Rashtrakuta Dynasty

Who were the Rashtrakutas?

  • The Rashtrakuta Empire ruled the Deccan for over 200 years, till the end of the 10th century, and it also held regions in north and south India at various times.
  •  It was not only the most powerful empire at the time, but it also served as an economic and cultural bridge between north and south India.

  • It fostered and developed north Indian traditions and policies throughout south India.

  • notably, India has reached unprecedented levels of stability and accomplishment in the fields of politics, business, culture, education, and religion.

  • Rashtrakutas had a chance to rise to dominance since there was no force powerful enough in northern India to meddle in Deccan affairs.

  • Rashtrakuta Dynasty:

  • As already mentioned, the Rashtrakuta Dynasty governed important sections of South India for over two centuries. The Rashtrakutas ruled over large regions of North and South India, including the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Maharashtra. According to the facts, the monarchs of this dynasty were originally of Hindu ancestry, but Jain emperors gradually assumed control.
  • Dantidurga, who purportedly established his capital in Malkhed, started the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. He occupied various Chalukyan Empire lands and eventually defeated the last Chalukyan ruler, Kirtivarman II. The Rashtrakuta empire encompassed about 7.5 lakh villages, extending into the northern areas.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty Founder:

  • The term 'Rashtrakutas' refers to the Sanskrit words "Rashtra," which means "country," and "Kuta," which means "chieftan." The Rashtrakuta Empire's emergence and expansion can be traced back to the Mauryan Empire during the reign of King Ashoka in the third century. Few Ashoka edicts mention the term 'Rathika,' which refers to the Rashtrakutas' forebears. Some historians embrace this theory, however it lacks substantial evidence of the ancestry of the Rashtrakutas of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.
  • The Rashtrakuta Dynasty arose after King Dantidurga fought and occupied the last Chalukyan ruler. Dantidurga was replaced by his uncle Krishna I because he left no legal heir to the throne.

Who were Rashtrakutas' Prominent Rulers?


  • Dantidurga founded the Rashtrakuta empire and established his capital in Manyakheta or Malkhed, near contemporary Sholapur.
  • He appears to be Karka II's contemporaries.
  • Dantidurga invaded Kanchi, the Pallava capital, and formed an alliance with Nandivarman Pallavamalla.
  • In 753 CE, Dantidurga seized the outlying lands of the vast Chalukyan kingdom, then attacked the country's heart and easily destroyed Kirtivarman.
  • According to the Samangadh inscription from 754 CE, Dantidurga deposed the last Chalukya ruler of Badami, Kirtivarman II, and gained full imperial position, describing himself as:
  • Prithivivallabha, Maharajadhiraja, Parameshvara, and Paramabhattaraka are some of the deities.
  • Dantidurga mentions his territory as having four lakh villages, implying that he ruled over somewhat more than half of the Chalukyan Empire of Badami.
  • Dantidurga died without children, which sparked a feud between Krishnaraja I, his uncle, and other family members.

Krishnaraja I: 

  • Because of his popularity, Krishnaraja I was able to seize the throne in 756 CE.
  • In the Bhandak Inscription of Krishnaraja I of 772 CE, he was given the titles Shubhatunga (high in fortune) and Akalavarsha (continuous rainer).
  • Under him, the newly founded Rashtrakuta empire grew in all directions.
  • He began by overthrowing the Chalukyas of Badami.
  • The Bhandak plates from 772 CE demonstrate that he ruled over all of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Krishnaraja I also conquered and ruled over the southern Konkana.
  • He also extended his power southward by acquiring sovereignty over the Ganga kingdom.
  • The Rashtrakuta kingdom under Krishnaraja I may thus be considered to have encompassed the entirety of modern Maharashtra, a significant chunk of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, with Vengi further east admitting its dominance, and a large piece of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Krishnaraja I died sometime between 772 CE and 775 CE, and his son Govinda II succeeded him on the throne.

