Rashtrakutas originally originated from Satyaki, a Yadava chief of North India. The Rashtrakutas of Malkhed (Manyakheta) had earned a name for themselves. The Rashtrakuta Empire was a powerful kingdom during the period between 8th century and 10th century. The dynasty was fortunate for having worthy kings. They were powerful, brave and able administrators.
Dantidurga: The greatness of Rashtrakuta dynasty began with King Dantidurga. After victories over the kings of Kanchi, Kalinga, Kosala, Shri-Saila, Malwa, Lata and Sanka kingdoms, he performed the famous Hiranyagarbha ceremony at Ujjaini.
He also defeated the Chalukya King and won victory over Vallabha. He defeated the Arabs and destroyed the Gurjara kingdom of Nandipuri. He led an expedition to Malwa. The Eastern Madhya Pradesh was also brought under his political influence. He was so powerful that by the end of 750 A.D. he became virtually the master of Central and Southern Gujrat, Madhya Pradesh and Berar. The Chalukya king Kirtivarman II was also defeated by King Dantidurga and thus he occupied the whole of Maharashtra. However, due to his unpopularity he was deposed of by his Uncle Krishna I who ascended the throne as the new king.
King Krishna I became the next ruler. By defeating the Chalukya king Kirtivarman II he completely ended the Chalukya Empire. The Gangas of Mysore and the Chalukya king of Vengi were also defeated by him. It was under Krishna I that the Rashtrakutas became the absolute master of Deccan. Krishna I’s reign is remarkable for the rock cut temple of Kailasa at Ellora which still stands as one of the most marvelous works ever accomplished by man.
Govinda II succeeded to the throne after the death of King Krishna I. But he could rule for a short period and was supplanted by his brother Dhruva who was indeed an able and war-minded prince.
Dhruva Dharavarsha defeated both the Prathihar King Vatsaraja and the great Pala King Dharmapala. The ruler of Vengi was also defeated and the Pallava ruler was subjugated.
Govinda III, was the son of Dhruva. He was a powerful ruler and perhaps the greatest king of the dynasty. He ruled from 793 to 814 A.D. He was ambitious man and wanted to build an empire and as such took active part in the North Indian politics. He defeated the Prathihar King Nagabhatta II and overrun his territory. The ruler of Bengal Dharmapala was also defeated Govinda III advanced possibly up to the footholds of Himalaya. He defeated the Pallava ruler also.
Amoghavarsha: The next king of Rashtrakuta Empire, Amoghavarsha, was also a famous man of that age. He ruled for a long time from 814 to 878 A.D. Sulaiman, an Arab merchant described him as one of the four great monarchs of the world. Amoghavarsha was indeed a rich man and he had a huge standing army who received regular salaries. Although, during his reign, he remained constantly engaged in wars with the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi. He transferred his capital to Manyakheta (Malkhed) in the Nizam’s domain. It was, also the Period of continuous struggle between the Gangas and the Rashtrakutas. The Ganga Kings drove out the Rashtrakutas from most of their territory and the Rashtrakuta king Amoghavarsha had to come in terms with them. He was a follower of Jain Philosophy and spent most of his times in studying religion and literature.
Krishna II was the next king of Rashtrakuta dynasty. He was the son of Krishna II. He ruled for 36 years from 878 to 914 A.D. He also fought two important wars against the Pratiharas and the Eastern Chalukyas. But ultimately he was surrounded by his enemies and was defeated in all fronts.
Indra III, grandson of Krishna II, ascended to throne in 914 A.D. He, of course again started war with the Pratiharas and occupied Kanauj. Though he fought against the Vengi but was not much successful.
Amoghavarsha III ruled for few years after Indra III.
Krishna III: The next ruler was Krishna III. He invaded the Chola kingdom but was in vain. However, in 949 A.D., he defeated the Chola army and marched up to Rameswaram where he built a pillar of victory. Tondamandalam was annexed to the Rashtrakuta Empire. In 963 A.D. he also led an expedition to Malwa, the Northern India and marched up to Bundelkhanda. Prof. Atalkar called him one of the ablest monarchs of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty.
Decline: The next Rashtrakuta kings were unworthy to upkeep the glory and the dynasty came to an end in 973 to the Chalukyas of Kalyan. But the brilliance of this dynasty in art architecture, learning and administration constitute a respectable chapter of the history of Deccan.