[The section on Ancient Period is contributed by Mahamahopadhyaya Dr. V. V. Mirashi, Nagpur, while the rest of the Chapter is contributed by Dr. B. K. Apte, University Centre of Post-Graduate Instruction and Research, Panaji, Goa.]

As NO EXCAVATION OF ANY OLD SITE IN THIS DISTRICT HAS YET BEEN UNDERTAKEN, pre-historic antiquities arc rarely known. Some palaeolithic implements have indeed been collected from Khair in this district. Apart from these, the oldest vestiges of. habitation in this district also are in the form of dolmens and other sepulchral monuments which are noticed at some places such as Kelzar, Camursi and Vagnak. These require to he excavated and studied scientifically. They are thus described by Hislop.


"They are found chiefly as barrows surrounded by a circle of stones, and as stone boxes, which, when complete, arc styled kistvaens, and when open on one side, cromlechs. The kistvaens, if not previously disturbed, have been found to contain stone coffins and urns."

Such sepulchral monuments are generally found to contain copper and bronze weapons, tools and earthen vessels. Some scholars find in these copper and bronze objects traces of the migration route of the Vedic Aryans. This culture is supposed to be later than that of the Indus Valley, of which no traces have yet been noticed in Vidarbha.

With the advent of the Aryans we get more light on the past history of this region. It was then covered by a thick jungle. Agastya was the first Aryan who crossed the Vindhya and fixed his hermitage on the bank of the Godavari. This memorable event is commemorated in the mythological story which represents Vindhya as bending before his guru Agastya when the latter approached him. The sage asked the mountain to remain in that condition until he returned from the south, which he never did. Agastya was followed by several other sages who established their hermitages in different regions of the south. They were constantly harassed by the original inhabitants who are called Raksasas in the Ramayana. " These shapeless and ill-looking monsters testify to their abominal character by various cruel and terrific displays. They implicate the hermits in impure practices and perpetrate greatest outrages. Changing their shapes and hiding in the thickets adjoining the hermitages, these frightful beings delight in terrifying the devotees. They cast: away the sacrificial ladles and vessels; they pollute the cooked oblations, and utterly defile the offerings with blood. These faithless creatures inject frightful sounds into the ears of the faithful and austere hermits. At the time of the sacrifice they snatch away the jars, the flowers, the fuel and the sacred grass of these sober-minded men [Muir's Original Sanskrit Texts, quoted in the previous edition of the Nagpur District Gazetteer.]. "

In course of time a large kingdom was founded in this region by king Vidarbha, the son of Rsabhadeva. His capital wasKundinapura in the Amravati district, which is still known by its ancient name. The country came to be known as Vidarbha after the name of its first ruler. Agastya married his daughter Lopamudra. He is 'the Seer' of some hymns of the Rgveda. His wife Lopamudra is also mentioned in Rgveda I, 179, 4, though Vidarbha is not mentioned therein. The country became well-known in the age of the Brahmanas and the Upanisads. Bhima, who is called Vaidarbha (i.e., the king of Vidarbha), is mentioned in the Aitareya Brahmana (VII, 34) as having received instruction regarding the substitute for Soma juice. The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad mentions the sage Kaundinya of Vidarbha. Among those who asked questions about philosophical matters in the Prasnopanisad, there was one named Bhargava from Vidarbha. The Ramayana in the Uttarakanda states the story of king Danda in whose time Vidarbha was devastated by a violent dust-storm. Danda was a son of Iksvaku and grandson of Manu. He ruled over the country between the Vindhya and Saivala mountains from his capital Madhumanta. He led a voluptuous life and once upon a time, violated the daughter of the sage Bhargava. The sage then cursed the king that his whole kingdom would be devastated by a terrible dust-storm. The whole country between Vindhya and Saivala extending over a thousand yojanas was consequently turned into a great forest which since then came to be known as Dandakaranya. It was in this forest that the Sudra sage Sambuka was practising austerities. As this was an irreligious act according to the notions of those days, Rama beheaded him and revived the life of a Brahmana boy who had died prematurely. The place where Sambuka was practising penance is still shown on the hill at Ramtek (ancient Ramagiri) about 45.062 kms. (28 miles) from Nagpur. It is marked by the temple of Dhumresvara. This tradition is at least 700 years old; for it is mentioned in the stone inscription of the Yadava king Ramacandra fixed into the front wall of the temple of Laksmana on the hill at Ramtek [Ep. Ind., Vol. XXV, pp. 7-f.]. The Ramayana, the Mahabharata and the Puranas mention several sacred rivers of Vidarbha such as the Payosni (Purna), the Varada (Wardha) and the Vena (Wainganga) and name many holy places situated on their banks. The royal house of Vidarbha was matrimonially connected with several princely families of North India. The Vidarbha princesses Damayanti, Indumati and Rukmini, who married Nala, Aja and Krsna, respectively are well-known in Indian literature. Several great Sanskrt and Marathi poets from Kalidasa onwards have drawn the themes of their works from their romantic lives.

