Indus Valley Civilization
- In Sumerian documents the Indus valley people are referred to as Meluhhaites and the Indus valley is called Meluhha.
- The Indus Civilization had a writing system which today still remains a mystery: all attempts to decipher it have failed. Examples of this writing system have been found in pottery, amulets, carved stamp seals, and even in weights and copper tablets.
- The reasons for this decline are not entirely clear, but it is believed that the drying up of the Saraswati River, a process which had begun around 1900 BCE, was the main cause. Other experts speak of a great flood in the area.
- There is also a hypothesis that around 1500 BCE, a large group of nomadic cattle-herders, the Aryans, migrated into the region from central Asia. The Aryans crossed the Hindu Kush mountains and came in contact with the Indus Valley Civilization. This was a large migration and used to be seen as an invasion, which was thought to be the reason for the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization. But this hypothesis is not unanimously accepted today.
- The Nanda dynasty ruled in northern part of the Indian subcontinent during the 4th century BCE, and possibly during the 5th century BCE. The Nandas built on the successes of their Haryanka and Shaishunaga predecessors, and instituted a more centralised administration. Ancient sources credit them with amassing great wealth.
- Both Indian and Greco-Roman traditions characterise the dynasty’s founder as of low birth. According to Greek historian Diodorus (1st century BCE), Porus told Alexander that the contemporary Nanda king was thought to be the son of a barber. The Jain tradition, as recorded in the Avashyaka Sutra and Parishishta-parvan, corroborates the Greco-Roman accounts, stating that the first Nanda king was the son of a barber.
- The Nanda capital was located at Pataliputra (near present-day Patna) in the Magadha region of eastern India. This is confirmed by the Buddhist and Jain traditions, as well as the Sanskrit play Mudrarakshasa. The Puranas also connect the Nandas to the Shaishunaga dynasty, which ruled in the Magadha region. The Greek accounts state that Agrammes (identified as a Nanda king) was the ruler of the Gangaridai (the Ganges valley) and the Prasii (probably a transcription of the Sanskrit word prachyas, literally “easterners”). According to the later writer Megasthenes (c. 300 BCE), Pataliputra (Greek: Palibothra) was located in the country of the Prasii, which further confirms that Pataliputra was the Nanda capital.[
- The Puranas name the dynasty’s founder as Mahapadma, and claim that he was the son of the Shaishunaga king Mahanandin. The Nandas overthrew the Shaishunaga dynasty in the Magadha region of eastern India, and expanded their empire to include a larger part of northern India. The Nanda empire appears to have stretched from present-day Punjab in the west to Odisha in the east.
- According to the Jain tradition, Kalpaka was the minister of the first Nanda king. He became a minister reluctantly, but after assuming the office, he encouraged the king to adopt an aggressive expansionist policy. The Jain texts suggest that the ministerial offices of the Nanda Empire were hereditary. For example, after the death of Shakatala, a minister of the last Nanda king, his position was offered to his son Sthulabhadra; when Sthulabhadra refused the offer, Shakatala’s second son Shriyaka was appointed as the minister.
- The Brihatkatha tradition claims that under the Nanda rule, the city of Pataliputra not only became the abode of the goddess of material prosperity (Lakshmi), but also of the goddess of learning (Sarasvati). According to this tradition, notable grammarians such as Varsha, Upavarsha, Panini, Katyayana, Vararuchi, and Vyadi lived during the Nanda period. While much of this account is unreliable folklore, it is probable that some of the grammarians who preceded Patanjali lived during the Nanda period.
- The last Nanda king was overthrown by Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, and the latter’s mentor Chanakya.
The Mauryan Empire
- The Mauryan Empire came into being by overthrowing the Nanda Dynasty while it was succeeded by the Shunga Empire (187 BCE -78 BCE).
- Mauryan empire, in ancient India, a state centred at Pataliputra (later Patna) near the junction of the Son and Ganges (Ganga) rivers. It lasted from about 321 to 185 BCE and was the first empire to encompass most of the Indian subcontinent.
