Ellora: Buddhist,Hindu and jain caves

Ellora is an archaeological site 29 km north-west of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra, built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty (Brahmanical & Buddhist group of caves) and Yadav (Jain group of caves). Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and forms one of major tourist attraction in Marathwada region of Maharashtra Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 "caves" are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain rock-cut temples and viharas and mathas were built between the 5th century and 10th century. The 17 Hindu (caves 13–29), 12 Buddhist (caves 1–12) and 5 Jain (caves 30–34) caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history. It is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India.The caves at Ellora were of three distinct categories. There are 12 Buddhist caves, 17 Hindu caves and 5 Jain caves.

The Buddhist Caves: The Buddhist caves at Ellora were built during 5th-7th century AD. These are mainly viharas or monasteries and were used for study, meditation, communal rituals, eating and sleeping. The cave 2 has number of sculptures of seated Buddhas arranged in rows. Cave 10 is famous and known as Carpenter's Cave or 'Vishvakarma cave' with a 3.3 m high seated Buddha at the far end. Cave 11 has the images of Durga and Ganesh also a Buddha shrine, historians believe that the cave was converted into a Hindu temple after it was deserted by the Buddhists.

The Hindu Caves :The Hindu caves were constructed during 6th and 8th century AD, some of them were constructed during the Rashtrakuta period. 

The most notable cave among the Hindu caves is Cave 16 which is also known as Kailasa or Kailasanatha or Kailasa Temple, the abode of Lord Shiva. The multi-storeyed temple was carved out of a single rock. It is a marvel of architecture with many sculptures. Historians believe that the Kailasa Temple was built by Rashtrakuta Emperor Krishna I. The cave 15 is known as Das Avatara and has sculptural panels of different incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The cave 21 is one of the oldest caves of Ellora, known as Ramesvara includes the sculpture of river goddesses Ganga and Yamuna. Cave 25 has the sculpture of the Lord Surya (i.e. Sun). Cave 29 is renowned for the grand sculpture of Ravana attempting to lift Shiva and Parvati.

The Jain Caves The Jain caves at Ellora belonged to the Digambara faction. It has total five Jain caves. The most notable Jain caves are the cave 30 (Chhota Kailash), the cave 32 ( Indra Sabha) and cave 33 ( Jagannath Sabha ).

Ajanta Caves - Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

About the Caves: The Ajanta Caves are located near the village of Ajintha in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra. There are 30 caves in Ajanta which were built from the 2nd century BC. The caves 9, 10, 19, 26 and 29 are chaitya-grihas and the rest are monasteries. The caves were constructed in two phases. The first group of caves were built around 200 BC and the second group of caves built around 600 AD. he site is a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, and since 1983, the Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
Paintings and Sculptures : The caves include paintings and sculptures described by the government Archaeological Survey of India as "the finest surviving examples of Indian art, particularly painting", which are masterpieces of Buddhist religious art, with figures of the Buddha and depictions of the Jataka tales. The Ajanta Caves are very famous for the paintings and sculptures of Buddhist religion. It is considered to be the fine work of the Buddhist religious art. Paintings of Ajanta caves show heavy religious influence with the main theme around Buddha, Bodhisattvas, incidents from the life of Buddha and the Jatakas. The paintings are carried out on a ground of mud-plaster in the tempera technique.

Discovery of Ajanta Caves: The Ajanta Caves were discovered by John Smith, a British officer on 28 April 1819 AD. It is said that he discovered the entrance of one of the caves accidentally while he was hunting.

Rashtrakutas dynasty - Socio,Economic and Political contions.

Rashtrakutas (755 – 975 A.D.):The Rashtrakutas was a royal dynasty ruling large parts of the Indian Subcontinent between the sixth and 10th centuries. The earliest known Rashtrakuta inscription is a 7th-century copper plate grant detailing their rule from Manapura, a city in Central or West India. Other ruling Rashtrakuta clans from the same period mentioned in inscriptions were the kings of Achalapur (modern Elichpur in Maharashtra) and the rulers of Kannauj. They were of Kannada origin and Kannada language was their mother tongue.

Dantidurga (735–756 CE): also known as Dantivarman or Dantidurga II was the founder of the Rashtrakuta Empire of Manyakheta. His capital was based in Gulbarga region of Karnataka. He was succeeded by his uncle Krishna I who extended his kingdom to all of Karnataka. The Ellora record of Dantidurga narrates that he defeated the Chalukyas in 753 and took the titles Rajadhiraja and Parameshvara. The inscription calls him son of Indra II. The Samangad inscription (modern Kholapur district, Maharashtra) states his mother was a Chalukya princess from Gujarat called Bhavanaga. The same inscription states he defeated the invincible Karnata-Bala of the Badami Chalukyas. Further he defeated the kings Lata (Gujarat), Malwa, Tanka, Kalinga and Sheshas (Nagas) in central India and performed many sacrifices. Though he conquered the Chalukya Empire it is clear from the Vakkaleri inscription of 757 that the Chalukya Emperor Kirtivarman II retained control over his southern provinces up to 757. His daughter was married to a Pallava King Nandivarman II of Kanchi. Dantidurga helped Nandivarman recover Kanchi by warring against the Chalukyas.

Krishna I (756–774 CE): an uncle of Dantidurga, took charge of the growing Rashtrakuta Empire by defeating the last Badami Chalukya ruler Kirtivarman II in 757. This is known from the copper plate grant of Emperor Govinda III of 807 and a copper plate grant of the Gujarat Rashtrakuta Emperor Karka from Baroda. He is also known as Kannara or Kannesvara and took the titles Akalavarsha, Shubatunga, Prithvivallabha and Shrivallabha. He patronised the famous Jain logician Akalanka Bhatta, the author of Rajavartika.

