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Vardhan Dynasty

  • In the middle of the 6th century after the downfall of the Gupta Empire, small independent kingdoms in North India were formed. One of them was the Vardhan Dynasty. Prabhakar Vardhan was the founder of the Vardhan Dynasty. He was the first king of the dynasty. His capital was at Thanesar which is in the state of Haryana. Prabhakar Vardhan had two sons, Rajya Vardhan and Harsha Vardhan and one daughter, Rajyasree. Prabhakar Vardhan was succeeded by his son Rajya Vardhan. But, soon he was murdered by the enemies and after that Harsha Vardhan became the king in 606 and ruled up to 647.
  • Rajya Vardhan’s and Harsha Vardhan’s sister Rajyashri married to Grahavarman, the Maukhari king. Some years later he was defeated and killed by Malwa’s King Deva Gupta and Rajyasri was imprisoned after the death of her husband. Rajya Vardhan, Harsha's brother, could not tolerate this affront on his family and decided to take revenge. He marched against Deva Gupta and defeated him. But king of Gauda in Eastern Bengal, Shashanka, entered Magadha pretending as a friend of Rajya Vardhan, but he allied with the Malwa king and treacherously murdered Rajya Vardhan.
  • When Harsha Vardhan came to know about the murder of his brother, he fought against the treacherous king of Gauda, Deva Gupta and killed him. When Harsha Vardhan ascended the throne, he was 16 years of age.

Reign of Harsha Vardhan

  • Harsha Vardhan belonged to Pushyabhuti Dynasty. He 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. When Harsha tried to expand his Empire into southern peninsula of India, he was defeated by the south Indian Emperor Pulakesi II of the Chalukya dynasty.
  • In northern India, the past glory of the Gupta Empire was revived during 40 years of his reign. The economy of northern India flourished during his reign and his capital Kanauj became the trading hub. His administration was similar to the Gupta Empire. There was no forced labour and everybody was busy with his own affairs. Harsha built Rest-Houses which provided medicine, food and drink. Harsha continually travelled up and down to see how the people were ruled in his Empire. The officials were paid regularly and merchants travelled freely in his Empire. One-sixth of the land produce was charged as land revenue.

Contacts with China

  • Harsha maintained cordial diplomatic relations with China, which was ruled by Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty.