South Indian history Tnpsc | Pallavas, Cholas, Chalukyas, and Rashtrakutas

South India History

This note is written for the Tnpsc Exam for the topic “South Indian History“, which includes the history of Pallava, Cholas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, their administration, and their culture.

After the Sangam Age, Ancient Tamil Nadu was ruled by Kalabhra for about 250 Years. Here, then Pallava’s builds its kingdom in Tondaimandalam and kept its Capital at Kanchipuram and they ruled Ancient Tamil Nadu till early 10 Century AD, and later it was annexed by the Imperial Cholas.


South Indian Kingdoms - pallava era coins

There are several theories regarding the origin of Pallavas and one such theory is they related to Parthians, who ruled western India. And another theory is they are the Brahmin dynasty of the Vakatakas of the Deccan.

The third theory is that the Pallavas were descendants of Chola and Naga princesses who were natives of Manipallvam. But in General, the scholar accepts them as the Natives of Tondaimandalam.

Pallavas were similar to Pulindas, who were mentioned in the inscriptions of Ashoka. According to these inscriptions, the Pallavas because feudatories of Satavahanas when Tondaimandalam was captured.

And as the Satavahanas were declined during the 3rd century AD, Pallavas became independent.

Also, the earlier inscriptions of Pallavas were in Prakrit and Sanskrit due to the Satavahana connection and also they patronized Brahmanism.

Political History of Pallava Dynasty

The early Pallavas from 250 AD to 350 AD gave their Royal Charters in Prakrit Language. The earliest and prominent Pallava rulers were Sivaskandavarman and Vijayaskandavarman.

Next-generation, that is the second generation of Pallava rulers ruled from 350 AD to 550 AD and issued royal charters in Sanskrit. The most important second-generation ruler is Vishnugopa.

Vishnugopa defeated the Gupta empire Samudragupta during his South Indian expedition.

The rulers of the third line who ruled from 575 AD up to the fall of the kingdom in the 9th century AD, issued their charter both in Sanskrit and Tamil. Among all, the Pallava dynasty founder is considered to be Simhavishnu, he was the principal leader of this line.

Simhavishnu defeated the Kalabhras and made a strong Pallava rule in Tondaimandalam. Also, he crushed Cholas and stretched the Pallava rule up to the Kaveri region.

Other great Kings of this line are Mahendravarman-I, Narasimhavarman-I, and Narasimhavarman-II.

Mahendravarman I (600 – 630 A.D.)

A long Pallava-Chalukya conflict began during this period. King Pulakesin II marched against the Pallavas and captured the northern part of their kingdom.

Although a Pallava inscription refers to the victory of Mahendravarman-I at Pullalur, and not being able to recover the lost territory.

Also, King Mahendravarman-I was a follower of Jainism in his early days as a King. Then was converted to Saivism by the influence of the Saiva Saint, Thirunavukkarasar alias Appar.

Mahendravarman-I Constructed a Siva Temple at Tiruvadi. He assumed a number of titles like Gunabhara, Satyasandha, Chettakari (Builder of Temples), Chitrakarapuli, Vichitrachitta, and Mattavilasa.

Mahendravarman-I was a great builder of Cave temples. Mandagappattu inscription hails as Vichitrachitta who constructed a temple for Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva without the use of bricks, timber, metal, and mortar.

Mahendravarman-I, is responsible for the rock cut temples found in Vallam, Mahendravadi, Dalavanur, Pallavaram, Mandagappattu and Tiruchirappalli. He also authored Sanskrit Works Mattavilasa Prahasanam.

His title Chitrakarapuli reveals his talents in paintings and he was also regarded as an expert in Music. The music inscription at Kudumianmalai is ascribed to him.

Narasimhavarman I (630-668 A.D.)

Narasimhavarman-I was also known as Mamalla which means ‘great wrestler’. He wanted to revenge on Chalukyan ruler Pulakesin-II, because of his father.

He won over Pulakesin-II in the Battle of Manimangalam near Kanchi and this victory is mentioned in Kuram copper plates.

