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Royal Dynasties in India

Magadha Dynasty (684 BC-320BC)

  • Magadha formed one of the 16 kingdoms in ancient India. The kingdom of the Magadha was bounded on the west by the river Sone, on the south by the Vindhya Mountains, on the east by the river Champa and on the north by the river Ganges.
  • Buddhism and Jainism were founded in Magadha Empire. Two of India's greatest empires, the Gupta Empire and Maurya Empire originated from Magadha.
  • In 600 BC, the Magadha Empire was founded by the Haryanka dynasty. This dynasty was overthrown by the Shishunaga dynasty in 424 BC.

Maurya Dynasty (322-185 BCE)

  • Ancient India was ruled by the Maurya Dynasty from 322–185 BCE. Chandragupta Maurya founded the Empire in 322 BCE after overthrowing the Nanda Dynasty.
  • The Maurya Empire was the biggest ever in the Indian subcontinent. At its peak, the empire stretched to the west into Baluchistan, to the east into Assam, to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan. The Empire was dissolved in 185 BCE with the establishment of the Sunga Dynasty.
  • Prominent rulers of Maurya dynasty were Chandragupta Maurya, Bindusara, Ashoka the great, Dasaratha, Satadhanvan and Brihadratha.
Chola Dynasty (300 BC-1250)
  • Chola dynasty was among the longest ruling dynasties in southern India which ruled from 300 BC to 1250 AD. The Chola Dynasty ruled Tamilnadu, Patna, Bihar, Bengal & Srilanka. At the start of the 13th century, the dynasty began to decline with the rise of the Pandyan Dynasty that eventually caused their downfall.
  • The Chola Kings built temples not just as venues of worship but also as hub of economic activity. They built huge stone temple complexes and sculptures of the Hindu gods. The Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram, the temple of Gangaikondacholisvaram and the Brihadisvara Temple, were declared as World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.
  • The Cholas excelled in literature, music, religion and art. They developed many languages like Telugu, Kannada and Tamil from Sanskrit.
  • The Cholas were the followers of Hinduism. They built their most important and largest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
  • Prominent kings of Chola dynasty were Vijayalaya, Aditya-I, Rajraja Chola, Rajendra Chola, Vira Rajendra, Kulottunga – I and Vikrama Chola.

Satavahana Dynasty (230 BCE-220 CE)

  • Simuka founded of the Satavahana Dynasty in 230 BCE. The territory of the Satavahana Dynasty covered much of India from 230 BCE to 220 CE.
  • Satakarni was the 6th ruler of the Satavahana. He ruled for 56 years.
  • South-East Asia was influenced to a great extent by the Satavahanas who spread Hindu religion, language and culture into that part of the world.
  • Contributions of the Satavahana rulers to Buddhist architecture and art are also remarkable.
  • The Empire was split into smaller states in the 3rd century CE and around the middle of the 3rd century, the dynasty ended. Yajna Satakarni was the last great king of this dynasty,

Kushan Dynasty (30-375)

  • The Kushans spread from the Kabul River Valley and reached their peak under the Buddhist emperor Kanishka.
  • A road from Gandhara to China was constructed which was under Kushan control for over 100 years. The security provided by the Kushans promoted travel across the Khunjerab Pass and helped the spread of Buddhism to China.
  • The Kushans Gradually expanded south into the Pakistan's Potohar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region and going in an arc to include Kabul and part of Qandahar and established twin capitals near Kabul and Peshawar.
  • Vima Kadphises, the great Kushan emperor embraced Hinduism.
  • At their peak, the Kushans ruled a region which extended from Uzbekistan, to northern India through Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Kujula Kadphises laid the foundation for the Kushan Empire that was expanded by his successors.
  • Kanishka I built the massive Qila Mubarak in Bathinda, Indian Punjab.
  • Vasudeva I was the last great Kushan emperor.
  • Most of the Kushans were Buddhist. They built Monasteries along land routes from China to other parts of Asia. A new written language called Gandhara was created. The culture and art of Gandhara are the expressions of Kushan influences to Westerners.
  • The Western Kushans were conquered and replaced by the Persians in 248. The Eastern Kushan kingdom was conquered by the Gupta Empire in the mid-4th century.
  • Prominent Kushan rulers were Vasudeva II, Kanishka III, Vashishka, Kanishka II, Vasudeva I, Huvishka, Vasishka, Kanishka I and Vima Kadphises.

