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Chavda Gurjar Kingdom

The Chavda also spelled Chawda or Chavada was a dynasty ruled the region of modern-day Gujarat in India, from c. 690 to 942. Variants of the name for the dynasty include Chapotkatas, Chahuda and Chávoṭakas.

The rise of the Aṇahilaváḍa kingdom (a.d. 720) marks a new period of Gujarát history regarding which materials are available from formal historical writings. Though this section of Gujarát history begins with the establishment of Aṇahilaváḍa by the Chávaḍás (a.d. 720–956) the details for the earlier portions are very imperfect being written during the time of the Chálukya or Solaṅki (a.d. 957–1242) successors of the Chávaḍás. The chief sources of information regarding the earlier period of Chávaḍá rule are the opening chapters of the Prabandhachintámaṇi, Vicháraśreṇi, Sukṛitasankírtana, and Ratnamálá.

Before the establishment of Aṇahilaváḍa a small Chávaḍá chiefship centred at Pañchásar, now a fair-sized village in Vadhiár between Gujarát and Kacch.3 The existence of a Chávaḍá chiefship at Pañchásar is proved by the Navsárí grant dated Saṃvat 490 (a.d. 788–89) of the Gujarát Chálukya king Pulikeśí Janáśraya. This grant in recording the triumphant progress of an army of Tájikas or Arabs from Sindh to Navsárí and mentioning the kingdoms “afflicted” by the Arabs, names the Chávoṭakas next after the kings of Kacch and Sauráshṭra. These Chávoṭakas can be no other than the Chávaḍás of Pañchásar on the borders of Kacch. The Chávaḍás of Pañchásar do not appear to have been important rulers. At the most they seem to have held Vadhiár and part of the north coast of Káthiáváḍa. Whatever be the origin of the name Chávaḍá, which was afterwards Sanskritised into the highsounding Chápoṭkaṭa or Strongbow, it does not seem to be the name of any great dynasty. The name very closely resembles the Gujaráti Chor (Prakrit Chauṭá or Choraṭá) meaning thieves or robbers; and Jávadá, which is a further corruption of Chávaḍá, is the word now in use in those parts for a thief or robber. Except the mention of the Chávoṭakas in the Navsárí copperplate we do not find the Chávaḍás noticed in any known cotemporary Gujarát copperplates. For this reason it seems fair to regard them as unimportant rulers over a territory extending from Pañchásar to Aṇahilaváḍa.

Sources of information
The chief sources of information regarding the Chavda rule are the opening chapters of the Prabandhachintámaṇi and Vicháraśreṇi, Sukṛitasankírtana, and Ratnamálá. All of these works are written during rule of Chaulukya dynasty, successors of Chavdas. The Prabandhachintámaṇi and Vicháraśreṇi were written by Merutunga. The Prabandhachintámaṇi is a short historical compilation; the Vicháraśreṇi, though a mere list of kings, is more reliable. Kṛishṇabhaṭṭa’s Ratnamálá is a poetic history with good descriptions and many fables taken from the Prabandhachintámaṇi. Arisiṇha’s Sukṛitasankírtana is a short work largely borrowed from the Vicháraśreṇi.[1][2][3]

The reference to them was found in a Navsari copperplate of Chalukya governor of Lata region (modern-day South Gujarat) Avanijanashraya Pulakeshin dated 738-39 CE which enlisted the dynasties defeated by Arabs (Tajika) and finally repelled by him. In it, Chávoṭaka is mentioned after Kachchela and Saindhavas.[3][4]

Dharanivaraha’s Haddala grant dated Shaka 836 (914 CE) mentions himself as Chapas of Vardhamana (now Wadhwan). Dharanivaraha was subordinate of Mahipala of Gurjara-Pratihara (of Kanauj). The grant was issued to Acharya of Amardaka Santana of Vimkala village (Shaiva sect). It also mentions his ancestors; Vikramarka, Addaka, Pulakeshin, Dhruvabhata followed by himself.

Early history
A small Chavda chiefship centred at Pañchásar (now a village in Patan district, Gujarat) in the 7th century. The Navsari copperplate prove the early existence of the domain. They were probably feudatory of rulers of Bhinmal.