The Pallava army under General Paranjothi pursued the retreating Chalukya army, entered Chalukya territory, captured the capital Vatapi.

King Narasimhavarman-I assumed the title ‘Vatapikonda’. He regained the lost territory. Another notable achievement of Narasimhavarman-I was his Naval expedition to Sri Lanka.

Narasimhavarman restored the throne to his friend and Sri Lankan prince Manavarma. Hiuen Tsang, a Chinese Buddhist pilgrimage visited the Pallava capital Kanchipuram during his rule.

Hiuen Tsang Description about Kanchi

It is a big and beautiful city, six miles in circumference. Kanchi had 100 Buddhist monasteries, 10,000 Buddhist monks lived. The people of Kanchi esteemed great learning and the Ghatika at Kanchi served as a great centre of learning.

Narasimhavarman-I was the founder of Mamallapuram and monolithic rathas were erected during his rule.

Narasimhavarman II or Rajasimha (695 -722 A.D.)

Mahendravarman-II and Parameswarvarman succeeded Narasimhavarman-I. The Pallava-Chalukya conflict continued during their rule. Then Narasimhavarman-II became the ruler. He was also known as Rajasimha. He was very much interested in developing Art and Architecture.

Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram and Short Temple at Mamallapuram were built during this period. Dandin, a famous Sanskrit Scholar is said to have adorned his court. During his reign, he sends embassies to China and trade flourished via sea. Nandivarman-II and Parameswaravarman-II succeeded him.Pallava rule lasted till the end of the 9th century AD.

Aditya-I, Chola kind defeated the last Pallava ruler Aparajita and seized the Kanchi region. With the defeat of Aparajita, the Pallava rule came to an end.

Pallavas administration


Besides the Pallavas, the Western Chalukyas and therefore the Rashtrakutas within the Deccan constitute important political forces.

Both these kingdoms had their rivals in the far south, namely the Pallavas and later the Cholas. Their period has also been important within the history of India for his or her cultural contributions.

Chalukyas (543 – 755 A.D.)

The Western Chalukyas ruled over an in-depth area within the Deccan for about two centuries after which the Rashtrakutas became powerful. The family of Western Chalukyas had its offshoots just like the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and therefore the Chalukyas of Kalyani.

Pulakesin-I used to be the founding father of the Chalukya dynasty. He established a little kingdom with Vatapi or Badami as its capital.

Pulakesin II (608-642 A.D.)

The most important ruler of this dynasty was Pulakesin II. The Aihole inscription issued by him gives the small print of his reign. He fought with the Kadambas of Banavasi and the Gangas of Mysore and established his suzerainty.

Durvinita, the Ganga ruler accepted his overlordship and even gave his daughter in marriage to Pulakesin-II. Another notable achievement of Pulakesin II was the defeat of Harshavardhana on the banks of the river Narmada.

He put a check on the ambition of Harsha to overcome the south. In his first expedition against the Pallavas, Pulakesin II emerged victoriously. But he suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Narasimhavarman I near Kanchi. Subsequently, the Chalukya capital Vatapi was captured and destroyed by the Pallavas.

The most important event within the reign of Pulakesin II was the visit of Hiuen Tsang to his kingdom. The successor of Pulakesin II was Vikramaditya. He once more consolidated the Chalukya kingdom and plundered the Pallava capital, Kanchi.

Thus he had avenged his father’s defeat and death at the hands of the Pallavas. Kirtivarman-II was the last of the rulers of the Chalukyas. He was defeated by Dantidurga, the founding father of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

Administration and Social Life under the Chalukyas

The Chalukya administration was highly centralized unlike that of the Pallavas and the Cholas. Village autonomy was absent under the Chalukyas. The Chalukyas had excellent maritime power. Pulakesin II had 100 ships in his navy. They also had a small army.

The Badami Chalukyas were Brahmanical Hindus but they gave reference to other religions. Importance was given to Vedic rites and rituals. The founding father of the dynasty Pulakesin I performed the asvamedha sacrifice.

