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Somesvara I (Ahavamalla or Trilokamalla) (1042–1068) succeeded his father Jayasimha II as the Western Chalukya king. He was one of the famous kings of the later Chalukya Dynasty. In spite of many reverses he managed to safeguard the integrity of the Chalukya kingdom. He founded the city of Kalyani, present day Basavakalyana in modern Bidar district and moved his kingdom to that location. He had great faith in himself and managed to impart that to his many generals and feudatories. He patronized the Kannada scholar Shridharacharya who wrote Jatakatilaka, a work on astrology, and Chandraprabhacharite, a Jain purana. One of his queens was Hoysala Devi, a princess from the feudatory Hoysala ruling family.
Continuing Vengi conflicts
Rajadhiraja Chola I became the Chola king in 1042 and immediately sought to restore Chola power in Vengi. He personally led a force to the Vengi kingdom and defeated the occupying Western Chalukya forces there at the battle of Dannada on the Krishna River and made Somesvara's son Vikramaditya (the later Vikramaditya VI ) and Vijayaditya retreat. Rajadhiraja then entered the Western Chalukya territories and sacked the fort at Kollipakkai (in present day Andhra Pradesh). Rajadhiraja thus enabled the Eastern Chalukya Rajaraja Narendra to get some respite.
Rajadhiraja continued his campaign on the western front and in several battles defeated the Chalukya army, demolished the Chalukya palace in the city of Kampili, in present day Bellary district. The victorious Chola army planted a victory pillar at Yedagiri. After more fighting, the Chalukya capital Kalyani itself was occupied in 1045 . Rajadhiraja celebrated a coronation in the Chalukya capital and assumed the title of Virarajendra.
Chalukya counter attack
The Chola occupation was however short lived. Somesvara managed to defeat and drive the Chola forces out of the Chalukya territories by 1050 . He also managed to revive his influence in Vengi and made Rajaraja Narendra to acknowledge this suzerainty. He also made a counter invasion into the Chola territories and captured Kanchipuram.
Battle of Koppam
Rajadhiraja, in response to these aggressions by Somesvara led another expedition into the Chalukya territories in 1054 . The two forces met at Koppam on the Krishna River. In a hot contested battle, Rajadhiraja was killed. His younger brother Rajendra Chola II immediately took command of the Chola forces and defeated the Chalukya forces and made them retreat after killing Somesvara's brother Jayasimha. A number of generals were killed in the battle and the Cholas captured great treasure and some of Somesvara's queens. However, other sources indicate a Chalukya victory and the construction of a temple in Annigeri, Dharwad district in celebration.
Renewed battle in Vengi
Anxious to wipe out the disgrace at Koppam, Somesvara soon renewed the war. He again involved in the succession politics of Vengi when Rajaraja Narendra died. Somesvara supported Saktivarman II, the son of Vijayaditya to the Vengi throne and sent one of his generals into Vengi to assist Saktivarman. He also sent his sons, Vikramaditya and Jayasimha into the Gangavadi territories of the Cholas. Rajendra II sent two armies to the north, one to Vengi and the other into the Gangavadi. Saktivarman and the Chalukya generals were killed the Chalukyas driven out of the Vengi kingdom. In the west, the Chalukya invaders in Gangavadi were driven back and defeated at the battle of Kudalasangama in 1064 (where the river Malaprabha meets Krishna river). Thus Somesvara's attempts at avenging the failure at Koppam were unsuccessful.
Rajendra Chola II died in 1063 and his brother Virarajendra Chola became the Chola king. Virarajendra was occupied with other problems and so did not press any campaigns against the Chalukyas. But Somesvara knew that an attack would be imminent and made preparations for battle on both the eastern and the western fronts. On the east he counted on the help of the his Eastern Ganga feudatory. In the west he sent Vikramaditya VI into the Chola territories.
After initial reversals in which Vikramaditya plundered Gangaikondacholapuram, Virarajendra counter attacked in 1066 and the Chalukya forces again suffered defeat on the western front. But Somesvara soon reorganised and sent a message to the Chola for a battle at a specified spot on a specific day. The Chola monarch accepted this challenge and took his troops to the assigned spot. However Somesvara did not turn up. The reasons for this are not clear. It has been speculated that Somesvara was indisposed and so could not take the field. After waiting for a month, Virarajendra attacked and defeated the demoralised Chalukya forces. He then proceeded to the east and met the Chalukya forces near Vijayawada which ended in heavy defeat for the Chalukyas.
Wars in the north
During this time of constant conflict with the Cholas, Somesvara I dealt successfully with the Shilaharas of North Konkan, Seuna Bhillama III, Paramara Bhoja of Dhara and Chaulukyas of Gujarat around 1051 . Bhoja attempted to align with the Kalachuri, but this did not help him against Somesvara I who plundered Dhara, Ujjaini and Mandapa. The Chindaka Nagas of Bastar in central India were defeated by Chalukya feudatory Kakatiya dynasty Prolla.
Unable to endure the illness he suffered from, Somesvara committed suicide by drowning himself in the Tungabhadra at Kuruvatti on 29 March 1068 . Thus departed one of the greatest Chalukya rulers. He managed to keep the Vengi region under his control practically throughout his reign. Throughout his rule he had the upper hand over Konkan, Gujarat, Malwa and even Kalinga.
Somesvara I was succeeded by his eldest son Somesvara II.
- Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1955). A History of South India, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002).
- Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1935). The CōĻas, University of Madras, Madras (Reprinted 1984).
- Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat (2001). Concise History of Karnataka, MCC, Bangalore (Reprinted 2002).