Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Chola who lost his life in Raichur

Koppara in Raichur district is a well-known pilgrim centre. It has the famous temple of Lakshmi Narasimha which is situated on the banks of the Krishna.
Several centuries ago, Koppara, now in Devadurg taluk, was the place where a mammoth ceremony was organised by a Vijayanagar king to honor  Madhwa saints performing chaturmasa. It was at this place that a young Lakshminarayana, who gave a beautiful discourse on Nyaya Sudha, was given the title Sripadaraja Theertha.
This incident occurred sometime in the late 1400s or early 1500s. However, there is an other significant event that changed the course of history of south India. This event happened almost a thousand years ago.
Koppara was scene of a massive battle between the rampaging Cholas and the Chalukyas. The Cholas were a Tamil based dynasty, while the Chalukyas were Kannadigas. They were at war with each other for more than one hundred years.
Bitter rivals in south India, the two were at each other’s throat right from 992 AD when Cholas fought the Chalukyas at Rattepidi and defeated the Chalukyan commander Satyashraya.
The enmity between the two dynasties continued till 1120 when the last battle was fought in 1120 when the Chalukyan King Vikramaditya, the sixth, took on Vikrama Chola. The continous conflict weakened both the powers and led to the birth of the Hoysala Kingdom of Dwarasamudra.
Coming back to Koppara, the Cholas were initially routed in the battle that took place near the Krishna river in 1054 AD. The Chola Emperor, Rajadhiraja, was killed in battle by Someshwara the first, the Chalukya King.  
Rajadhiraja, also known as Kopparakesarivarman Rajadhiraja Chola I had succeeded his father, Rajendra Chola, in 1018. Rajendra Chola is considered to be among the greatest kings of India and Rajadhiraja was an able and capable son.
Rajadhiraja had helped his father overcome the Chalukyas.Yet, the Chalukya power had not diminished. The Chalukyas of Kalyan (Basavakalyan) had overthrown the Rastrakutas in 973 and  Someshwara I (1043-1068) had succeeded in resisting the efforts of the Cholas to subdue Karnataka.
He had also built a new capital called Kalyana (modern Basava Kalyana in Bidar district).
A born fighter, Rajadhiraja was apprehensive about the growing power of the Chalukyas. He decided to subdue the Chalukyas and  he went to war against the Chalukyas. He defeated the Western Chalukya forces in  the battle at Dannada on the banks of Krishna and set fire to their fort.
He followed up this victory with a number of raids into the Chalukya country. In one such raid, the Cholas captured several generals and feudatories of Chalukya and demolished the Chalukya palace at Kampali. The victorious Chola forces crossed the Krishna river and erected a victory pillar at a place called Yetagiri.
After more fighting, the capital of Chalukya was sacked and the Cholas built a pillar of victory in Kolhapur, which is now in Maharashtra.
Rajadhiraja entered the capital and coronated himself as  Vijayarajendra. The Chalukya Emperor, Somesvara I, fled towards Rodda and Kadambalige.
In 1054, Rajadhiraja once again decided to take on the Chalukyas. He personally led the Chola army and the two met at Koppara. Rajadhiraja (54) was atop an elephant and he was guiding his soldiers when he was killed by an arrow.
The Chalukyas had decided to concentrate their strength on the commander of the Cholas. Since, Rajadhiraja personally led the attack, Someshwara had asked his troops to concentrate on him. This tactic paid rich dividends as they managed to first mortally injure the Chola Emperor and then kill him. 
When the Chola army saw their king dead, they fled in panic. On their part, the Chalukyas rejoiced in their victory but this was short lived as Rajadhiraja’s younger brother, Rajendra Chola, who was holding himself back as a reserve, suddenly fell on the Chalukyas.
But this action was a little to late and Rajadhiaraja had died on the elephant. To this day, he is known as Yanai-mel-thunjina Devar-the Emperor who died on an elephant.
The Cholas, however, succeeded in defeating the Chalukyas but they had paid a heavy price. Much of their army had been routed and their Emperor slain. Rajendra crowned himself in Koppara s the next Chola Emperor and egged on his soldiers to fight.
He too was initially injured in the battle but he came back to the battlefield, inspiring the Cholas and demoralizing the Chalukyas.
(The Chola accounts say the battle saw the death of several Chalukya stalwarts such as  Jayasimha, the crown prince and two other prominent royals- Pulikesi and Dasapanman. However, this is false as Jayasimha did not die. After Vikramaditya took over as the Emperor, he made Jayasimha the Governor of Banavasi. Jayasimha continued to live decades after the Chola accounts killed him.)
Someshwara then shifted his capital from Kalyan to Manyakheta or Malkhed and developed into one of the finest cities of the times.
The Chola or rather Tamil texts speak much about the victory of the Cholas in the battle of Koppara but the Chalukyan accounts are silent. They, however, say that Rajadhiraja was killed in the battle.
The battle marks a turning point in the Chola-Chalukya relations. Try as they might, the Cholas could not subjugate the Chakulyas. While the Cholas managed to retain Tamil Nadu, the Chalukyas continue to hold sway over Karnataka, thanks to Someshwara.
Koppara is 47 kms from Raichur and 14 kms from Deodurg. It is 397 kms from Bangalore.


  1. Well we dont really hear much about Raichur..

    my wife is from Hatti Gold Mines in Raichur Dist..please do write something about HGM, Lingsugur, Jaladurga and that part of the world if you have any info..

    Btw, there is a place called Yemaras in Raichur..two events that happened there might interest you...one is the 1917 train accident in which many british soldiers were killed..mentioned in a plaque in St Andrews Church, Bangalore..and another is when Pandit Nehru's plane was forced to land there in 1957..

    1. Yes, your are right. Raichur seems remote and though it has some of the most well -known monuments, it somehow seems to have escaped attention. An earlier post has information about Jaldurga. A write up on Hutti is ready and it is being vetted. Other articles on Raichur is also underway.