Amoghavarsha Nripatunga, the ‘King of Kings’

The Rashtrakutas who overthrew the Chalukyas of Badami became the masters of the whole of Deccan and produced illustrious kings like Dhruva, Govinda III, Amoghavarsha, Indra III, etc. Their contribution in the cultural field was also immense. “If there was any period of the Indian history when Karnataka affected the fortunes of all India, it was during the rule of Rashtrakutas, for not even the later Vijayanagara Empire, which was powerful for three centuries in the South, wielded any influence on North India” says eminent historian S. Srikantha Sastri.

  • Like the Chalukyas of Badami, the Rashtrakutas were also of Kannada origin which is supported on the following grounds.
  • The personal names of their queens Asagavva, Abbalabbe, Revakannamadi, etc. show their Kannadaness of their name.
  • They gave liberal patronage to Kannada authors. The first Kannada work Kavirajamarga was composed by Srivijaya, who was patronized by the Rastrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha. Eminent Kannada poets, Pampa and Ponna, were patronized by Krishna II (Rashtrakuta ruler) and Arikesari II (the Chalukyan feudatory of the Rashtrakutas) respectively.
  • As far away as in Jura in Central India, there is a Kannada record issued by the Rashtrakutas. Even the records belonging to this family ruling in Gujarat has Kannada script though the language is Sanskrit. This shows their love for Kannada language.

One of their greatest rulers was Amoghavarsha who ruled from 814 to 878 A.D. According to the Sanjan plates when Amoghavarsha was barely 16 years of age he came to the throne and was deposed by certain rebels and his uncle Karka was successful in defeating the rebels and restoring the throne to the Amoghavarsha. Though peace loving destiny made Amoghavarsha eliminate many contemporary rulers in wars like Ganga Shivamara II, Vengi Chalukya Vishnuvardhana V, Alupa ruler Vimaladitya, Dhruva I of the Gujarat branch of the Rashtrakutas, Nolamba prince called Mangi and a Pandya prince.

Relationship with the Gangas: When Amoghavarsha ascended the throne the Gangas under Rajamalla II revolted against the Rashtrakutas and declared war and won. Rajamalla II also sheltered rebels who slaughtered a number of Rashtrakuta officers. But later Amoghavarsha sent his general Bankesha who defeated Rajamalla II at Kaidala and occupying the Ganga territories around proceeded towards the Ganga capital. But at the height of his victory he was recalled by the emperor and sent against the other enemies of the empire. Rajamalla II soon resumed the offensive and got back much of the territories occupied by the Rashtrakutas. After the death of Rajamalla II in 853 A.D. his son Nitimarga Ereyanga continued the aggressive policy against the Rashtrakutas. Amoghavarsha suffered a crushing defeat by the Gangas at a place called Rajaramadu in Kolar district in 868 A.D. Amoghavarsha realizing the futility of such wars between the two dynasties came forward with peace proposals by offering his daughter Chandrobalabbe in marriage to Nitimarga’s son Butuga I. Except for a short period during the reign of Sivamara II the Gangas never became the feudatories of the Rashtrakutas and were never ready to accept their hegemony. During the reign of Amoghavarsha the Rashtrakuta-Ganga relations underwent a change from one of subordination to friendship on the basis of equality and independence.

Relationship with the rulers of Vengi: After the conquest of Vengi, Pulakeshin II had placed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana as its ruler and his family continued to rule hereditary. During the rule of Dhruva he had sent his vassal Arikesarin I of Vemulavada to punish Vishnuvardhana IV (who had sided with Govinda II the brother of Dhruva in their war of succession). Vishnuvardhana IV was defeated and offered his daughter Silamahadevi in marriage to Dhruva. This friendship lasted till the time of the death of Vishnuvardhana IV in 806 A.D. Govinda III who followed Dhruva was in good terms with the ruler of Vengi who was his maternal grandfather. When Vijayaditya II ascended the Vengi throne in 806 A.D. Govinda III supported Bhima Saluki, the brother of Vijayaditya II as a claimant to the throne of Vengi. Govinda III died in 814 A.D. and was followed by his young son Amoghavarsha. His uncle Kakkaraja of Gujarat who was helping Amoghavarsha in his administration helped Bhima Saluki to occupy the Vengi throne for a short time. But Vijayaditya II defeated Bhima Saluki. A shrewd statesman, Kakkaraja abandoning Bhima Saluki concluded a treaty with Vijayaditya II by offering his sister Silamahadevi in marriage to Vishnuvardhana V, son of Vijayaditya II. Once again friendship was established between the Rashtrakutas and the rulers of Vengi. Vishnuvardhana V ruled for only one year and was followed by his eldest son Vijayaditya III in 848 A.D. He incurred the displeasure of Amoghavarsha when he conquered from the Pallavas the territories lost during the reign of Vishnuvardhana III. As the Pallava king Nandivarman III was the son-in-law of Amoghavarsha, (Amoghavarsha had given his daughter Sankha to Nandivarman III.)
the Rashtrakutas inflicted a defeat on Vijayaditya III at Vingavalli in 866.A.D. From this date onwards Vijayaditya became a very thick friend of Amoghavarsha and was called ankakara of Amoghavarsha i.e. a sworn bodyguard. It is even said that he personally took care to see that the gardens of Amoghavarsha were kept clean and did free service. Vijayaditya III led an expedition against the Nolambas and killed their king Mangiraja. The Nolambas as allies of the Gangas were helping them in their fight against the Rashtrakutas.

