Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Chalukyas of Anhilwara

The Chalukyas of Anhilwara or Solankis, as they are popularly known, ruled in Gujarat and Kathiawar for nearly three centuries and a half (c 950-1300). One of the earliest kings of this line of Chalukyas was Mularaja who consolidated the Chalukya authority in Gujarat. The next king of importance was Bhima I (c. 1022-64), during whose reign Mahmud Ghazni, who made seventeen raids on India between 1001 and 1027, overran Gujarat and plundered the great temple of Somanath. When Mahmud appeared before the capital city Anhilwara,(modern Siddhpur Patan) Bhima I took refuge in Kanthkot fort in Kutch. After the withdrawal of Mahmud, Bhima I revived the Chalukya power and entered into a coalition with Lakshmi – karna Kalachuri against Bhoja (c1010-55), the greatest ruler of the Paramara dynasty of Malwa.

Jayasimha Siddharaja was the greatest Solanki ruler who, in commemoration of his victory against the Paramaras, assumed the title of Avantinatha. He also erected a number of religious edifices in his kingdom and patronised learning. He was also the patron of the celebrated Jain scholar Hemachandra.

Kumarapala (c. 1143-1172) of the dynasty was a big votary of Jainism. During his reign Svetambaras gained a place of great prominence in Gujarat. It is said that during his reign, non-violence was enforced so strictly that those who killed even the flies were severely fined. During the reign of Bhima II (c.1178-1241), Muhammad Ghori made an unsuccessful invasion of Gujarat (AD 1178) and Qutab-ud-din Aibak led two expeditions. Anhilwara was plundered and temporarily occupied by the Turkish army. In the same period the Vaghela chief carved out an independent principality in Gujarat between Sabarmati and the Narmada.

During the rule of the Chalukyas in Gujarat, architecture reached it zenith in Western India. The beautiful Jaina shrines at Mount Abu in Rajasthan are the case in point. Since the Solanki kingdom was prosperous thanks to the sea borne trade with the Arabs and Persians, large amount of money was spent on the construction of beautiful Hindu and Jaina temples.

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