The Kalachuris (IAST: Kalacuri) were an Indian dynasty that ruled in
India between 6th and 7th centuries. They are also known
as the Haihayas or as the "early Kalachuris" to distinguish them from
their later namesakes.
The Kalachuri territory included parts of present-day Gujarat, Madhya
Pradesh, and Maharashtra. Their capital was probably located at
Mahishmati. Epigraphic and numismatic evidence suggests that the
earliest of the
Ellora and Elephanta cave monuments were built during
the Kalachuri rule.
The origin of the dynasty is uncertain. In the 6th century, the
Kalachuris gained control of the territories formerly ruled by the
Guptas, the Vakatakas and the Vishnukundinas. Only three Kalachuri
kings are known from inscriptional evidence: Shankaragana,
Krishnaraja, and Buddharaja. The Kalachuris lost their power to the
Chalukyas of Vatapi
Chalukyas of Vatapi in the 7th century. One theory connects the later
Kalachuri dynasties of Tripuri and Kalyani to the Kalachuris of
3 Cultural contributions
5 See also
7 External links
According to the Kalachuri inscriptions, the dynasty controlled
Vidisha and Anandapura. Literary references suggest that
their capital was located at
Mahishmati in the
The dynasty also controlled Vidarbha, where they succeeded the
Vakataka and the
In addition, the Kalachuris conquered northern
Elephanta) by the mid-6th century. Here, they succeeded the Traikutaka
Silver coin of Krishnaraja
Coin of King Kalahasila, a Kalachuri feudatory. Circa (575-610).
The origin of the Kalachuris is uncertain. Krishnaraja (r. c.
550-575) is the earliest known ruler of the dynasty. He issued coins
Brahmi script legends, imitating the design of earlier coins
issued by the Traikutaka and the Gupta kings. His coins featuring a
bull are based on the coins issued by Skandagupta. His silver coins
were circulated widely for around 150 years after his reign.
Krishnaraja's coins describe him as Parama-Maheshvara (devotee of
Shiva). An inscription of his son Shankaragana states that he was
devoted to Pashupati (Shiva) since his birth. Historical evidence
suggests that he may have commissioned the
Shaivite monuments at the
Elephanta Caves and the earliest of the Brahmanical caves at Ellora,
where his coins have been discovered.
Shankaragana (r. c. 575-600) is the earliest ruler of the dynasty to
be attested by his own inscriptions, which were issued from Ujjain and
Nirgundipadraka. His Ujjain grant is the earliest epigraphic record of
Shakaragana's adopted the titles of the Gupta emperor Skandagupta.
This suggests that he conquered western Malwa, which was formerly
under the Gupta authority. His kingdom probably also included parts of
the present-day Gujarat.
Like his father, Shankaragana described himself as a Parama-Maheshvara
(devotee of Shiva).
Buddharaja is the last known ruler of the early Kalachuri dyansty. He
was a son of Shankaragana.
Buddharaja conquered eastern Malwa, but he probably lost western Malwa
to the ruler of Vallabhi. During his reign, the
Mangalesha attacked the Kalachuri kingdom from the south, sometime
after 600 CE. The invasion did not result in a complete conquest, as
evident by Buddharaja's 609-610 CE (360 KE)
Vidisha and 610-611 CE
(361 KE) Anandapura grants. Buddharaja probably lost his sovereignty
to Mangalesha's nephew Pulakeshin II.
Like his father and grand-father, Buddharaja described himself as a
Parama-Maheshvara (devotee of Shiva). His queen Ananta-Mahayi belonged
to the Pashupata sect.
No concrete information is available about the successors of
Buddharaja, but it is known that by 687 CE, the Kalachuris had become
feudatories of the Chalukyas.
An inscription issued by a prince named Taralasvamin was found at
Sankheda (where one of Shankaragana's grants was also found). This
inscription describes Taralasvamin as a devotee of Shiva, and his
Maharaja Nanna as a member of the "Katachchuri" family. The
inscription is dated to the year 346 of an unspecified era. Assuming
the era as Kalachuri era, Taralasvamin would have been a contemporary
of Shankaragana. However, Taralasvamin and Nanna are not mentioned in
other Kalachuri records. Also, unlike other Kalachuri inscriptions,
the date in this inscription is mentioned in decimal numbers.
Moreover, some expressions in the inscription appear to have been
borrowed from the 7th century Sendraka inscriptions. Because of these
V. V. Mirashi
V. V. Mirashi considered Taralasvamin's inscription as a
V. V. Mirashi
V. V. Mirashi connected the
Kalachuris of Tripuri
Kalachuris of Tripuri to the early
Kalachuri dynasty. He theorizes that the early Kalachuris moved their
Mahishmati to Kalanjara, and from there to Tripuri.
Elephanta Caves which contain
Shaivite monuments are located along
Konkan coast, on the
Elephanta Island near Mumbai. Historical
evidence suggests that these monuments are associated with
Krishnaraja, who was also a Shavite.
The Kalachuris appear to have been the rulers of the
when some of the Elephanta monuments were built. Silver coins of
Krishnaraja have been found along the
Konkan coast, on the Salsette
Island (now part of Mumbai) and in the Nashik district. Around 31
of his copper coins have been found on the Elephanta Island, which
suggests that he was the patron of the main cave temple on the
island. According to numismatist Shobhana Gokhale, these low-value
coins may have been used to pay the wages of the workers involved in
the cave excavation.
Ellora Cave No. 29
The earliest of the Brahmanical caves at
Ellora appear to have been
built during the Kalachuri reign, and possibly under Kalachuri
patronage. For example, the
Ellora Cave No. 29 shows architectural and
iconographic similarities with the Elephanta Caves. The earliest
coin found at Ellora, in front of Cave No. 21 (Rameshvara), was issued
The following are the known rulers of the
Kalachuri dynasty of Malwa
with their estimated reigns (
IAST names in brackets):
Krishnaraja (Kṛṣṇarāja), r. c. 550-575 CE
Shankaragana (Śaṃkaragaṇa), r. c. 575-600 CE
Buddharaja (Buddharāja), r. c. 600-625 CE
Kalachuri Era, used by the Kalachuris and so named after them
^ Om Prakash Misra 2003, p. 13.
^ Charles Dillard Collins 1988, p. 6.
^ a b c d e f g h Charles Dillard Collins 1988, p. 9.
^ a b Charles Dillard Collins 1988, pp. 9-10.
^ a b c d e Geri Hockfield Malandra 1993, p. 6.
^ a b c d e f g h Charles Dillard Collins 1988, p. 10.
^ Charles Dillard Collins 1988, pp. 10-11.
V. V. Mirashi
V. V. Mirashi 1974, p. 376.
^ Ronald M. Davidson 2012, p. 37.
Charles Dillard Collins (1988). The Iconography and Ritual of Siva at
Elephanta. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780887067730.
Geri Hockfield Malandra (1993). Unfolding A Mandala: The Buddhist Cave
Temples at Ellora. SUNY Press. ISBN 9780791413555.
Ronald M. Davidson (2012). Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History
of the Tantric Movement. Columbia University Press.
V. V. Mirashi
V. V. Mirashi (1974). Bhavabhuti. Motilal Banarsidass.
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