• The Chalukya dynasty refers to an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the sixth and twelfth centuries.
  • During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties.
    • The earliest dynasty, known as the Badami Chalukyas, ruled from their capital Badami from the middle of the sixth 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 Pulakesi II.
    • After the death of Pulakesi II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan.
      • They ruled from the capital Vengi until about the eleventh century.
    • In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of eighth century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas in late tenth century.
      • Those Western Chalukyas ruled from Basavakalyan till the end of the twelfth century.



  • The rise of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka.
  • The political atmosphere in South India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the rise of Badami Chalukyas.
  • For the first time in history, a South Indian kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and the Narmada rivers.
  • The rise of that empire also saw the birth of efficient administration, rise in overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called Vesara.
  • Around the ninth century, it also saw the growth of Kannada as a language of literature in the Jaina Puranas, Veerashaiva Vachanas and Brahmanical traditions.
  • Further, the eleventh century saw the birth of Telugu literature under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas.


Sources of Chalukyan History

  • Inscriptions constitute the main source of information about the Badami Chalukya history. Important among them are:
    • the Badami cave inscriptions (578) of Mangalesa
    • Kappe Arabhatta record of 700
    • Peddavaduguru inscription of Pulakesi II
    • the Kanchi Kailasanatha inscription and
    • Pattadakal Virupaksha Temple inscriptions of Vikramaditya II
  • Hiuen-Tsiang, a Chinese traveller visited the court of Pulakesi II
    • At the time of that visit, as mentioned in the Aihole record, Pulakesi II had divided his empire into three Maharashtrakas or great provinces comprising of 99,000 villages each.
    • That empire possibly covered present day Karnataka, Maharashtra and coastal Konkan
  • Vidyapati Bilhana, the famous poet in the court of Vikramaditya VI of the Western Chalukya dynasty of Kalyana, mentions a legend in his work, Vikramankadeva Charita, which has been used to reconstruct History as well.


History of the Chalukyas

  • Chalukyas of Badami
    • In the sixth century, with the decline of the Gupta dynasty and their immediate successors in northern India, major changes began to happen in the area south of the Vindyas— the Deccan and Tamilaham
    • Pulakesi I established the Chalukya dynasty in 550.
      • He took Vatapi (Badami in Bagalkot district, Karnataka) under his control and made it his capital.
      • They ruled over an empire that comprised the entire state of Karnataka and most of Andhra Pradesh in the Deccan.
    • Further, Pulakesi II had been perhaps the greatest emperor of the Badami Chalukyas.
      • Pulakesi 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.
    • Later, the Badami Chalukya dynasty went into a brief decline following the death of Pulakesi II due to internal feuds.
      • It recovered during the reign of Vikramaditya I, who succeeded in pushing the Pallavas out of Badami and restoring order to the empire.
      • The empire reached a peak during the rule of the illustrious Vikramaditya II
    • Eventually, the Rashtrakuta Dantidurga overthrew the last Badami Chalukya king Kirtivarman I in 753.


  • Chalukyas of Kalyani
    • The Chalukyas revived their fortunes in 973 C.E., after over 200 years of dormancy when the Rashtrakutas dominated much of the Deccan.
    • The reign of the Kalyani Chalukyas had been a golden age in Kannada literature.
  • Tailapa II, a Rashtrakuta feudatory ruling from Tardavadi-1000 (Bijapur district) overthrew Karka II and re-established the Chalukyan kingdom and recovered most of the Chalukya empire.
    • This dynasty came to be known as the Western Chalukya dynasty or Later Chalukya dynasty.
    • Scholars widely considered Vikramaditya VI the greatest ruler of the dynasty; his 50 year reign called Chalukya Vikrama Era.
  • Later, the Western Chalukyas went into their final dissolution 1180 with the rise of the Hoysalas, Kakatiya and Seuna.

  • Eastern Chalukyas
    • Pulakeshin II conquered the eastern Deccan, corresponding to the coastal districts of modern Andhra Pradesh in 616, defeating the remnants of the Vishnukundina kingdom.
    • After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Vengi Viceroyalty developed into an independent kingdom and included the region between Nellore and Visakhapatnam.
    • After the decline of the Badami Chalukya empire in the mid-8th century, territorial disputes flared up between the Rashtrakutas, the new rulers of the western deccan, and the Eastern Chalukyas.
    • Later, the fortunes of the Eastern Chalukyas took a turn around 1000 C.E.
    • Initially, the Eastern Chalukyas had encouraged Kannada language and literature, though, after a period of time, local factors took over and they gave importance to Telugu language.