- Except for stūpas, architectural remains from the 2nd century BC (downfall of the Maurya dynasty) to the 4th century AD (rise of the Gupta dynasty) continue to be rare, indicating that most of the work was done in brick and timber.
- The famous Mauryan architectural creations included stūpas (later enlarged) such as a famous example of Sānchi; the ruins of a hall excavated at the site of Kumrāhar in Patna (ancient Pāṭaliputra), the capital city; and a series of rock-cut caves in the Barābar and Nāgārjunī Ḥills near Gayā, which are interesting because they preserve in the more permanent rock some types of wooden buildings popular at that time.
- The stūpa, the most typical monument of the Buddhist faith, consists essentially of a domical mound in which sacred relics are enshrined. Stūpas appear to have had a regular architectural form in the Maurya period: the mound was sometimes provided with a parasol surrounded by a miniature railing on the top, raised on a terrace, and the whole surrounded by a large railing consisting of posts, crossbars, and a coping (the capping on the top course). Along with stūpas were erected roofless, or hypaethral, shrines enclosing a sacred object such as a tree or an altar. Temples of brick and timber with vaulted or domical roofs were also constructed, on plans that were generally elliptical, circular, quadrilateral, or apsidal (i.e., having an apse, or semicircular plan, at the sanctum end).
- The stūpas become progressively larger and more elaborate. The railings continue to imitate wooden construction and are often profusely carved, as at Bhārhut, Sānchi II, and Amarāvatī.
- In Gandhāra and southeastern India, particularly, sculptured decoration was extended to the stūpa proper, so that terraces, drums, and domes—as well as railing—were decorated with figural and ornamental sculpture in bas-relief.
- Cave temples of western India, cut into the scarp of the Western Ghāts and stretching from Gujarāt to southern Mahāİāshtra, constitute the most extensive architectural remains of the Mauryan period. Two main types of buildings can be distinguished, the temple proper (caitya) and the monastery (vihāra, saṅghārāma).
- Citya is generally an apsidal hall with a central nave flanked by aisles. The apse is covered by a half dome; and two rows of pillars, which demarcate the nave, support a barrel-vault roof that covers the rest of the building. In the apsidal end is placed the object to be worshipped, generally a stūpa, the hall being meant for the gathered congregation. In addition to the caitya, or temple proper, numerous monasteries (vihāras) are also cut into the rock. These are generally provided with a pillared porch and a screen wall pierced with doorways leading into the interior, which consists of a “courtyard” or congregation hall in the three walls of which are the monks’ cells.
- The most significent example of Citya is at Kārli, dating approximately to the closing years of the 1st century BC. The Bhājā caitya is certainly the earliest, and important examples are to be found at Beḍsā, Kondane, Pītalkhorā, Ajantā, and Nāsik.
- The surviving rock-cut examples are all of one story, though the facade of the great monastery at Pitalkhorā simulates a building of several stories. Monasteries carved into the rock are also known from Orissa (Udayagiri-Khandagiri), in eastern India. These are much humbler than their counterparts in western India, and consist of a row of cells that open out into a porch, the hall being absent. At Uparkot in Junāgadh, Gujarāt, is a remarkable series of rock-cut structures dating from the 3rd–4th century AD, which appear to be secular in character and in all probability served as royal pleasure houses.
- The Satavahanas also referred to as the Andhras in the Puranas, were an ancient Indian dynasty based in the Deccan region in the late second century BCE and lasted until the early third century CE, mainly comprising the present-day Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. At different times, their rule extended to parts of modern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. The dynasty had different capital cities at different times, including Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati (Dharanikota).
- The dynasty reached its zenith under the rule of Gautamiputra Satakarni and his successor Vasisthiputra Pulamavi. The kingdom fragmented into smaller states by the early 3rd century CE.
- The Satavahanas were early issuers of Indian state coinage struck with images of their rulers. They formed a cultural bridge and played a vital role in trade and the transfer of ideas and culture to and from the Indo-Gangetic Plain to the southern tip of India. They supported Hinduism as well as Buddhism, and patronised Prakrit literature.