Gupta Dynasty (320-550)

  • Gupta Dynasty was established in 320 and disestablished in 550. This period was the Golden Age of India and saw extensive discoveries and inventions which formed elements of Hindu culture.
  • Chandra Gupta II, Samudra Gupta and Chandra Gupta I were the most remarkable kings of the Gupta dynasty.
  • The empire steadily declined due to many factors. King Vishnugupta, who ruled from 540 to 550, is the last recognized ruler of the Gupta dynasty.
  • The Gupta Empire was the strongest empire in the world during the reign of Chandragupta II who controlled the entire Indian subcontinent.
  • Literature and Sanskrit language flourished during the Gupta Age.
  • Some of India’s most wonderful and the best works of art belong to the Gupta Dynasty. The Udaygiri Varaha Cave, the Deogarh Dashavatara Temple panels, the Sarnath Buddha and the famous cave paintings at Ajanta are some amazing constructions of the Gupta age.

Koravi Dynasty

  • Koravi is a clan living in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Deccan region. Presently they are Lingayats and other castes.
  • After the decline of the Suryavanshi Kingdom, the surviving people migrated to different locations. Vijayasurtha (Prasanajit) and his family migrated to Saurashtra. He visited various cities. One day he arrived at an unidentified island. He lived in that island and named it as Gajapuri. People started living in that island and selected him as the king.
  • After his death, his second son, Surathi became the king. This annoyed his eldest son, Marasjit who connived with the Chief of Navy and killed Surathi.
  • Many foreign invaders attacked India and created several kingdoms. Since people were tortured, they migrated to Vijayanagara.
  • Ravi clan people spread all over India.

Pallava Dynasty (4th to 9th century)

  • Pallavas married with princesses of the Andhra Dynasty and inherited a part of Southern Andhra Pradesh.
  • Simhavishnu, the Pallava King, captured the Chola country. At different periods of time, the Pallavas were at odds with major kingdoms. A tussle for political hegemony existed between the Kadambas and the early Pallavas.
  • The official languages of the dynasty were Sanskrit or Prakrit and the official script was Pallava grantha. A unique form of Southern Brahmi script developed under the Pallava dynasty.
  • Pallavas were followers of Hinduism.
  • The Pallavas were involved in the changeover from rock-cut architecture to stone temples. The rock-cut temples at Mahabalipuram are the greatest accomplishments of the Pallava architecture.
  • Vijaya-Nripatungavarman was the last Pallava King.
  • Prominent rulers of Pallavas dynasty were Mahendravarman I, Narasimhavarman I, Nandivarman I, Simhavishnu and Paramesvaravarma I.

Chalukya Dynasty

  • The Chalukya Dynasty was an Indian dynasty which ruled large parts of central and southern India from 6th to 8th & 10th to 12th century.
  • Chalukyas who ruled from Badami were the Western Chalukyas, those who ruled from Kalyani are called Later Western Chalukyas and the Chalukyas who ruled from Vengi are known as the Eastern Chalukyas.
  • Kirtivarman II was the last king of the Badami Dynasty. Somesvara IV was the last king of the Kalyani Dynasty. During his rule, the Kalyani Dynasty collapsed. Vijayaditya VII was the last emperor of the Vengi Dynasty.
  • Vikramaditya II built the Mallikarjuna Temple (Trilokeshwara temple) and the Virupaksha Temple. These 2 monuments are the UNESCO World Heritage Monuments.
  • The rule of the Western Chalukyas is a major event in the history of Kannada literature and the rule of the Eastern Chalukyas is a major event in the history of Telugu literature.
  • The Badami kings were followers of Hinduism. Jainism was also a prominent religion. Some of the chalukya kings were Jains.
  • Prominent kings of Chalukya dynasty were Pulakesi II and Kirtivarman II.

