After the fall of
the Mauryan Empire, the history of the Andhras, as
a continuous account of political and cultural events,
commences with the rise of the Satavahanas as a political
power. According to Matsya Purana there were 29 rulers
of this dynasty. They ruled over the Andhradesa including
Deccan for about 400 years from the 2nd century B.C.
to beyond the 2nd century A.D. Satavahanas were also
called Salivahanas and Satakarnis. In the 3rd century
B.C., Simukha, the founder of the Satavahana dynasty,
unified the various Andhra principalities into one
kingdom and became its ruler (271 B.C. -- 248 B.C.).
Dharanikota near Amaravati in Guntur district was
the first capital of Simukha, but later he shifted
his capital to Pratishtana (Paithan in Aurangabad
Satakarni II, the sixth ruler of the dynasty (184
B.C.) was an able ruler who extended his kingdom to
the west by conquering Malwa. According to inscriptional
evidence, he extended the boundaries of his realm
far into central India across the Vindhyas, perhaps
up to the river Ganges. He ruled for a long period
of 56 years. The long reign of Satakarni II was followed
successively by eight rulers of whom none can be credited
with any notable achievement. It was the accession
of Pulumavi I that brought renewed strength and glory
to their kingdom. He struck down the last of the Kanva
rulers, Susarman, in 28 B.C. and occupied Magadha.
The Satavahanas thus assumed an all-India significance
as imperial rulers in succession to the Nandas, Mauryas,
Sungas and Kanvas. The kings, who succeeded him, appear
to have been driven, by the Sakas, out of Maharashtra
back to their home land in Andhra. The only silver
lining in that murky atmosphere was the excellent
literary work, Gathasaptasati, of Hala, the
17th Satavahana king.
It was during the time of Gautamiputra Satakarni,
the 23rd ruler of this dynasty, who ascended the throne
in A.D.62, their kingdom made a sharp recovery of
the lost territories from the western Kshatrapas.
A Nasik record describes him as the restorer of the
glory of the Satavahanas. His kingdom included the
territories of Asika, Assaka, Mulaka, Saurashtra,
Kukura, Aparanta, Anupa, Vidarbha, Akara and Avanti,
and the mountainous regions of Vindhya, Achavata,
Pariyatra, Sahya, Kanhagiri, Siritana, Malaya, Mahendra,
Sata and Chakora, and extended as far as seas on either
side. Though some of the mountains mentioned in the
inscription cannot be identified at present, it is
clear that Gautamiputra's kingdom covered not only
the peninsular India, but also the southern parts
of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.
He passed away in A.D.86, and his successors witnessed
the dismemberment of their far flung empire. Pulumavi
II succeeded Gautamiputra and ruled for 28 years.
In spite of serious efforts put forth by him to safeguard
the frontiers of his vast empire, the closing years
of his reign witnessed the decline of the Satavahana
authority. Yajnasri Satakarni's accession to the throne
in A.D.128 brought matters to a crisis. He came into
conflict with the Saka Satrap, Rudradamana, and suffered
defeat, and consequently, lost all his western possessions.
However, he continued to rule till A.D.157 over a
truncated dominion. His ship-marked coins suggest
extensive maritime trade during his days. With him
passed away the age of the great Satavahanas and by
the end of the 2nd century A.D., the rule of the Satavahanas
was a matter of past history.
were different opinions about their capital. Some
argue that Srikakulam in Krishna district was their
capital. Evidences show that Dharanikota in Guntur
district, Dharmapuri in Karimnagar district and Paithan
in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra State were used
as capitals at various periods.
Deccan, during this period, was an emporium of inland
and maritime trade. The region between the rivers
of Godavari and Krishna was full of ports and throbbing
with activity. There was plentiful currency to facilitate
trade and the Telugus entered upon a period of great
industrial, commercial and maritime activity.
flourished throughout the period and at the same time
the rulers were devoted to Vedic ritualism. They constructed
several Buddhist Stupas, Chaityas and Viharas. The
Stupa at Amaravati is known for its architecture par
excellence. Satavahanas were not only the able rulers
but were also lovers of literacy and architecture.
