Chalukyas of Kalyana (C.973-1189)
The Chalukyas of Kalyana who claim to be the scions of the Badami Chalukyas, overthrew the Rashtrakutas in 973, and Taila II (Trailokya Malla), the first ruler of the dynasty, later defeated the Chola rulers like Uttama and Rajaraja I, and even killed Paramara Munja of Dhara. His son Satyashraya (997-1008) patronised the great Kannada poet Ranna. Someshwara I (1043-1068), Satyashrya’s grand nephew, succeeded in resisting the efforts of the Cholas to subdue Karnataka, and made Kalyana as his new capital (modern Basava Kalyana in Bidar district). The Chola king Rajadhiraja was killed by him at Kuppam in 1054.
His son Vikramaditya VI (1076-1127) proudly called as the Lord of more than 1000 inscriptions, is the king who started the Vikrama Saka Samvatsara on his coronation, celebrated in history as the patron of the great jurist Vighnaneshwara, who wrote Mithakshara, a standard work on Hindu law, and the emperor has been immortalised by poet Bilhana (hailing from Kashmir) who chose his patron as the hero for his Sanskrit work, viz., Vikramankadeva Charitam. Vikramaditya defeated the Paramaras of Central India thrice and even plundered their capital Dhara once. In the South he captured Kanchi from the Cholas in 1085, and in the East, he conquered Vengi in 1093. One of his commanders, Mahadeva built the Mahadeva temple at Itagi (Koppal district), one of the finest Chalukyan monument, eulogised in an inscription as “Devalaya Chakravarthy” (Emperor among Temples). His son Someshwara III (1127-39) was a great scholar. He has compiled Manasollasa, a Sanskrit encyclopaedia and Vikramankabhyudayam, a poem to which his father is the hero. Manasollasa, a great work of multi-dimensions, which depicts the cultural conditions in South India, has sections on administration, medicine, architecture, painting, jewellery, cookery, dance, music, sports etc. It has 100 sections discussing various aspects of human activity.
The Kalachuris, who were the feudatories of the Chalukyas, overthrew the Chalukyas and captured Kalyana in 1162. Bijjala, the first emperor of the dynasty, was the grand son of Vikramaditya VI, through his motherside. He had Basaveshwara, the celebrated Veerashaiva religious leader, a rebel against Vedic tradition, who was the illustrious son of Madarasa, the head of Bagewadi Agrahara, as his treasurer. Though the Chalukyas staged a comeback in 1184 under Someshwara IV, their power was overshadowed by their feudatories, the Hoysalas and the Sevunas of Devagiri, who encroached upon the Chalukyan territory, and finally divided Karnataka between themselves. The representative carving of measuring rods used during this period are being discovered on the temples at Dambala, Kodikop, Bhairapura and Shirasagi. The Chalukyas were great builders, and their beautiful temples renown for fine and intricate engravings are found at many places like Itagi, Ron, Naregal, Gadag, Dambal, Lakkundi (Gadag District), Lakshmeshwara, Bankapur, Hangal, Haveri, Abbaluru, Hamsabhavi, Chikkerur in Haveri District; Balligavi (Shimoga District), Kuruvatti, Chaudadanapura (Ranebennur Taluk), Unakal, Annigeri, Kundagol, Moraba, etc. in Dharwar District; and at Nagavi, Adki, Yewur, Sedam, Kulageri, Kollur, Diggavi, Madiyala and Kalagi (in Gulbarga Dt); Saudatti, Okkunda, Hulsi, Belgaum etc. in Belgaum district; Badami, Pattadakal, Aihole, Mahakoota, etc. in Bagalkot district; Gabbur, Devadurga in Raichur district; Koppal, Kukkanur, Itagi, Yelburga in Koppal District; Kurugodu, Hadagili, Hampi, Kogali, Bagali in Bellary District; and Kadlewada, Chattaraki, Teradal, Nimbala, Muttagi etc. in Bijapur district. They were great patrons of scholars, and Sanskrit writers like Vadiraja and Kannada poets like Ranna, Durgasimha and Nayasena lived in their times. The Veerashaiva movement saw the advent of Vachana literature in Kannada, initiated by Jedara Dasimayya and Kembhavi Bhoganna. It grew during the Kalachuri Interregnum when more than 770 Sharanas including Basava, Allama, Siddarama, Channabasava, Akkamahadevi and others lived. Veerashaivism preached equality of men, tried to emancipate women, and stressed the importance of bread-labour concept by calling it as ‘Kayaka’, for worshipping God.