- The Satavahanas contributed greatly to the embellishment of the Buddhist stupa of Sanchi. It was heavily repaired under King Satakarni II. The gateways and the balustrade were built after 70 BCE, and appear to have been commissioned by the Satavahanas. An inscription on the Southern Gateway records that it was the work of Satakarni II’s royal architect Ananda.
- Gupta dynasty maintained an empire over northern and parts of central and western India from the early 4th to the late 6th century CE. Many historians regard the Gupta period as the classical age of India—during which the norms of Indian literature, art, architecture, and philosophy were established.
- Among the products traditionally thought to be from the Gupta era were the decimal system of notation, the great Sanskrit epics, and Hindu art, along with contributions to the sciences of astronomy, mathematics, and metallurgy.
- During Gupta period the Indian sculpture entered what has been called its classic phase. Gupta era is known for its great sculpture schools. Mathura style style, consistently used the local red sandstone, underwent further refinement, seen in a series of magnificent life-size Buddha images of the 5th century and the images of the school generally show the Buddha wearing a diaphanous robe, the folds of which are rendered by stringlike ridges in a reinterpretation of a Gandhara convention.
- In addition to the Buddha figure, Mathura has yielded large numbers of images of the various Hindu divinities, particularly Vishnu-Krishna.
- The Sarnath School of Gupta period sculpture developed a sweeter and more elegant version of the Buddha image than Mathura’s. The most famous image from the site and one of the masterpieces of Indian art is that of the seated Buddha preaching (Sarnath Museum).
- In addition to the major schools of Sarnath and Mathura, important sculpture of the 5th and 6th centuries is found at several sites in central India. The sculptures here are often in their original locations, surviving not as isolated images torn from their architectural context but in association with the temples of which they formed a part. At Udayagiri, near Vidisha, are a series of simple rock-cut caves of the opening years of the 5th century. The most magnificent work is a great relief panel depicting the boar incarnation of Vishnu lifting the earth goddess from the watery deeps into which she had been dragged by a demon. The Shiva temple at Bhumara has also yielded some sculpture of fine quality.
- Some of the finest Gupta sculpture adorns the walls of the Vishnu temple at Deogarh. Particularly striking are three large relief panels depicting Vishnu lying on the serpent Shesha, the elephant’s rescue, and the penance of Nara-Narayana.
- Although the sculpture at Ajanta (mostly of the late 5th century) combines the old weightiness with the new restraint and elegance, the style finds its supreme expression in the magnificent cave temple at Elephanta. The central image of this great temple is of immense size and in deep relief. It represents Shiva in his cosmic aspect.
- The sculpture of Gupta period were found in other areas as well including Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Karnataka. There appears to have been, in Bihar, a distinct school characterized by rather heavy, compact forms; and Gujarat and southern Rajasthan developed an individual style of considerable voluptuousness and plasticity. Among the notable sculpture of the Idar region are groups of mother goddesses whose massive forms are rendered with an easy grace and intimacy. In the Karnataka country, to the south, the cave temples of Badami reveal yet another distinct idiom.
- Gupta period Terra-cotta sculpture, like art in other mediums, was greatly developed. Fairly large and elaborate plaques were used to adorn brick stupas and Hindu temples from Sind to Bengal. The polychrome relief images of the Buddha from Mirpur Khas are delicate and slender, with traces of Gandhara feeling. Representations of divinities and mythological scenes from temples in Bikaner, Ahichhatra, Bhitargaon, and Shravasti are works on a more popular level, possessing an earthy ponderousness.
- Gupta era saw remarkable progress of Sanskrit literature. Kalidasa, the great poet, and playwright was in the court of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. He composed great epics such as Abhijnanashaakuntalam, Kumarasambhavam, Malavikagnimitram, Ritusamharam, Meghadootam, Vikramorvashiyam, and Raghuvamsham. The celebrated Sanskrit drama Mṛcchakatika was composed during this time. It is attributed to Shudraka. Poet Harisena also adorned the court of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. He wrote the Allahabad Prashasti (inscription). Vishnu Sharma of Panchatantra fame lived during this era.Amarasimha (grammarian and poet) composed a lexicon of Sanskrit, Amarakosha. Vishakhadatta composed Mudrarakshasa. Other grammarians who contributed to the Sanskrit language include Vararuchi and Bhartrihari.
