Kalachuri dynasty

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Kalachuri empire

550 CE(Northern)
1156 (Southern)–620 (Northern)
1181 CE (Southern)


Asia in 1200 CE, showing the Yadava Dynasty and its neighbours
Capital Northern Kingdom: Tripuri
Southern Kingdom: Basavakalyana
Languages Northern Kingdom: Sanskrit
Southern Kingdom: Kannada
Religion Hinduism
Government Absolute monarchy
Historical era Classical period
 •  Established 550 CE(Northern)
1156 (Southern)
 •  Disestablished 620 (Northern)
1181 CE (Southern)

The Kalachuri Empire was the name used by two kingdoms who had a succession of dynasties from the 10th-12th centuries, one ruling over areas in Central India (west Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan) and were called Chedi or Haihaya (Heyheya) (northern branch)[1] and the other the southern Kalachuri who ruled over parts of Karnataka. They are supposed to be offshoot of Abhira of Traikutakas dynasty.[2] The earliest known Kalachuri family (CE 550–620) ruled over northern Maharashtra, Malwa and western Deccan. Their capital Mahismati was situated in the Narmada River valley. There were three prominent members; Krishnaraja, Shankaragana and Buddharaja who distributed coins and epigraphs around the area.[3] By religious affiliation they were usually followers of Hinduism, specifically of the Pasupata sect.[4]

At their peak, the Southern Kalachuris (1130–1184) ruled parts of the Deccan extending over regions of present-day North Karnataka and parts of Maharashtra. This dynasty rose to power in the Deccan between 1156 and 1181 CE. They traced their origins to Krishna who was the conqueror of Kalinjar and Dahala in Madhya Pradesh. It is said that Bijjala, a viceroy of the dynasty, established the authority over Karnataka after wresting power from the Chalukya king Taila III. Bijjala was succeeded by his sons Someshwara and Sangama but after 1181 CE, the Chalukyas gradually retrieved the territory. Their rule was short and turbulent and yet very important from a socio-religious point of view; a new sect known as the Lingayat or Virashaiva sect was founded during these times.[3]

A unique and purely native form of Kannada literature-poetry called the Vachanas was also born during this time. The writers of Vachanas were called Vachanakaras (poets). Many other important works like Virupaksha Pandita's Chennabasavapurana, Dharani Pandita's Bijjalarayacharite and Chandrasagara Varni's Bijjalarayapurana were also written.

The Northern Kalachuris ruled in central India with their base at the ancient city of Tripuri (Tewar) near Jabalpur; it originated in the 8th century, expanded significantly in the 11th century, and declined in the 12th–13th centuries.


Natives of Central India[edit]

Royal emblem of Kalachurya

Historians such as Dr. P.B. Desai are emphatic about the central Indian origin of the Kalachuris. Before the arrival of Badami Chalukya power, they had carved out an extensive empire covering areas of Gujarat, Malwa, Konkan and parts of Maharashtra. However, after their crippling defeat at the hands of Chalukya Magalesa, they remained in obscurity for a prolonged period of time. A 1174 CE record says the dynasty was founded by one Soma who grew beard and moustache to save himself from the wrath of Parashurama, and thereafter the family came to be known as "Kalachuris", Kalli meaning a long moustache and churi meaning a sharp knife. Historian have also pointed out that several Kalachuri kings were related to Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas by matrimonial alliances and ruled from places like Tripuri, Gorakhpur, Ratnapur, Rajpur. They migrated to the south and made Magaliveda or Mangalavedhe (Mangalavada) their capital. They called themselves Kalanjarapuravaradhisvara, which indicates their central Indian origin. Their emblem was Suvarna Vrishabha or the golden bull. They must have started as modest feudatories of the Chalukyas of Kalyani.

According to legends, Kalli meaning long moustache and Churi meanoing Sharp knife is the source of their dynastic name. They were also referred to as Katachuris (shape of a sharp knife), Kalanjarapuravaradhisvara (Lord of Kalanjara) and Haihaya (or Heheya). Mount Kalanjara is in north central India, east of the Indus Valley floodplain.