The author of the Ratnamálá (C. 1230 a.d.) says that in a.d. 696 (S. 752) Jayaśekhara the Chávaḍá king of Pañchásar was attacked by the Chaulukya king Bhuvaḍa of Kalyánakaṭaka in Kanyákubja or Kanoj and slain by Bhuvaḍa in battle. Before his death Jayaśekhara, finding his affairs hopeless, sent his pregnant wife Rupasundarí to the forest in charge of her brother Surapála, one of his chief warriors. After Jayaśekhara’s death Rupasundarí gave birth to a son named Vanarája who became the illustrious founder of Aṇahilaváḍa. It is hard to say how much truth underlies this tradition. In the seventh century not Chaulukya but Pála kings flourished in Kanoj. No place of importance called Kalyánakaṭaka is recorded in the Kanoj territory. And though there was a southern Chálukya kingdom with its capital at Kalyán, its establishment at Kalyán was about the middle of the eleventh not in the seventh century. Further the known Dakhan Chálukya lists contain no king named Bhuvaḍa, unless he be the great Chálukya king Vijayáditya (a.d. 696–733) also called Bhuvanásraya, who warred in the north and was there imprisoned but made his escape. The inference is that the author of the Ratnamálá, knowing the Solaṅkis originally belonged to a city called Kalyán, and knowing that a Chálukya king named Bhuvaḍa had defeated the Chávaḍás may have called Bhuvaḍa king of Kalyánkaṭaka and identified Kalyánkaṭaka with a country so well known to Puráṇic fame as Kanyákubja. This view is supported by the absence in the Prabandhachintámaṇi and other old records of any mention of an invasion from Kanoj. It is possible that in a.d. 696 some king Bhuvaḍa of the Gujarát Chálukyas, of whom at this time branches were ruling as far north as Kaira,4 invaded the Chávaḍás under Jayaśekhara. Since traces of a Chávoṭaka kingdom remain, at least as late as a.d. 720, it seems probable that the destruction of Pañchásar was caused not by Bhuvaḍa in a.d. 696, but in the Arab raid mentioned above whose date falls about a.d. 720.5 About a.d. 720 may therefore be taken as the date of the birth of Vanarája. Merutuṇga the author of the Prabandhachintámaṇi tells how Rupasundarí was living in the forest swinging her son in a hammock, when a Jain priest named Śílaguṇasúri noticing as he passed royal marks on the boy bought him from his mother. The story adds that a nun named Víramatí brought up the boy whom the sádhu called Vanarája or the forest king. When eight years old, the priest employed Vanarája to protect his place of worship from rats. The boy’s skill in shooting rats convinced the priest he was not fit to be a sádhu but was worthy of a kingdom. He therefore returned the boy to his mother. These details seem invented by the Jains in their own honour. No mention of any such story occurs in the Ratnamálá.

Vanarája, a.d. 720–780 (?).

In the forests where Vanarája passed his youth lived his maternal uncle Surapála, one of Jayaśekhara’s generals, who, after his sovereign’s defeat and death, had become an outlaw. Vanarája grew up under Surapála’s charge. The Prabandhachintámaṇi records the following story of the origin of Vanarája’s wealth. A Kanyákubja king married Maháṇaká the daughter of a Gujarát king. To receive the proceeds of the marriage cess which the Gujarát king had levied from his subjects, a deputation or panchkúla came from Kanyákubja to Gujarát. The deputation made Vanarája their leader or sellabhrit to realize the proceeds of the cess. In six months Vanarája collected 24 lákhs of Páruttha drammas7 and 4000 horse, which the deputation took and started for Kanyákubja. Vanarája waylaid and killed them, secured the money and horses, and remained in hiding for a year. With the wealth thus acquired Vanarája enrolled an army and established his power assuming the title of king. He fixed the site of a capital which afterwards rose to be the great city of Aṇahilapura. The story of the choice of the site is the usual story of a hunted hare turning on the hounds showing the place to be the special nurse of strength and courage. Vanarája is said to have asked a Bharváḍ or Shepherd named Aṇahila son of Śákhadá to show him the best site. Aṇahila agreed on condition that the city should be called by his name. Aṇahila accordingly showed Vanarája the place where a hare had attacked and chased a dog. Though much in this tradition is fabulous the city may have been called after some local chief since it was popularly known as Aṇahilaváḍa (Sk. Aṇahilaváta) that is the place of Aṇahila. In the Prabandhachintámaṇi Merutuṇga gives a.d. 746 (S. 802) as the date of the installation of Vanarája, while in his Vicháraśreṇi the same author gives a.d. 765 (S. 821 Vaisakha Śukla 2) as the date of the foundation of the city. The discrepancy may be explained by taking a.d. 746 (S. 802) to refer to the date of Vanarája’s getting money enough to fix the site of his capital, and a.d. 765 (S. 821) to refer to the date of his installation in the completed Aṇahilaváḍa. Local tradition connects the date a.d. 746 (S. 802) with an image of Ganpati which is said to be as old as the establishment of the city and to bear the date 802. But as the letters of the inscription on the image can be made out by ordinary readers they cannot have been inscribed at nearly so early a date as 802. a.d. 765 (S. 821), the year given in the Vicháraśreṇi, seems the more probable date for the installation as the Prabandhachintámaṇi says that Vanarája got himself installed at Aṇahilapura when he was about fifty.8 This accords with the date fixed on other grounds. Placing Vanarája’s birth at about a.d. 720 would make him 44 in a.d. 765 (S. 821) the date at which according to the Vicháraśreṇi he was formally installed as sovereign of Aṇahilaváḍa. Merutuṇga in both his works gives the length of Vanarája’s life at 109 and of his reign at sixty years. The figure 60 seems to mark the length of his life and not of his reign. So long a reign as sixty years is barely possible for a sovereign who succeeded late in life, and the 109 years of his life can hardly be correct. Taking Vanarája’s age at 45 when he was installed in a.d. 765 (S. 821) and allowing fifteen years more to complete the sixty years a.d. 780 (S. 836) would be the closing year of his reign.

