Palas, Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas
Many powerful Empires arose in north India and the Deccan between 750-1000 AD. The Palas, the Pratiharas and Rashtrakutas were the most prominent.
Pala dynasty was founded by Gopala in 750 AD, who was a chieftain earlier but later became the king of Bengal. In fact, he was the first Buddhist king of Bengal. He had established his dominance after Gauda dynasty lost their stronghold in Kamarupa. When he died, Bengal and most of the part of Bihar was under his control.
Gopala is credited with constructing a monastery at the Odantapuri in Bihar.
Dharmapala succeeded Gopala. He ruled for a period of 770-810 AD. The Palas became the most powerful kingdom in the Northern and Eastern India during his reign.
He fought a prolonged war against the Gurjar Pratihara and Rashtrakutas. Despite his humiliating defeat against the Gurajara Pratihara King Nagabhatta II, he managed to salvage the pride of Pala Empire and extended his kingdom to entire Bengal and Bihar.
Dharmapala, a pious Buddhist king founded Vikramshila University, which was a renowned centre of Buddhism studies in India. The university is located at Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur, Bihar.
Dharmapala was succeeded by Devapala. He extended his kingdom to Assam, Odisha and Kamarupa. During his reign, Pala armies carried out a very successful campaign.
After Devapala, many lesser known kings sat on the throne. Then Mahipala became the king of Pala kingdom. He ruled the kingdom from 995 AD to 1043 AD. Known as the second founder of the Pala Dynasty, he recovered all the lost territories of the Pala Empire.
The successors of Mahipala were weak and couldn’t hold the empire intact.
The dynasty of Gurjar Pratiharas was founded by Harichandra in 6th century AD. They remained influential till 11th century AD. It is said that they originated from Ujjain or Mandsaur. Nagabhatta-I was the first important ruler of this dynasty. He ruled from 730 AD to 756 AD. His kingdom was including Gwalior, Bharuch and Malwa. Awani was the capital of his kingdom.
Nagbhatta I’s achievement: He defeated Junaid, the Arab commander Junaid and his successor Tamin in the battle of Rajasthan. This he successfully defended the western frontiers against Arab invasion.
Vastaraja succeeded Nagbhatta I as the new king and captured Kannuaj following his victory over Dharmapala, the king of Pala.
Nagabhatta II succeeded Vatsaraja around 805 AD. In fact, he was the most illustrious king of Gurjara Pratihara dynasty. He is best known for rebuilding the Somnath Temple in 815 AD. The temple was destroyed by Arab Armies of Junayad in 725 AD.
Mihirbhoja was the other important king of the dynasty. His reign lasted till 885 AD. He was a great empire builder. He annexed the territories of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan after fighting a series of victorious battles. He assumed the title of Adivaraha and built the Teli Mandir at the Gwalior.
However, the power of Gurjara Pratihara declined in 10th century and their King Bhoja II was over thrown by Mahipala-I, a Pala King. Soon the empire disintegrated and the feudatories declared themselves independent.
The Rashtrakutas had Kannada origin and their mother tongue was Kannada. The Rashtrakuta dynasty was founded by Dantidurga in 8th Century AD. He was instrumental in establishing Rashtrakutas as a paramount power in the Deccan. He captured Malwas from the Gurjaras after defeating them. He also defeated Kirtivarman II and annexed the Chalukya kingdom.
He was succeeded by Krishna I who was also a great empire builder. Krishna I earned victories against the eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and the Gangas. He is known for building the rock-cut monolithic Kailasa temple at Ellora. He was succeeded by Govinda III.
Govinda III was succeeded by Amoghavarsha I (815-880 AD) whose reign was popular due to cultural development. He followed Jainism. He was also the author of famous work Kavirajamarga written in Kannada language. He was also the architect of Rashtrakuta capital Malkhed or Manyakheda.
Amoghavarsha I was succeeded by Krishna III (936-968 AD). He was known for his victorious expeditions against the neighbouring states. He was victorious against the Cholas at Takkolam.
He also captured Tanjore as well as Rameswaram. Amoghavarsha also built several temples which includes the Krishneswara temple at Rameswaram.
Following his death, the power of the Rashtrakutas declined.