Rashtrakuta Dynasty – Founder of Rashtrakutas, Rulers, Expansion

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruled the Deccan region for approximately two decades from the 8th – the 10th century CE. While majorly ruling over South India, the Rashtrakutas also took control over many regions in the North. This also affected positively as the control of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty over both North and South India worked towards bridging the gap between the two regions, on an economic and cultural level.

The Rashtrakuta dynasty had its branches all spread across the country that took the reigns of various regions in the early Medieval period. The capital of the Rashtrakutas was Malkhed, near Sholapur.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty

As mentioned earlier, the Rashtrakuta Dynasty ruled major parts of South India for two centuries. The Rashktrakutas managed to rule over various parts of North & South India, including the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, Gujarat & Maharashtra. According to the facts, initially, the rulers of this dynasty were of Hindu origin but eventually, Jain rulers took control.

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty was founded by Dantidurga who supposedly set his capital in Malkhed. He occupied several territories of the Chalukyan Empire and eventually defeated the last Chalukyan king, Kirtivarman II. The whole empire of the Rashtrakutas comprised almost 7 and a half lakh villages touching the northern regions as well.

Founder of Rashtrakuta Dynasty

The word ‘Rashtrakutas’ refers to the word “Rashtra’ in the Sanskrit language, meaning country, and ‘Kuta’ which means ‘Chieftan’. The Emergence and Expansion of the Rashtrakuta Empire heritage goes back to the Mauryan Empire, from the time of King Ashoka in the 3rd century. Few edicts of Ashoka mention the term ‘Rathika’ which indicates the ancestors of the Rashtrakutas. This is the theory supported by some historians but doesn’t possess strong evidence of the ancestry of the Rashtrakutas of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty emerged after king Dantidurga defeated the last Chalukyan ruler and occupied the territory. As Dantidurga did not leave any legal heir to the throne, he was succeeded by his uncle Krishna I.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty Rulers

The information and knowledge on the Rashtrakuta Dynasty can be found in the Ellora & Samugarh inscriptions. A book has also been written by S. Alterkar called “Rashtrakuta and their times” which gives us a good understanding of the Rashtrakutas’ rule in India. There were many rulers who ruled during the period of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. Let us see in detail all the Rashtrakuta Dynasty rulers in chronological order.


The Rashtrakuta Dynasty was founded by Dantidurga. He selected Manyakheta or Malkhed as the capital and was considered a contemporary of Karka II.

  • Dantidurga continued his feat and attacked the capital of the Pallava Dynasty, Kanchi.
  • He also took control of the peripheral territories of the Chalukyan Empire and defeated their king Kirtivarman.
  • He is known to have given himself the many titles of Maharajadhiraja, Parameshvara, Prithivivallabha, and Paramabhattaraka.
  • He did not have a child and therefore could not appoint any future heir to his throne which led to his uncle Krishnaraj I accepting the throne after a dispute with other family members.

Krishnaraja I

Krishna I was the uncle of king Dantidurga. Krishna I succeeded & took over the throne as there was no legal heir to be appointed. He ruled from 756 CE – 774 CE.

  • Krishna I was responsible for ending the rule of the Chalukya Dynasty completely.
  • He further went on to defeat the Gangas of Mysore and extended his kingdom.
  • Krishna I also made the Rashtrakuta Dynasty famous by constructing the Kailasa Temple in Ellora.
  • He had also occupied Madhya Pradesh, Southern Konkana, the Ganga kingdom, complete present-day Maharashtra, major parts of Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.

Govinda II

After the death of Krishnaraja I during 772 – 775 CE, his eldest son, Govinda II succeeded him in 774 – 780 CE. He was conferred with the title of Prabhutavarsha and Vikhramavaloka which meant the man with a heroic look.

  • Govinda II has been infamous in history due to the fact that he was involved in a feud with his younger brother Dhruva who was ruling as Governor in Nasik & Khandesh.
  • This is the reason why his name is left out in some parts of Indian history.
  • Govinda II was overthrown by his brother Dhruva.
  • The reasons for his demise are unknown.

Dhruva Dharavarsha

After Govinda II was overthrown during a civil war, his younger brother Dhruva Dharavarsha took the throne thereafter. He ruled from 780 CE to 793 CE.

  • Dhruva gained the titles of Dharavarsha (heavy Rainer), Shrivallabha (the favorite of fortune), Kali-vallabha (fond of war), and Nirupama (unequaled).
  • His taking over the throne started the golden age of the Rashtrakutas.
  • Dhruva actively and openly punished all the kings who earlier had shown support to his elder brother Govinda II.
  • He went on to defeat the Pala kingdom and Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom which led to the tripartite struggle between the three empires.
  • Dhruva passed on the throne to his youngest son Govinda III.

Govinda III

One of the greatest Rashtrakuta rulers was Govinda III who ruled during 793 – 814 CE. He took over the throne from his father Dhruva and became the most powerful king of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.

