The Dynasties of Maharashtra

An overview of the various dynasties that ruled the region that is now Maharashtra, from 230 BCE – 1300 CE. A very short description of all these dynasties follows.

We are very grateful to Brigadier Gerard, who had first posted this as a sketch on Twitter, and gave us permission adapt it and post it here.

Dynasties of Maharashtra
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The Dynasties of Maharashtra

Most of the content below is sourced from Wikipedia. Apart from this, some references have been made to various books listed at the end.

A note on dates: You will notice some discrepancies in the dates in the infographic above and sources (including Wikipedia). This is primarily due to how historians interpret dates. Some take it starting from when a dynasty was established, some take it at later time. Most of the dynasties listed below were vassals or feudatories of the dynasties that preceded them. In such situations, they were semi-independent to an extent.


The Satavahana dynasty ruled the Deccan region between 230 BCE – 225 CE. They were probably vassals of the Mauryas, and established their supremacy in the Deccan after the decline of the Maurya Empire. The dynasty was established by Simuka, however, Gautamiputra Satakarni (86–110 CE) is the most well-known king of this dynasty. The Satavahanas ruled from Pratishthana (modern-day Paithan) and Amravati (Dist. Guntur, Andhra Pradesh) [Link]


The Satavahanas were succeeded by the Vakatakas, who ruled during 250 – 525 CE, with their capital at Nandivardhana (modern-day Nandardhan, near Ramtek) and Vatsagulma (modern-day Washim). This dynasty was founded by Vindhyashakti (c. 250 – c. 270 CE). Vakatakas are known for their patronage of art & architecture. The famous Ajanta caves, were built by under the patronage of Vakataka emperor, Harishena. [Link]


The Kalachuri dynasty, ruled in Ujjayini, Vidisha, and Anandapura; and their capital was Mahishmati, which lies along the banks of the Narmada River. Not much is known about the founder of this dynasty; the earliest mentioned king was called Krishnaraja. Like the Vakatakas, the Kalachuris were also patrons of art & architecture. The Elephanta caves and the early Ellora caves were built under their patronage. [Link]

Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami)

One of the most significant dynasties of the Deccan, the early Chalukyas, or the Chalukyas of Vatapi ruled a large area of the Deccan between 550 – 760 CE, covering the entire region between the Narmada and the Kaveri rivers. Their rule is considered to be an era of prosperity. It also saw the birth of a new architectural style called Chalukyan architecture. The Chalukyas were natives of Karnataka; this dynasty was founded by Pulakeshin I. [Link]


The Rashtrakuta dynasty ruled most of the Indian subcontinent, between 753 – 973 CE, with their capital at Manyakheta (Modern-day Malkhed). The Rashtrakutas were feudatories of the Chalukyas of Vatapi and at peak, the Rashtrakutas ruled from the Ganges River to Cape Comorin. This period saw the development of many literary works as well as development of architecture, which include the Kailashnath temple at Ellora and the Jain Narayana Temple at Pattadakal. [Link]


The Silahara were vassals of the Rashtrakutas and were split in three branches: North Konkan, South Konkan, and Kolhapur. Across these three branches, the Silaharas ruled between 765 – 1215 CE. The Northern branch was founded by Kapardin, and their capital was Puri (modern-day Rajapur, in the Raigad district). The Silaharas of Kolhapur originally ruled from Karad, and later shifted their capital to Kolhapur. The Panhala fort, near Kolhapur was originally built by the Silahara ruler, Bhoja II between 1178 and 1209 CE. [Link]

Chalukyas of Kalyani

The Chalukyas of Kalyani, or the Western Chalukyas, ruled the Indian subcontinent during 973 CE – 1180 CE, with their capital, earlier at Manyakheta, and later at Kalyani (modern-day Basavakalyan). Major ruling families of the Deccan, the Hoysalas, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty and the Southern Kalachuris of Kalyani, were subordinates of the Western Chalukyas. The Western Chalukyan architectural style is well known as the transitional style between the earlier Chalukyas and the Hoysalas. [Link]