According to tradition, Bhandak, an old place full of ruins in the Candrapur district, is identical with Bhadravati, the capital of king Yauvanasva. He had a horse of the Shamakarna type, which is considered necessary for an Asvamedha sacrifice. He wanted to perform the sacrifice himself, hut as Yudhisthira also wanted to perform a similar sacrifice, for which he had not got a horse of the requisite type, Bhima defeated Yauvanasva and carried away the horse for the performance of his brother's sacrifice. This story does not, however, find a place in the Mahabharata and was evidently concocted in later times.


Coming to historical times, we find that the country of Vidarbha was included in the empire of the great Asoka. The thirteenth rock-edict of that great Emperor mentions the Bhojas as the people who follow his religious teachings. The royal family of Bhoja was ruling over Vidarbha in ancient times. Since then, the people came to be known as the Bhojas. A territorial division named Bhojakata ' (modern Bhatkuli in the Amravati district) is mentioned in a grant of the Vakatakas. [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, p. 23.] An inscription issued from Cikkamburi (modern Cikmara) probably by the Dharmamahamatra placed by Asoka in charge of Vidarbha, has been found at Devtek in the Candrapur district. It records an order promulgated by the Dharmamahamatra interdicting the capture and slaughter of animals. It is dated in the fourteenth regnal year evidently of Asoka. The inscription has since been mutilated as part of it seems to have been chiselled off to make room for a later record of the Vakataka king Rudrasena I as shown below [Ibid., Vol. V, pp. 1-f.].


After the overthrow of the Maurya dynasty in circa 184 B. C. the imperial throne in Pataliputra (Patna) was occupied by the Senapati Pusyamitra, the founder of the Sunga dynasty. His son Agnimitra was appointed Viceroy of Malwa and ruled from Vidisa, modern Besnagar, a small village near Bhilsa. Vidarbha, which had seceded from the Maurya Empire during the reign of one of the weak successors of Asoka, was then ruled by Yajnasena. He imprisoned his cousin Madhavasena, who was a rival claimant for the throne. The sister of Madhavasena escaped to Malwa and got admission as a hand-maid of the queen under the name of Malavika to the royal palace. Agnimitra, who had espoused the cause of Madhavasena and had sent an army against the king of Vidarbha, fell in love with Malavika and married her. The Malava army defeated the king of Vidarbha and released Madhavasena. Agnimitra then divided the country of Vidarbha between the two cousins, each ruling on one side of the Varada (Wardha). Eastern Vidarbha thus comprised Wardha, Nagpur, Bhandara, Candrapur, Seoni, Chhindwara and Balaghat districts. It was bounded on the east by the country of Daksina Kosala (Chhattisgadh). From the Mahabharata also we learn that the province of Venakata bordered on that of Kosala. Venakata comprised the territory on both the sides of the Vena or Wainganga. The story of Malavika forms the plot of the play Malavikagnimitra of the great Sanskrt poet Kalidasa.

Kalidasa does not state to what royal family Yajnasena and Madhavasena belonged and these names do not occur anywhere else. Still, it is possible to conjecture that they may have been feudatories of the Satavahanas. From the Hathigumpha inscription at Udayagiri near Bhuvanesvar, we learn that Kharavela, the king of Kalinga, who was a contemporary of Pusyamitra, sent an army to the western region, not minding Satakarni. The latter evidently belonged to the Satavahana dynasty as the name occurs often in that family. Kharavela's army is said to have penetrated up to the river Kanhabenna and struck terror in the hearts of the people of Rsika. [Ep. Ind., Vol. XX, pp. 71-f. Jayaswal and R.D. Banerjee's reading Musika in line 4 of this inscription is incorrect. Barua reads Asika, which seems to be correct For the identification of this country, see A.B.O.R.I., XXV, pp. 167-f.] The Kanhabenna is the river Kanhan, which flows about 10 miles from Nagpur. Kharavela's army, therefore, invaded Vidarbha. He knew that as the ruler of Vidarbha was a feudatory of king Satakarni, the latter would rush to his aid. When Vidarbha was thus invaded, the people of Rsika (Khandes), which bordered Vidarbha on the east, were naturally terror-stricken. No actual engagement seems, however, to have taken place and the army retreated to Kalinga perhaps at the approach of the Satavahana force.


The Satavahanas, who are called Andhras in the Puranas, held Vidarbha for four centuries and a half from circa 200 B.C. to A.D. 250. Their earliest inscriptions, however, which record their performance of Vedic sacrifices and munificent gifts to Brahmanas, are found in the Poona and Nasik districts. Towards the close of the first century A.D. they were ousted by the Saka Satraps from Konkan, Gujarat and Maharastra. From the inscriptions of Nahapana, one of these Satraps, and his son-in-law, Rsabhadatta in the caves at Nasik and Junnar, we know that Nahapana ruled over a large territory extending from Ajmer in the north to Nasik in the south and from Kathiawad in the west to Malwa in the east. Until recently it was not known that Vidarbha also was occupied by the Ksatrapas; but in 1964 a pillar inscription was discovered in the Bhandara district of Vidarbha which recorded the setting up of a sculptured pillar (Chayastambha) in honour of the Mahaksatrapa Rupiamma in the hermitage of sages at Pawni on the bank of the Wainganga. His title Mahaksatrapa indicates that he probably belonged to the Saka race like Nahapana and Rsabhadatta [The record is under publication in the Nagpur University journal.].