Art and Architecture

  • The period of Badami Chalukya dynasty saw art flourish in South India.
  • It brought about some important developments in the realm of culture, particularly in the evolution and proliferation of a new style of architecture known as Vesara, a combination of the South Indian and the North Indian building styles.
  • One of the richest traditions in Indian architecture took shape in the Deccan during that time, called Karnataka Dravida style as opposed to traditional Dravida style.
  • The Kalyani Chalukyas further refined the Vesara style with an inclination towards Dravidian concepts, especially in the sculptures. They built fine monuments in the Tungabhadra – Krishna river doab in present day Karnataka.
  • Badami Chalukyas
    • More than 150 monuments attributed to the Badami Chalukya, and built between 450 and 700, remain in the Malaprabha basin in Karnataka.
    • The rock-cut temples of Pattadakal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Badami and Aihole constitute their most celebrated monuments. This marks the beginning of Chalukya style of architecture and a consolidation of South Indian style.

Pattadkal Temple Architecture


  • In Aihole, the Durga temple (sixth century), Ladh Khan temple (450), Meguti temple (634), Hucchimalli and Huccappayya temples (fifth century), Badami Cave Temples (600) provide examples of early Chalukyan art.

Aihole Temple Architecture


  • The rule of the Chalukyas embodies a major event in the history of Kannada and Telugu languages.
  • During the ninth – tenth century, Kannada language had already seen some of its greatest writers. The three gems of Kannada literature, Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna belonged to that period
  • In the eleventh century, the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas, with Nannaya Bhatta as its first writer gave birth to Telugu literature.
  • Famous writers in Sanskrit from that period include Vijnaneshwara who achieved fame by writing Mitakshara a book on Hindu law.
  • Somesvara III became a great scholar and king, compiling an encyclopedia of all arts and sciences called
  • From the period of the Badami Chalukya no major Kannada literary work has been recovered, though many works have been referenced in later centuries.
    • The extant Kappe Arabhatta record of 700 in tripadi (three line) metre represents the earliest work in Kannada poetics.
    • The literary work Karnateshwara Katha, quoted later by Jayakirti, belonged to the period of Pulakesi II with the great king himself as the hero.
    • Other Kannada writers of that time included Syamakundacharya of 650 who wrote Prabhrita, the celebrated Srivaradhadeva also called Tumubuluracharya of 650 (who wrote Chudamani, a commentary on Tattvartha-mahashastra in 96,000 verses)


Badami Chalukya Government

  • Army
    • The army consisted of infantry, cavalry, elephant corps and a powerful navy.
    • Rashtrakuta inscriptions use the term Karnatabala referring to their powerful armies.
    • The government levied taxes called Herjunka, Kirukula, Bilkode, and Pannaya.
  • Land governance
    • The empire was divided into Maharashtrakas (provinces), then into smaller Rashtrakas (Mandala), Vishaya (district), Bhoga (group of ten villages).
    • Later, many autonomous regions existed ruled by feudatories like Alupas, Gangas, Banas, and Sendrakas. Local assemblies looked after local issues.
    • Groups of mahajanas (learned brahmins), looked after agraharas (like Ghatika or place of higher learning) like the ones at Badami (2000 mahajans) and Aihole (500 mahajanas).
  • Coinage
    • The Badami Chalukyas minted coins of a different standard compared to the northern kingdoms.
    • The coins had Nagari and Kannada
    • They minted coins with symbols of temples, lion or boar facing right, and the lotus. The coins weighed four grams, called honnu in old Kannada and had fractions such as fana and the quarter fana, whose modern day equivalent being hana (literally means, money)
  • Religion
    • The rule of the Badami Chalukya proved a period of religious harmony.
    • They initially followed Vedic Hinduism, as seen in the various temples dedicated to many popular Hindu deities with Aihole
    • Later, from the time of Vikramaditya I, the people took an inclination towards Shaivism and sects like Pashupata, Kapalikas and Kalamukhas existed.
      • They actively encouraged Jainism, attested to by one of the Badami cave temples and other Jain temples in the Aihole complex.
  • Society
    • The Hindu caste system appeared .
    • Sati may have been absent as widows like Vinayavathi and Vijayanka are mentioned in records.
    • Devadasis’ appeared in temples.
    • Sage Bharata’s Natyashastra the precursor to Bharatanatyam, the dance of South India had been popular as seen in many sculptures and mentioned in inscriptions.V
    • Women enjoyed political power in administration.



  • Thus, the Chalukya era may be seen as the beginning in the fusion of cultures of northern and southern India making way for the transmission of ideas between the two regions.
    • This becomes clear from an architectural point of view as the Chalukyas spawned the Vesara style of architecture including elements of the northern nagara and southern dravida styles.
    • The expanding Sanskritic culture mingled in a region where local Dravidian vernaculars had already become popular.
  • During the Chalukya rule, the Bhakti movement gained momentum in south India in the form of Ramanujacharya and Basavanna later spreading to north India.

Related aspects in News

  • A celebration called Chalukya utsava, a three-day festival of music and dance, organised by the Government of Karnataka, is held every year at Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole.
    • The event is a celebration of the achievements of the Chalukyas in the realm of art, craft, music and dance.
    • The program, which starts at Pattadakal and ends in Aihole, is inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka.
    • Singers, dancers, poets and other artists from all over the country take part in this event.