The Kadamba dynasty ruled northern Karnataka and the Konkan from Banavasi. The dynasty was founded by Mayurasharma in 345 CE. Kadambas were the first rulers to use Kannada as another official administrative language. The Kadambas of Goa, first ruled from Chandor, and laters shifted their capital to Gopakapattana (Goa). The Kadambas of Goa ruled between 960 – 1310 CE and succumbed to the Seuna Yadavs. [Link]

Seuna Yadav

The Seuna Yadavs were feudatories of the Western Chalukyas, and established their independence as the Chalukyan power declined. The Yadavas of Devgiris, as they are also known, ruled from 1189 – 1310 CE, from Devgiri (modern-day Daulatabad). The name Seuna comes from Seunachandra, who originally ruled a region called Seunadesha (modern-day Khandesh), this dynasty was established by Bhillama V (1173–1192 CE). Singhana II (1200–1247 CE), however is considered the greatest ruler of this dynasty who expanded the Seuna kingdom. In 1317 CE, this kingdom was annexed by the Khilji Sultanate. [Link]


  1. A., N. S. (1976). A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. Madras: Oxford University Press.
  2. Bhāndārkar, R. G. (1957). Early History of the Dekkan. Calcutta: Gupta.
  3. Nagpur District Gazetteer. (n.d.). Retrieved January 07, 2017, from
  4. Sharma, L. P. (1987). History of Ancient India: (pre-historic age to 1200 A.D.). New Delhi: Konark .
  5. Singh, U. (2008). A history of ancient and early medieval India: from the Stone Age to the 12th century. New Delhi: Pearson Education.

Featured Image: By Dey.sandip (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Bidar Fort


A view of Bidar Fort from the top of Rangeen Mahal, looking out. Built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahamani
A view of Bidar Fort from the top of Rangeen Mahal, looking out. Built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Al Wali Bahamani

Sultan Alla-Ud Din Bahman of the Bahmanid Dynasty shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar in 1427 and built his fort along with a number of monuments in it. The fort was captured by Bijapur Sultanate in 1619–20, but fell to the Mughals in 1657; as a part of a Peace treaty.

The fort has five gates, 37 bastions and is surrounded by multiple moats. It houses multiple monuments, of which Rangin Mahal is the most decorated of them all. [Link]

Extract | Architecture & Acoustics of the Gol Gumbaz

The Gol Gumbaz

This is an extract from the book, “Bijapur: The Old Capital of the Adil Shahi Kings” by Henry Cousens, published for the Archaeological Survey of Western India. This book was published in 1889. The entire book is available as a free download from, here in various formats. The text has been presented as is, from the book. Other open-source references have been added to aid understanding of concepts used in the extract.

4082: Gol Gumbaz
Gol Gumbaz, Tomb of Ali Adil Shah I, Bijapur, KA, India

By far the largest and most conspicuous building in Bijapur is the mausoleum of Muhammad, (or Mahmud as he is sometimes called) Adil Shah.

Muhammad Adil Shah of Bijapur
Portrait of MUHAMMAD ADIL SHAH (1627-56) of Bijapur. British Museum. See page for author [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In the time of the “Merry Monarch” Bijapur attained its zenith of architectural greatness. Luxury held her court within its walls, and the Sultan and his nobles worshipped at her shrine. One of the first concerns of the king on ascending the masnad was to build his own tomb, and to set about it at once, so that there might be a chance of completing it before he died. In this there was naturally great rivalry, for each monarch wished to leave such a tomb behind him as would eclipse those of his predecessors, leave no room for improvement to his successors, and so single out his name conspicuously from them all. And Muhammad certainly succeeded in doing this in a manner beyond anything attempted before or after him. Ibrahim II., his father, had just been buried in his own tomb the like of which was not to be found anywhere in the Dekhan. With its lavish abundance of decoration, its slender and graceful minarets, its exquisite proportions, and surroundings of lovely gardens, it made his father’s simple tomb sink into insignificance and become a hovel beside it. Here was a puzzle for this ‘Old King Cole.’ How was he to surpass it ? In this last work the architects and builders had done their very best, they could do no more. The only thing left to him then was to substitute quantity for quality. If he could not surpass the delicate chiselling and lacelike balustrades of the Ibrahim Rauza [Wiki | Image], he would, at least, build such a tomb as would, by its immense size, dwarf this and every other building in the city, a tomb that would arrest the eye from every quarter for miles around, and carry with it the name of Muhammad, the great Sultan Muhammad

