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Karkota Empire in the eighth century CE.

Karkota Empire (कर्कॊट) was a Kashmir centered medieval kingdom (625 CE- 1003 CE) which was founded by Durlabhvardhana during the lifetime of Harshavardhana.

Karkota is probably same tribe as Karkotaka (कर्कोटक), the ancient Nagavanshi King of Mahabharata (I.35.5), (II.9.9), (V.103.9), (VIII.30.45), (XVI.5.14).


According to Tej Ram Sharma[1] Nepala is mentioned in Allahabad Stone Pillar Inscription of Samudragupta (=A.D.335-76) (L. 22), The Nepal valley originally contained a lake called Naga Basa or Kalihrada, in which lived Naga Karkotaka. It was fourteen miles in length and four miles in breadth.

Alexander Cunningham[2] writes that according to the chronology of the ' Raja Tarangini,' the king of Kashmir in A.D. 631 was Pratapaditya ; but the mention of his maternal uncle[3] shows that there must be some error in the native history, as that king's father came to the throne in right of his wife, who had no brother. Pratapaditya's accession must, therefore, have taken place after Hwen Thsang's departure from Kashmir in A.D. 633, which makes an error of three years in the received chronology. But a much greater difference is shown in the reigns of his sons Chandrapida and Muktapida, who applied to the Chinese emperor for aid against the Arabs. [4] The date of the first application is A.D. 713, while, according to the native chronology, Chandrapida reigned from A.D. 680 to 688, which shows an error of not less than twenty-five years. But as the Chinese annals also record that about A.D. 720 the emperor granted the title of king to Chandrapida, he must have been living as late as the previous year A.D. 719, which makes the error in the Kashmirian chronology amount to exactly thirty-one years. By applying this correction to the dates of his predecessors, the reign of his grandfather, Durlabha, will extend from A.D. 625 to 661. He, therefore, must have been the king who was reigning at the time of Hwen Thsang's arrival in Kashmir in A.D. 631. Durlabha, who was the son-in-law of his predecessor, is said to have been the son of a Naga; and the dynasty which he founded is called the Naga or Karkota dynasty.

This kingdom marked the rise of Kashmir as a power in Central and South Asia. Durlabhvardhana had a long reign. After him came his son named Durlabahaka, who had a long reign as well. But the Karkota empire reached its peak under the grandson of Durlabahaka, Lalitaditya Muktapida (724-760 AD). He was later able to create an empire based on Kashmir and covering most of Northern India and Central Asia including most parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bactria and Sogdiana.

The later Gupta dynasty was really destroyed by the Karkotas of Kashmir, who at 740 A.D. succeeded to the imperial throne of Northern India. [5]

Lalitaditya Muktapida was able to extend the power of Kashmir beyond the normal mountain limits and in about 740 AD inflicted a defeat upon Yasovarman, the King of Kannauj. Lalitaditya was able to vanquish the Turks, Tibetans, Bhutias, Kambojas and others. The Martand complex of temples in the Anantnag district of today’s Kashmir perpetuate the memory of King Lalitaditya. These details are described in the Rajatarangini of Kalhana.

After Lalitaditya we know about two more important kings of Kashmir named Avanativarmana and Shankarvarman. But after death of Lalitaditya many territories declared their independence. The campaigns against these newly independent kings were stopped in Avantivarman’s time but again started by his son and successor Shankarvarman. He made Kashmir strong-politically and economically. Kabul as well Kashmir was completely Hindu kingdoms during those times.

Dr Naval Viyogi [6] writes with reference to K P Jayaswal, who says. "The Bhar Deul Siva's temple, as indicated by learned scholar is covered all over with the figures of naga (serpent) kings. As recorded by Kittoe in whose time it was called the temple of Karkota Nag" . This evidently supports this view that the Bhar here stands for Bharsivas.[7] This is to be noted that Karkota Nag was worshipped by the Takas [8], who were progenitor of Bharsivas. These Takas or Takka or Takshak Nagas according to the Mahabharata account were Native Naga tribe and sworn enemies of Pandavas .

The word Nāgara [9] as in Karkota Nāgara is undoubtedly connected with the word Naga and is a vernacular form, denoting a derivative from that word, likewise in Nagar-dhana (Nāgara- Vardhan) and Nagarkot. Similarly the architectural tern, 'Nāgara style' could not be explained on the basis of assuming its connection with the word Nagara (Town), but it is known to the Mānasāra a work of Guptas for later Guptan age. The style, designated by the term Nāgara, seems to be the style made popular by the Naga kings like Nāgara Brahmans of the Gangetic Valley and Nāgāra Jats of Ahichchhatra. The Vesarastyle [10], which again is a vernacular term taken like the Nāgara, from the vocabulary of the mason, is distinguished by its being in the ornamental style. It means, it differs from the earlier only because there is more provision of leaves, flowers, plants and creepers in it. The base in Nāgara is thus Nāg.

Karkotaka resided, according to Hodgson (Lang. Lit. etc., reprint, p. 115), in the lake which traditionally occupied the site of the present Nepal Valley, and when the lake was dessicated 'by the Sword of the Manjusri, Karkotako had a fine tank built for him to dwell in, and is there still worshipped; as well as in the Cave-temple attached to the great Buddhist Shrine of Swayambhu Nath in Nepal. A range of hills in Rajasthan named 'Kārkota' seems associated with Nagas (Ind. Arch. Surv. Hep. vi. p. 167). And 'Karkota' is the name of a Kashmir dynasty mentioned in Raja Tarangini and elsewhere, dating from the seventh century AD; and of a 'Kota' dynasty (Ind. Arch. Surv. Rep. xiv. 45).

