Historical Events in Maharashtra (Part II)

By Saroj Singh|Updated : February 26th, 2020

The history of Maharashtra occupies a unique position in the history of India as a whole. Ruling dynasties play a significant role in shaping political, cultural, socio-economical and linguistic aspects of a region. It is implicit that they also govern territorial aspects. Therefore, one cannot neglect the various ruling dynasties right from ancient times.

Historical Events in Maharashtra (Part II)

Maharashtra has a long pre and proto-historic past and has been witnessing human settlements since time immemorial. The name 'Maharashtra' finds its mention as 'Moholesh' in the travel account of Chinese traveller, Huan Tsang in the 7th century AD. This is the first reference in recorded history. The Maharashtra region became a part of the Magadha Empire in the 2nd Century BC. Konkan region remained under the control of the Mauryas, whose policies led to significant advancement in the fields of trade and Buddhist learning in the area. The Damal (1095 AD) and Miraj (1110AD) inscriptions reflect that some parts of Maharashtra have been under the Mauryan empire during the period of 321 BC and 184BC. These cave inscriptions show that the several sections in the society in Maharashtra were devotees of Buddhism and Jainism.

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Present-Day Maharashtra has been ruled by several empires, including the Mauryas, Satvahana dynasty, the Vakataka dynasty, the Chalukya dynasty and the Rashtrakuta dynasty. Some of the most significant architectural works have been carried during this time. After the disintegration of the Mauryan Empire, the Satvahanas (230BC-225AD) came to rule this region. 

Satavahana Dynasty

The native successors of the Mauryas in the Deccan and in central India were the Satavahana. Simuka founded the dynasty. 

  • The earliest inscriptions of the Satavahanas belong to the first century B.C when they defeated the Kanvas and established their power in parts of central India. 
  • They set up their power in the upper Godavari valley, which at present produces rich and diverse crops in Maharashtra. 
  • The Satavahanas kept some of the administrative units found in Ashokan times.
  • The administration in the rural areas was placed in the hands of gaulmika, who was the head of a military regiment consisting of 9 chariots, 9 elephants, 25 horses and 45 foot-soldiers.
  • From the very beginning kings and queens performed the Vedic sacrifices such as the asvamedha, vajapeya etc. They also worshipped many Vaishnava gods such as Krishna, Vasudeva, and others. They paid liberal sacrificial fees to the brahmanas.
  • Buddhism flourished in the Nasik and Junnar areas in the western Deccan in Maharashtra, where it seems to have supported by the traders.
  • In the Satvahana phase, many chaityas (Sacred Shrines) and monasteries were cut out of the solid rock in the north-western Deccan or Maharashtra with great skill and patience.
  • The official language of the Satavahanas was Prakrit. All inscriptions were composed in this language and written in the Brahmi Script. Some Satavahana kings may have composed Prakrit books. One Prakrit text called Gathasattasai or the Gathasaptasati is attributed to a Satavahana king named Hala.


The Gupta period is called the Golden Age of ancient India. The Guptas possessed a large amount of gold, whatever might be its source, and they issued the largest number of gold coins.

  • The substantial remains of paintings of this period are found at Ajanta, Bagh, Badami and other places. At Ajanta, we see the entire panorama of contemporary Indian culture.
  • They depict various events in the life of Gautama Buddha and the previous Buddhas. These paintings are lifelike and natural, and the brilliance of their colours has not faded even after fourteen centuries. However, there is nothing to show that the Guptas were the patrons of the Ajanta Paintings.


The eastern region of Maharashtra was conquered by the Vakatakas 250 AD -525 AD who were rulers of the state. The Vakataka kingdom had vast expanse. In the north, it extended from the southern extremities of Malwa (present Madhya Pradesh)and Gujarat. Upto the Tungabhadra river in the south and from the Arabian Sea in the west to the edges of Chhattisgarh in the east the Vakataka kingdom was extended.


The origin of Rashtrakutas is debatable. The Rashtrakutas considered themselves descendants of Satyaki. Architecture contribution of Rashtrakuta to Indian art is noteworthy with a rock-cut shrine at Ellora and Elephanta holding the place of pride. During the reign of Rashtrakutas, the ancient rock-cut architecture reached its zenith.

  • The famous Kailasa temple built by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I is a unique and marvellous piece art.
  • Other eminent sculptures at Elephanta include Ardhanarishvara and Maheshamurthy. Few other well-known rock-cut temples in Maharashtra are the Dhumer Lena and Dashvatara cave temples in Ellora and the Jogeshvari temple near Mumbai.


Rashtrakuta were defeated in 973 by Chalukya who ruled parts of Maharashtra until 1189. There were three distinct but related Chalukya dynasties- Badami Chalukya, Eastern Chalukya and Western Chalukya.


With the history of Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri Maharashtra and Marathi culture begins. The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the western Chalukyas. The Yadavas of Devagiri dynasty at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh. Its capital was at Devagiri.

  • Around the middle of the 12th century, they declared independence and established rule. 
  • The Yadavas practised religious tolerance, patronised the Marathi language, which received the status of a court- language.

In 1294 Ala-ud-din Khalji captured Devagiri. In 1310 last Yadav ruler was killed in the battle, and Khalji's army occupied Devagiri. Muhammad Tughluq subsequently renamed the city Daultabad. Hereafter, there is a shift from ancient to the medieval era in Maharashtra. 


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