Some historians are of the opinion that Krishna I usurped the throne from his nephew Dantidurga. But others disagree as the term "demise of Dantidurga" occur in the Kavi and Navasari copper plates indicating Krishna I mush have ascended the throne after the death of Dantidurga. However, from the Baroda inscription it seems that Krishna I may have had to subdue another claimant to the throne, perhaps a Rashtrakuta princes or a son of Dantidurga.

He successfully fought the Western Ganga Dynasty King Sripurusha (and acquired some territory in Gangavadi, modern Southern Karnataka) and the Shilaharas of South Konkan. He defeated the Eastern Chalukya ruler Vishnuvardhana IV. He was responsible for building 18 Shiva temples. 1800 coins of his, discovered recently, have the legend Parama Maheshvara which indicates his strong Shaiva faith.The Kailasa temple at Ellora is generally attributed to him, based on certain epigraphs.
His eldest son, Govinda II came to power after him.

Amoghavarsha I : (also known as Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I ) (800–878 CE) was a Rashtrakuta emperor, the greatest ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, and one of the great emperors of India. His reign of 64 years is one of the longest precisely dated monarchical reigns on record. Many Kannada and Sanskrit scholars prospered during his rule, including the great Indian mathematician Mahaviracharya who wrote Ganita-sara-samgraha, Jinasena, Virasena, Shakatayan and Sri Vijaya (a Kannada language theorist).

Amoghavarsha I was an accomplished poet and scholar. He wrote (or co-authored) the Kavirajamarga, the earliest extant literary work in Kannada, and Prashnottara Ratnamalika, a religious work in Sanskrit. During his rule he held such titles as Nrupathunga, Atishadhavala, Veeranarayana, Rattamarthanda and Srivallabha. He moved the Rashtrakuta regal capital from Mayurkhandi in the Bidar district to Manyakheta in the Gulbarga district in the modern Karnataka state. He is said to have built the regal city to "match that of Lord Indra". The capital city was planned to include elaborately designed buildings for the royalty using the finest of workmanship. The Arab traveler Sulaiman described Amoghavarsha as one of the four great kings of the world. Sulaiman also wrote that Amoghavarsha respected Muslims and that he allowed the construction of mosques in his cities. For his religious temperament, his interest in the fine arts and literature and his peace-loving nature, historian Panchamukhi has compared him to the legendary emperor Ashoka and given him the honorific "Ashoka of the South". Amoghavarsha seems to have entertained the highest admiration for the language, literature and culture of the Kannada people as testified to in the text Kavirajamarga.

Among the successors of Amoghavarsha I, Krishna III (936-968A.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 sometime. He built several temples in 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.

Administration:The Rashtrakuta Empire was divided into several provinces called rashtras under the control of rashtrapatis. They were further divided into vishayas or districts governed by vishayapatis. The next subdivision was bhukti consisting of 50 to 70 villages under the control of bhogapatis. These officers were directly appointed by the central government. The village administration was carried on by the village headmen. However, the village assemblies played a significant role in the village administration.

Society and Economy: The Hindu sects of Vaishnavism and Saivism flourished during the period of Rashtrakutas. Yet, they did not affect the progress of Jainism under the patronage of Rashtrakuta kings and officers. Almost one third of the population of the Deccan were Jains. There were some prosperous Buddhist settlements at places like Kanheri, Sholapur and Dharwar. There was harmony among various religions. There was a college at Salatogi, situated in modern Bijapur district. An inscription gives details of this educational centre. It was run by the income from the endowments made by the rich as well as by all the villagers on occasions of functions and festivals.The economy was also in a flourishing condition. There was an active commerce between the Deccan and the Arabs. The Rashtrakuta kings promoted the Arab trade by maintaining friendship with them.Cultural Contributions The Rashtrakutas widely patronized the Sanskrit literature. 

There were many scholars in the Rashtrakuta court. Trivikrama wrote Nalachampu and the Kavirahasya was composed by Halayudha during the reign of Krishna III. The Jain literature flourished under the patronage of the Rashtrakutas. Amogavarsha I, who was a Jain patronized many Jain scholars. His teacher Jinasena composed Parsvabhudaya, a biography of Parsva in verses. Another scholar Gunabhadra wrote the Adipurana, the life stories of various Jain saints. Sakatayana wrote the grammer work called Amogavritti. The great mathematician of this period, Viracharya was the author of Ganitasaram. The Kannada literature saw its beginning during the period of the Rashtrakutas. Amogavarsha’s Kavirajamarga was the first poetic work in Kannada language. Pampa was the greatest of the Kannada poets. His famous work was Vikramasenavijaya. Ponna was another famous Kannada poet and he wrote Santipurana.

Art and Architecture:The art and architecture of the Rashtrakutas were found at Ellora and Elephanta. At Ellora, the most remarkable temple is the Kailasa temple. It was excavated during the reign of Krishna I. It is carved out of a massive block of rock 200 feet long, and 100 feet in breadth and height. The temple consists of four parts - the main shrine, the entrance gateway, an intermediate shrine for Nandi and mandapa surrounding the courtyard. The temple stands on a lofty plinth 25 feet high. The central face of the plinth has imposing figures of elephants and lions giving the impression that the entire structure rests on their back. It has a three-tiered sikhara or tower resembling the sikhara of the Mamallapuram rathas. In theinterior of the temple there is a pillared hall which has sixteen square pillars.

