Chariot Warfare in Ancient India

Illustration

Dr Avantika Lal
by G41rn8
published on 01 October 2018

This sculpture made during the period of the Chalukyas of Vatapi (6th century CE to 8th century CE) shows a scene from the Mahabharata. Here, a combat scene involving chariot warriors, archers, swordsmen, elephants, and a fallen combatant is depicted.
The chariots are shown with seven-spoked wheels, a flagstaff and a rectangular box with a single archer riding it. Charioteers, virtually sitting on the horses, can also be seen. The warriors are not armoured.

The use of chariots in battle had declined long before this period and the Chalukya army did not use them. This is thus a sculptural representation of how the Chalukya artists imagined chariot warfare to have been in the preceding periods of history, particularly in the Epic period where they were much valued.

Location: Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal, Karnataka state, India

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