The Kotas ruled over the Shatsahasra-the Velandndu six thousand country on the southern bank of river Krishna as a defecto independent power for over a century and a half-from the beginning of the 12th to the last quarter of the 13th Century A.D. They were the political successors of the Konda-padumatis and their kingdom was larger in extent, greater in resources and strength than the Kondapadumati kingdom. The main branch of the Kotas ruled with its capital at Dhanyakataka and as many as four collateral branches exercised sway contemporaneously and not as rivals with capitals at Yenama-dala, Tripurantakam, Tadikonda and Draksharama. All the Kotas bore a common prasasti claiming to be the rulers of Shatsahasra, lords of Dhanya vati and devotees of Amaresvera at Amaravati. At its highest, the Kota, kingdom touched Tripurantakam on the west, Draksharama on the east and Nellore district on the south. The Kotas owed allegiance to the Chalukyan Cholas in the beginning and to the Kakatiyas towards the end. They held an important place in South India of the times and Vengi in particular. The Kotas acquired important political victories and their prasasti was imperialistic. The popularity of the kota rule is attested by recorded tradition, besides the permanent marks of their rule left in the form of records, literature and architecture.
The Sources and Importance of the Kotas
Inscriptions in abundance—all stone records except the single copper plate grant bearing the kota seal-form the main source for the political history of the Kotas. Recorded tradition, story lines in literature and inscriptions of the contemporary dynasties are valuable as corroboratory evidence.
The supreme importance of the Kotas may be gauged by the eagerness with which the Kakatiyas, the Chagis, the Velanandus, the Konakandravadis, the Kondapdumatis and the Haihayas of Palnad sought alliances of marriage with them. The prefix Kota, borne by all the members of the dynasty is after the chief capital, the celebrated Dharanikota popularly known as Kota. The Kota seal bore the crest-Gandabharunda.It may be noted that tradition has stamped the Kotas as the Jain kings or Jain Kinglets of Amaravati which is a mis-statement.
Origin of the Dynasty
In the fourth caste i.e. chaturthanvaya born from the feet of Vishnu is said to have been borm prince Dhanamjaya. His birth is compared to that of the moon from the Ocean, Brahma from the Lotus and Kalpa tree from Mount Neru. Nothing more is known of Dhanamjaya except that he was the conqueror of the armies of the terrible enemies, who are not specified. But as the Kotas claim to have been born in Dhanamjaya gotra, Dhanamjaya may be taken to have been an eponymous ancestor of theirs invented from the Gotra. Consequently the statements firstly that Dharanikota Dhananjaya was a contemporary and feudatory of Trilochanapallava and secondly that he was one of the kings who ruled at Dharanikota in the 13th Century A.D. are valueless.
One of the titles in the Kota Prasasti means that the Kotas were the lords of Shatsahasra on the southern bank of the Krishna conferred on them by the king Trinayanapallava. It is not possible to see who this Kota prince was that served Trinayana Pallava of doubtful historicity or whether he too was a semi-mythical figure.