A variety of temples in honor of Vishnu, Siva, and other gods were also built during this era. Hiuen Tsang mentioned the decline of Buddhism in western Deccan. But Jainism was steadily on the path of progress during this region. Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakesin II who composed the Aihole inscription was a Jain.

Art and Architecture

Chaluka Art, Architecture, Temples, etc

Rashtrakutas (755 – 975 A.D.)

The Rashtrakutas were of Kannada origin and the Kannada language was their mother tongue. Dantidurga was the founding father of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. He defeated the Gurjaras and captured Malwa from them. Then he annexed the Chalukya kingdom by defeating Kirtivarman II.

Thus, the Rashtrakutas became a paramount power within the Deccan. His successor Krishna-i used to be also an excellent conqueror. He defeated the Gangas and the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi.

He built the magnificent rock-cut monolithic Kailasa temple at Ellora. The subsequent important king of this dynasty was Govinda III. He achieved victories over north Indian kingdoms. His successor Amoghavarsha I (815- 880 A.D.) ruled for an extended period of 64 years. He had lost control over Malwa and Gangavadi. Yet, his reign was popular for cultural development.

He was a lover of Jainism. Jinasena was his chief preceptor. He was also a patron of letters and he himself wrote the famous Kannada work, Kavirajamarga. He had also built the Rashtrakuta capital, the town of Malkhed or Manyakheda.

Among the successors of Amoghavarsha I, Krishna III (936- 968 A.D.) was famous for his expeditions. He marched against the Cholas and defeated them at Takkolam.

He marched further south and captured Tanjore. He went as far as Rameswaram and occupied it for some time. He built several temples within the conquered territories including the Krishneswara temple at Rameswaram.

Throughout his reign, he possessed the Tondaimandalam region including the capital Kanchi. After his death, the power of the Rashtrakutas declined.

Rashtrakutas Art and Architecture

Chola Empire

After the decline of the Sangam period, the Cholas became feudatories in Uraiyur. They became prominent within the ninth century and established an empire comprising the major portion of South India. Their capital was Tanjore.

hey also extended their sway in Sri Lanka and therefore the Malay Peninsula. Therefore, they’re called because of the Imperial Cholas. Thousands of inscriptions found within the temples provide detailed information regarding the administration, society, economy, and culture of the Chola period.

The Imperial Chola dynasty founder was Vijayalaya. He captured Tanjore from Muttaraiyars in 815 A.D. and built a temple for Durga. His son Aditya put an end to the Pallava kingdom by defeating Aparajita and annexing Tondaimandalam.

Parantaka I was one of the important early Chola rulers. He defeated the Pandyas and therefore the ruler of Ceylon. But he suffered a defeat at the hands of the Rashtrakutas within the famous battle of Takkolam.

Parantaka I used to be an excellent builder of temples. He also provided the vimana of the famous Nataraja temple at Chidambaram with a golden roof.

The two famous Uttiramerur inscriptions that provide a detailed account of the village administration under the Cholas belong to his reign. After a niche of thirty years, the Cholas regained their supremacy under Rajaraja I.

Rajaraja I (985 – 1014 A.D.)

It was under Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I that the Chola power reached its highest point of glory. His military conquests were:

The defeat of the Chera ruler Bhaskararavivarman within the battle of Kandalursalai and the destruction of the Chera navy.

The defeat of the Pandya ruler, Amarabhujanga, and the establishment of Chola authority within the Pandya country. The conquest of Gangavadi, Tadigaipadi, and Nolambapadi was located within the Mysore region.

The invasion of Sri Lanka was entrusted to his son Rajendra I. because the Sri Lankan king Mahinda V fled far away from his country, the Cholas annexed northern Sri Lanka. The capital was shifted from Anuradhapura to Polanaruva where a Shiva temple was built

The Chola victory over the growing power of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani. Satyasraya was defeated and Rajaraja I captured the Raichur Doab, Banavasi, and other places. Hence the Chola power extended up to the river Tungabadhra.