The Ksatrapas were soon ousted from Vidarbha. as from western Maharastra by the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satakarni. His inscriptions have not indeed been found in Vidarbha, but in one of the Nasik cave inscriptions which he got incised after his victory over Nahapana, he is described as Benakalakasvami the lord of Benakataka [Ep. Ind., Vol. VIII, pp. 65-f.]. No satisfactory explanation of the expression was possible until the discovery of the Tirodi plates of the Vakataka king Pravarasena II [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, p. 49.]. As shown below, these plates record the grant of a village in the Benakata, which evidently comprised the territory on both the banks of the Bena or Wainganga. now included in the Balaghat and Bhandara districts. GautamTputra seems to have overthrown the Mahaksatrapa Kumara or his successor and was ruling over the country of Benakata before he reconquered Western Maharastra from the Saka Satrap Nahapana.

Gautamiputra was a very powerful king whose kingdom extended from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and comprised even Malwa, Kathiawad, and parts of Rajputana in the north. His son Pulumavi was similarly the undisputed master of the Deccan. Yajnasri also, a later descendant of the family, retained his hold over the whole territory as his inscriptions and coins have been found in the Thana district in the west and the Krsna district in the east. Two hoards of Satavahana coins have been found in Vidarbha, one in the Brahmapuri tahsil [P.A.S.B. for 1893, pp. 116-f.] of the Candrapur district and the other at Tarhala in the Mangrul tahsil of the Akola district [Mirashi, Studies in Indologv, Vol. III, pp. 34-f.]. The Brahmapuri board was examined by Dr. Hoernle, who found therein the cons of Gautami putra Satakarni, Pulumavi and Yajna Satakarni and some others with fragmentary legends, which he could not interpret satisfactorily. They have since been identified as coins of Skanda Satakarni, Kama Satakarni and Vijaya Satakarni. The Tarhala hoard, which was discovered in 1939, contained coins of as many as eleven kings, beginning from Gautamiputra Satakarni. Some of them such as (Gautamiputra) Satakarni, Pulumavi, Yajnasri, Satakarni and Vijaya Satakarni are mentioned in the Puranas while some others such as Kumbha Satakarni, Kama Satakarni and Saka Satakarni are not known from any other source. These hoards show that the Satavahanas retained their hold over Vidarbha to the last.

The aforementioned place Bhandak seems to have risen into prominence in the Satavahana age. It must have been a very large place, extending about two miles from north to south and one mile from east to west, which would give a circuit of six miles. The town occupies the top of a low broad plateau of rock thinly covered with soil. Towards the west are the picturesque hills of Wijasan, which have caves of the second or third century A.D., judging by the characters of the inscriptions carved therein [Cunningham, A.S.R., Vol. IX, pp. 122 and 125.]. Cunningham referred some of the later inscriptions to the Gupta period or even to the 7th or 8th century A.D. [Ibid, Vol. IX, p. 126.]

The Satavahanas were liberal patrons of learning and religion. As stated above, the early kings performed Vedic sacrifices and lavished gifts on the Brahmanas. Krsna. Gautamiputra, Pulumavi and Yajnasri excavated caves and donated villages to provide for the maintenance, clothing and medicine of the Buddhist monks. The Sattasai, an anthology of 700 Prakrt verses is, by tradition, ascribed to Hala of the Satavahana dynasty.


About A. D. 250 the Satavahanas were supplanted by the Vakatakas in Vidarbha. This dynasty was founded by a Brahmana named Vindhyasakti I, who is mentioned in the Puranas [D.K.A., pp. 48 and 50.] as well as in an inscription in Cave XVI at Ajanta [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, pp. 1 04-f.]. The Puranas mention Vindhyasakti, the founder of the dynasty. His son Pravarasena I ruled over an extensive part of the Deccan. He performed several Vedic sacrifices including four Asvamedhas and assumed the title of Samrat (Universal Emperor). According to the Purdnas he had his capital at Purika, which was situated at the foot of the Rksavat (Satpuda) mountain [D.K.A., p. 50. I accept Jayaswal's reading Purikam Canakan ca vai in place of Purim Kancanakam ca vai.]. He had four sons, among whom his empire was divided after his death. Two of these are known from inscriptions. The eldest son Gautaiputra had predeceased him. His son Rudrascna I held the northern parts of Vidarbha and ruled from Nandivardhana, modern Nandardhan, near Ramtek. He had the powerful support of the king Bhavanaga of the Bharasiva dynasty, who ruled at Padmavati near Gwalior and who was his maternal grandfather [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, p. 10.]. Rudrasena I was a fervent devotee of Mahabhairava. He had no regard for the ahimsa precepts of Asoka. He caused some portion of the aforementioned Devtck inscription of Asoka's Dharmamahamatra to be chiselled and got his own record incised in its place. It proclaims the construction of his dharma-sthana at Cikkamburi. [Ibid., Vol. V, p. 2.]

