Dawn of Civilization in South India (50 B.C. – 540 C.E/A.D.)

Dawn of Civilization in South India (50 B.C. – 540 C.E/A.D.)



  1. What are the developments in south India from 50 BC to 240 AD..?
  2. Write a note on early dawn of civilization in south India..?
  3. Write a brief note on the period of dynasties that rule from 50 BC to 540 AD..?
  4. Write a note cultural civilization in South India from 50 BC to 540 AD..?


Civilization features:


  1. Occupation – Agriculture, cultivated cotton, rice, and wheat.
  2. Animal Rearing – Cattle, Sheep & Goat
  3. Graft –mural Paintings, Grey pottery with engravings
  4. Religion – Worshipped idols
  5. script – Brahmi ,Dravidian

Material life and Social Organization:

  1. Castes proliferated into sub-castes varnashramadharma; position of Sudras and women suffered;
  2. Hiuen Tsang and Banabhatta talk about the existence of Remarriage of widow is not permitted and evil system of dowry according to bana was quite common, some high varnas practiced sati also .
  3. Self sufficient village economies.
  4. Paucity of coins and almost complete disappearance of guilds of traders and merchants.
  5. Literary evidence of martial arts in southern India dates back to theSangam literature.


Art and Architecture

  1. Patronage was provided by Satavahanas and Ikshvakus chief inspiration was Mahayana Buddhism. Amaravathi school of art it flourished in the lower valleys of Krishna-Godavari region with amaravathi and nagarjunakonda emerging as its two important centres.
  2. An aunt of Virapurushadatta built a big Stupa of Buddha at Nagarjunakonda and it was concentric in form there were 2 domes and were properly decorated with use of colour tiles.
  3. Cholas were great builders and have left some of the most beautiful examples of early Dravidian temple architecture. Raja Raja Chola built Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur is a fine example and has been listed as one of the United Nations’ World Heritage sites.
  4. Gangaikonda allowed Vijaytungavarman of the Shailendra dynasty to build the Chudamani Vihar at Nagapatanam.
  5. During Pallavas period education in early days was controlled by jains and Buddhists.
  6. The ‘Ghatikas or Brahmanical institutions were attached to the temples and mostly confined to the advance study.
  7. Maths also became popular in all institutions Sanskrit was the medium of instruction.


Administration by Different Kingdoms:

Satavahana Dynasty:

  1. The Satavahanas (50 B.C. – 250 A.D.) also known as the ‘Andhras’, established their kingdom in Deccan in the 1st century B.C. defeating the kanvas.
  2. The Satavahana kingdom reached the peak under Gautamiputra Satakarni.
  3. The great competitors of Satavahanas were the Sakas.
  4. The history of South Indian states is based on Sangam literature.
  5. These three states existed around the beginning of the Christian era.
  6. The Cholas were in the area of Tanjore, The Pandyas centred in Madurai and the Cheras along the Malabar Coast.
  7. The Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas were continually at war with each other.
  8. However, the Cholas gained supremacy over others in the 1st Century B.C.
  9. The period of these three kingdoms is well known for their trade with European countries through sea. The cholas were great sea power and they even occupied Ceylon for some times.
  10. Puhar was the famous Chola Port.
  11. Arabia, Egypt and Rome were important trading partner countries.
  12. Silappadikaram and Manimakalai are the famous twin epics belong to this period.


Andhra Ikshvakus: 200 A.D

  1. Andhra Ikshvakus were originally feudatories of theSatavahanas and bore the title Mahatalavara. Although the Puranas state that seven kings ruled for 100 years in total, the names of only four of them are known from inscriptions.
  2. They were one of the earliest recorded ruling dynasties of the Nalgonda-Khammam-Krishna-Guntur regions ofAndhra Pradesh and Telangana and Their capital was Vijayapuri (Nagarjunakonda).
  3. Archaeological evidence has suggested that the Andhra Ikshvakus immediately succeeded theSatavahanas in the Krishna rivervalley. Ikshvakus have left inscriptions at Nagarjunakonda, Jaggayyapeta, Amaravati and
  4. Vasishthiputra Sri Santamula(Santamula I), the founder of the line, performed the Asvamedha, Agnihotra, Agnistoma andVajapeya
  5. Virapurushadattawas the son and successor of Santamula through his wife Madhari. Almost all the royal ladies were Buddhists. An aunt of Virapurushadatta built a big Stupa at Nagarjunakonda
  6. Virapurushadatta’s sonEhuvula Santamula (Santamula II) ruled after a short Abhira
  7. Rudrapurushadattawas the name of an Ikshvaku ruler found in inscriptions from Gurajala in Guntur districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Pallava Dynasty (A.D.550-750)

