Previse 2024: Medieval India - Dynasties

Previse 2024: Medieval India - Dynasties

GS1 | Medieval Indian History

Table of contents

Let us look into a few dynasties from the early medieval Indian history which are important for Prelims 2024.

Here are few PYQs:

Pratiharas (8th-10th CE)

  • The Pratiharas or Gurjara-Pratiharas ruled over western and northern India.
  • Nagabhata-I was the founder but the most important king was Mihira Bhoja.
  • They had an ongoing conflict with the Palas of eastern India and the Rashtrakutas of southern India.
  • Nagabhata II defeated Pala king Dharmapala and fought Rashtrakuta king Govinda III.
  • Mihira Bhoja was a devotee of Vishnu and adopted the title of Adivaraha. He built the Telika Temple located within the Gwalior Fort. 
  • Pratihara is derived from the Sanskrit word which means "doorkeeper".
Pratiharas dynasty | Pratiharas or Gurjara-Pratiharas | UPSC Prelims | Medieval History

The Palas (8th-11th CE)

  • After the death of Harsha, the Pratiharas, Palas and Rashtrakutas were engaged in a tripartite struggle for the control of the Ganga–Yamuna doab.
  • Pala empire was founded by Gopala and was one of the most powerful Buddhist imperial powers in the Indian subcontinent.
  • Gopala founded the monastery at Odantapuri, which is India's second oldest Mahaviharas. 
  • Dharampala founded the Vikaramasila monastery in the Bhagalpur district and built Somapura Mahavihara in present-day Bangladesh.  
  • Next important ruler was Mahipal who checked the invasion of northern India by Rajendra Chola. 
Pala Empire | UPSC Prelims | Medieval History

Sena Dynasty (11th-12th CE)

  • The Sena dynasty rulers were devout Hindus who ruled the Indian subcontinent's northeast region.
  • The dynasty was founded by Samantha Sen in southern India but his successor Vijaya Sena was the real founder in North East India.
  • Deopara Prashasti commissioned by Lakshmana Sena described the Senas as migrant Brahmaksatriyas from Karnataka.
  • Vijayasena defeated the last ruler of the Pala dynasty, Madanapala, and established the Sena dynasty.
  • Next ruler was his son, Ballala Sena who introduced social reforms known as Kulinism in Bengal.
  • He was succeeded by Lakshamanasena, the greatest ruler of this dynasty, who was finally defeated by Muhammad Bhaktiyar Khalji and the dynasty ended.
Map of the Sena Empire | Sena Dynasty (11th to 12th CE) |UPSC Prelims | Medieval History

Chalukyas (6th-12th CE)

  • After the downfall of the Gupta dynasty, Chalukyas rose to power.
  • There are three closely related but individual Chalukyas dynasties. 
    • The Chalukyas of Badami were the successors of Vakatakas' in western Deccan.
    • In the eastern Deccan, Eastern Chalukyas became independent after the death of Pulakesin II, with the capital at Vengi.
    • The Western Chalukyas ruled from Basavakalyan after the fall of Rashtrakutas.
  • It was the first time that a South Indian kingdom seized control of the entire region between the Kaveri and Narmada rivers.
  • A new style of architecture called Vesara developed and Kannada literature was patronized.
  • Also, Telugu literature under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas was developed.
  • Sources include inscriptions like in Badami cave, Kappe Arabhatta record, Peddavaduguru inscription, Kanchi Kailasanatha inscription and Pattadakal Virupaksha Temple inscriptions. 

Rashtrakutas (750-900 CE)

  • Dantivarman or Dantidurga was its founder with capital at Malkhed near Solapur, by overthrowing the Chalukyas.
  • Krishna I was the greatest ruler who defeated the Pallavas and established dominance over parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
    • He started the art of sculpting and built the largest rock-cut Hindu structure at Ellora.
  • Amoghvarsha was the next greatest ruler who contributed to Literature by writing Kavirajamarga and Prasnottara Malika.
  • Next ruler was Indra III who was called the greatest Indian King by Al Masudi.
  • Krishna III fought against Paramaras of Malwa, eastern Chalukya of Vengi and Cholas of Tanjore.
    • He patronized poets Pampa and Ponna who were called Ratnatraya along with Ranna.
Rashtrakutas | UPSC | History

Cheras (9th-12th CE)

  • The Cheras were a Dravidian sovereign dynasty who ruled in two periods. The early Chera between the 4th and 5th centuries BC and the Later Chera (Kulasekharas) between 8th and 12th centuries AD.
  • The Cheras were one of the three major powers of ancient Tamilakam, alongside the Cholas of Uraiyur and the Pandyas of Madurai.
  • Also referred to as 'Keraputras,’ Uthiyan Cheralathan was the founder and is mentioned in Sangam literature. 
  • The later Cheras were dominated by the Kulasekhara Dynasty with Mahodayapuram or Kodungallur as their capital, under whom Vaishnavism spread. 
  • The Kollam Era (a Malayalam calendar system) was initiated by Kulasekhara Cheras which marked the foundation of Kollam city. 
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