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Chapter 11. Medieval Period (Indian History Notes)




During the medieval times in India, there have been developed important milestones in the field of religion, folk art and language. The medieval period of Indian history comprises a long period, spanning from 8th century, i.e. after the fall of the Gupta Empire to the 18th century, i.e. the beginning of colonial domination. Modern historians, divided the medieval period into Early Medieval Period and Late Medieval Period.
Early Medieval period refers to the phase of Indian history that stretches from the fall of the Gupta Empire to the beginning of the Sultanate period in the 13th century.
Late Medieval period comprises mainly that of the reigns of the Sultanate and the Mughal period.
Medieval Period Introduction Sources of Medieval Period Early Medieval Period Emergence of new Kingdoms Archaeological Fossils Monuments Artifacts Inscriptions Coins Literary Manuscripts Language Religious Literature Non-religious Literature Kannauj Yashovraman Ayudhas Tripartite Struggle Pallavas Chalukyas Rashtrakutas Cholas Cheras Hoysalas Gangas Yadavas Kakatiyas Palas Senas Gurjaras- Pratiharas Historians depend on a variety of sources such as inscriptions, buildings, coins, and non-religious literature. The medieval period also has the first good example of written records of history which give us a better insight into the period.
Broadly we can divide the sources of history into two groups:
1. Archaeological 2. Literary 1. Archaeological Sources
• The archaeological sources are of immense value in the reconstruction of the socio – cultural and political history of medieval India.
• The archaeological sources include fossil remains, artifacts, tools and implements, edicts and inscriptions, monuments, coins.
• Archaeologists use them to reconstruct the past.
Let us briefly understand about each of the archaeological sources.
Fossil Remains
• Fossils are basically imprints of plants, animals or humans preserved in rocks.
• These have been buried for millions of years.
• These imprints are usually made from hard body parts such as bones or skulls, which leave a permanent mark on the rock.
• Fossils are the main source of information on the species that have become extinct, for example, dinosaurs.
• Monuments are ancient buildings and structures such as temples, mosques, tombs, palaces and forts.
• They throw light on the social, religious and cultural life of the people of the age when they were built, rebuilt, repaired or altered.
• Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh is an important Buddhist monument. The stupa provides information of historical significance. It was originally built of bricks during Ashoka’s time. It was expanded and remade of stones during the Sunga Period.
• An inscription on the southern gate was donated by King Satakarni. The northern gate and the panels depict stories from the Jatakas.
• Artifacts such as tools and implements, ornaments, and pottery have been found in various archaeological findings.
• They tell us about the kind of life people lived, their occupation and their social condition.
• Inscriptions are the written records engraved on stones, pillars, clay or copper tablets, caves, and walls of the temples and monuments.
• They are reliable sources of information about the history of any period.
• They provide us names of the kings, the adminstration of the kingdom, some important events, the extent of the kingdom, etc.
• The Ashoka inscriptions and the Allahabad pillar inscriptions tell us a great deal about the reign of Ashoka and Samudragupta.
The inscriptions of the Mauryan king Ashoka are the earliest inscriptions in India.
• Coins belonging to this period are a valuable source for reconstructing dates of historical events.
• They also give us an idea of the economic conditions of that period.
• They help us to ascertain the territorial extent and reign of the rulers.
• They also provide valuable personal information about rulers, such as their religion, For example, Samudragupta’s coins tell us that he was a good veena player.
• Monuments and paintings are also important archaeological sources of the period.
2. Literary Sources
• One of distinct features of the sources of the medieval period is that the number and variety of literary or textural records increased noticeably during this period.
• Literates and chroniclers wrote chronicles of rulers, petitions, judicial records, accounts and taxes.
• The teachings of saints and traders transaction were also recorded on these papers.
• The medieval chronicles were written by contemporary authors who were either court historians or freelancers.
There are three types of literary sources.
(i) Manuscript
(ii) Language
(iii) Religious and non-religious literature.
• The early literary records were handwritten. They are called manuscripts.
• Manuscripts were written on palm leaves, the bark of birch trees, and later on paper.
