Mahakuta Pillar (Kannada: ಮಹಾಕೂಟ ಸ್ತಂಭ) in the town of Mahakuta in present-day Bagalkot district of India's Karnataka state is the source of an important Badami Chalukya inscription called Mahakuta pillar inscription ascribed to king Mangalesha, second son of Pulakeshin I. It is made of fine grained sandstone. Dated 595 CE, the inscription is written in Sanskrit language and old Kannada script and details important information about the Chalukya lineage, their military expeditions, their conquests and early monuments. The pillar was found lying near the Mahakutesvara temple and was transferred to the Bijapur Archaeological museum in 1920. The alternate date suggested for the inscription is 602
According to the Mahakuta pillar inscription, Pulakeshin I had two sons, Kirtivarman I and Mangalesha and the Mukuteshvara temple (called Mahakuteshvara temple today) was built by Pulakeshin I and that this was the first major monument built during their rule. The inscription confirms that Pulakeshin I was also called Ranavikrama and that he was the first king of the dynasty to take a title of Satyashraya. The inscription describes Mangaleshas proposed plans of a major invasion up to the Gangetic region and in possible exaggeration, claims his elder brother Kirtivarman I the conqueror of fourteen nations including Vanga, Kalinga, Anga, Vattura, Magadha and Madraka all located north of Badami and the nations of Kerala, Gangas, Mushaka, Pandya, Dramila, Choliya (Chola), Aluka (Alupas) and Vaijayanti (Banavasi).
- The Mahakuta Pillar and Its Temples,pp 253, Carol Radcliffe Bolon
- Some scholars prefer not to date the pillar prior to 602. However Michell suggested that the pillar may have been erected on a previous standing temple on the same location. Henry Cousens however differs in that he believes the Mahakutesvara temple was built before the erection of the pillar during the time of Pulakeshin I, The Mahakuta Pillar and Its Temples, pp 253, Carol Radcliffe Bolon
- According to Dr. P.B. Desai, from the Mudhol plates, it seemed likely that Pulakeshin I may have had three sons. This confusion was put to rest by the evidence in the Mahakuta pillar inscription made 30 years after Pulakeshin's death where the "dual" number has been used to indicate that there were only two sons, K.V. Ramesh, Chalukyas of Vatapi, pp 46
- K.V. Ramesh,Chalukyas of Vatapi, pp 34
- However, according to K.V.Ramesh, modern historians concede that Kirtivarman may have conquered only the Alupas in coastal Karnataka, the Banavasi Kadambas and the Mauryas of Konkan and dismiss the rest as exaggeration. K.V. Ramesh, Chalukyas of Vatapi, pp 50