History Files
 

 

Far East Kingdoms

South Asia

 

 

 

FeatureIndia

FeatureIndia has been inhabited since about 60,000 BC - one of the earliest locations to be permanently inhabited by hunter-gatherers who had emerged from Africa around 10,000 years before. That hunter-gatherer culture continued in the rich, verdant and extremely fertile country of the sub-continent until the first permanent settlements emerged in around 7000 BC in the Indus river valley, such as at Mergarh, in modern Baluchistan.

Those settlements developed into the Indus Valley culture, but while this provided an early flowering of culture in north-western India in the third millennium BC, its demise in about 1700 BC left South Asia without an urban culture until small cities emerged in the east, in the Ganges valley and northern India.

At around the same time, by 1500 BC, new peoples began to filter into India from the north-west, from the direction of modern Afghanistan, displacing or mixing with the native Elamo-Dravidian peoples. These were Indo-Europeans, originally from Central Asia, and the Black Desert region of modern Turkmenistan in particular, who had been forced to move from around 2000 BC by the same climate change which brought the Indus Valley culture to an end. This specific group called themselves Aryans (the 'civilised' or 'respectable'), presumably in reaction to the apparently barbarous people they encountered. They shared a common language base with the other Indo-European groups which were spreading west and south from the Caucasus and Russian Steppes and which later form the basis of languages such as Greek, Persian, and Latin. Even by the eighteenth century AD, similarities between the languages, which in India emerged as Sanskrit, could easily be spotted by philologists. The earliest Sanskrit texts, the Vedas (and in particular, the Rig Veda) chart an Indo-European migration from Afghanistan (where rivers with recognisable names are mentioned) into north-western India, notably Peshawar, where they settled along the Indus Valley, the river which gave India its name.

(Additional details on the migration of the Indo-Europeans into India from the BBC series, The Story of India, by Michael Wood, first broadcast between August-September 2007.)

c.1500 BC

The first signs of Indo-European culture emerges between Peshawar and the Ganges Plain. The latter region, in modern Bihar, witnesses the first and greatest of Indian kingdoms, that of Magadha.

Ganges Delta
The Ganges Plain saw the rise of the first northern Indian kingdoms

Kingdom of Magadha

This was one of the first kingdoms to be founded by the newly arrived Indo-European Aryans in India after 1500 BC. The heart of the early Aryan territory was the region of Peshawar in modern Pakistan, but the Magadhas may have been amongst the first to venture further eastwards. Centered on the Ganges Plain, in modern Bihar, their kingdom was one of the sixteen 'Great Countries' or regions (Mahājanapadas, in Sanskrit). The kingdom later spread out to encompass much of India during an era of heroic warfare which came to be crystallised as the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. The first capital was Rajagaha (modern Rajgir) before being transferred to Pataliputra (modern Patna).

The early rulers, down to the sixth century BC are almost entirely unknown outside traditional texts, such as the Puranas, and Buddhist and Jain texts. Although India's strong oral culture means the list of kings is probably reliable, it is open to much debate. The Haryanka ruler, Bimbisara, is the first of the Magadhan kings to be dated with anything approaching accuracy, and the dates of those before him are calculated backwards using assumed lengths of rule. Modern Indian historians tend to assume longer lengths, pushing the start of this list back to an earlier date than is shown here. This has the effect of placing the earliest Magadha rulers in Peshawar, or still on the migratory trail into India, whereas here they are assumed to have already infiltrated the Ganges Plain before their first Indian (as opposed to Aryan migration) dynasty is proclaimed.

Sudhanu Dynasty

According to the Srimad Bhagavatam (Bhagavata Purana), the story of Krishna, one of Hinduism's most important texts, "Another son of Ajamidha was named Rksa. From Rksa came a son named Samvarana, and from Samvarana came Kuru, the king of Kuruksetra [the scene of the great war in the Mahabharata, composed between about 400 BC-AD 400]. Kuru had four sons: Pariksi, Sudhanu, Jahnu and Nisadha." Sudhanu inherited the kingdom which became Magadha.

fl c.1460? BC

Sudhanu

Suhatra / Suhotra

Son.

Chyavana / Cyavana

Son.

fl c.1400? BC

Kriti / Krti

Son.

Uparicara Vasu

Son.

Brhadratha Dynasty

It seems likely that the powerful Magadha kingdom was established on the Ganges Plain by these legendary kings. The second of them, Jarasandha, is mentioned in the Purana texts as a son of Brhadratha. He also appears in the Mahabharata as the 'Magadhan emperor who rules all India,' although he was killed in single combat by one of three assassins from the kingdom of Kuru, who were concerned with liberating the many captive kings he held. The long line of kings who succeeded him are all mentioned in the Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain texts. By this time, other Aryan kingdoms had apparently emerged alongside Magadha, notably in the east, including Anga, Kalinga, Pundra, Suhma, and Vanga. The Assam region was also enjoying its first flush of kingship.

The list of legendary Brhadratha kings shown in black is from the Vayu Purana, but the the Matsya Purana shows a list of names which differs in places, and these are inserted where appropriate in red.

(Additional information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

fl c.1360? BC

Brhadratha

Son of Uparicara Vasu.

Jarasandha

Son. Crowned emperor of Magadha.

c.1300? BC

One of Jarasandha's contemporaries is Jayatsena of Magadha, probably an ally and vassal who rules a section of the kingdom independently after Jarasandha's death. Jayatsena takes part in the Kurukshetra War in the Mahabharata as one of the leaders on the side of the Kauravas, along with Srutayus of Kalinga, Paundraka Vasudeva of Pundra, Karna of Anga, and Malayadwaja of the Pandyas. Bhagadatta of the Naraka kings is also involved in the war.

Jarasandha is killed by Bhima, one of the heroes of the Mahabharata, who slays him after an intense fight (of twenty-seven days) on the advice of Lord Krishna, who is revered as a god. He is the second assassin of the three, the final one being Arjuna (Bhima's brother and a superb archer), the illustrious pivotal character in the Mahabharata.

Somapi

Son.

Shrutashrava / Srutasravas

Son.

Ayutaya / Ayutayus (Apratipa)

Niramitra

Suksatra / Sukshatra / Sunaksatra

Son.

fl c.1100? BC

Brhatkarman / Brihatkarman

Son?

Brihatsena

The same as Brhatkarman?

Senajit

Shrutanjaya / Sutanjayat

Vipra / Vibhu (Vidhu)

Shuci / Suchi

Son of Shrutanjaya.

fl c.1000? BC

Ksemya / Kshemya

Suvrata / Subrata

Sunetra

Joint ruler or sub-king with Suvrata from 29th year of his reign.

Dharmanetra / Dharma

In the Vayu Purana only.

Susuma (Sushrama?)

In the Vayu Purana only.

Drdhasena / Dridhasena

In the Vayu Purana only.

fl c.900? BC

Nivritti / Nivrati

Sumati

In the Vayu Purana only.

Suvala / Subhala

In the Vayu Purana only.

Trinetra

Sunita

In the Vayu Purana only.

Mahatsena

Satyajit

In the Vayu Purana only.

fl c.800? BC

Netra

Abala

Vishvajit / Biswajit

In the Vayu Purana only.

Ripunjaya

Sunika / Pradyota Dynasty

There are two conflicting claims for the founder of this dynasty, with both the first two rulers being given the honour. According to the Vayu Purana, the Pradyotas ruled Magadha for 138 years from 799-684 BC, when they were displaced by the Shishunagas who rose up during a period of lawlessness in the kingdom (but see the Sisunaka dynasty for more on the confusion over Shishunaga in c.684 and 410 BC). In support of this, the dynasty ends with Varttivarddhana in most lists, with Shishunaga's successors here mostly being repeated in the Sisunaka list.

Sunika / Punika

Pradyota Mahasena

fl c.700? BC

Palaka

Son.

Palaka conquers Kaushambi (in modern Uttar Pradesh), strengthening the kingdom.

