Rashtrakutas and Imperial Cholas- Frontier IAS
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Ancient and Medieval History

Rashtrakutas and Imperial Cholas- Frontier IAS

The Medieval period lies between the 8th and the 18th century A.D. 

In this article, we will learn every fact based on the Rashtrakutas and Imperial Cholas, which is a very important part of history in the UPSC exam. 

Rashtrakutas and Imperial Cholas- Frontier IAS

UPSC IAS 2021: Complete Course Prelims+Mains+Interview 

North India (Rajputa period)

Ancient Indian history came to an end with the rule of Harsha and Pulakesin II.

The medieval period can be divided into two stages:

  • Early medieval period: 8th-12th century A.D.
  • Later Medieval period: 12th-18th century.

About the Rajputs

  • Descendants of Lord Rama (Surya vamsa) or Lord Krishna (Chandra vamsa)

The Rajput Period (647A.D- 1200 A.D.)

  • From the death of Harsha to the 12th century, the destiny of India was mostly in the hands of various Rajput dynasties.
  • They belong to the ancient Kshatriya families.
  • They are foreigners.

There were nearly 36 Rajput’ clans. The major clans were:

  • The Pratiharas of Avanti
  • The Palas of Bengal
  • The Chauhans of Delhi and Ajmer
  • The Rathors of Kanauj
  • The Guhilas or Sisodias of Mewar
  • The Chandellas of Bundelkhand
  • The Paramaras of Malwa
  • The Senas of Bengal
  • The Solankis of Gujarat

The Pratiharas 8th-11th Century A.D

  • The Pratiharas were also called Gurjara probably because they originated from Gujarat or South West Rajasthan.
  • They ruled between the 8th and 11th century A.D. over northern and western India.

Rulers

Nagabhata I (725-740 A.D.)

  • Founder of the Pratihara dynasty with Kannauj as its capital.

Vatsaraja and Nagabhata II

  • Played a vital role in merging the empire.

Mihira Bhoja

  • The most powerful Pratihara king.
  • During his period, the empire expanded from Kashmir to Narmada and from Kathiawar to Bihar.

Mahendrapala (885-908 A.D.)

  • Son of Mihira Bhoja was also a powerful ruler.
  • He extended his control over Magadha and North Bengal.

The decline of the Pratiharas

  • Yashpala was the last Pratihara king.
  • The vast empire was reduced to Kannauj.
  • The Pratihara power began to decline after Mahmud of Ghazni attacked the kingdom in 1018 A.D.
  • After the decline of the Pratiharas, their feudatories Palas, Tomars, Chauhans, Rathors, Chandellas, Guhilas and Paramaras became independent rulers.

Pala Dynasty

Gopala (765-769 A.D.)

  • Founder of Pala Dynasty and he also restored order.
  • Ruled over Northern and Eastern India.
  • He expanded the Pala dynasty and extended his power over Magadha.

Dharmapala (769-815 A.D.)

  • He is the son of Gopala and succeeded his father.
  • He brought Bengal, Bihar, and Kannauj under his control.
  • He defeated the Pratiharas and became the master of Northern India.
  • He was a steadfast Buddhist and founded the famous Vikramasila University and several monasteries.
  • He also restored Nalanda University.

Devapala (815-855 A.D.)

  • Devapala is the son of Dharmapala who succeeded his father.
  • He kept the Pala territories intact.
  • He captured Assam and Orissa. 

Mahipala (998-1038 A.D.)

  • The Pala became powerful during his reign.
  • The Pala dynasty declined after the death of Mahipala.

Govinda Pala

  • He is the last Pala King.

Tripartite Struggle for Kannauj

  • The Tripartite Struggle for Kannauj was between the Pratiharas of Central India,
    the Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of Deccan.
  • All these three dynasties wanted to establish their supremacy over Kannauj and the fertile Gangetic Valley.
  • The Tripartite Struggle lasted for 200 years and weakened all of them which enabled the Turks to overthrow them.

Why Kannauj?

  • The strategic location of Kannauj on the Ganga trade route and was connected to the Silk route.
  • It was also the erstwhile capital of Harshavardhana's empire in north India. 

The Tomars of Delhi

  • The Tomars were the feudatories of the Pratiharas.
  • They founded the city of Delhi in 736 A.D.
  • Mahipala Tomar captured Thaneshwar, Hansi and Nagarkot in 1043 A.D.
  • Chauhans captured Delhi in the middle of the 12th century and the Tomars became their feudatories.

The Chauhans of Delhi and Ajmer

  • The Chauhans declared their independence in the 1101 century at Ajmer and they were the feudatories of the Pratiharas.
  • They captured Ujjain from the Paramaras of Malwa and Delhi in the early part of the 12th century.
  • They shifted their capital to Delhi.
  • Prithviraj Chauhan was the most important ruler of this dynasty.

Rathors of Kanauj (1090-1194 A.D.)

  • The Rathors established themselves on the throne of Kannauj from 1090 to 1194 A.D.
  • Jaichand was the last great ruler of this dynasty.
  • He was killed in the battle of Chandwar in 1194A.D. by Muhammad of Ghori.

The Chandellas of Bundelkhand

  • Established them in the 9th century.
  • Mahoba was the capital of Chandella during the period of Chief Yasovarman.
  • Kalinjar was their important fort.
  • The Chandellas built the most famous Kandariya Mahadeva Temple in 1050 A.D. and a number of beautiful temples at Khajuraho.
  • Paramal the last Chandella ruler was defeated by Qutb-ud-din Aibak in 1203 A.D.

The Guhilas or Sisodias of Mewar

  • The Rajput ruler Bapa Rawat was the founder of the Guhila or the Sisodiya dynasty and Chittor was its capital.