The general appearance of the building is that of a great cube, surmounted by a huge hemispherical dome, with an octagonal tower at each of its four corners, these being crowned by smaller domes. The only prominent feature on the faces of the building is the great deep overhanging cornice which, at a high level, runs round all four sides. The doorways, small lancet windows, and surface decoration by no means assert themselves, and from a short distance off are hardly noticed on the bare looking walls. The monotony of this, however, is broken by the towers which are riddled with windows from base to summit — seven in each of the seven storeys into which the tower is divided. The crest of the walls, above the cornice, is crenellated. The diameter of the dome is rather less than the breadth of the building. A winding staircase ascends in each of the corners of the building, just where the towers abut on to it, and, communicating with each storey of the tower, at last leads out on to the flat roof, between the corners and the dome. Passages lead from the roof, through the thickness of the dome, into the whispering gallery round the interior of the same.

4206: Whispering Gallery
The Whispering Gallery – Gol Gumbaz

The dome is practically a hemisphere of 124 ft. 5 in. interior diameter. The thickness of the same at the springing is 10 feet, whilst near the crown it is 9 feet. Thus the total external diameter at the springing is 144 feet. The curves of the surface are nowhere perfect so that the measurements taken across different diameters vary several inches. The great compartment below, which is covered by the dome, is 135 ft. 5 in. square at the floor level, and this gives an area of 18,337.67 sq. ft., from which if we take 228.32 sq. ft. for the projecting angles of the piers carrying the cross arches, which stand out from the walls into the floor, two on each face, we get a total covered area, uninterrupted by supports of any kind, of 18,109.35. sq. ft. This is the largest space covered by a single dome in the world, the next largest being that of the Pantheon at Rome of 15,833 sq. ft.

The total exterior height of the building above the platform on which it stands is 198 ft. 6 in. exclusive of the wooden pole at the top. But this, when it held the gilt finial, formed part of the building and another 8 feet must be allowed for it and this would give an extreme height of 206 ft. 6 in. The interior height from the level of the floor around the tomb platform to the top of the dome is 178 ft. The drop from the gallery to the floor below is 109 ft. 6 in.

In this colossal mausoleum we have the system of the pendentives, used with such effect throughout the Bijapur buildings, displayed to its greatest advantage.

Pendentive and Dome
Dome on pendentive (marked with yellow). By hu:User:Totya (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Theoretically there is no limit to the size of the building that could be raised and covered in on these principles. But, with the material the Bijapur builders had, it is very doubtful whether they could have erected a larger building without great risk of accidents. Here they had no trouble with their foundations for they had selected a spot where the solid rock comes to the surface, and the whole of the foundations are planted upon it. One of the greatest troubles and risks of subsequent unequal settling, that the builders of great and heavy works have to contend with, did not exist here.

“In a spherical roof intersected with groined compartments, the term pendentives was applied to the surfaces included between such compartments. The same term is applied to the surfaces included in the angles formed by a groined vaulting at its spring.” It is in the latter sense that it is used in the Bijapur buildings. The pendentives are thus a result of cross arching or groining.