Rudrasena I was followed by his son Prthivisena I, who ruled for a long time and brought peace and prosperity to his people. During his reign this branch of the Vakatakas became matrimonially connected with the illustrious Gupta family of North India. Candragupta II-Vikramaditya married his daughter Prabhavatigupta to Prthivisena's son Rudrascna II, probably to secure the powerful Vakataka King's help in his war with the Western Ksatrapas. Rudrasena II died soon after accession, leaving behind two sons Divakarasena and Damodarasena alias Pravarasena II. As neither of them had come of age, Prabhavatigupta ruled as regent for the elder son Divakarasena for at least thirteen years [Ibid.,Vol. V,p.6.]. She seems to have been helped in the administration of the kingdom by military and civil officers sent by her father Candragupta II. One of these was the great Sanskrt poet Kalidasa, who, while residing at the Vakataka capital Nandivardhana, must have visited Ramagiri (modern Ramtek), where the theme of his excellent lyric Meghaduta seems to have suggested itself to him [Ibid.,Vol. V, p. liv.].

Prabhavatigupta has left us two copper-plate inscriptions. The earlier of them though discovered in distant Poona, originally belonged to Vidarbha [Ibid.,Vol.V,p. 7.]. It was issued from the then Vakataka capital Nandivardhana [Loc. Cit] and records the dowager queen's grant of the village Danguna (modern Hinganghat) to a Brahmana after offering it to the feet of the Bhagavat (i.e., Ramacandra) on Karttika sukla dvadasi, evidently at the time of the parana after observing a fast on the previous day of the Prabodhini Ekadasi. Some of the boundary villages can still he traced in the vicinity of Hinganghat.

Divakarasena also seems to have died when quite young. He was succeeded by his brother Damodarasena, who, on accession, assumed the name Pravarasena of his illustrious ancestor. He had a long reign of more than thirty years and was known for his learning and liberality. More than a dozen land-grants made by him have come to light. One of them was found at Wadganv in the Candrapur district [Ibid., Vol. V, pp. 53-f. ]. It was of 400 nivartanas of land and was made by Pravarasena II to a Brahmana residing at Ekarjunaka. The land was in the village Velusuka, which was situated in the Supratistha ahara or sub-division. It lay to the east of Grdhragrama, to the south of Kokilara. The plates were issued from the royal camp on the bank of the river Hiranya in the tenth regnal year. Most of these localities can still be identified. The territorial division Supratistha in which the donated village was situated comprised parts of the Hinganghat, Warora and Yavatmal tahsils of the Wardha, Candrapur and Yavatmal districts, respectively. The village Velusuka has now disappeared. its place being taken by Cincmandal. Grdhragrama, Niligrama. Kadambasaraka and Kokilara, which bounded the donated village on the four sides are identical with Gadeghat, Nilajai, Kosara and Khairi, respectively. The river Hiranya is modern Erai, which flows through the Warora tahsil. Ekarjunaka is modern Arjuni on the left bank of the Erai.

Another grant of Pravarasena II made at the instance of his mother Prabhavatigupta in the nineteenth regnal [Ibid.,Vol.V,pp. 33-f.] year is also noteworthy. The plates recording it were issued from the feet of Ramagirisvamin (i.e., God Ramacandra on the hill of Ramagiri) and record the grant which the queen-mother made as on the previous occasion viz., after observing a fast on the Prabodhini Ekadasi.

Pravarasena II founded a new city which he named Pravarapura, where he shifted his capital some time after his eleventh regnal year. Some of his later land-grants were made at the new capital. He built there a magnificent temple of Ramacandra evidently at the instance of his mother, who was a devout worshipper of that god. Some of the sculptures used to decorate this temple have recently been discovered at Pavnar on the hank of the Dham, 9.656 kms. (6 miles) from Wardha, and have thus led to the identification of Pravarapura with Pavnar [Ibid., Vol. V,p. lx f.].

Pravarascna II is the reputed author of the Setubandha, a Prakrt kavya in glorification of Ramacandra. This work has been greatly praised by Sanskrt poets and rhetoricians. According to a tradition recorded by a commentator of this work, it. was composed by Kalidasa, who ascribed it to Pravarasena [Ibid., Vol. V.livf.]. Pravarasena is also known from some Prakrt gathas, which were later interpolated in the Gathasaplasati [Mirashi, Studies in Indoloqv, Vol. I, pp. 81-f.].

