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The Chalukya Dynasty

The Chalukya Dynasty Virupaksha Temple

  • The Chalukya dynasty was an Indian dynasty which ruled large parts of central and Southern India from the sixth century to the twelfth centuries. The rule of the Chalukyas is an important landmark in the history of South India. The political environment in South India moved from smaller empires to big kingdoms with the dominance of Badami Chalukyas. The rise of this kingdom saw the birth of professional commerce, overseas trade and administration.

Historical sources

  • The main source of information concerning the Badami Chalukya history is inscriptions in Kannada and Sanskrit. These Inscriptions provide evidence of the Chalukya language. The Aihole inscription of Pulakesi II, the Mahakuta Pillar inscription of Mangalesa and The Badami cliff inscription of Pulakesi I are good examples of Sanskrit inscriptions written in old Kannada script. Kannada language thrived during the reign of the Chalukyas.

Periods in Chalukya history

  • The Chalukyas ruled the Deccan area for more than 600 years. During this period, they ruled as 3 individual dynasties. These are the "Chalukyas of Badami", the "Chalukyas of Kalyani" and the "Chalukyas of Vengi".

Chalukyas of Badami

  • In 543 Pulakesi I captured Vatapi (modern Badami in Karnataka) and made it his capital. Pulakesi I and his descendants are known as "Chalukyas of Badami".
  • Pulakesi II is the most well-known emperor of the Badami dynasty.
  • The Badami Chalukya dynasty declined briefly after the demise of Pulakesi II. Badami was occupied by the Pallavas for 13 years. Vikramaditya I recovered it by pushing the Pallavas out of Badami and restored order to the empire.
  • During the reign of the Vikramaditya II, the empire was its peak once again. He avenged the humiliation of the Chalukyas by the Pallavas. In 753, the Rashtrakuta King Dantidurga overthrew the last Chalukya king, Kirtivarman II.

Badami Chalukyas:

Pulakesi I (543 – 566 C.E.)

  • Pulakesi I established the Chalukya dynasty by overthrowing the Kadambas. He selected Badami (Vatapi) as his capital.

Kirtivarman I (566 – 597 C.E.)

  • Pulakesi I was succeeded by Kirtivarman I who secured the expansion of the Chalukya Kingdom. He also captured the port of Goa. Son of Kirtivarman I, Pulakesi II was too young to rule at the time of death of Kirtivarman I. Therefore Mangalesa, brother of Kirtivarman I was appointed as the king.

Mangalesa (597 – 609 C.E.)

  • Mangalesa was an ambitious and energetic ruler. He did not hand over power even when Pulakesi II came of age and instead nominated his own son Sundaravarma as his successor. This enraged Pulakesi II who fought against his uncle Mangalesa and killed him in the battleground of Elapattu-Simbige.

Pulakesi II (609 – 642 C.E.)

  • Pulakesi II is the most prominent king of the Chalukya dynasty. He extended his rule over Southern India and parts of Gujarat as well as Madhya Pradesh. He issued gold coins for the first time in South India. After his demise, his five sons fought among themselves. His third son Vikramaditya I defeated his brothers and became king.

Vikramaditya I (655 – 680 C.E.)

  • Vikramaditya succeeded his father, Pulakesi II. He restored order and forced the Pallavas to retreat from the capital Vatapi. He rewarded his younger brother Jayasimhavarman with the viceroyalty of Lata in the southern Gujarat. Vikramaditya I died in 680.
 Vinayaditya (680 – 696 C.E.)
  • Vikramaditya I was succeeded by his son Vinayaditya who was succeeded by his son Vijayaditya.

Vijayaditya (696 – 733 C.E.)

  • Vijayaditya’s long time in power was marked by peace and prosperity. A large number of temples were built by Vijayaditya. In 733, his son Vikramaditya II succeeded him.

Vikramaditya II (733 – 746 C.E.)

  • Badami Chalukya throne was succeeded by the son of King Vijayaditya, Vikramaditya II. His remarkable achievement was the consecration of the Mallikarjuna Temple (Trilokeshwara temple) and the Virupaksha Temple by his queens. These 2 monuments are the UNESCO World Heritage Monuments.
 Kirtivarman II (746 – 753 C.E.)
  • Kirtivarman II succeeded his father Vikramaditya II. He was the last king of the Badami dynasty. After 220 years the dynasty was revived by Tailapa II.

The Chalukya Dynasty Virupaksha Temple


  • The era of the Badami Chalukyas was an important era in the development of South Indian architecture. Architectural master pieces of the Chalukya dynasty are their main long-term inheritance. Over 150 memorials attributed to the Badami Chalukyas are in the northern Karnataka. Although they ruled a huge empire, their temple building activity was confined in Karnataka.
  • The temples at Pattadakal which were constructed in eighth century are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These rock-cut temples mark the mature stage of Badami Chalukyan architecture.
  • The temples at Pattadakal which were constructed in eighth century are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These rock-cut temples mark the mature stage of Badami Chalukyan architecture.
  • Badami Cave Temples, Huccappayya temple, Hucchimalli temple, Meguti temple, Ladh Khan temple and the Durga temple are illustrations of early Chalukyan art in Aihole. The wonderful temples at Pattadakal were built by Vikramaditya II. Here the Sangameswara, the Virupakshaand Mallikarjuna and a Jain temple are in the Dravidian style whereas Galaganatha, Kasivisweswara and Jambulinga are in the nagara style. The Papanatha temple demonstrates an attempt to merge the Southern and Northern styles.

The Chalukya Dynasty Virupaksha Temple


  • The Aihole inscription of Pulakesi II is in Sanskrit language and Kannada script is regarded as a classical piece of poetry. Renowned Sanskrit writers from the Western Chalukya period are Vijnaneshwara who wrote a book on Hindu law, and King Somesvara III, who compiled an encyclopedia.
  • The rule of the Western Chalukyas is a major event in the history of Kannada literature and the rule of the Eastern Chalukyas is a major event in the history of Telugu literature.