- Science and technology also progressed in leaps and bounds during the Gupta era. Aryabhatta, the great Indian mathematician and astronomer wrote Surya Siddhanta and Aryabhattiya. Aryabhatta is believed to have conceptualised ‘zero’. He also gave the value of Pi. He postulated that the earth is not flat and it rotated around its own axis and also that it revolved around the sun. He also gave the distance between earth and sun which is remarkably close to the actual value. He wrote on geometry, astronomy, mathematics and trigonometry.The Indian number system with a base of 10 which is the present numeral system evolved from scholars of this era. Varahamihira wrote Brihatsamhita. He was an astronomer and an astrologer. The Nalanda University, a centre of Buddhist and other learning attracted students from abroad. The Guptas patronised this ancient seat of learning.
- Pallavas were the first recognisable South Indian dynasty who indulged in the pursuit of architectural innovations. The first seeds of Dravidian temple architecture in Tamil Nadu were possibly sown during this period. The temple architecture evolved from the early cave temples and monolith temples of Mamallapuram to the Kailasanatha and Vaikuntaperumal temples of Kanchipuram.
- Pallavas are most noted for their patronage of architecture, the finest example being the Shore Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Mamallapuram.Kancheepuram was capital of the pallava kingdom.The Pallavas, who left behind magnificent sculptures and temples, established the foundations of medieval South Indian architecture. They developed the Pallava script from which Grantha ultimately descended. The Pallava script gave rise to several other southeast Asian scripts. Chinese traveller Xuanzang visited Kanchipuram during Pallava rule and extolled their benign rule.
- Among the accomplishments of the Pallava architecture are the rock-cut temples at Mamallapuram. There are excavated pillared halls and monolithic shrines known as Rathas in Mahabalipuram. Early temples were mostly dedicated to Shiva. The Kailasanatha temple in Kanchipuram and the Shore Temple built by Narasimhavarman II, rock cut temple in Mahendravadi by Mahendravarman are fine examples of the Pallava style temples. The temple of Nalanda Gedige in Kandy, Sri Lanka is another. The famous Tondeswaram temple of Tenavarai and the ancient Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee were patronised and structurally developed by the Pallavas in the 7th century.
- The Cholas built their temples in the traditional way of the Pallava dynasty, who were themselves influenced by the Amaravati school of architecture. The Chola artists and artisans further drew their influences from other contemporary art and architectural schools and elevated the Dravidian temple design to greater heights. The Chola kings built numerous temples throughout their kingdom, which normally comprised the plains, Central and Northern Tamil Nadu and at times the entire state of Tamil Nadu as also adjoining parts of modern Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
- In the evolution of the Chola temple architecture we can roughly see three major phases, beginning with the early phase, starting with Vijayalaya Chola and continuing till Sundara Chola, the middle phase of Rajaraja Chola and Rajendra Chola when the achievements scaled great heights. The Cholas in addition to their temples, also built many buildings such as hospitals, public utility buildings and palaces.
- The Vijayalacholeswaram near Pudukkottai in Tamil Nadu is an example of a surviving early Chola building. The style of this structure clearly shows Pallava influences in the design. The Koranganatha Temple at Srinivasanallur near Hirapalli is an example of the period of Parantaka I. This temple is situated on the banks of the river Kaveri, and is a small temple with beautiful sculptures on every surface. The base of the wall has a row of sculpted mythical animals that were a unique feature of Chola architecture. The first floor is made of bricks which have been plastered. Muvarkovil Temple in the Pudukkottai area was built by a feudatory of Parantaka Chola II during the second half of the tenth century. Temple building received great impetus from the conquests and the genius of Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola I.
