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Palnadu is the northern region of Guntur Districtmarker in the Indianmarker state of Andhra Pradeshmarker. Also known as Pallava Nadu, it occupies an important place in Telugu history. After the decline of the Satavahana dynasty, the Pallavas became independent in Krishna river valley. The region is known as Palnadu in memory of ancient Pallavas. A series of dynasties such as Ikshvaku, Vishnukundinas, Eastern Chalukyas and later Kakatiyas ruled the region. The war of Palnadu in the 12th century is marked in legend and literature as 'Andhra Kurukshetra War'. The war of Palnadu weakened the power of Vengi Chalukyas and paved way for the emergence of Kakatiyas as a great Telugu dynasty.

The battle of Palnadu

The battle of Palnadu was immortalized in Telugu literature by the poet Srinath in his 'Palnati Vira Charita'. The only other scholarly book on the subject was written by Gene Roghair titled "Epic of Palnadu: Study and Translation of Palnati Virula Katha, a Telugu Oral Tradition from Andhra Pradesh". It was a battle between two factions of the Kalachuris (Haihaya).

Nalagama Vira Raju was the son of Alugu Bhupathi Raju of the Palanati Kalachuris. His step brother was Malideva Raju, who was married to a princess of the Kalyani branch of Kalachuris. Dodda Naidu and Brahma Naidu were vassals of the Velanti Chodas (Vassals of the Chola-Chalukyas and responsible for the administration of their Andhra territories) and tried to usher in a new era in which caste distinctions would be abolished. Nalagama was against this and tried to check their progress. He was supported by Nagamma, a female statesperson who became his chief adviser. The differences in ideology led to Brahma Naidu leaving with his supporters, including Nalagama's half brother Malideva and set up an independent court in Macherlamarker.

Mutual suspicion and rivalry reached a high pitch between the two courts and Nagamma, under the pretext of Malideva's defeat in a cock-fight, exiled them for seven years from Palnadu. After the exile was over Brahma Naidu sent Alaraja, the son of Kalachuri Kommaraja of Kalyani, and the brother-in-law of Malideva to claim Malideva's share. The demand was turned down and Alaraja was poisoned to death under the orders of Nagamma in Cherlagudipadu. The enraged Kalyani Kalachuris and Brahma Naidu declared war on Gurazalamarker. The battle was fought in Karempudi on the banks of the river Naguleru. The Kakatiya dynasty, Kota Vamsa, Paricchedis and Hoysalas supported Nalagama and the Vengi Kalachuris. The Velanati Chodas and Malideva were supported by the Kalyani Kalachuris.

Nalagama was victorious. The civil war shook the Velanadu kingdom to its foundation. A whole generation of the warriors of Andhra perished in the war. The tragedy hastened the end of the Chalukyan rule in Vengi. It exposed their weaknesses and allowed the Hoysalas, Kalachuris, Eastern Gangas and the Kakatiyas to eventually overrun them.

The Andhra Abhimanyu

Brahma Naidu did not have any war could not be stopped, those who have to die will die and those who have to win will win. The child was named "Balachandra" and sent to forests with their men with strict instructions not to train the child in warfare.

After attaining marriageable age, Balachandra came back to his home. He always understood that his father cared more about the people than himself. Soon it was known that he was adept in warfare which he inherited from Brahma Naidu. The elders came to another plan to make him an alcoholic and to divert his attention from the political issues in the state, lest he challenges Nagamma's faction.

He was soon married off and at this time Ala Raja has been viciously killed by Nagamma's faction. Ala Raja’s wife Peramma, decided to kill herself on her husband's funeral pyre (Sati). Before dying she asked her brothers and other royal knights, that at least one of them should promise her to bring the head of the treacherous man who killed her husband. Everyone lowered their heads because Brahma Naidu had already warned them not make any oaths and make the issue bigger. Here, the heroic Balachandra took the oath. In front of everyone, he went to Peramma and told her that he is there to seek her vengeance. Peramma died on a happy note.

Everyone tried their best to stop Balachandra from the war. Because he was the apple of everyone's eye in Brahma Naidu’s household. But his wife sent him to the battlefield in order to ensure their victory. Balachandra fulfilled his oath and died heroically in the battlefield. He attained what is called in Sanskrit "Veeraswargam": The hero's heaven.

Andhra people remember Balachandra for his heroic exploits.

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