Vishakhayupa

Janaka / Ayaka / Aryaka / Ajaka

Varttivarddhana / Nandivardhana

c.684 - ? BC

Shishunaga

Possibly confused with Sisunaga (410-392 BC).

fl c.600? BC

Kakavarna

Kshemadharman

Kshatraujas

Haryanka Dynasty

Bimbisara founded a new dynasty and showed great energy in expanding the kingdom, either through conquest or marriage, subjecting the rival kingdom of Anga in what is now western Bengal via the former means. His son, Ajatashatru, completed his work, strengthening the capital at Rajagriha and expanding westwards up the Ganges. The capital was later transferred to Pataliputra (modern Patna in Bihar) by Ajatashatru. Confusingly, Bimbisara is also claimed for the Shishunaga dynasty beginning in c.684 BC, perhaps indicating that the use of Haryanka as a dynasty name is a later modification.

c.543 - 491 BC

Bimbisara

Murdered by his son.

c.543 BC

While still crown prince, Bimbisara had killed King Bramhadatta of Anga and annexed his state. Now it seems that Anga is absorbed into the increasingly powerful Magadhan state by Bimbisara.

c.491 - 459 BC

Ajatashatru

Son. (Or ruled c.551-519 BC)

Gaining the kingdom by murdering his father, Ajatashatru is also a contemporary of Gautama Buddha (c.563-483 BC, but many dating variations are proposed by various scholars). He strengthens the kingdom by annexing the rival kingdoms of Kashi and Kosala, is at war with the Vriji Confederacy for sixteen years, and defeats the fractured Lichchhavi kingdom north of the Ganges.

Sarnath in India
After he had crystallised the tenets of the Eightfold Path in his mind, the Buddha travelled from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath, site of the First Sermon

Darshaka

Descent unknown, and not shown in all lists.

c.459 - 443 BC

Udayin / Udayibhadra

Son of Ajatashatru.

c.443 - 439 BC

Anuruddha

Cousin of Buddha. Succeeded through assassination.

c.439 - 435 BC

Munda

Son. Succeeded through assassination.

c.435 - 410 BC

Nagadasaka

Son. Succeeded through assassination.

c.410 BC

The continuing bloodshed in the dynasty probably leads to a civil war in which the Haryankas are replaced by their former court officials, the Sisunakas.

Sisunaka Dynasty (Shishunaga)

Some sources state that the Sisunagas began with the Shishunaga of c.684 BC, and there seems to be some confusion over whether they were one and the same person or two entirely separate rulers. The second appearance of the name, Sisunaga, is used here as the founder of his eponymous dynasty. The Magadha capital remained at Pataliputra.

410 - 392 BC

Sisunaga / Shishunaga

Former amatya (official) under the Haryankas.

392 - 380 BC

Kalasoka

380 - 358 BC

Kalasoka's ten sons rule the kingdom in succession over the course of the next twenty-two years, the most prominent being:

Nandivardhana

One of the ten sons of Kalasoka.

Ksemadharman

Repeated from the Pradyota list.

Ksemajit or Ksatraujas

Repeated from the Pradyota list.

Bimbisara

A repetition of the king of c.543 BC?

? - 344? BC

Mahanandin

Chandragupta Maurya is claimed as his possible son.

Nanda Dynasty

The Sisunakas were overthrown by Mahapadma Nanda, first of the 'Nine Nandas'. He is said to have been an illegitimate son of the last Sisunaka ruler, Mahanandin, or at least, of low birth. The other eight Nanda monarchs were all the sons of Mahapadma. Under the Nandas, the kingdom regained its western Indian territories for a time, right up to the border of modern Pakistan. It also extended south to the Deccan plateau.

One interesting theory regarding the Nanda kings, put forward by Dr Ranajit Pal, suggests they were not originally based in Bihar but were instead from Magan in the west. Inscription and name evidence seems to suggest that Darius II and Artaxerxes III of Persia may have been Nanda kings, although there is no other proof for a Persian presence so far east.

c.370 - 324 BC

Mahapadma Nanda

Son of Sisunaka Dynasty's Mahanandin? Died aged 88.

Over the course of his long reign, according to the Mahabharata, Mahapadma Nanda defeats many rival kings and tribes, including the Asmakas, Haihayas, Ikshvaku dynasty, Kalingas, Kasis, Kurus, Maithilas, Panchalas, Surasenas, and Vitihotras.

Pandhuka

Son.

Panghupati

Brother.

Bhutapala

Brother.

Rashtrapala

Brother.

Govishanaka

Brother.

Dashasidkhaka

Brother.

Kaivarta

Brother.

? - c.321 BC

Dhana Nanda / Argames

Brother. Aggrammes or Xandrames to the Greeks.

327 - 326 BC

Alexander the Great's Macedonian army enters western India through the passes of the Hindu Kush, aided by the king of Gandhara in his war against Kekaya. But in the Punjab his troops rebel against the prospect of more battles against another great army on the Ganges. Alexander is forced to pull back, abandoning his hopes of conquering India. However, a swathe of minor states across northern India remain his vassals.

c.321 BC

Dhana is defeated by the young son of a Nanda prince (or the son of a village headman - opinion is divided), who is called Chandragupta Maurya, and then murdered (by assailant(s) unknown), because he is apparently despised due to his low birth, and his wickedness.

Mauryan Empire
321 - 185 BC

Possibly because of the pressure exerted by the Persian empire, at its margins there developed centralised territorial states, including the Macedonian kingdom in Greece. The arrival of Alexander the Great into India also inspired the creation of India's first true empire, the Mauryan empire in northern India, which remains one of the country's greatest. At the behest of his teacher, who had been a subject of Dhana Nanda and who had fled when his father had been murdered by the king, Chandragupta Maurya conquered Magadha, incorporating it as the heart of his new empire, and retaining the capital at Pataliputra. His former teacher, Vishnugupt Chanakya, became his prime minister.

When Chandragupta encountered the Greek forces which Alexander the Great left in India, they knew him as Sandrokotos. His conquests in Macedonian-controlled northern India caused the vassal states to assassinate the Greek satrap, Philippus, severing the Greeco-Bactrian control of India.

(Additional information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha, and Madhu Nimkar.)

c.324 - 301 BC

Chandragupta Maurya

FeatureFounder of the empire in 321 BC.

321 BC

Following his coronation, Chandragupta embarks on his conquest of the rest of India, starting from central India. He overcomes all opposition in the territory up to the north of the River Narmada.

305 BC

Following the failure of Seleucus Nicator's Greek reconquest of India, the Indo-Greek regions of Paropamisadae (immediately to the east of Bactria), Arachosia (modern southern Afghanistan and northern and central Pakistan, and perhaps extending as far as the Indus), Gandhara (northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan), and the Punjab are ceeded to the Mauryan empire by the Seleucids as part of an alliance agreement. Arachosia's capital is Alexandria in Arachosia (the modern form of which is Kandahar). Subsequent relations between the Greeks and the Mauryans appear to be cordial. Seleucus even appoints Megasthenes as his ambassador to Chandragupta's court.

The Mauryan capital of Patna
Chandragupta's Mauryan capital of Pataliputra (modern Patna) as it would have appeared from the air in the fourth century BC

301 - 269 BC

Bindusara Maurya 'Amitraghata'

Son. Gained Deccan plateau. Amitrochates to the Greeks.

Sushima

Son. Defeated in the succession war by Ashoka.

273 - 269 BC

There is a war of succession in the empire, in which Ashoka is said to fight his ninety-nine brothers, probably meaning insurmountable odds. Ultimately Ashoka is victorious and claims the throne.

269 - 232 BC

Ashoka (Ashokavardhan) Maurya

FeatureBrother. Buddhist.

c.261 BC

FeatureDuring his reign, Ashoka manages to extend the empire's borders to cover almost the entire subcontinent, save the southern tip and Sri Lanka. Perhaps his greatest feat as a military commander is the conquest of the kingdom of Kalinga in a conflict which devastates large swathes of the populace and his own army. Witnessing the destruction, Ashoka renounces violence and becomes a Buddhist.

250 BC

In his role as a devout Buddhist, Ashoka visits Nepal on pilgrimage.

232 BC

Some historians theorise that Ashoka and Diodotus II of Bactria are one and the same, and there evidence to support the theory. After his death, Ashoka's sons dispute the title and (as in Bactria) the empire starts to crumble. Kalinga is one of the first to separate.

Kunal / Kunala

Son. Blinded by one of Ashoka's wives.

232 - 224 BC

Dasaratha

Succeeded when half-brother Kunal became blind.

224 BC

All of the subsequent kings are weak, and territory began to be eroded away from the empire.

224 - 215 BC

Samrat Samprati

Son of Kunal.

215 - 202 BC

Salisuka

202 - 195 BC

Devavarman

195- 187 BC

Satadhanvan

187 - 185 BC

Brhadrata

Last Mauryan king - assassinated.