The Kailasa temple is an architectural marvel with it beautiful sculptures. The sculpture of the Goddess Durga is shown as slaying the Buffalo demon. In another sculpture Ravana was making attempts to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva. The scenes of Ramayana were also depicted on the walls. The general characteristics of the Kailasa temple are more Dravidian. Elephanta is an island near Bombay. It was originally called Sripuri. The Portuguese after seeing the large figure of an elephant named it Elephanta. The sculptural art of the Rashtrakutas reached its zenith in this place. There is a close similarity between the sculptures at Ellora and those in Elephanta. They might have been carved by the same craftsmen. At the entrance to the sanctum there are huge figures of dwara-palakas. In the walls of the prakara around the sanctum there are niches containing the images of Shiva in various forms – Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareesvara and Somaskanda. The most imposing figure of this temple is Trimurthi. The sculpture is six metre high. It is said to represent the three aspects of Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.

Chalukyas (543 – 755 A.D.) Socio,Economic and Politcal conditions

Besides the Pallavas, the Western Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas in 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 in the history of India for their cultural contributions.

Chalukyas (543 – 755 A.D.): The Chalukya dynasty was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the "Badami Chalukyas", ruled from Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakeshin II. After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from Vengi until about the 11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of the 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas, in the late 10th century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) until the end of the 12th century.

Pulakesin II (608-642 A.D.)
The most important ruler of this dynasty was Pulakesin II. The Aihole inscription issued by him gives the details 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 to the ambition of Harsha to conquer the south. In his first expedition against the Pallavas, Pulakesin II emerged victorious. But he suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Narasimhavarman I near Kanchi. Subsequently, the Chalukya capitalVatapi was captured and destroyed by the Pallavas. The most important event in the reign of Pulakesin II was the visit of Hiuen Tsang to his kingdom. The successor of Pulakesin II was Vikramaditya. He once again 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 founder 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 a great maritime power. Pulakesin II had 100 ships in his navy. They also had a small standing army. The Badami Chalukyas were Brahmanical Hindus but they gave respect to other religions. Importance was given to Vedic rites and rituals. The founder of the dynasty Pulakesin I performed the asvamedha sacrifice. A number of temples in honour of Vishnu, Siva and other gods were also built during this period. Hiuen Tsang mentioned about the decline of Buddhism in western Deccan. But Jainism was steadily on the path of progress in this region. Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakesin II who composed the Aihole inscription was a Jain.

Art and Architecture: The Chalukyas were great patrons of art. They developed the vesara style in the building of structural temples. However, the vesara style reached its culmination only under the Rashtrakutas and the Hoysalas. The structural temples of the Chalukyas exist at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal. Cave temple architecture was also famous under the Chalukyas. Their cave temples are found in Ajanta, Ellora and Nasik. The best specimens of Chalukya paintings can be seen in the Badami cave temple and in the Ajanta caves. The reception given to a Persian embassy by Pulakesin II is depicted in a painting at Ajantha.

The Chalukya temples may be divided into two stages. The first stage is represented by the temples at Aihole and Badami. Among the seventy temples found at Aihole, four are important.
1. Ladh Khan temple is a low, flat-roofed structure consisting of a pillared hall.
2. Durga temple resembles a Buddha Chaitya.
3. Huchimalligudi temple.
4. The Jain temple at Meguti.

Among the temples at Badami, the Muktheeswara temple and the Melagutti Sivalaya are notable for their architectural beauty. A group of four rock-cut temples at Badami are marked by high workmanship. The walls and pillared halls are adorned by beautiful images of gods and human beings.The second stage is represented by the temples at Pattadakal. There are ten temples here, four in the northern style and the remaining six in the Dravidian style. The Papanatha temple is the most notable in the northern style. The Sangamesvara temple and the Virupaksha temple are famous for their Dravidian style. The Virupaksha temple is built on the model of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram. It was built by one of the queens of Vikramaditya II. Sculptors brought from Kanchi were employed in its construction.

"Chalukya dynasty- Golden age in karnataka History"

Vengi Chalukyas period - Golden age of Andhra history.

Eastern Chalukyas, or Chalukyas of Vengi (Kannada), were a South Indian dynasty whose kingdom was located in the present day Andhra Pradesh. Their capital was Vengi (Pedavegi and Denduluru, near Eluru) and their dynasty lasted for around 500 years from the 7th century until c. 1130 C.E. when the Vengi kingdom merged with the Chola empire. The Vengi kingdom was continued to be ruled by Eastern Chalukyan kings under the protection of the Chola empire until 1189 C.E., when the kingdom succumbed to the Hoysalas and the Yadavas. They had their capital originally at Vengi now (Pedavegi, Chinavegi and Denduluru) near Eluru of the West Godavari district end later changed to Rajamahendravaram (Rajamundry).
  • Kubja Vishnuvardhana (624–641) was the brother of Chalukya Pulakeshin II. Vishnuvardhana ruled the Vengi territories in the eastern Andhra Pradesh as the viceroy under Pulakeshin II from around 615. Eventually Vishnuvardhana declared his independence and started the Eastern Chalukya dynasty
  • Jayasimha I (641–673 CE) succeeded Vishnuvardhana as the king of Eastern Chalukyas. He had a long reign of 32 years, however we know of nothing important happening in his reign. His younger brother Indra Bhattaraka succeeded him.
  • Indra Bhattaraka (673 CE) succeeded his brother Jayasimha I as the king of Eastern Chalukyas. He had a very short reign of a week. His son Vishnuvardhana II succeeded him
  • Vishnuvardhana II (673 – 682 C.E.) became the Eastern Chalukya king following the very short rule of his father Indra Bhattaraka His son Mangi Yuvaraja succeeded him.
Eastern Chalukyas were closely related to the Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami). Throughout their history they were the cause of many wars between the more powerful Cholas and Western Chalukyas over the control of the strategic Vengi country. The five centuries of the Eastern Chalukya rule of Vengi saw not only the consolidation of this region into a unified whole, but also saw the efflorescence of Telugu culture, literature, poetry and art during the later half of their rule. It can be said to be the golden age of Andhra history.

