Ancient temple at Amarkantak built by Kalachuri Maharaj Karnadeva
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 (Heheya). Mount Kalanjara is in north central India, east of the Indus Valley floodplain. Kalachuri is this 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) and the other southern Kalachuri who ruled over parts of Karnataka.
The earliest known Kalachuri family (550–620 A.D) ruled over northern Maharashtra, Malwa and western Deccan. Their capital was Mahismati situated in the Narmada river valley. Krishnaraja, Shankaragana and Buddharaja were three prominent members of this family. They had to fight with the two powerful neighbours; the Maitrakas of Valabhi and the Chalukyas of Badami. As noted above, the Chalukyas king Mangalesa put to flight Budharaja and conquered his dominions. Evidently the Kalachuris were not exterminated. For the Chalukya king Vinayaditya II married two Haihaya Princesses.
Origin of Kalachuri family:
The Kalachuris, also known as the Haihayas, were an ancient people known from the Epics and Puranas from 249 or 250 A.D. Several branches of the Kalachuris were settled in different parts of Northern India. In the later half of sixth century A.D., they ruled over a powerful kingdom comprising Gujarat, northern Maharashtra, and later then some parts of Malwa.
One of them founded a principality in Sarayupara in the modern Gorakhpur District. The other, which soon became very powerful, ruled in Chedi country in Bundelkhand.
The Kalachuris of Chedi also known as kings of Dahalas, had their capital at Tripur, represented by the modern village of Tewar, six miles to the west of Jubulpore.
Southern Kalachuri Kingdom (1130 - 1184)
They 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 A.D. They traced their origins to Krishna, the conqueror of Kalinjar and Dahala in Madhya Pradesh.
Some people say that Bijjala a viceroy of this dynasty established the authority over Karnataka. He wrested power from the Chalukya king Taila III. Bijjala was succeeded by his sons Someshwara and Sangama. After 1181 A.D, the Chalukyas gradually retrieved the territory. Their rule was a short and turbulent, although very important from the socio - religious movement point of view. 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 Kalachuris of the south were Jains and encouraged Jainism in their kingdom. 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. The Kalachuris are the principal characters in the Andhra epic The battle of Palnadu.
Northern Kalachuri kingdom
They ruled in central India with its base at the ancient city of Tripuri (Tewar); it originated in the 8th century, expanded significantly in the 11th century, and declined in the 12th–13th centuries.
Some historians identify several Kalachuri ruling families in Tripuri, Gorakhpur, Ratnapur, Rajpur (eastern Gujarat) regions of central India. They established their kingdom in Madhya Pradesh with their capital at Tripuri near Jabalpur. Kokalla I was the founder of the dynasty.
Kokalla I (reigned c. 850–885): Kokalla invaded Northern Konkan and helped the Rashtrakuta king Krishna II (878-914 A.D.), probably against the Eastern Chalukyas and the Pratiharas. He married a Chandella princess and had eighteen sons. The eldest succeeded him on the throne while the others were appointed rulers of different mandalas or Divisions. This led to the disintegration of the kingdom, for we know that the descendants of one of these founded a separate kingdom in South Kosala with its capital Tummana.
Samkaragana: Kokalla was succeeded by his son Samkaragana some time between A.D. 878 and 888. He defeated a Somavansi ruler of South kosala and conquered some territories from him near Ratanpur in Bilaspurdistrict. He came to rescue of the Rashtrakuta king Krishna II when the latte was attacked by the Eastern Chalukya king Vijayaditya III, but was defeated. There were several matrimonial alliances between the Kalachuris and the Rashtrakutas.
Balaharsha : Samkaragana was succeeded by his two sons Balaharsha and Yuvaraja in about the middle of the 10th century A.D.
Yuvraja defeated and drove out the Rashtrakuta forces. In order to celebrate this great victory the famous poet Rajasekara staged his drama Viddhasalabhanjika. The kalachuri inscription credit Yuvraja with successful raids against Kashmir and the Himalayan region.
Yuvaraja I (reigned c. 915–945): The Kalachuris were at times involved in Rashtrakuta politics, as in the period of Yuvaraja I. Between the mid-9th and the early 11th centuries, the Kalachuris pursued a policy of traditional hostility toward the kingdoms of south Kosala, Kalinga, Gauda, and Vanga; occasional clashes with the Gurjaras, the Chandelas, the Eastern Chalukyas, the Gujarat Chalukyas, and others are mentioned in their records.
