Maps of World
Current, Credible, Consistent
World Map / World Ancient History / Satavahana Empire

Satavahana Empire

With the fall of the Maurya Empire, most of the vassal states declared independence, and the great empire built by Ashoka and his predecessors lay in fragments. There was much feud and conflict among these small states. The rise of the Satavahana Empire in south-central India provided much-needed peace and stability to the land.
The Satavahana Dynasty
The Satavahanas find mention in the Puranas, sacred Hindu texts, but their rise to prominence was led by Simuka, who declared his independence from Mauryan rule in about 230 BC. He then embarked on conquests of Malwa and Maharashtra, and annexed parts of western and central India. Simuka's brother, Krishna, reigned next. He added Nasik to the kingdom. Krishna was succeeded by Malia Satakarni and Purnothsanga.

Satakarni I, the next king, was the greatest Satavahanan emperor. He ruled for fifty-six years and annexed Berar, Malwa, and many southern states. He performed the traditional Ashwamedha and Rajasuya sacrifices that declared his supremacy. Satakarni II, the next king, conquered Pataliputra and Kalinga. By this time, the Sakas and the Greeks had started to trouble the Satavahana Empire.

In about 78 BC, Gautamiputra Satakarni, also known as Yajna Sri Satakarni, took over the kingdom. The Saka Era was established by King Gautamiputra Satakarni and was popularly followed by people in southern India. He was also the king to introduce coins with royal images in India. He was the last powerful king of the Satavahana Dynasty. Though other Satavahana kings are known to have reigned until about 200 AD, most of the empire broke away and the Pallavas, the Western Satraps, the Kadambas, and Ikshvakus had declared independence.

Cultural Legacy of the Satavahanas
Buddhist and Brahminical literature found much encouragement from the Satavahana kings. While Buddhist architecture was not new to India, the Satavahana kings commissioned some extraordinary stupas (temples), including the renowned one at Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh.

The Satavahana kings of the first century BC also seem to have contributed to building the carved entrances and the banisters at Sanchi. Buddha is represented as the divine spirit and is not portrayed in his embodied form in most Satavahana relics. Mahayana Buddhism seems to have originated in the Satavahana Empire and then spread to other parts of India and the world.

Use of Coins
The Satavahanas were the earliest Indian monarchs to issue coins with their images. A healthy trade with Rome ensured a steady influx of Roman gold coins. The numismatic images of the Satavahana reign were replete with social, cultural, and religious symbolism. The lead, copper, and silver coins of the era bear royal insignia such as lions and elephants. The patronage received by Buddhism is also reflected in these coins. Historians also suggest that the wise king of Ujjain, Vikramaditya may have belonged to the Satavahana lineage due to the similarity in the royal insignia of Ujjain and the ones inscribed on the Satavahana coins.

The kings of the Satavahana dynasty were excellent administrators. They divided their kingdom into many smaller regions called Aharas. Each was administered by a minister, or Amatya. Vaijayanti and Amaravati were the two most important cities in the Satavahana Empire. The beautiful sculptures of the galleries at Ajanta are attributed to the Satavahana artisans.