|Official Languages||Sanskrit , Telugu|
|Succeeding states||Chola, Western Chalukya|
Eastern Chalukyas were a South Indian dynasty whose kingdom was located in the present day Andhra Pradesh. Their capital was Vengi and their dynasty lasted for around 500 years from the 7th century until c. 1130 C.E. when the Vengi kingdom merged with the Chola empire. The Vengi kingdom was continued to be ruled by Eastern Chalukyan kings under the protection of the Chola empire until 1189 C.E., when the kingdom succumbed to the Hoysalas and the Yadavas. They had their capital originally at Vengi near Nidadavole of the West Godavari district end later changed to Rajamahendravaram (Rajamundry).
Eastern Chalukyas were closely related to the Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami). Throughout their history they were the cause of many wars between the more powerful Cholas and Western Chalukyas over the control of the strategic Vengi country. The five centuries of the Eastern Chalukya rule of Vengi saw not only the consolidation of this region into a unified whole, but also saw the efflorescence of Telugu culture, literature, poetry and art during the later half of their rule. It can be said to be the golden period of Andhra history.
Pulakesin II (608–644 C.E), the greatest Badami Chalukya king, conquered the eastern Deccan, corresponding to the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh 616 C.E., defeating the remnants of the Vishnukundina kingdom. He appointed his brother Kubja Vishnu Vardhana as Viceroy. On the death of Pulakesin II, the Vengi Viceroyalty developed into an independent kingdom. Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi outlived the main Vatapi dynasty by many generations.
Between 641 C.E. and 705 C.E. some kings, except Jayasimha I and Mangi Yuvaraja, ruled for very short durations. Then followed a period of unrest characterised by family feuds and weak rulers. Meanwhile, the Rashtrakutas of Malkhed ousted Western Chalukyas of Badami. The weak rulers of Vengi had to meet the challenge of the Rashtrakutas, who overran their kingdom more than once. There was no Eastern Chalukya ruler who could check them until Gunaga Vijayaditya III came to power in 848 C.E. The then Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha treated him as his ally and after Amoghavarsha's death, Vijayaditya proclaimed independence.
In its early life, the Eastern Chalukya court was essentially a republic of Badami, and as generations passed, local factors gained in strength and the Vengi monarchy developed features of its own. External influences still continued to be present as the Eastern Chalukyas had had long and intimate contact, either friendly or hostile, with the Pallavas, the Rashtrakutas, the Cholas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani.
The Eastern Chalukyan government was a monarchy based on the Hindu philosophy. The inscriptions refer to the traditional seven components of the state (Saptanga), and the eighteen Tirthas (Offices), such as
No information is available as to how the work of administration was carried out. The Vishaya and Kottam were the administrative subdivisions known from records. The Karmarashtra and the Boya-Kottams are examples of these. The royal edicts (recording gifts of lands or villages) are addressed to all Naiyogi Kavallabhas, a general term containing no indication of their duties, as well as to the Grameyakas, the residents of the village granted. The Manneyas are also occasionally referred in inscriptions. They held assignments of land or revenue in different villages.
Fratricidal wars and foreign invasions frequently disturbed the land. The territory was parcelled out into many small principalities (estates) held by the nobility consisting of collateral branches of the ruling house such as those of Elamanchili, Pithapuram and Mudigonda, and a few Kshatriya families (Kona Haihayas (Heheya, Kalachuris), Kolanu Saronathas etc.), closely connected by marriage ties with the Eastern Chalukyas and other Kshatriya and non-Kshatriya Families (Chagis, Parichedas, Kota Vamsas, Velanadus, Kondapadamatis,etc.) who were raised to high position for their loyal services. When the Vengi ruler was strong, the nobility paid allegiance and tribute to him, but when the weakness was apparent, they were ready to join hands with the enemies against the royal house.