The restoration of Vengi throne to its rulers Saktivarman and Vimaladitya by defeating the Telugu Chodas. Rajaraja gave his daughter Kundavai in marriage to Vimaladitya.

Rajaraja’s last military achievement was a naval expedition against the Maldives which were conquered.

By these conquests, the extent of the Chola empire under Rajaraja I included the Pandya, Chera, and therefore the Tondaimandalam regions of Tamil Nadu and therefore the Gangavadi, Nolambapadi and therefore the Telugu Choda territories within the Deccan and therefore the northern part of Ceylon and the Maldives beyond India.

Rajaraja assumed variety of titles like Mummidi Chola, Jayankonda and Sivapadasekara. He was a devout follower of Saivism.

He completed the development of the famous Rajarajeswara temple or Brihadeeswara temple at Tanjore in 1010 A.D. He also helped with the construction of a Buddhist monastery at Nagapattinam.

Rajendra I (1012-1044 A.D.)

Rajendra had demonstrated his military ability by participating in his father’s campaigns. He continued his father’s policy of aggressive conquests and expansion.

His important wars were:

Mahinda V, the king of Sri Lanka attempted to get over the Cholas the northern part of Ceylon. Rajendra defeated him and seized southern Sri Lanka. Thus the whole of Sri Lanka was made a part of the Chola Empire.

He reasserted the Chola authority over the Chera and Pandya countries.

He defeated Jayasimha II, the Western Chalukya king and therefore the river Tungabadhra was recognized because of the boundary between the Cholas and Chalukyas.

His most famous military enterprise was his expedition to North India. The Chola army crossed the Ganges by defeating a variety of rulers on its way. Rajendra defeated Mahipala I of Bengal.

To commemorate this successful north-Indian campaign Rajendra founded the town of Gangaikondacholapuram and constructed the STATUTE OF RAJA RAJA the famous Rajesvaram temple therein city.

He also excavated an outsized irrigation tank called Cholagangam on the western side of the town.

Another famous venture of Rajendra was his naval expedition to Kadaram or Sri Vijaya. It’s difficult to pinpoint the important object of the expedition.

Whatever its objects were, the naval expedition was an entire success. variety of places were occupied by Chola forces. But it had been only temporary and no permanent annexation
of these places was contemplated. He assumed the title Kadaramkondan.

Rajendra I had put down all rebellions and kept his empire intact. At the death of Rajendra-I, the extent of the Chola Empire was at its peak.

The river Tungabadhra was the northern boundary. The Pandya, Kerala, and Mysore regions and also Sri Lanka formed a part of the empire.

He gave his daughter Ammangadevi to the Vengi Chalukya prince and further continued the matrimonial alliance initiated by his father.

Rajendra I assumed a variety of titles, the foremost famous being Mudikondan, Gangaikondan, Kadaram Kondan, and Pandita Cholan.

Like his father, he was also a devout Saiva and built a temple for that god at the new capital Gangaikondacholapuram.

He made liberal endowments to the temples and to the Lord Nataraja temple at Chidambaram. He was also tolerant towards the Vaishnava and Buddhist sects.

After Rajendra I, the greatness of the Chola power was preserved by rulers like Kulottunga I and Kulottunga III.

Kulottunga-i used to be the grandson of Rajendra I through his daughter Ammangadevi. He succeeded the Chola throne and thus united the Vengi kingdom with the Chola Empire.

During his reign Sri Lanka became independent. Subsequently, Vengi and therefore the Mysore region was captured by the western Chalukyas. Kulottunga I sent an outsized embassy of 72 merchants to China and maintained cordial relations with the dominion of Sri Vijaya.

Under Kulottunga III the central authority became weak. The increases of the feudatories just like the Kadavarayas and therefore the emergence of the Pandya power as a challenge to Chola supremacy contributed to the last word downfall of the Chola Empire.

Rajendra III was the last Chola king who was defeated by Jatavarman Sundarapandya II. The Chola country was absorbed into the Pandya Empire.

Chola era Navy Ship Model built by ASI
Chola Art and Architecture
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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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