Kalachuris of Tripuri

Kalachuris of Tripuri
possibly 7th century–13th century
Capital Tripuri
Government monarchy
possibly 7th century
13th century
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Delhi Sultanate
Today part of  India

The Kalachuris of Tripuri, also known the Kalachuris of Chedi, ruled parts of central India during 7th to 13th centuries. Their core territory included the historical Chedi region (also known as Dahala-mandala), and their capital was located at Tripuri (present-day Tewar near Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh).

The origin of the dynasty is uncertain, although one theory connects them to the Kalachuris of Mahishmati. By the 10th century, the Kalachuris of Tripuri had consolidated their power by raiding neighbouring territories and by fighting wars with the Gurjara-Pratiharas, the Chandelas and the Paramaras. They also had matrimonial relations with the Rashtrakutas and the Chalukyas of Kalyani.

In the 1030s, the Kalachuri king Gangeyadeva assumed imperial titles after achieving military successes at his eastern and northern frontiers. The kingdom reached its zenith during the reign of his son Lakshmikarna, who assumed the title Chakravartin after military campaigns against several neighbouring kingdoms. He also controlled a part of the Paramara and Chandela kingdoms for a brief period.

The dynasty gradually declined after Lakshmikarna, whose successors lost control of their northern territories to the Gahadavalas. Trailokyamalla, the last known ruler of the dynasty, ruled at least until 1212 CE, but it is not certain how and when his reign ended. In the later half of the 13th century, the former Kalachuri territories came under the control of the Paramaras and the Chandelas, and ultimately under the Delhi Sultanate.


According to the 12th century poem Prithviraja Vijaya, the Kalachuris of Tripuri descended from Kartavirya, a legendary Heheya king who ruled from Mahishmati, through one Sahasikh ("courageous").[1] Historian V. V. Mirashi connected the Kalachuris of Tripuri to the early Kalachuris of Mahishmati, who ruled in the west-central India. Mirashi theorized that the early Kalachuris moved their capital from Mahishmati to Kalanjara at the end of the 7th century, and finally moved to Tripuri.[2] However, there is no concrete evidence that conclusively proves that the two dynasties were related.[3]

Early rulers

Little is known about the earliest rulers of the dynasty, who find mentions in the inscriptional genealogies. The earliest extant inscriptions of the dynasty have been discovered at Chhoti Deori and Sagar. These inscriptions are from the reign of Shankaragana I, and have been dated to the 8th century CE.[4]

Shankaragana III, who ascended the Kalachuri throne around 970 CE, adopted an aggressive expansion policy. He defeated the contemporary Gurjara-Pratihara king, who was probably Vijayapala. He probably died in a battle against the Chandelas.[5] Shankaragana was succeeded by his younger brother Yuvarajadeva II, who established matrimonial relations with the Kalyani Chalukya ruler Tailapa II.[6] The Paramara king Munja, who was an enemy of Tailapa, invaded the Kalachuri kingdom and raided their capital Tripuri.[7] After the death of Yuvarajadeva II, the ministers placed his son Kokalla II on the throne.[8]

According to the Gurgi inscription of Kokalla, three neighbouring kings were afraid of him: the Gurjara king (possibly the weak Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Rajyapala), the Gauda king (the Pala ruler Mahipala), and the Kuntala king (the Kalayani Chalukya king Vikramaditya V). These claims suggest that Kokalla raided the territories of these kings.[8]

Gangeyadeva, the son and successor of Kokalla II, ascended the throne around 1015 CE.[9] During the early part of his reign, he served as a vassal to another king, possibly the Paramara king Bhoja.[10] He fought a war against the Chalukyas of Kalyani, possibly as a vassal of Bhoja. The triple alliance of Bhoja, Gangeyadeva and Rajendra Chola engaged the Chalukya king Jayasimha II at multiple frontiers.[11] Both Kalachuri and Chalukya inscriptions claim success in this war: it appears that Gangeyadeva and his allies were repulsed after achieving some initial successes.[9]

Bhoja defeated Gangeyadeva in a war, but there is some uncertainty regarding the exact chronology. According to one theory, Bhoja defeated Gangeyadeva before the anti-Chalukya campaign, in which Gangeyadeva fought as a Paramara vassal.[10] Another theory is that the two turned enemies after their campaign against the Chalukyas.[12]

Imperial expansion

In the 1030s, Gangeyadeva achieved military successes at his eastern and northern frontiers, and assumed the titles of a sovereign emperor.[13] In the east, he raided Utkala, assisted by his Ratnapura vassals. The Kalachuris probably defeated the Bhauma-Kara king Shubhakara II in this war.[9] Gangeyadeva also seems to have fought an inconclusive war against Yayati, the Somavanshi ruler of Dakshina Kosala.[9]