• Over the years, many of these manuscripts got destroyed, some of them are still preserved in temples, monasteries and archives.
• They throw light on the social and economic life, religious beliefs, practices and cultures of the past.
• The language of ancient Indian literature depends on the region where it was written.
• Some of the languages included Prakrit, Pali, Sanskrit or Tamil.


• For example, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana were written in Sanskrit because they were authored in the northern part of India where Sanskrit happened to be the main language.
• On the other hand, Silappadikaram and Manimekalai were written in Tamil since they were written in Tamil speaking areas of south India.
Religious Literature
• The Vedas and the Puranas contain details of rituals, prayers and religious practices of the Ancient past.
• They are classified as sacred or religious literary sources.
Non-Religious Literature
• The historical accounts and biographies written by poets and foreign travellers form part of Non-religious or regular literature.
• They were written to record events, rules of the contemporary society and administrative regulations.
• Kautilya’s Arthashastra, accounts of the foreign travellers such as India written by the Greek ambassador Megasthenes in the court of Chandragupta Maurya, and the writings of Chinese travellers Fa-Hien and Hiuen – Tsang are considered as secular literature.
• They describe the political, social and economic life of a certain period.


• Early medieval period is marked by the presence of a large number of regional and local powers in the absence of a paramount power in the country.
• This period has been characterized by certain historians as ‘regional imperial kingdoms’.
• The essential points of eary-medieval India may be highlighted as :
1. Political Decentralization 2. Emergence of landed Intermediaries 3. Naturalisation of Economy 4. Subjection of the Peasantry 5. Proliferation of castes 6. Formation of Regional cultural units 7. Feudal Dimension of the Ideology and Culture.
In the post-Gupta period, Kannauj became the centre of political activities in North India. The political unity crumbled on Harsha’s death and was followed by a period of anarchy and confusion in Northern India. A number of petty principalities and independent kingdoms rose on the ruins of the empire of Harsha.
Chachnama a work of rather late period, mentions four kings ruling at Kannauj during a period of seventy years following the death of Harsha. These four kings were Rasil Rai, Sayar, Sahiras and Rai Harachander.
A famous monarch named Yashovarman defeated many kings, which included the king of the Magadha, Vanga, Parasika, Shrikantha and Harishchandra. He is supposed to have founded the city named Yashovarmapura.
Yashovarman could not enjoy the rule of his vast empire, extending from north Bengal to N-W frontier province, for long. Lalithadithya, the king of Kashmir (about 750 AD) grew jealous of Yashovarman’s power and attacked Kannauj (Gadhipura) and finally uprooted Yashovarman.
The Rajatarangini mentions that the poets Vakpatiraja, Bhavabhuti and others adorned the court of Yashorvarman.
Malatimadhava, Mahaviracharita and Uttararamacharita, three well-known Sanskrit plays were written by Bhavabhuti.
Ayudhas-Three rulers of Kannauj
After Yashovarman’s dynasty, the last three rulers Ama, Dunduka and Bhoja. (belonging to the same lineage-Ayudhas) ruled for a very short period. During this period the struggle for Kannauj seems to have begun.
Vajrayudha was the first king who was defeated by Jayapida Vinayaditya of Kashmir. Dhruva Rashtrakita invaded the Doab and defeated the Kannauj king Indrayudha.
Indrayudha was also defeated by Dharmapala of Bengal.
Kannauj and the Tripartite struggle
The tripartite struggle had started between the Palas, the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas for the control of Kannauj and North India.
The tripartite struggle continued for nearly a century and ended in favour of the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Nagabhata II who founded the Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom at Kannauj.


During the period AD 700 – 1200, denoted as the early medieval peirod, a number of powerful regional kingdoms arose in north India, the Deccan and South India. All these kingdoms had the desire to build an empire and, therefore, continually fought with each other to gain control over their neighbouring territories.