Pravarasena II was succeeded by his son Narendrasena, during whose reign Vidarbha was invaded by the Nala king Bhavadatta-varman. The latter penetrated as far as the Nagpur district and even occupied Nandivardhana, the erstwhile Vakataka capital. The Rddhapur plates record the grant which Bhavadatta had made while on a pilgrimage to Prayaga [Ep. hid., XIX, pp. 100 f.]. The plates were issued from Nandivardhana, which was evidently his capital at the time. In this emergency the Vakatakas had to shift their capital again. They moved it to Padmapura near Amganv in the Bhandara district. A fragmentary inscription, which was pro-posed to be issued from Padmapura, has been discovered at the village of Mohalla in the adjoining Durg district of Madhya Pradesh [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, pp. 76-f.].

The Nalas could not retain their hold over Vidarbha for a long time. They were ousted by Narendrasena's son Prthivisena II, who carried the war into the enemy's territory and burnt and devastated their capital Puskari. which was situated in the Bastar district [Ep. Ind., Vol. XXI, pp. 153-f.]. Prthivlsena, taking advantage of the weakening of Gupta power, carried his arms to the north of the Narmada. Inscriptions of his feudatory Vyaghradeva have been found in the former Ajaigadh and Jaso States [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, pp. 89-f.].

The elder branch of the Vakataka family came to an end about A.D. 490. The territory under its rule was thereafter  included in the dominion of the other or Vatsagulma branch, to  which we may now turn.

The Vatsagulma branch was founded by Sarvasena. a younger son of Pravarasena I. It also is known to have produced some brave and learned princes. Sarvasena, the founder of the branch, is well-known as the author of another Prakrt kavya called Hari-vijaya, which has, for its theme, the bringing down of the Parijata tree from heaven [Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. I, pp. 99-f.]. This kdvya has received unstinted praise from several eminent rhetoricians. The last known king of this  branch was Harisena, who carved out an extensive empire for  himself, extending from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal and from Malva to the Tungabhadra [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. V, p. xxxi.].

The causes which led to the sudden disintegration of this mighty Vakataka Empire have not been recorded in history, but the last chapter of the Dasakumaracarita of Dandin, who flourished only about 125 years after the fall of the Vakatakas, seems to have preserved a living tradition about the last period of Vakataka rule. It seems that Harisena's son, though intelligent and accomplished in all arts, neglected the study of the science of politics (dandaniti). He gave himself up to the enjoyment of pleasures and indulged in all kinds of vices, neglecting the affairs of the State. His subjects imitated him and led a vicious and dissolute life. Finding this a suitable opportunity, the crafty ruler of the neighbouring Asmaka country, sent His minister's son to the court of Vidarbha. The latter ingratiated himself with the king and egged him on in his dissolute life. He also decimated his forces by various means. Ultimately when the country was thoroughly disorganised, the ruler of Asmaka instigated the ruler of Vanavasi (North Kanada district) to invade Vidarbha. The king of Vidarbha called all his feudatories to his aid and decided to give battle to the enemy on the bank of the Varada (Wardha). But while he was fighting with the forces of the king of Vanavasi, he was treacherously attacked in the rear by some of his feudatories and was killed on the battle-field [Ibid., Vol. V, pp. xxxii f.]. Thus ended the Vakataka kingdom after a glorious rule of two hundred and fifty years.

The Vakatakas were patrons of art and literature. In their age the Vaidarbhi riti came to be regarded as the best style of poetry as several excellent works were then produced in Vidarbha. Three of the caves at Ajanta, viz., the two Vihara caves XVI and XVII and the Caitya cave XIX, were excavated and decorated with paintings in the time of Harisena [Ibid., Vol. V, pp. lxvf.]. Several temples of Hindu gods and goddesses were also built. The ruins of one of them have come to light at Pavnar [Ibid.,Vol. V, pp. lxf. A-179-5-A.]. Others are known from references in copper-plate grants.


The Vakatakas disappear from the stage of history about A.D. 550, when their place is taken by the Kalacuris of Mahismati, modern Mahesvar in Central India. They also had a large empire extending from Konkan in the west to Vidarbha in the east and from Malva in the north to the Krsna in the south. The founder of the dynasty was Krsnaraja, whose coins have been found in the Amravati district in Vidarbha. He was a devout worshipper of Mahesvara (Siva) [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. IV, p, xlvi.]. That Vidarbha was included in his Empire is shown by the Nagardhan plates of his feudatory Svamiraja dated in the Kalacuri year 322 (A.D. 573) [Ibid.,Vol. IV, pp. 611-f.]. These plates were issued from Nandivardhana, which seems to have maintained its importance even after the downfall of the Vakatakas. Svamiraja probably belonged to the Rastrakuta family.

About A.D. 620 the Kalacuri king Buddharaja, the grandson of Krsnaraja, was defeated by Pulakesin II of the Early Calukya dynasty, who thereafter became the lord of three Maharastras comprising 99,000 villages [Ep. Ind., Vol. VI, pp. I-f.]. One of these Maharastras was undoubtedly Vidarbha. The Rastrakutas of Vidarbha, who were previously feudatories of the Kalacuris, transferred their allegiance to the Calukyas, and, like the latter, began to date their records in the Saka era. Two grants of this feudatory Rastrakuta family have been discovered in Vidarbha-one dated Saka 615 was found near Akola [Ibid.,Vol. XXIX.pp. 109-f.] and the other dated Saka 631 was discovered at Multai [Ind. Ant., Vol. XVIII, pp. 234-f.]. They give the following genealogy: -

 Nannaraja alias Yuddhasura

(Known dates A.D. 693 and 713)


About the middle of the eighth century A.D. the Early Calukyas were overthrown by the Rastrakutas. No inscriptions of the Early Calukya have been found in Vidarbha, but their successors, the Rastrakutas have left several records. The earliest of them is the copper-plate inscription of Krsna I discovered at Bhandak in the Canda district and dated in the Saka year 694 (A.D. 772) [Ep.Ind., Vol. XIV, pp. 121-f.]. It records the grant of the village Nagana to a temple of the Sun in Udumbaramanti, modern Rani Amravati in the Yavatmal district. Thereafter, several grants of his grandson Govinda III have been found in the Akola and Amravati districts of Vidarbha. Recently another grant of a later Rastrakuta king Govinda IV has been found at Andura in the Akola district [This is under publication in Ep. Ind.]. The Rastrakutas of Manyakheta and the Kalacuris of Tripuri were matrimonially connected and their relations were generally friendly. But in the reign of Govinda IV they became strained. The Kalacuri king Yuvarajadeva I espoused the cause of his son-in-law Baddiga-Amoghavarsa III, the uncle of Govinda IV, and sent a large army to invade Vidarbha. A pitched battle was fought on the hank of the Payosni (Purna), 16.093 km. (10 miles) from Acalapura, between the Kalacuri and Rastrakuta forces in  which the former became victorious. This event is commemorated in the Sanskrt play Viddhasalabhanjika of Rajasekhara,  which was staged at Tripuri in jubilation at this victory [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. IV, pp. lxxx f.].

The next Rastrakuta record found in Vidarbha is the Devali copper-plate grant of the reign of Baddiga's son Krsna III, which mentions the visaya (district) of Nagapura-Nandivardhana [Ep.Ind., Vol. V, p. 196.]. This is the earliest mention of Nagpur in an inscriptional record.

The Rastrakutas were great builders. The Kailasa temple carved out of solid rock at Ellora is famous in the world. In Vidarbha also they built several magnificent temples. Those at the village Markandi in the Candrapur district, where the Wainganga takes a northern bend, are specially noteworthy. The most beautiful among these is the Markandeya temple dedicated to Siva. Cunningham has described it as follows: "The general style of the Markanda temple is like that of the Khajuraho temples, with three rows of figures all round, two feet three inches in height. In each of these rows there are 45 human figures, making 135 in the lower part of the temple. Higher up than these there is a row of geese, and a row of monkeys, and above these there are four more rows of human figures. The whole surface of the temple is, in fact, literally covered with statues and ornaments. Altogether I counted 409 figures; and there are about half as many lions and elephants forming divisions between the human statues. About one half of the panels are given up to Siva and Parvati in various forms. There are also many subordinate female figures, some dancing, some playing musical instruments, and one holding a mirror, while putting antimony to her eyelids [Cunningham, A.S.R., Vol. IX, p. 145.]". There is another temple dedicated to the ten incarnations of Visnu and therefore called the Dasavatara temple, which Cunningham places two or three centuries earlier. There are in all more than twenty temples of various sizes grouped round the main temple of Markandeya.

Calukyas of Kalyani.

The Rastrakutas were succeeded by the Later Calukyas of Kalyani. Only one inscription of this family has been found in Vidarbha. It is the so-called Sitabuldi stone inscription of the time of Vikramaditya VI [Ep. Ind., Vol. III, pp. 304-f.; Studies in Indology, Vol. II, pp. 231-f,]. From the account of Vinayakrao Aurangabadkar this record seems to have originally belonged to the Vindhyasana hill at Bhandak. It is dated in the Saka year 1008 (A.D. 1087) and registers the grant of some nivartanas of land for the grazing of cattle made by a dependent of a feudatory named Dhadibhandaka. Another inscription of Vikramaditya's reign was recently discovered at Dongarganv in the Yavatmal district [Ep. Ind., Vol. XXXII, pp. 112-f.]. It sheds interesting light on the history of the Paramara dynasty. It shows that Jagaddcva, the youngest son of Udayaditya, the brother of Bhoja, left Malva and sought service with Vikramaditya VI, who welcomed him and placed him in charge of some portion of Western Vidarbha. This inscription is dated in the Saka year 1034 (A.D. 1112).

