Rani Rudhramadevi (1259–1289) was one of the most prominent rulers of the Kakatiya dynasty in the Deccan Plateau, being one of the few ruling queens in Indian history.
Ganapatideva had no male issue. But he had two daughters Rudramadevi and Genapamadevi. Rudhramadevi or Rudhramba was given in marriage to a prince of the Eastern Chalukyan lineage (of Nidadavolu) called Virabhadra. The second daughter was given in marriage to Beta of the Kota family. Rudhramadevi was nominated as heir apparent and she began to rule the kingdom conjointly with her father as his co-regent from 1259-60 A.D. Onwards, under the name of Rudhradeva Maharaja.
In the first two or three years of her conjoint rule with her father, the kingdom was thrown into confusion and disorder due to Jatavarma Sundara Pandya I’s invasion and the disastrous defeat of the Kakatiyas along with their allies on the battlefield of Muttukur near Nellore Though Ganapati was ultimately successful in turning back the tide of invasion, yet he suffered loss of territory and prestige and his hold over his feudatories and nobles was shaken. Under these circumstances, he retired from active politics.
Though Rudhramadevi assumed full sovereignty in 1262-63 AD, she was not the crowned queen till the year 1269 A.D.. me date of Kayastha Jannigadeva’s Duggi (Palnad Taluk) record The Kakatiyas 143 which speaks of Rudrama as Pattodhriti (queen-designate) of Ganapatideva Maharaja. It was only after the death of her father about the year 1269 A.D., she celebrated her coronation. Rudhramadevi’s nomination and succession to the throne was not generally approved. Some of the nobles, who were unwilling to submit to a woman’s authority took up arms against her Ekamranatha s ‘Pratapachantra’ refer to her step-brothers Hariharadeva and Murarideva ousting Rudrama, and capturing Warangal, and Rudrama effectively tackling them with the help of the citizens and some of her powerful supporters. However, no other evidence is available to prove the existence of her step-brothers. Even if it is believed that some intransigent nobles and near relations rebelled against Rudrama’s authority, the Kayastha chiefs Jannigedeva and his younger brothers Tripurari and Ambadeva, Recherla Prasaditya and the Reddi chiefs like Gona Gannaya and a host of others who remained firmly loyal to the queen, espoused her cause and helped her to defeat the rebels.
With regard to the external dangers, the Kalinga King Narasimha I who suffered a defeat previously at the hands of Ganapatideva, taking advantage of the distracted condition in the Kakatiya dominions, marched with his forces into the Godavari delta to recover his lost possessions. His short and incomplete inscription at Draksharama dated 1262 A.D. Attests the same. The minor Chalukyen families and the Haihaya chiefs, who was ruling in the erstwhile Vengi territories during this period, did not recognize any overlord. Whether they were actually independent or nominally autonomous princes (because of Veerabhadra’s relationship), it is not certain. But the position is that no trace of the Kakatiya rule is to be found either in the Godavari valley or in Vengi until 1278-79 A.D. In the later part of the reign of Rudhramadevi, the above provinces came back under her sway. Her commanders Poti Nayaka and Proli Nayaka fought against Kalinga Vira Bhanudeva I. Son and successor of Narasimha I and his accomplices Arjunadeva, the Matsya chief of Oddadi and others and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. They even assumed the title tangasimha‘ (lion to the rutting elephant, viz. The Gajapati), and ‘Oddiyarayamanamardana’ (the destroyer of the pride of Oddiyaraya).
The Kakatiya power was thus re-established in the coastal Andhra country. In the south, after the victory of Muttukur, a targe part of the Kakatiya territory was under the sway of the Pandyas. As a subordinate of the Pandyan monarch, the last Chalukya-Chola ruler Rajendra III ruled Nellore and its dependencies. Even the eastern part of the Cuddapah district and Chittore district were under the Pandyan sway. The Kalukada chiefs Kesavadeva and his brother Somideva, encouraged by the Pandyas. Proclaimed their independence and even made, successful inroads (1267-69 A.D.) into the Kayastha territory which remained under the formers at least for sometime.
Rudhramadevi faced the most serious danger from the west. It threatened to overthrow the Kakatiya monarch. The Sauna ruler Mahadeva, who succeeded to the throne of Devagin in 1260 A.D., invaded the Kakatiya kingdom in the early years of his rule. The Yadava records credit him with victory against the Kakatiyas According to Hemadri’s ‘Vrata-Khanda ,he left her free ‘because of his reluctance to kill a woman’. His title Telungarayasirahkamalamulotpatana’ suggests that he ‘uprooted the stalk of the lotus of the head of Telungaraya’. All these accounts are one-sided. The fact is that Mahadeva never killed any ruler of the Telugu country. It was only a heriditary title. One of the predecessors of Mahadeva, Jaitugi I killed Kakati Rudhra in 1195/96 A.D. However, it may be said that though his attack was successful initially, it ended in dismal failure. ‘Pratapachantram‘ mentions that Rudramadevi fought valiantly, put Mahadeva to flight, pursued the Seuna forces upto Davagin and forced him to conclude a treaty with her and pay a crore of gold coins as war indemnity.