The Palas were dominant in eastern India, whereas the Gurjara – Pratiharas dominated western India and the upper Gangetic Valley. The third major kingdom was that of the Rashtrakutas who controlled the Deccan and also the territories in Northern and Southern India at different times. A number of Rajput kingdoms also emerged during this period and among them the Chahamanas or Chauhans were the most prominent. In the south, the Cholas surfaced as the most powerful kingdom and became known for a distinct administrative structure and agrarian expansion.
The Pallavas
During the period of Pallavas, the Pallavas and the Chalukyas had established powerful empires in South India. The Pallavas are mentioned in Samudragupta’s pillar, where he is said to have defeated a Pallava king, Vishnugopa. The Pallavas were powerful between 330 and 550 AD. Their main area of dominance was Kanchipuram,, their capital, up to the Kaveri Delta. After Vishnugopa’s defeat by Samudragupta, the Pallavas became weaker and the Cholas and the Kalabhras repeatedly attacked the Pallava kingdom and robbed it of its wealth and territories. It was Simhavishnu son of Simhavarma II, who eventually crushed the dominance of the Kolabhras in AD 575 and re-established his kingdom. Although both the Pallava and Pandya kingdoms were enemies, the real struggle for political domination was between the Pallavas and Chalukyas.
The Pallavas’ history between 600 and 900 AD is full of accounts of wars between the Pallavas and the Chalukyas.
The Chalukyas
The incidence of grants to state officials varies from one region to another. The dynasty had two branches – Vatapi and Kalyani. The earlier rulers of this dynasty were Jayasingha and Rameraja. The Chalukyan kings were great patrons of art and letters. Most of the Ajanta and Ellora paintings were completed during this period. The famous scholars of their times include Bilhana a Sanskrit writer of works such as Vikramaskadeva Charita and the poem Chaurapanchesika and Vijnanesvara who wrote the Mitaksara.
The Chalukyas were largely influential in the area around Raichur Doab between Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers. Their capital was Aihole which was also an important trading centre.
The famous ruler of this dynasty was Pulakesin I, who was the first independent ruler of Badami with Vatapi in Bijapur as its capital. He was succeeded by Kirthivaraman I and Pulakesin II.
Pulakesin II, the grandson of Pulakesin I, was a contemporary of Harshvardhana and the most famous of the Chalukyan kings. He expanded his kingdom by annexing the entire Andhra Kingdom. His reign is remembered as the greatest period in the history of Karnataka. He defeated Harshavardhana on the banks of the river Narmada. Ravikriti was the court poet of Pulakesin II, who composed the Aihole Inscription.
This inscription gives a vivid account of the Chalukyan rule.
The Rashtrakutas
The term ‘Rashtrakutas’ means designated officers – in charge of territorial divisions called ‘ Rashtra’. They were feudatories under the Chalukyas of Badami. The founder of the Rashtrakuta kingdom was Dantivarman or Dantidurga, who after defeating the Chalukyas king Kirti Varman in the early eight century wrested from him the greater portion of the Deccan.
Dantivarman was succeeded in A.D. 750 by his uncle Krishna I, Who gave the final blow to the power of the Chalukyas of Badami, attacked the Gangas of Mysore and forced the Chalukyas of Vengi to acknowledge his supremacy. His son Govinda II was dethroned by his younger brother Dhruva in A.D. 779.
Their Cultural Contribution
• The ascendancy of the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan constitutes one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of the Deccan.
• They were tolerant in religious matters and patronised not only Shaivism and Vaishnavism, but Jainism as well.
• The Rashtrakutas were even tolerant of Islam. They permitted the Muslim merchants to settle, build their mosques and preach their religion in the Rashtrakutas.
• Their tolerant policies gave great impetus to trade and commerce.
• In the field of literature also their tolerant spirit is visible.
• They equally patronised Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhransa, forerunner of many modern Indian languages, and Kannada.
• They patronised the arts liberally.
• The rock-cut cave temples at Ellora are the symbols of their religious toleration and are one of the splendours of Indian art.
• The Kailash Temple, built by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna I, is an unrivalled and stupendous piece of art. The ancient Indian rock – cut architecture reached its zenith under the Rashtrakutas.