Lakshmanaraja: Yuvraja’s son Lakshmanaraja, who ruled in the third quarter of the 10th century A.D., was also a great conqueror. He invaded Vangala, south Bengal, and the Somavamsi king of South Kosala was also defeated by him. In the west he invaded Lata, ruled by a feudatory of the Rashtrakutas, and defeated the king of Gurjara, probably Mularaja I, the founder of the Chalukya Dynasty.
Laxmanraja’s two sons, Samkaragana II and Yuvraja II, who successively sat on the throne, were unworthy sons of a worthy father. The kingdom suffered serious reverse during the reign of last quarter of the 10th century A.D. His maternal uncle Taila II carried on raids into his dominions and defeated him. He restored the power as well as prestige of the dynasty by his brilliant military career and became a great power.
The period between Kokalla I and Kokalla II (reigned c. 990–1015) is marked by a consolidation of Kalachuri power and by their relations with contemporary dynasties. The success attributed to Kokalla I against the Pratiharas, the Kalachuris of Uttar Pradesh, the Guhilas of Marwar, the Chauhans (Chahamanas) of Shakambhari, and the kings of Vanga and Konkan appears somewhat exaggerated.
Gangeyadeva (reigned c. 1015–41): The Kalachuris of Dahala rose to be the greatest political power in India during the 11th century A.D. This was mainly due to the military genius of Gangadeva. Perhaps an important factor contributing to his success was the factor that his kingdom escaped the devastating raids of Sultan Mahmud which affected most of the other great powers to its north and north-west. In the token of his great victory he assumed the proud title of Trikalingadhipati, ‘Lord of Trikalinga’.
Gangeyadeva assumed the title of Vikramaditya. He died at the sacred city of Prayag (Allahabad). Probably he ascended the throne before 1019 A.D. and died about 1040 A.D.
Karna (reigned 1041–73): Gangadeva was succeeded by his son Lakshmi Karna or Karna. He was in possession of the city Allahabad which was also probably conquered by his father. He carried his victorious arms alone the eastern coast as far as the country round kanchi. He is said to have defeated a number of people in the south such as the Pallavas, Kungas, Muralas, Pandyas (South) and Kuntalas, (probably the Chalukya King), Somesvara I during A.D. 1048.
He was more successful than his father not only in the south but also in the north-west. In 1072 A.D. he abdicated the throne in favor of his son Yasahkarna.
Gangeyadeva issued coins of different metals, sizes, weights which were in Gold, Base Gold, Silver Gold, Silver, Silvery copper (Billon) and Copper.
Yasahkarna (reigned 1073–1123): Like father and grand father Yasahkarna began his reign by leading two military expeditions, one against North Bihar and the other against the Eastern Chalukyas.
The four-armed Lakshmi seated cross-legged on lotus, holding lotus in the upper two hands and the reverse side were inscriptions in Nagari script "Shrimad-Ga/ ngeyade/va" - introduced by Maharaj Gangeyadeva
The Chalukyas of Deccan raided his kingdom, the Paramras plundered his capital and encamped for some time on the Narmada, and he was also defeated by the Chandellas. All these defeats weakened his power.
Gayakarna: The son and successor of Yasahkarna was defeated by the Chandella king Madanavarman. This second son Jayasimha, who ascended the throne between A.D. 1159 and 1167, seems to have partly recovered the fortunes and prestige of the family. He achieved success against the Chalukya king Kumarapala and the king of Kuntala.
Vijayasimha (reigned c. 1188–1209): During the reign of Jayasimha’s son Vijayasimha who succeeded him between 1177 and 1180 A.D., the Chandella king Trailokyavarman conquered nearly the whole of the Kalachuri kingdom, included Baghelkhand and Dahala Mandala (1212 A.D.)
The Hayobansi Rajputs of Balia District in U.P. claim descent from them.
Kalachuri dynasty Silver coin
The decline of 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.
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.
Amarkantak temple built by Maharaja Karnadeva
The Kalachuri Clan (feudatory of Kalyani Chalukyas)
* Uchita : The first notable chief of the Kalachuri family of Karnataka was Uchita.
*Asaga: Uchita is said to have been followed by Asaga, Kannam and Kiriyasaga.
*Bijjala I: under Bijjala I the Kalachuri family earned considerable political fame.
*Kannama: He was son of Bijjala I, he must have earned considerable political fame like his father Bijjala I.
*Jogama: Kannama's son Jogama became an influential feudatory of the Chalukya Vikramaditya VI, who was matrimonially connected with the Kalachuri Chief.
*Permadi: He was son and successor of Jogama. Though he was only a Mahamandalesvara or a feudatory Chief, his influence in the disintegrating set-up of the Chalukya rule must have been immense.