- The maturity and grandeur to which the Chola architecture had evolved found expression in the two magnificent temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram. The magnificent Siva temple of Thanjavur, completed around 1009 is a fitting memorial to the material achievements of the time of Rajaraja. The largest and tallest of all Indian temples, it is a masterpiece constituting the high-water mark of South Indian architecture. Epigraphic evidence reveals that Rajaraja started building this temple in his 19th regnal year and it was completed on 275th day of his 25th regnal year (1010), taking only 6 years. Rajaraja named this temple as Rajarajesvaram and the deity Shiva in Linga form as Peruvudaiyar, the temple is also known in the deity’s name as Peruvudaiyarkovil. In later period Maratha and Nayaks rulers constructed various shrines and gopurams of the temple. In later period when the Sanskrit language was more popular during the Maratha rule the temple was named in Sanskrit as Brihadisvaram and the deity as Brihadisvara.Though the temple of Gangaikonda Cholapuram follows the plan of the great temple of Thanjavur in most details it has characteristics of its own.
- The Chola style continued to flourish for a century longer and expressed itself in a very large number of temples. Of these two large temples are worthy of comparison to those of Rajaraja and Rajendra. The Airavateswara temple at Darasuram near Thanjavur built during the reign of Rajaraja Chola II is a magnificent structure typical of the stage of architectural development reached in the 12th century CE.
- The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes. Among the existing specimens in the various museums of the world and in the temples of South India, may be seen many fine figures of Siva in various forms accompanied by his consort Parvati and the other gods, demigods and goddesses of the Saivaite pantheon, Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi, the Nayanmars, other Saiva saints and many more. Chola period bronzes were created using the lost wax technique. It is known in artistic terms as “Cire Perdue”. The Sanskrit Shilpa texts call it the Madhu Uchchishtta Vidhana. Beeswax and kungilium (a type of camphor) are mixed with a little oil and kneaded well. The figure is sculpted from this mixture fashioning all the minute details. This is the wax model original. Chola bronzes are few intricate ornament in comparison with the subsequent bronzes of the Vijayanagar and Nayaka period. There is gentle grace, a restrained and quiet elegance, an ethereal, out-worldly beauty.
- The most famous of all the bronze icons of the Chola period is that of Nataraja or Adavallar. The symbolism presents Shiva as lord of the cosmic dance of creation and destruction. He is active, yet aloof, like the gods on the Parthenon Frieze. Surrounding Shiva, a circle of flames represents the universe, whose fire is held in Shiva’s left rear palm. His left front arm crosses his chest, the hand pointing in “elephant trunk” position (gaja hasta) to his upraised left foot, which signifies liberation. His right foot tramples the dwarf Apasmara, who represents ignorance.
- In 1931, Chola frescoes were discovered within the circumambulatory corridor of the Brihadisvara Temple, by S.K. Govindasamy, a professor at the Annamalai University. These are the first Chola paintings discovered. The passage of the corridor is dark and the walls on either side are covered with two layers of paintings from floor to ceiling.
- Rashtrakuta dynasty ruled large parts of the Indian subcontinent between the sixth and 10th centuries. The earliest known Rashtrakuta inscription is a 7th-century copper plate grant detailing their rule from Manapura, a city in Central or West India. At their peak the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta ruled a vast empire stretching from the Ganges River and Yamuna River doab in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, a fruitful time of political expansion, architectural achievements and famous literary contributions. The early kings of this dynasty were influenced by Hinduism and the later kings by Jainism.
- During Rashtrakuta period, Jain mathematicians and scholars contributed important works in Kannada and Sanskrit. Amoghavarsha I, the most famous king of this dynasty wrote Kavirajamarga, a landmark literary work in the Kannada language. Architecture reached a milestone in the Dravidian style, the finest example of which is seen in the Kailasanath Temple at Ellora in modern Maharashtra. Other important contributions are the Kashivishvanatha temple and the Jain Narayana temple at Pattadakal in modern Karnataka, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Kannada became more prominent as a literary language during the Rashtrakuta rule with its script and literature showing remarkable growth, dignity and productivity. This period effectively marked the end of the classical Prakrit and Sanskrit era. Court poets and royalty created eminent works in Kannada and Sanskrit that spanned such literary forms as prose, poetry, rhetoric, the Hindu epics and the life history of Jain tirthankars.