185 BC

Much shrunken since the days of Ashoka, the empire is overthrown by General Pusyamitra Sunga. The Macedonian kings of Bactria annexe the western half of the empire, including Paropamisadae and Arachosia, advancing as far as the Ganges and the capital at Pataliputra (modern Patna). In Kalinga, the Chedi assume control, while minor kingdoms spring up elsewhere in India. The most powerful of these are in the south, on the Deccan plateau, and in the west, while the north remains most culturally active. A line of Mauryas springs up in Goa in the sixth century AD, but the connection between them and the great Mauryas is unknown.

Sunga Empire
185 - 78 BC

FeatureGeneral Pusyamitra Sunga, the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan forces, destroyed the Mauryans and created his own dynasty. Despite losing half of the former Mauryan territories to Bactria and various minor kingdoms, the Sunga remained dominant in the east, up to the border of the now Indo-Greek Punjab. They also persecuted Buddhists, who were welcomed and protected by the neighbouring Bactrians.

(Additional information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

185 - 149 BC

Pushyamitra Sunga

Dynasty founder.

c.175 BC

Kharavela of Kalinga attacks Magadha at the same time as Demetrius of Bactria invades Magadha from the west, crossing the Ganges for the first time. Rather than press home his own attack, Kharavela turns on the Bactrian king and forces him to retreat.

c.166 BC

For a second time, Kharavela of Kalinga marches his army towards the old enemy, Magadha, and its Sunga king, Brihaspathimitra (perhaps meaning viceroy, as his father is still in overall command), who agrees peace terms before any blood is shed.

149 - 141 BC

Brihaspathimitra / Agnimitra

Son.

Governor of Vidisha during his father's lifetime, in this capacity Agnimitra campaigns in the south-west against Yajnasena, the ruler of Berar (Vidharba). He successfully divides the kingdom in two and parcels it out between Yajnasena and his estranged cousin, Madhavasena (who had sought Pushyamitra's help). Both kings accept Pushyamitra's suzerainty.

141 - 131 BC

Vasujyeshtha

Son and successor according to the Matsya Purana.

141 - 131 BC

Sujyeshtha

Son and successor according to the other Puranas.

131 - 124 BC

Vasumitra or Sumitra

Brother. Also credited with repulsing Demetrius of Bactria.

124 - 122 BC

Andhraka

122 - 119 BC

Pulindaka

Ghosha

Vajramitra

bef 110 BC

Bhagabhadra

Mentioned by the Puranas.

110 BC

The Heliodorus pillar in Vidisha in central India records that the Indo-Greek king Antialcidas sends an ambassador to the court of the Sunga king Bhagabhadra at or before this date.

83 - 73 BC

Devabhuti / Devabhumi

The last independent Sunga king. Assassinated.

73 - 71 BC

Devabhuti is assassinated by a slave girl on the orders of his minister. Within two years the Sunga dynasty is replaced in political dominance by the Kanavas.

71 - 30 BC

Although the weakened Sunga kings have been allowed since 71 BC to retain their throne as mere puppets of the Kanava rulers, in 30 BC, both they and the Kanava are swept away by the conquering Andhras from the south.

Kanava Dynasty
71 - 26 BC

The Kanava (or Kanva) dynasty of the kingdom of Magadha replaced the Sunga in 71 BC. They ruled the eastern section of the once-great empire, with borders probably more akin to Magadha's ancient territory. The much-reduced Sunga kings were allowed to remain on their throne, but were politically emasculated in an obscure corner of the kingdom. The Kanavas also subdued the once-mighty Satvahanas in southern India for a time.

71 - c.66 BC

Vasudeva Kanva

Former minister of the last Sunga king.

c.66 - 52 BC

Bhumimitra

c.52 - 40 BC

Narayana

c.40 - 30 BC

Susarman

26 BC

Both the Sunga and the Kanava are swept away by the conquering Andhras from the south. Northern India is dominated either by the south or by invaders from the west for the next two and-a-half centuries. Magadha as a recognisable entity effectually ceases to exist. Instead, it re-emerges as Bihar, which is fought over by successive regional rulers, including those at Delhi and in Bengal.

Middle Kingdoms of India

Following the destruction of the Mauryans, India had divided into a mass of major and minor kingdoms. Towards the end of the Iron Age in India, the Kushan people founded an empire which stretched from the west and covered much of India right down to the south. They entered India at some point between about AD 90-112 and immediately conquered the Indo-Scythian Sakas and set their borders to include Punjab and parts of modern Uttar Pradesh. A later ruler annexed Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Kashmir, Malwa, Rajputana, Saurashtra, and extended his rule as far as Khotan (southern India).

The Kushans were toppled between around 230-250, and replaced as the dominant power in northern India by the Guptas. While subjugated by the Guptas, the Kushans were finally conquered by the Red Huns, a sub-grouping of the White Huns who had taken the territory of the Kushanshahs to the west. The Sakas were also able to rise to renewed prominence in some areas of India, although they were opposed by the Satvahanas and eventually conquered by the Guptas. In the Deccan, various small kingdoms emerged, but the Vakatakas and the Pallavas both created large kingdoms in the fourth century which covered swathes of central India and extended north and west.

Gupta Dynasty
AD 320 - 550

The Guptas were the descendants of an obscure line of local rulers, probably in Bihar (often linked to western Bengal), the heart of former Magadha rule. They first rose to power in the third century, at around the same time as the Kushan empire in northern and western India was collapsing. By the fifth century they controlled India from the Himalayas to the River Narmada, and the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea - the subcontinent's second great empire which reunited most of India. Their capital was at Pataliputra (modern Patna, in the northern state of Bihar), and this was the last great flourishing of the Magadha kingdom, which by now was perhaps 1500 years old.

(Additional information by Madhu Nimkar & Sanjeev Kumar.)

c.260 - 280

Sri-Gupta

Prayag-based Kushan vassal.

c.280 - 300

Ghatotkacha

Son. 'Maharaja'. Kushan vassal?

c.300 - 320

By now the Guptas have established themselves and rule a few small Hindu kingdoms in Magadha. The son of Ghatotkacha, Chandragupta, succeeds his father as a local chief within Magadha (covering parts of the modern Bihar state). He increases his power and territory by marrying Princess Kumaradevi of the Lichchavi tribe, which controls northern Bihar and perhaps Nepal. Their union by marriage enhances the power and prestige of Chandra's new kingdom, which by c.320 encompasses territory from the Ganges to Prayaga (modern Allahabad). At this time, Chandragupta decides to assume the imperial title 'Maharajadhiraja', at a formal coronation, which also seems to signal the start of the Gupta era as well as Gupta coinage.

c.300 - 330

Chandragupta I / Paramabhagvata

Son. Brought Guptas to power. m daughter of the king of Nepal.

330 - 370

Samudragupta / Parakramah

Son. Title used: 'Parakramah', 'All Powerful'.

c.340

Early in his reign, Samudragupta takes the kingdoms of Shichchhatra and Padmavati. Then he attacks the Malwas, the Yaudheyas, the Arjunayanas, the Maduras, and the Abhiras, all of which are tribes in the region. The Pallavas are also defeated. He incorporates over twenty kingdoms into his realm and his rule soon extends from the Himalayas to the River Narmada and from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna.

Coins issued by Chandragupta I

The Guptas issued a large number of gold coins, the two sides of this example being of a King & Queen on Couch / Vaikuntha type from the reign of Chandragupta I

370

Following Samudragupta's reign, there is a possibility that his eldest son, Ramagupta, succeeds him. However, Ramagupta is a shadowy figure whose existence is in question. If he exists at all it seems he embarks on an ill-planned campaign against the Sakas in Gujarat and is trapped along with his army. Rescued by his brother he is soon deposed and killed by that same brother, Chandragupta II.

370 - 375?

Ramagupta?

Son.

c.375?

Kachagupta is another mysterious figure in the dynasty. His name is not listed in genealogical information available through the various inscriptions discovered, including the Allahabad Pillar inscriptions. Ramagupta and Kachagupta may be one and the same, but it also seems possible from numismatic evidence that they reigned in turn after Samudragupta, although the order could be interchangeable. It is also possible that Kachagupta ruled briefly, prior to the official succession of Chandragupta II, and that Ramagupta issued his own copper coinage (no gold coins have been found) in opposition to him.

Kachagupta?

Uncle? Brother of Samudragupta?

375 - 414

Chandragupta II / Vikramaditya

Brother.