Govinda II:

  • Govinda II (774-780 CE) is known as Prabhutavarsha (profuse rainer) and Vikramavaloka (the heroic-looking guy).
  • His name is missing from several of the line's later gifts.
  • It was due to a civil struggle for the throne between him and his younger brother Dhruva, who was governor of Nasik and Khandesh.
  • Govinda II's first conflict with his brothers ended in disaster. 


     Dhruva (780-793 CE) was given the titles:

  • Nirupama (unequalled).
  • Kali-vallabha (fond of war).
  • Dharavarsha (heavy rainer).
  • Shrivallabha (the favourite of fortune).
  • All rulers who helped Govinda II during the late civil war were harshly punished by Dhruva after he took the throne.
  • During his lifetime, he elevated his younger but most capable son, Govinda III, to the throne.

Govinda III: 

     Govinda III (793-814) was a renowned Rashtrakuta ruler who held the titles of:

  • Jagattunga (World-renowned)
  • Kirti-Narayana (In terms of fame, the very Narayana)
  • Janavallabha (People's Favourite)
  • Tribhuvanadhavala (the three realms are pure)
  • Prabhutavarsha means "abundant rainer
  • Shrivallabha
  • He began by putting down the rebellions of his elder brothers in the south.
  • Govinda III headed south following a successful campaign against Nagabhatta of Kanauj and the annexation of Malawa along with Kosala, Kalinga, Vengi, Dahala, and Odraka in the north.
  • Through his prowess in diplomacy and on the battlefield, he stretched the glory of the Rashtrakuta empire literally from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin, exceeding his father's hopes.
  • Govinda's heir was his only son, Maharaja Sarva, also known as Amoghavarsha I.

Amoghavarsha I:

      Like his father, Amoghavarsha I (814-878 CE) established himself as one of the finest Rashtrakuta monarchs.          He held the following titles:

  • Nripatunga (King of Kings)
  • Atisayadhavala (beautifully white in conduct)
  • Maharaja-shanda (the greatest of monarchs)
  • Narayana (the heroic Narayana)
  • He was truly interested in contemporary Indian religious traditions and used to spend his time with Jaina monks and various forms of spiritual meditation.
  • His inscriptions place him among the most famous Jainists.
  • He was not only an author, but also a supporter of authors.
  • Jinasena, the author of Adipurana, was one of Amoghavarsha I's Jaina preceptors.
  • In addition to promoting Jainism, he also practised various rituals for the wellbeing of his citizens and promoted the Brahmanical faith.
  • His death was followed by his son Krishna II's ascension in around 879 CE.

Krishna II:

  • Akalavarsha and Shubhatunga were titles given to Krishna II (878-914 CE).
  • He was not entirely effective in suppressing rebellions.
  • The only success of his rule was the abolition of the viceroyalty of Lata.
  • For a time, the wars he fought against Vengi and the Cholas were nothing but tragedy, dishonor, and exile.

Indra III:

     In 915 CE, Indra III was crowned king. Indra III held the following titles:

  • Nityavarsha means "constant rainer."
  • Rattakandarapa.
  • Kirti-Narayana.
  • Rajamarathanda.
  • Indra III, Amoghavarsha I's grandson, re-established the empire.
  • Indra's military exploits included the advance of Rashtrakuta soldiers through Lata and Malawa all the way to Kalpi and Kanauj, as well as the dethronement of Mahipala.
  • Indra III was the most powerful emperor of his period following the defeat of Mahipala and the sack of Kanauj in 915 CE.
  • The reign of Indra III came to an end at the end of 927 CE.
  • According to the Bhandana gift of Silahara Aparajita (997 CE), he was succeeded on the throne by his son Amoghavarsha II, who reigned for one year.

Krishna III:

  • Krishna III was the most recent in a long line of outstanding rulers.
  • Krishna III conquered Chola monarch Parantaka I (949 CE), annexed the Chola empire, and divided the Chola Empire among his slaves.
  • He then pressed down to Rameshwaram, where he erected a triumph pillar and constructed a temple.
  • His opponents banded together against his succeeding half-brother Khottiga after his death, which occurred in late 966 CE or early 967 CE. The Rashtrakuta capital, Manyakheta, was sacked, plundered, and burned by the Paramara monarchs in 972 CE, forcing the emperor to flee.

