The Rashtrakuta Empire (Kannada: ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರಕೂಟ) was a royal Indian dynasty ruling large parts of southern, central and northern India between the sixth and the tenth centuries. During this period they ruled as several closely related, but individual clans. The earliest known Rashtrakuta inscription is a seventh century copper plate grant that mentions their rule from Manpur in the Malwa region of modern Madhya Pradesh. Other ruling Rashtrakuta clans from the same period mentioned in inscriptions were the kings of Achalapur which is modern Elichpur in Maharashtra and the rulers of Kannauj. Several controversies exist regarding the origin of these early Rashtrakutas, their native home and their language.
The clan that ruled from Elichpur was a feudatory of the Badami Chalukyas and during the rule of Dantidurga, it overthrew Chalukya Kirtivarman II and went on to build an empire with the Gulbarga region in modern Karnataka as its base. This clan came to be known as the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, rising to power in South India in 753. At the same time the Pala dynasty of Bengal and the Prathihara dynasty of Malwa were gaining force in eastern and northwestern India respectively.
This period, between the eight and the tenth centuries, saw a tripartite struggle for the resources of the rich Gangetic plains, each of these three empires annexing the seat of power at Kannauj for short periods of time. At their peak the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta ruled a vast empire stretching from the Ganges River and Yamuna River doab in the north to Cape Comorin in the south, a fruitful time of political expansion, architectural achievements and famous literary contributions. The early kings of this dynasty were Hindu but the later kings were strongly influenced by Jainism.