After the fall of the Mauryan Empire, the history of the Andhras, as a continuous account of political and cultural events, commences with the rise of the Satavahanas as a political power. According to Matsya Purana there were 29 rulers of this dynasty. They ruled over the Andhradesa including Deccan for about 400 years from the 2nd century B.C. to beyond the 2nd century A.D. Satavahanas were also called Salivahanas and Satakarnis. In the 3rd century B.C., Simukha, the founder of the Satavahana dynasty, unified the various Andhra principalities into one kingdom and became its ruler (271 B.C. -- 248 B.C.). Dharanikota near Amaravati in Guntur district was the first capital of Simukha, but later he shifted his capital to Pratishtana (Paithan in Aurangabad district).
Satakarni II, the sixth ruler of the dynasty (184 B.C.) was an able ruler who extended his kingdom to the west by conquering Malwa. According to inscriptional evidence, he extended the boundaries of his realm far into central India across the Vindhyas, perhaps up to the river Ganges. He ruled for a long period of 56 years. The long reign of Satakarni II was followed successively by eight rulers of whom none can be credited with any notable achievement. It was the accession of Pulumavi I that brought renewed strength and glory to their kingdom. He struck down the last of the Kanva rulers, Susarman, in 28 B.C. and occupied Magadha. The Satavahanas thus assumed an all-India significance as imperial rulers in succession to the Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas and Kanvas. The kings, who succeeded him, appear to have been driven, by the Sakas, out of Maharashtra back to their home land in Andhra. The only silver lining in that murky atmosphere was the excellent literary work, Gathasaptasati, of Hala, the 17th Satavahana king.
It was during the time of Gautamiputra Satakarni, the 23rd ruler of this dynasty, who ascended the throne in A.D.62, their kingdom made a sharp recovery of the lost territories from the western Kshatrapas. A Nasik record describes him as the restorer of the glory of the Satavahanas. His kingdom included the territories of Asika, Assaka, Mulaka, Saurashtra, Kukura, Aparanta, Anupa, Vidarbha, Akara and Avanti, and the mountainous regions of Vindhya, Achavata, Pariyatra, Sahya, Kanhagiri, Siritana, Malaya, Mahendra, Sata and Chakora, and extended as far as seas on either side. Though some of the mountains mentioned in the inscription cannot be identified at present, it is clear that Gautamiputra's kingdom covered not only the peninsular India, but also the southern parts of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. He passed away in A.D.86, and his successors witnessed the dismemberment of their far flung empire. Pulumavi II succeeded Gautamiputra and ruled for 28 years. In spite of serious efforts put forth by him to safeguard the frontiers of his vast empire, the closing years of his reign witnessed the decline of the Satavahana authority. Yajnasri Satakarni's accession to the throne in A.D.128 brought matters to a crisis. He came into conflict with the Saka Satrap, Rudradamana, and suffered defeat, and consequently, lost all his western possessions. However, he continued to rule till A.D.157 over a truncated dominion. His ship-marked coins suggest extensive maritime trade during his days. With him passed away the age of the great Satavahanas and by the end of the 2nd century A.D., the rule of the Satavahanas was a matter of past history. There were different opinions about their capital. Some argue that Srikakulam in Krishna district was their capital. Evidences show that Dharanikota in Guntur district, Dharmapuri in Karimnagar district and Paithan in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra State were used as capitals at various periods. The Deccan, during this period, was an emporium of inland and maritime trade. The region between the rivers of...