Dynasties in North India

Maitrakas of Valabhi

  • Maitrakas were one of the subordinates of Guptas and ruled over parts of Gujarat.
  • During the time of king Guhasena, Maitrakas were ruling as an independent power.
  • Hiuen Tsang refers to a king Shiladitya of this dynasty in very high esteem and praised him for great administrative ability, kindness and compassion.
  • Hiuen Tsang mentions that Shiladitya built an extremely artistic Buddhist temple and held every year a great religious assembly to which Buddhists were summoned.

Maukharis of Kannauj

  • They ruled over the region of western Ganges plains around Kannauj.
  • Originally, they were tributary rulers who established an independent kingdom.
  • Maukhari is the name of a very ancient family or clan. There are references to them in Patanjali’s work and in other early documents.

Pushyabhuti or Vardhana Dynasty

  • Harshvardhan was one of the most important Indian emperors (Pushyabhuti dynasty until he was defeated by a South Indian ruler Pulakeshin II) of the 7th Century. His rule was renowned for peace, stability and prosperity, and attracted many artists and scholars from far and wide. 
  • Harshvardhan ruled over the entire North India from 606 to 647 CE. 
  • There was no slavery in his empire and people were free to lead their life according to their wish. His empire also took good care of the poor by building rest houses that provided all the amenities required.
  • He did not impose heavy taxes on his people and the economy was somewhat self-sufficient.
  • The famous Chinese monk and traveller Xuan Zang spent eight years in his empire.
  • He even sent an Indian mission to China, establishing a diplomatic relationship between India and China.
  • A famous Indian writer and poet named Banabhatta served as the ‘Asthana Kavi’ (primary poet of the kingdom) in the court of Harshavardhana. The emperor himself was a skilled writer as he had penned down three Sanskrit plays, namely ‘Ratnavali’, ‘Priyadarsika’ and ‘Nagananda.’ 
  • Harshavardhana’s kingdom was one of the earliest Indian kingdoms where we can see the practice of feudalism. Independent rulers, collectively known as ‘Mahasamantas,’ paid tribute to Harshavardhana and helped him by supplying military reinforcements.
  • He also organized a religious assembly called ‘Moksha.’ It was organized once in every five years. Harshavardhana was also renowned for organizing a grand Buddhist convocation in 643 CE.

Varman Dynasty

  • Varman Dynasty was the first historical dynasty of Kamarupa region (Present Day Assam and some parts of North-East India).
  • It was established by Pushyavarman, contemporary of Samudragupta. According to Allahabad Prashasti of Samudragupta, the Kamarupa was a frontier state of the great Gupta emperor.
  • Varmans in their early days were subordinates to Gupta dynasty. However, with waning of power of Guptas, they attained sovereignty.
  • The capital of Varman dynasty was in Pragjyotishpura. (A region with modern Guwahati).
  • Brahmaputra River was known as Lauhitya in those days.
  • Varman dynasty was followed by Mlechchha dynasty.

About Bhaskarvarman

  • Bhaskarvarman was the most famous king of the Varman Dynasty. He was a contemporary of Harshavardhana.
  • Hieun-Tsang visited Bhaskarvarman’s kingdom.
  • He defeated King Sasanka of Gaur (Northern Bengal) and captured its capital at Karnasuvarna (currently in Murshidabad district of West Bengal). On this occasion Bhaskarvarman, issued the famous Nidhanpur Grants. These were land grants made to Brahmins by King Bhaskarvarman.
  • He introduced an Assamese Calendar known as Bhaskarabda era.


  • Founder of Pala dynasty was Gopala who was elected to rule Bengal following the end of Gauda Kingdom. They also conquered parts of Assam and Odisha.
  • Nalanda, an ancient study centre was revived under Dharmapala (780-815 AD). He also founded the Vikramashila university. Khalimpur inscription provides information about his reign.
  • Cultural Contribution: Dharampala built the famous Buddhists vihara i.e., Somapura Mahavira in Paharpur. A distinctive style of sculpture flourished in Pala rule in terracotta and blackstone. The universities of Odantapura and Vikramshila were founded by them.
  • Literary Contribution: A literary style known as ‘gaudiriti’ developed in Sanskrit literature. Sudhakar Nandi composed ‘Ramacharita’ wherein each verse had two meanings, one the story of Ramayana and other history of Ramapala of Pala dynasty. Vernacular Bengali language developed during this time. ‘Charyapadas’ which are origin of Bengali is attributed to Buddhist monks of Pala times.
  • They were followers of Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism & introduced Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet, Bhutan and Myanmar. Shailendra dynasty of Java sent embassies to the Palas.
  • Palas were followed by Sena Dynasty in Bengal, Karnat Dynasty in Bihar.

Art & Culture of Pala

After the end of Gupta empire, many regional styles started to develop in Indian art. In Bengal, the Pala period introduced a new school of art, which developed its own characteristics and continued for a few centuries. It was practiced in a large area spanning modern Bengal, Bihar and parts of Assam. This new school of art is called Eastern Indian School of Medieval Art or simply Pala School of Art. Pala rulers were devout Buddhists.

Gurjara Pratiharas

  • Founder of this dynasty was Harishchandra. They were called ‘Al-Jurz’ by the Arabs. They ruled much of Northern India from mid-8th to 11th century.
  • Their first capital was at Bhilmal near Mount Abu, later they ruled from Ujjain and Kannauj.
  • Important rulers of this dynasty include Nagabhatta II and Bhoja (also known as Mihir Bhoja).
  • Bhoja was devotee of Vishnu, took title of Adi Varaha.

Eastern Gangas

  • They ruled the area of Kalinga during the 11th to 15th century, with its capital at Kalinga Nagar.
  • The founder of this dynasty was Anantavarmana.
  • King Narasimhadeva built Konark temple at Odisha.

Chaulukyas or Solankis

  • Dynasty was established by one chief named Mularaja who reigned from 942 to 996 AD.
  • Solankis was a Hindu dynasty with its capital at Anhilwara which is now Sidhpur Patan.
  • Solankis were patrons of the Somnath Temple. They also built the famous sun temple at Modhera.
  • One important ruler of this dynasty was Bhimdev I who reign saw the attack from Mahmud Ghaznavi on the Somnath temple.
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