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Manyakheta: The Burnt Capital of the Rashtrakutas

History and Cultural Significance:

With Govinda III’s demise in 814 CE, his capable son Amoghavarsha I ascended the imperial throne of the Rashtrakutas. The new king, a man of literary and cultural intellect,   did not delay in transferring his officiating capital from Morkhandi in the Bidar district to Malkheda or Manyakheta, presently situated around 40 kilometres away from Kalaburagi, on the banks of the river Kagina, in around 818 CE.

The great king Amoghavarsha (himself the author of famed Kannada poetic work Kavirajmarga), one of the biggest patrons of arts and literature extant at that point of time in the subcontinent, rebuilt his newly adopted capital with an aim of challenging the glory and grandeur of Indraprastha, the regal city of Indra, the King of the Hindu Pantheon. 

With Amoghavarsha’s death 64 years later, Malkheda came to be renowned across the empyrean as a city where learned men of letters and men of all faith flood! As per the writings of Sulaiman, a 9th-century Muslim merchant, traveller and writer initially from Siraf in modern-day Iran, it is known that the Rashtrakutas were extremely tolerant in their patronising of religions, which is why even Moslem travellers and merchants were allowed to reside at Manyakheta and construct their own mosques and other holy sites, in an otherwise Hindu state. 

Malkheda was also home to two ancient institutions, as has been noted down in the Jain Newsletter by Padmanabh S. Jaini, released by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London: the Uttaradi matha led then by Madhvacharya and the Jain Bhattaraka Math led by the last Malked Bhaṭṭāraka, Devendrakīrti. Monuments include the temple of Neminath, the ninety six images of the panchdhatu shrine and the Hindu Kote Anjaneya Temple.  

With the decline of the Rashtrakuta power in the Deccan, Paramara King Harsha Siyaka is said to have annexed the capital city of Malkeda approximately around 972-73 CE, as is stated in Pāiyalacchi by Dhanapala. With the extirpation of the once gargantuan empire of the Deccan, the Paramara king went on further to burn down Malkeda in its entirety, as notable historian Satish Chandra quotes in his book, “History of Medieval India”. 

Malkeda continued to remain the officiating capital of the Chalukya kings who came into power after the Rashtrakutas, until about 1050 CE. However, since it had been completely burnt and demolished by the Paramara king, the capital city, however regal it be, could never rival Indraprastha in its the then state. Owing to this fact, successive rulers that included the Kalachuris, the Cholas,the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiyas of Warangal, the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal Empire, the Nizam of Hyderabad and even the British Empire simply kept it as a territory under their hegemony but continued to rule the land from distant places faraway from the vandalised and decimated remains of the imperial capital of Manyakheta. 

Travel: Manyakheta is a popular tourist destination (especially for history fanatics) at present, owing to the newly opened Kalaburagi airport, built by the Karnataka State Public Works Department with technical assistance from RITES Limited, and the Seram train junction, located at a distance of around 14 kilometres from this popular destination. 

Places to Stay: Malkeda has three star hotels built and owned by OYO, that average an approximate four thousand Indian rupees per night. These hotels are in a pretty good condition, with basic amenities easily available to tourists who reside in. Apart from these, there might be other hotels, locally owned and maintained.