Rajaraja Narendra founder of Rajamandry city

Rajaraja Narendra (1022–1061 CE) was the Eastern Chalukya king of the Vengi kingdom in South India. Rajaraja was related to the Cholas of Tanjavur by marital and political links. Rajaraja Narendra established the city Rajahmahendravaram (Rajahmundry). His period was famous for the Social and Cultural heritage. During the time of Rajaraja Chola I, Rajahmundry got sacked. The region witnessed war between Cholas and other neighbouring dynasties and Chalukya dynasty. The solution to end the war between two powerful dynasties Chola dynasty and Chalukya dynasty is the marriage of state between the Rajaraja Narendra and the daughter of Rajendra Chola. The friendly relation of the two powerful dynasties continued for two centuries.

Literary works during his time: At the time of Rajaraja Narendra, two literary works in Kannada language, viz., Vikramarjuna Vijayam and Gadayuddam already popularized the story of Sanskrit Mahabharata in Karnataka. Tamil translations of Mahabharata were available by the Seventh and Eighth centuries. But, Puranas were not available in Telugu. Brahmins used to recite Puranaas such as Sanskrit Mahabharata in Temples and courts.

Eastern Chalukya Dynasty supported Jainism and Shaivism. Rajaraja Narendra was a Shaivite. He respected Brahmin priests, Sanskrit language and religion. He learned from the success of Jains and Buddhists that a good way to popularize religion and Puranas was to translate them into Telugu. Even a thousand years before, Buddhism and Jainism became very popular using local languages for their sermons and teachings. So, Rajaraja Narendra requested his teacher, adviser and court poet Nannayya Bhattaraka to translate Sanskrit Mahabharata into Telugu for his subjects.

Nannayya Bhattaraka took the challenge very seriously. He scrutinized all the Telugu vocabulary that was in usage at that time, introduced Sanskrit vocabulary, and took characteristics of already well developed Kannada literature. Thus he developed a distinct literary style, meter and grammar. Nannayya translated about 142 verses of Aadi, Sabha and Aranya chapters of Sanskrit Mahabharata. But, he didn't stick to the original. He almost created his own version of Andhra Mahabharatamu by modification, addition and deletion, while maintaining the story line. His language was very sanskritized and was pleasurable to the reader.

Western Chalukyas or Kalyani Chalukyas Empire

The Western Chalukya Empire ruled most of the western Deccan, South India, between the 10th and 12th centuries. Also known as Kalyani Chalukya after its regal capital at Kalyani, today's Basavakalyan in Karnataka. Prior to the rise of these Chalukyas, the Rashtrakuta empire of Manyakheta controlled most of Deccan and Central India for over two centuries. In 973, seeing confusion in the Rashtrakuta empire after a successful invasion of their capital by the ruler of the Paramara dynasty of Malwa, Tailapa II, a feudatory of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruling from Bijapur region defeated his overlords and made Manyakheta his capital. The dynasty quickly rose to power and grew into an empire under Someshvara I who moved the capital to Kalyani.

For over a century, the two empires of Southern India, the Western Chalukyas and the Chola dynasty of Tanjore fought many fierce wars to control the fertile region of Vengi. During these conflicts, the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi, distant cousins of the Western Chalukyas but related to the Cholas by marriage took sides with the Cholas further complicating the situation. During the rule of Vikramaditya VI, in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, the Western Chalukyas convincingly contended with the Cholas and reached a peak ruling territories that spread over most of the Deccan, between the Narmada River in the north and Kaveri River in the south. 

His exploits were not limited to the south for even as a prince, during the rule of Someshvara I, he had led successful military campaigns as far east as modern Bihar and Bengal. During this period the other major ruling families of the Deccan, the Hoysalas, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty and the Southern Kalachuri, were subordinates of the Western Chalukyas and gained their independence only when the power of the Chalukya waned during the later half of the 12th century.

history of Chalukyas of Badami

The Chalukya dynasty was established by Pulakeshin I in 543. Pulakeshin I took Vatapi (modern Badami in Bagalkot district, Karnataka) under his control and made it his capital. Pulakeshin I and his descendants are referred to as "Chalukyas of Badami". They ruled over an empire that comprised the entire state of Karnataka and most of Andhra Pradesh in the Deccan.

Pulakeshin II, whose precoronation name was Ereya, commanded control over the entire Deccan and is perhaps the most well-known emperor of the Badami dynasty. He is considered one of the notable kings in Indian history. His queens were princess from the Alupa Dynasty of South Canara and the Western Ganga Dynasty of Talakad, clans with whom the Chalukyas maintained close family and marital relationships. Pulakeshin II extended the Chalukya Empire up to the northern extents of the Pallava kingdom and halted the southward march of Harsha by defeating him on the banks of the river Narmada. He then defeated the Vishnukundins in the southeastern Deccan. Pallava Narasimhavarman however reversed this victory in 642 by attacking and occupying Badami temporarily. It is presumed Pulakeshin II, "the great hero", died fighting.

The Badami Chalukya dynasty went into a brief decline following the death of Pulakeshin II due to internal feuds when Badami was occupied by the Pallavas for a period of thirteen years. It recovered during the reign of Vikramaditya I, who succeeded in pushing the Pallavas out of Badami and restoring order to the empire. Vikramaditya I took the title "Rajamalla". The thirty-seven year rule of Vijayaditya (696–733) was a prosperous one and is known for prolific temple building activity.

