The Western Ganga Dynasty was a powerful clan which ruled over Karnataka from 350 CE They are called as Western Ganga Dynasty to differentiate them from the Eastern Ganga Dynasty of Orissa. The founder of this dynasty was Konganivarman Madhava. In the beginning of their rule, their capital was in Kolar which was later shifted to Talakad in present Mysore. The dynasty ruled independently till the rise of the Chalukyas. They accepted the lordship of the Chalukyas , ruled under them as feudatory rulers and assisted them against the Pallavas. Later on after the decline of the Chalukyas, they resisted for about a century against the Rashtrakutas. King Shivamara II is well known for his struggle against the Rashtrakuta King Dhruva Dharavarsha. In his final battle, he was defeated and killed. The resistance continued till the reign of King Ramachalla. In order to resist from indulging in any further battles with the Western Ganga Dynasty, Rashtrakuta King Amoghavarsha I established marital relationship with the Western Ganga Dynasty by giving his daughter in marriage to prince Butuga I, the son of Western Ganga ruler, Ereganga Neetimarga. After this they ruled as feudatory rules under the Rashtrakutas. King Butuga II aided the Rashtrakutas in defeating the Cholas. During about 1000 CE, the Western Ganga kingdom fell into the hands of the Cholas under King Rajaraja Chola I.
The Administration of the Western Ganga Dynasty:
The administration of the Western Ganga Dynasty was based on the doctrines of the ‘Arthashastra’. For the convenience of administrating the kingdom, it was divided into Rashtras. The Rashtras were further divided into Visayas. The Prime Minister was known as ‘Sarvadhikari’, Foreign Minister as ‘Sandhivirgrahi’ and the treasurer as ‘Shribhandari’. Taxes like anthakara, utkota, sulika, Mannadare, Kirudere, Bittuvatta and others were levied on the inhabitants of the kingdom.
Religion of the Kings of the Western Ganga Dynasty:
The Western Ganga Dynasty patronized both Hinduism and Jainism. King Madhava and King Harivarman were orthodox Hindus. King Vishnugopa followed ‘Vaishnavism’ and King Butuga II was devoted to Jainism. King Durvinita performaed Vedic sacrifices and was a staunch Hindu.
Contribution of the Western Ganga Dynasty in the field of literature:
During the rule of the Western Ganga Dynasty, Kannada and Sanskrit literature flourished. However most of the literary works of that period are extinct. ‘Chavundaraya Purana’ written by Chavundaraya, the minister of King Butuga II is one of the literary works that exist even today. It is a prose book in the Kannada language. King Durvinita wrote prose in the Kannada language. Gunavarma I wrote two books named Sudraka and Harivamsa under the patronage of King Ereganga Neetimarga II.
The Western Ganga Dynasty will be always remembered for their power and contribution to literature and architecture.