dynasty (kadamba) (ಕದಂಬ
ರಾಜವಂಶ) is one of the most
ancient and long serving royal dynasties of Karnataka. Apart
from the Banavasi Kadambas who were the first to use that name, different
branches have ruled from variant places such as
The mythological explanation that links
the dynasty to Shiva and Parvathi may be dismissed easily as it is a figments of imagination. Banavasi is now
a small town in the
Almost all the information that we have about the early history of Kadambas is gleaned from inscriptions particularly the famous pillar inscription that was found in Talagunda. (450 A.D.) This inscription installed by Shantivarma gives abundant information about his father Kakusthavarma and his ancestors. The approximate lineage of this dynasty is as follows:
2. Kongavarma (Kongunivarma?) .
5. Kakusthavarma (Raghu’s brother)
7. Krishnavarma-1 (Shanthivarma’s brother)
9. Shivamandhatruvarma (Mrugesha’s brother)
10. Ravivarma (Mrugesha’s son)
Krishnavarma-1 who ruled from 430 A.D. to 460 A.D. formed a separate branch that started ruling from triparvata (?) Their lineage is documented as follows:
1. Krishnvarma-1 .
2. Vishnuvarma .
This branch came back to power in Banavasi itself during the regime of Krishnavarma-2 who defeated Harivarma the last king of the original Banavasi branch.
Kadamba dynasty was liberated from its feudatory
affiliation to Pallavas and became an independent kingdom during the regime of
Mayuravarma. ‘guDnApura inscription’ and ‘tALagunda
inscription’ throw light on these occurrences. One finds exaggerated remarks
that he conquered many subsidiary kingdoms including a few in
Kakushtavarma is ranked among the more famous kings of
this dynasty. He extended his kingdom by defeating the Pallavas and by entering
in to marital relationships with the guptas, vAkATakas, ALupas and gangas.
Mrugeshavarma extended the kingdom even further and ‘halasi’ in Khanapaura
Kadambas followed the Vedic religion quite scrupulously and the caste system was iron clad. However there are many evidences to prove that they supported other religions such as Jainism and Buddhism. Education was regarded highly and places such as tALagunda were great centres of learning.
Administration was properly streamlined and the state was sub divided in to smaller units such as viSaya, rAStra and nADu. Inscriptions mention many officials such as mahattara, rAJapuruSa, grAmabOgika, viSayapati, manevergaDe, tantrapAla etc. Many taxes were levied and agriculture was the main profession. However there are evidences of trade and trans-oceanic business relations. Quite a few towns such as banavAsi, ucchangidurga, tALagunda and halasi came up during this period.
Even though references are found to some temples built during the reign of Kadambas, none of them have survived the ravages of time. Hence it is not possible to make any speculations about Kadamba architecture. “The earliest monument of the Kadamba period, according to Dr. G. M. Moraes, is the Jaina Basadi at Halsi, which is said to have been built by Mrigesavarma. It is a simple structure which consists of a Garbhagriha and an Antarala, but not a Mukhamantapa. Here again, the Antarala is wider than the Garbhagriha. The walls are clumsily raised and the granite stones are roughly hewn.” (Artikaje Krishnabhat) A temple of durgA found in jambEhaLLi in Soraba talluk was allegedly built during the reign of Ravivarma. The temple is gone but the idol has survived. The most prominent feature of their architecture, basic as it was is their Shikara called Kadamba Shikara. The Shikara is pyramid shaped and rises in steps without any decoration with a Stupika or Kalasha at the top.
Many inscriptions belonging to this period are copper
plates. They are found in various places of Karnataka such as Shivamogga,
kaDUru, hAsana and
Stone inscriptions installed during the regime of the Kadambas are very important. Chandravalli, Malavalli, Talagunda, Banavasi, Gudnapura, and Halmidi have housed very important inscriptions. Halmidi is the oldest Kannada inscription. TALagunda inscription is the oldest Sanskrit inscription of Karnataka. We do not have concrete evidence to prove conclusively that any coin found in Karnataka was minted during the regime of the Kadambas.
Kadamba dynasty originating from Banavasi found its extensions in other parts of Karnataka and out side and those branches are dealt with separately.
1. George M. Moraes (1931), The Kadamba Kula, A History of Ancient and Medieval Karnataka, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1990
3. "History of Karnataka - Kadambas of Banavasi, Arthikaje". © 1998-00 OurKarnataka.Com,
4. ‘Kadambas, their history and culture: Seminar Papers’ edited by Balakrishnan Raja Gopal, N.S. Taranatha, 1996, Pub. Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Mysore.