Kalachuri Dynasty (550-620)

  • The earliest known Kalachuris ruled over western Deccan, Malwa and northern Maharashtra from 550 to 620. They were followers of Hinduism. They built many caves at Ellora and Elephanta. Both Ellora and Elephanta are World Heritage Sites.
  • The Southern Kalachuris ruled parts of Maharashtra and parts of the Deccan from 1130 to 1184
  • The Northern Kalachuris ruled in central India from 8th century to 13th century.

Northern Dynasty

First dynasty

  • Kokalla I was the founder of the dynasty. These Kalachuris set up their kingdom in Madhya Pradesh.

Second dynasty

  • Laksm Karna of Kalachuri dynasty of Tripuri captured Gorakhpur. But Yash Karna, his son and successor could not stop the disintegration of the dynasty which culminated by the victory of Shihab-uddin Ghauri.

Southern Dynasty

  • In the south the early Kalachuris were Jains. Uchita was the first prominent chief of the Kalachuri family. There were many kings who followed him.

Decline of Kalachuris

  • During the 7th century, although the earliest Kalachuri dynasties declined with the ascent of the Badami Chalukyas, the Kalachuris remained until a much later date. The Kalachuri Dynasty was ended by Western Chalukyas. A lot of Kalachuri families migrated to Karnataka.

Vardhan Dynasty (580-647)

  • Prabhakar Vardhan was the founder of the Vardhan Dynasty.
  • Harsha Vardhan was the son of Prabhakar Vardhan. He ruled northern India from 606 to 647. At the peak of his power, his kingdom spanned the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada River, Orissa, Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan and the Punjab. In northern India, the past glory of the Gupta Empire was revived during 40 years of his reign.
  • Harsha built Rest-Houses which provided medicine, food and drink. He constructed many stupas in the name of Buddha. Harsha was a patron of literature and art. He himself was a prolific writer.
  • Harsha was a Mahayana Buddhist. He was a tolerant king and he supported all Indic faiths – Jainism, Vedism and Buddhism.
  • The first ever diplomatic relations between India and China were established in 641, when Harsha sent a mission to China.
  • Harsha died in 647. After his death the kingdom disintegrated into small states.

Shashanka Dynasty (600-625)

  • Shashanka created the first ever separate political unit in a united Bengal. He ruled from 600 to 625.
  • Shashanka bravely faced frequent attacks from Harsha.
  • By the end of his rule, his kingdom domain stretched from Vanga to Bhuvanesha while in the east, his kingdom bordered Kamarupa.

Pala Dynasty (750-1174)

  • A Buddhist imperial power in Classical India was called the Pala Dynasty because all rulers had names ending with the suffix -Pala.
  • The Palas progressed in the Bihar-Bengal region. They built several wonderful works of art and temples, including the Somapura Mahavihara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The first ruler from the dynasty, Gopala, was elected during the 750s. Devapala was the most powerful Pala ruler. Under Dharmapala's rule, the Pala Empire extended considerably. In addition to Bengal, he directly ruled Bihar. Vast region in North India conquered by the Palas could not be retained for long due to constant hostility from the Rashtrakutas, the Gurjara-Pratiharas, and other kings. The Sena dynasty replaced the Pala dynasty.
  • The Palas followed Buddhism. The Buddhist centers of learning like the Nalanda and the Vikramashila universities were developed by the Palas.
  • During the Pala rule, the Gauda riti style of composition was developed. A number of Buddhist Tantric works were translated and authored.
  • The Palas constructed many monasteries and other sacred structures. The Somapura Mahavihara in Bangladesh is a World Heritage Site.
  • The art of Bengal and Bihar during the Sena and Pala dynasties influenced the art of Java, Sri Lanka, Burma and Nepal.
  • Prominent rulers of Pala dynasty were Gopala I, Dharmapala, Devapala, Narayanapala, Rajyapala, Vigrahapala II, Mahipala I, Gopala II, Vigrahapala III and Ramapala Madanapala.