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Satavahana Dynasty – Introduction, History, Rulers, FAQs

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  • Last Updated : 01 Dec, 2022
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Initially, Satavahana Kings were vassal kings for Mauryans, when was Maurya Empire fell, which creates a chaotic situation in North India, at the same time the Satavahana Empire was established unifying the south. The Satavahanas were the first native Indian kings to rule after Ashoka’s death and they ruled for about 450 years from their existence in 230 BC and ended in 220AD.

The Satavahanas formed a cultural bridge from the Indo-Gangetic plain to the Deccan part of the subcontinent of India, playing a major role in trade, culture, and ideology.  According to some interpretations based on Puranas, they belonged to the Andhras, but none of the inscriptions of the Satavahanas contain the name Andhra. There is a dispute among historians about the original home of the Satavahanas. However, with the establishment of the kingdom of the Satavahanas, a new era has dawned not only in Andhra but also in the southern region of the Indian subcontinent.

It was the first Deccani dynasty to build an empire in the southern region and was known as Dakshinapatha. The majority of the Satavahana kingdom consisted of present-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Maharashtra, as well as Karnataka, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh also included in the empire at that time. The Satavahana were Brahmanas and worshipped Hindu deities such as Krishna and Vasudeva, and they also gave grants of land to Brahmanas and Buddhist Monks. with the foundation of the Satavahanas kingdom formed a new era not only in Andhra but also in the whole southern region of the Indian subcontinent. 

The Satavahana kingdom had two separate capital cities, which are Amaravati and Pratishthan [Paithan] and they nurtured Prakrit rather than Sanskrit. The Satavahanas were related to the Marathas through marriage, which resulted in the Maratha state being the first state to emerge in the Deccan part of the subcontinent of India. The people of the Satavahana empire were fully aware of the use of agriculture and were mostly associated with iron, such as iron plows and other toolkits used for agriculture.

Important Kings of the Satavahana Dynasty 


  • Simuka was the founder of the Satavahana dynasty and his father was a Satavahana. 
  • Simuka killed Sharma, the king of the Kanva dynasty, and established the kingdom as the capital of Pratishthan.
  • Historians have promoted that he was a contemporary of Ashoka.
  • Simuka first embraced Jainism and later he followed Vedicism. he built Jain and Buddhist temples.

Satakarni I 

  • Satakarni I was the 3rd king of the Satavahanas and after the death of Kharavela, he conquered Kalinga.
  • He was the son of “Simuka”, and during his reign, the Satavahanas declared their independence from the Mauryans and established their sovereign kingdom.
  • He earned the title “Lord of DakshinaPath” by annexing the Godavari – Krishna Delta.
  • Satakarni I defeated Pushyamitra and minted coins bearing the arch symbol of the town of Ujjain.
  • Satakarni I was the first king to perform Sacrifices according to the Vedic religion and he performed the following Sacrifices to mark his victories.
  1. Ashwamedha Sacrifices
  2. Rajasuya Sacrifice
  3. Anarambhani Sacrifice
  4. Agnideya Sacrifices
  5. Dasaratha Sacrifices

Satakarni II 

  • Satakarni II was the 6th king in the Satavahana dynasty and he was the longest reigning king i.e. 56 years.
  • Satakarni II built the southern arch of the Sanchi stupa.
  • It was during his reign that a conflict broke out between Saka’s from the Malwa region, Maharashtra region and Satavahanas began.
  • Coins of Satakarni II’s reign have been found in Malwa, Maharashtra, Telangana, etc.

Gautami Putrasatakarni 

  • Gautami Putrasatakarni was the greatest king of the Satavahanas and he was the 23rd king of the Satavahanas.
  • Gautamiputra Satakarni was a great king among the Satavahanas who used his mother’s name before his name, a practice known as Matrimenics.
  • Coins of the Gautamiputra Satakarni period were found in Cuddalore, Maharashtra. More than 13000 silver coins were found in Cuddalore.
  • Gautamiputra Satakarni followed the Vedic traditions and also supported Buddhism.
  • Among the Satavahana kings, Gautamiputra Satakarni was the first king to have inscriptions in his name.
  • He defeated the Saka, and Pallava kings, and with these victories, he gained great fame in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Mantri Sivagupta played a major role in Gautami Putrasatakarni’s victories.
  • He was given the titles “Raja Raja” and “Maha Raja”.

Pulumavi  II or Vashishthiputra Pulumavi 

  • Pulumavi II was the son of Gautamiputra Satakarni. The Nasik rock inscription was written during his time by Gautami Balashri.
  • Among the Shakas, Rudradama attacked the kingdom of Satavahana and defeated Pulumavi II. Due to this defeat, Pulumavi shifted the capital from Pratishthan to Amravati.
  • He married the daughter of Rudradaman and the same is mentioned in the “Junagarh Inscription”.
  • In his region, 4 inscriptions in Nasik, 2 inscriptions in Karla, and 1 inscription from Amaravati have been found.
  • Amaravati stupa was built during his reign. Many types of coins related to Pulumavi II have been found in Andhra Pradesh.