Sevunas of Devagiri (C 1173-1318)
The Sevunas (Yadavas) who were the feudatories of both the Rastrakutas and the Chalukyas of Kalyana, became a sovereign power from the days of Bhillama V (1173-92) who founded the new capital Devagiri (modern Daulathabad in Maharashtra). Earlier they ruled from Sindhinera (modern Sinnar) near Nashik.
Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra (C.1052-1342) The Hoysalas continued the great tradition of their art-loving overlords, viz., the Kalyana Chalukyas, and their fine temples are found at Beluru, Halebidu and Somanathapura. The first great ruler of the dynasty, Vishnuvardhana (c.1108-1152) freed Gangavadi from the Cholas (who had held it since 1004), in 1114 A.D. and in commemoration of his victory, built the celebrated Keertinarayana temple at Talakad, and Vijayanarayana (Chennakeshava) Temple at Belur, His kingdom was visited by Ramanujacharya, who stayed at Saligrama, Tonnur, and Melkote in Karnataka for long. Vishnuvardhana patronised the saint and believed to have earlier influenced by Srivaishnava Chola officers in Gangavadi. As he wanted to be an Emperor by challenging his overlords, the Kalyana Chalukyas expediency forced him to perform certain Vedic rituals like Agnishtoma and Hiranyagarbha sacrifices (yajnyas). Jainism did not sanction such performances. But he continued to patronise Jainism, as many of his commanders and his accomplished queen Shantala were Jains. His commander Ketamalla built the famous Hoysaleshwara (Vishnuvardhana) temple at Halebidu.
Vijayanagara Empire (C.1336-1646)
When the armies of the Delhi Sultanat destroyed the four great Kingdoms of the south viz., the Sevunas of Devagiri, Kakatiyas of Warangal, Hoysalas and the Pandyas of Madhurai, it looked as if a political power following a religion quite alien to the South was going to dominate the peninsula. Many princes including Kumara Rama, the brave and heroic son of Kampilaraya, a Seuna feudatory from Kampli in Bellary district, perished while resisting the muslim onslaughts. The people were bewildered over the attack on their religious places and the barbaric crudities perpetrated on the vanquished cities by these invaders from the North. Poems and ballads on Kumara Rama illustrate this bewilderment. When the Vijayanagara kingdom was founded by the Sangama brothers, viz. Harihara, Bukka, Kampana, Muddappa, and Marappa, people whole-heartedly supported them. Tradition says that sage Vidyaranya had even caused a shower of gold to finance the Sangama brothers. Perhaps the sage succeeded in securing financial help from various quarters to the founders of Vijayanagara. To Vidyaranya’s guru Bharatiteertha, Harihara and his brothers made some grants at Sringeri in 1346. This grant had a supplementary donation on the same day by Hoysala Queen Chikkayi Tayi a Alupa queen, who appears to have been present on the occasion. Harihara (1336-56) of the Sangama dynasty (1336-1485) founded the kingdom in about 1336 and secured control over northern parts of Karnataka and Andhra from coast to coast. After the death of Ballala III (1343) and his son Virupaksha Ballala in 1346, the whole of the Hoysala dominion came under his control. The above grant noted at Sringeri with the Hoysala queen, Chikkayitayi and the kingdom glorifying Kumara Rama, demonstrates its efforts as successors of these potentates that had perished. His brother Bukka (1356-77) succeeded in destroying the Madhurai Sultanate: He even sent an embassy to China. It is this prince who sponsored the writings of the monumental commentary on the Vedas viz., Vedarthaprakasha by engaging several scholars, working under the celebrated scholars Sayana and Madhava. The work was completed in the days of his son Harihara II (1377-1404). Harihara II extended his domination in Konkan, beyond Goa upto Chaul. In the East, he conquered Pangal to the north of the Krishna. Efforts made by Firuzshah Bahmani to conquer this fort were foiled by Devaraya II (1424-49), the greatest of the Sangamas, who defeated the Bahamanis when he was the crown prince, and this resulted in the shifting of the Bahamani capital to the North i.e. Bidar in c. 1426. He defeated the Gajapatis of Orissa twice and foiled the efforts of the Bahamanis to wrest Mudgal. One of his commanders even invaded Ceylon and extracted tribute, and the princes of Pegu and Tenesserim in Burma also owed him allegiance. He highly patronized the Veerashaivas. The Hazara Rama Temple at Hampi is his creation. Abdul Razak, the Persian traveller who visited his court, says of the capital that “nothing in the world could equal it.” Himself a scholar, Devaraya II patronized Gunda Dindima, a Sanskrit poet and Shrinatha, a Telugu poet. The Hampi inscription of Davaraya II of 1420 A.D exolls the good qualities of his famous commander Lakshmidhara poetically in glorious terms.
The weak and vicious kings who followed Devaraya II in the Sangama dynasty would have caused the dismemberment of the empire, had not Saluva Narasimha, an able commander assumed power (1485). It paved way for the rule of Saluva dynasty(1485-1505) for a short while. It was during this period Purtuguese navigator Vasco-da-Gama landed on the western coast at Calicut in 1498 and thus opened a new vista for foreign rule. Later, there was a second usurpation, under the leadership of Tuluva Vira Narasimha. He was succeeded by the Tuluva Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529) a great warrior, scholar and administrator of Tuluva dynasty (1509-1570). He secured Raichur doab in 1512, and later marched victorious into the capitals of his enemies like Bidar (1512) Bijapur (1523) and in the East, Cuttack (1518), the capital of the Gajapatis. Being a great devotee of Tirumalai Venkatesha, he visited Tirupati frequently (7 times) and made lavish grants to Lord Venkatesha. As a token the bronze statues of Raya with his two queens is seen even today at Tirumalai. “A great ruler and a man of great justice” (in the words of Portuguese visitor Paes) Krishnadevaraya was a man of letters and a great patron of scholars. He himself wrote a Telugu work Amuktamalyada. He had eight great Telugu poets called ashtadiggqjas in his court, and among them was Allasani Peddana. Raya built the Krishnaswamy Temple in the capital. It was during his time that the Portuguese conquered Goa from Bijapur rulers in 1510. They had a flourishing trade with Vijayanagara, and to whom they supplied Arab horses on priority. Portuguese rule in Goa had far reaching effects. They introduced new floras like groundnut, chilly, tobacco etc., besides bringing printing technology from the New World. Mangalore and Barakuru were the most important provinces in Coastal area during the Vijayangara times and they were administered by the governers appointed by the Viajayanagara rulers from time to time. During the rule of Sadashiva Raya (1543-70) the four Shahi Sultans attacked the Empire, and after killing Aravidu Ramaraya (1542- 65), the Vijayanagar minister and Krishnadevaraya’s sonin-law, at Rakkasa Tangadi (Rakkasagi-Tangadagi) in 1565 and destroyed the capital Vijayanagara. Later, his brothers Thirumalaraya and Venkatapatiraya shifted the capital first to Penugonda, and later Chandragiri and Vellore became the subsequent capitals of late Vijayanagara rulers. The Tuluva rule was set aside by the Aravidu dynastry (1570-1646). Srirangaraya III, its last ruler was given shelter by Keladi rulers till his demise in 1670. During the Vijayangara regime, local rulers like the Ajalas, chauta, Banga, Mula, Hegde, Ballala, Domba and other small principalities ruled almost independently in the coastal region of Karnataka. Venur, Moodabidre and Karkal prospered as important Jaina Centres during this period. Vijayanagara rulers patronized all religions. The Portuguese traveller Barbosa testifies to this catholic outlook of the emperors. Every existing temple was provided with a strong enclosure, a lofty tower at