375 - 409

Chandragupta expands the kingdom westwards, defeating the Western Sakas in a campaign which lasts until 409. He also defeats the Bengali (Vanga) chiefdoms, allowing him to extend his control from coast to coast, and to establish a second (trading) capital at Ujjain. In 395, the Sakas are finally finished off as a regional power. His daughter, Prabhavatigupta, marries the Vakataka king, Rudrasena II, and following his early death, governs the kingdom as regent for twenty years, uniting it to her father's empire during that time.

c.375?

There is no evidence of any Kushan kings in their eastern state in Punjab after the reign of Kipunada. They are first subjugated by the Guptas and then overthrown by the invading Red Huns.

c.410 - 413

After finishing his campaigns both in the east and west of India, Chandragupta proceeds northwards to subjugate the White Huns and the Kamboja tribes which are located in the west and east Oxus valleys respectively. Then he proceeds across the Himalayas and reduces the Kinnaras, Kiratas, and other minor peoples, drawing their lands into India proper.

415 - 455

Kumaragupta I / Mahendraditya

Son.

c.455

The accession of Kumaragupta had seen the continuation of his father's secure empire under his able rule. However, the last days of his reign are less comfortable, as the empire is threatened by invasions by the foreign Pushyamitras. At a point somewhere around the same time, the Red Huns seize Kabul and venture east into Punjab and up against the kingdom's borders, near Doab or Malwa, but they are repulsed by Skandagupta.

455 - 467

Skandagupta / Kramadityah

Son. Last great Gupta ruler.

455 - c.467

The early years of Skandagupta's reign are marked by violent civil war between the sons of Kumaragupta. Skandagupta manages to defeat his rivals and ascend the throne. However, continual threats arise, first from the Pushyamitras, whom he defeats, and then from the White Huns (or Huna) who invade from the north-west. They are repulsed in c.467, but the empire is sapped of resources and begins to decline. There may be a partition of the empire, or at least a semi-independent sub-division of it, but the main branch rules from Malwa, while it is unclear where the other is based or how much power it has, and dates for all remaining rulers is uncertain.

c.468 - 473

Narasimhagupta Baladitya Gupta

Son of Purugupta. Ruled from where?

c.470

Narasimhagupta drives the White Huns from the plains of northern India, but the Red Huns sense an opportunity in the increasing fragility of the empire and begin menacing its borders.

c.469 - 471?

Purugupta / Sri Vikrama / Vikramaditya

Brother of Skandagupta and rival.

472 - 475

Kumaragupta II

Ruled from where?

c.475 - 495?

Buddhagupta

Uncle of Kumaragupta II. Ruled from Malwa.

480s - 500

The White Hun king, Toramana, breaks through the Gupta defences in the north-west, and much of the empire is overrun by the Huns by 500. The empire disintegrates under Toramana's attacks, and those of his successor, Mihirakula. The White Huns conquer several provinces of the former empire, including Malwa, while Gujarat, and Thaneshwar break away under local dynasties. The surviving Guptas are forced south and east, to Jabbalpur (in modern Madhya Pradesh) and North Bengal, where they establish minor Gupta holdings.

c.496 - 500?

Prakasaditya

Identified by coinage only. Same person as Purugupta?

c.499 - 543?

Bhanugupta

Son. Ruled from Malwa until it was lost by 500.

500 - 530s

It appears from inscriptions that although the Guptas are much diminished, they continue to rule in small pockets, one of which is in the Jabbalpur region of the Narmada Valley (in 528). They continue to resist the Huns and ally themselves to the newly independent kingdoms, including Thaneshwar, to drive the Huns from most of northern India by the 530s.

fl 508

Vainyagupta

Ruled from Jabbalpur?

c.540 - 550

Vishnugupta 490-507

Ruled from North Bengal?

c.550s

Vishnu Gupta is one of the lesser Guptas from the tail end of the dynasty, and is generally recognised as being the last of them to hold any real authority during his ten year reign. His rule covers at least North Bengal (in 543-544). Shortly afterwards, the Sassanids of Persia make conquests in India and the Pratihara dynasty of Gujarat emerges.

late 6th cent

Jayagypta

Known only from a few copper coins.

fl c.600

Samachar Deva Gupta / Devagupta

In Malava. Known only from a few gold coins.

606

Deva Gupta is killed by Harshavardhana of Thaneshwar in revenge for having arranged the murder of the preceding Thaneshwar king through treachery.

Thaneshwar Kingdom (Sthanviswara / Thanesa)
c.AD 580 - 647

Thanesar is a small region in northern India, centred on the Ganges Plain. Now part of Haryana state, during the seventh century, it was known as Thaneshwar, or Sthanviswara of Srikantha Janapada. The Thaneshwar kingdom was formed by newly independent princes following the disintegration of the Gupta empire as it came under relentless attack by the White Huns and Red Huns. With northern India in danger of being entirely overrun by these barbarians, Thaneshwar allied itself to the reduced Gupta rulers, along with other local kingdoms, and together they forced out the invaders by the 530s.

Harshavardhana became one of the most illustrious of Indian emperors. At the peak of his reign, his kingdom covered Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Bengal and the entire Gangetic belt as far as the River Narmada. Harshavardhana belonged to the Pushyabhuti dynasty (which was founded by Pushyabhuti, a Shiva worshipper). History knows of him and his ancestors through several plates, seals, inscriptions, coins (at Banskheda, Madhuban, Nalanda, Sonepat, and Nabha), and texts such as the Harshacharita by Banabhat and the accounts (Si-yuki) of the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang.

The Pushyabhutis were probably vassals of the Malwa kings and later the Gupta kings, but after the Hunnic invasion they declared their independence. The Madhubana / Sonepat copper plate inscriptions list some of the kings who were part of this dynasty.

(Additional information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

fl 510

Naravardhana

Probably a Malwa or Gupta vassal.

Rajyavardhana I

? - 580

Adityavardhana

580 - 606

Prabhakarvardhana

Threw off overlordship?

Prabhakarvardhana is an independent monarch who uses the prefix 'maharajadhiraja' before his name. He establishes matrimonial relations with the Maukharis by marrying his daughter, Rajashri, to their king, Grahavarman.

Prabhakarvardhana is a Shaivite and a sun worshipper. Along with his son, Rajyavardhana, he repels Huna attacks and comes to be known as 'the lion to the Huna deer'.

606

Rajyavardhana II

Son. Murdered.

606

Immediately after his succession, Rajyavardhana's brother-in-law, Grahavarman of the Maukharis, is killed by Deva Gupta, the last of the Gupta kings. Rajyavardhana's sister is taken prisoner, and Rajyavardhana attacks Malava and its king, defeating him. Then Shashanka of the Gauda kingdom feigns friendship so that he can kill Rajyavardhana at the behest of Deva Gupta.

606 - 647

Harshavardhana / Harsha Vardhana

Brother. Reunited large parts of northern India.

606

Harshavardhana, or Siladitya as he is also known, is sixteen when he accedes to the throne. He swears revenge and defeats Shashanka of the Gauda kingdom (with assistance from the Varman king, Bhaskaravarman), kills Deva Gupta (ending the Gupta line of kings), and frees his captive sister.

Harshavardhana
Harshavardhana controlled a large empire across northern India

c.625

Following Shashanka's death, his Gauda kingdom falls apart and the region descends into anarchy until it is conquered by Harshavardhana.

During his reign, Harsha also subdues the Maitrekas who rule Vallabhi, and the Gurjaras who are also in the west of India, along with Magadha (Bihar), and Bengal (Gauda), Orissa is also captured.

Bhaskaravarman, the king of Kamarupa (Assam), is Harsha's close ally, while his daughter is married to Dhruvasena II of Vallabhi (whom he had earlier defeated). Harsha shifts his capital to Kannauj.

647

Harsha dies without an heir. His former minister seizes the throne, but the empire breaks up into a patchwork of fighting states and petty kingdoms that does not reform into one kingdom. Kannauj itself becomes home to a Rajput kingdom. For the next 300 years India's main events occur in the southern plateau, beginning with the rise of the Chalukyas.

647

Arjuna

Former minister.

647

The Chinese emperor, T'ai Tsung, sends an emissary to Thaneshwar expecting him to meet Harshavardhana, but instead the emissary finds the usurper, Arjuna, on the throne. Arjuna allegedly tried to take him prisoner, but the emissary escapes to Tibet and seeks help there in defeating Arjuna. The usurper is taken prisoner and sent to the Chinese court.

c.684

Bhogaverma

King of Magadha. His daughter m Shiva Deva II, king of Nepal.