The Cholas
The Cholas or Chodas, as rulers, are known to have existed from remote antiquity. According to II and XIII Rock Edicts of Ashoka, the earliest historical documents to refer to the Cholas, they were a friendly power in the south beyond the pale of Mauryan Suzerainty. The Chola dynasty ruled over Tamil Nadu and parts of Karnataka. Tanjore was its capital city.
The Cholas disappeared only to resurface in 850AD when Vijayalaya captured Tanjore and made it his capital.
However, during the rule of Rajaraja I and his son Rajendra I the Cholas entered their most glorious phase. They expanded the kingdom beyond south India to Sri Lanka, Java and Sumatra.
By his ability, prowess and military skill, Rajaraja I defeted the Cheras and seized Madurai. He invaded Sri Lanka and annexed its northern part which became a Chola Province under the name Mummadi Cholaman Dalam. Rajaraja I then overran the eastern Chalukyas who eventually accepted his authority Rajaraja I constructed the beautiful Shiva temple at Thanjavur, called Rajarajesvara temple. An account of Rajaraja I’s exploits is engraved on the walls of the temple.
His son Rajendra I, by his military valour and administrative talents, raised the Chola empire to a pinnacle of glory. He annexed the whole of Sri Lanka and reasserted the Chola supremacy over Kerala and the Pandhyan country. His army marched triumphantly up to river Ganga and the dominions of the Pala king, Mahipala.
He adopted the title of Gangaikonda and founded a new capital called Gangaikonda Cholapuram in Tiruchirapalli district. The Chola monarch’s achievements were not limited to land only.
He had a powerful naval fleet which gained successes across the Bay of Bengal. It is said that he also sent expeditions to Java and Sumatra, presumably to further commercial relations between the Malaya Peninsula and south India.
The Chola Administration
King and The Ministers
• The king was the head of the state. He discharged his duties and responsibilities with the help of ministers and other high officers.
• The inscriptions of the Cholas prove that their system of administration was highly organised and efficient.
• Apart from the ruler (Tiruvakya – Kelvi) there was a ministerial council and an organised administrative staff.
• The ruler maintained close contact with the council of ministers and royal tours contributed to the efficiency of the administration.
• The officers were paid by land assignments. They were honoured and encouraged by conferring titles.
• The higher officials enjoyed the tittle of Penundaram, and the lower ones Sirutaram.
• The Cholas also constructed roads which helped in trade, commerce and communication.
Revenue was derived mainly from land and Collected in kind, or in cash, or in both, by village assemblies. Land was possessed by individuals and communities. The state’s share of land revenue was fixed at 1/3rd of the produce after an elaborate land survey in the time of Rajaraja I. There were periodical revisions of the classifications of land and of the assessment of land revenue. Other sources of public income were customs and tolls, taxes on various kinds of professions, mines, forests, saltpans, etc. Failure to pay the land revenue involved sale of the land in question, including temple lands.
Agricultural property was ensured by the special attention given to irrigation by the government as well as local authorities.
Village assemblies were responsible for maintaining tanks in good condition and for reclaiming forest and wastelands.
The Cholas spent huge amounts on buildings canals, tanks, dams and wells. Rajendra I dug an artificial lake near his new capital, Gangaikonda Cholapuram.
The army consisted of elephants, cavalry and infantry. Attention was given to training and discipline of the cantonments. It was composed chiefly of Kaikkolas or Sengundar.
The commanders enjoyed the rank of nayaka senapati, or mahadandanayaka. The Cholas under Rajaraja Controlled the Coromandel and Malabar coast and the Bay of Bengal.
Village Administration
• The village was the primary unit of society and Polity.
The village assemblies held the society together through its unique feature of autonomy and self-sufficiency.
• From the Uttaramerur inscriptions we find reference to at least three types of assemblies which played a regular part in local administration, namely the Ur, Sabha or Mahasabha and Nagaram.
• The Ur was an assembly of common villages where the land was held by all classes of people who were, therefore, entitled to membership in the local assembly.