the entrance and vast mantapas. Literary activity in all South Indian languages was encouraged. The empire took upon itself the responsibility of conserving Indian traditions in philosophy, religion, science, literature and culture. Vijayanagara played a greater role in conserving local religion and cultural traditions. In addition to the commentaries on the Vedas, Sayana compiled many works like Yajnyatantra Sudhanidhi, Ayurveda Sudhanidhi, Purushartha Sudhanidhi, Subhashita Sudhanidhi and Alankara Sudhanidhi to conserve Indian tradition. Madhava (Vidyaranya) wrote Sarvadarshana Sangraha introducing all religions of Indian origin. His parashara madhaviya is a commentary on parasharasmriti, a work on Hindu life, and law and Parashara Madhaviya has clearly stated that the Sati (suicide by a widow) is “kalivarjya”, to be abhorred totally in Kaliyuga. The Emperors not only built fine temples of all denominations (Shaiva, Vaishnava, Srivaishnava, Jaina etc.,) but renovated many temples destroyed prior to their rule. All existing temples were provided with huge prakaras (enclosures) and tall impressive entrance towers called as rayagopuras found not only at Hampi but also at Srishailam, Kalahasti, Tirupathi, Srirangam, Chidambaram, Kanchi etc. in Andhra and in Tamilnadu. In addition, they also provided the existing temples with vast and impressive Kalyana Mantapas and Sabha Mantapas which were open pillared pavilions. Each mantapa had scores of tall monolithic pillars which were solid pieces of art. These public works provided jobs to thousands. Their temples seen at places like Hampi, Haravu, Belluru, Kikkeri, Ambaligere, Holalkere, Sringeri, Kurugodu, Bagali, Khandya, Kalasa etc. in Karnataka are noteworthy. Besides, they have also built innumerable temples in the neighbouring states of Tamilnadu and Andhrapradesh. Sanskrit, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu literature flourished during this time. The Veerashaiva religion saw a renaissance. Karnataka Music came to blossom by the works of Vidyaranya, Kallinatha, Ramanamatya, Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa. Purandaradasa did a lot to popularise it by composing primary compositions to teach this music and he has been rightly called “the father of Karnataka Music” by saint Tyagaraja. Foreign merchants and travellers like Nicolo Conti(1420), Abdul Razak (1443), Barbosa (1500-11), Paes (1520), Nuniz (1535), and Caesar Fredrick (1567), who visited the Empire give a vivid account on the flourishing condition that prevailed in the empire in general and the capital city Vijayanagara, in particular.
Bahamani Kingdom (c.1347-1520)
The Bahmani Sultans are remembered for the great contribution they made in the field of Indo-Sarcenic art in the South. Founded by Alla-Ud-Din Hasan at Gulbarga in 1347, the Bahmani Kingdom clashed with Vijayanagara all through its history. Muhammed Bahaman Shah, built the famous Jamia Maszid at Gulbarga fort in 1367. It is a huge monument of enduring beauty. Domes, vaultings and arches of mortar were introduced by them in their buildings of Karnataka.
Adilshahis of Bijapur (1489-1686)
Of the five Shahi Kingdoms that rose from the ruins of the Bahamanis, the Adilshahis of Bijapur ruled over
the greater part of Karnataka. It was founded in 1489 by Yusuf Adil Khan, a commander and governor under the Bahamanis. The Adilshahis were great patrons of art and men of letters. Yusuf has been called “a powerful and prosperous king” by Varthema, the Italian Visitor. His son Ismail (1510-35) was recognised as a ruler by the Shah of Iran and he sent an embassy to Bijapur. Ismail’s grandson, Ali (1557-80) was in friendly terms with Ramaraya of Vijayanagara, who had adopted Ali as his son. But other Shahi Sultans forced Ali to join the confederacy against the Vijayanagara Empire, whose army was defeated in 1565. The Jami Mosque at Bijapur with a wonderful design was raised by him.
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