The empire was its peak again during the rule of the illustrious Vikramaditya II (733–744) who is known not only for his repeated invasions of the territory of Tondaimandalam and his subsequent victories over Pallava Nandivarman II, but also for his benevolence towards the people and the monuments of Kanchipuram, the Pallava capital. He thus avenged the earlier humiliation of the Chalukyas by the Pallavas and engraved a Kannada inscription on the victory pillar at the Kailasanatha Temple. During his reign Arab intruders of the Umayyad Caliphate invaded southern Gujarat which was under Chalukya rule but the Arabs were defeated and driven out by Pulakesi, a Chalukya governor of Navsari. He later overran the other traditional kingdoms of Tamil country, the Pandyas, the Cholas and the Cheras in addition to subduing a Kalabhra ruler. The last Chalukya king, Kirtivarman II, was overthrown by the Rashtrakuta King Dantidurga in 753. At their peak, the Chalukyas ruled a vast empire stretching from the Kaveri in the south to the Narmada in the north.

Takshashila University ( in Rawalpindi ) world's first university

Taxila (also known as takshashila ) meaning "City of Cut Stone" or "Takṣa Rock" an important archaeological site in Rawalpindi District of Punjab, Pakistan, situated about 32 km north-west of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, just off the famous Grand Trunk Road. The renowned archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham rediscovered the ruins of Taxila in the mid-19th century. In 1980, Taxila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2006 it was ranked as the top tourist destination in Pakistan by The Guardian newspaper. Some consider that takshashila university was the world's first university. But there is no sufficient evidance to proof .

Taxila had great influence on the Hindu culture and the Sanskrit language. It is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, the strategist who guided Chandragupta Maurya and assisted in the founding of the Mauryan empire. The Arthashastra of Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Taxila itself. The Ayurvedic healer Charaka also studied at Taxila. He also started teaching at Taxila in the later period. The ancient grammarian Panini, who codified the rules that would define Classical Sanskrit, has also been part of the community at Taxila.

The institution is significant in Buddhist tradition since it is believed that the Mahayana branch of Buddhism took shape there. Jivaka, the court physician of the Magadha emperor Bimbisara who once cured the Buddha, and the enlightened ruler of Kosala, Prasenajit, are some important personalities mentioned in Pali texts who studied at Taxila.

Nalanda University founded by Kumaragupta I

Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern-day Bihar) in India. The site is located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna near the town of Bihar Sharif, and was a centre of learning from the fifth century CE to c. 1200 CE The Chinese travelers of ancient India mentioned a number of educational institutions. The most famous among them were the Hinayana University of Valabhi and the Mahayana University of Nalanda. Hiuen Tsang gives a very valuable account of the Nalanda University.

The term Nalanda means “giver of knowledge”. It was founded by Kumaragupta I during the Gupta period. It was patronised by hissuccessors and later by Harsha. The professors of the University were called panditas. Some of its renowned professors were Dingnaga, Dharmapala, Sthiramati and Silabadhra. Dharmapala was a native of Kanchipuram and he became the head of the Nalanda University. Nalanda University was a residential university and education was free including the boarding and lodging. It was maintained with the revenue derived from 100 to 200 villages endowed by different rulers. Though it was a Mahayana University, different religious subjects like the Vedas, Hinayana doctrine, Sankhya and Yoga philosophies were also taught.

In addition to that, general subjects like logic, grammar, astronomy, medicine and art were in the syllabus. It attracted students not only from different parts of India but from different countries of the east. Admission was made by means of an entrance examination. The entrance test was so difficult that not more than thirty percent of the candidates were successful. Discipline was very strict. More than lectures, discussion played an important part and the medium of instruction was Sanskrit. Recent archeological excavations have brought to light the ruins of the Nalanda University. It shows the grandeur of this centre of learningand confirms the account given by the Chinese pilgrims. It had numerous classrooms and a hostel attached to it. According to Itsing, the Chinese pilgrim, there were 3000 students on its rolls. It had an observatory and a great library housed in three buildings. Its fame rests on the fact that it attracted scholars from various parts of the world. It was an institution of advanced learning and research.

Pallava dynasty and their significance

After the decline of the Sangam Age in the Tamil country, the Kalabhra rule lasted for about 250 years. Thereafter, the Pallavas established their kingdom in Tondaimandalam with its capital at Kanchipuram. Their rule continued till Tondaimandalam was captured and annexed by the Imperial Cholas in the beginning of the tenth century A.D.

Origin of the Pallavas: There are different views on the origin of the Pallavas. They were equated with the Parthians, the foreigners who ruled western India. Another view was that the Pallavas were a branch of the Brahmin royal dynasty of the Vakatakas of the Deccan. The third view relates the Pallavas with the descendents of the Chola prince and a Naga princess whose native was the island of Manipallavam. But these theories on the origin of the Pallavas were not supported by adequate evidences.Therefore, the view that the Pallavas were the natives of Tondaimandalam itself was widely accepted by scholars. They are also identical with the Pulindas mentioned in the inscriptions of Asoka. When Tondaimandalam was conquered by the Satavahanas, the Pallavas became their feudatories. 

After the fall of the Satavahanas in the third century A.D., they became independent. The Pallavas issued their earlier inscriptions in Prakrit and Sanskrit because of their Satavahana connections, and also patronised Brahmanism.

Political History: The early Pallava rulers from 250 A.D. to 350 A.D. issued their charters in Prakrit. Important among them were Sivaskandavarman and Vijayaskandavarman. The second line of Pallava rulers who ruled between 350 A.D. and 550 A.D. issued their charters in Sanskrit. The most important ruler of this line was Vishnugopa who was defeated by Samudragupta during his South Indian expedition. The rulers of the third line who ruled from 575 A.D. to their ultimate fall in the ninth century issued their chartersboth in Sanskrit and Tamil. Simhavishnu was the first ruler of this line. He destroyed the Kalabhras and firmly established the Pallava rule in Tondaimandalam. He also defeated the Cholas and extended the Pallava territory up to the river Kaveri. Other great Pallava rulers of this line were Mahendravarman I, Narasimhavarman I, and Narasimhavarman II.