Vanarája’s Installation.The Prabandhachintámaṇi narrates how generously Vanarája rewarded those who had helped him in his adversity. His installation was performed by a woman named Śrí Deví of Kákara village whom in fulfilment of an early promise Vanarája had taken to be his sister. The story regarding the promise is that once when Vanarája had gone with his uncle on a thieving expedition to Kákara village and had broken into the house of a merchant he by mistake dipped his hand into a pot of curds. As to touch curds is the same as to dine at a house as a guest, Vanarája left the house without taking anything from it.10 Hearing what had happened the merchant’s sister invited Vanarája as a brother to dinner and gave him clothes. In return Vanarája promised if he ever regained his father’s kingdom he should receive his installation as king at her hands. Vanarája chose as minister a Bania named Jámba. The story is that while Vanarája was looting with two others he came across a merchant Jámba who had five arrows. Seeing only three enemies, Jámba broke and threw away two of the arrows, shouting ‘One for each of you.’ Vanarája admiring his coolness persuaded Jámba to join his band and found him so useful that he promised to make him minister. From the absence of any reference to him in these and similar tales it is probable that his uncle Surapála died before the installing of Vanarája. Vanarája is said to have built at Aṇahilváḍa a Jain temple of Pañchásará Párasnáth so called because the image was brought from the old settlement of Pañchásar. Mention of this temple continues during the Solaṅki and Vághelá times.

Vanarája is said to have placed a bowing image of himself facing the image of Párasnáth. The figure of Vanarája is still shown at Sidhpur .and a woodcut of it is given by the late Mr. Forbes in his Rás Málá. It is clearly the figure of a king with the umbrella of state and a nimbus round the head and in the ears the long ornaments called kundalas noticed by Arab travellers as characteristic of the Balhara or Ráshṭrakúṭa kings who were cotemporary with Vanarája.12 The king wears a long beard, a short waistcloth or dhoti, a waistband or kammarband, and a shoulder garment or uparna whose ends hang down the back. Besides the earrings he is adorned with bracelets armlets and anklets and a large ornament hangs across the chest from the left shoulder to the right hip. The right hand is held near the chest in the act of granting protection: and the left hand holds something which cannot be made out. By his side is the umbrella-bearer and five other attendants. The statue closely resembles the lifesize figure of a king of the Solaṅki period lying in the yard of a temple at Máliá about twenty-four miles north of Somanátha Patan. At Somanátha Patan are similar but less rich cotemporary figures of local officers of the Solaṅkis. Another similar figure of which only the torso remains is the statue of Anrája the father of Vastupála in a niche in Vastupála’s temple at Girnár. The details of this figure belong to the Solaṅki period.

The lists of Vanarája’s successors vary so greatly in the names, in the order of succession, and in the lengths of reigns, that little trust can be placed in them. The first three agree in giving a duration of 196 years to the Chávaḍá dynasty after the accession of Vanarája. The accession of the Solaṅki founder Múlarája is given in the Vicháraśreṇi at Saṃvat 1017 and in the Prabandhachintámaṇi at Saṃvat 998 corresponding with the original difference of nineteen years (S. 802 and 821) in the founding of the city. This shows that though the total duration of the dynasty was traditionally known to be 196 years the order of succession was not known and guesses were made as to the duration of the different reigns. Certain dates fixed by inscriptions or otherwise known to some compilers and not known to others caused many discrepancies in the various accounts.

