Ancient India

History of the Chalukyas of Badami

The Chalukyas of Badami

From the 6th to the 8th century AD the Chalukyas were the dominant power in the Deccan.The Chalukya inscriptions provide valuable material for the reconstruction of a continuous history of the Deccan together with its contact with South India for about 200 years. Chalukya power had its rise in the west with its capital at Vatapi.It established a kingdom corresponding to the modern Bombay state with some additions to the south and east but without Kathiawad and Gujarat. The Chalukyas of Badami claimed to be Haripuras. They contended that they belonged to the Manavya gotra. They ruled from the middle of the 6th century to the middle of the 8th century AD when they were supplanted by the Rashtrakutas. The later western Chalukyas of Kalyani overthrew the Rashtrakutas in the second half of the 10th century and continued to rule till the end of the 12th century. An offshoot of the western Chalukyas known as the eastern Chalukyas established its power at Vengi from the 7th century to 12th century.

Religion of Chalukyas

The Chalukyas were the followers of Brahmanical religion but they also followed a policy of religious tolerance. During their reign Jainism prospered in the Deccan. Many Chalukyan kings granted villages to well known Jain scholars. There is no information regarding Buddhism. As regards Brahmanism there arrived the Bhagvata and Pashupati cults the cults of devotion to Vishnu and Shiva respectively. Superb structures were set up at Vatapi and Pattadakal in the honor of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. The sacrificial form of worship was composed. Of the Shaivite saints the most popular were Appar, Sambandar, Manikkavasagar and Sundarar.The hymns dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu have been preserved in two separate collections the Tirumurari and the Nalyira Prabandham.

The Jainism and Buddhism gradually gave way to a new form of religious worship the devotional cults of the Tamil saints which later came to be called the Bhakti movement. The devotional aspect was formulated in a relationship between god and man based on love. Tamil devotionalism achieved a great wave of popularity in the 6th and 7th centauries AD and continued in the hymns and sermons of the Nayanars and the Alvars.

Chalukyan Language

Sanskrit was the recognized medium in these mathas and was also the official language at the court. Two outstanding Sanskirt works of this age are Bharavi’s Kiratarjunia and Dandin’s Dashakumarcharita.Apart from the university at Kanchi which acquired fame equal to that of Nalanda there were a number of other Sanskrit colleges. Apart from Sanskrit various regional languages also prospered –Tamil in the far south and Kannada in the Deccan.References are made to the existence of considerable literature in Kannada at this time but little has survived.

A 7th century inscriptions of a Chalukyan king at Badami mentions Kannada as the local Prakrit or natural language and Sanskrit as the language of culture which summarizes relationship between two languages.

Chalukyan Art Architecture

Art made great progress under the patronage of Chalukya kings. A new style of architecture known as the Chalukya style which was different from the Gupta style was developed during this period. Aihole represents the best of Chalukyan architecture and thus has rightly called the cradle of Indian temple architecture. The three famous temples at Aihole are Ladh Khan Temple, Durga temple and Hucchimalligudi temple. The Ladh temple is a flat roofed structure. The Durga temple was an experiment seeking to adopt the Buddhist chaitya to a Brahmanical temple. The Hucchimalligudi temple is very much similar to the Durga temple but smaller than it. The movement of rock-cut halls was initiated during the 7th century AD. There are as many as 10 temples at Pattadakal belonging to this period.

There are four temples in the northern style and six of them follow the Dravidian style. Among them the temple of Virupaksha is the most important one. It is a direct initiation of the Kailashnatha temple of Kanchi and was built by one of the queens of Vikramaditya II. Another important achievement of the Chalukyan art was the building of excavated cave temples of Hindu gods. The Melagiti Sivalaya at Badami is a small but finely proportioned and magnificently located temple.

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