The Chodas of Velanandu with their capital at Dhanadapura—modern Tsandavole—held sway over the Andhra land for a century and a half—from about the middle, of the 11th to the close of the 12th century A.D. Of the eighteen generations of the Velanandu dynasty—six kings—from the fourteenth to the eighteenth—in the line of descent stand out as great rulers, and makers of history with important achievements to their credit in all spheres—political and otherwise. From small beginnings, with territory comprising 480 villages, the Velanandu kingdom attained its zenith in political power and territorial expansion under Gonka II when it touched Mahendragiri on the north-east, Srisailam and Tripurantakam on the west and Kalahasti on the south. The training in the arts of war and peace which the Velanandu Choda rulers had gained under the Chalukyas of Vengi and the Chalukyacholas, helped them a great deal when they had to assert themselves and build up their kingdom in the face of powerful hostile kingdoms on all sides ever ready to pounce on them. The Velanandu Chodas kept the torch of Chalukya-Chola culture and Government, burning with unswerving zeal against the constant encroachments on their power by the Chalukyas of Kalyani in the earlier and the Kakatiyas in the later stages. The Velanandu kingdom furnishes one of the best instances of how a faithful and nominally subordinate power developed into a virtually independent state with no hostility towards the suzerain—here the great cholas.
Political Condition of Vengi in the 11th Century A.D:—Vengi in the 11th century A.D was in an unsettled political condition till the accession of Kulottunga I in A.D. 1070. The Eastern Chalukyas were its rulers seemingly subordinate to the Cholas. A record dated A.D. 1006 at Chebrole of Satyasraya II of the Chalukyas of Kalyani and another at Draksharama of Somesvara I and several records of Vikramaditya VI attest the continuous interest of the Chalukyas of Kalyani in extending their power into Vengi.
In the words of Professor Nilakantha Sastri “The accession of Kulottunga marks the commencement of a new era in the history of the Chola empire. At the end, nearly of a century of dubious subordination the kingdom of Vengi now became definitely a province of the empire resusciated by its own ruler. After Kulottunga became Chola emperor Vengi was successively ruled by his sons as viceroys and this added greatly to the strength of the Chola empire by shutting the door against the intrigues of the western Chalukyas in that quarter.”
On the death of Vijayaditya VII after his rule for fifteen years in Vengi, Kulottunga appointed his son Rajaraja Mummadi Choda as viceroy who was appointed probably on July 27, A.D. 1076. At the end of two years, Rajaraja relinquished his office and was succeeded by his younger brother Vira Choda who held Vengi for six years (A.D 1078-79—1084) Virachoda’s successor in Vengi was the brother of Rajaraja Choda Ganga (A.D. 1084-1089). At the end of five years Choda Ganga was recalled and Virachoda succeeded him. Virachoda’s second term of viceroy lasted from A.D. 1085-89 to 1092-93 when Vikramachoda was appointed to succeed Virachoda and ruled till A.D.1118 in which year he was chosen their apparent to the Chola throne.
Rise of the Velanandu Power:—The Vaidumbas were the local rulers of the Tsandavole country to the south of the Krishna and of the Cuddapah tract in the latter part of the 10th century A.D. They owed allegiance to Krishna III of the Rashtrakutas and later on to Rajaraja I the great of the Cholas. Later on the Telugu Chodas in the Tsandavole and Cuddapah tracts in the 11th century A.D. serving as feudetories of the Chalukyas of Vengi and the Chalukya Cholas.
Origin and Early History up to Gonka I:—The Velanandu Chodas traced their descent from the fourth caste—Chaturthan-vaya—born from the feet of Brahma who was born from the navel lotus of Vishnu. The comparison between the Sudra caste taking birth from Brahma’s feet and River Ganges from the feet of Vishnu is cited in their inscriptions. It is not easy to know as to why the Velanandus did not claim solar kshatirya lineage in common with other chola dynasties, despite that they styled themselves Chodas, assumed Chola names and titles and also why they did not claim lunar kshatirya descent like the Chalukyan dynasties while the names of some of their ancestors Kirtivarman and Ranadurjaya might suggest some connection of theirs with the Chalukyas—Eastern and Western.
