The rule of Harshavardhana from (606-647AD) being the only consolidated rule after the
Guptas. The predecessors of Harshavardhana was from Thaneshwar. Harshavardhana was the
younger son of Prabhakara Vardhana, Raja of Thaneshwar. Prabhakaravardhana died in 605
daughter Rajyasri was
married to the king
Grahavarman. Sasanka the
king of Gauda, with the
help of the king of Malwa
defeated and killed
Grahavarman of Kannauj
and imprisoned Rajyasri.
Rajyavardhan who then
ruled Kannauj advanced
against Sasanka to avenge
his sisters fate. But he was
killed by Sasanka. Thus
the throne of Kannauj
became vacant and
Harshavardhana had to
ascend the throne.
Harshavardhana pursued a
policy of conquest to
consolidate his authority
over north India. Punjab,
Kannauj, parts of Bihar
and Bengal formed a part
of his kingdom as a result
of his conquests. By 612 Harshavardhana consolidated his kingdom in northern India. The
problems caused by the small independent kingdoms who were engaged in conflicts among
themselves was overcome after the subjection of these petty states extending from the east to
west. In 620AD Harshavardhana invaded the Chalukya kingdom in the Deccan which was
then ruled by Pulakesin II. But the Chalukya resistance proved tough for Harshavardhana and
he was defeated. Thus his kingdom in the south was upto the limit of the Narmada. His
alliance with king Bhaskaravarman the ruler of Kamrupa (Assam) also prove advantageous in
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establishing a strong rule.
Harshavardhana is well known for his religious toleration, able administration and diplomatic
relations. This gives him a position among the other monarchs of the later period whose role
in the construction of the Indian history is significant .
Harshavardhana maintained diplomatic relations with China and sent envoys who exchanged
ideas of the Chinese rulers and developed their knowledge about each other.
Harshavardhanan was a Hindu, but he maintained and impartial toleration towards the other
religions, especially Buddhism which at that time was the religion of the common masses.
Following the path set by Ashoka he bestowed and supported kindness towards animals along
with honouring the Hindu gods, and showed respect to the Brahmanas. Inter religious
assemblies organised at Kannauj and Prayag portrays the religious attitude of
Harshavardhana. Besides favouring religious sentiments he also had a strong perception
To honour Huien Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who was extraordinary with his ideas about
Buddhist teaching and his romance of adventure to the holy land of Buddha, Harshavardhana
organised the Kannauj Assembly in 643 AD. this was a grand assembly of many rajas
including King Bhaskaravarman of Kamrupa (Assam) and the Vallabhi king Dhuvabhatti.
The Assembly at Kannauj included a large congregation of Brahmans, Buddhist monks ands
Jains, who were involved in religious discourses. The image of Buddha was installed and
royal treasures were distributed. From Kannauj, Hieun Tsang the royal the royal guest was
carried to Prayaga (Allahabad) on the banks of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. The
ceremonies lasted for about two months during which tributes were offered to the Buddha.
This assembly was the sixth held at Allahabad, others regularly performed by
Harshavardhana though through the simple distribution of alms to the poor. Harshavardhana
developed a strong favour towards Mahayana Buddhism after his relation with Hiuem Tsang.
During the rule of Harsha, Kannauj flourished immensely outdoing the grandeurs of
Patilaputra, situated on the Ganges. this ancient town was transformed into a well fortified
city with well planned buildings beautiful gardens and tanks. numerous Buddhist monasteries
and Brahmanical temples were erected. The inhabitants of the city were wealthy and lead a
standard style of life.
Harshavardhana's efficient administration was owing to his personal supervision of his
extensive empire. Regular inspections through an organised civil service and a council of
ministers. Penal code was severe with punishments extending to mutations and banishments.
Land revenue was fixed at one sixth of the production from the land. Many of the provinces
were governed by Rajas.
Harshavardhana's character can be said to be a fusion of the attributes of Samudragupta, in
his military conquests and Ashoka in his religious toleration and statesmanship. He was also
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a scholar and a poet. He was also the last Hindu emperor of Northern India. Harshavardhana
died in about 647 AD. After his death there was disorder in Northern India. During the period
from the death of Harshavardhana to the conquest of the Muslims Indian history circles
around numerous kingdoms in the north and south. The territories of Harsha was parceled
among various rulers.
