History Files


Far East Kingdoms

South Asia




Pahlavas / Indo-Parthians

FeatureThe expansion of the Kushans was checked by the Indo-Parthians, or Pahlavas, who had their origins in Persia. Gondophares was a vassal of the Parthian Arsacids, and it was he who declared his independence from them and ventured eastwards to establish his own kingdom in present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India, sharing domination of the region with the Indo-Scythians. Their arrival, though, seems to have taken the prize of Kashmir from Indo-Scythian hands. Information, and especially dating, for the Pahlavas is hard to come by, some of it being provided by numismatic evidence only, so the dating used is approximate.

(Additional information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha, and from Foreign Impact on Indian Life and Culture (c.326 BC to c.300 AD), Satyendra Nath Naskar.)

c.AD 10

The Indo-Greek kingdom disappears under Indo-Scythian pressure. It seems to be Rajuvula, kshatrapa of Mathura, who invades what is virtually the last free Indo-Greek territory in the eastern Punjab, and kills the Greek ruler, Strato II and his son. Pockets of Greek population probably remain for some centuries under the subsequent rule of the Kushans and Indo-Parthians. By now the Parthians already seem to have captured Kashmir from the Indo-Scythians, relieving them of an important prize.

c.AD 20 - 50


Parthian vassal who declared independence.


Gondophares ventures east and establishes an independent Indo-Parthian kingdom in Afghanistan. It would seem to be during this period that he briefly holds power over the diminished Sakas, counting Kshatrapa Sodasa of Mathura as a vassal.

Gondophares Pahlava coin
A Gondophares coin showing the Greek goddess Nike, and legends in both Greek and Kharoshthi

c.30 - 80

The Kushan ruler, Kadphises, subdues the Indo-Scythians and establishes his kingdom in Bactria and the valley of the River Oxus (the Amu Darya). This means defeating the Indo-Parthians and successfully recapturing the main areas of their kingdom, which include Gandhara. The Pahlavas survive in northern India and Pakistan, mainly Sakastan (former Saka territory) and Arachosia.

c.50 - 65

Abdagases I


fl c.60


fl c.70


fl c.70

Orthagnes / Orthagnes-Gadana

fl c.77



fl c.85

Sases / Gondophares-Sases

fl c.90

Abdagases II


The neighbouring Kushans capture former Indo-Greek Arachosia from the Indo-Parthians.

c.100 - 135

Pacores / Pakores


Pacores is the last king with any real power. One more Indo-Parthian king follows him but in diminished circumstances, and virtually unknown to history.


Known from numismatic evidence only.


By this date, if not before, the last Indo-Parthians are conquered by the Kushans. Indo-Parthians also remain in some of the areas that they have conquered in the past. Around this time, Rudradaman I of the Western Kshatrapas divides his empire into provinces so that they are easier to administer. The Girnar records show that an Indo-Parthian amatya (governor) by the name of Suvisakha is placed in charge of the administration of Ananta-Surastra.