• The Sabha was an exclusively Brahmin assembly of the Brhamadeya villages where all the land belonged to the Brahmins.
• The Nagaram was an assembly of merchants and belonged to localities where traders and merchants were in a dominant position.
• The Sabha, generally comprised the elite or learned in the community, commanded the respect of all the other assemblies in settling crucial matters of common concern.
• The Uttaramerur inscription belonged to the reign of
the Chola monarch Parantaka I (10th century)
Chola Temples
Under the Chola, temples became the centre of life. They were not only places of worship but also emerged as the hub of economic, political and cultural activities. The village assembly held its meetings in the temple mandapa or hall.
Temples also grew as centres of craft especially the creation of bronze images which was the most distinctive. Many cultural activities like music and dance also prepared in the temples.
The Chola records frequently refer to Devadana gifts of land.
Temple architecture, particularly the Dravida or south Indian style of architecture, reached its peak under the Cholas. The chief feature of a Chola temple is the Vimana or the tower, which was later eclipsed by the richly ornamented gopuram or gateway. In the Brihadeswara or Rajarajesvara temple dedicated to Siva, the Vimana or tower is about 57 metres high upon a square, comprising thirteen successive stories. It is crowned by a single block of granite, 7.5 metres high and about 80 tonnes in weight. Similarly, Rajendra I erected a splendid temple at his new capital, Gangaiskonda Cholapuram.
Some Chola temples at Thanjavur and Kalohasti contain beautiful royal portraits. The metal and stone images cast during the period are exquistite. The masterpiece of Chola sculpture is the famous Nataraja or the Dancing Siva image at the great temple of Chidambaram. This Nataraja has been described as the ‘cultural epitome’ of the Chola period. The Cholas also patronised paintings. The most important Chola paintings are those in the Pradakshinapath of the Rajarajesvara temple.
The Cheras
The Chera Dynasty was one of the important dynasties in India. The Cheras were able to establish their rule before the Sangam Age and they ruled till the twelfth century. During the Sangam Age, the Chera rulers were known by many titles including Malaiyar, Villavar and Vanavar. There were two important lines of the Cheras – first initiated from Uthiyan
Cheralathan while the second line starts from Irumporai.
Based on historical evidences, it is believed that the Cheras developed friendly relations with the Cholas and concluded matrimonial alliances with them, but soon supported the Pandya rulers against Cholas. However, their allied forces were defeated by the army of the Chola king in the Battle of Venni. After this defeat, the Chera ruler Uthiyan Cheralathan committed suicide.
The Cheras were successful in developing trade relations with Rome. Muziris, a famous sea-port in the ancient India, was an essential part of their kingdom. Through this sea-port, spices, timber, pearls, ivory and gems were exported from India to the Middle East and southern Europe. Many historical evidences suggest extensive foreign trade from the coasts of Karur, Malabar and Coimbtore. There are also legends that the Romans constructed a temple of Augustus at the port city of Muziris.
The Cheras were tolerant to all religions and faiths. In their reign, immigrants belonging to Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths established their communities as the Juda Mappila, the Nasrani Mappila and the Muslim Mappila respectively. The Chera king, Nedunjeral Adan, attacked Yavana ships and captured Yavana traders for ransom. Nedunjeral Adan was succeeded by his son, Senguttuvan, who is remembered for his great conquests. Senguttuvan was successful in defeating his enemies. Gajabahu, a famous emperor from Sri Lanka, also mentioned about the conquests of Senguttuvan.
The second Chera Dynasty, known as the Kulasekharas, ruled from the outskirts of Muziris, situated on the bank of river Periyar. During their rule, they were in constant conflict with their neighbours and fought many battles against them.
Finally, in twelfth century AD, continuous Chola invasions marked an end to their dynasty.
The Hoysalas
Founded by ‘Sala’, Hoysala dynasty existed between 1110 A.D. and 1326 A.D. Vinayaditya (1047-98) ruled the area centered on Dorasamudra (modern Halebid) – the capital city.
