After the Sangam age ended, the Kalabraha’s captured the south and ruled for 250 years till the Pallavas dynasty started. The Pallavas ruled till they were ended by the Imperial Cholas in 10 century AD.
Their origin is widely disputed due to insufficient evidence. However, they are believed to be natives of the area. Initially, they were feudatories of the Satvahana but later declared independence.
The three lines of Pallavas rulers existed. Initially, they issued their charters in Prakrit and later on in Sanskrit.
The third line ended the Kalabraha rule in the south and firmly established the Pallavas dynasty till it was ended by Imperial Cholas.
Features of the Pallavas Era:
The dynasty saw continuous Pallavas Chalukya conflict. The Chalukya would win over territory but lose it in the next wars. The Pallavas also engaged in naval expeditions and sent embassies to China. Trade too flourished in the Pallavas era.
The hereditary monarchy was a feature. The king was assisted by the council.
The kingdom was divided into kottams and kottams were administered by officials.
A well-trained army was maintained.
At the village level, sabhas and samiti’s maintained village administration.
Land tax was the main source of revenue.
- The rigid caste system was seen. Brahmins and royals enjoyed high status.
- The Bhakti movement was flourishing. Nayanmars and Alvar’s preached hymns. Vaishnavism and Shaivism improved due to these.
- Pallavas also constructed temples and gave grants to them.
- Buddhism and Jainism declined in this period. But the Pallavas were tolerant of them.
Education and literature:
- Sanskrit and Tamil literature flourished.
- Kanchi the Pallavas capital was an ancient center of learning.
- Nayanmars and Alvar have composed hymns in Tamil.
- Music, drama, and dance also developed in this era.
Art and Architecture:
- Dravidian temple building architecture emerged during this period. The rock-cut temples of Pallavas were exemplary.
- Temple architecture developed in four stages:
- Rock cut temples
- Rock cut monolithic Ratha’s [monolithic shrine] and Mandapas [open pavilion, simple columned halls].
- Structural temples E.g. Kailashnatha temple is the greatest specimen of Pallavas architecture.
- Structural temples in Rajsimhan style
- Open art galleries too were started during this period.
Western Chalukya dynasty:
The Western Chalukya was an important power in the Deccan ruling an extensive Empire. Pulekasin I was the founder and his capital was at Badami. The eastern Chalukya were at Vengi and Chalukya of Kalyanis were offshoots of Western Chalukya.
Pulekasin II was the most important ruler. He defeated Harsha and checked his ambition to rule the Deccan. He also led a successful expedition against the Pallavas. He was later defeated and the Vatapi capital was plundered by the Pallavas. The last king of Chalukya was defeated by Dandidurga, Founder of Rashtrakutas.
Administration and Social Life:
- The centralized administration under the king was a unique feature of Chalukya. Village autonomy was absent.
- Brahmanism was the main religion and the Chalukya kings performed rituals and sacrifices.
- Buddhism declined but Jainism progressed in this dynasty.
Art and architecture:
- Vesara style of structural temples was developed in the Chalukya dynasty.
- Telegu literature developed.
- The Aihole inscription was composed. Aihole is the cradle of Indian temple architecture.s
- Chalukya cave temple architecture and paintings were seen at Ajanta, Ellora, and Badami.
- Temple building developed in two stages:
Stage 1: Temples had low flat roofs with pillared halls. The walls and pillars are adorned with images of gods and humans.
Stage 2: Dravidian influence is seen. Partly the northern style is continued.
Dandidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakutas dynasty. Initially were feudatories of Chalukya. He defeated Gurjaras and annexed Malwa, he also annexed the Chalukya kingdom. Thus Rashtrakuta became the paramount power in Deccan. The Rashrakuta kings went to the south to Rameshwaram. They built temples in conquered lands.
Empire was divided into several rashtras. The rashtras into vishayas and further into bhuktis.
The village assemblies played an important role. Thus administration wasn’t centralized as Chalukyas.
Society and Economy:
- The Brahminism sects like Shaivism and Vaishnavism prospered.
- The progress of Jainism continued but Buddhism declined. But harmony was existing between different religions.
- Trade between Arabs and Deccan flourished.
- Sanskrit literature flourished due to the patronage of the kings.
- Kannada literature too started emerging
- Jain literature too came forward and many poets and writers emerged.
Art and Architecture:
- Art and architecture of Rashtrakutas were found at Ellora and Elephanta.
- The Kailas temple at Ellora is an architectural marvel. It has the main shrine, entrance gateway, mandap, and a subordinate shrine for Nandi. The Shikhar of the temple is three-tiered. The beautiful sculptures and pillared halls make it visually appealing.