The destruction of the Chalukya power under Pulakesi by Narasimhavarman resulted in a decade of chaos in the Chalukya territories, before Pulakesi’s son Vikramaditya I brought back stability. This immediately led to the shifting of allegiance of Telugu Chodas and Banas to Chalukyas. It is possible that Nolambas were governors appointed to a section of their territory by the Pallavas during that period. There is no evidence of them being from the Pallava royal family but they used the Pallava royal insignia of Khatvanga(Nolamba Kattanga) and Samudraghosha(Kaduva Paraghoshana). Khatvanga is a club made out of forearm or leg topped by a skull and Samudraghosha, a special type of drum used by Pallavas. Their inscriptions mention that they were descended from Pallavas, hinting either at royal blood or that they are Pallava Governors and traced their origins through Trilochana or Trinayana Pallava who defeated and killed Chalukya Vijayaditya. Though they were never major powers, their importance lies in their location – they, along with Telugu Chodas, Vaidumbas and Banas acted as a wedge separating the Tamil kingdoms(Chola/Pallava), Eastern Chalukyas, Chalukyas/Rashtrakutas and Western Gangas. Every army as a part of Dravida-Karnata Wars had to pass through Nolamba territory.
The word Nolamba itself is of uncertain origins. The below possible origins are proposed for the same.
- Kolhapur plates of Silahara Gandaraditya dated 1115 AD mentions a Nolamba, who is descended from Nigumba/Nikumbha, the son of Kumbhakarna. This means the Nolambas imitated the already established Banas who traced their origin to Banasura.
- Kannada nol indicates forward. Going by the fact that Chalukyas or Pallavas should advance through Nolambavadi for any fight, it is but obvious that the Nolamabas were the first contact with an invasion force. Nolambas, in this sense mean preceders or penetrators
- Tamil Nulai means creep, an indication that they crept further from their fiefdom.
- Tamil Nulai also means impress – they were Pallava vassals who impressed the Gangas and others enough to be major vassals under them. Like the root words Kulai or Varai transmorphing as Kulambu and Varambu, Nulai would have transmorphed into Nulambu
We should remember, it is more possible that they invented a name based on Banas who treated Banasura as their founder or the Kannada nol indicating penetrators.
Mangala Nolambadhiraja(735-785 AD):
Mangala Nolambaraja seems to be a petty vassal who gained praise from his suzerains, the Karnatas for defeating the Kiratas. Chalukya Vikramaditya II as a part of his Pallava invasion, invaded Nolambavadi and the province was given to the Western Gangas for governance. The successor of Mangala calls himself a Ganga vassal, hinting that it’s either Mangala or his son who was defeated by Vikramaditya II. It is important to note that the word Nolambavadi is a clear indication that that area has presence of Nolambas for a considerable period.
Simhapota Kali Nolambaraja Kolliarasa (785-805 AD)
Rashtrakuta Dhruva III defeated Ganga Shivamara II and imprisioned him in 778. Shivamara’s brother Duggamara Ereyappa ruled in his place. Simhapota’s first military exploit is to tackle Duggamara on the orders of Shivamara. Who won is not known but Rashtrakuta invasion of Gangavadi immediately after transferred the vassalage of Nolambas to Rashtrakutas. Next was his fight against Alupa Chitravahana II who rebelled against the Rashtrakutas. He had the titles Pallavanvaya, Pallavakulatilaka Prithvivallabha, Panchamahasabda. One of his daughters, Madhavi is married into the family of Western Gangas.
Paramesvara Pallavadhiraja or Charuponnera(805-830 AD)
The death of Rashtrakuta Govinda III and the accession of the boy king Amoghavarsha in 814 led to a spate of rebellions among Rashtrakuta vassals. The three southern vassals – Nolambas under Charuponnera, Gangas under Rachamalla and Banas under Mahabali Bana rebelled and Charuponnera’s son Polalchora was married to Rachamalla’s daughter Jayabbe. There was a massive Bana invasion of Ganga 6000 which was beaten back with a counter invasion of Bana and Pallava territories. Charuponnera died when the war was at a critical juncture and was succeeded by his son Polalchora. Besides this, Charuponnera led a massive invasion into Telugu Choda territories and captured vast tracts of their lands.
Polalchora I(830-875 AD)
Polalchora seems to have led the Ganga fightback, killing the Bana hero Aggalarasa and leading the invasion directly into the Pallava territory. Kanchi itself is put under siege and vast tracks of Pallava territory was annexed to Gangavadi. In recognition, Nolambas were handed over Ganga 6000, which in turn, invited the ire of Banas. On the other side, the addition of Ganga 6000 to made Nolambas a major vassal under the Gangas. It is possible that Polalchora was killed by Vengi Chalukya king Gunaga Vijayaditya.