Administration: They had a well organized administrative system.Pallava state was divided into Kottams. Again Kottam was administered by officers appointed by the king. The king was at the centre of administration in which he was assisted by able ministers. He was the fountain of justice. He maintained a well-trained army. He provided land-grants to the temples known as Devadhana and also to the Brahmans known as Brahmadeya. It was also the responsibility of the central government to provide irrigation facilities to the lands. 

A number of irrigation tanks were dug by the Pallava kings. The irrigation tanks at Mahendravadi and Mamandoor were dug during the reign of Mahendravarman I. Detailed information on the tax system could also be traced from the Pallava inscriptions. Land tax was the primary source of the government revenue. The Brahmadeya and Devadhana lands were exempted from tax. Traders and artisans such as carpenters, goldsmiths, washer-men, oil-pressers and weavers paid taxes to the government. The Pallava inscriptions throw much light on the village assemblies called sabhas and their committees. They maintained records of all village lands, looked after local affairs and managed temples.

Society under the Pallavas: Tamil society witnessed a great change during the Pallava period. The caste system became rigid. The Brahmins occupied a high place in the society. They were given land-grants by the kings and nobles. They were also given the responsibility of looking after the temples. The Pallava period also witnessed the rise of Saivism and Vaishnavism and also the decline of Buddhism and Jainism. The Saiva Nayanmars and the Vaishnava Alwars contributed to the growth of Saivism and Vaishnavism. This is known as the Bakthi Movement. They composed their hymns in the Tamil language. These hymns revealed the importance of devotion or Bakthi. The construction of temples by the Pallava kings paved the way for the spread of these two religions.

Literature: Kanchi was an great ancient centre of learning. The Ghatika at Kanchi was popular and it attracted students from all parts of India and abroad. The founder of the Kadamba dynasty, Mayurasarman studied Vedas at Kanchi. Dinganaga, a Buddhist writer came to study at Kanchi. Dharmapala, who later became the Head of the Nalanada University, belonged to Kanchi. Bharavi, the great Sanskrit scholar lived in the time of Simhavishnu. Dandin, another Sanskrit writer adorned the court of Narasimhavarman II. Mahendravaraman I composed the Sanskrit play Mattavilasaprahasanam. Tamil literature had also developed. The Nayanmars and Alwars composed religious hymns in Tamil. The Devaram composed by Nayanmars and the Nalayradivyaprabandam composed by Alwars represent the religious literature of the Pallava period. Perundevanar was patronized by Nandivarman II and he translated the Mahabharata as Bharathavenba in Tamil. Nandikkalambagam was another important work but the name of the author of this work is not known. Music and dance also developed during this period.

Pallava Art and Architecture:Pallava art and architecture represent an early stage of Dravidian art and architecture which blossomed to its fullest extent under the Chola Dynasty.

Fine Arts:Music, dance and painting had also developed under the patronage of the Pallavas. The Mamandur inscription contains a note on the notation of vocal music. The Kudumianmalai inscription referred to musical notes and instruments. The Alwars and Nayanmars composed their hymns in various musical notes. Dance and drama also developed during this period. The sculptures of this period depict many dancing postures. The Sittannavasal paintings belonged to this period. The commentary called Dakshinchitra was compiled during the reign of Mahendravarman I, who had the title Chittirakkarapuli.

Pallava Art and Architecture

Pallava Art and Architecture: Pallava art and architecture represent an early stage of Dravidian art and architecture which blossomed to its fullest extent under the Chola Dynasty. The first stone and mortar temples of South India were constructed during Pallava rule and were based on earlier brick and timber prototypes. Starting with rock cut temples, Pallava sculptors later graduated to free-standing structural shrines which inspired Chola temples of a later age. Some of the best examples of Pallava art and architecture are the Kailasanathar Temple at Kanchipuram, the Shore Temple and the Pancha Rathas of Mahabalipuram. Akshara was the greatest sculptor of their time.

It was a great age of temple building. The Pallavas introduced the art of excavating temples from the rock. In fact, the Dravidian style of temple architecture began with the Pallava rule. It was a gradual evolution starting from the cavetemples to monolithic rathas and culminated in structural temples. The development of temple architecture under the Pallavas can be seen in four stages. Mahendravarman I introduced the rock-cut temples. This style of Pallava temples are seen at places like Mandagappattu, Mahendravadi, Mamandur, Dalavanur, Tiruchirappalli, Vallam, Siyamangalam and Tirukalukkunram. The second stage of Pallava architecture is represented by the monolithic rathas and Mandapas found at Mamallapuram.

Narasimhavarman I took the credit for these wonderful architectural monuments. The five rathas, popularly called as the Panchapanadava rathas, signifies five different styles of temple architecture. The mandapas contain beautiful sculptures on its walls. The most popular of these mandapas are Mahishasuramardhini Mandapa, Tirumurthi Mandapam and Varaha Madapam. In the next stage, Rajasimha introduced the structural temples.These temples were built by using the soft sand rocks. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi and the Shore temple at Mamallapuram remain the finest examples of the early structural temples of the Pallavas. The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi is the greatest architectural master piece of the Pallava art. The last stage of the Pallava art is also represented by structural temples built by the later Pallavas. The Vaikundaperumal temple, Muktheeswara temple and Matagenswara temples at Kanchipuram belong to this stage of architecture. The Pallavas had also contributed to the development of sculpture. Apart from the sculptures found in the temples, the ‘Open Art Gallery’ at Mamallapuram remains an important monument bearing the sculptural beauty of this period. The Descent of the Ganges or the Penance of Arjuna is called a fresco painting in stone. The minute details as well as the theme of these sculptures such as the figures of lice-picking monkey, elephants of huge size and the figure of the ‘ascetic cat’ standing erect remain the proof for the talent of the sculptor.

