Govinda III (793–814 CE) was a famous Rashtrakuta ruler who succeeded his illustrious father Dhruva Dharavarsha. He was militarily the most successful emperor of the dynasty with successful conquests-from Cape Comorin in the south to Kannauj in the north, from Banaras in the east to Broach (Bharuch) in the west. He held such titles as Prabhutavarsha, Jagattunga, Anupama, Kirthinarayana, Prithvivallabha, Shrivallabha, Vimaladitya, Atishayadhavala and Tribhuvanadhavala. From the Someshvara inscription of 804 it is known that Gamundabbe was his chief queen.
Though Govinda III became the emperor it was not before having to face some internal family feuds. His elder brother Kambarasa (also known as Stambha) who coveted the throne went to war having formed an alliance of twelve chiefs as written in the Navasari record. Other records like the Sisvayi and Sanjan records mention support to Govinda III from brother Indra and victory against the combined forces of Kambarasa. Shivamara II of Ganga Dynasty of Talakad had joined Kambarasa but after the defeat was imprisoned for a second time while Kambarasa was pardoned and allowed to govern from Gangavadi.
Capture of Kannauj
From his capital in Mayurkhandi in Bidar district, Govinda III conducted his northern campaign in 800 C.E.. He successfully obtained the submission of Gurjara-Pratihara Nagabhata II, Dharmapala of Pala Empire and the incumbent puppet ruler of Kannauj, Chakrayudha. It is said Nagabhata II ran away from the battle field. The Sanjan plates of Govinda III mentions that the horse of Govinda III drank the icy liquid bubbling in the Himalayan stream and his war elephants tasted the holy waters of the Ganges. The rulers of Magadha and Bengal also submitted to him. An inscription of 813 states the Govinda III conquered Lata (southern and central Gujarat) and made his brother Indra the ruler of the territory. This in effect became a branch of the Rashtrakuta Empire. However, another opinion is Govinda III had control over the regions between Vindhyas and Malwa in the north to Kanchi in the south, while the heart of his empire extended from the Narmada to Tungabhadra rivers.
The Eastern Chalukyas who had taken an antagonistic stand against the Rashtrakutas again had to face the wrath of Govinda III, who defeated Chalukya Vijayaditya II and installed Bhima Salki as its ruler. He further defeated the king of Kaushal (Kosala) and occupied parts of Andhra and defeated Pallava Dantivarman in 803 at Kanchi. He even obtained the submission of the King of Ceylon without even going to battle. The King of Ceylon is said to have sent him two statues, one of himself and another of his minister as an act of submission. The Nasari record states that now all the kingdoms of Tamil country, the Cholas, Pandyas and the Keralas paid their tribute to Govinda III.
Never had the Rashtrakuta Empire reach such levels of military success and zenith of glory. Govinda III died in 814. His brother Indra during this time founded the Gujarat (Lata) branch. He was succeeded by his son Amoghavarsha I.
- From two records of 808, Reu (1933), p64
- Kamath (2001), p76
- Reu (1933), p66
- Kamath (2001), p77
- A.S. Altekar in (Kamath 2001, p77)
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- Kamath, Suryanath U. (2001) . A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Jupiter books. LCCN 8095179. OCLC 7796041.
- Reu, Pandit Bisheshwar Nath (1997) . History of The Rashtrakutas (Rathodas). Jaipur: Publication scheme. ISBN 81-86782-12-5.