Mahendra was born to Polalchora and Jayabbe, the daughter of Ganga Rachamalla. He is married to a sister of Ganga Nitimarga Ereyappa. Baragur Inscription of 878 is the earliest known of his inscriptions. This date should be considered important as it gives an indication as to who Nolamba Mangi, killed by Eastern Chalukya Gunaga Vijayaditya is. Mahendra destroyed the power of both Telugu Chodas and Mahabali Banas, advancing till Dharmapuri.
Around 878-883, there was a powerful invasion of a confederacy under Bana king Viramaditya I Banavidyadhara Jayamerubhupa, the Vaidumbas under Ereyammarasa and a representative of a cadet branch of the Gangas, Vijaya Narasimha Vikramavarman, the prominent among them being at Soremadi, Mudimavu and Mandavu. The defeat of Banas at Soremudi changed the face of the battle completely. Telugu Chodas, under Mahendra Vikrama sided with Nolamba Mahendra I in this fight simply because Vaidumbas were a bigger threat to them. They seem to have conquered vast tracts of Chola territory.
Marasimha I, the son of Shivamara II established a separate branch of Gangas whic lost prominence on the rise of the main branch of Gangas under Rachamalla and Nitimarga. This cadet branch had to migrate to Pallava territory. This line is martially allied with the Banas very closely. The head of the cadet branch, Prithvipati I married his daughter Kunduva to Bana Jayamerubhupa. How Prithvipati and Vijaya Narasimha Vikramavarman are related is not known. Also, it is important to note that the Pallava Civil War(869-885) between Nrpatunga and Aparajita created a situation of anarchy and the vassals, tried to maintain their position. Banas, Vaidumbas and Prithvipati, all sided Aparajita. The civil war is concluded with the defeat of Nrpatunga faction supported by Varaguna II Pandya and the establishment of Aparajita on the throne. Though on the winning side, Prithvipati lost his life in the war.
An alternate view is that this battle happened in the first half of the century as against 885 with Charuponnera and Rachamalla I on one side and Bana Vikramaditya and Ganga Prithvipati I on the other side. After leading the invasion into the Bana territory, Mahendra led his forces into Pallava Empire proper, advancing till Amaiyur/Ambur in 885 AD. As a part of the same invasion, a son of Vaidumba Ereyammarasa – Allagi Paramendi is killed.
It can also be conjectured that Prithvipati’s presence was necessitated in Sripurambiyam due to which he had to withdraw his forces from Soremadi leading to the defeat of his allies. It is also assumed that the Telugu Choda king Mahendra Vikrama also died at Sripurambiyam. Thus it is possible that this war can be seen as an attempt to stop Gangas and Nolambas reaching Sripurambiyam.
After this, for reasons unknown, Mahendra invaded Talakad, the capital city of Gangas directly. There were some initial successes, he had to turn east to stop a Vaidumba invasion instigated by the Gangas. Again, he seems to have turned west, taking Talakad itself. But, the success wasn’t for long as Ganga Rachamalla II, helped by his brother Butuga and Butuga’s son Nitimarga took back Gangavadi and killed Mahendra around 897 and took the title Mahendrantaka.
He ascended the throne when the Ganga armies were advancing into Nolambavadi proper, taking Surur, Nandagiri, Midigesi, Suli Sailendra, Tipperu and Penjeru. Ayyappa advanced into Asandhinadu but was defeated at Kanikatte. However, Ganga Rachamalla II seems to have decided to call off the fight and made Ayyappa the ruler of Asandhinadu as his vassal. By 900, the relations between both the lines have become normal. This is simply out of necessity – Eastern Chalukyas under Bhima, Cholas under Parantaka and Rashtrakutas under Krishna II were asserting their might and Nolambas were guarding the gates to Talakadu. He got his daughter Pollabbarasi married to Ayyappa.
However, by 903 AD, Ganga kingdom was taken over by the Rashtrakutas, with a Rashtrakuta general Damapayya ruling from Manne, the ancient capital of the Western Gangas. It is but natural that Nolambas also were subdued and nothing much is known about Ayyappa for the next twenty years. By 919, Rashtrakutas have retreated and Ayyappa issued inscriptions in his individual capacity. During the reign of Indra III, Ayyappa’s son Anniga raided the Rashtrakuta territories and attacked Padugal. They seem to have been subdued again as Nolambas were seen as masters of Kogali 500 and Maseyavadi 140 under the reign of Govinda IV.
The wars with Eastern Chalukyas increased after the ascendancy of Vijayaditya II. Chalukya Bhima’s death lead to a civil war in the Eastern Chalukyan territories and Ayyappa got involved himself into the fight, siding Tadapa. Ayyappa’s Dharmapuri inscription states that he defeated or killed Amma I but Ayyappa, who was a part of the Rashtrakuta invasion force was killed by Chalukya Bhima II, possibly at Tumbepadi. However, Bhima didn’t advance, but returned back to Vengi to consolidate his position.