- During the Rastrakuta period, bilingual writers such as Asaga gained fame, and noted scholars such as the Mahaviracharya wrote on pure mathematics in the court of King Amoghavarsha I. Kavirajamarga (850) by King Amoghavarsha I is the earliest available book on rhetoric and poetics in Kannada, though it is evident from this book that native styles of Kannada composition had already existed in previous centuries.Kavirajamarga is a guide to poets (Kavishiksha) that aims to standardize these various styles. The book refers to early Kannada prose and poetry writers such as Durvinita, perhaps the 6th-century monarch of Western Ganga Dynasty.
- The Jain writer Adikavi Pampa, widely regarded as one of the most influential Kannada writers, became famous during Rastrakuta period for Adipurana (941). Written in champu (mixed prose-verse style) style, it is the life history of the first Jain tirthankara Rishabhadeva. Pampa’s other notable work was Vikramarjuna Vijaya (941), the author’s version of the Hindu epic, Mahabharata, with Arjuna as the hero. Also called Pampa Bharata, it is a eulogy of the writer’s patron, King Chalukya Arikeseri of Vemulawada (a Rashtrakuta feudatory), comparing the king’s virtues favorably to those of Arjuna. Pampa demonstrates such a command of classical Kannada that scholars over the centuries have written many interpretations of his work. Another notable Jain writer in Kannada was Sri Ponna, patronised by King Krishna III and famed for Shantipurana, his account of the life of Shantinatha, the 16th Jain tirthankara. He earned the title Ubhaya Kavichakravathi (supreme poet in two languages) for his command over both Kannada and Sanskrit. His other writings in Kannada were Bhuvanaika-ramaabhyudaya, Jinaksharamale and Gatapratyagata. Adikavi Pampa and Sri Ponna are called “gems of Kannada literature”.
- Prose works in Sanskrit was prolific during the Rastrakuta period as well. Important mathematical theories and axioms were postulated by Mahaviracharya, a native of Gulbarga, who belonged to the Karnataka mathematical tradition and was patronised by King Amoghavarsha I. His greatest contribution was Ganitasarasangraha, a writing in 9 chapters. Somadevasuri of 950 wrote in the court of Arikesari II, a feudatory of Rashtrakuta Krishna III in Vemulavada. He was the author of Yasastilaka champu, Nitivakyamrita and other writings. The main aim of the champu writing was to propagate Jain tenets and ethics.
- The Rashtrakutas contributed much to the architectural heritage of the Deccan. Art historian Adam Hardy categorizes their building activity into three schools: Ellora, around Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal, and at Sirval near Gulbarga. The Rashtrakuta contributions to art and architecture are reflected in the splendid rock-cut cave temples at Ellora and Elephanta, areas also occupied by Jain monks, located in present-day Maharashtra. The Ellora site was originally part of a complex of 34 Buddhist caves probably created in the first half of the 6th century whose structural details show Pandyan influence. Cave temples occupied by Hindus are from later periods.
- The Rashtrakutas renovated these Buddhist caves and re-dedicated the rock-cut shrines. Amoghavarsha I espoused Jainism and there are five Jain cave temples at Ellora ascribed to his period. The most extensive and sumptuous of the Rashtrakuta works at Ellora is their creation of the monolithic Kailasanath Temple, a splendid achievement confirming the “Balhara” status as “one among the four principal Kings of the world”. The walls of the temple have marvellous sculptures from Hindu mythology including Ravana, Shiva and Parvathi while the ceilings have paintings. The Kailasanath Temple project was commissioned by King Krishna I after the Rashtrakuta rule had spread into South India from the Deccan.