Though western Vidarbha was thus occupied by the Later Calukyas, the Paramaras of Dhar raided and occupied some portion of eastern Vidarbha. A large stone inscription now deposited in the Nagpur Museum, which originally seems to have belonged to Bhandak in the Canda district [There is much uncertainty about the provenance of this inscription. See Hiralal's Inscriptions in C. P. and Berar, Second Ed.,p.l. Hiralal thought that it belonged to Bilhari, but this is incorrect. See Ep. Ind., Vol. XXIII, p. 117, n. 5.], traces the genealogy of the Paramara prince Naravarman from Vairisimha. It is dated in the Vikrama year 1161, corresponding to A.D. 1104-05, and records the grant of two villages to a temple which was probably situated at Bhandak; for some of the places mentioned in it can be identified in its vicinity. Thus Mokhalipataka is probably Mokhar, 80.47 km. (50 miles) west of. Bhandak. Vyapura, the name of the mandala in which it was situated, may be represented by Vurganv, 48.280 km. (30 miles) from Mokhar.

After the downfall of the Vakatakas there was no imperial family ruling in Vidarbha. The centre of political power shifted successively to Mahismati, Badami, Manyakheta and Kalyani. Men of learning who could not get royal patronage in Vidarbha, had to seek it elsewhere. Bhavabhuti, who ranks next to Kali-dasa in Sanskrt literature, was a native of Vidarbha. in the prologue of his play Mahaviracarita he tells us that his ancestors lived in Padmapura in Vidarbha. As stated above, this place was once the capital of the Vakatakas and is probably identical with the village of the same name in the Bhandara district. With the down-fall of the Vakatakas this place lost its importance. In the beginning of the eighth century when Bhavabhuti flourished, there was no great king ruling in Vidarbha. Bhava-bhuti had therefore to go to Padmavati, the capital of the Naga kings in North India, and had to get his plays staged at the fairs of Kalapriyanatha (the Sun-god at Kalpi) [Mirashi, Studies in Indology, Vol. I, pp. 35-f.]. Later, he obtained royal patronage at the court of Yasovarman of Kanauj. Raja-sekhara, another great son of Vidarbha, was probably born at Vatsagulma, (modern Basim) which he has glorified in the Kavyamimamsa as the pleasure-resort of the god of love. He and his ancestors Akalajalada, Tarala and Surananda, had to leave their home country of Vidarbha and to seek patronage at the court of the Kalacuris at Tripuri. Rajasekhara's earlier plays, viz., the Balaramayana, the Balabharata and the Karpuramanjari were put on boards at Kanauj under the patronage of the Gurjara-Pratiharas. Later, when the glory of the Pratiharas declined as a result of the raids of the Kalacuri king Yuvarajadeva I, Rajasekhara seems to have returned to Tripuri in the train of the victorious conqueror. There his last play, the Viddhasalabhanjika was staged in jubilation at the victory of Yuvarajadeva over a confederacy of southern kings led by Govinda  IV in the battle of the Payosni [Mirashi, C.I.I., Vol. IV, pp. lxxix f.]. Another great poet or Vidarbha  who had to go abroad in search or royal patronage is Trivikramabhatta, the author of the Nalacampu, in which he has given us a graphic description of several towns, holy places and rivers of Vidarbha. He flourished at the court of the Rastrakuta king Indra III and is known to have drafted the two sets of Bagumra plates of that king, dated Saka 836 [Ep. Ind., Vol. IX, pp. 24 f.].


In the last quarter of the twelfth century A.D. the Yadavas of Devagiri came into prominence. They had been ruling over Seunadesa in an earlier period as feudatories of the Later Calukyas. but Bhillama, the son of Mallugi, declared his indepen-dence and soon made himself master of the whole territory north of the Krsna. He then founded the city of Devagiri which he-made his capital. His son jaitrapala killed Rudradeva of the Kakatiya dynasty on the field of battle and released his nephew, whom he had put into prison. Under Jaitrapala's son Singhana the power of the family greatly increased. He annexed the Kolhapur kingdom after defeating the Silahara king Bhoja in A.D. 1212. The first inscription of the Yadavas found in Vidarbha belongs to the reign of Singhana [Ibid., Vol. XXI, pp. 127 f.]. It is dated in the Saka year 1133 and records the erection of a torana at Ambadapura in the Buldhana district of Vidarbha. Many of the victories of Singhana were won for him by his Senapati Kholesvara, who hailed from Vidarbha. He defeated Laksmideva, the ruler of Bhambhagiri (modern Bhamer in Khandes), Paramara Bhoja of Cahanda (modern Canda or Candrapur) and Arjunavarmadeva, king of Malva, and devastated the capital of the Hoysalas. He even pressed as far as Varanasi in the north, where he put Ramapala to Hight [G. H. Khare, Sources of the Mediaeval History of theDeccan (Marathi), Vol. I pp. 55-f.]. Kholesvara constructed several temples in Vidarbha and also established agraharas on the banks of the Payosni and the Varada. The former agrahara is still extant under the name Kholapur in the Amravati district.