Narasinghavarman, the Pallava King of Kanchi, became the sovereign power in the
peninsula. King Bhaskravarman of Assam annexed the territories formerly under
PERIOD FROM (647 A.D. TO 1200 A.D. )
The history of the Kingdom of Kannauj after the death of Harshavardhana can be said to have
been uncertain till the year 730 AD, when Yashovarman is said to have ruled till 752AD.
This was followed by the Ayudha dynasty which comprised three kings. The first was
Yajrayudha who is said to have (accee) ruled in about 770AD. He was defeated by Jayapida
Vinayaditya of Kashmir who ruled from (779 to 810 AD). The next ruler was Chakrayudha.
The influence of the Rashtrakutas increased gradually in the north. Kannauj was annexed by
a new class of rulers called the Prathiharas.
The Pratiharas were one of the thirty six clans of the Rajputs. They are said to have come to
India during the invasion of the Huns and settled in the Punjab Rajputana region. They
advanced to the Aravalli region and advanced till Ujjain. Harichandra, a brahmin is said to
have laid the foundation of this dynasty in the 6th century AD near Jodhpur.
The Pratiharas were said to be from the Agnikula family. Harichandra had two wives one of
whom was a Brahmin and the other was a Kshatriyas. A branch of the Pratiharas who ruled in
the (Jodhpur) Gurjaratra was known as Gurjara.
Nagabhatta I was the first ruler of the Pratiharas who ruled from (730-756AD) over Broach
and Jodhpur, and extended his dominion till Gwalior. He is also well known for repulsing the
invasion of the Melcchas, Arabs of Sind to the east and checking their expansion.
Nagabhatta I was succeeded by two weak successors. They were succeeded by Vatsraja from
(775-800AD). He was an ambitious ruler who desired to dominate the whole of North India.
His intention to control Kannauj brought him into conflict with the Pala ruler Dharampala.
When he waged a war with the Rashtrakuta ruler Dhurva and was defeated. He died in
Vatsraja was succeeded by Nagabhatta II who ruled from (805-833AD) with his able military
capability and administrator ship. The internal problems among the Rashtrakutas helped his
victory over rulers of Andhra, Sindhu, Vidharba and Kalinga. He also attacked Kannauj and
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occupied it. He also checked the Muslim advancement in the west and defeated the Matsayas
in the north. He also defeated the Vatsas.
The Pala ruler Dharmapala who's father was defeated by Nagabhatta's father sought revenge.
Thus started an allied struggle against Dharmapala assisted by the ruler of Jodhpur, Kalhiwar
and Mewar. Dharmapala was defeated and his territories up to Bihar were annexed.
Nagabhatta had to fight Govinda III who was supported by the vanquished Dharmapala and
in 809AD Nagabhatta was defeated. He then diverted his attention away from the Rashtrakuta
authority. He was succeeded by an incapable successor Rambhadra.
Rambhadra was succeeded by Mihirbhoj who ruled from 840 to 890 AD. His period of rule
was divided into two parts. In the first period of his reign he suffered losses and defeats. The
second period marks a period of his regaining of his lost prestige and position. His
expansionist policy in the east was checked by the ruler of Bengal Devapala. Mihirbhojs idea
of taking advantage of the internal conflict of the Rashtrakutas in the south did not succeed .
His defeat made him weak and some of his subordinates declared independence.
After the death of Devapala , and because of the weak successors after him, Mihirbhoj
established himself in the east. With no resistance from the Rashtrakuta ruler he defeated the
Pala King Narayanapala and expanded his territory to the west. After defeating the
Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II he expanded towards Malwa and Kathiawar. KrishnaII avenged
his defeat against Mihirbhoj near Ujjain. He thus carved out a large empire for himself with
many rulers accepting his supremacy.He was succeeded by his son Mahendrapala I who ruled
from (885 AD to 910 AD).