The epigraphic evidence from Panugal (Nalgonda district) and Hire-Kogilun bears testimony to this. A hoard of Seuna coins discovered at Rachapatnam (Kaikalur Taluk of the Krishna district) probably ‘represents a part of the money which Rudhramba, according to Pratapachartram, received from Mahadeva as war indemnity and distributed among the officers of her army’ The Kakatiyas 145 In the south, the situation became still worse. As already seen, after the Muttukur conflict, the Nellore kingdom came under the sway of the Pandyas and was placed under their vassals. As the Pandyan inscriptions at Nandalur and Tirupati indicate, even the Vallum Kayasthakingdom came into the possession of the Pandyas (their subordinates the Kalukada Vaidumba chiefs were in charge). Though the Kakatiya vassal Mahamandalesvara Nagadeva Maharaja conquered Nellore and the surrounding territory, it was a temporary phenomenon which lasted just for five years (1271-75 A.D.). The area was reoccupied by the Telugu Cholas who paid allegiance to the Pandyas.
The Kayastha chief Jannigadeva re-occupied the territories of the Valluru kingdom and freed thus from the Pandyan sway. He and his brother Tripurarideva I (1270-72 A.D.) continued to rule the Valluru kingdom as the vassals of Rudhramadevi. However with the succession of their younger brother AMBADEVA to the throne in 1272 A.D., the situation underwent a change. Ambadeva was ambitious and powerful. From the
beginning, he resolved to resuscitate the fortunes of his family and carve out an independent kingdom for himself. To pursue these objects, he was in constant wars with his neighbours during his long reign of thirty-two years.
Ambadeva stopped paying allegiance to the Kakatiya queen almost from the very beginning of his rule. His Tripurantakam inscription dated 1290 A.D. records his achievements. It seems that he befriended himself with the Pandyas and the Saunas and with their military assistance proclaimed his independence. He is said to have successfully fought with the seventyfive kings. These kings might be the Kakatiya Nayankaras. Ambaya defeated the Gurindala (Gunjala in the Palnad Taluk of the Guntur district) chief ‘Rayasahasramalla Sripati Ganapati. He also subjugated the Kalukada Vaidumba chiefs Kesavadeva and Somideva and their ally Allu Gangu of Gutti (Anantapur district).
He killed Eruva Mallideva Choda in battle and occupied Eruvanadu Pendekallu also came into his possession Kopperunjinga was put to death and thereby Ambadeva assumed the title ‘Kadavarayi Vidhvamsaka’ With these conquests. Gandtkota, Mulikinadu, Renadu. Sakilinadu, Eruva and Pottapinadu were added to the Kayastha kingdom. He restored Manumagandagopala on the throne of Nellore and made him his vassal. The Pandyas, who attempted to restore their sway here, were defeated and driven away. As a result of this, the Pandyan suzerainty in Andhradesa came to an end. But the establishment of a strong, extensive and independent Kayastha kingdom in the southern parts, gave a jolt to the imperial authority of the Kakatiyas.
Rudhramadevi could not tolerate the headstrong and disloyal Ambadeva. She sent an army under her general Mallikarjuna against the rebel chief. However, as the recently discovered Chandupatla (Nalgonda district) grant dated 1283 A.D. indicates, Ambadeva seems to have killed Rudrama along with Mallikarjuna Nayaka in battle in that year. It was Prataparudra II, successor of Rudhrama that succeeded in suppressing the Kayastha revolt later.
Rudramadevi was undoubtedly one of the greatest rulers of Andhradesa. Her sex did not come on her way in discharging the duties of her exalted office. She took an active part in governing the country and strove hard to promote the best interests of the state. In spite of the wars which frequently disturbed the country, her people remained contented and happy under her rule. Rudhrama strengthened the Warangal fort still further. She had also a deep moat dug around it Marcopolo. The Venetian traveler who paid a visit to the kingdom probably a little later, speaks highly of her administrative qualities, benign rule and greatness.
Rudhramadevi had no male issue out only two daughters Mummadamma and Ruyyamma. On the advice of her father, she adopted Mummadamma’s son Prataparudra (II) as her son and as heir to the throne. On her demise, Prataparudra II ascended the throne of Warangal.
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