The Kadamba Kingdom of Karnataka – Successors of Pallavas – 340 CE – 537 CE

The Kadamba Dynasty (around 340 CE – 537 CE) was a powerful royal family which ruled over present Northern Karnataka and some nearby areas with Bavanasi as their capital.

Kadamba Empire Map 340 CE - 537 CE

Kadamba Empire Map 340 CE – 537 CE

Ancestry of Kadamba Dynasty

Mayurasharma (around 340 CE) is credited to be the founder of this dynasty by defeating the Pallavas. He was succeeded by his son Kangavarma (around 355 CE) who had to engage in wars with the Vakataka Kingdom to protect his own kingdom. Raghu, the son of Kangavarma succeeded him but he was killed in a war with the Pallavas. After Raghu’s death his brother, Kakushtavarma ruled over the Kadamba Kingdom. The Kadamba kingdom rose to the pinnacle of their power under the leadership of King Kakushtavarma with larger areas of Karnataka under their domination.

King Kakushtavarma got one of his daughters married to Skanda Gupta of the powerful Gupta dynasty of the North and another daughter to the King Narendrasena, belonging to the Vakataka Empire to establish cordial relationships with them. Kakushtavarma also established such a marital relationship with the Western Ganga Dynasty. Kakushtavarma’s court also witnessed the visit of a famous poet Kalidasa.

Kadamba Dynasty – Art and Culture

The Kadamba Dynasty was the first to introduce the Kannada language into the administrative scenario of the kingdom. The Kadamba kings took up the title ‘Dharmamaharajas’ and were the followers of Hinduism. Mayurasharma was a Brahmin by origin. But his successors added the title ‘Varma’ to their names to show that they belonged to the Kshatriya caste. Several Kadamba kings including King Krishna Varma II performed the ‘Ashvamedha Yagna’. Records indicate that the Kadamba kings patronised Jainism as well. Arts and literature flourished in the kingdom during their reign.

Sculpture of Jain Tirthankar, Kadamba Dynasty

Sculpture of Jain Tirthankar, Kadamba Dynasty

The contribution of the Kadamba Kings in the field of architecture cannot be neglected. They built several temples, the Madhukeshwara temple situated in Bavanasi being the most noteworthy among them. The Kings also built several Jain Basadi.

Kadamba Dynasty – Administration

The entire kingdom was divided in to Mandala, which were further divided into Vishaya to facilitate administration. Again, Vishayas were divided into Mahagram. The Prime Minister was known as ‘Pradhana’, who helped the king in administration. Various types of taxes such as Perjunka , Vaddaravula, Bilkoda, Kirukula were collected. One-sixth of the total production was levied as tax from the inhabitants of the Kadamba Kingdom.

Bhuvaraha Narasimha Temple Halasi, North Karnataka - Kadamba Architecture

Bhuvaraha Narasimha Temple Halasi, North Karnataka – Kadamba Architecture

The Decline of Kadamba Dynasty

After Kakushtavarma, the only noteworthy ruler was Ravivarma who defeated the Vakatakas and extended the kingdom to river Narmada in the North. Ravivarma also engaged in a series of wars with the Pallavas and the West Ganga Dynasty. However after his death, the kingdom was plagued by feuds within the family and the power of the dynasty declined with time. The kingdom was conquered by the Chalukyas and later by the Rashtrakutas. However, the Kadamba Dynasty ruled for about 500 years as feudatory kings under the Chalukya and Rashtrakuta Kingdoms.

By: Shivashish Chaliha

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  1. Pingback: ಕರ‍್ನಾಟಕ ಮತ್ತು ಕನ್ನಡಕ್ಕೆ ಕದಂಬರ ಕೊಡುಗೆ | ಹೊನಲು

  2. Sachin Inamdar says:

    We should try to search for the Kannada inscriptions around the places where Kadambas ruled as this would led to a major discovery of the Kannada Language.
    Iam sure Kadambas are somehow related to the Chutus of Banavasi as well. 🙂

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