Immadi Pulikeshi was a Chalukya dynasty ruler who controlled the Indian Subcontinent during the 7th century CE. He was the son of Kirtivarman I, the Chalukya dynasty’s founder. Immadi Pulikeshi was a warrior king who enlarged his kingdom, reinforced his army, and contributed to his kingdom’s cultural, economic, and social growth from roughly 610 CE until 642 CE.
Following his father’s death in 610 CE, he ascended to the kingdom. He took over a kingdom that was still small and fragile. He was, nonetheless, adamant about expanding his realm and increasing his influence. He successfully launched multiple military expeditions against neighbouring kingdoms and conquered huge areas. He vanquished the rulers of the Kadamba, Maurya, and Gangas kingdoms and ruled over them. He also seized control of parts of the Pallava kingdom and the Konkan region. Immadi Pulikeshi’s dominion grew to encompass most of modern-day Karnataka and Maharashtra as a result of these battles.
Immadi Pulikeshi’s reign was critical in expanding the Chalukya empire and solidifying its dominance over wide areas of southern India. He is credited with multiple military successes over enemy kingdoms and was famed for his strategic and tactical skill. His military exploits against the Pallava dynasty, which reigned over sections of modern-day Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, were among his most significant. In a series of conflicts, Immadi Pulikeshi defeated the Pallava king, Mahendravarman I, and brought significant areas of the Pallava empire under Chalukya rule. The Battle of Vatapi was a major military fight waged to hold the vital fortified city of Vatapi. The Chalukya army was able to hold its ground and prevent the Pallava army from taking control of the city, displaying Immadi Pulikeshi’s military strength. However, the victory was short-lived, as the Pallava army defeated the Chalukya army in the Battle of Manimangalam the following year, resulting in the death of Immadi Pulikeshi and the end of the Chalukya dynasty’s expansion.
He also fought against the mighty Kadamba dynasty of Banavasi in coastal Karnataka. Immadi Pulikeshi conquered Mayurasharma, the Kadamba ruler, and took control of numerous significant cities, including Banavasi and Udupi.
Immadi Pulikeshi’s successful defence of the Chalukya kingdom against the invading forces of Harsha, the famed monarch of the northern Indian kingdom of Kannauj, was another notable feat. Harsha launched a huge assault of the Chalukya kingdom in 620 CE, seeking to expand his power to the south. Immadi Pulikeshi, on the other hand, was able to repel the invading army and safeguard his realm from Harsha’s desires.
Immadi Pulikeshi was a patron of the arts and literature as well as a skillful military commander. He was a Jainist who sponsored Jain intellectuals and artists. He constructed various Jain temples, including the well-known Meguti Jain temple in Aihole. He also commissioned various works of Kannada and Sanskrit literature. Among his major works is the Kavirajamarga, a literary treatise in Kannada that is regarded as one of the earliest and most important works of Kannada literature. A collection of Jain stories called the Vaddaradhane. He was well-known for his passion of Sanskrit literature, which he promoted in his kingdom.
Immadi Pulikeshi II commissioned the following notable artistic and literary works:
1. The Aihole Inscription, which dates from 634 CE, is one of the earliest known examples of written Kannada. It was commissioned by Pulikeshi and provides vital insights on the Chalukya kingdom’s political and social status during his reign.
2. Ravikirti’s poetry: Pulikeshi patronised Ravikirti, a distinguished poet and scholar. He wrote the “Pancharatna Kritis,” a collection of five hymns praising the Hindu deity Shiva that are regarded as among the finest examples of classical Indian music.
3. Kiratarjuniya: The Kiratarjuniya is a Sanskrit epic poem written by the poet Bharavi during the reign of Pulikeshi. The poem depicts the conflict between the god Shiva and the demon Arjuna, who takes the shape of a hunter. It is still studied and celebrated in India today as one of the finest examples of Sanskrit poetry.
4. Shanti Purana: The Shanti Purana is a Kannada holy literature commissioned by Pulikeshi and produced by the poet Ponna. The narrative, which narrates the life of the god Shiva, is regarded as one of Kannada literature’s most important works.
Immadi Pulikeshi was a renowned supporter of architecture and is recognised with several important architectural achievements, in addition to his contributions to literature. One of his most important accomplishments was the construction of Pattadakal’s iconic Virupaksha temple, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple is a marvel of Indian temple construction, with elaborate carvings and gorgeous architecture. Apart from that, some of Immadi Pulikeshi’s important architectural developments include:
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The Kailasanatha Temple in Ellora is one of Pulikeshi’s most noteworthy architectural achievements. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is regarded as one of ancient India’s greatest architectural marvels. It was cut from a single rock, and its exquisite carvings and decorations demonstrate the ability and artistry of the time’s craftsmen.
The Sangameshwara Temple in Pattadakal was also constructed during Pulikeshi’s rule. This temple is a fine example of Chalukya architecture, with a distinctive blend of Dravidian and Nagara forms.
The Mahakuta group of temples, located in Karnataka’s Bagalkot district, was also built during Pulikeshi’s rule. The temple complex is notable for its detailed carvings, rich decorations, and one-of-a-kind construction, which highlights the ability and artistry of the time’s craftsmen.
Pulikeshi is also attributed with the construction of the Aihole Fort, which is located in the Karnataka town of Aihole. The fort was built to safeguard the town from intruders and exhibits a unique blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements.
The Badami Fort, located in the town of Badami, was also built during Pulikeshi’s rule. The fort is notable for its beautiful carvings and ornate decorations, and it offers a unique blend of Hindu and Islamic architectural elements.
Immadi Pulikeshi’s tenure was not without problems, despite his great triumphs. He had to cope with various internal rebellions as well as a variety of political and social challenges. His leadership and vision, however, assisted him in overcoming these hurdles and establishing the Chalukya dynasty as one of the most powerful and prominent dynasties in southern India. Xuanzang was a 7th-century Chinese traveller who visited India. Xuanzang described him as a “man of foresight and astuteness who extends kindness to all.” His subjects are completely submissive to him. The Chalukya kingdom’s people made an indelible impression on him. He stated, “They were tall and sturdy in stature and proud and carefree by nature, grateful for kindness and revengeful for injustice.” They would demand a duel if they or their family were disrespected.” Despite the fact that Pulakeshi was a Hindu prince, Xuanzang stated that his realm had one hundred Buddhist monasteries.
Immadi Pulikeshi was a brilliant emperor who was instrumental in the Chalukya empire’s expansion and consolidation. His military successes, support of the arts and literature, and architectural accomplishments have produced a legacy that is being cherished today. He was a true visionary and a brilliant leader, and his contributions to Indian history and culture would be remembered and cherished as “Dakshina Patheshwara” forever.