Construction Pattern of the Gol Gumbaz
Construction Pattern of the Gol Gumbaz, from “Bijapur: The Old Capital of the Adil Shahi Kings” by Henry Cousens

The accompanying diagram explains the arrangement. ABCD is the square room to be covered in. Points are taken in the walls at E, F, G, H, K, L, M, and N so that they form the corners of an octagon. At these points buttresses or piers are built up the walls to carry arches. The latter are then thrown across from one pier to an alternate pier so that the arches thus constructed form in plan two intersecting squares EGKM and FHLN, and the crowns of all the arches fall upon a circle inscribed within these squares, and carry the dome which may be as small in internal diameter as this circle. It will thus be seen that the dome rests directly upon the crowns of the arches, which are always pointed, and the former being a solid mass of concrete, like a shell with no loose voussoirs, it rests as a dead weight upon the crowns of the arches conveying no outward thrust to them. The lines joining the intersections and points of the arches and the corners of the outer square, cut up the space between the circle and these corners into a number of concave spherical triangles. These are the pendentives.

4227: Aerial View
The angle formed by NAE, as shown in the above diagram. (lower middle, in the image)

On the great raised platform in the centre of the buildings under the dome are the duplicate tombs of the grandson of Sultan Muhammad, his younger wife Arus Bibi, the Sultan himself, his favourite mistress Rhumba, his daughter, and his older wife, in this order from east to west. The real tombs, where the bodies lie, are in the vaults immediately below these, the entrance to which is by a staircase under the western entrance. Over Muhammad’s tomb is erected a wooden canopy.

Bijapur Sultante Map
Bijapur Sultante Map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most remarkable feature about this tomb is its whispering gallery. This, as mentioned before, runs round the interior of the dome on a level with its springing, and hangs out from the walls into the building. It is about 11 feet wide, the dome itself forming the back wall of the same. On entering the building one is struck with the loud echoes that fill the place in answer to his footfall; but these sounds are much intensified on entering the gallery. One pair of feet is enough to awaken the echoes of the tread of a regiment; strange eerie sounds, mocking whispers,, and uncanny noises emanate from the walls around. Loud laughter is answered by a score of fiends. The slightest whisper is heard from side to side; and a conversation can be most easily carried on across the full diameter of the dome in the lowest undertone. A single loud clap is echoed over ten times distinctly.

Sonic Wonderland: A Scientific Odyssey of Sound, By Trevor Cox Google Books

Instances of multiple echoes, such as this, are the Pantheon, the tomb of Metella, the wife of Crassus, which is said to have repeated a whole verse of the Æneid as many as eight times, and the whispering gallery of St. Paul’s. It is not at all likely, as some suppose, that the architect of this building had the production of a good echo in view when he constructed the dome, for it is no more than a duplicate of many a dome in Bijapur, on a much larger scale, with nothing extra, about it in any way. The echo was, no doubt, a purely natural result of the size of the dome. In the smaller domes we get what is called resonance, their diameters not being sufficiently great to allow of a distinct echo. It requires rather more than 65 feet between a person and the reflecting surface so that the sound on return may reach his ear immediately upon the dying out of the original sound and so create the impression of a second sound — an echo. If a greater distance intervenes the echo is more distinct as more time separates the original sound from the reflected sound. If the distance is less no distinct echo results, as the original and reflected sounds overlap and produce a confused sound or resonance.

Living Science Physics 9, By Dhiren M Joshi Google Books

From the roof of the tomb, surrounding the dome, a most extensive view of the whole city is obtained. To the south-west is the Jama Masjid conspicuous among its surrounding buildings; more to the west may be seen Mustafa Khan’s mosque, the Asar Mahal with its great open front, and the many buildings in the citadel, most prominent among which is the Anand Mahal. Directly west is, first, the unfinished mausoleum of Ali (II.) Adil Shah with its rows of skeleton arches, then the lofty Haidar Burj with the old Dekhani Idgah beside it. Away beyond the walls are the domes and minarsof the Ibrahim Rauza, and the white dome of the Amin Dargah with the Serai (Jail) and scores of surrounding buildings. Out to the east is the unfinished tomb of Jehan Begam and the tomb of Ain-ul-Mulk. Over the south doorway below, and inside, there is a large boldly cut inscription in three compartments. Each of these three sections is a complete sentence in itself, and each, on computing the values of the Persian letters, gives the date A. H. 1067 (A. D. 1656), the date of Muhammad’s death. These sentences are : —

“The end of Muhammad has become laudable.” “Muhammad Sultan whose abode is in paradise.” “The abode of peace became Muhammad Shah.”

