Ancient History Of South India
The magnificent land of south India has witnessed the rise and fall of a number of rulers and dynasties. Ancient history is associated with the regime of great King Ashoka who ruled over the major parts of Indian subcontinent. During his period, three main dynasties, Chola, Chera and Pandya were ruling south India and area of these kingdoms were popularly known as Tamilakam “Land of Tamils”. The other major kingdoms dominating the region during ancient period includes Satavahanas, Kakatiyas, Pallavas and many more.
After the death of Ashoka, the first empire which into power was Satavahanas dynasty. Koti Lingala, the first Kingdom of Satavahanas marked its presence in Karimnagar district of Telangana. Prakrit was the official language of the region during this period. They issued their own coins with portraits of their respective rulers. The Satavahanas rulers made great contributions to Buddhist art and culture. The empire faced a downfall by the end of 3rd century CE and several other dynasties like Ikshvakus, Chutus, Pallavas and Kadambas came into power.
The Pallavas with their capital at Kanchipuram ruled the region between 4th - 9th century AD. The kingdom laid great emphasis on propagating the culture associated with it and Sanskrit literature. Tamilian culture was highly influenced by Shavaism and Vaishnavism cults during Pallavas rule. Mahendravarman was the most important ruler of Pallava dynasty who had great interest in erecting some marvelous piece of architecture. The rock cut temples of Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram are the masterpiece of Pallavas architecture, adorned with exquisite sculptures and intricate carvings.
The Chalukyas of Badami
Chalukyas ruled the major parts of south India from 543 CE – 757 CE and spread their kingdom from Kaveri river to Narmada rivers. Pulakesi I was honored to be the first Chalukyan king. Numerous magnificent monuments were built in Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami in Chalukyan style of architecture.
The rulers of Hoysalas clan established their empire in Karnataka and ruled the region from 1040 – 1342. Vishnuvardhana Ballala II and Ballala III were the most powerful rulers of dynasty. They preached and propagated Jainism . Hoysalas supported both Sanskrit and Kannada literature. Several notable temples were built by the rulers in Helur, Somanathapura and Halebidu.
Cholas were one of the most powerful ruling empires of South India. The popular Chola ruler was Karikala Chola who led the downfall of Cheras and Pandyas dynasty. Cholas declined in 4th century CE and again came into power when Vijayalaya ascended the throne. After a great success, Cholas started declining by 13th century and finally came to an end in 1279. After the downfall of Cholas, another ancient Tamil dynasties, Cheras took over the control on South India in 15th century CE. Throughout the reign, there was a tremendous economic growth with a trade of ivory, timber, spices, gems and pearls.
One of the three ancient Tamil dynasties were Pandyas. The empire ruled the region till the end of 15th century and spread over districts of Tinnevelly. The empire was in its full glory under the rule of Kadungon, in early 6th century. Pandyas declined with the rise of Cholas in 9th century. During the late 13th century they regained the power with the support of Keralas and Sinhalese. Pandyas built a strong trade links with Rome, China, Egypt and Malaysia.
Kakatiyas dynasty was in full glory during 12th and 13th century. They started expanding their kingdom in all the major parts of south India and by the end of 12th century it stretched between Godavari river and Krishna river. Ganapati was the most powerful ruler of Kakatiya dynasty and it reached to the peak of glory during his rule. By the early 14th century, in 1323, the empire was conquered by the Mughal ruler Muhammad Bin Tughlaq.
After the downfall of Kaktiya dynasty, two cousins known as Musunuri Nayaks came into power. They conquered Warangal and brought the whole Telugu speaking regions under their control by defeating Delhi Sultanate. They ruled for a short period of fifty years and led to establishment of Vijayanagar empire, which propagated Hindu religion.