- The Chalukya dynasty ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties- the “Badami Chalukyas” ruled from Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century; after the death of Pulakeshin II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan and they ruled from Vengi until about the 11th century; and the Western Chalukyas ruled in the late 10th century from Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) until the end of the 12th century.The rule of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka. The rise of this empire saw the birth of efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called “Chalukyan architecture”. Kannada literature, which had enjoyed royal support in the 9th century Rashtrakuta court found eager patronage from the Western Chalukyas in the Jain and Veerashaiva traditions. The 11th century saw the patronage of Telugu literature under the Eastern Chalukyas.
- The Badami Chalukya era was an important period in the development of South Indian architecture. The kings of this dynasty were called Umapati Varlabdh and built many temples for the Hindu god Shiva. Their style of architecture is called “Chalukyan architecture” or “Karnata Dravida architecture”. Nearly a hundred monuments built by them, rock cut (cave) and structural, are found in the Malaprabha river basin in modern Bagalkot district of northern Karnataka. The building material they used was a reddish-golden Sandstone found locally.
- Chalukya’s temple building activity can be categorised into three phases. The early phase began in the last quarter of the 6th century and resulted in many cave temples, prominent among which are three elementary cave temples at Aihole (one Vedic, one Jain and one Buddhist which is incomplete), followed by four developed cave temples at Badami (of which cave 3, a Vaishnava temple, is dated accurately to 578 CE). The second phase of temple building was at Aihole (where some seventy structures exist and has been called “one of the cradles of Indian temple architecture” and Badami. Though the exact dating of these temples has been debated, there is consensus that the beginnings of these constructions are from c. 600. These are the Lad Khan Temple (dated by some to c. 450 but more accurately to 620) with its interesting perforated stone windows and sculptures of river goddesses; the Meguti Jain Temple (634) which shows progress in structural design; the Durga Temple with its northern Indian style tower (8th century) and experiments to adapt a Buddhist Chaitya design to a brahminical one (its stylistic framework is overall a hybrid of north and south Indian styles.; the Huccimalli Gudi Temple with a new inclusion, a vestibule, connecting the sanctum to the hall.
- Other dravida style temples from this period are the Naganatha Temple at Nagaral; the Banantigudi Temple, the Mahakutesvara Temple and the Mallikarjuna Temple at Mahakuta; and the Lower Sivalaya Temple, the Malegitti Sivalaya Temple (upper) and the Jambulingesvara Temple at Badami. The structural temples at Pattadakal, built in the 8th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marks the culmination and mature phase of Badami Chalukyan architecture. The Bhutanatha group of temples at Badami are also from this period. There are ten temples at Pattadakal, six in southern dravida style and four in the northern nagara style.
- The reign of Western Chalukyas was an important period in the development of Deccan architecture. Their architecture served as a conceptual link between the Badami Chalukya architecture of the 8th century and the Hoysala architecture popularised in the 13th century. The centre of their cultural and temple-building activity lay in the Tungabhadra region of modern Karnataka state, encompassing the present-day Dharwad district; it included areas of present-day Haveri and Gadag districts. Here, large medieval workshops built numerous monuments.These monuments, regional variants of pre-existing dravida temples, defined the Karnata dravida tradition. The most notable of the many buildings dating from this period are the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in the Koppal district, the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi in the Gadag district, the Mallikarjuna Temple at Kuruvatti, and the Kallesvara Temple at Bagali, both in the Davangere district.
- The Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II (634) written by his court poet Ravikirti in Sanskrit language and Kannada script is considered as a classical piece of poetry.A few verses of a poet named Vijayanaka who describes herself as the “dark Sarasvati” have been preserved. It is possible that she may have been a queen of prince Chandraditya (a son of Pulakeshin II). Famous writers in Sanskrit from the Western Chalukya period are Vijnaneshwara who achieved fame by writing Mitakshara, a book on Hindu law, and King Someshvara III, a noted scholar, who compiled an encyclopedia of all arts and sciences called Manasollasa.
- The rule of the Western and Eastern Chalukyas, however, is a major event in the history of Kannada and Telugu literatures respectively. By the 9th–10th centuries, Kannada language had already seen some of its most notable writers. The “three gems” of Kannada literature, Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna belonged to this period.In the 11th century, Telugu literature was born under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas with Nannaya Bhatta as its first writer.