Badami Chalukyas
AD 543 - 753

The Chalukyas formed a powerful dynasty which was founded by Pulakeshi I, who originated from a place called Vatapi (now known as Badami, in Bagalkot, Karnataka state). At its height between the sixth and twelfth centuries the Chalukya kingdom ruled large areas of central and southern India, mostly towards the western coast. During this period, they ruled as three related, but individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the 'Badami Chalukyas', ruled from their capital at Vatapi from the middle of the sixth century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence when the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi declined, and they rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakeshi II. The dynasty was previously thought by some scholars to have migrated from Central Asia, a relative of Iraq's Seleukiya tribe, but that idea has since been rejected.

The rule of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of southern India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka. The political atmosphere in southern India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the ascendancy of the Badami Chalukyas. For the first time, a southern Indian kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and Narmada rivers. The rise of this empire saw the birth of efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce, and the development of a new style of architecture called 'Chalukyan architecture'.

(Additional information by Madhu Nimkar and Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

c.500 - 520

Jayasimha Vallabha

Mentioned as a vassal chieftain under the Kadambas.

c.520 - 540

Ranaranga

Son.

543 - 566

Pulakeshi / Pulakesi I

Son.

c.550

It seems likely that it is the Chalukyas who inherit the territory of the former Vakataka kingdom after the latter's swift decline and disappearance in this century. The disappearance of the last of the Guptas at around the same time also presents an opportunity to expand Chalukyan control, so that the Kadamba king of Banavasi can be subjugated and made a vassal.

566 - 597

Kirtivarman I

Son.

597 - 609

Mangalesa

Brother.

c.608?

Mangalesa manages to force the Kalachuri king to flee, taking his lands, which consist of northern Maharashtra, Malwa and the western Deccan.

609 - 642

Pulakeshi / Pulakesi II

Son of Kirtivarman.

615

Pulakeshi conquers the eastern Deccan, taking territory corresponding to the coastal districts of modern Andhra Pradesh from the Vishnukundina kingdom, as well as territory from the Pallavas. He appoints his brother, Kubja Vishnuvardhana, as viceroy.

624

Kubja Vishnuvardhana declares his independence, ruling the Eastern Chalukyas as a separate kingdom.

642 - 655

Civil war follows the death of Pulakeshi.

647

In the north, the last great power there, the Thaneshwar kingdom, begins to break up after a former minister seizes the throne.

642 - 680

Vikramaditya I

Son.

Chandraditya

Brother and rival for the throne.

Adityavarma

Brother and rival for the throne.

Jayasimha

Brother and rival for the throne.

Ambera

Brother and rival for the throne.

670 - 674

The Pallava king, Mahendravarman II, is killed in a collective attack by the Chalukyas, the Gangas and the Pandyas. As soon as his son, Parameshvaravarman, gains the throne, he continues fighting the Chalukyas (under the name of Vikramaditay I in Chalukya records). He captures Kanchi and advances south to the River Kaveri. In 674 he fights the Battle of Peruvalanallur, near Trichinopoly, and is victorious despite facing a huge coalition.

677 - 680

Parameshvaravarman of the Pallavas occupies Chalukyan territories from which he withdraws only after the Chalukyan rulers agree to pay a yearly tribute and accept Pallava overlordship, but not before the occupation army annihilates several Chalukyan princes, nobles and citizens. This victory enables the Pallavas to assert their hegemony over the subcontinent.

680 - 696

Vinayaditya

Son of Vikramaditya.

696 - 733

Vijayaditya

Son.

710 - 711

The Umayyad Islamic general, Muhammad bin Qasim, sails from to Sindh and conquers both that and Punjab (in modern Pakistan), marking major conquests for the caliphate. However, resistance emerges from the Jats in Sindh.

733 - 746

Vikramaditya II

Son.

746 - 753

Kirtivarman II / Rahappa

Son.

753 - 973

Kirtivarman II is the last king of the Badami dynasty. He is defeated in battle against the ambitious Dantidurga of the Rashtrakutas and western Chalukyan power is eclipsed for a period of 220 years. The dynasty is only revived in 973, as the Western Chalukyas.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty
AD 753 - 973

The Rashtrakutas (or Rashtrikas) were successors to the Chalukya dynasty of Badami in the western-central Deccan plateau. Their reign of over two centuries makes them one of the more notable dynasties in the sub-continent. They started off as district heads for their Chalukya masters, but soon become one of the most feared powers in the region. They posed a threat to all their contemporaries, including their overlords, the Chalukyas of Badami.

The word 'rashtra' in Sanskrit indicates region and 'kuta' means chieftain, and the Rashtrakutas were officer-class material of long standing. It seems that they were minor chieftains in Central India prior to becoming a ruling dynasty. Their branches could be found in Gujarat and Rajasthan. Later Rathod Rajputs claimed descent from them, as did the Rattas of Soudatti (Karnataka).

(Information by Abhijit Rajadhyaksha.)

Indra

Chalukyan governor of Achalapura (Ellichpur) in Berar.

746 - 753

Dantidurga secures the power of the Rashtrakutras by eclipsing that of the Badami dynasty of Chalukyas. After Vikramaditya II's death, he attacks the Gurjara kingdom of Nandipuri, and then the Gurjara Pratihara kingdom of Malwa. Buoyed by his success, he extends his authority further over the eastern parts of Madhya Pradesh, all the while assiduously avoided any conflict with his overlord. Kirtivarman II attacks him in 753 and is defeated, ending Chalukyan power.

753/754 - 756

Dantidurga

Son, with a Chalukyan mother.

756 - 773

Krishna I

Son or uncle.

765

The Silharas of the South Konkan are handed the governance of the region by Krishna I.

773 - 780

Govinda II

Son. Overthrown.

780 - 813

Dhruva Dharavarsha

Brother. Abdicated in favour of his son.

Dhruva manages to defeat Vatsaraja of the Pratihara dynasty in Gujarat, leaving the Pratiharas weakened and ripe for defeat by the Palas.

Kailashnath Temple at Ellora
Kailashnath Temple at Ellora, not far from Aurangabad (in modern Maharashtra state), built between about 725-755

793 - 814

Govinda III

Son.

800

After defeating the Pala king, Nagabhata of the Pratiharas is himself subdued by Govinda III as the Rashtrakuta king campaigns north. He then campaigns to the south, defeating the antagonistic Eastern Chalukyas. It is at this time that the Silharas of the North Konkan are handed the governance of the region by Govinda III.

813

Upon the death of his father, Govinda III claims the throne, but has to defeat a challenge by his elder brother, Stambha. Once defeated, Stambha offers no further threat, and instead serves as a viceroy in southern territories.

Stambha

Brother.

814 - 878

Amoghavarsha I

Son of Govinda III. Acceded aged 14.

878

Pala king Devapala defeats Amoghavarsha.

878 - 914

Krishna II

Son.

c.900

The Kakatiya vassal king, Gunda III, dies fighting for his overlord, Krishna II, against the Eastern Chalukyas.

Jagattunga

Son. Predeceased his father.

914 - 929

Indra III

Son.

Indra III strikes north, defeating the Pratihara king of Marwar, but then returns south, allowing the Pratiharas to recover their territory.

929 - 930

Amoghavarsha II

Assassinated by Govinda IV.

930 - 936

Govinda IV

Brother. Deposed.

936

Having lost much territory to the Eastern Chalukyas and made himself very unpopular during his poor reign, Govinda is deposed by his own vassals and Amoghavarsha is offered the throne.

936 - 939

Amoghavarsha III / Baddiga

Younger brother of Indra III. Came to the throne late in life.

939 - 965

Krishna III

Son. Governed during his father's reign.

940

The Silharas of Kolhapur (southern Maharashtra) are handed regional governance by Krishna III, and rule in the name of their overlord. Defeated in Karnatka around this time, Krishna's forces are expelled from the Northern Kalachuri kingdom.

965

Despite waging numerous wars in order to recover the glory of the Rashtrakutas and playing an important role in rebuilding the empire, Krishna III is overthrown by Tailapa II of the newly resurgent Western Chalukyas.

965 - 972

Khottiga Amoghavarsha

Brother.

972

The Paramara king, Siyaka II, plunders Manyakheta and Khottiga dies fighting them. His nephew replaces him on the throne only to be killed almost immediately by Tailapa II of the Western Chalukyas.

972

Karrka II

Nephew. Ruled for only a few months.

973

Indra IV

Nephew of the vassal king of Talakad. Died 983.

973

Tailapa II re-establishes the Chalukya dynasty after a period of 220 years. He also defeats the remnants of Rashtrakuta power by beating Indra IV and his vassal in the Godavari basin, Panchaladeva. Indra ends his days in 982 by committing Sallekhana (fasting to death as practised by Jain monks) at Shravanabelagola.

Western Chalukyas (Kalyani Chalukyas)
AD 973 - 1200

The Chalukyas revived their fortunes in 973 after two centuries of decline while large swathes of India were under the control of the Rashtrakutas. Tailapa II overthrew the Rashtrakuta king, Krishna III and re-established the Chalukyan kingdom. He recovered most of the territory which had previously belonged to the Chalukyas, and his revived empire came to be known as the Western Chalukya dynasty. The Western Chalukyas ruled for another 250 years and were in constant conflict with the Cholas, and their own Chalukya cousins, the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi.

(Information by Madhu Nimkar.)

973 - 997

Tailapa II / Ahavamalla

Revived the Chalukya empire.

973

Tailapa II re-establishes the Chalukya dynasty after a period of 220 years. He also defeats the remnants of Rashtrakuta power by beating Indra IV and his vassal in the Godavari basin, Panchaladeva. he also beats off the Paramara king, Munja, with help from his ally, the Yadava king Bhillama II.

980

The Cholas, experiencing a minor succession crisis, are momentarily weakened, and Tailapa claims victory in a battle against their new king, Uththama.

997 - 1008

Satyasraya / Sattiga / Irivabedanga

Son.

c.1000 - c.1011

The Eastern Chalukya kingdom falls under the influence of the Chola ruler, Rajaraja, a fact that is not appreciated by Satyasraya. As a result, Vengi becomes a bone of contention between the Cholas and the Chalukyas. Satyasraya also suffers a rebellion by the client Silharas of North Konkan, so he attacks the kingdom, his armies advancing right up to the capital at Rajapur. He is less successful against the Silharas of Kolhapur, though, as they defeat him and found a kingdom there.

1008 - 1015

Vikramaditya V

Nephew.

1015 - 1042

Jayasimha II / Jagadekhamalla

Brother.

1020 - 1029

The Chalukyas take direct control of the Silhara kingdom of South Konkan and retake Kolhapur.

1023

The Ghaznavids of Afghanistan conquer the Punjab.

1042 - 1068

Somesvara I / Ahavamalla / Trilokamalla

Son.

Somesvara I is one of the greatest kings of the Western Chalukya dynasty. During his reign he founds the city of Kalyani (modern Basavakalyana) and moves his capital there. One of his queens is Hoysala Devi, a Hoysala princess.

Temple complex at Pattadakal
The temple complex at Pattadakal reached the peak of its development under the Western Chalukya kings

1068 - 1076

Somesvara II

Son. Deposed.

1070

The various regions which later form Bengal are brought together under the control of the Sena dynasty.

1073 - 1075

Almost as soon as the weakened Eastern Chalukya kingdom has been restored by King Vijayaditya, it is invaded by the Chedi king of Dahala, Yasahkarnadeva. The kingdom is extinguished in 1075 and it seems that much of its territory is absorbed by the Cholas for a time.

1076

Somesvara II is deposed by his more ambitious brother, Vikramaditya VI, who is the greatest of the Western Chalukya kings and has the longest reign in the dynasty. He earns the title 'Permadideva and Tribhuvanamalla' (lord of three worlds). At his peak, Vikarmaditya controls a vast empire stretching from the River Kaveri in southern India to the River Narmada in central India.

1076 - 1126

Vikramaditya VI

Brother.

1076 - 1116

Kirtivarma of Hangal fights against the combined might of the Kadambas of Goa and the Chalukyas when he tries to extend his borders. Ultimately defeated, he ends up becoming a vassal of the Chalukyas.

1088 - 1099

Vikramaditya conquers major portions of the former Eastern Chalukya kingdom, attaching it to his own great empire until it is retaken by the Cholas in 1099.

1116 - 1123

The king's Hoysala ally, Vishnuvardhana, changes sides and makes inroads into Chalukyan territory. Vikramaditya eventually drives him out , and he submits in 1123.

1118 - c.1130

Vikramaditya manages to recapture the Eastern Chalukya lands and hold onto them until his death. Shortly after the accession of his son, the territory is absorbed by the Chola empire.

1126 - 1138

Somesvara III

Son.

Somesvara III has to face a renewed invasion by the Hoysala king, Vishnuvardhana, but is able to fend him off. He loses some territory as the Vengi Chalukyas tried to throw off his control, but he is still able to maintain most of the vast empire left to him by his powerful father. However, his successors are not as strong, and they oversee the gradual fading of the empire.

1138 - 1151

Jagadhekamalla II

Even though control over the Vengi Chalukyas has been lost, Jagadhekamalla is still able to control the Hoysalas in the south and the Seuna and Paramara in the north.

1151 - 1162

Tailapa III / Taila

1157

The Kakatiya king, Prolla II, defeats Tailapa III and takes him captive. This results in other vassal states rising against the Chalukyas. The Seuna and the Hoysala start to take territory, and the Kalachuri king, Bijjala II, captures the royal capital at Kalyani in 1157, forcing Tailapa III to flee to Annigeri (in Dharwad district).

1162

Tailapa is killed by the Hoysala king, ViraNarasimha, virtually ending any claims to overall power by the Chalukyas.

1163 - 1183

Jagadhekamalla III

Jagadhekamalla's rule is completely overshadowed by the emergence of the Southern Kalachuri under Bijjala II who take control of Basavakalyana and rule from there.

1184 - 1200

Somesvara IV

Last Western Chalukya ruler.

1185 - 1186

In 1185, the Yadava vassal ruler, Bhillama V, shrugs off domination by the Western Chalukyas and declares the independence of the Yadavas. The following year, Lahore is conquered by the Ghurids who also inherit Pallava Punjab, ruling much of northern India.

1189

The people of the former territory of the Eastern Chalukyas are defeated by the Hoysalas and the Yadavas.

1200

Somesvara makes a short-lived attempt to revive the Chalukya kingdom by defeating the waning Kalachuri kingdom. He manages to capture Basavakalyana but fails to prevent the other vassal states, the Seuna, the Hoysalas, and the Kakatiya dynasty, from completely overwhelming the Chalukyan empire. In the end, the three former vassal states divide the vast territory between the River Kaveri and the River Narmada between themselves.

FeatureEarly Modern States / Moghul Empire

The creation of the Delhi sultanate in 1206 began the creation of one of India's greatest empires, but following the collapse of Moghul power from 1707 onwards, the sub-continent fractured into a series of small states, although such fractures had been appearing for some time anyway, especially under Aurangzeb's rule. In fact, although the Moghuls ruled much of India, they never entirely conquered it, and even vassal states were prone to fits of independence.

1206

The Delhi sultanate is founded by a slave of the Ghurid sultan, Mohammed III, following the defeat of the Hindu Rajputs of Amer who had governed much of the region in 1194. The sultanate begins in Lahore, but subsequent rulers extend their territory eastwards and Delhi quickly becomes the capital. Under later rulers, especially the Moghuls, the sultanate rises to become one of the greatest empires in Indian history, subjugating almost the entire sub-continent. Minor states or independent cities also proliferate throughout India, including those of Jodhpur and Mewar.

1221

The Indus Valley is under the Mongols.

1336

Tughlaq power fails to retain control of the Deccan and southern India, and two brothers, Harihara (Hakka) I and Bukka Raya, take the opportunity to lay the foundations of the Vijaynagar empire in the south. They conquer many of the regional kingdoms, such as Hoysala, Shambuvaraya, and the Reddis.

1490

The Bahamani sultanate on the Deccan begins to fracture and break up, devolving into a series of states which includes Ahmednagar, Berar, Bidar, Bijapur, and Golconda.

1498

The Portuguese explorer, Vasco de Gama, reaches India by sea, and traders follow close behind him, marking the first lasting contact between India and Europe since the time of Alexander the Great. The Vijaynagar empire in southern India is especially affected when many of its ports are seized by the Portuguese.

1505 - 1510

The first Portuguese viceroy of India is appointed. Goa is made the capital of Portugal's empire in the east in 1510.