Table of successors

Yogarája, a.d. 806–841.

According to the calculations given above Vanarája’s reign lasted to about a.d. 780. Authorities agree that Vanarája was succeeded by his son Yogarája. The length of Yogarája’s reign is given as thirty-five years by the Prabandhachintámaṇi and the Ratnamálá, and as twenty-nine by the Vicháraśreṇi. That is according to the Prabandhachintámaṇi and Ratnamálá his reign closes in a.d. 841 (S. 897) and according to the Vicháraśreṇi in a.d. 836 (S. 891). On the whole the Prabandhachintámaṇi date a.d. 841 (S. 897) seems the more probable. The author of the Vicháraśreṇi may have mistaken the 7 of the manuscripts for a 1, the two figures in the manuscripts of that date being closely alike. If a.d. 780 is taken as the close of Vanarája’s reign and a.d. 806 as the beginning of Yogarája’s reign an interval of twenty-six years is left. This blank, which perhaps accounts for the improbably long reign and life assigned to Vanarája, may have been filled by the forgotten reign of a childless elder brother of Yogarája.

Kshemarája one of Yogarája’s three sons reported that several ships were storm-stayed at Prabhása or Somanátha. The ships had 10,000 horses, many elephants, and millions of money and treasure. Kshemarája prayed that he might seize the treasure. Yogarája forbad him. In spite of their father’s orders the sons seized the treasure and brought it to the king. Yogarája said nothing. And when the people asked him why he was silent he answered: To say I approve would be a sin; to say I do not approve would annoy you. Hitherto on account of an ancestor’s misdeeds we have been laughed at as a nation of thieves. Our name was improving and we were rising to the rank of true kings. This act of my sons has renewed the old stain. Yogarája would not be comforted and mounted the funeral pyre.

Kshemarája, a.d. 841–880.

According to the Prabandhachintámaṇi in a.d. 841 (S. 898) Yogarája was succeeded by his son Kshemarája. The Vicháraśreṇi says that Yogarája was succeeded by Ratnáditya who reigned three years, and he by Vairisiṃha who reigned eleven years. Then came Kshemarája who is mentioned as the son of Yogarája and as coming to the throne in a.d. 849 (S. 905). The relationship of Yogarája to Ratnáditya and Vairisiṃha is not given. Probably both were sons of Yogarája as the Prabandhachintámaṇi mentions that Yogarája had three sons. The duration of Kshemarája’s reign is given as thirty-nine years. It is probable that the reigns of the three brothers lasted altogether for thirty-nine years, fourteen years for the two elder brothers and twenty-five years for Kshemarája the period mentioned by the Prabandhachintámaṇi. Accepting this chronology a.d. 880 (S. 936) will be the date of the close of Kshemarája’s reign.

Chámuṇḍa, a.d. 880–908.

According to the Vicháraśreṇi and the Sukṛitasankírtana Kshemarája was succeeded by his son Chámuṇḍa. Instead of Chámuṇḍa the Prabandhachintámaṇi mentions Bhúyada perhaps another name of Chámuṇḍa, as in the Prabandhachintámaṇi the name Chámuṇḍa does not occur. The Prabandhachintámaṇi notes that Bhúyada reigned twenty-nine years and built in Aṇahilaváḍa Patan the temple of Bhúyadeshvar. The Vicháraśreṇi gives twenty-seven years as the length of Chámuṇḍa’s reign an insignificant difference of two years. This gives a.d. 908 (S. 964) as the close of Chámuṇḍa’s reign according to the Vicháraśreṇi.

Ghaghaḍa, a.d. 908–937.

After Bhúyada the Prabandhachintámaṇi places Vairisiṃha and Ratnáditya assigning twenty-five and fifteen years as the reigns of each. The Vicháraśreṇi mentions as the successor of Chámuṇḍa his son Ghaghaḍa who is called Ráhaḍa in the Sukṛitasankírtana. Instead of Ghaghaḍa the Prabandhachintámaṇi gives Sámantasiṃha or Lion Chieftain perhaps a title of Ghághaḍa’s. The Vicháraśreṇi gives Ghaghaḍa a reign of twenty-seven years and mentions as his successor an unnamed son who reigned nineteen years. The Sukṛitasankírtana gives the name of this son as Bhúbhaṭa. According to these calculations the close of Ghághaḍa’s reign would be a.d. 936 (Saṃvat 965 + 27 = 992). Adding nineteen years for Bhúbhaṭa’s reign brings the date of the end of the dynasty to a.d. 956 (Saṃvat 993 + 19 = 1012) that is five years earlier than S. 1017 the date given by the Vicháraśreṇi. Until some evidence to the contrary is shown Merutuṇga’s date a.d. 961 (S. 821 + 196 = 1017) may be taken as correct.

