Why did the Deccan produce so many large empires?

Sep 2019
13
'Merica
Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Marathas, Vijayanagar... and many more.
The Satavahana dynasty protected India from Saka invasions.
The Rashtrakutas protected India from Arab invasions.
The Marathas invaded upto Afghanistan in their Hindu zeal.

What was so special about the Deccan that it gave rise to so many large kingdoms and empires? North India had far more resources, but produced less empires for some reason.
 
Jan 2019
200
Valencia
How do you differentiate a Kingdom from an Empire? Because many such native principalities could be found throughout South Asia. I don't see anything special about the Deccan in particular. Plus you've picked range of 'empires' from period of 2000 years plus, naturally in such a long period a variety of states would formed.

Satavahana dynasty protected India from Saka invasions.
The Saka's were already within India when they fought the Satavahanas.

The Rashtrakutas protected India from Arab invasions.
As did the Pratiharas.

The Marathas invaded upto Afghanistan in their Hindu zeal.
They reached Pakistani Punjab...

It seems this thread was a subtle attempt to gloat.
 

Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,087
Canary Islands-Spain
It is the opposite: most of the great empires of South Asia were born in the Indo-Gangetic plain

Deccan used to produce petty kingdoms in comparison, probably due to fragmentary geography. Ultimately, empires are the product of wealth concentration in the hands of a certain elite, a process favoured by easy of communications and economic output, as well as social relations. The great plains of the north, well connected by rivers, with little obstacles to goods and people flow, had an edge

The most expansive Deccan empire was probably that of the Cholas, due to their control of maritime routes

However, there's something certain. Deccan kingdoms, though smaller in geographic area, seem to have been very reach and populated, kind of oversized in power considering the limited terrain they controled (Vijayanagara is the best example). This is probably due to higher agricultural productivity in a tropical to equatorial environment
 
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Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,739
New Delhi, India
Gujarat had empires. Rajasthan's cheiftains also ruled large areas. Harsha was a Northern empire. But then North faced repeated invasions all through the history.
 
Nov 2012
300
Forum
Satavahanas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Marathas, Vijayanagar... and many more.
The Satavahana dynasty protected India from Saka invasions.
The Rashtrakutas protected India from Arab invasions.
The Marathas invaded upto Afghanistan in their Hindu zeal.

What was so special about the Deccan that it gave rise to so many large kingdoms and empires? North India had far more resources, but produced less empires for some reason.
North India didn't produces less empires plus once Dakshinapatha was united they were mostly fighting with north and west Indian kingdoms and not outsiders .
Rashtrakutas were fighting with partiharas and Palas
As Dewal already mentioned Satavahanas fought with phalavas , yavanas and sakas who were in western and northern India .
 
Nov 2012
300
Forum
It is the opposite: most of the great empires of South Asia were born in the Indo-Gangetic plain

Deccan used to produce petty kingdoms in comparison, probably due to fragmentary geography. Ultimately, empires are the product of wealth concentration in the hands of a certain elite, a process favoured by easy of communications and economic output, as well as social relations. The great plains of the north, well connected by rivers, with little obstacles to goods and people flow, had an edge

The most expansive Deccan empire was probably that of the Cholas, due to their control of maritime routes

However, there's something certain. Deccan kingdoms, though smaller in geographic area, seem to have been very reach and populated, kind of oversized in power considering the limited terrain they controled (Vijayanagara is the best example). This is probably due to higher agricultural productivity in a tropical to equatorial environment
Deccan empires were probably rich because of maritime trade
 

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Oct 2019
8
USA
It is the opposite: most of the great empires of South Asia were born in the Indo-Gangetic plain

Deccan used to produce petty kingdoms in comparison, probably due to fragmentary geography. Ultimately, empires are the product of wealth concentration in the hands of a certain elite, a process favoured by easy of communications and economic output, as well as social relations. The great plains of the north, well connected by rivers, with little obstacles to goods and people flow, had an edge

The most expansive Deccan empire was probably that of the Cholas, due to their control of maritime routes

However, there's something certain. Deccan kingdoms, though smaller in geographic area, seem to have been very reach and populated, kind of oversized in power considering the limited terrain they controled (Vijayanagara is the best example). This is probably due to higher agricultural productivity in a tropical to equatorial environment

Cholas were not Deccani. They were South Indian Tamils. Deccan consists of Maharashtra, Northern parts of Karnatak and Telangana.

I agree with the OP. Compared to areas like NW India, Punjab and the fertile Gangetic plain, it seems the dusty, semi arid plateau of Deccan was a hotbed of Indian imperial activity. Remember, Aurangzed lost to the Marathas whilst his ancestors were happily ruling Northern India for hundreds of years.
 

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
It wasn't the "Deccan" as a whole that produced a significant number of large imperial formations, but rather northern Karnataka in particular. Badami, Manyakheta, and Kalyana - the capitals of the early Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, and later Chalukyas respectively - were located within a couple hundred kilometers of each other in northern Karnataka. Even in the later medieval period, it was northern Karnataka that was the focal point of imperial conflict. Not only was Vijayanagara itself located in northern Karnataka, but so were the Bahmani capital cities of Gulbarga and Bidar. After the collapse of the Bahmani Sultanate, the most powerful of the successor sultanates was arguably Bijapur - which likewise had its capital in northern Karnataka.

In contrast to northern Karnataka, the other parts of the Deccan were far more peripheral and were less often the base of large empires. The region of modern-day Maharashtra, for example, was largely subject to dynasties based in northern Karnataka for over 1000 years, from the 6th century up through the 17th century. The only ancient empire based in Maharashtra was that of the Satavahanas, but the Satavahanas established their dominion at a time when much of Karnataka was still quite undeveloped and in a pre-state political configuration. Likewise, the region of Telangana (the other major part of the Deccan) remained peripheral and undeveloped until the time of Kakatiyas, when it became a significant base of political power in its own right (though never the center of a far-reaching empire).

As for why northern Karnataka was so significant and influential in the political history of the Deccan, I am not entirely sure. However, five years ago I and several other members had an illuminating discussion on this topic, which you can see here: Reasons for exceptional dominance of Kannadas for around one thousand years

Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Historum will ever see that level of quality discussion ever again, at least on Indian history topics.
 
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Dec 2009
578
Ha ha yes those were some great times for Indian History fans.
Anyway the western Deccan did indeed produce some of the greatest Dynasties in South Asian history.
And particularly Karnataka was the most successful region in terms of number of Dynasties
 

rvsakhadeo

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
9,212
India
How do you differentiate a Kingdom from an Empire? Because many such native principalities could be found throughout South Asia. I don't see anything special about the Deccan in particular. Plus you've picked range of 'empires' from period of 2000 years plus, naturally in such a long period a variety of states would formed.



The Saka's were already within India when they fought the Satavahanas.



As did the Pratiharas.



They reached Pakistani Punjab...

It seems this thread was a subtle attempt to gloat.
Well, the Maratha cavalry under Raghoba Peshwe reached Attock ( present day Pakistan ) beyond the Sindhu river ( aka Indus ) in their random rides. Of course, not anywhere near Afghanistan.