PULIKESHI-2, 610-642 A.D.

            Immadi Pulikeshi (immaDi Pulikeshi) (ಇಮ್ಮಡಿ ಪುಲಿಕೇಶಿ), an emperor belonging to the Badami Chalukya dynasty is one of the most celebrated monarchs in the history if Karnataka for his military enterprises and his patronage of arts and culture.

Pulikeshi could not succeed his father Keerthivarma as he was too young and his uncle Mangalisha was asked to be some kind of a caretaker king. However Mangalisha after enjoying the power for fourteen years wanted to hand it over to his son rather than his nephew. Pulikeshi who was quite experienced in warfare by then confronted and defeated his uncle in a decisive battle. Mangalisha was killed during this encounter.

Pulikeshi had to contend with a number of big rivals and small fry all through his career. He had two stints of military engagements in the west coast and the east coast. His wars with the Kadambas of Banavasi, Gangas of Talakadu, ALupas of TuLunaDu, Mauryas of Konkan and the Gurjaras of Gujarat are well documented in many inscriptions. He had a marine force of his own and occupied ‘puri’ (Elephanta Caves) the capital of Mauryas.

Pulikeshi is appreciated particularly for his victory over Harshavardhana the great Emperor from the North, on the banks of the Narmada River. The victory is documented by Hyu En Tsang the traveler from China.  He acquired the title “Parameshvara’ after this victory. This war must have taken place before 612 A.D. With this victory, Pulikeshi became the monarch of huge areas between the Narmada River and South Karnataka comprising of Konkana, Maharashtra and Karnataka. It comprised of 99000 villages according to an inscription found at Aihloe.

After this Pulikeshi moved on to the east coast and obtained a series of victories. They included South Kosala being ruled by the Paanduvamshis, Kalingas of Orissa and Pithapuram of West Godavari district. Pulikeshi was responsible for the establishment of the Vengi Chalukya lineage because he defeated the king of Vishnukundin dynasty and appointed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana as his Viceroy. The successors of Kubja Vishnuvardhana are called Vengi Chalukyas and they outlived the Badami Chalukya dynasty.

Pulikeshi turned his attention towards the South and defeated the Pallava king Mahendravarma. However he made munificent donations to the temples of Kanchi and installed an inscription in one of them. However in 646 A.D. Narasimhavarman the successor of Mahendravarman attacked the Chalukya Empire with a huge army and Pulikeshi suffered a crushing defeat. Badami his capital was taken over by the invader. Narasimhavarman took the title ‘Vaataapikondan’ in memory of this event. It is speculated that Pulikeshi died during this battle.

Pulikeshi was not only a great warrior but he was also a shrew political analyst and a humane ruler. The fact that he could obtain the support of ALupas of South Canara and Western Gangas of Talakadu by marrying princesses from those dynasties is an illustration of his tact. His generosity for the people of Kanchi after inflicting a defeat on their king is another. Pulikeshi was responsible for the establishment and continuation of many administrative practices which were in vogue for a long time.

 Pulikeshi is a part of the continuum that was responsible for the architectural feats of Badami, Aihole and Pattadakallu. mEguti,(Aihole) mAlegitti(Badami) and mahAkUTEshvara temples were built during the regime of Pulikeshi. These temples combine important features of the cave style and the Dravida style in their structure. This combination gained ascendancy in later days also what with the constant interaction between Hoysalas, Cholas and other dynasties with variable origins.

Pulikeshi is one of the few emperors of Karnataka who are admired for their military prowess as well as their benevolent attitude. They are re constructed as symbols of Kannada identity during the bygone eras and that fulfills a contemporary need also.

 

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