Avantivarman, the first king of the Utpala dynasty, was the son of Sukhavarman and the grandson of Utpalaka or Utpala who was a maternal uncle of the Karkota king Chippatajayapida, son of Lalitapida and Jayadevi, daughter of a spirit - distiller. Taking advantage of the minority of the king, Utpala and his four brothers virtually grasped the regal powers and ultimately caused the death of their royal nephew and became king makers.

Katewa Jat clan

Karkotakeshwar Temple near Harasiddhi Temple complex in Ujjain

Katewa (कटेवा) gotra of Jats found in Delhi and Rajasthan are said to be descendants of Karkotaka (कर्कॊटक) Naga. [11]

कटेवा: इन्हीं लोगों के नाम से उस नदी का नाम काटली प्रसिद्ध हुआ, जिसके किनारे यह जमकर बैठ गए। झंझवन से आगे काटली नदी बहती थी। बरसात में वह अब भी बहती है। उसी के किनारों पर कटेवा लोगों का जनपद था। काटली नदी के किनारे खुडाना नामक एक गढ़ है। अब सिर्फ वहां भी मिट्टी का एक टीला अवश्य है। आस-पास के लोग कहते हैं, यह पहले गढ़ था। कटेवा लोगों का यहां राज्य था। ऐसा कहते हैं कि यवनों से युद्ध में लड़ते समय देश की रक्षा के लिए अत्यधिक संख्या में सिर कटाने के कारण ये कटेवा मशहूर हुए हैं, जिस भांति कि शिशोदिया। वास्तव में यह कर्कोट या वाकाटक यादव हैं। [12]

पुरातन काल में नाग क्षत्रिय समस्त भारत में शासक थे. नाग शासकों में सबसे महत्वपूर्ण और संघर्षमय इतिहास तक्षकों का और फ़िर शेषनागों का है. एक समय समस्त कश्मीर और पश्चिमी पंचनद नाग लोगों से आच्छादित था. इसमें कश्मीर के कर्कोटक और अनंत नागों का बड़ा दबदबा था. पंचनद (पंजाब) में तक्षक लोग अधिक प्रसिद्ध थे. कर्कोटक नागों का समूह विन्ध्य की और बढ़ गया और यहीं से सारे मध्य भारत में छा गया. यह स्मरणीय है कि मध्य भारत के समस्त नाग एक लंबे समय के पश्चात बौद्ध काल के अंत में पनपने वाले ब्रह्मण धर्म में दीक्षित हो गए. बाद में ये भारशिव और नए नागों के रूप में प्रकट हुए. इन्हीं लोगों के वंशज खैरागढ़, ग्वालियर आदि के नरेश थे. ये अब राजपूत और मराठे कहलाने लगे. तक्षक लोगों का समूह तीन चौथाई भाग से भी ज्यादा जाट संघ में सामिल हो गए थे. वे आज टोकस और तक्षक जाटों के रूप में जाने जाते हैं. शेष नाग वंश पूर्ण रूप से जाट संघ में सामिल हो गया जो आज शेषमा कहलाते हैं. वासुकि नाग भी मारवाड़ में पहुंचे. इनके अतिरिक्त नागों के कई वंश मारवाड़ में विद्यमान हैं. जो सब जाट जाति में शामिल हैं.[13]


The Karkota emperors were primarily Hindu. They built spectacular Hindu temples in their capital Parihaspur. They however also allowed Buddhism to flourish under them. Stupa, Chaitya and Vihara can be found in the ruins of their capital. They built Martand Temple, the oldest known Sun temple in India. It was also the biggest temple complex till that time.

In Mahabharata

Karkota is probably same tribe as Karkotaka (कर्कोटक), the ancient Nagavanshi King of Mahabharata (I.35.5), (II.9.9), (V.103.9), (VIII.30.45), (XVI.5.14).


विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[14] ने लेख किया है .....बढ़ाकोटरा (AS, p.604) तहसील मऊ, बांदा ज़िला, उत्तर प्रदेश में स्थित एक ऐतिहासिक स्थान है। यह स्थान मध्य कालीन हिन्दू मंदिर और मूर्तियों के अवशेषों के लिए उल्लेखनीय है। यहाँ पर कर्कोटनाग शिव का मंदिर भी है।

See also


  1. Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions/Place-Names and their Suffixes,p.259
  2. The Ancient Geography of India/Kingdom of Kashmir,pp.91-92
  3. 'Hiouen Thsang,' ii. 90.
  4. Remusat, ' Nouveaux Melanges Asiatiques,' i. 197.
  5. An Imperial History Of India/Imperial Mgadha - Gauda Dynasties by By K.P. Jayaswal - the Sanskrit Text, Revised by Rahul Sankrityayana, Publisher - Motilal Banarasi Dass, The Punjab Sanskrit Book Depot, Sasdmrha, Lahore, p.44
  6. Nagas: the Ancient Rulers of India, p.333
  7. Jayaswal KP., "History of India' P-30.
  8. Jayaswal KP. P-39.
  9. K P Jayaswal:History of India, p.55
  10. K P Jayaswal:History of India, p.55
  11. Dr Mahendra Singh Arya, Dharmpal Singh Dudee, Kishan Singh Faujdar & Vijendra Singh Narwar: Ādhunik Jat Itihas (The modern history of Jats), Agra 1998, p. 233
  12. Jat History Thakur Deshraj/Chapter IX, p.614
  13. किशोरी लाल फौजदार: "महाभारत कालीन जाट वंश", जाट समाज, आगरा, जुलाई 1995, पृ 8
  14. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.604

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