Early Kalachuris[edit]

Silver coin, known as a rupaka, of Krishnaraja Kalachuri (reigned c. 550-575 CE).

The earliest historical information we have on the Kalachuris refers to a dynasty that ruled in the 6th and 7th centuries a large area that included Malwa, northern Maharashtra, southern Gujarat and southern Rajasthan, with their capital perhaps at Mahishmati.[5] These Early Kalachuris were the builders of the famous cave temples on Elephanta Island in Mumbai harbor and also of several caves at the well-known site of Ellora, including the famous Rameshwara cave (Cave 21). Both Elephanta and Ellora are World Heritage Sites.

Three kings of this dynasty are known: Krishnaraja (c. 550-575), his son Sankaragana (c. 575-600) and his grandson Buddharaja (c. 600-625). Krishnaraja is known from his coins and from being mentioned in the copper plate grants of his son and grandson. Sankaragana and Buddharaja are known from their copper plate grants.[6] Later Kalachuri dynasties in the north and south were presumably descendants of this early Kalachuri dynasty.

Northern Dynasty[edit]

Main article: Kalachuris of Tripuri

First dynasty[edit]

The ancient temples of Kalachuri period at Amarkantak, built by Maharaja Karnadeva (1042-1072 CE)

The Kalachuris, or Haihayas, ruled Gorakhpur and Bundelkhand after emerging from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Malwa of central India. The Kalachuris of Chedi, Dahala-mandala, established their kingdom in Madhya Pradesh, with their capital at Tripuri near Jabalpur. Kokkala I was the founder of the dynasty in 845 CE. The Chedis had to face the Turushkas, Pratiharas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas. They also had to defend their territory against the Palas, and a confederacy of Cholas, Pallavas, Kungas, Muralas, and Pandyas. One of the most important rulers of the Kalachuri dynasty was Gangeyadeva (1019-1040), who made the Chedis the "greatest political power in India." He was succeeded by his son Lakshmi-Karna, or Karna, "one of the greatest generals of his time." However, Yashkarna's reign (1073-1125 CE) "was overwhelmed by a series of invasions." Vijayasimha (1177-1211 CE) was the last king of the dynasty, when Chandella Trailokyavarman conquered the kingdom.[7]

Second dynasty[edit]

After the decline of the Gurjara-Pratiharas, Laksm Karna (1041–1072) of Kalachuri dynasty of Tripuri, who came to power, brought under his control almost the entire region covered by the present district of Gorakhpur. But his son and successor Yash Karna (1073–1120), was unable to check the process of disintegration. The Kahla inscription indicates that Sodha Deva, a feudatory of another branch of Kalachuri dynasty, had proclaimed his independence in a portion of Gorakhpur district. During the same period the Kalachuri rule was supplanted by that of the Gahadvalas of Kannauj over this region. According to epigraphic evidence the kingdom of Govind Chandra (1114–1154) of the Gahadvala dynasty extended to Bihar including the area now comprising Gorakhpur. Two inscriptions ascribed to Govind Chandra have also been found one each at Magdiha (Gagha) and Dhuriapar in Bansgaon Tehsil mentioning the genealogy of the Gahadvalas and the charity given by him for the prosperity of his family. A number of mounds of bricks, ruins and masonry wells found at these places go to establish their antiquity.

The defeat of Jaya Chandra (1170–1194) grandson of Govind Chandra, at the hands of Shihab-uddin Ghuri in 1194, paralyzed the Gahadvala power and brought to an end their dominance over the district. As a result, a number of small principalities held by Sarnet, Donwar, Kaushik Rajputs and Bhars came into existence in different parts of the district.