Singhana was succeeded by his grandson Krsna, whose inscription has been found in the temple of Khandesvara on a hillock on the outskirts of the village Nandganv in the Amravati district [Ep. Ind., Vol. XXVII, pp. 9-f.]. It is dated in the Saka year 1177 (A.D. 1254-55), and records the donations of some gadyanakas for the offerings of flowers at the temple of Khandesvara. After Krsna's death the throne was occupied by his brother Mahadeva, superceding the claims of the former's son Ramacandra. Mahadeva annexed Konkan to his kingdom after defeating Somesvara of the Silahara dynasty. He left the throne to his son Amana, hut the latter was soon deposed by Ramacandra, who captured the impregnable fort of Devagiri by means of a coup d'etat. He is the last of the independent kings of Devagiri. He won several victories and in a grant of his minister Purusottama he is said to have driven out the Muhammedans from Varanasi and to have built a temple there, which he dedicated to Visnu [Ibid., Vol. XXV, p. 207.]. A fragmentary inscription of his time is built into the front wall of the temple of Laksmana on the hill at Ramtek [Ibid.,Vol. XXV, pp. 7-f.]. In the first half of it it describes the temples, wells and tirthas on and in the vicinity of the hill, which it names as Ramagiri. The object of the inscription seems to have been to record the repairs done to the temple of Laksmana by Raghava, the minister of Ramacandra. Another inscription of Ramacandra's reign was found at Lanji in the Balaghat district. It is fragmentary and has not yet been deciphered.

In A.D. 1294 Ala-ud-din Khilji invaded the kingdom of Ramacandra and suddenly appeared before the gates of Devagiri. Ramacandra was taken unwares and could not hold out long. He had to pay a large ransom to the Muslim conqueror. He continued, however, to rule till A.D. 1310 at least; for a copper-plate grant which his minister Purusottama made is dated in the Saka year 1232 [Ibid., Vol. XXV, pp. 199-f.]. He was succeeded by his son Sankaradeva some time in A.D. 1311. He discontinued sending the stipulated tribute to Delhi. He was then defeated and slain by Malik Kafur. Some time thereafter Harapaladeva, the son-in-law of Ramacandra raised an insurrection and drove away the Muhammedans, but his success was short-lived. The Hindu kingdom of Devagiri thus came to an end in A.D. 1318.

Like their illustrious predecessors, the Yadavas also extended liberal patronage to art and literature. During their age a peculiar style of architecture called Hemadpanti after Hemadri or Hemadpant, a minister of Mahadeva and Ramacandra, came into vogue. Temples built in this style have been found in all the districts of Vidarbha. In the Candrapur district they exist in several places such as Amganv, Bhojeganv, Candpur, Curul, Ghosari, Mahavadi, Palebaras, Vaganak, Nalesvar etc. Several learned scholars flourished at the Yadava court. Among those who hailed from Vidarbha, Hemadri was the foremost. During the reign of Mahadeva he held the post of Srikaranadhipa or Head of the Secretariat. He was appointed Minister and Head of the Elephant Force by Ramacandra. He was as brave as he was learned and liberal. He conquered and annexed to the Yadava kingdom the eastern part of Vidarbha called Jhadi-mandala. Hemadri is well-known as the author of the Caturvarga-cintamani comprising five parts, viz., (1) Vratakhanda, (2) Danakhanda, (3) Tirthakhanda, (4) Moksakhanda, and (5) Parisesakhanda. Of these, the third and fourth khandas have not yet come to light.  Hemadri's work is held in great esteem and has been drawn  upon by later writers on Dharmasastra. Hemadri wrote on other  subjects as well. He is the author of a commentary on Saunaka's Pranavakalpa and also of a Sraddhakalpa, in which he follows Kalyayana. His Ayurvedarasayana, a commentary on Vagbhata's Astangahrdaya, and Kaivalyadipika, a gloss on Bopadeva's Muklaphala are also well known.

Hemadri extended liberal patronage to learned men. Among his proteges the most famous was Bopadeva. He was a native of Vedapada (modern Bedod) on the hank of the Wardha in the Adilabad district of the former Hyderabad State. Bopadeva is said to have composed ten works on Sanskrt grammar, nine on medicine, one for the determination of the tithis, three on poetics and an equal number for the elucidation of the Bhagavata doct-rine. Only eight of these are now extant. The Mugdhabodha, his work on Sanskrt grammar is very popular in Bengal.

Marathi literature also flourished in the age of the Yadavas. Cakradhara. who propagated the Mahanubhava cult in that age, used Marathi as the medium of his religious teaching. Following his example, several of his followers composed literary works in Mararhi. They are counted among the first works of Marathi literature. Mukundaraja. the author of the Vedantic works Vivekasindhu and Paramamrta, and Jnanesvara, the celebrated author of the Bhavarihadipika, a commentary on the Bhagavadgita, are the most illustrious writers of that age.