The portion added to the back or north side of the building is said to have been intended to afford a resting place for Jehan Begam the Queen of Muhammad Shah, but whatever it was built for, it was never finished and never occupied. An inspection of the masonry shows that it was added after the main building was erected. In building the walls of the Gol Gumbaz the builders appear to have first erected four great arches and then to have walled up their open spaces, so that an addition such as the above could have been easily added at any subsequent time, and the filling in under one of the great arches knocked out, to give access to it, without impairing the building. Below it is a vault corresponding in plan to the upper chamber, which goes far to show it was intended for a tomb.

Standing out before the Gol Gumbaz on its south side is the great gateway over which was the Nagarkhana, where the music was played at stated times. It appears never to have been finished as its [minars] were never carried up beyond the roof.

On the west, and standing on the edge of the platform, is the well proportioned mosque attached to the tomb, but which has, unfortunately, been converted into a travellers’ bangla by unsightly cross walls, doors, windows, and whitewash. It is an elegant building with a rich, deep cornice, and slender well-proportioned minarets. The stairways leading to the roof, as in most of the Bijapur mosques, are in the thickness of the end walls. In this they differ very much from the Ahmadabad buildings where the stair is almost invariably a spiral passage winding up through the minarets. Two adjuncts were necessary to every Muhammadan tomb, namely, a mosque and a tank. Here we find two tanks, one before the main entrance to the tomb and another between the latter and the mosque. The general style, finish, and proportions of this mosque show clearly that it was not due to the want of cunning artisans that the Gol Gumbaz was built so plainly and covered with plaster, instead of being decorated with a profusion of chiselled stone-work. Moreover there are parts about the great tomb itself, the general cornice and the cornices of the little [minars] on the top, which indicate the presence of skilled workmen in stone. Its severity of outline and decoration was thus designedly so, and was the outcome of an ambition to overshadow all previous work by simple mass, which has resulted almost in clumsiness.

Administration & Villages in Deccan: Maratha Period – II

In the first part of this article we saw that the otherwise common structure of land divisions has remained more-or-less the same for over 2,000 years. There were small changes as generations passed, new divisions came into being, and the names changed, but the structure essentially remained the same.

But what of the lowest unit of these sub-divisions—the village?

By far, all through the various changes, handovers, divisions and transfers of lands between rulers and dynasties, the village remained an independent and a self-sufficient unit. Undoubtedly, villages and villagers suffered the most during wartime, or campaigns by various kings and warlords, yet in administrative terms, the village wasn’t affected (significantly) by the mergers, takeovers, and acquisitions by empires.

During the reign of Chh. Shivaji, one notable change that the administrative system underwent was the visible hand of the central government. The indirect system of tax collection was abolished, and government officers were appointed in villages to manage matters of tax. This greatly improved tax collections because it assigned responsibility to government officers, rather than local lords.

Yet, the republican nature of the village remained intact.

The Village: Land Division

Villages during this period were typically divided in two parts, based on the land quality: one for the settlements and the other for cultivation. The section for the settlements, made of the white soil was called gharthan, and the one with black soil was allocated for cultivation. The word pandhari, meaning white, later took on the meaning to refer the settlers on the white soil.