Southern dynasty[edit]


This dynasty which overthrew the Kalyani Chalukyas in the early part of the 12th century, had a relatively short but stormy rule.[8] According to a record pertaining to the year 1174, the founder of the family was Soma, who was a disciple of Ashwathama (the heroic character of the Mahabharata). According to legends, he grew a beard and a moustache to conceal his visage, in a bid to escape the wrath of the fiery Parashurama (another famous character of the Mahabharata). Thereafter his family and kinsmen came to be known as Kalachuris. However, the later records of the dynasty claim that they descended from Brahma, the Creator of the universe.

As feudatories of Chalukyas[edit]

Hero stone with 1160 CE Old Kannada inscription from the rule of Kalachuri King Bijjala in the Kedareshvara temple at Balligavi, Shimoga district, Karnataka state
Old Kannada inscription of Rayamuri Sovideva dated 1172 CE at the Jain temple in Lakkundi, Gadag district, Karnataka state
Sangamanatha temple at Kudalasangama, North Karnataka

The early Kalachuris of the south were Jains and encouraged Jainism in their kingdom. The first notable chief of the Kalachuri family of Karnataka was Uchita. While there were several kings who followed him ruling as feudatories of the Kalyani Chalukyas, it was Jogama who became an influential vassal of Vikramaditya VI, being related to the great Chalukya king by matrimony.

Decline Of Kalachuris[edit]

Even though the earliest of the Kaluchuri dynasties declined with the rise of the Badami Chalukyas during the 7th century, the Kaluchuris lingered around until a much later date.[3] The Southern Kaluchuri kingdom went into decline after the assassination of Bijjalla. The rulers who followed were weak and incompetent, with the exception of Sovideva, who managed to maintain control over the kingdom. Western Chalukyas ended the Kalachuri Dynasty. Many Kalachuri families migrated to Kanara districts of Karnataka. The Kalachuris are the principal characters in the Andhra epic The battle of Palnadu

The Kalachuri Clan (feudatory of Kalyani Chalukyas)[edit]

  • Uchita
  • Asaga
  • Kannam
  • Kiriyasaga
  • Bijjala I
  • Kannama
  • Jogama
  • Permadi
  • Bijjala II (1130–1167): proclaimed independence in 1162.
  • Sovideva (1168–1176)
  • Mallugi --> overthrown by brother Sankama
  • Sankama (1176–1180)
  • Ahavamalla (1180–1183)
  • Singhana (1183–1184)

Kannada Inscriptions and Coinage[edit]

Hampi was ruled not only by Vijayanagara empire, but earlier ruled by Kadambas, Badami Chalukyas Hoysalas, Kalachuris and Yadavas. As per the 1163 CE inscription which records a religious offering (mahadana) in the presence of Hampi Lord Virupaksha by Bijjala the Kalachuri King.[9]

The Southern Kalachuri kings minted coins with Kannada inscriptions on them.

  • Gajasaradula type: They were mostly gold or copper. Some of the common ones were the seated goddess type along with the name of the issuer which is generally prefixed with Srimat and suffixed with Deva.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kalachuri Dynasty". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  2. ^ Tripurī, history and culture By M. C. Choubey, Page no. 177
  3. ^ a b c Students' Britannica India By Dale Hoiberg, Indu Ramchandani.
  4. ^ P. 325 Three Mountains and Seven Rivers: Prof. Musashi Tachikawa's Felicitation Volume edited by Musashi Tachikawa, Shōun Hino, Toshihiro Wada
  5. ^ "Kalachuris of Mahismati". CoinIndia. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  6. ^ "Inscriptions of the Early Kalachuris". Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  7. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 30–32. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  8. ^ "Chalukyas of Kalyana (973- 1198 CE)". Retrieved 2009-03-31. 
  9. ^ "The cosmic site of Vijayanagara". ABHA NARAIN LAMBAH. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  10. ^ The Coinage of Northern India By P. C. Roy


  • Dr. Suryanath U. Kamath (2001). A Concise History of Karnataka from pre-historic times to the present, Jupiter books, MCC, Bangalore (Reprinted 2002)

External links[edit]