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Chalukyas Dynasty: Administration


  • There are two Chalukya families:
    • Chalukyas of Badami (Vatapi) and
    • Chalukyas of Kalyani.
  • This lesson concerns only the Chalukyas of Badami.
  • Chalukya dynasty emerged as a strong power with its founder Pulikesin I (c. 543-566 CE) fortifying a hill near Badami.
  • He declared independence from the Kadmabas.
  • It is said that he conducted yagnas and performed the asvameda sacrifice.
  • The capital Badami was founded by Kirtivarman (566-597).
  • Pulikesin I’s grandson Pulikesin II (609-642), after defeating Mangalesha, proclaimed himself as king, an event that is described in the Aihole inscription.
  • One of the most outstanding victories of Pulikesin II was the defeat of Harshavardhana’s army on the banks of the Narmada.
  • The kings of Malwa, Kalinga, and eastern Deccan accepted his suzerainty.
  • His victories over Kadambas of Banvasi, and Gangas of Talakad (Mysore) are also worthy of note.
  • However, his attempt to attack Kanchipuram was thwarted by Mahendravarma Pallava.
  • This led to a prolonged war between the Chalukyas and the Pallavas.
  • Narasimha Varman I (630-668), the Pallava King, attacked and occupied Badami.
  • Pulikesin II died in the battle.
  • Pallava control over Badami and the southern parts of the Chalukya empire continued for several years.
  • In the mid-eighth century, the Badami Chalukyas were overpowered and replaced by the Rashtrakutas.

Chalukya Administration


  • The king was the head of the administration.
  • In dynastic succession primogeniture was not strictly followed.
  • Generally, the elder was to be appointed as yuvaraja while the king was in the office.
  • The heir apparent got trained in literature, law, philosophy, martial arts and others.
  • Chalukyan kings claimed to rule according to dharma-sastra and niti-sastra.
  • Pulikesin I was well-versed in manu-sastra, puranas, and itihasas.
  • In the beginning, the Chalukya kings assumed titles such as Maharajan, Sathyasrayan and Sri-Pritivi-Vallaban.
  • After defeating Harshavardhana, Pulikesin II assumed the title of Parameswaran.
  • Bhattarakan and Maharajathirajan, soon became very popular titles.
  • In the Pallava kingdom, kings took highsounding titles such as Dharma maharajaadhi raja, Maharajadhiraja, Dharma maharaja, Maharaja.
  • In the Hirahadagalli plates the king is introduced as the performer of agnistoma, vajapeya and asvamedha sacrifices.
  • The wild boar was the royal insignia of the Chalukyas.
  • It was claimed that it represented the varaha avatar of Vishnu.
  • The bull, Siva’s mount, was the symbol of the Pallavas.

Royal Women

  • Chalukya dynasty of Jayasimhan I line appointed royal ladies as provincial governors.
  • They also issued coins in some instances.
  • Vijya Bhattariga, a Chalukya princess, issued inscriptions.
  • Pallava queens did not take active part in the administration of the kingdom, but they built shrines, and installed images of various deities, and endowed temples.
  • The image of Queen Rangapataka, the queen of Rajasimha, is found in the inscription in Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram.

The King and His Ministers

  • All powers were vested in the king.
  • Inscriptions do not specifically speak of a council of ministers, but they do refer to an official called maha-sandhi-vigrahika.
  • Four other categories of ministers are also referred to in the epigraphs:
    • Pradhana (head minister),
    • Mahasandhivigrahika (minister of foreign affairs),
    • Amatya (revenue minister), and
    • Samaharta (minister of exchequer).
  • Chalukyas divided the state into political divisions for the sake of administration: Vishayam, Rastram, Nadu and Grama.
  • Epigraphs speak of the officials like vishayapatis, samantas, gramapohis and mahatras.
  • Vishayapatis exercised the power at the behest of the kings.
  • Samantas were feudal lords functioning under the control of the state.
  • Grampohis and gramkudas were village officials.
  • Mahatras were the prominent village men.

Provincial and District Administration

  • Generally, the king appointed his sons as the provincial governors.
  • The governors called themselves raja, marakka-rajan and rajadityaraja-parameswaran.
  • Some governors held the title maha-samanta and maintained troops.
  • The chief of vishaya was vishayapati.
  • In turn, vishaya was divided into pukti.
  • Its head was pogapati.

Village Administration

  • The traditional revenue officials of the villages were called the nala-kavundas.
  • The central figure in village administration was kamunda or pokigan who were appointed by the kings.
  • The village accountant was karana and he was otherwise called gramani.
  • Law and order of the village was in the hands of a group of people called mahajanam.
  • There was a special officer called mahapurush, in charge of maintaining order and peace of the village.
  • Nagarapatis or Purapatis were the officials of the towns.

Aihole Inscription of Pulikesin II : The Megudi temple at Aihole (in Karnataka) stands on top of a hill. On the eastern wall of this Jaina temple is a 19-line Sanskrit inscription (dated to Saka era: 634-635 AD (CE)). The composer is a poet named Ravikriti. The inscription is a prashasti of the Chalukyas especially the reigning king Pulikesin II, referred to as Sathyasraya (the abode of truth). It highlights the history of the dynasty, defeat of all his enemies, especially Harshavardhana.

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