The first people with local origin who ascended the throne of the land were Karkotas. The dynasty ruled Kashmir for more than two centuries during which seventeen Rajas are said ascended the throne, one after the other. Karkota Empire (c. 625 – 885 CE) was was founded by Durlabhavardhana during the lifetime of Harshavardhan. It became a major power in the Indian subcontinent during 7th and 8th century. The dynasty marked the rise of Kashmir as a power in Northern India.

Kashmiri historian Kalhana wrote Rajatarangini (“The River of Kings”) in Sanskrit. It provides the earliest source on Kashmir that can be labeled as a “historical” text on this region.

The dynasty’s strongest ruler was Lalitaditya Muktapida who captured parts of Central Asia, Afghanistan and Punjab. Lalitaditya was able to extend the power of Kashmir beyond the normal mountain limits. Around 740 CE he defeated Yashovarman, the King of Kannauj. Lalitaditya vanquished the Turks, Tibetans, Bhutias, Kambojas and others. The claim of Lalitaditya conquering the Tibetans seems to be based on his participation in Tang campaigns against the Tibetans.

The Karkota emperors were primarily Hindu. They built spectacular Hindu temples in their capital Parihaspur. They however also allowed Buddhism to flourish under them. Stupa, Chaitya and Vihara can be found in the ruins of their capital. Martand Sun Temple in the Anantnag district were built by Lalitaditya. It is the oldest known Sun temple in India and was also one of the biggest temple complexes at the time.

Avanti Varman ascended the throne of Kashmir on 855 A.D., establishing the Utpala dynasty and ending the rule of Karkota dynasty.

The coins of few of Karkota rulars are also known, archaeologists have found coins of Durlaba and Pratapa , which are identified as the coins of Sri Durlabhadeva and Laitaditya Mukhtapida. The coins carry legend in Gupta Brahmi as Sri Durlaba and Sri Pratapa, with crude figures of Standing King and seated Goddess. Their coins have been found in hoards at Bhtawara (Fiazabad) Manu Banda Sarnath and Rajghat (Varanasi) and at the ancient site of Nalanda.

Coin of king Vajraditya (Vigraha Deva) of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir, 763-770AD, Pratapaditya, Base Gold Dinar,

  • Year: 763-770 AD
  • Weight: 7.00gm
  • Dia: 21mm
  • Composition: Gold (base)
  • Obs: Abstract Kushan-style king standing left, sacrificing over altar and holding filleted standard; filleted trident to left; “Kidara” monogram in inner right field
  • Rev: Abstract Ardoxsho seated facing, holding filleted investiture garland and cornucopia; Brahmi “Sri Vigraha” to right, “Deva” to left

Karkota dynasty

RulerReignAscension yearNotes
Durlabhavardhana (Prajnaditya)38 years598 CEBorn to Nāga Karkota (a deity), Durlabhavardhana was Baladitya’s officer in charge of fodder. Baladitya married his daughter Anangalekha to him. As the royal son-in-law, he became known as a just and wise man, and was given the title “Prajnaditya” by the king. His wife Anangalekha became involved in an extra-marital affair with the minister Kharga. Despite catching them sleeping together, Durlabhavardhana forgave Khankha, and won over his loyalty. After Baladitya’s death, Khankha crowned him the new king.
Durlabhaka (Pratapaditya II)60 years634 CESon of Durlabhavardhana and Anangalekha. He was adopted as a son by his maternal grandfather, and assumed the title Pratapaditya after the title of the grandfather’s dynasty.
Chandrapida (Vajraditya I)8 years, 8 months684 CESon of Durlabhaka and Shrinarendraprabha.
Tarapida (Udayaditya)4 years, 24 days693 CEYounger brother of Chandrapida.
Muktapida (Lalitaditya I)36 years, 7 months, 11 days697 CEYounger brother of Chandrapida and Tarapida. According to the historical evidence, Lalitaditya Muktapida ruled during the 8th century. Kalhana states that Lalitaditya Muktapida conquered the tribes of the north and after defeating the Kambojas, he immediately faced the Tusharas. The Tusharas did not give a fight but fled to the mountain ranges leaving their horses in the battle field. Then Lalitaditiya meets the Bhauttas in Baltistan in western Tibet north of Kashmir, then the Daradas in Karakoram/Himalaya, the Valukambudhi and then he subdues Strirajya, the Uttar Kuru/Western China and the Pragjyotisha respectively (IV.165-175). According to some historians, Kalhana has highly exaggerated the military conquests of Muktapida.
Kuvalayapida1 year, 15 days733 CESon of Lalitaditya and Kamaladevi. His short reign was marked by a succession struggle with his half-brother Vajraditya II. He abdicated the throne, and a became a hermit to seek peace.
Vajraditya II (Bappiyaka / Vappiyaka / Lalitaditya II)7 years734 CESon of Lalitaditya and Chakramardika. He was a cruel and immoral person, who introduced the evil habits of mlechchhas to Kashmir.
Prithivyapida I4 years, 1 month741 CESon of Vajraditya II and Mangjarika. Deposed by his half-brother Sangramapida.
Sangramapida I7 days745 CESon of Vajraditya II and Massa. Deposed his half-brother to become the king, but died after a week.
Jayapida (Vinayaditya); Jajja31 years; 3 years745 CEYoungest son of Vajradjtya II. He erected a monument at Prayaga, which existed at Kalhana’s time. His wife Kalyanadevi was the daughter of Jayanta, the king Pundravardhana in Gauda region. Jayapida subdued five kings of Gauda, and made them vassals of his father-in-law. On his way back to Kashmir, he also defeated the king of Kanyakubja. While Jayapida was in Gauda, his brother-in-law usurped the throne in Kashmir. After three years of ruling Kashmir, Jajja was killed by Shrideva, a supporter of Jayapida. Jayapida became the king once again, and patronized scholars. He waged wars against Bhimasena of the East and Aramuri of Nepala. In both instances, he was first imprisoned by the enemy king, but managed to escape and defeated the enemy. During the last years of his reign, he imposed excessive taxes on advice of Kayasthas, and treated his subjects cruelly. He died because of a curse by a Brahmin.
Lalitapida12 years776 CESon of Jayapida and Durgi. He devoted his time to sensual pleasures, and neglected royal duties.
Sangramapida II (Prithivyapida II)7 years788 CESon of Jayapida and Kalyana.
Chippatajayapida (Brhspati / Vrihaspati)12 years795 CESon of Lalitapida and his concubine Jayadevi. The actual power was in hands of Jayadevi’s brothers Padma, Utpalaka, Kalyana, Mamma and Dharmma.
Ajitapida37 years813 CESon of Lalitapida and Jayadevi, made the king by his maternal uncle Utpalaka. Dethroned by Utpalaka’s rival Mamma and the latter’s son Yashovarman.
Anangapida3 years849 CESon of Sangramapida II. Made king by Mamma and Yashovarman.
Utpalapida2 years852 CESon of Ajitapida. Made king by Sukhavarman, the son of Utpala. Deposed by the minister Shura.

* Text from Wikipedia

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