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The Cheras and The Rashtrakutas

The Cheras

 The lands south of the Mauryan Empire were all part of the Chera Dynasty. The Chera capital was Tiruvanchikulam.

Utiyan Cheralatan was the first Chera king and is accredited with founding the dynasty. One of his battles was against the Cholas, in which he suffered a humiliating defeat, as a result of which he committed suicide.

Utiyan’s son, Imayavaramban Nedun Cheralatan, through his grit and determination was responsible for making the Chera dynasty one of the most powerful kingdoms in the south. His rule lasted 58 years and during this time he won multiple battles and wars, the most famous of which was against his sworn enemies, the Kadambas of Banasvi.

Imayavaramban not only extended his kingdom, he also supported the local arts, culture and literature during his reign.

The greatest Chera king was King Kadalpirakottiya Kuttuvan. Kuttavan established the Patni (wife) cult which says that a wife must be completely devoted to her husband. An example of this is the story of the faithful wife Kannagi, who is remembered even today.

Kuttavan is said to have achieved the famous victories at Mogur Mannan and Kongar.

The Chera kings used marriage to strengthen their ties with other clans as they were constantly warring with their neighbors and needed to strengthen their positions. With strong overseas links with places like Rome, the kingdom prospered immensely. The trade consisted mainly of spices, ivory and sandalwood. They also exported pearls and gems to the Middle East.

The Rashtrakutas

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty had been a royal Indian dynasty ruling large parts of southern, central and northern India between the sixth and the thirteenth centuries. During that period they ruled as several closely related, but individual clans.

The earliest known Rashtrakuta inscription comes from a seventh century copper plate grant that mentions their rule from Manpur in the Malwa region of modern Madhya Pradesh. Other ruling Rashtrakuta clans from the same period mentioned in inscriptions had been the kings of Achalapur, modern Elichpur in Maharashtra and the rulers of Kannauj.

The clan that ruled from Elichpur had been a feudatory of the Badami Chalukyas and during the rule of Dantidurga, it overthrew Chalukya Kirtivarman II and went on to build an impressive empire with the Gulbarga region in modern Karnataka as its base. That clan came to be known as the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, rising to power in South India in 753. At the same time the Pala Dynasty of Bengal and the Prathihara dynasty of Gujarat gained force in eastern and northwestern India respectively.

At their peak the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta ruled a vast empire stretching from the Ganga River and Yamuna River doab in the north to Cape Comorin in the south, a fruitful time of political expansion, architectural achievements and famous literary contributions. The early kings of that dynasty had been Hindu but Jainism strongly influenced the later kings.

Cause for Tripartite Struggle

The Tripartite struggle was a struggle for power and control over the central Gangetic valley among three major empires in India during the 8th Century.

These three empires were the Pratiharas, the Rastrakutas and the Palas. The Pratiharas were settled in western India. The Rastrakutas who were essentially from the Deccan region were interested in Kannauj due to the fact that it formed an important center for trade and commerce. The Palas occupied the eastern parts and were very strong contenders in this struggle.

The Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja had a dire ambition to take control over the region of Kannauj. At the same time, the Pala ruler Dharmapala also had an eye over the same region. This brought the two rulers into a conflict. During this time the Rastrakuta king Dhruva attacked the two of them and claimed to have won. This is what led to the Tripartite Struggle.

Dharmapala however somehow gained control over the territory and set his nominee on the throne.

During the end of the 8th Century, the successor of the Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja named Nagabhata II, attacked Kannauj and established his rule, though it was short lived. In the beginning of the 9th Century he was defeated by the Rastrakuta ruler Govinda III. However, he was kept busy in internal politics by an alliance of different kingdoms in the south. The struggle for Kannauj became serious after the Pratiharas exercised control over it.

By the end of the tripartite struggle, the Pratiharas emerged victorious and established themselves as the rulers of central India.

Vikramaditya VI

Vikramaditya-6 is the greatest monarch of the Kalyani Chalukya dynasty. He is celebrated as a king who was capable in war as well as in nation building. His regime which lasted for more than half a century is a saga of political shrewdness and valour.

He came to power after ousting his elder brother Someshvara. He had ample experience in warfare and administration even before his ascension to the throne.

He had some kind of understanding with Kulottunga Chola, his counterpart in the Chola dynasty. There was a temporary cessation of warfare between these two kingdoms. Consequently, Vikramaditya could indulge in efforts to bring about all round development in the affairs of the state. However he did have minor skirmishes with other kingdoms and he emerged victorious almost invariably.

He ruled over a vast empire stretching from the Kaveri River to the Narmada River. He did face stiff opposition from Hoysala Ballaala 1 and Vishnuvardhana during the fag end of his rule. Initially, Vishnuvardhana was appreciated by Vikramaditya for his success in defeating the Cholas at Talakadu. Vikramaditya vanquished Vishnuvardhana in the battles fought at Halasuru and Hosavldu.

Vikramaditya had many wives. Many inscriptions erected during the regime of Vikramaditya have documented his panache for temple building and his patronage of art and culture. Bilhana, a poet from Kashmir who has authored ‘Vikramankadevacharita’ and Vijnaneshvara who has written the celebrated work ‘Mitaakshara’ were present in his royal court.

He was so confident of his achievements that he started, ‘vikrama shaka’ a new era named after him form the year of his ascension to the throne.

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