The main Chalukya dynasty survived until 753 when one of its feudatories seized power and installed a new dynasty on the throne. This was the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

The Rashtrakutas were more expansionist than the Chalukyas had been. 

They became involved in the great power struggles in both northern, where they competed with the powerful Gurjara-Pratihara and Pala kingdoms for dominance (a contest known to modern scholars as the Tripartite Struggle); and southern India, where they contested the power of the Pallava kingdom.

  • Rashtrakuta dynasty called themselves descendants of Satyaki.
  • They were a feudatory of the Badami Chalukyas
  • Dantidurga overthrew Chalukya king Kirtivarman II
  • He built an empire with the Gulbarga region in modern Karnataka as its base.
  • This clan came to be known as the Rashtrakuta of Manyakheta, rising to power in South India.
  • Rashtrakuta dynasty was of Kannada origin and their mother tongue was Kannada or Kanarese.
  • Vaishnavism and Saivism flourished during their period.
  • Active commerce was witnessed between the Deccan and the Arabs.


  • Ellora and samugarh inscription.
  • S Altekar has written book “Rashtrakuta and their times”

Rulers of Rashtrakutas

Dantidurga (735 – 756)

  • Dantidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakutas dynasty.
  • He occupied all territories between the Godavari river and Vima river.
  • Dantidurga occupied Maharashtra by defeating Chalukya King Kirtivarman II.
  • From Samangad Plates and Dasavatara Cave of Ellora we can know about his victory

Krishna I (756-774)

  • Krishna I succeeded Dantidurga.
  • He occupied Konkan coast region.
  • Krishna I also defeated Vishnuvardhana of Vengi (Eastern Chalukyas) and the Ganga king of Mysore.
  • The Monolithic Kailash Temple at Ellora was built by the Krishna I.

Govinda II (774–780 AD)

He left the administration to his younger brother named Dhruva Dharavarsha. Apart from his commitment to exotic joys and an intrusion of Vengi and the ensuing annihilation of Eastern Chalukya ruler Vishnuvardhana IV (when his dad Krishna I was still the Rashtrakuta emperor), very little is thought about Govinda I.

Dhruva (780-793)

  • Dhruva defeated Gurjara Pratihara King Vatsyaraja, the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Pala King Dharmapala of Bengal.
  • He is the most notable ruler of the Rashtrakut dynasty.
  • The Dhulia grant of 779 and Garugadahalli inscription of 782 proclaim Dhruva the emperor.

Govinda III (793-814)

  • Govinda III son of Dhruva succeeded the throne.
  • The Most successful emperor of the Rashtrakut dynasty
  • Govinda III conquered from Cape Comorin in the south to Kannauj in the north, from Banaras in the east to Broach.
  • He defeated the great Gurjara King Nagabhatta II.
  • Pala King Dharmapala and his protege Charayudh sought the help of Govinda III.
  • His kingdom spread up to the Vindhyas and Malava in the north and the river Tungabhadra to the south.

Amoghavarsha I (814- 878)

  • Also known as Sarva (Amoghavarsha I)
  • He was one of the greatest rulers of the Rashtrakuta tradition. 
  • Amoghavarsha I set up a new capital at Manyakheta (now Malkhed in Karnataka State).
  • Broach became the best port of the kingdom during his reign
  • Amoghavarsha wrote Kavirajamarga, a landmark literary work in the Kannada language
  • He was converted into Jainism by Jinasena, a Jaina monk, author of Adipurana.
  • Suleman, an Arab merchant, in his account called Amoghavarsha I as one of the four greatest kings of the world.
  • Amoghavarsha ruled for 63 years.

Krishna II (878-914)

Indra III (914 -929)

  • Indra III was a powerful king.
  • He defeated and deposed Pratihara king Mahipala
  • Indra III was married to princess Vijamba of the Kalachuri dynasty of central India (Chedi)
  • His Jain general Sri Vijaya (who was also a poet) won may wars for his king

Govinda IV

  • He patronised Kannada poet Ravinagabhatta.

Krishna III (939–967)

  • The last powerful and efficient king of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.
  • He also succeeded in conquering Tanjore and Kanchi.
  • Krishna III defeated the Cholas decisively in a battle of Takkolam in the North Arcot district.
  • He patronise the famous Kannada poets Sri Ponna, who wrote Shanti purana, Gajankusha, also known as Narayana, who wrote on erotics, and the Apabhramsha poet, Pushpadanta who wrote Mahapurana
  • We can know about Krishna III from Atakur inscription

Decline Rashtrakuta Dynasty

  • In 972 during the rule of Khottiga Amoghavarsha, the Paramara King Siyaka Harsha attacked and plundered the capital Manyakheta
  • The Rashtrakuta King Karka II was defeated and deposed by Taila or Tailapa II, the Chalukya king of Kalyani.
  • Indra IV, the last king, committed Sallekhana.
  • With the fall of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, their feudatories declared independence.

Rasjtrakuta Dynasty Administration

  • Rashtrakuta kingdom was divided into Rashtras (provinces) – controlled by rashtrapatis.
  • Rashtras divided into Vishayas or districts, governed by Vishayapatis.
  • Subdivision was Bukti, consisting of 50 to 70 villages under the control of  Bhogapatis.
  • Village headmen carried on village administration.
  • Village assemblies played a significant role in the village administration.

Art, Culture and Literature

The Rashtrakuta rulers were great patrons of learning. Kannada and Sanskrit literature made great progress during their reign.

The three gems of ancient Kannada literature –Pampa, Ranna, Ponna were patronised by Rashtrkuta kings. They wrote the following books in Kannada

  • Pampa- Adipurana, vikramarjuna vijaya
  • Ranna- Gadhayudha
  • Ponna- Shantipurana

Amoghvarsha wrote Kavirajamarga, first book on poetics in kannada

Mahaveeracharya , a mathematician , wrote Ganithasarasangraha in sanskrit.

Halayudha wrote Kavirahasya in Sanskrit.

The Rashtrakutas constructed surely understood Jain temples at areas, for example, Lokapura in Bagalkot locale and their reliable feudatory, the Western Ganga Dynasty, assembled Jain landmarks at Shravanabelagola and Kambadahalli.

Lord Amoghavarsha I was a follower of the Jain acharya Jinasena.

Ellora, Ajantha and Elephanta are centres of their art.


They built structural temple , cave temple and Basadis. Ellora, Ajantha and Elephanta are centres of their art.

Kailasa Temple:

Kailasa Temple:
Kailasa Temple:

it was built by the 8th century Rashtrakuta King Krishna I between the year 756 and 773 AD. Cave 16, known as the Kailasha temple, is a particularly notable cave temple in India as a result of its size, architecture and having been entirely carved out of a single rock.

Other shrines carved from the same rock are dedicated to Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, the ten avatars of Vishnu, Vedic gods and goddesses including Indra, Agni, Vayu, Surya and Usha, as well as non-Vedic deities like Ganesha, Ardhanarishvara (half Shiva, half Parvati), Harihara (half Shiva, half Vishnu), Annapurna, Durga and others.

The scenes of Ramayana were also depicted on the walls.

Dasavathara cave:

Dasavathara cave:
Dasavathara cave:

Cave 15, Dashavatara Cave is one of the finest at Ellora. The two storeyed temple contains mesmerising Shiva Nataraja and a Shiva emerging from Lingam while Vishnu and Brahma pay homage. finest relief of this cave is the one depicting the death of Hiranyakashipu, where Vishnu in man-lion (Narasimha) form, emerges from a pillar to lay a fatal hand upon his shoulder.

Other reliefs in Cave 15 include the Gangadhara, marriage of Shiva and Parvati, Tripurantika of Shakti tradition, Markendeya, Garuda, aspects of life, Nandi in mandapa, dancing Shiva, Andhakasura, Govardhanadhari, Gajendravarada and others.

Elephanta cave:

Elephanta cave:
Elephanta cave:

Elephanta, which is an island 6 miles from Mumbai has 7 caves.The Portuguese after seeing the large elephant named it elephant. The sculptural art of Rashtrakutas reached its zenith in this place.

The sculptures such as Nataraja and Sadashiva excel even that of the Ellora sculptures in
beauty and crafsmanship. Ardhanarishvara and Maheshamurti are the other famous sculptures.

The most imposing figure of this temple is Trimurthi It is said to represent the three aspects of Shiva as creator, preserver and destroyer. It is a UNESCO world heritage site.


  • Rashtrakuta rulers had great quality of religious tolerance.
  • The worship of Shiva and Vishnu was popular during the Rashtrakuta reign. The famous rock-cut Shiva temple at Ellora was built by Krishna I.
  • Jainism was patronized by laters rulers like Amoghavarsha. He was also staunch devotee of Kolhapur Mahalaxmi .
  • Buddhism had declined and its only important centre was at Kanheri.