The Village: Residents

There four types or groups of residents in a village. These were:

  1. Deshak (देशक) or Watandars (वतनदार): Deshaks were officers of the village, and revenue-paying heredity owners of land. Watandars did not pay revenue for the land, instead the served the kingdom.
  2. Thalkari (थलकरी) or Mirasdars:(मिरासदार) Thalkari or Mirasdar paid land revenue, but were not officials and formed a large part of the village community, and were hereditary owners of the land. Mirasdar is an Arabic word (Miras=Inherit)for Thalkari.
  3. Upris (उपरी): The Upris were tenant-at-will, of government land, held land on a renewable basis, called Kaulnama (कौलनामा), also paid land revenue, but were tenants, rather than owners. They did not enjoy the advantage and the position of the Mirasdars.
  4. Balutedar (बालुतेदार) & Alutedars (अलुतेदार): In simplest terms these were the “service-providers” to the village. Baluta signifies a share of grain (or agricultural produce) and in most cases, these folks were paid in kind, annually.
Division and Residents of the Village
Division and Residents of the Village

The Deshmukh, was the head of all the Patils of the villages in a Paragana, while the Deshpande was the head of all the Kulkarnis. Of the various Deshaks the Patil, undoubtedly was the most important person, in the village. He was the village headman, and was responsible for peace and order, revenue management, and paying revenues to the government. It was not necessary that he lived an affluent life, but wielded much power.

In a saying in old Marathi, a bride prefers a Patilas her groom, even if there is no grain in the house.

उतरंडीला नसेना दाणा, पण दादला असावा पाटील राणा.

Balutedars & Alutedars
Balutedars & Alutedars

Typically, there were twelve Balutedars (बारा बालुतेदार) and an equal number of Alutedars. We say typically, because this number varied from village to village, possibly due to the size of the village. The Balutedars served the village, where as the Alutedars (also known as Khooms) served in the Peth or the market of the village.

The village also practiced its own judicial system, known as the Gotsabha (गोतसभा). All residents of the village had representation in the Gotsabha, except the tenants — the Upris. The Mahar, was a Watandar of the village, and performed a significant task in the village community with respect to providing security. Grant Duff, praises the Mahar community as hard-working and intelligent. In one instance we have the Mahar being called up to resolve boundary disputes and fix the boundaries of villages under Torna fort.

Various documents give an insight into the independent functioning of the village in Deccan. While villages faced a severe brunt during war and plunder, and their top-bosses changed with the fates of the kings, the village remained an independent, self-governing, republican unit.


  1. Habib, Irfan. The Agrarian System of Mughal India: 1556-1707. New Delhi: Oxford U, 2004. Print.
  2. Kulakarṇi, A. R. Maharashtra in the Age of Shivaji. Poona: Deshmukh, 2008. Print.
  3. Sen, Surendra Nath. “Village Communities.” Administrative System of the Marathas. 2nd ed. Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi, 1976. 143. Print.
  4. Gune, Vithal Trimbak. The Judicial System of the Marathas. Poona: Deccan College PGRI, 1953.
  5. Kulkarni, A. R. शिवकालीन महाराष्ट्र (Shivkaleen Maharashtra). Pune: Rajhans, 1996

Post Script:

I am looking for helps with translations of the following terms: Security (महार/ढेर), Singer (भाट/शाहीर), Priest (मौलाना), Musician (गोसावी), Musician (घडसी), Ramoshi (रामोशी), as it applies in the above context.

Link | Role of Mansabdari and Jagirdari System During Mughal Empire

The Mansabdari system is often considered to be the cause of the Mughal Empire’s decline. It was a complex system of assigning grants to nobility and a means of effective tax collection as well as remuneration.

The Mansabdars were appointed to all civil and military posts except that of judiciary, and the positions like wazir, bakshi, faujdar and Subedar were held by the Mansabdars. The Mansabdar appears to be a central Asian institution. There is a view that this institution came to India with Babur. During Babur’s time, instead of the term of Mansabdar, the term Wajahdar was used. There is a definite difference between these two terms of Mansabdari and Wajahdari system. Under the regime of Akbar, Mansabdari system became the basis of military and civil administration. It is also believed that Akbar followed the principles of Changiz Khan in fixing up the grades of Mansabdars.

via Role of Mansabdari and Jagirdari System During Mughal Empire.

Image via “Asif muharram 1795 1” by The Muharram Festival – Anonymous. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons. The Muharram Festival