Early Medieval Southern India:
During the period of 800-1200 A.D., south India became the centre of political activity. In the beginning of the ninth century, the Pallavas who were a great force were on the decline.
The Chalukyas of Badami were by now overthrown by the Rashtrakutas. The latter were engaged in several wars and alliances with northern and southern kingdoms.
The Cholas who were the feudatories of the Pallavas began to assert their power and were able to replace the Pallavas. The emergence of the imperial Cholas marked the beginning of a new stage in south Indian history. Under their domination, art and culture reached new heights whose influence was felt even in the countries of South-East Asia.
Dantidurga (753-756 A.D.), the founder of the Rashtrakuta kingdom was at first, a feudatory of the Chalukyas of Badami. But taking the advantage of the weak rule of his overlord Kirtivarman II, soon rose to power. The victorious career of Dantidurga is known from the two records of his reign – the Dasavatara Cave inscription of Ellora and the Samangad Plates.
He invaded Malwa under the Gurjara Pratiharas and brought it within his sphere of influence. After his death in 756 A.D, he was succeeded by his uncle Krishna I who gave the final blow to the Chalukyas of Badami, attacked the Gangas of Mysore and forced the Chalukyas of Vengi to acknowledge his supremacy Krishna I constructed the magnificent rock-cut temple at Ellora known as Kailasha temple. He was succeeded by his son Govinda II, but was dethroned by his ambitious younger brother, Dhruva.
Dhruva (779-793 A.D.) was the first Rashtrakuta ruler to decisively intervene in the tripartite struggle being waged for the supremacy of north India. He defeated both the Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja after occupying Malwa and Dharmapala the Pala ruler. He was succeeded by Govinda III (793-814 A.D.).
After a successful expedition against Nagabhatta II of Kannauj and the annexation of Malwa, followed by unconditional surrender of Chakrayudha and Dharmapala, Govinda III turned to the south. He completely shattered the confederacy of Cheras. Pandyas and the Cholas formed in his absence against him.
Govinda III was succeeded by his son Sarva, better known as Amoghavarsha (814-880 A.D.). Amoghavarsha ruled for 64 years but by temperament he preferred the pursuit of religion and literature to war. He patronised men of letters, such as Jinasena-author of Adipuram, Mahaviracharya-the author of Ganitasara – Samgraha and Saktayana – the author of Amoghavritti.
Amoghavarsha was himself an author and is credited with writing the first Kannada book on poetics, Kavirajamarga. He was a great builder and is said to have built the capital city of Manyakhet so as to excel the city of Indra.
In his later life he developed definite leanings towards Jainism under his chief preceptor Jinasena. His grandson Indra III succeeded him and re-established the empire. Indra III (915-27 A.D.) defeated Mahipala the Pratihara king and sacked Kanauj in 915 A.D. According to Al-Masudi, the Arab traveller, who visited India at that time, the Rastrakuta kings were the greatest king of India.
Krishna III (934-963 A.D.) was the last in a line of brilliant rulers. He defeated the Chola king, Parantaka I (949 A.D.), at the battle of Takkolam and annexed the northern part of the Chola Empire He then pressed down to Rameshwaram and set up a pillar of victory there and built a temple. After his death, all his opponents united against his successor.
The Rashtrakuta capital, Malkhed was sacked and burnt in 972 A.D. This marked the end of the Rashtrakuta Empire. In 974-75 A.D., Taila II of the Chalukya family, the feudatory of Rashtrakutas founded the Chalukyas kingdom of Kalyani.
The Rashtrakuta rule in the Deccan lasted for almost two hundred years till the end of the tenth century. The Rashtrakuta rulers were tolerant in their religious views and patronised not only Shaivism and Vaishnavism but Jainism as well.
They allowed Muslim traders to settle and permitted Islam to be preached in their dominions. This tolerant policy helped to promote foreign trade which enriched the Rashtrakutas. The Rashtrakuta kings were great patrons of arts and letters. They equally patronised Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsha, a forerunner of many modern Indian languages and Kannada.
Chalukyas of Kalyani:
The Rashtrakutas were overthrown in 974-975 A.D. by Taila II who belonged to the Chalukya dynasty. The dynasty founded by him with its capital at Kalyani, is known as later Chalukya or Chalukyas of Kalyani (the earlier being the Chalukyas of Badami). With the Parmaras of Malwa, Taila II waged a protracted war and eventually after defeating the Paramara king, Munja, put him to death. The Chalukya-Chola struggle became a regular feature from his period onward.
This accession of Somesvara I, ushered in a brilliant period in the history of the Chalukyas of Kalyani. At the battle of Koppam, in which Rajadhiraja, the Chola king fell, Somesvara I was defeated by his son Rajendra I.
He not only conquered north Konkan but also invaded Gujarat and Malavaand received the submission of Parmara Bhoja. The last great Chalukya ruler was Vikramaditya VI (1076- 1126 A.D.) who killed his elder brother Somesvara II and ascended the throne in 1076 A.D. On his coronatioh, he withdrew the Shaka era and introduced the Chalukya-Vikram era.
He fought numerous wars against the Hoysalas of Dwarsamudra, the Kakatiyas of Warangal, the Yadavas of Devagiri and the Kadambas of Goa. His reign was also a period of the development of art and literature Bilhana, the author of Vikramankacharita and Vijnanesvara, the author of Mitaksara, enjoyed his patronage.
With the defeat of Somesvara IV at the hands of the Yadava king Bhillana, the Chalukya dynasty pametoan end by the middle of the twelfth century. In its place the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Hoysalas of Dwarsamudra and the Kakatiyas of Warangal gained prominence.
Chalukyas of Vengi:
Pulakesin II of Badami after defeating the Vishnukundin king of Godavari district in Andhra country appointed his younger brother Vishnuvardhana, viceroy of the newly conquered territories. This viceroyalty soon developed into an independent kingdom under Vishnuvardhana and he became the founder of a dynasty known as the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi (615-633 A.D.).
The next important ruler was Vijayaditya I (746-764 A.D.) in whose time the western Chalukyas of Badami was overthrown by the Rashtrakutas. The greatest monarch of the Eastern Chalukyas dynasty was Vijayaditya III (855-888 A.D.), during whose reign the kingdom extended from the Mahendragiri in the north to the Pulicat luke in the south. He followed a policy of aggressive imperialism. He defeated Krishna II, the Rashtrakuta king and received the submission of the kings of Kalinga and Kosala.
A series of weak successors preceded the accession of Saktivarman I to the throne of Vengi. With his accession, Vengi ceased to be an independent kingdom and became an appendix of the Chola Empire. He was succeeded by Vimaladitya who was married to Kundavai, the daughter of Rajaraja Chola I.
Thus began the process of Chola-Chalukya matrimonial alliances which ultimately ended in the merger of the two dynasties under Kulottunga, son of Rajendra Narendra of Vengi and princess Amangadevi (daughter of Rajendra Chola I). With his death in 1075 A. D., the Eastern Chalukya dynasty came to an end.