1526

Most of India is ruled or controlled by the Moghuls from Delhi. Some small states attempt to re-establish their independence during rebellions or uprisings, but on the whole these are crushed by the Moghul emperors.

1565

The Vijayanagar empire in the far south is defeated at the Battle of Talikota by an alliance of the Deccan sultanates which had only recently been born out of the break-up of the Bahamani sultanate.

1646

After years of attacks and being repulsed, the Vijaynagar empire is finally conquered by the sultanates of Bijapur and Golconda. Many of the empire's largest vassal states immediately declare independence, so the territorial gains made by the sultanates are limited. Those vassals, Mysore, Keladi Nayaka, and the Nayaks and Nayakas of Chitradurga, Gingee, Madurai, and Tanjore, all become powerful states in southern India.

1707

Following the fractious reign of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Moghul empire gradually collapses, with many small states regaining their independence and new states appearing for the first time. These include Bengal, Hyderabad, and Oudh, along with the Maratha empire and the many Maratha subsidiary states.

The arrival of the British sees these states slowly being conquered or forced to submit to the new political power in the subcontinent.

1746 - 1748

The War of the Austrian Succession is a wide-ranging conflict that encompasses the North American King George's War, two Silesian Wars, the War of Jenkins' Ear, and involves most of the crowned heads of Europe in deciding the question of whether Maria Theresa can succeed as archduke of Austria and, perhaps even more importantly, as Holy Roman Emperor. Austria is supported by Britain, the Netherlands, the Savoyard kingdom of Sardinia, and Saxony (after an early switchover), but opposed by an opportunistic Prussia and France, who had raised the question in the first place to disrupt Habsburg control of central Europe, backed up by Bavaria and Sweden (briefly). Spain joins the war in an unsuccessful attempt to restore possessions lost to Austria in 1715.

The War of Jenkins' Ear pitches Britain against Spain between 1739-1748. The Russo-Swedish War, or Hats' Russian War, is the Swedish attempt to regain territory lost to Russia in 1741-1743. King George's War is fought between Britain and France in the French Colonies in 1744-1748. The First Carnatic War of 1746-1748 involves the struggle for dominance in India by France and Britain. Henry Pelham, leader of the English government in Parliament, is successful in ending the war, achieving peace with France and trade with Spain through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Austria is ultimately successful, losing only Silesia to Prussia.

British Governors-General in India / East India Company
AD 1766 - 1858

In January 1757, the sultan of Bengal captured Calcutta, which contained the headquarters of the British East India Company. However, the British general, Robert Clive, had allies within Bengal who helped to defeat and dethrone the sultan at and after the Battle of Plassey on 23 June respectively.

The East India Company was now the effective master of Bengal through the Bengal presidency, which was established between 1765-1766, and then the position of governor-general which effectively ruled all East India Company possessions in the sub-continent. However, the intention of the company at this stage was still only to improve trade with India rather than creating an empire. Governor-generals of the East India Company are shown in green.

1765 - 1772

Robert Clive, or 'Clive of India' secures British rule in Bengal with the first and most powerful of its 'presidencies', and makes the East India Company an extremely powerful player in Indian politics between these dates.

Clive of India
The statue of Robert Clive (1725-1774) on Horse Guards Parade in London

1772

Two years after the Bengal famine claims millions of lives, Calcutta is named as the capital of British India by the East India Company, and the first governor-general is appointed. This marks the official start of British governance in areas of India, although some historians use the aftermath of the Battle of Plassey in 1757 as the start.

In the same year, the Company invades Bhutan and captures the capital, ending the Bhutanese threat to Koch Bihar. A peace settlement is negotiated in 1774 but the agreement means that Koch Bihar is subject to Company dictates which gradually replace the authority of the kings in the quest to improve the region's infrastructure and the rule of law.

1773 - 1785

Warren Hastings

First governor-general of British-administered India.

1775 - 1782

The First Maratha War takes place against the East India Company. The empire becomes a looser confederacy, with political power resting in a 'pentarchy' of five Maratha dynasties: the Peshwas in Pune, the Sindhias (originally the Shindes), the Holkars of Indore, the Bhonsles of Nagpur, and the Gaekwads of Baroda.

1778

After being visited by a deputation of American diplomats, Benjamin Franklin and Silas Deane, France declares war on Britain in support of the rebellion in North America, only too glad to make the most of Britain's misfortune. In India, Hastings is forced to lend his troops to a local ruler in order to crush an uprising which, if it could succeed, would threaten Bengal itself and the East India Company's headquarters in Calcutta. The French fleet encourages rebellion against British interests, and French intriguing in India continues until the end of the American War of Independence.

1786 - 1793

Charles Mann Cornwallis

1793 - 1798

Sir John Shore

Oversaw the reduction of the East India army.

1798 - 1805

Richard Wellesley

Brother of the later duke and Prime Minister, Wellington.

1802 - 1805

A situation of near civil war exists when two Maratha generals start fighting between themselves. The Peshwa, Baji Rao II, chooses sides but it is the other side that ultimately triumphs, and Baji Rao flees to Bombay in September 1802 to seek help from the British. The East India Company fights the Second Maratha War against the infuriated Sindhias and the Bhosales of Nagpur but both are defeated by the British, principally under General Arthur Wellesley, younger brother of the governor-general, who fine-tunes the skills that will later see him win the Peninsula War in Spain.

1805

Charles Mann Cornwallis

Second term of office.

1805 - 1807

George Hilario Barlow

Interim governor-general.

1807 - 1813

Sir Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound

Lord Minto. Former viceroy of Corsica (1794-1796).

1807 - 1809

Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore, the first Sikh king, annexes both Kot Kapura and Faridkot to his kingdom (much of which is given as a jagir to Diwan Mokam Chand). With British help, Gulab Singh regains Faridkot in 1809. In that same year, Sahib Singh of Patiala enters into a treaty with the British against Ranjit Singh.

1809

Afghan king, Shah Shuja, signs a treaty with the British which includes a clause stating that he will oppose the passage of foreign troops through his territories. This agreement is the first Afghan pact with a European power, and it stipulates the undertaking of joint action if there is any Franco-Persian aggression against Afghan or British dominions.

1813 - 1823

Francis Rawdon-Hastings

First marquis of Hastings.

1817 - 1819

The Third Maratha War results in a decisive victory for the British against the Peshwa. The last peshwa, Baji Rao II, is defeated, and the Maratha empire is largely annexed, bound by treaty to the British Crown. The kingdoms of Indore, Gwalior, Nagpur, and Jhansi became princely states, acknowledging British control.

1823 - 1828

William Pitt Amherst

First earl of Amherst.

1818

British rule of Orissa commences when Mukundadeva II of the Bhoi dynasty of kings is imprisoned by the East India Company. The Bhoi family thereafter becomes the supervisors of the Jaggannatha temple at Puri.

1823

The Afghans lose Sindh permanently to the British in India.

1824

William Moorecroft, of the East India Company, arrives in Peshawar, Afghanistan, while en route to Bukhara, east of Khiva (and now in Uzbekistan), to trade for horses. He is killed in Balkh while returning to India.

1828 - 1835

William Bentinck

1830

The last of the Kachari kings of Assam dies without a heir and the East India Company annexes the kingdom under the details of its Doctrine of Lapse.

1835

The Jayantiya kingdom in Assam is annexed by the East India Company. The capital at Jaintiapur is abandoned and quickly falls into ruin. Only the Ahom kings survive in Assam.

1836 - 1842

George Eden

First earl of Auckland.

1838

Assam is converted into a principality by the British East India Company, ending the rule of the last remaining independent Assam kings, the Ahoms.

1839

Britain decides that Persian and Russian intrigues pose a threat to their control of India. To counter that perceived threat, it is decided that Afghanistan will be used as a buffer state. A British army marches to Kabul, triggering the First Anglo-Afghan War, which sees a native ruler used as the British figurehead in the country.

1842 - 1844

Edward Law

First earl of Ellenborough.

1844 - 1848

Henry Hardinge

1844 - 1845

The Company annexes Sindh in 1844, and the Sikhs attack British divisions at Ferozepur. The First Anglo-Sikh War is triggered in 1845. The Sikhs fight well, but eventually succumb to the disciplined British army following betrayals by some of their Dogra generals.

1848 - 1856

James Broun-Ramsay

First Marquis of Dalhousie.