Narasimhavarman II popularly known as Rajasimha Pallava

Narasimhavarman II, popularly known as Rajasimha Pallava, was a ruler of the Pallava kingdom. Sen states Narasimhavarman, or Rajamalla, reigned from 695-722 AD. He was succeeded by Mahendravarman II and Parameswarvarman I and the Pallava – Chalukya conflict continued during their reign. Thereafter, Narasimhavarman II became the ruler of the Pallava kingdom. He was also known as Rajasimha. His regime was peaceful and he evinced more interest in developing the art and architecture. The Shore temple at Mamallapuram and the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram were built in this period. He was also a great patron of art and letters.

The famous Sanskrit scholar Dandin is said to have adorned his court. He sent embassies to China and the maritime trade flourished during his reign. Rajasimha assumed titles like Sankarabhakta, Vadhyavidyadhara and Agamapriya. He was succeeded by Parameswaravarman II and Nandivarman II. The Pallava rule lasted till the end of the ninth century A.D. The Chola king Aditya I defeated the last Pallava ruler Aparajita and seized the Kanchi region. With this, the rule of Pallava dynasty came to an end.

Narasimhavarman I founder of Mamallapuram

Narasimhavarman I (630-668 A.D.) was also known as Mamalla, which means ‘great wrestler’. He shared his father Mahendravarman I's love of art and completed the work started by Mahendravarman in Mamallapuram. He wanted to take avenge the defeat of his father at the hands of Chalukyan ruler Pulakesin II. His victory over Pulakesin II in the Battle of Manimangalam near Kanchi is mentioned in Kuram copper plates. The Pallava army under General Paranjothi pursued the retreating Chalukya army, entered Chalukya territory, captured and destroyed the capital city of Vatapi. Narasimhavarman I assumed the title ‘Vatapikonda’.

He regained the lost territory. Another notable achievement of Narasimhavarman I was his naval expedition to Sri Lanka. He restored the throne to his friend and Sri Lankan prince Manavarma. During his reign, Hiuen Tsang visited the Pallava capital Kanchipuram. His description of Kanchi is vivid. He calls it a big and beautiful city, six miles in circumference. It had 100 Buddhist monasteries in which about 10,000 Buddhist monks lived. According to his account 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 the monolithic rathas were erected during his reign.

Mahendravarman I (600 – 630 A.D.) Chitrakarapuli

Mahendravarma I was a Pallava king who ruled the Northern regions of what forms present-day Tamil Nadu in India in the early 7th century. He was the son of Simhavishnu, who defeated the Kalabhras and re-established the Pallava kingdom. 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, he was not able to recover the lost territory. Mahendravarman I was a follower of Jainism in the early part of his career. He was converted to Saivism by the influence of the Saiva saint, Thirunavukkarasar alias Appar. He built a Siva temple at Tiruvadi. He assumed a number of titles like Gunabhara, Satyasandha, Chettakari (builder of temples) Chitrakarapuli, Vichitrachitta and Mattavilasa. 

He was a great builder of cave temples. The Mandagappattu inscription hails him as Vichitrachitta who constructed a temple for Brahma, Vishnu and Siva without the use of bricks, timber, metal and mortar. His rock-cut temples are found in a number of places like Vallam, Mahendravadi, Dalavanur, Pallavaram, Mandagappattu and Tiruchirappalli. He had also authored the Sanskrit work Mattavilasa Prahasanam. His title Chitrakarapuli reveals his talents in painting. He is also regarded as an expert in music. The music inscription at Kudumianmalai is ascribed to him.

Harshavardhana (606 – 647 A.D.) Dynasty - Socio,Economic and Political conditions

The decline of the Gupta Empire was followed by a period of political disorder and disunity in North India. It was only in the beginning of the seventh century A.D. that Harshvardhana succeeded in establishing a larger kingdom in north India. The chief sources for tracing the history of Harsha and his times are the Harshacharita written by Bana and the Travel accounts of Hiuen Tsang. Bana was the court poet of Harsha. Hiuen Tsang was the Chinese traveler who visited India in the seventh century A.D. Besides these two sources, the dramas written by Harsha, namely Ratnavali, Nagananda and Priyardarsika also provide useful information. The Madhuben plate inscription and the Sonpat inscription are also helpful to know the chronology of Harsha. The Banskhera inscription contains the signature of Harsha.

Early Life of Harsha: The founder of the family of Harsha was Pushyabhuti. Pushyabhutis were the feudatories of the Guptas. They called themselves Vardhanas. After the Hun invasions they assumed independence. The first important king of Pushyabhuti dynasty was Prabhakaravardhana. His capital was Thaneswar, north of Delhi. He assumed the title Maharajadhiraja and Paramabhattaraka. After Prabhakaravardhana’s death, his elder son Rajyavardhana came to the throne. He had to face problems right from the time of his accession. His sister, Rajyasri had married the Maukhari ruler called Grihavarman. The ruler of Malwa, Devagupta in league with Sasanka, the ruler of Bengal had killed Grihavarman. Immediately on hearing this news, Rajyavardhana marched against the king of Malwa and routed his army. But before he could return to his capital, he was treacherously murdered by Sasanka. In themeantime, Rajyasri escaped into forests. 

Harsha now succeeded his brother at Thaneswar. His first responsibility was to rescue his sister and to avenge the killings of his brother and brother-in-law. He first rescued his sister when she was about to immolate herself.