The social, cultural, and economic administrative system of Satavahanas 

The administration of the Satavahanas is mentioned in “Nasik” and “Ushman Ghar” inscriptions. The Satavahanas followed the Mauryan style of administration. There was a secretariat called “Akshapatala” to implement the king’s advice. The Hathigumpha inscription mentions the Chaturanga powers of the Satavahanas. The military maneuvers and strategy of the Satavahana period are revealed through the Amaravati sculptures. In the Satavahana kingdom, every state had an army and every city had defenses. The village rule of the Satavahanas is described in the “Macedonian” inscription.

Bhattiprolu Nigamsabha inscription tells about the Nigam Sabhas means the municipal councils which rule the urban area of the satavahana kingdom. Gram sabhas were held for the governance of the village. During the time of the Satavahanas, the village headman was called “Gulmika” and all village assemblies were called “Gulma”. There was a government official called “Mahakaryaka” to solve the problems in the villages.

During the time of the Satavahanas patriarchal system and the system joint family was in force. During the time of the Satavahanas, the system of marriage had a sacred place. Polygamy was practiced among the upper classes and widows practiced celibacy. During the time of Satavahanas, there was a slave system. And these slaves worked in the homes of the rich, in factories, in agricultural work, and for merchants.

The economic base of the Satavahanas was agriculture and the main occupation of the people in their kingdom was agriculture. All the agricultural land in the Satavahana kingdom does not belong to the king. The king only owns the land which is the king’s territory. Land tax was the main source of revenue for the Satavahana kingdom, and the tax was about ¼ to ⅛ depending on circumstances. The Satavahanas minted coins made of lead, copper, silver, and gold. Most of them were coins minted with lead. Jainism and Buddhism became popular in the south when the Satavahanas established their empire, and the Vedic religion began to spread as the Satavahanas adopted and patronized the Vedic religion. All three religions were popular during their time. The coins minted by the Satavahana kings have images of a bull, swastika symbol, horse, elephant, lion, ship, Triratna, and Ujjain arch.

Famous Inscriptions during the reign of the Satavahanas

  • The 13th inscription mentions the Satavahanas as the vassal kings of the Mauryas.
  • The Nanaghat inscription was written in Prakrit by Devi Naganika who was the wife of the first Satakarni. This inscription mentions the marital relations between the Satavahanas and the Marathas and also mentions the conquests of Satakarni I.
  • The Hatigumpha inscription was written by the Kalinga ruler Kharavela. This inscription mentions the four powers of Chaturanga.
  • The Nasik Inscription was written by Gautami Balashri, and this inscription records the conquests, achievements, imperial expansion, and titles of Gautami Putrasatakarni.
  • The Amaravati inscription was written by the second Pulumavi and is the first inscription of Satavahanas in Andhra Pradesh. This indicates that the Satavahana empire spread to Andhra during the Pulumavi II period.
  • The Junagadh inscription was written by Saka Rudradaman. It is the first inscription in Sanskrit. It tells about the marriage relations of Satavahanas and Ujjayi.
  • Bhattiprolu Nigamsabha inscription was passed by Kubera. It tells about the Nigam Sabhas means the municipal councils, and the urban areas of the Satavahanas.
  • The Unnagar inscription describes the administrative system and cabinet systems of the Satavahanas.
  • The Macedonian inscription was written by Pulumavi III. It tells about the fall of the kingdom of Satavahanas and the village rule of the Satavahanas.

Decline of Satavahana kingdom

  • Finally, Shantamula the king of the Ikshvaku dynasty clan overthrew Pulumavi III around AD 225 and occupied Nagarjuna Hill.
  • Because of that, he went to Ballari in Karnataka, ruled for some years, and died. A Macedonian inscription found at Bellari tells about this.
  • After the end of the Satavahanas, their kingdom was divided into Ikshvaku in Andhra, Abhirs in Maharashtra, Chutunagas in Karnataka, and Pallavas in Tamil Nadu.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Explain the importance of literature in the Satavahana region?


  • The “Brihatkadha” was written in Prakrit, by ” gunadhya” who is the court poet of Kuntala Satakarni.
  • Gathasaptasati was written in Prakrit by Satavahana king Hala himself. It shows the social conditions of those days.
  • The Kamasutra was written in Sanskrit by Vatsyayana, the court poet of Kuntala Satakarni.
  • Suhrlekha was written in Sanskrit by Acharya Nagarjuna. It is a summary of the correspondence between the Yajnasri and Acharya Nagarjuna on Buddhist topics.

Question 2: Briefly describe the art and architecture of Satavahanas?


  • The Amaravati stupa represents the significance of the architecture of the Satavahanas sculpture and was influenced by Southeast Asia.
  • A 95 feet Buddhist Stupa was built by the Satavahanas.
  • Other sculptures related to the Satavahana area like Gajalakshmi, Dvarapalam, decorative pillars, royal procession, Salabhanjika, etc.
  • Bhaja Vihara Cave is the first cave where Satavahana’s sculptural art started around 200 BC.
  • Caves IX and X of the Ajanta caves were patronized by the Satavahana kings and are the only places where Satavahana art has been found.
  • Carle Chaitya sculpture is another example of the greatness of Satavahana sculpture The hall is 124 feet long, 46 feet wide, and 46 feet tall.

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