The period of Chávaḍá rule at Aṇahilaváḍa is likely to remain obscure until the discovery of cotemporary inscriptions throws more light upon it than can be gathered from the confused and contradictory legends collected by the Solaṅki historians, none of whom are older than the twelfth century. For the present a few points only can be regarded as established:

(i) The Chávaḍás, Chávoṭakas, or Chápotkaṭas, are connected with the Chápas of Bhínmál and of Vadhván and are therefore of Gurjjara race. (Compare Ind. Ant. XVII. 192.)

(ii) They probably were never more than feudatories of the Bhínmál kings.

(iii) Though the legend places the fall of Pañchásar in a.d. 696 and the foundation of Aṇahilaváḍa in a.d. 746, the grant of Pulakeśi Janáśraya shows that a Chávaḍá (Chávoṭaka) kingdom existed in a.d. 728.

As regards the chronology of the dynasty, the explanation of the long life of 110 years ascribed to Vanarája may be that a grandson of the same name succeeded the founder of the family. The name of Chámuṇḍa has, as Dr. Bühler long ago pointed out, crept in through some error from the Solaṅki list. But when the same author in two different works gives such contradictory lists and dates as Merutuṇga does in his Prabandhachintámaṇi and his Vicháraśreṇi, it is clearly useless to attempt to extract a consistent story from the chroniclers.

Cultural activities


The Merutunga’s Prabandhachintamani states about Vanrajavihara temple at Anahilapathaka (now Patan, Gujarat) as well as the construction of Kanteshwari-prasada by Vanraja. Kanteshwari was the petron goddess of later Chaulukya kings too. Kumarapala has prohibited the animal sacrifice at this temple later. The Prabandhachintamani mentions the construction of the temple of Bhattaraka Shri Yogishwari by Yogaraja at Patan in the early 9th century. The Prabandhachintamani also mentions the construction of Bhuyadeshwara temple built by Bhuyada at Patan in last quarter of the 9th century. According to Haribhadra Suri (middle of the 12th century), Minister Nihhaya’s son Lahara had built the temple of Vindhyavasini (Laharadhanuhavi) at Sander in Patan district. He had also founded Narangpura town and built a Panchasara Parshwanath temple for merit of his mother. In the later half of the 9th century, king Yashobhadra had built a Jain temple at Dinduanapura, which is mentioned in Purnagaccha-pattavali. According to an inscription on a bronze, king Raghusena had built Raghusena-vihara at Ramasaiyanpura in 928 CE.

Ruined Shiva temple at Puaranogadh at Manjal, Kutch
Ranakadevi shrine from south-west, Wadhwan, 1899

The extant temples this period (Early Nagara Phase) include the Roda Group of Temples, Lakodra in Vijapur Taluka, old temple at Thangadh, Ranakdevi Temple at Wadhwan, the Sun Temple at Kanthkot, Shiva temple at Puaranogadh at Manjal in Kutch. Harishchandra-ni-Chori at Shamlaji, older Bhadreshwar Jain Temple (rebuilt now) and the Temple III of Roda Group of Temples are some other extant temples of the 9th century.

Related dynasties and descendants
Based on Dharanivaraha’s grant, it is known that in 914 CE, he, a Chapa or Chavda king, was ruling at Vardhamana (now Wadhwan) as a feudatory of Gurjara-Pratiharya Mahipaladeva. It also mentions his ancestors; Vikramarka, Addaka, Pulakeshin, Dhruvabhata followed by Dharanivaraha. King Vyaghramukha of the Chapa dynasty, who was a patron of the astronomer Brahmagupta and was ruling in A.D. 628, had his capital at Bhillamala (Bhinmal).

Circa 942, one of queens of Sámantasiṃha fled with her year-old child to his father’s house in Jaisalmer. This son Ahipata became a formidable outlaw and he was used to ravage dominions of Anahilawada. He conquered more than 900 villages in Kutch and established Morgadh as its capital. He reigned for many years and was succeeded by his son Vikramsi. The lineage of succession was Vibhuraja, Takulji, Seshkaranji, Vaghji, Akheraja, Tejasi, Karamsinha, Takhansinha, Mokasinha, Punjaji. Punjaji lived in the reign of Alauddin Khalji around the end of the 13th century.