Harsha’s Military Conquests: In his first expedition, Harsha drove out Sasanka from Kanauj. He made Kanauj his new capital. This made him the most powerful ruler of north India. Harsha fought against Dhuruvasena II of Valabhi and defeated him. Dhuruvasena II became a vassal. The most important military campaign of Harsha was against the Western Chalukya ruler Pulakesin II. Both the accounts of Hiuen Tsang and the inscriptions of Pulakesin II provide the details of this campaign. Harsha with an ambition to extend his kingdom south of the Narmada river marched against the Chalukya ruler. But the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II mentions the defeat of Harsha by Pulakesin, who after this achievement assumed the title Paramesvara. 

Hiuen Tsang’s accounts also confirm the victory of Pulakesin. Harsha led another campaign against the ruler of Sindh, which was an independent kingdom. But, it is doubtful whether his Sind campaign was a successful one. Nepal had accepted Harsha’s overlordship. Harsha established his control over Kashmir and its ruler sent tributes to him. He also maintained cordial relations with Bhaskaravarman, the ruler of Assam. Harsha’s last military campaign was against the kingdom of Kalinga in Orissa and it was a success. Thus Harsha established his hold over the whole of north India. The regions modern Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa were under his direct control. But his sphere of influence was much more extensive. The peripheral states such as Kashmir, Sind, Valabhi and Kamarupa acknowledged his sovereignty.

Harsha and Buddhism: In his early life, Harsha was a devout Saiva but later he became an ardent Hinayana Buddhist. Hiuen Tsang converted him to Mahayana Buddhism. Harsha prohibited the use of animal food in his kingdom and punished those who kill any living being. He erected thousands of stupas and established travellers’ rests all over his kingdom. He also erected monasteries at the sacred places of Buddhists. Once in five years he convened a gathering of representatives of all religions and honoured them with gifts and costly presents. He brought the Buddhist monks together frequently to discuss and examine the Buddhist doctrine.

Kanauj Assembly: Harsha organized a religious assembly at Kanauj to honour the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang towards the close of his reign. He invited representatives of all religious sects. It was attended by kings, 1000 scholars from the Nalanda University, 3000 Hinayanists and Mahayanists, 3000 Brahmins and Jains. The Assembly went on continuously for 23 days. Hiuen Tsang explained the values of Mahayana doctrine and established its superiority over others.However, violence broke out and there were acts of arson. There was also an attempt on the life of Harsha. Soon, it was brought under control and the guilty were punished. On the final day of the Assembly, Hiuen Tsang was honoured with costly presents.

Allahabad Conference: Hiuen Tsang mentions in his account about the conference held at Allahabad, known as Prayag. It was the one among the conferences routinely convened by Harsha once in five years. Harsha gave away his enormous wealth as gifts to the members of all religious sects. According to Hiuen Tsang, Harsha was so lavish that heemptied the treasury and even gave away the clothes and jewels he was wearing. His statement might be one of admiring exaggeration.

Administration: The administration of Harsha was organized on the same lines as the Guptas did. Hiuen Tsang gives a detailed picture about this. The king was just in his administration and punctual in discharging his duties. He made frequent visits of inspection throughout his dominion. The day was too short for him. Taxation was also light and forced labour was also rare. One sixth of the produce was collected as land tax. Cruel punishments of the Mauryan period continued in the times of Harsha. 

Hiuen Tsang condemned the trials as barbarous and superstitious. Harsha’s army consisted of the traditional four divisions – foot, horse, chariot and elephant. The number of cavalry was more than one lakh and the elephants more than sixty thousands. This was much more than that of the Mauryan army. The maintenance of public records was the salient feature of Harsha’s administration. The archive of the Harsha period wasknown as nilopitu and it was under the control of special officers. Both good and bad events happened during his time had been recorded.

Society and Economy Conditions: Both Bana and Hiuen Tsang portray the social life in the times of Harsha. The fourfold division of the society – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya and Sudra – was prevalent. The Brahmins were the privileged section of the society and they were given land grants by the kings. The Kshatriyas were the ruling class. The Vysyas were mainly traders. 

Hiuen Tsang mentions that the Sudras practiced agriculture. There existed many sub castes. The position of women was not satisfactory.The institution of Swyamvara (the choice of choosing her husband) had declined. Remarriage of widows was not permitted, particularly among the higher castes. The system of dowry had also become common. The practice of sati was also prevalent. Hiuen Tsang mentions three ways of disposal of the dead – cremation, water burial and exposure in the woods. The trade and commerce had declined during Harsha’s period. This is evident from the decline of trade centres, less number of coins, and slow activities of merchant guilds. The decline of trade in turn affected the handicrafts industry and agriculture. Since there was no large scale demand for goods, the farmers began to produce only in a limited way. This led to the rise of self-sufficient village economy. In short, there was a sharp economic decline as compared to the economy of the Gupta period.

Cultural Progress:The art and architecture of Harsha’s period are very few and mostly followed the Gupta style. Hiuen Tsang describes the glory of the monastery with many storeys built by Harsha at Nalanda. He also speaks of a copper statue of Buddha with eight feet in height.The brick temple of Lakshmana at Sirpur with its rich architecture is assigned to the period of Harsha. Harsha was a great patron of learning. His biographer Banabhatta adorned his royal court. Besides Harshacharita, he wrote Kadambari. Other literary figures in Harsha’s court were Matanga Divakara and the famous Barthrihari, who was the poet, philosopher and grammarian. Harsha himself authored three plays -Ratnavali, Priyadarsika and Nagananda. Harsha patronised the Nalanda University by his liberal endowments. It attained international reputation as a centre of learning during his reign. Hiuen Tsang visited the Nalanda University and remained as a student for some time.

Smart & Short notes