  • Govinda III moved on and won many battles thus expanding his kingdom.
  • By displaying his unexpected skills he was able to make his dynasty stronger and more famous from ‘the Himalayas to Cape Comorin’.
  • He also had to first fight through his elder brothers’ rebellions.
  • He passed on the baton to his only son Amoghavarsha I.

Amoghavarsha I

Govinda III during his reign had assigned the throne to his only son Amoghavarsha I. He came to be the greatest ruler of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty during 814 – 878 CE.

  • Amoghavarsha I set up a new capital for his kingdom at Manyakheta.
  • He later converted himself to Jainism.
  • Amoghavarsha I was an ardent supporter of education and literature.
  • He himself was an author.
  • Amoghvarsha I later left his kingdom due to spiritual and religious reasons.

Krishna II

King Amoghvarsha I was succeeded by his son Krishna II after his death around 879 CE. He was given the titles of Akalavarsha & Shubhatunga. He married a Haihaya princess from Chedi.

  • Krishna II was successfully able to terminate the Lata viceroyalty.
  • He was not much successful in expanding the empire but his reign surely saw advancement in literature.

Indra III

Indra III was the successor of Krishna II and was the grandson of Amoghvarsha I. He became a powerful king and defeated Mahipala & gained control over Kannauj in 915 CE.

  • Indraraja was born to Jagattunga & Lakshmi who was a princess of the Kalachuri dynasty.
  • His coronation happened in a small village.
  • He has many military achievements to his credit & gained three titles during his reign.
  • He was later succeeded by king Amoghavarsha II, his elder son.

Krishna III

The next in succession was Krishna III who was the last powerful king of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty. He fought & combated the Chola king- Parantaka I and therefore seized the northern region of the Chola Empire. He is known to have allocated the Chola kingdom to his servants.

  • He was able to take control of Tanjore and Kanchi.
  • Krishna III also defeated the Tamil kings of the Chola kingdom.
  • He also moved on and conquered Rameshwaram and built a temple there.
  • Krishna III’s half-brother Khottiga succeeded him to the throne after his death. Soon enough he was attacked by Krishna III’s opponents & was defeated.


Karkaraja or Karka succeeded king Khottiga who faced defeat at the hands of Krishna III’s opponents & died. The Rashtrakutas were severely destroyed by the Malwa invasion which was followed by an attack by Chalukya king Tailapa II. It is said that king Karkaraja was attacked and killed during the attempt of invasion made by the Chalukya king Tailapa II.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty Administration

The Rashtrakuta Dynasty spread its wings across entire South India touching some parts of North India as well. The ruler or the king was considered the highest power and was selected on the basis of heredity.

  • As is clear by the title, the empire was divided into smaller ‘Rashtras’ or provinces. These provinces or Rastras were governed by their respective ‘Rashtrapati’.
  • The Rashtras were further divided into ‘Vishayas’ or districts and were controlled by ‘Vishayapatis’.
  • A position named ‘Nadugowda’ was handed over to the person responsible for overseeing the districts.
  • There was a proper village administration during the time of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty which was taken care of by the village headmen.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty Art & Architecture

There are several great examples of the magnificent art & architecture of the Rashtrakutas. Various kings built many beautiful temples that are famously known for their architecture.

  • The architectural style of the Rashtrakutas Dynasty was identified as Dravidian.
  • One of the most famous temples at Ellora named Kailasanatha was built by king Krishna.
  • The famous rock-cut cave temples – Elephanta caves & Ellora were built during the reign of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.
  • Amoghavarsha I had dedicated 5 Jain temples at Ellora.
  • Two other famous sculptures at Elephanta built during the Rashtrakutas reign were Ardhanaarishwar and Maheshamurti.

Kailasanatha Temple

Elephanta Caves

The Kailasa temple is built by carving out of a huge rock.

Elephanta is basically an island near Mumbai which was originally called Sripuri.

It is located in Cave 16 at Ellora.

The temple was later named Elephanta by the Portuguese after spotting a large figure of the elephant.

The architecture of the temple can identify as style followed by Pallava & Chalukya.

The most famous sculpture here is the Trimurthi represents lord Shiva in three forms preserver, creator, and destroyer.

The temple built by Rashtrakutas consists of figures of elephants & lions.

The temple also consists of sculptures of Goddess Durga & Ravana.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty Religion & Language

The Rashtrakutas were the ones who majorly used & popularized the Kannada language. They used it as a medium of communication on a daily basis. Another language that they supported was Sanskrit which was widely promoted by king Amoghavarsha I.

  • There is evidence of Kannada poetry flourishing during the time as well.
  • The Sanskrit works of Amoghavarsha I became quite famous around Asian countries.
  • King Amoghavarsha I supported Jainism.
  • There are also signs of Vaishnavism and Saivism flourishing during the reign of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.

As is evident from the above information the rule of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty brought enough growth and development during that time. There is other evidence of active trade & commerce between the Rashtrakutas and the Arabs.

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