His grandson Bittiga, later called Vishnuvardhana (reigned 1110-42) made extensive conquests and built magnificent temples at Dorasamudra that were noted for their intricate and elaborate sculpture. Bittiga’s grandson, Vira Ballala
II (reigned 1173-1220) extended Hoysala control North of Mysore and made the dynasty the most powerful in South India. The Hoysalas later came into conflict with the empire of Vijayanagar and the Muslim sultans of Delhi. The last Hoysala ruler was overthrown in 1346. At its peak, the dynasty ruled over parts of the modern states of Mysore, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
Some of the most magnificent temples are attributed to the Hoysala dynasty. Developed on the architectural style of the Chalukyas, these structures have intricate details. The Belur
temple, built in 1117 A.D. to commemorate a victory against the Cholas, has a single star shaped structure, whereas the
Halebid temple (1121 A.D.) has a double sanctum like a twin temple, one beside the other, with the side wings joined to allow access to each other. In Halebid the temples are dedicated to Vishnuvardhana and his consort Santaleswara.
The Somnathapura temple, built in 1268, has three star shaped sanctums each placed at three angles.
The Gangas
The Western Ganga Dynasty (350 – 1000 A.D.) was an important dynasty of India – known as Western Gangas to distinguish them from the Eastern Gangas who in later centuries ruled over modern Orissa. The Western Ganga initially ruled from Kolar and later moved their capital to Talakad on the banks of the Kaveri river in modern Mysore district.
After the rise of the imperial Chalukyas of Badami, the Gangas accepted Chalukya overlordship and fought for the cause of their overlords against the Pallavas of Kanchi. The Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta replaced the Chalukyas in 753 A.D. as the dominant power in the Deccan. After a century of struggle for autonomy, the Western Gangas finally accepted Rashtrakuta overlordship and successfully fought alongside them against their foes, the Cholas of Tanjavur. The defeat of the Western Gangas by Cholas around AD 1000 resulted in the end of the Ganga influence over the region.
The Western Gangas made an important contribution to polity, culture and literature of the modern south Karnataka region.
The Western Ganga kings showed their patronage towards Jainism resulting in the construction of monuments in places such as Shravanabelagola and Kambadahalli. The kings of that dynasty encouraged the fine arts due to which literature in Kannada and Sanskrit flourished.
The Yadavas
The Yadava dynasty, also known as the Seuna Maratha dynasty, was founded by Seunachandra in AD 850. The son of Dridhaprahara, at his zenith he ruled a vast kingdom stretching from the River Tungabhadra to the River Narmada, including modern Maharastra, the north of Karnataka, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, with capital at Devagiri (now Daulatabad) in Maharashtra.
Originally a feudatory of the Eastern Chalukyas of Kalyani, the dynasty became paramount in the Deccan under Bhillama
(A.D. 1187–91). Under Bhillama’s grandson Singhana
(A.D. 1210–47) the dynasty reached its height, as the Yadava campaigned against the Hoysalas in the south, the Kakatiyas in the east, and the Paramaras and Chalukyas in the north.
During the reign of the last Yadava king, Ramachandra
(A.D. 1271–1309), a Muslim army commanded by the Delhi sultan Ala- al-Din Khalji invaded the kingdom in 1294 and imposed tributary status. In a further attempt, his son and successor died in battle, and the kingdom was annexed by the Khalji empire in 1317.
The Kakatiyas
The Kakatiyas ruled in Andhra Pradesh in India from A.D. 1083 to AD 1323. They were the first feudatories of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyana, ruling over a small territory near Warangal. Their rule is considered the most promising period of history of Telugu & Andhra Pradesh.
Rudra was a renowned ruler in Kakatiya Dynasty who ruled during AD 1158 to 1195. He stretched his empire till the Godavari Delta. To serve as a second capital, he constructed the fort at Warangal. Ganapati was the supreme king among all the rulers of Kakatiya dynasty. He played an important role in consolidation of Telugu region under one rule. He established a huge kingdom and promoted the trade practices in the kingdom. Ganapati did not have any son so his daughter Rudramba ascended the throne. Some of the generals who did not want to be dominated by Rudramba formed a different rebellion. She suppressed all kind of criticisms and moved with great courage to blow the Cholas and Yadavas tremendously.