1848 - 1855

The Maratha state of Kolhapur is absorbed by the British upon the death of the childless maharaja in 1848. Further Maratha states are annexed in 1853 (Nagpur), and 1855 (Thanjavur). Also in 1848-1849, the Second Anglo-Sikh War commences when the Sikhs resent excessive British interference in their affairs. There is help from Dost Mohammed Khan, the Afghan king but, yet again due to internal dissensions, the Sikhs are defeated at Gujarat on 21 February 1849 and the Sikh kingdom is dissolved.

1855

Ghulam Muhammed Ghouse Khan of Arcot fails to produce a male heir so, upon his death, his Carnatic kingdom is annexed by the East India Company. The late nawab's uncle and former regent is Azim Jah. In 1867 he is granted the title 'Prince of Arcot' in compensation for the loss of the state.

1856 - 1858

Charles Canning

Elevated to Viceroy in 1858.

1857 - 1858

The Indian Mutiny (or Great Sepoy Rebellion) against British rule erupts among East India Company native army units at Meerut, near Delhi, but after some hard fighting in places it is suppressed, with Sikh soldiers fighting alongside the British. The mutiny ends with the recapture of Delhi by troops loyal to the East India Company. The last Moghul emperor is deposed, as is the Maratha Peshwa, and the British Parliament places India under the direct control of the empire's Viceroys, whilst subject or allied princes rule various vassal states.

British Viceroys of India
AD 1858 - 1947

The British Parliament's India Act of 1784 established dual control of the East India Company, and centralised British rule in India by reducing the power of the governors of Bombay (now Mumbai) and Madras, and increasing that of the governor-general. After the British government had to interpose directly to end the Indian Mutiny, or rebellion, the Crown took control of the Indian possessions and ended the East India Company's rule. Many of the princely states were annexed by Britain, including Hyderabad and Oudh, although local rulers were maintained on their thrones.

1856 - 1862

Lord Canning

Former governor-general (1856-1858).

1862 - 1863

Lord Elgin

1863 - 1869

Lord Lawrence

1869 - 1872

Lord May

1872 - 1876

Lord Northbrook

1876 - 1880

Lord Lytton

1876

Queen Victoria in Britain is hailed as the Queen-Empress of India.

1880 - 1884

Lord Rippon

1884 - 1888

Lord Dufferin

1885 - 1886

Britain captures Mandalay and Burma becomes a province of British India.

1888 - 1894

Lord Landsdowne

1893

The Durand Line fixes the borders of Afghanistan with British India for a century, splitting Afghan tribal areas, and leaving half of these divided Afghans in what is now Pakistan.

1894 - 1899

Lord Elgin

1899 - 1905

Lord Curzon

1905 - 1910

Lord Minto

1910 - 1916

Lord Hardinge

1914

Afghanistan remains neutral during the First World War, despite German encouragement of anti-British feeling and an Afghan rebellion along the borders of British India.

1916 - 1921

Lord Chelmsford

1921 - 1926

Lord Reading

1926 - 1931

Lord Irwin (Halifax)

1931 - 1936

Lord Willingdon

1936 - 1943

Lord Linlithgow

1937

Britain separates Burma from India.

1943 - 1947

Lord Wavell

Last viceroy.

1947 - 1948

The post of viceroy (sub-king, or commander in the king's name) of India is downgraded to that of governor-general of India upon the eve of independence. Following the handover by Britain, native governor-generals are appointed by their respective governments.

A Direct Action day is called in 1947 by the Muslim parties (led by Muhammed Ali Jinnah) who are demanding a separate homeland for Muslims. Hindus and Sikhs are massacred in Muslim-dominated areas, leading to a bloody Hindu retaliation. large-scale riots follow and the decision is taken to partition India and create the country of Pakistan as a homeland for Muslims in former north-western India. The new country also gains the east of Bengal.

Modern India
AD 1947 - Present Day

The dominion of India was formed on 15 August 1947 following the official handover of power by the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north-west by Pakistan, to the north by China, Tibet, the Himalayas and Nepal, to the north-east by Bhutan, to the east by Bangladesh and Burma, and to the south-east by Sri Lanka. Initially it was under the guiding hand of a governor-general, before coming under the control of a democratically elected government.

The province of Bihar, once the ancient kingdom of Magadha, again became a state in its own right (more recently it has been subdivided into Bihar and Jharkhand states). The princely states of Arcot, Bengal, and Hyderabad, the Jat kingdoms, and the Maratha kingdoms of Baroda, Bundelkhand, Indore, Gwalior, Jhansi, Kolhapur, Nagpur, and Thanjavur were abolished, their territories becoming part of India's system of states managed by governors. Twenty-two princely states of Rajasthan, including Amer, Bikaner, Bundi, Mewar, Jaisalmer, Marwar & Jodhpur, merged to form the Union of Greater Rajasthan, acknowledging the maharana of Udaipur in Mewar as their head.

1947 - 1948

Lord Mountbatten

Governor-general of India, 15 Aug-21 Jun.

1948 - 1950

C Rajagopalachari

Governor-general of India, 21 Jun-26 Jan. Last governor-general.

1949

Pakistani militia is repulsed by the Indian army, but due to UN intervention part of Kashmir remains occupied by Pakistan, which it names Azad Kashmir while India refers to it as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The princely states of Junagadh (Gujarat) and Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh), which have Muslim rulers but an overwhelming Hindu population, are forced into India by the Indian home minister, Vallabhai Patel. Pakistan becomes an Islamic republic, whereas India becomes a secular republic (in 1950).

1950 - 1953

North Korea's forces attack South Korea on 25 June 1950. A multinational force made up primarily of troops from the USA, and Britain and the Commonwealth nations (including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and India), goes in to support the south. The Korean War lasts until a ceasefire is agreed in July 1953.

1956

On 1 November, the state of Rajasthan comes into being. The former Rajasthan rulers, which include those of Amer, Bikaner, Bundi, Jaisalmer, Malwa, Marwar & Jodhpur, and Mewar, give up their sovereignty but enjoy privy purses.

1961

After fourteen years of demonstrations and strikes in favour of independence from Portugal, the colony in Goa is invaded by the Indian army and taken by force.

Indian troops enter Goa
Indian national troops enter Goa

1962

A land dispute with China leads to a Chinese invasion of India's border territories. Indian troops face a humiliating defeat.

1965

Pakistan attacks India again over Kashmir, but is beaten back on several fronts. With Soviet mediation Pakistan agrees to call off the attack.

1970 - 1971

The Indian Parliament decides to abolish the institution of royalty, and the following year the rulers of the former princely states are de-recognised and their privy purses and titles snatched away from them.

In the same year, the Indo-Pakistan War is triggered after Pakistan launches a pre-emptive strike on eleven Indian airbases. The war lasts just thirteen days. Following this, East Pakistan succeeds from West Pakistan to become Bangladesh.

1975

The eastern state of Sikkim (which is an Indian protectorate) merges into India following a popular referendum.

1984

In order to weaken the power of the Akali political party in Punjab, Congress encourages a Sikh fanatic demagogue called Jarnail Singh Bhindrenwale. What follows is his secessionist movement for a separate Sikh country named Khalistan. He unleashes a brutal terror campaign with includes bomb blasts, Hindu killings, and the murders of pro-India journalists and politicians, all with covert Pakistani support. Bhindrenwale seeks refuge the holy Golden Temple of Amritsar and virtually fortifies it, forcing the enactment of Operation Bluestar by Indian troops. They storm the temple and Bhindrenwale is killed. This act culminates into the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the subsequent anti-Sikh riots of the same year.

1987 - 1990

India sends a peace-keeping force to maintain law and order in the neighbouring Sri Lanka, which is in the middle of a civil war being fought between the majority Sinhalese and the ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils who are led by a revolutionary group called the LTTE.

1990 - 1991

The Indian peace-keeping force is recalled. The following year Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated by the pro-Tamil LTTE. Congress returns to power and Narimha Rao becomes the next prime minister.

1998 - 1999

India conducts nuclear tests amidst reports of a secret Pakistani nuclear programme which is supported by the Chinese. The following year, Pakistan launches an operation in Kargil (supposedly to internationalise the issue of Kashmir) after its soldiers occupy some unmanned border posts disguised as irregulars. The Indian army successfully repulses the attacks and reoccupies the posts. The USA intervenes and Pakistan is compelled to call back its men.

2008

Pakistan is generally accepted to be the source of a terrorist attack on the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Islamic terrorists rampage through the city, killing hundreds of people including several foreign nationals. The Pakistani state is accused of sponsoring the terrorists, all but one of which are killed.