Anniga Bira Nolamba(934-940)
Anniga, born to the Ganga princess Pollabbarisi and Ayyappa started his career under his father by 920 AD. Ganga Nitimarga II’s death led to a civil war in Ganga territories between Butuga II and Rachamalla III. Anniga, with the help of Nanniya Ganga, the son of Prithvipati II and the great grandson of Prithvipati I who died at Sripurambiyam invaded Gangavadi. He was defeated at Kottamangala near Heggadadevanakote by Rachamalla III. The Gangas seem to have pardoned the Nolambas again but by 936, started to treat him as an independent. However, Rashtrakuta Krishna III, the father-in-law of Butuga advanced and defeated Rachamalla and Anniga by 937. A part of Nolambavadi was annexed by Rashtrakutas. He was succeeded by his brother Iriva Nolamba Dilipa and not his son Irulachora who may either have died before his father or was overlooked going by the proximity of his uncle Dilipa to the Rashtrakutas.
Iriva Nolamba Dilipa(941-968)
By the time of Dilipa, the Banas were ejected out of their territory by the Cholas and Nolambas and Cholas shared common borders. It is important to note that by the time of Dilipa, Nolambas lost Dharmapuri. The armies of Nolambas and Banas seem to have been a part of the Rashtrakuta force which invaded the Chola territory, killing the Chola crown prince Rajaditya at Takkolam, taking Thanjavur and planting a pillar of victory at Rameswaram. At a later time, there was a reorganization of the territories – Banas were given Ganga 6000 and Vaidumbas were moved to Chittoor area by Krishna III.
Kattanemalla Chhaladankakara Nanni Nolamba(969-975)
Nothing much is known regarding his reign except the fact that Rashtrakuta Empire itself was in it’s death throes after the death of Krishna III and Nolambas tried to assert their independence, only to be crushed by Ganga Marasimha II. Nanni Nolamba seems to have allied with Taila II in this fight. By 970, the defeat of Nolambas was complete and Marasimha took the title Nolamba Kulantaka. That the Nolambas were ejected out of their territory permanently is clear from the Sravanabelagola inscription commemorating the death of Marasimha. Uchhangi was the next to fall, killing a scion of the Chalukya family Rajaditya. Though Nolambas existed in name after that, they were no more a force to reckon with for a while.
Vira Mahendra Nolambaraja II(975-981)
Mahendra succeeded his grandfather Nanni Nolamba and all changed with the death of Panchaladeva who took the Ganga throne after Marasimha in the hands of Taila II in 977. It is possible that his father Polalchora and possibly, his grandfather Nanni Nolamba both fell in the wars against Marasimha. Nolambas again advanced from the North supported by the Chalukyas, taking Nolambavadi and advancing into Ganga territories. He seems to have followed his master Taila II into Chola country as a part of an invasion force. He died young and was succeeded by his brother Iriva Nolamba II under the regency of his mother Divabbaraisi, a Kadamba princess.
Iriva Nolamba II Ghateyankakara(981-1024)
Slowly, Cholas started expanding and entered the Nolamba territory by 990. By 1002, the southern part of Nolambavadi was annexed into Chola territories. Some of the scions of the Nolamba family shifted their allegiance to the Cholas while the Nolambas ruled the northern parts under the vassalage of the Chalukyas. Nothing is known of Iriva prior to 1010 which is his first inscription. By marrying his daughter Mahadevi to Iriva, Chalukya Satyasraya ensured the continued loyalty of Nolambas and Kadambas towards the Chalukya crown. It is to note that he was a part of the Chalukya armies which tried to tackle the Cholas.
Jagadekamalla Nolamba Pallava Permanadi Udayadityadeva(1024-1036)
Though he claimed rule over Nolambavadi and Gangavadi, it is obvious that he was just a vassal without much power. During his reign, Nolambas and Chalukyas regained some southern territories under the aggressive Jayasimha II who married Jagadekamalla’s sister Revaladevi.
Jagadekamalla Irmadi Nolamba Pallava Permanadi(1037-1044)
Nothing of note is known from his reign and he was succeeded by his brother Trailokyamalla Nanni Nolamba.
Trailokyamalla Nanni Nolamba II Pallava Permanadi(1044-1054)
He was an active commander of his master Avahamalla Somesvara I. Chola Rajadhiraja’s invasion occupied the whole of Nolamba territories and their capital city of Kampili was razed. They seem to have moved to Kampili after their traditional capital city of Hemavati(Henjeru, Madakasira) went into Chola hands/came very close to Chola borders.
Manimangalam Inscription of Rajendra II mentions that Nanni Nolamba is killed in the battle.
His death, it’s possible, ended the Nolambas as a force to note and the rest of the family would have disappeared into history as Chalukya governors. It is possible that Chalukyas themselves assumed the title of Nolamba after that and the title slowly disappeared into obscurity, for, we know of a Trailokyamalla Nolamba Pallava Permanadi Jayasinghadeva, who claims to be a son of Somesvara I. Also to note is the fact that Chalukyas handed over Nolambavadi to Vengi Chalukya Vijayaditya whenever he was not on throne in Vengi. It is established that he was ruling Nolambavadi in 1062, and it is possible that Nolambas were asked to move north to accommodate Vijayaditya as early as 1022.