The successor of Rudramba was Prataparuda. He ruled in the period AD 1295-1323. He divided his army into seventy five ‘Nayakships’. Later the Rayas of Vijayanagara took over the Nayakships and made growth in great extent. During this period only the Muslims invaded the empire of Kakatiya Dynasty in Andhra Pradesh for the first time. The king of Delhi Sultanate Ala-ud-din Khilji sent his army in AD 1303. Another major invasion of Muslims took place in order to capture ‘Tilling’, Ghiaz-ud-din Tughlaq the ruler of Tughlaq Dynasty sent his huge army under the leadership of Ulguh Khan during AD 1321. Prataparuda was defeated and was taken as a prisoner.
This marked an end to the Kakatiya Dynasty.
Pala Empire
8th century – 12th century-
The Pala Empire was a Buddhist imperial power in classical India during the 8th to 12th century CE. The empire is named after its ruling dynasty. All of whose rulers bore names ending with the suffix – Pala (“Protector”). The palas were often described by opponents as the Lords of Gauda. Their empire centered around the Present – day Bengal – Bihar region, and at times, included what are now Assam, Orissa and Parts of North India.
The Palas in comparison with other contemporary empires:- Capital Multiple
Patliputra Gauer (I) Monghyr (Devapala) Somapura (Dharampala) Mahipal in Present day Murshidabad District Languages Sanskrit, Prakrit (including pali), Proto – Bengali.
Religion Buddhism Government Monarchy King 8th Century Gopala – 12th Century Govindapala Historical era
– Established – Disestablished Medieval India 8th Century 12th cenetury Today part of Bangladesh India Nepal Sena Empire : AD 1070 – AD 1230
Capital Nabadwip Languages Sanskrit, Bengali Religion Hinduism, Buddhism Government Monarchy King
– 1070 – 1096 AD – 1159 – 1179 AD – 1225 – 1230 AD Hemanta Sen Ballal Sen Keshab Sen Historical Era
– Established – Disestablished Classical India AD 1070 AD 1230 The history of Bengal includes modern day Bangladesh and West Bengal, dates back four millennia. To some extent.
The Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers separated it from the mainland of India, though at times Bengal has played an important role in the history of India.
Gurjar Pratihar Dynasty
The Pratiharas are believed to be the clan of Rajputs. They set foot in India during the Huns invasion and settle around Punjab Rajputana Region. Soon they advanced to Aravali and Ujjain.
The branch of the Pratiharas who ruled in the Gujarat were the Gurjaras. The inscription of the Pratiharas trace their origin to Lakshmana, the Anuja of Rama, who acted as Rama’s door keeper or the Pratiharas. But in fact, when DantiDurga, the Rashtrakuta king defeated the Gurjara king Nagabhata I, the latter was made a Pratihara while Dantidurga performed the Hiranyagarbha Dana ceremony at Ujjain.
Points to remember • During the period AD 700 – 1200 the Gurjara – Pratiharas, Palas, Rashtrakutas and Chahamanas came up in north India and the Chola kingdom in south India.
• The three kingdoms – Gurjaras, Palas and Rashtrakutas were in constant struggle to acquire control over Kannauj. This struggle was termed as tripartite struggle.
• Mahmud Ghazni was the earliest Turkish invader in India.
• In south India, the Cholas emerged as the most powerful kingdom where the king was the head of the state.
• The Chola village assemblies – Ur, Sabha and Nagaram played an important role in village administration deciding upon its crucial matters.


Delhi Sultanate was founded by Turkish ‘Mamluks’ employed by rulers of Afghanistan. Early rulers had to defend north from attempted Mongol invasions. Their power derived from military, highways, trade routes and the ability to control provincial governors. They introduced copper and silver coins. In their reign, many refugees arrived from Persia after the Mongol invasions bringing many skills. Delhi was the capital of the Delhi Sultanate in the beginning of the thirteen century.

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