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YUDDHA Ep. 01: The Age of the War Elephant




There is no military doctrine so uniquely Indian as the use of the war-elephant. These magnificent animals dominated Indian battlefields for over two thousand years, and Indian war-elephants fought as far afield as Greece, Africa, and Southeast Asia. But how were they actually used in battle? What were their weaknesses? How were they trained, what did they eat, how were they decorated? What do they tell us about the military culture and geopolitics of medieval India? We dissect one of the most unique battles in South Indian history - the Battle of Koppam in the Chola-Chalukya Wars, 1054 CE - in search of answers.


Check out our analysis of the Chola-Chalukya rivalry and the remarkable career of Someshvara I Chalukya in this podcast, Political Resilience and the Chalukyas: Lessons from 11th Century India.


YUDDHA is made possible thanks to the support of The Takshashila Institution and the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF).


Further Reading:

  1. Whitney Cox, Politics, Kingship, and Poetry in Medieval South India: Moonset on Sunrise Mountain. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

  2. Whitney Cox, "Scribe and script in the Cālukya West Deccan." The Indian Economic & Social History Review 47, no. 1 (2010): 1-28.

  3. Thomas Trautmann, Elephants and Kings: an Environmental History. University of Chicago Press, 2015.

  4. Rangarajan, L. N., ed. The Arthashastra. Penguin Books India, 1992.

  5. Subbarayalu, Yellava. South India under the Cholas. Oxford University Press, 2012.

  6. Yazdani, Ghulam. The Early History of the Deccan. Vol. 1. London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1961.

  7. Nossov, Konstantin. War Elephants. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2012.

  8. Shrigondekar, G.K., ed. Mānasollāsa of King Someśvara - Vol. II. Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1939.


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©2020 by Anirudh Kanisetti. Cover images by Apoorva Lakshmi.