In the north, Gangeyadeva expanded his kingdom at the expense of the Chandelas, who had been weakened by Ghaznavid invasions.[14] He suffered a defeat against the Chandela king Vijayapala,[15] but ultimately extended his control over the sacred cities of Varanasi and Prayaga.[13] During his reign, the Ghaznavid general Ahmad Niyaltigin raided Varanasi in 1033 CE.[16]

Gangeyadeva's successor Lakshmikarna (r. c. 1041-1073 CE), was the most noted military commander of the dynasty. He assumed the title Chakravartin after several successful campaigns against his neighbours. In the east, he invaded Anga and Vanga (modern Bengal).[17] In Vanga, he defeated a Chandra king, possibly Govindachandra.[17] Later, Lakshmikarna also invaded the Pala-ruled Gauda region.[18] His invasion was repulsed by Nayapala. The Tibetan accounts suggest that the Buddhist monk Atisha negotiated a peace treaty between the two kings.[19] Lakshmikarna also seems to have raided Gauda during the reign of Nayapala's successor Vigrahapala III. The two kings ultimately concluded a peace treaty, with Lakshmikarna's daughter Yuvanashri marrying the Pala king.[18]

In the south-west, Lakshmikarna fought an inconclusive war with the Kalyani Chalukya king Someshvara I.[17] He also seems to have fought with his south-eastern neighbour, the Chola king Rajadhiraja.[17] In the east, he defeated a Gurjara king, who can be identified with the Chaulukya king Bhima I.[17]

In the mid-1050s, Lakshmikarna and Bhima allied against the Paramara king Bhoja. The two attacked the Paramara kingdom of Malwa simultaneously from opposite directions.[18] According to the 14th century chronicler Merutunga, Bhoja died just as the two kings attacked Malwa. Lakshmikarna seized the Paramara kingdom, prompting Bhima to launch an expedition to recover his share of the war spoils.[18] Within a short time, Lakshmikarna lost the control of Malwa to Bhoja's successor Jayasimha, who received help from the Kalyani Chalukya prince Vikramaditya VI[18] Subsequently, Karna allied with Vikramaditya's rival and brother Someshvara II, and again invaded Malwa. However, the two were forced to retreat by Bhoja's brother Udayaditya.[20]

Lakshmikarna also subjugated the Chandela king Devavarman (r. c. 1050-1060 CE), who seems to have died in a battle against him.[18] He seems to have retained control of a large part of the Chandela territory for over a decade, before being ousted by Devavarman's successor Kirttivarman in the 1070s CE.[18]


Lakshmikarna's son Yashahkarna (r. c. 1073-1123 CE) raided some neighbouring territories, but lost the northern parts of his kingdom, including Varanasi, to the Gahadavalas.[21] He also suffered defeats against the Paramara king Lakshmadeva and the Chandela king Sallakshanavarman.[22]

Yashahkarna's son Gayakarna married a granddaughter of the Paramara king Udayaditya, which led to peace between the two kingdoms.[22] However, he seems to have suffered reverses against the Chandela king Madanavarman.[23] The Kalachuris of Ratnapura, who had earlier served as vassals of the Tripuri Kalachuris, declared their independence during Gayakarna's reign. Gayakarna unsuccessfully tried to reduce them to submission.[22]

Gayakarna's son Narasimha recovered the territories lost to Madanavarman. Narasimha seems to have died heirless, as he was succeeded by his brother Jayasimha.[22] Jayasimha suffered a defeat against the Chandela king Paramardi. He also sent an unsuccessful expedition against the Ratnapura Kalachuris to reduce them to submission.[24]

During the reign of Jayasimha's successor Vijayasimha, a northern feudatory named Sallakshana unsuccessfully tried to overthrow the Kalachuri suzerainty.[25] Vijayasimha's successor Trailokyamalla is known to have ruled at least until 1212 CE. He claimed the title "Lord of Kanyakubja", but in absence of any corroborative evidence, it cannot be said with certainty if he actually captured Kanyakubja.[25]

Trailokyamalla is the last known king of his dynasty. It is not known when and how his rule ended. It is known that in the later half of the 13th century, the former Kalachuri territories came under the control of the Paramaras, Chandelas, the Delhi Sultanate and the Seunas (Yadavas of Devagiri).[26]

List of rulers

The following is a list of the Tripuri Kalachuri rulers, with estimates of their reigns:[27]



Further reading

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