Mahendrapala I successfully maintained the territories he inherited besides adding to it parts
of North Bengal, Magadha, and western Assam. Mahendrapala was succeeded by Bhoja II he
was overthrown by Mahipala, who ruled from 912 to 914. This was the period when the
Rashtrakuta power was on the rise. The weak position of Mahipala was taken as an
opportunity by the Chandelas, the Chedis and the Paramaras who declared themselves
independent. After the attack by Indra II of the Rashtrakuta Kingdom, the Kingdom of the
Pratiharas were divided into various principalities. Gujarat was under the Chalukyas, Gwalior
was under the Kachhaghals, the Kalachuris ruler over central India. The Chandelas ruled over
Jajakabhukti and the Paramaras ruled over Malwa. The process of the disintegration of the
Pratihara empire continued , by the 10th Century AD the empire shrunk into a small
kingdom. In 1018AD when Mahmud Ghaznavi invaded Kannauj the ruler Rajapala decided
not to face him but fled the city. This caused resentment in the Chandela ruler Gauda, who
sent his son Vidydhar to invade Kannauj. He defeated and killed Rajyapala but placed
Trilochanpala Rajyapala's son on the throne. The last ruler of the dynasty was Jasapala who
ruled up to 1036 AD before Pratihara dynasty came to an end. Contemporary to the Pratiharas
were the Palas and Senas of Bengal.
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Before the coming of the Palas to power in Bengal, and after the death of Sasanka Bengal
reflected a picture of disorder. The pala dynasty was founded by Gopala in about 750AD. His
ruler lasted for about 25 years. The dynasty remained in power for about 300 years Gopala
was succeeded by Dharma Pala in 775 and ruled till 810AD. He had inherited a consolidated
kingdom, but to keep his supremacy he had to fight both the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas.
Both these powers managed to suppress Dharmapala ,but owing to differences among them
Dharmapala took advantage of this. In a war with Nagabhatta II, Dharamapala was defeated.
Dharmapala was a good administrator had contributed to change Bengal into a prestigious
and prosperous empire. Devpala succeeded Dharamapala and ruled for about 40 years. After
ascending the throne he fought against the Pratiharas and spread his kingdom upto the
Himalayan region in the north the Vindhyas in the south.
The Pratiharas and Rastrakutas failed to check the advancement of Devapala. He was known
for his diplomatic skill which he pursued to maintain his over lordship in areas which could
not be conquered. The role of Bengal in the North Indian politics was very significant during
this period. Devapala was succeeded by Mahipala I. He ruled form 988 to 1033 AD. He is
said to be the founder of the second Pala kingdom. The immediate successors of Devapala
were weak and incompetent. Thus for a period of forty years there was chaos in Bengal.
Mahipala I had to rebuilt their empire. Even their homeland Bengal had to be recovered.
The Palas were in power for about 400 years. During this period their rulers proved their
capable administration, military skill, and capacity to protect North India from the onslaught
of the Pratiharas and Rastrakutas. The rulers also had shone religious toleration towards
Buddhist art, literature and learning. Bengali art, literature and paintings flourished under the
royal patronage of the rulers of the Pala dynasty.
After the fall of the Palas, the Senas came to prominence in Bengal. They are said to have
been from the Brahmana Kshatriya caste. They are said to have originally come from
Karnataka in South India. Having settled in Northern Orissa they gradually extended their
kingdom to the North. Samantsena was the founder of this dynasty. He was succeeded by
Hemant Sena who could not consolidate his position in Bengal.
Vijayasena succeeded Hemantasena and ruled from (1095-1158). In his rule of sixty years he
defeated the Palas and brought almost the whole of Bengal under control. He concluded an
alliance with Kalinga and defeated the rulers of Kotatavi and Kausambi., Govinda Chandra
the ruler of Kannauj and Nangadeva, the ruler of Methila. The last Pala ruler Madanapala was
also defeated by him. After defeating Bhoja Varman he annexed the territories of East Bengal
thus bringing the whole of Bengal under his rule. Bihar too came under his dominion after the
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defeat of Madanapala the last Pala ruler. Vijayasena was an able administrator who was an
ardent supporter of peace and prosperity. Besides bring economic prosperity he also
promoted art and literature. Vijayasena was succeeded by his son Balalsena who ruled from
1158 to 1178 AD. Having inherited a consolidated empire he devoted most of his time to
stabilizing and maintaining peace. He is also said to have added parts of Bihar and Mithila to
the Sena Empire. He is also known for reorganizing the caste system in Bengal. He also was
a reputed scholar and author of his times and is famous for his two works Dansegara and
Lakhmanasena was the next successor to the Sena throne, who ruled from 1179 to 1205AD.