None of the Velanandu Choda inscriptions mention any super human ancestors of the dynasty consequently the statement that Gods Vishnu, Brahma, Chandra and Buddha figure among Velanandu ancestors made by some writers is wrong based on—record at Bezwada belonging to the Chalukyas of Nidadavole or Vengi, and not to the Velanandus as has been mistaken probably because of the existence of kings in the two lines bearing some names e.g. Gonka.
The Pithapur pillar inscriptions of Prithviswara supplies the names of the early ancestors of the Velanandu family up to Malla 1—the 7th in the list. Prince Indrasena born in the fourth caste was adopted as son by king Yudhishtara and bestowed with regal insignia. He ruled in Madhyadesa for a long time with capital at Kirtipura. After some kings born in his race passed away, Kirtivarman I was born. A descendant of his was Mallavarman. His son was Rahadurjaya II. Kirtivarman III was the son of Ranadurjaya II and his son was jMalla I, a contemporary of Trilochanapallava.
At this stage, we should consider some interesting suggestions advanced by previous writers, based on the names—Kirtivarman and Ranadurjaya—in the above list. Firstly, “Kirtivarman is distinctly a Western Chalukyan name while Ranadurjaya sounds more like a title. It may not be wrong if we suppose that the ancestors of this family might have migrated from the west into the Telugu country either during or in the wake of the invasions of Pulakesin II. The establishment of the Vengi branch of the Chalukya house and the names of the early ancestors indicate it.” But until and unless further material of a reliable nature concerning these early members of their chronology is forthcoming, it is hazardous to suggest a theory of migration based on sheer similarity of names between two members of two dynasties-the Velanandus and the Western Chalukyas secondly like Kirtivarman, Ranadurjaya figures in another dynasty also. Maharaja Ranadurjaya was the grand father of Prithvi Maharaja of the Tandivada plates and he is said to have brightened the quarters by its moon light like glory, which he acquired by protecting the world. It has been said, “The name Ranadurjaya occurs in the inscriptions of the eleventh and twelveth centuries. It is not known whether the Ranadurjaya of the present inscription had any connection with the ancestors of the Velanandu chiefs.” Once again no identification of the two Ranadurjayas is possible for want of chronological data.
As the predecessors of Mall a I are said to have ruled at Kirtipura in Madhyadesa and do not find mention in records earlier than the Pithapur pillar of PnthviSvara, the last of the Velanandus, we may promulgate tentatively that they, and the rule of Malla I at Kirtipura and his migration to the south were born from the imagination of the composer of the Pithapur pillar inscription, who thus glorified the pedigree of Prithvisvara.
King Malla I is said to have allied himself with Trinetra pallava and started for the south to conquer it and subdue the kings of the Ganges, Kalingas, Vangas, Magadhas, Andhras, Pulindas, Kuntala, Kerala, the Gaudas, Pandyas, Bhoja, Marata, Lata and Kataka. He possessed regal ensigns received from Yudhishtara and handed down, to him by the succession of his race. He obtained Shatsahasrajagati and ruled with his capital at Dhanadapura. Malla I is the king to find mention in other Velanandu inscriptions besides the Pithapur pillar, in much briefer terms. Two records at Draksharamamention that King Malla was born in the fourth caste and secured Velananduvishaya with the insignia of a feudatory by helping Trinayanapallava. The only c.p. grant of the dynastyrefers to him as Mallibhupa and his suzerain and Tryambaka pallava, the other details agreeing with those in Draksharama inscriptions.
Shatsahasrajagati and Velanandu Vishaya are identical and Malla I seems to have ruled it with capital at Tsandavole The only connecting link between him and his predecessors is in the statement that he inherited the insignia conferred on Indrasena by Yudhishtara. The chronology of Malla is dependent on that of Trilochana pallava with whom many dynasties of the Telugu country claim connection and whose historicity is yet to be fixed in South Indian History.
