The dynasty of Kadamba designates an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka that ruled Banavasi situated in present day Uttara Kannada district. The dynasty later continued to rule as a feudatory of larger Kannada empires, the Chalukya and the Rashtrakuta empires for over five hundred years during which they branched into Goa and Hanagal. At the peak of their power under King Kakushtavarma, they ruled large parts of Karnataka.

During the pre-Kadamba era the ruling families that controlled Karnataka, the Mauryas, Satavahanas and Chutus had immigrated to the region and the nucleus of power resided outside present day Karnataka. The Kadambas emerged as the first indigenous dynasty to use Kannada, the language of the soil at an administrative level. In the history of Karnataka, that era serves as a broad based historical starting point in the study of the development of region as an enduring geo-political entity and Kannada as an important regional language.

Mayurasharma founded the dynasty in 345 C.E., showing at times the potential of developing into imperial proportions, an indication provided by the titles and epithets assumed by its rulers. One of his successors, Kakusthavarma ruled as a powerful sovereign and even the kings of imperial Gupta Dynasty of northern India cultivated marital relationships with his family, giving a fair indication of the sovereign nature of their kingdom. Tiring of the endless battles and bloodshed, one of the later descendants, King Shivakoti adopted Jainism. The Kadambas lived contemporary with the Western Ganga Dynasty of Talakad and together they formed the earliest native kingdoms to rule the land with absolute autonomy.

The Kadamba dynasty collapsed before Mohammed and Islam appeared on the scene in the 600s. Even though the great Hindu empires would fall to the Muslim states, the powerful influence of Hinduism and Jainism would carry on. Much of that strength traces back to the Kadamba dynasty. The decline of the dynasty after less than 200 years appears to have been triggered by disputes in the ruling family, and conflicts with the Gangas and Pallavas. Ravivarma, who ruled from 485, stood as the last ruler to expand the kingdom. Although a dynasty short in duration, less than two centuries, the Kadamba influence passed on to dynasties that followed making its presence felt even today.

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