*Bijjala II (1130 – 1167 A.D.): (proclaimed independence in 1162). Bijjala II succeeded his father, Permadi, as the Mahamandalesvara and ruled over Karhada 4,000 and Tardavadi 1,000 during the reign of Chalukya ruler, Vikramaditya VI. Bijjala was confident of his strength and had realised that under Vikramaditya's successors the Chalukya Empire was showing all the signs of weakness, which spoke of its mortality. That indeed provided him enough justification to seek independence. The Balligave inscription speaks of his attitude when it says, "Sovereignty deserves to be enjoyed by one who is a true warrior". The Chikkalagi inscription refers to Bijjala as "Mahabhujabalachakravarti".
Bijjala's independent rule was short; it lasted from about 1162 A. D. to 1167 A. D. During these years he fought successfully against the Hoysala King Narasimha I and the Pandya Chief of Uchchangi. He also defeated the Seunas and the Cholas, and subdued the turbulent Chiefs of Andhra and Kalinga. In administration, Bijjala is said to have introduced certain innovations. The great Virasaiva saint Basaveshvara was Bijjala's Chief Treasurer.
Bijjala abdicated in 1167 A. D. in favour of his second son Sovideva. But that did not prevent the eruption of trouble, which shook the Kalachuri Kingdom and took Bijjala as a victim. Bijjala appears to have been murdered in 1168 A. D.
*Sovideva (1168 – 1176 A.D.): Bijjala's successor, Sovideva had to confront Challenges to his powers from many sides, but the held his own, and ruled upto 1176 A. D.
*Mallugi --> (overthrown by brother Sankama): Mallugi was succeeded by his younger brother Mallugi, but was almost immediately overthrown by his brother Sankama.
*Sankama (1176 – 1180 A.D.): Sankama who ruled till 1180 A. D.
*Ahavamalla (1180 – 1183 A.D.): His successors were Ahavamalla (1180-83 A. D.) and Singhana (1183-84 A.D).
*Singhana (1183 – 1184 A.D.): During this period the Kalachuri Kingdom became weak and yielded its sovereign independence to the Chalukyas, whose power, in turn, flickered for a while before going out. The Kalachuri usurpation and rule, then, was dramatic, convulsive and short-lived.
Kalachuri inscriptions give credit to Kokalla for his victories over many powerful kings. As per the 1163 AD inscription Hampi, which records a religious offering (mahadana) in the presence of Hampi Lord Virupaksha by Bijjala the Kalachuri King. 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.
The Southern Kalachuri kings minted coins with Kannada inscriptions on it. Gajasaradula type coins were mostly gold or copper. Some of the common ones were the the seated goddess type along with the name of the issuer which is generally prefixed with Srimat and suffixed with Deva.
Virashaiva Movement and Emergence of Basavanna:
The Veerashaiva movement evolved in an attempt to simplyfy religion and creates social order. It was Basavanna, the prime minister of king Bijjala who gave inspirational direction, in the process he established a new religion called Lingayat. Basaveshwara is generally believed to have founded the veera saiva sect. He travelled to Kalyan a place near modern Bombay, India during the rule of King Vijjala (1157-1167 A.D).
According to Basavapurana, when Basavanna assumed power, he began distributing gifts to all the devotees of Lord Shiva. The other people felt left out and began instigating King who later cruelly punished two devotees of Siva. Much to the discontent of the orthodox Brahmins of Kalyani, Basavanna preached his casteless beliefs even in the regal capital, Kalyani.
Virashaiva Saints and Vachanakaras:
A unique feature of the Virashaiva movement was the large number of woman saints and poetesses it produced. Basavanna believed in equality of both sexes. The contribution of Basavanna to Kannada language and literature is immense and enduring. He couched his teachings in simple, terse, verse forms of rare felicity known as Vachanas. They were frank, vigorous and incisive. Dr. Mugali regards the Vachanas as "Spiritual lyrics" and "springs of beauty flown from the peak of devotion". Basavanna is considered as one of the great saints of Karnataka, who rose above caste, creed, religion and sex. His vigorous yet simple teachings endeared to him people of "lower castes" and "lower creed". It is for this reason that Dr. Arthur Miles called him Martin Luther of Karnataka.
Some well known and saints and vachanakaras were:
• Akka Mahadevi
• Gangambike +
• Allama Prabhu
• Madivala Machayya
• Madara Channayya
• Sakalesha Madarasa
• Sujikayakada Ramitande
• Medara Ketayya
• Kayakada Basappa