The 17th ruler of this dynasty, Hala was himself a
great poet and his ``Gathasaptasati'' in Prakrit
was well received by all. Gunadhya, the minister of
Hala was the author of ``Brihatkadha''.
decline and fall of the Satavahana empire left the
Andhra country in a political chaos. Local rulers
as well as invaders tried to carve out small kingdoms
for themselves and to establish dynasties. During
the period from A.D.180 to A.D.624, Ikshvakus, Brihatphalayanas,
Salankayanas, Vishnukundins, Vakatakas, Pallavas,
Anandagotras, Kalingas and others ruled over the Andhra
area with their small kingdoms. Such instability continued
to prevail until the rise of the Eastern Chalukyas.
among them were the Ikshvakus. The Puranas mention
them as the Sriparvatiyas. The present Nagarjunakonda
was then known as Sriparvata and Vijayapuri, near
it, was their capital. They patronised Buddhism, though
they followed the vedic ritualism. After the Ikshvakus,
a part of the Andhra region north of the river Krishna
was ruled over by Jayavarma of Brihatphalayana gotra.
Salankayanas ruled over a part of the East Coast with
Vengi as their capital. Next to rule were the Vishnukundins
who occupied the territory between the Krishna and
Godavari. It is believed that their capital was Indrapura,
which can be identified with the modern Indrapalagutta
in Ramannapet taluk of Nalgonda district. By A.D.514,
the land north of the Godavari, known, as Kalinga
became independent. The area south of the Krishna
fell to the share of the Pallavas, who ruled from
Kanchi. The Vakatakas occupied the present Telangana.
This state of affairs continued with few changes up
to the beginning of the 7th century A.D.
continued, though in a decadent form during this period.
Mahayanism gave wide currency to the belief that the
installation and worship of Buddha and Bodhisattva
images, and the erection of stupas conferred great
merit. The Madhyamika School of thought in Mahayana
was propounded by Nagarjuna. Sanskrit came to occupy
the place of Prakrit as the language of inscriptions.
The Vishnukundins extended patronage to architecture
and sculpture. The cave temples at Mogalrajapuram
and Undavalli near Vijayawada bear testimony to their
period of Andhra history, between A.D.624 and A.D.1323,
spanning over seven centuries, is significant for
the sea-change it brought in all spheres of the human
activity; social, religious, linguistic and literary.
During this period, Desi, the indigenous Telugu language,
emerged as a literary medium overthrowing the domination
of Prakrit and Sanskrit. As a result, Andhradesa achieved
an identity and a distinction of its own as an important
constituent of Indian Cultural set-up.
change was brought by strong historical forces, namely,
the Eastern and Western Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas
and the early Cholas. Kakatiyas came to power during
the later half of this period and extended their rule
over the entire Telugu land with the exception of
a small land in the northeast. Arts, crafts, language
and literature flourished under their benevolent patronage.
This dynasty was a branch of the Chalukyas of Badami.
Pulakesin II, the renowned ruler of Chalukyas conquered
Vengi (near Eluru) in A.D.624 and installed his brother
Kubja Vishnuvardhana (A.D.624--641) as its ruler.
His dynasty, known as the Eastern Chalukyas, ruled
for nearly four centuries. Vishnuvardhana extended
his dominions up to Srikakulam in the north and Nellore
in the south. He was succeeded by his son Jayasimha
I (A.D.641--673). Between A.D.641 and A.D.705 some
kings, except Jayasimha I and Mangi Yuvaraju, (A.D.681--705)
ruled for short duration. Then followed a period of
unrest characterised by family feuds and weak rulers.
In the meanwhile, the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed ousted
Chalukyas of Badami. The weak rulers of Vengi had
to meet the challenge of the Rashtrakutas, who overran
their kingdom more than once. There was no Eastern
Chalukya ruler who could check them until Gunaga Vijayaditya
came to power in A.D.848. He also failed to face the
Rashtrakutas, and the then Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha
treated him as his ally. After Amoghavarsha's death,
Vijayaditya proclaimed independence. He started on
a campaign to the south and achieved some notable
success. He ruled for 44 years and passed away in
A.D.892. He was succeeded by his brother's son, Chalukya
Bhima (A.D.892--921). Rashtrakutas again attacked
the Vengi kingdom during this period but were repulsed
effectively by Vengi and came to an understanding
with Rashtrakutas and treated them as his allies.
They were able to maintain their independence till
the Chalukyas of Kalyani in A.D.973 overthrew the
to the Eastern Chalukyas were the Eastern Gangas in
the northeast and the Pallavas in the south.
Eastern Gangas appeared in the political scene towards
the close of the 5th century A.D. as rulers of Orissa.