The Pallavas were a great south Indian dynasty who ruled between the 3rd century CE until their final decline in the 9th century CE, their capital was Kanchipuramin Tamil Nadu, and their origins are not clearly known. However, it is surmised that they were yadavas and they probably were feudatories of Satavahanas. Pallavas started their rule from Krishna river valley, known today as Palnadu, and subsequently spread to southern Andhra Pradesh and north Tamil Nadu. Mahendravarman I was a prominent Pallava king who began work on the rock-cut temples of Mahabalipuram. His son Narasimhavarman I came to throne in 630 CE. He defeated the Chalukya king Pulakeshin II in 632 CE and burned the Chalukyan capital Vatapi. Pallavas and Pandyas dominated the southern regions of South India between the 6th and the 9th centuries CE.


Minor Chieftains

The minor chieftains played a significant role in the Sangam period. Among them Pari, Kari, Ori, Nalli, Pegan, Ay and Adiyaman were popular for their philanthropy and patronage of Tamil poets. Therefore, they were known as Kadai Yelu Vallalgal. Although they were subordinate to the Chera, Chola and Pandya rulers, they were powerful and popular in their respective regions.

Sangam Polity

Hereditary monarchy was the form of government during the Sangam period. The king had also taken the advice of his minister, court-poet and the imperial court or avai. The Chera kings assumed titles like Vanavaramban, Vanavan, Kuttuvan, Irumporai and Villavar, the Chola kings like Senni, Valavan and Killi and the Pandya kings Thennavar and Minavar. Each of the Sangam dynasties had a royal emblem – carp for the Pandyas, tiger for the Cholas and bow for the Cheras. The imperial court or avai was attended by a number of chiefs and officials. The king was assisted by a large body of officials who were divided into five councils. They were ministers (amaichar), priests (anthanar), military commanders (senapathi), envoys (thuthar) and spies (orrar). The military administration was also efficiently organized during the Sangam Age. Each ruler had a regular army and their respective Kodimaram (tutelary tree).

Land revenue was the chief source of state’s income while custom duty was also imposed on foreign trade. The Pattinappalai refers to the custom officials employed in the seaport of Puhar. Booty captured in wars was also a major income to the royal treasury. Roads and highways were well maintained and guarded night and day to prevent robbery and smuggling.


  1. Pulakesin II(A.D.608-642): The most famous Chalukya king.
  2. Aihole inscription an eulogy written by his court poet Ravikirti.
  3. He defeated Harsha’s army on the Narmada.
  4. Completely defeated the pallavas in 740.
  5. The Rastrakutas bought their hegemony to an end in 757.



  1. Vikramaditya VI( A.D.1076-1126)- He is credited to have started Chalukyan vikram era.
  2. Rashtrakutas (757-973): Originally a feudatory of Chalukyas of badami and overthrew them in A.D.757 and established own dynasty known as the Rashtrakutas of Mankhed.
  3. Important rulers: Dantidurga; Krishna I ( he is credited to have built the Kailasa temple at Ellora); Govind III; Amoghavarsha(the most famous Rashtrakuta king).


THE CHOLAS (850-1279)