Rashtrakuta had what kind of administration?

  • The Rashtrakuta warrior rulers established a huge empire in south India that extended into northern India, containing around seven and a half lakh villages.
  • The Rashtrakutas not only won and established a wide realm, but also skillfully maintained it.

Administration based on monarchies and feudatories:

  • The empire's heart was a powerful monarchy, aided by a huge number of feudatories.
  • Surprisingly, the realm became more feudalized with the maturity of each Rashtrakuta king's rule.
  • The kingdoms' administration was based on the ideals and practises of the Gupta Empire and Harsha's kingdom in the north, as well as the Chalukyas in the Deccan.
  • As before, the king wielded all powers, including that of head of administration and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Law and Order: 

  • The king was in charge of keeping the kingdom in order and required total allegiance and obedience from his family, ministers, vassal chiefs, feudatories, bureaucrats, and chamberlains.

Hereditary Succession System:

  • Although the throne was typically hereditary, there were several wiggle rooms in the succession laws.
  • The eldest son frequently won, but there were times when he had to fight his younger brothers and sometimes lost to them.
  • As a result, Dhruva and Govinda IV, the Rashtrakuta rulers, removed their elder brothers.
  • Many hereditary ministers picked from powerful families advised and assisted the kings in general.

Important administrative positions include:

  • According to epigraphic and literary records, practically every kingdom had a chief minister, a minister of foreign affairs, a revenue minister and treasurer, a chief of the armed forces, a chief justice, and a purohita.

Hereditary Succession System:

  • Although the throne was typically hereditary, there were several wiggle rooms in the succession laws.
  • The eldest son frequently won, but there were times when he had to fight his younger brothers and sometimes lost to them.
  • As a result, Dhruva and Govinda IV, the Rashtrakuta rulers, removed their elder brothers.
  • Many hereditary ministers picked from powerful families advised and assisted the kings in general.

Important administrative positions include:

  • According to epigraphic and literary records, practically every kingdom had a chief minister, a minister of foreign affairs, a revenue minister and treasurer, a chief of the armed forces, a chief justice, and a purohita.

Administrative Area Division:

     The Rashtrakuta kingdom was divided into three directly controlled areas:

  • Rashtra is a province
  • Vishaya. 
  • Bhukti

Administration of a Divided Territory:

  • The Vishaya functioned as a contemporary district under Visayapati, while the Bhukti was a lesser subdivision.
  • In the Rashtrakuta administration, a body of helpers known as the Rashtramahattaras and Vishayamahattaras helped provincial governors and district level governors, respectively.
  • The functions and responsibilities of these smaller units, as well as their administrators, are unclear.
  • Their major goal appears to have been the collection of land tax and the maintenance of law and order.
  • All authorities appear to have been compensated with grants of rent-free land.
  • The village was the fundamental administrative unit. The village administration was carried out by the village headman and the village accountant, both of whom had hereditary positions.
  • They were given rent-free land grants.
  • The village elder known as grama-mahajana or grama-mahattara often assisted the headman in his tasks.
  • In the Rashtrakuta dynasty, particularly in Karnataka, village committees were formed to govern local schools, tanks, temples, and roads in close collaboration with the headman and were paid a share of money collected.
  • Similarly, towns had committees with which the heads of trade guilds were also associated.
  • The koshta-pala or kotwal was in charge of maintaining law and order in the cities and surrounding areas.
  • The strength of village committees was reduced by small chieftainship and increased hereditary elements. The central rule also found it difficult to exert and regulate his authority over them. It implies that the government was descending into feudalism.