Malla’s son was Eriyavarman, and Eriyavarman’s son was Kudiyavarman I. Kudiyavarman’s son was Malla II. Of these Eriyavarman and Kudiyavarman figure in a single inscription whereas in another they are alluded to indirectly. Malla II is spoken of as a great warrrior, destroyer of hostile armies, who acquired the epithet Piduvaraditya, which, according to the inscription is hard to be acquired even by gods. Sometimes Malla II is mentioned simply as Piduvaraditya which testifies to his valour. The c p. grant calls him Mallaya.
Malla II Piduvaraditya had a son Kudiyavarman II according to the Pithapur inscription and he secured Oudravdra district by serving Vimaladitya. But from the c.p. grant and the Draksharama inscription, it is evident that Malla II had a son Eriya and Kudiya is not mentioned in them. Eriya’s son was Malliya who was the chief servant of Chalukya Bhima. By his wife Kollapamba or Kotyamamba he had two sons, Eriya and Korapa. Of the two, Eriya is spoken of as the vam^akarta. So far the c.p. grant and the pillar inscription agree. But differences crop up at this stage. The Draksharama inscription says ithat Eriya secured Gudravativishaya from Vishnuvardhana and that his sons by Gundamba were Malla, Gonka and Ganda.-According to the c.p. grant Eriya by Kattamba had six sons, Malhya Kudiya, Ganda, Panda, Nanna and Kapa of whom Kudiya received the province of Gudravaramandali from Vimaladitya and Nanna was a general of Vishnuvardhana.
Here must be noted that Kudiya, a feudatory of Vimaladitya according to both the records, c.p. and the pillar, was the son of Malla II according to the first and great grandson of Malla II according to the second. There could be no doubt about the identity of the two kudiyas, and the Pithapur pillar. The later of the two was wrong in making Kudiya, the son of Malla II where as in truth he was removed from Malla II by three generations.
Proceeding further, according to the c.p. grant, Nanna married Gundambika and had by her five sons—Vedura, Ganda, Gonka, Malla and Panda. The Pithapur pillar says that Kudiyavarman II transferred the burden of his kingdom to his son whose son was Erraya. Erraya’s son was Nanniraja; who is spoken of as famous destroyer of enemies and possessor of kingdom acquired by his strength. Nannaraja had five sons, Vedura, Ganda, Gonka, Malla and Panda.
Nanna and Nanniraja are identical just as the Pithapur pillar inscription makes Kudiya II, son of Malla II Piduvaraditya, the Hraksharama record commits the blunder by making Malla, Gonka and Panda—sons of Eriya, whereas from the c p. grant and Pithapur pillar it is clear that they were sons of Nannaraja and grandsons of Eriya.
I he differences in the genealogy between the c.p. and the Pithapur pillar are summed up thus. “The Pithapur inscription differs in stating that Nannaraja was not a brother (as our plates state) but a grandson of Kudiya or Kudiyavarman the vassal of Vimaladitya. It might also be stated that the grandfather of Kudiya was a certain Malliya, a vassal of Chalukya Bhima II and Malliya’s grand father was (Malla) alias Piduvaraditya, a surname applied in the Pithapur pillar inscription to certain Malla, the father of Kudiya.”
The Early Velanandus and the Eastern Chalukyas
The dynasty of the Chalukyas of Vengi which branched off from the Chalukyas of Badami controlled the destinies of Venginadu for four and a half centuries—from A.D. 616 to 1076 when it merged into the Chola dynasty under Kulottunga. The-founder Kubjavishnu alias Vishnuvardhana ruled from A D. 616 to 633 with capital at Pithapur. Chalukya Bhima II ruled from 888 to 918 A.D. His coronation took place in 892 A.D. He too was known as Vishnuvardhana and some of his titles were Tribhuvanamkunsa, Dronarjuna, sarvalokasraya, Parama brahmanya and Rethsiddhi. His reign was peaceful but for the temporary occupation of Vengi by Krishna II of the Rashtra-kutas and his generals which was put to an end by Bhima and his generals. Bhima II ruled for twehe years (933-945 A.D.) and his epithets besides Vishnuvardhana were Sarvalokasraya, TribhuvanamkuSa, Rajamartanda and Gandamahendra. He was also known as Rajabhuna. King Saktivarman ruled from A.D. 1000 to 1010, was also known as Sarvalokasraya, Vishnuvardhana maharaja and had the titles cf Chalukya Narayana and Chalukya Chandra. His successor was Vimaladitya who ruled from A.D. 1011 to 1081. His titles were Birudanka-bhima, Mummadi bhima, Bhupamahendra, Rajamartanda and Vishnuvardhana. By his time, the Chalukyas had contracted alliances of marriage with the Cholas and since his reign as a result of the Chela in\asion of Vergi the Chalukyas ruled as the feudatories of the Cholas.
