Study Notes for UPSC/PCS: States in North India

By SATISH KUMAR GUPTA|Updated : August 10th, 2018

Study Notes for UPSC/PCS: States in North India

The struggle for domination – Palas, Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas – tripartite struggle

  • There was a common struggle between these kingdoms over the control of Kannauj which enabled them to control the fertile upper Gangetic plains

The Palas

  • They dominated Eastern India.
  • Founded by Gopala in 750 AD and succeeded by Dharam Pala. The Pala rulers were defeated by the Prathiharas and Rashtrakutas in the North.
  • They were patrons of Buddhism.
  • Dharmapala revived the Nalanda University by setting aside 200 villages for its expenses. He also founded Vikramashila University and built many Viharas for Buddhist monks.
  • They had trade contacts and cultural links with South-East Asia. Sailendra dynasty sent many ambassadors and asked permission to build a monastery near Nalanda

The Pratiharas

  • They dominated Western India and Upper Gangetic valley
  • The real founder and major ruler was Bhoja with title Adivaraha
  • Al-Masudi, a Baghdad traveller, visited India during the times of Pratiharas in 915-16 AD
  • Rajashekar, a great Sanskrit poet, and dramatist lived at the court of Mahipala
  • The attacks by Rashtrakuta rulers, Indra III and Krishna III led to the faster dissolution of the empire

The Rashtrakutas

  • They dominated Deccan and certain territories in North and South India. Kingdom was founded by Dandi Durga with capital at Malkhed
  • Amogavarsha was a great king. He was credited with writing the first poetics book in Kannada. He also built the Capital city, Manyakhet.
  • They were in the constant contest with the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Chalukyas in the South
  • Krishna I built the rock-cut temple of Shiva at Ellora
  • They had a tolerant religious policy which favoured their foreign trade

Political ideas and Organizations

  • The king was the centre of administration and his position became hereditary
  • Royal household = Antahpur
  • Administration in Palas and Pratiharas
    1. Bhukti – Province under Uparika
    2. Mandala or Visaya – district under Visayapati
    3. Group of Villages – Samanthas or Bhogapatis.
    4. Pattala – smaller unit
  • Administration in the Rashtrakutas
    1. Rashtra – Province under Rashtrapati
    2. Visaya – district
    3. Bhukti – smaller unit
  • Grama-Mahajana – Village elder
  • Kotwal – responsibility to maintain law and order
  • Nad-Gavundas/Desa-gramakutas – hereditary revenue officers in Deccan

The Chola Empire

  • The Chola empire, which arose in the 9th century, brought a large part of the Peninsula under their control. With a strong Navy, they conquered Sri Lanka, Maldives and had a strong foreign trade.
  • The empire was founded by Vijaylala, a feudatory of Pallavas, in 850 AD.
  • Rajaraja (985-1014) and Rajendra I (1014-1044) were the greatest Chola kings. They followed a policy of annexation which included annexing Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pandyas and Cheras to control the prosperous trade with South-East Asian countries
  • Rajarajeshwara temple was built in 1010 at Tanjore.
  • Rajendra I assumed the title Gangaikondachola (the Chola conqueror of Ganga) and instituted a new capital at the banks of Kaveri called “Gangaikondacholapuram”
  • Rajendra I also undertook a naval expedition against revived Sri Vijaya Empire of Indo-China
  • The ruler of Sailendra dynasty had built a Buddhist monastery at Nagapattinam.
  • The strong navy of Chola led to the conversion of Bay of Bengal into “Chola lake”
  • The Cholas encouraged Local Self-Government in the villages under their administration

Chola Government

  • The King administered his territories with advice from his Council of Ministers
  • Chola administration
    1. Mandalams – Provinces
    2. Valanadu – minor provinces
    3. Nadu – district
    4. Kurram – a group of villages
  • Infrastructure: Royal roads were built, irrigation projects were undertaken
  • Village assemblies: the Ur – general assembly of the village; the Mahasabha – the gathering of adult men in Brahmana villages which were called Agraharas

Cultural life

  • They were great builders of Cities (Tanjore, Gangaikondacholapuram), large palaces, banquet halls, spacious gardens, and terraces etc.
  • Dravida style of temple architecture attained its climax. The temple had become so elaborate like a mini city and enjoyed revenue-free grants of lands for its expenses
  • Kailashnath temple in Kanchi, Brihadeswara temple in Tanjore are examples of Dravidian architecture
  • After the fall of Cholas, the Hoysalas continued the tradition with building temples in Halebid (Hoysaleshwara temple), an example of Chalukyan architecture.
  • Sculpture art attained its heights with Gomateshwar statue in Sharvana Belagola and Bronze Nataraja statue
  • Along with Sanskrit literature, the local language literature also grew in this region
  • Bhakti movement started with Alvars and Nayanars flourished in 6th to 9th Their writings “Tirumurai” is seen as Fifth Veda. Kamban’s Ramayan is also considered as a classic in Tamil literature.
  • Pampa, Ponna, and Ranna are regarded as the three gems of Kannada Poetry

Thus, this period had a flourishing trade and commerce, great temple building activities and promising literary works.

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