Rashtrakuta defense installments:

  • According to the chronicles of Arab travelers, the Rashtrakuta rulers had a huge and well-organized army, cavalry, and a great number of war-elephants.
  • The enormous armed forces were closely tied to the king's glamour and authority, which was also necessary for the empire's upkeep and development in the era of conflicts.
  • The Rashtrakutas were known for importing a great quantity of horses from Arabia, West Asia, and Central Asia for their army.
  • The Rashtrakutas' true might is evident in their numerous forts, which are manned by special forces and independent commanders.
  • The army was made up of regular and irregular soldiers, as well as levies furnished by vassal chiefs.
  • The regular forces were frequently hereditary and were drawn from many places across India.
  • There is no mention of war chariots that were no longer in service.

How did the arts and architecture change under the Rashtrakutas?

  • The Rashtrakutas made significant contributions to the Deccan's architectural legacy.
  • Maharashtra's exquisite rock-cut cave temples at Ellora and Elephant showcase Rashtrakutas contributions to art and building.
  • Ellora is one of the 34 Buddhist caves erected in the sixth century. Jain monks also lived at Ellora.
  • The Rashtrakutas opted to devote themselves to the rock-cut temples in addition to refurbishing the Buddhist caves.
  • Amoghavarsha I was a Jain devotee, and five Jain cave temples at Ellora were built during his reign.
  • The Rashtrakutas' most impressive and expensive creation is the massive Kailasanatha temple at Ellora.
  • The temple's walls are ornamented with magnificent sculptures of Hindu mythological figures such as Ravana, Shiva, and Parvathi.

The Kailasanatha Temple:

  • The Kailasanatha temple is the largest of the rock-cut Hindu temples at Maharashtra's Ellora Caves.
  • King Krishna I commissioned the Kailasanatha Temple project after Rashtrakuta authority stretched into South India from the Deccan. The architectural style chosen is Karnata Dravida.
  • The temple's four main components are the main shrine, an entry gateway, the Nandi pavilion, and a courtyard surrounded by courtyards.
  • The Kailasa temple is an architectural marvel with magnificent sculptures. The sculpture depicts the Goddess Durga slaying the Buffalo monster.
  • In another sculpture, Ravana was attempting to relocate Mount Kailasa, Siva's home. Ramayana images were also adorning the walls. The Kailasa temple is more Dravidian architectural style.

The Elephanta Caves:

  • The Elephanta Caves are located near Mumbai on an island known as Sripuri (it was previously known as Sripuri, but the residents renamed it Gharapuri).
  • It was later named for the large Elephant sculpture that stood there.
  • The parallels between the Ellora and Elephanta caves illustrate the continuity of artists.
  • The entrance to the Elephanta caverns features massive dwara-palaka sculptures.
  • Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanarishvara, Somaskanda, and Trimurti are sculptured on the wall that surrounds the Sanctum.

Temple of Navalinga:

  • The Navalinga temple complex was built in the ninth century by Amoghavarsha I or his son Krishna II, rulers of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.
  • The temple is located in the town of Kukkanur. It is located in the Indian state of Karnataka's Koppal district, north of Itagi and east of Gadag.
  • The dravidian architectural style was used to construct the nine temple clusters in South India. The presence of a linga, a common emblem of Shiva in Hinduism, inspired the name Navalinga.

Religion and language of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty:

  • The Rashtrakutas were the primary users and promoters of the Kannada language. On a daily basis, they used it as a means of communication. Sanskrit, which was heavily fostered by King Amoghavarsha I, was another language they favored.
  • Evidence also exists that Kannada poetry flourished during the time.
  • Amoghavarsha I's Sanskrit works were well-known in Asian countries.
  • Jainism was encouraged by King Amoghavarsha I.
  • There is also evidence of Vaishnavism and Saivism flourishing throughout the Rashtrakuta Dynasty's rule.
  • As can be seen from the preceding information, the Rashtrakuta Dynasty ushered in a period of sufficient prosperity and development. Other evidence suggests that the Rashtrakutas and the Arabs engaged in active trade and commerce.

Book A Free Counseling Session

What's Today