The Paramaras of Malwa

  • The Paramaras were also the feudatories of Pratiharas.
  • They declared their independence in the 10th century and Dhara was their capital.

Raja Bhoja (1018-1069)

  • He was the most famous ruler of this period.
  • He constructed a beautiful lake more than 250 sq. miles near Bhopal.
  • He set up a college at Dhara for the study of Sanskrit Literature.
  • The reign of the Paramaras came to an end with the invasion of Ala-ud-din Khilji.

Prithviraj Chauhan (1178-1192)

  • He ruled over Delhi and Agra and fought the two important battles, First battle of Tarain (1191) between Prithviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori, in which Ghori was defeated.
  • The Second Battle of Tarain was fought in 1192 when Muhammad Ghori again invaded India in which Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated and the Kingdom of Delhi fell to Muhammad Ghori.
  • The Battle of Tarain had great significance in the political scene as it led to the establishment of Muslim rule over North India and subsequently in the South for several centuries.

Also Read: Post Gupta Period: Ancient History

Nature of the Rajputs

  • The Rajputs were great warriors and chivalrous by nature.
  • They believed in protecting the women and the weak.

Religion

  • The Rajputs were staunch followers of Hinduism.
  • They also patronized Buddhism and Jainism.
  • During their period the Bhakti Cult started.

Government

  • The Rajput government was outdated in character.
  • Each kingdom was divided into a large number of Jagirs held by the Jagirdars.

Major literary works of this period

  • Kalhana’s Rajatarangini
  • Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam
  • Somadeva’s Kathasaritsagara
  • Chand Bardai, the court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan, wrote Prithviraj Raso in which he refers to the military exploits of Prithviraj Chauhan.
  • Bhaskara Charya wrote Siddhanta Shinomani, a book on astronomy.

Art and Architecture

  • Mural paintings and Miniature paintings were popular.
  • Temples at Khajuraho
  • Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneshwar
  • The Sun Temple at Konark
  •  The Dilwara Temple at Mount Abu

Major Causes of decline of Rajput Power

  • Lack of unity and foresightedness
  • Defective military organization

Some popular terms

  • Jauhar: Mass suicide of women in order to escape defilement at the hands of foreign victors.
  • Gita Govindam: Song of the cowherd
  • Rajatarangini: ‘River of Kings’
  • Kathasaritasagara: ‘Ocean of tales’

The decline of the Pallavas in the 9th century created a political vacuum that was filled by the Cholas.

Capital: Tanjore

Vijayalaya Chola (846-907 AD):

  • He was a vassal of the Pallavas. 
  • Founder of Chola Dynasty
  • Built Durga Temple at Tanjore
  • He captured Tanjore from the Pandyas and made it the capital of the Cholas.

Aditya  I (871-907 AD):

  • Extended the work of Vijayalaya by occupying the territories from the Pallavas.

Parantaka Chola I (907-955 AD): 

  • Was the first imperial Chola. 
  • He defeated the Pandyas and Sri Lankans initially but was later defeated by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna III.
  • This loss undermined the glory of the Cholas and they entered a dark phase of thirty years from 955 AD – 985 AD.

Raja Raja Chola I (907-1014 AD):

  • Orchestrated the resurgence of the Cholas.
  • He defeated the Pandyas and the Cheras.
  • In 993 AD when Cheras sought support from the Sri Lankan rulers, the Cholas captured the northern portion of Sri Lanka and the capital-Anuradhapura was captured and they also raided another capital Polonnaruwa.
  • Northern Sri Lanka was organized in the form of a province.
  • Raja Raja Chola is also said to have captured the Laccadive Islands and Maldives Islands.
  • He also captured a few territories in Mysore from the Ganges and from the Chalukyas of Kalyani, although he maintained friendly relations with Chalukyas of Vengi.
  • Developed the naval strength of the Cholas
  • Re-organised the administrative system
  • In 1000 AD he began the conduction of a land survey
  • He adopted the practice of inscribing the historical inscriptions
  • He began the practice of associating Yuvaraja or crown Prince with the administration

Rajendra I (1014-44 AD): 

  • He is considered the greatest Chola ruler.
  • He completed the conquest of Sri Lanka in 1017 AD and captured the whole of Sri Lanka and made it a part of the Chola empire. 
  • He suppressed the rebellions of a captured portion of the Krishna Tungabhadra doab.
  • He maintained friendly relations with Chalukyas of Vengi.
  • He launched an expedition to Orissa and maintained matrimonial relations with the Ganga dynasty of Orissa.
  • He then reached the Bengal Ganga river in 1022 AD and defeated the Pala ruler of Bengal, Mahipala Rajendra I then assumed the title of Gangaikonda and founded a capital by the name Gangaikondacholapuram on the mouths of the Gangaikondacholapuram.

Chola Administration

King:  

  • was the most important person in the Chola administration.
  • All authority rested in his hands. He often went on tours in order to keep better touch with the administration.
  • The king was aided and advised by a council of ministers who held office at the pleasure of the king. 
  • There was a fully developed secretariat to oversee the functioning of the Central administration.

Military Administration: 

  • The Cholas maintained a large army consisting of infantry, cavalry and elephants which were called the three limbs of the army. 
  • The Venetian traveller Marco Polo says that all the bodyguards of the king burnt themselves in the funeral pyre of the dead king.

Revenue Administration:

  • The Cholas paid attention to irrigation and used river such as Kaveri for this purpose.

Kingdom

Capital

Real founder

Western/ later Chalukyas (973-1200)

Kalyani, Karnataka

Tailap II

Kakatiyas (1110-1326)

Warangal, Andhra Pradesh

Prolarja II

Yadavas (1187-1312)

Devagiri, Maharashtra

Bhillam V

Hoyasalas (1026-1343)

Dwarasamudra Karnataka

Vishnuvardhan

 

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