Vimaladitya was succeeded by his eldest son Rajaraja (A.D, 1018 -1057) alias Vishnuvardhana. He was on friendly terms with the Cholas. His son and successor was Rajendra Chola entitled Kulottunga.
Not less than four members of the Velanandu dynasty were in the service of the Chalukyas of Vengi. The earliest among them was Eriya mentioned as a chief follower of Chalukya bhima who may be identified with Chalukya Bhima I. Eriya as a general must have rendered distinguished service to Bhima I in driving off Rashtrakuta Krishna II from Vengi. So he styled himself as chalukyabhimanucharapradvana. Malliya, son of Eriya is also spoken of as the chief follower of Chalukya Bhima, who has been identified with Bhima II. He must have held an important position in the kingdom either civil or military or both. Eriya, son of Malliya is said to have got Gudravatavishaya from Vishnuvardhana whom he served as a subordinate. After Bhima II the first among the Chalukyas to “bear the name Vishnuvardhana was Tala II brother and successor of Tadapa. His reign was too short and uneventful and falls between A.D. 973 to 1003—the period when Vengi, it was considered, without a ruler. So it is improbable that Eriya would have served Vishnuvardhana during interrugnam and was rewarded with Gudravati by the king Tala’s successor was Yuddha Malla III. Saktivarman was the second king to call himself Vishnuvardhana. So the Vishnuvardhana served by Eriya must be identified with Saktivarman. Eriya must have assisted Saktivarman in fighting for his throne and establishing himself firmly at the end of a long period of 27 years of so called inter-egnum. So in reward for Eriya’s services Saktivarman conferred on him Gudravati Vishaya. Thus Eriya was the first among the Velanandus to have acquired and administered Guddavati tract which marks the early beginnings of the Velanandu kingdom. Eriya must have been an important figure in the Chalukyan kingdom. Among Eriya’s sons, Kudiya and Nanna rendered signal services to Vimaladitya and Rajaraja respectively. Inscriptions speak highly of Kudiyavarman II. The Pithapur pillar inscription says that Kudiyavarman helped Vimaladitya for a long time on battle fields and defeated his foes. Pleased with his services Vimaladitya bestowed on Kudiyavarman II Gudravaradvaya, the pair of (districts called) Gndravara (or Gudravara) mandah As Gudravati Vishaya was conferred on Eriya by Saktivarman, Vimaladitya confirmed the grant by adding one more district to it and so the two were called Gudravaradvaya or Mandali. Nanna was the last among the Velanandus to have served the Chalukyas. He was a general of Vishnuvardhana identified with Rajaraja I, the successor of Vimaladitya. He must have assisted him in his wars against his brother Vijayaditya and other battles.
Thus, the Velanandu rulers were in the services of the Chalukyas as generals and feudatories holding the shatsahasra as well as Gudravaramandali with capital at Tsandavole in the last when Chalukyan kingdom ceased to be an independent power.
A record at Peravali dated s 878 mentions Maraya Panda uncle or father-in-law of Gonka I. Probably this Panda has been identified with Panda, the younger brother of Kudiyavarman II. But s’878 is too early for Panda and no other bearing that name is found prior to him in the Velanandu genealogy. So accepting that Maraya Panda is identified with Panda, it must be considered that the date s 878 is wrong and it ought to be s 978 in which case it fits in perfectly in the Velanandu chronology. For A.D 1056 falls in the reign of Rajaraja I of Vengi and it is probable that Maraya Panda was in his service like Nannaraja From the name Maraya Panda we may infer that his father Enya was also known as Maraya. This is the only record prior to the reign of Gonka.