Short Essay on the Meghavahanas of Kalinga


Kalinga rose to power in the middle of the first century BC under king Kharavela of the Cheta dynasty. His capital was Kalingnagara. The only source of information about this king is the Hathigumpha inscription.

This inscription includes a biographical sketch of the king. In the first year, he rebuilt the capital of Kalinga; in the second year, he destroyed the capital of the Mushikas; in the fourth year, he subdued the Rashtrikas and Bhojakas of modern Berar; in the fifth year, he extended the old canal constructed by the Nandas 300 years ago; in the sixth year, he granted some privileges to the paura-janapada corporations; in the eighth year, he advanced as far as Barabar hills and defeated the king of Rajagriha; in the twelfth year, he led a strong army into the northern plains and compelled Brihaspatimitra of Magadha to submit.

During this compaign he carried home an image of a Jaina saint from Magadha which had been previously carted away from Kalinga to Magadha with the wealth that he carried away, he built-up a magnificent temple at Bhuvaneshvara. In the 13th year of his reign he undertook many welfare schemes like building caves for the monks in the Udayagiri hills.


It is clear from this description in the inscription that in spite of being a Jain, fie did not hesitate to indulge in conquests by military campaigns. Thus he defeated the kings of western Deccan, occupied Rajagriha, conquered Magadha, attacked Greeks and overran Pandya kingdom. He finally had the Pandya land ploughed with an ass as a mark of contempt. This dynasty of ‘cloud- bearers’ seems to have disappeared after Kharavela.

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