The population in the Vengi country was heterogeneous in character. Yuan Chwang, who travelled in the Andhra country after the establishment of the Eastern Chalukya kingdom, noted that the people were of a violent character, were of a dark complexion and were fond of arts. The society was based on hereditary caste system. Even the Buddhists and Jains who originally disregarded caste, adopted it. Besides the four traditional castes, minor communities like Boyas and Savaras (Tribal groups) also existed.
The Brahmins were held in high esteem in the society. They were proficient in Vedas and Shastras and were given gifts of land and money. They held lucrative posts such as councillors, ministers and members of civil service. They even entered the army and some of them rose to positions of high command. The Kshatriyas were the ruling class. Their love of intrigue and fighting was responsible for civil war for two centuries. The Komatis (Vaisyas) was flourishing trading community. Their organisation into a powerful guild (Nakaram) which had its headquarters in Penugonda (West Godavari) and branches in seventeen other centres had its beginnings in this period. It seems there used to be a minister for communal affairs (Samaya Mantri) in the government. The Sudras constituted the bulk of the population and there were several sub-castes among them. The army furnished a career for most of them and some of them acquired the status of Samanta Raju and Mandalika.
Buddhism, which was dominant during the Satavahanas was in decline. Its monasteries were practically deserted. Due to their love of sacred relics in stupas, a few might have lingered on, Yuan Chwang noticed some twenty or more Buddhist monasteries in which more than three thousand monks lived. Jainism, unlike Buddhism, continued to enjoy some support from the people. This is evident from the several deserted images in ruined villages all over Andhra. The inscriptions also record the construction of Jain temples and grants of land for their support from the monarchs and the people. The rulers like Kubja Vishnuvardhana, Vishnuvardhana III and Amma II patronised Jainism. Vimaladitya even became a declared follower of the doctrine of Mahavira. Vijayawada, Jenupadu, Penugonda (West Godavari) and Munugodu were the famous Jain centres of the period. Hinduism was the official religion throughout the Chalukya period. Of the Hindu sects, Saivism was more popular than Vaishnavism.
Some of the rulers, declared themselves as Parama Maheswaras (Emperors). The Buddhist religious centres eventually attained great celebrity as Siva pilgrim centres. Eastern Chalukya rulers like Vijayaditya II, Yuddhamalla I, Vijayaditya III and Bhima I took active interest in the construction of many temples. The temple establishments like dancers and musicians show that during this period, temples were not only a centre of religious worship but a fostering ground for fine arts.
Telugu literature owes its origin to the Eastern Chalukyas. Poetry makes its first appearance in the Addanki and Kandukur inscriptions of Panduranga in the time of Vijayaditya II in the later half of the ninth century. However no literary work of any value appeared until 11th century C.E. Nannaya Bhatta's Mahabharata is the earliest extant work of Telugu literature. Nannaya was the poet-laureate of Rajaraja Narendra in the middle of the eleventh century C.E. An erudite scholar, he was well-versed in the Vedas, Sastras and the ancient epics, he undertook to translation of the Mahabharata in to Telugu. The fact that Narayana Bhatta who was proficient in eight languages assisted him in his endeavour. Though incomplete, his work is universally acclaimed as a masterpiece of Telugu literature. It remains unrivaled for its graceful end dignified diction and sweet and elegant verses.
Due to the widely spread Siva devotional cult in the kingdom the Eastern Chalukyan kings undertook construction of temples on a large scale. Vijayaditya II is credited with the construction of 108 temples. Yuddhamalla I erected a temple to Kartikeya at Vijayawada. Bhima I constructed the famous Draksharama and Chalukya Bhimavaram (Samalkot) temples. Rajaraja Narendra erected three memorial shrines at Kalidindi (West Godavari). The Eastern Chalukyas, following the Pallava and Chalukya traditions, developed their own independent style of architecture, which is visible in the Pancharama shrines (especially the Draksharama temple) and Biccavolu temples. The Golingeswara temple at Biccavolu contains some richly carved out sculptures of deities like Arthnariswara, Siva, Vishnu, Agni, Chamundi and Surya.