  1. In 850 A.D Vajayalaya captured Tanjore from the pallavas. He was feudatory of the pallavas. He took titles of Tanjai Konda and Parkesri and built a durga temple in Tanjore.
  2. During Aditya I’s regin the Cholas freed themselves from the control of pallavas. He defeated the pallava king Aparajita and secured control over the whole Tondaimandalam. He also defeated the Gangas and the pandyas.
  3. Parantaka I was also called Madurai Konda. In the battle of Vellore he defeated the combined armies of pandyas and Singhals and captured Madurai. During his reign the rivalry with Srilanka was started.
  4. In the battle of Takkolam, the combined armies of the Rashtrakutas and the Gangas defeated Parantaka I.
  5. The Uttarmerur of Parantaka I throws light on the local administration of the Cholas.
  6. Parantaka II defeated veer pandya. He also defeated the Srilanka king for having helped the,Pandiyas.
  7. Uttamchola defeated the Rashtrakutas.
  8. Raja Raja I (985-1014) adopted the titles of Aruemolivarman, Mamadi Chodadeva, Jaykonda, Martanda Chola, Mumadi Chola, Keralanath, Singhalatank, Pandkulashini etc.
  9. Raja Raja I defeated the Cheras Chalukyas and Gangas. He captured madura from the Pandyas. He capture northern Ceylon and made Polonnaruva its capital in place of Anuradhapur. He annexed the Maldives.
  10. He built the Brihadeshwar Shive temple in Tanjore which is also called Rajarajeshwar temple.
  11. During his reign, the ruler of Srivijaya built a Vihara at Nagapattanam
  12. Rajendra I (1014-1044) succeeded Rajaraja I. He completed the victory over Ceylon and took its king Mahinda to the Chola kingdom. He defeated the Pandyas and Keralas and formed a new kingdom with its capital at Madurai. His son Rajadhiraja was appointed the viceroy here.
  13. He led an expedition to the north and defeated the pala ruler Mahipala I. he assumed the title of ‘Gangaikonda’ and established a new capital named ‘Gangaikonda cholapuram’. He built a Shiva temple here and excavated a tank called ‘Chodagarg’. He also defeated the Shailendra or Srivijaya King Vijayatungavarman.
  14. During his reign, his son Rajadhiraja suppressed a rebellion of the Pandyas and Cheras.
  15. He assumed the title of ‘Pandit Chola’. Mudikonda Chola,, Nigarilli Chola and Gangaikondachola.
  16. He had allowed Vijaytungavarman of the Shailendra dynasty to build the Chudamani Vihar at Nagapatanam.
  17. We owe much to the concept of Panchayati Raj to the Cholas.
  18. The Chola Empire was divided into 6 provinces called Mandalams. Mandalams were subsequently divided into kottam, Valanadu, Nadu and Gram.
  19. The uttarmerur inscription of Dantivarman Pallava and Parantaka I have thrown sufficient light on the local self government of the Cholas.
  20. Ur was the most common assembly of villages where land was held by different castes. The assembly consisted to tax paying residents.
  21. The sabha or the Mahasabha was the exclusive assembly of the brahamanas who resided in the agrahar villages given to them through brahmadeya grants.
  22. The third type of assembly, the Nagaram was the assembly of merchants in towns.

Pandyan Dynasty:

The Pandyas were one of the three ancient Tamil dynasties (Chola and Chera being the other two) who ruled the Tamil country from pre-historic times until the end of the 15thcentury.They ruled initially from Korkai, a sea port on the southernmost tip of the Indian peninsula, and in later times moved to Madurai.

Pandyas are mentioned in Sangam Literature (c. 100 – 200 CE) as well as by Greek and Roman sources during this period.

Pandyas occupied the present Madurai and Thirunelveli District with part of old Travancore. They excelled in trade and learning. A Pandya king sent an emissary to the Roman Emperor Augustus in the first century BC. The Pandya kingdom rose to fame during the 13th century. Kafur conquered the kingdom in early 14th century. Vijayanagara Empire absorbed it after a brief period

Grey pottery with engravings, Arikamedu, 1st century CE.The early Pandyan dynasty of the Sangam literature went into obscurity during the invasion of the Kalabhras. The dynasty revived under Kadungon in the early 6th century, pushed the Kalabhras out of the Tamil country and ruled from Madurai. They again went into decline with the rise of the Cholas in the 9th century and were in constant conflict with them. Pandyas allied themselves with the Sinhalese and the Keralas in harassing the Cholaempire until they found an opportunity for reviving their fortunes during the late 13th century. Jatavarman SundaraPandyan (c. 1251) expanded their empire into the Telugu country and invaded Sri Lanka to conquer the northern half of the island. They also had extensive trade links with the Southeast Asian maritime empires of Srivijaya and their successors. During their history Pandyas were repeatedly in conflict with the Pallavas, Cholas, Hoysalas and finally the Muslim invaders from the Delhi Sultanate. The Pandyan Kingdom finally became extinct after the establishment of the Madurai Sultanate in the 14th century. The Pandyas excelled in both trade and literature. They controlled the pearl fisheries along the south Indian coast, between Sri Lanka and India, which produced one of the finest pearls known in the ancient world.

Chera Dynasty:


p style=”padding-left: 30px; text-align: justify;”>The Chera kingdom was one of the Tamil dynasties who ruled the southern India from ancient times until around the 12th century CE. The Early Cheras ruled over the Malabar Coast, Coimbatore, Erode, Namakkal, Karur and Salem Districts in South India, which now forms part of the modern day Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Throughout the reign of the Early Cheras, trade continued to bring prosperity to their territories, with spices, ivory, timber, pearls and gems being exported to the Middle East and to southern Europe. Evidence of extensive foreign trade from ancient times can be seen throughout the Malabar coast (Muziris), Karur and Coimbatore districts.

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