Though during the initial years Amoghavarsha had to face lot of trouble, he succeeded in suppressing all his enemies. Later he followed a policy of peace and entered into matrimonial relations with many of the neighbouring rulers like the Gangas, Chalukyas of Vengi and the Pallavas. The Nilagunda Records say that he was being worshipped by the rulers of Vanga, Anga, Magadha, Malava and Vengi.

Patron of Scholars: We know from the works of Jinasena, Mahaviracharya, Sakatayana and Srivijaya that they were patronized by Nripatunga Amoghavarsha. He himself was a scholar and wrote Prashnottara Rathnamala, a Sanskrit work. The first Kannada work, Kavirajamarga was composed by his court poet, Srivijaya. Amoghavarsha had tiles like Nripatunga, Atishayadhavala, Veeranarayana and Shrivallabha. When a famine occurred in his kingdom, Amoghavarsha is said to have cut his finger and made a votive offering of it to Goddess Mahalakshmi of Kolhapur. Amoghavarsha built a new capital Malkhed. Khuradadba (10th century) referring to Amoghavarsha says that the greatest king of India is ‘Balhara’.

Observation of the Arab visitor Sulaiman (851 A.D.): Referring to Amoghavarsha Sulaiman says that Balhara is the most eminent prince of India and Indians acknowledge his superiority and that he had the title of “King of Kings” which other contemporary Indian princes according to him did not have. Suleiman says Amoghavarsha was one of the four greatest kings of the world, the other three being the Emperor of Constatinople, the Khalifa of Baghdad and the Emperor of China. Regarding the commercial relation which Arab had with India during those times, Sulaiman says that extremely fine Indian cotton cloth which could pass through a small fine ring was imported by the Arabs and distributed throughout the then known world. The wood from Indian was used by the inhabitants of Siraf to build their houses and also ships. Al Istakri (951 A.D.) refers to the import of Indian drugs, perfumes and condiments by the Arabs. Masud and Bukhari say that fine shoes of Cambay and Indian swords were very much liked by the Arabs. The love of Arabs for Indian commodities and everything connected with India was so much that they used to name their favourite fair daughters as Hinda and Saif-i-Hindi after their dreamland India. The most important item of import into India from the Arab lands was the horse. Some 18 different kinds of horses were imported. Surparaka was the biggest port then on the west coast and whenever a merchant from outside came a reception was held in his honour by the guild of local merchants. Arab merchants used to frequent the Konkan coast for trade purpose and introduced Islam. Al Masudi informs us that the Rashtrakutas highly respected Muslims and even appointed them as their officials in that area.

The Rock-cut Temple at Ellora: One of the monumental constructions of the Rashtrakutas was the Rock-cut temple at Ellora constructed during the time of Krishna I. He was inspired by the Virupaksha temple which his master Chalukya Vikramaditya II had constructed at Pattadakallu, himself inspired by the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi. This temple is hewn out of a single solid rock about 100 feet high. The main body of the temple is a parallelogram about 150 feet X 100 feet with projecting sections at the sides. The plinth is 25 feet high and the Vimana is 95 feet high. The walls of the temple have beautiful sculptures like Ravana lifting Kailasa, Shiva and Parvathi engaged in playing dice and other such lively motifs. The work of this temple was started from the top. As the stone workers chiseled out the shape of the topmost members of the monument, the sculptors and decorators completed the intricate figures and carvings.

The Unconquerable Southern Power: History of India bears evidence that usually it was the North Indian power that made all efforts to expand at the cost of the South Indian powers. If the Chalukyas of Badami under Pulakeshin II stopped Harshavardhana penetrating into the south and made him confine his activities to the north, the Rashtrakutas proved mightier still as during their rule neither the Palas nor the Gurjara Pratiharas could entertain such ideas. Not only that the Rashtrakutas inflicted severe defeats on the Gurjara Pratiharas in their own home provinces. The Rashtrakuta armies crossed the Vindhyas three times and defeated their northern opponents who were powerful and ambitious in attempting to establish their own hegemony. During the rule of the Badami Chalukyas the Pallavas were a perpetual source of anxiety and often made inroads into the territory of the Chalukyas. But during the Rashtrakuta period no southern powers ever dared to invade the formers territory.

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  • satishkumar.p.k  On July 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm


  • satishkumar.kagwad  On July 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    thaks for nice bit of details of king amoghavarsha

  • arun  On December 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    very helpful to me. more information than wiki-pedia. Is there chance to give this information in telugu.

    • ithihas  On December 30, 2014 at 11:19 am

      I am not competent to do that.

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