The first known ruler of this dynasty was Indravarma
(6th century A.D.). He had his capital at Dantapura,
but later shifted to Kalinganagara (Mukhalingam in
Srikakulam district). The Gangas ruled with their
capital in Andhra for nearly five centuries, until
it was shifted to Cuttack at the end of the 11th century
A.D. The early Eastern Gangas were ruling a small
territory in Srikakulam district in the Telugu land.
Pallava rule, which was earlier eclipsed by the onslaught
of the Kalabhras, was revived during the last quarter
of the 6th century A.D. by Simhavishnu, a scion of
the Pallava ruling family and was firmly established
at Kanchi. This new dynasty of the Pallavas is known
as the `Greater Pallavas' or the `Later Pallavas'
dynasty. The earliest Pallava ruler was Virakurcha
and the most famous of them was Trilochana Pallava.
An inscription noticed at Manchikallu, near Macherla
in Guntur district is the earliest epigraphical record
of the Pallava family. The entire territory south
of the Krishna held sway over by Mahendravarman (A.D.600--630),
son of Simhavishnu of the Later Pallavas. From the
7th century A.D. onwards, the Pallavas has to face
the expanding Chalukya power. The conflict continued
for a long time with varying degrees of success. But
the extermination of the Chalukyas of Badami by the
Rashtrakutas gave respite to the Pallavas to consolidate
their power. The Pallavas continued till the end of
the 9th century A.D., when a new power, the Cholas
of Tanjore, displaced them and occupied Kanchipuram.
the minor Chalukya families that ruled parts of Andhra,
those of Vemulavada (presently in Karimnagar district)
are the most important. Their rule extended over the
present-day Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts. As
subordinate rulers loyal to the Rashtrakutas, they
ruled with semi-independent status for about two centuries
(A.D.755--968). The rule of the Vemulavada Chalukyas
coincided with that of the Rashtrakutas. One peculiarity
with this family is that it traced its descent from
the Sun, while many other Chalukya families considered
themselves as of lunar descent.
Cholas attained the status of a major power in south
India under the valiant leadership of Rajaraja I (A.D.985--1016).
Two rebel princes of the Eastern Chalukya family sought
refuge in his court. Rajaraja I utilised the claim
of one of these princes, Saktivarma, as a pretext
for intervening in the affairs of Vengi. He was successful
in seating Saktivarma on the throne of Vengi and,
from that time, the Eastern Chalukyas played a role
subservient to the Cholas. But the Telugu country
became a cockpit of battles between the Cholas and
the Chalukyas of Kalyani who supported a rival claimant
to the throne of the Vengi each time. An Eastern Chalukya
Prince, Rajendra, occupied the Chola throne in A.D.
1070 under the name of Kulottunga I. Nevertheless,
Vijayaditya VII, a cousin of Rajaraja, continued to
rule over Vengi till his death in A.D.1076 when the
Eastern Chalukya dynasty came to an end.
Eastern Chalukyas occupied a prominent place in the
history of Andhra Pradesh. Though they were originally
of Kannada stock, they patronised Telugu and gave
fillip to it. Since the time of Gunaga Vijayaditya,
inscriptions show Telugu stanzas, culminating in the
production of literary works. Later on, in the 11th
century under the patronage of the then Eastern Chalukya
king, Rajaraja, the great epic, `Mahabharata' was
translated partly by his court poet, Nannaya.
the time of Chalukya conquest three religions, Buddhism,
Jainism and Hinduism, were prevalent. Of these, Buddhism
was on the wane. The Buddhist Aramas were transformed
into pilgrim centres by the resurgent Hinduism. Jainism
lingered on, and an appreciable section of the people
paid homage to the Tirthankaras. Hinduism enjoyed
the status of a national religion throughout the kingdom.
Temples were built which played an important role
in the religious life of the people and the temples
of Siva at Chalukya Bhimavaram and Draksharama are
12th century A.D. was a period of chaos. The Western
Chalukyas of Kalyani, who were at first successful
in overthrowing the Eastern Chalukyas, were driven
out after 17 years by the Imperial Cholas with the
help of local chiefs. But the latter did not rule
directly and thought it prudent to leave the kingdom
to the feudatories themselves in lieu of nominal allegiance.
The Velanati Cholas of Tsandavolu (Guntur district)
were the foremost among the feudatories. Between A.D.1135
and 1206, several minor dynasties ruled over parts
of Andhra Pradesh recognising the authority of the
Velanati Cholas nominally. The chiefs of these dynasties
fought amongst themselves, and one such struggle among
them was the `Palnati Yuddham'.