the kingdom to the feudatories themselves in lieu of nominal allegiance. The Velanati Cholas of Tsandavolu (Guntur district) were the foremost among the feudatories. Between A.D.1135 and 1206, several minor dynasties ruled over parts of Andhra Pradesh recognising the authority of the Velanati Cholas nominally. The chiefs of these dynasties fought amongst themselves, and one such struggle among them was the `Palnati Yuddham’.