Despite his old age of sixty when he succeeded to the throne he had proved to be a great
warrior and had led to the subjection of Kamarupa, defeat of the Gahadavale King of
Kannauj. Even after coming to the throne of the Sena Kingdom he defeated the ruler of
Kannauj. Jaya Chandra, brought large parts of Bihar under his control and also resisted of
Kalachuris. At the later stages of his rule his kingdom began to disintegrate with some nobles
and chiefs declaring themselves independent in South and East Bengal. During this period,
Bengal was invaded by Muhammad-bin-Bakhtya Khilji. Lakshmansena was defeated and had
to flee. He died in 1205AD. After his death his successors could not resist the onslaught of
the Muslim invaders after the later half of the thirteenth century.
The Senas had given political stability to Bengal after the fall of the Palas. Hinduism is also
said to have flourished during their rule. With the development of Sanskrit literature, eminent
poets like Jayadeva the author of the Gita Govinda were patronised during the rule of the
The Chauhans were a clan of the Rajputs. They are said to have ruled from 700AD upto
1200AD over parts of Rajasthan near Ajmer. The founder of this dynasty was Vasudeva. The
influence of the Pratiharas upon this dynasty had made them subordinates are reduced them
to a feudatory. In the 9th century AD Vakpatiraja, a ruler of the Chauhans caused a change in
the supremacy of the Pratiharas. He established the independent status of the dynasty and
paved the way for further glory.
His name in the history of the Chauhans is well known for defeating the successors of
Mahmud Ghaznavi and occupying the whole of Delhi, Bundelkhand and a part of Punjab. He
was murdered by his son Jagdeva. Jagdeva was murdered by his younger brother Vigraharaja
IV. He is said to have ruled in the middle of the 12th century. Vigraharaja IV was said to be a
brave and powerful ruler, who had fought many battles against both the Muslims and the
Hindus rulers. He brought territories of Delhi and Jhansi, Punjab, Rajputana and Western UP
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under his rule. He resisted the advance of the Muslims in India. He was a good administrator
too, besides being a patron of art and literature and also assisted the promotion of education.
Political instability befell the dynasty after Vigraharaja IV. He was succeeded by his son
Apara Gangeya who was killed by his own cousin Prithvi Raj II. He was followed by
Somadeva who was succeeded by Rai Pithora most commonly known as Prithvi Raj
Chauhan. He was one of the most celebrated rulers of the Chauhans. He ruled from 1179-
1192AD. The first task of Prithvi Raj Chauhan was to consolidate his position. Mohammed
Ghori who had annexed western Punjab posed a serious threat to his rule. Besides this the
internal strife and jealousy among the Rajput princes added to the difficulties of Prithvi Raj
Chauhan. Prithvi Raj Chauhan extended the boundaries of his kingdom by conquests. He
defeated the Chandelas and conquered the territory of Bundelkhand. Mohammed Ghori
proposed a peace treaty of Prithvi Raj Chauhan while invading other parts of the country. His
expansionist policy had developed several enemies who posed serious threat to his kingdom.
The important battles which Prithvi Raj Chauhan were;
First Battle of Tarain (1191)
This battle was fought by Prithvi Raj Chauhan to stop Mohammed Ghori's entry into India. In
this battle he defeated Mohammed Ghori.
Second Battle of Tarain (1192)
This was the battle which sealed the fate of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. In this battle of Prithvi Raj
Chauhan was defeated and killed. With the end of Prithvi Raj Chauhan the dynasty of the
Chauhans also came to an end.