Chalukyas of Badami (cALukyas of bAdAmi) (ಬಾದಾಮಿಯ ಚಾಳುಕ್ಯರು) occupy a very high place in the pantheon of the dynasties that have ruled in Karnataka. This is a truly indigenous dynasty from Karnataka which could extend its borders to various parts of Karnataka and beyond and carve out many an important victory. It has contributed hugely to the architecture and sculpture of Karnataka. They called themselves as ‘hArItIputras’ belonging to the ‘mAnavyasa gOtra’. ‘VarAha’ was the emblem of the dynasty.
Some historians have tried to trace the origin of Chalukyas to the Western countries and AyOdhyaa in the North. Mythology avers that the dynasty was created by Brahma himself and that these kings are the descendants of that God. However, it is now accepted that they have sprung from some local clans in and around Badami and any other theory is an ego boosting exercise. The word ‘cALukya’ has lent itself to many etymologies but usually it is derived from the Kannada word ‘salike’ (calki) meaning a spade. Debates are on to decide whether Chalukyas were Kshatriyas or not.
A major share of the data that we possess about Chalukyas comes from inscriptions both in Kannada and other languages such as Sanskrit and Prakrit. Chalukya dynasty is usually traced from Pulikeshi-1 downwards, even though he mentions Jayasimha and Ranaraga were his grand father and father respectively. Pulikeshi is credited with the establishment of the empire and choosing Badami as its capital city. The dynasty lasted for a little more than two hundred years till Keerthivarma the last king in the lineage, who ruled during 747-752 A.D.
The lineage of the Badami Chalukya dynasty is as follows:
1. Jayasimha 500-520 A.D. (approx.)
2. Ranaraga 520-540 A.D. (approx.)
3. Pulakeshi-1 540-566 A.D.
4. Keerthivarma-1 566-596 A.D.
5. Mangalisha 596-610 A.D.
6. Pulakeshi-2 610-642 A.D.
7. Vikramaditya 655-681 A.D.
8. Vinayaditya 681-696 A.D.
9. Vijayaditya 696-733 A.D.
10. Vikramaditya-2 733-745 A.D.
11. Keerthivarma-2 745-757 A.D.
The period spanning, 642-655 A.D. is considered a dark age in the history of Chalukyas because they were over powered by the Pallavas and Vikramaditya had to re establish the kingdom by his own efforts.
and Vikramaditya-2 are the most important monarchs of this dynasty. Pulakeshi
is not only among the most celebrated kings of Karnataka but he is also ranked
among the noted rulers of the entire country. He was denied his dues from his
uncle Mangaleesha who tried his best to pass on the kingdom to his own son.
Pulakeshi was thus an experienced warrior even before he ascended the throne.
He waged many a war to expand his empire. He started his conquests by defeating
the Kadamba kings and occupying Banavasi. His
victory over Harshavardhana in 612 A.D. on the banks of the
Even though one gets cursory references to the victories achieved by Vikramaditya-1, not much is available by way of details about the wars fought by him. It can be safely assumed that he could consolidate the empire and administer it properly.
Vikramaditya-2 is the next important monarch in this dynasty. His rule was constantly pestered by the Pallavas and Cholas. His victory over Nandivarman-2 and his attacks on Tondamandala region are well documented. He secured victories over kingdoms such as cEra, pAndya and kEraLa. He is also known for his benevolent attitude towards the defeated and more particularly for the donations made by him to the Kanchi temple. Keerthivarma the last monarch of this dynasty could not defend himself against Dantidurga of the Rashtrakoota dynasty.
The administrative patterns were set according to the practices of monarchy. The state was divided in to various ‘viSaya’s or ‘manDala’s. There were many official positions such as ‘viSayapati’, ‘grAmaBOgika’, ‘mahattara’ etc. A community of elders known as ‘mahAjana’ was in charge of village affairs. Trade and commerce were very well established during the Chalukyan regime. There are evidences of trans-oceanic trade. Concrete evidence of literary output in Kannada during the regime of Badami Chalukyas is confined to inscriptions with a flair for the literary style. Of course it is surmised that a number of poets and writers mentioned by Srivijaya in his ‘Kavirajamarga’ are believed to have flourished during this period. Writers such as vimala, udaya, nAgArjuna and kavIshvara as well as literary forms such as ‘cattANa’ and ‘bedanDe‘ are attributed to this period.
It goes without saying that the most
important contributions of the Badami Chalukya dynasty to the culture of
Karnataka are in the realms of architecture and sculpture. They have evolved in
to a unique style known as the Chalukya style. The best illustrations of their
grandeur are found in ‘bAdAmi’, aihoLe, and ‘paTTadakallu’
in Karnataka as also in ‘alampura’, ‘satyavOlu’ and ‘mahAnandi’ of
Andhrapradesh. Most of them are Hindu temples. A few Jaina temples and a couple
of Bouddha relics have remained. The fort at AihoLe is known for military
reasons. The Mahadeva temple in ITagi, (Koppala district) Kashi Vishveshvara
temple in Lakkundi (Gadag district) and Mallikarjuna temple at Kuruvatti
(Davanagere district) are further examples of Chalukya
Architecture and Chalukya Sculpture. The
murals and cave paintings of Badami are noted for their antiquity even though
they are not comparable to those of
Most of the copper inscriptions of this dynasty are in Sanskrit and they are inscribed in the Kannada script. However the stone inscriptions which are short are written in Kannada. The copper ones provide a lot of information.
The coins with the ‘varAha’ emblem with out any written material are usually attributed to this dynasty. Both gold and silver coins are found in this category. Later coins have inscriptions such as ‘vikrama’, ‘sri vikrama’, ‘vikrma mahArAja’, ‘sri satyashraya’ etc. They also have images of sun. moon, lotus and varAha inscribed on them. Some copper coins are also found as far as the Elephanta islands.
To sum up, the rule of the Badami Chalukya dynasty represents a glorious chapter in the history of Karnataka.
1. Ramesh, K.V. (1984). Chalukyas of Vatapi. Delhi: Agam Kala Prakashan. ISBN 3987-10333.
2. Thapar, Romila (2003) . The Penguin History of Early India. New Delhi: Penguin Books
7. ‘Political history of the Chalukyas of Badami’ by Durga Prasada Dikshit, 1980
8. ‘The chalukyas of Badami- Seminar Papers’, edited by M.S. Nagaraja Rao, 1978