Summary of Ancient Indian Dynasties and their contributions

India has had a very extensive history which has witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties. Here is the “Summary of Ancient Indian Dynasties and their contributions” which is very important for competitive examinations like UPSC, SSC, CDS, NDA, State Services, and Railways etc.
Updated: Aug 9, 2016 15:23 IST

India has a very extensive history which has witnessed the rise and fall of various dynasties. Many dynasties reigned over India during the Ancient Age and the most important among them are the Mahajanpada, Nanda Dynasty, Maurya Dynasty, Pandya Dynasty, Chera Dynasty, Chola Dynasty, Pallava Dynasty, Chaulakya Dynasty etc. ruled for the longest period of time in the nation on the Indian soil. Here is the “Summary of Ancient Indian Dynasties and their contributions” which is very important for competitive examinations like UPSC, SSC, CDS, NDA, State Services, and Railways etc.


Mahjanpadas (600 BC – 325 BC)

The literal meaning is "great realm", from maha, "great", and janapada "foothold of a tribe", "country".  It is one of the sixteen kingdoms or oligarchic republics of Ancient India.


Geographical Area and


Located in the district of Munger and Bhagalpur of Bihar

Capital- Champa/ Champanagiri

Assaka (or Asmaka)

Located between the rivers Narmada and Godavari (Dakshinapatha or southern India)

Capital- Potana or Potali (corresponds to Paudanya of Mahabharata)


Malwa (divided into north and south by the river Vetravati)

Capital City-  North Avanti (Ujjayini), South Avanti (Mahishmati)


Bundelkhand Area (lay near Yamuna midway between the kingdom of Kurus and Vatsas)

Capital City- Shaktimati/Sotthivati


Western part of Pakistan & Afghanistan

Capital City- Taxila (Near Rwalpindi, Pakistan) and Pushkalavati Rajapur/ Hataka


District of Varanasi, UP

Capital City- Varanashi


Hazara district of Pakistan

Capital City- Rajapur/ Hataka


Districts of Fiazabad, Gonda, Bahraich in UP

Capital City- North Kosal (Srasvati/ Sahet-Mahet), South Kosal (Saket/ Ayodhya)


Haryana & Delhi area

Capital City- Indraprastha (Modern name Delhi)


kingdom roughly corresponded to the modern districts of Patna and Gaya in southern Bihar and parts of Bengal in the east

Capital City- Girivraj, Rajgriha/Rajgir (Bimbisara), Patliputra (Udayin), Vaishali (Shisunaga), Patliputra (Kalashok)


District of Deoria, Basti, Gorakhpur and Siddharthanagar in UP

Capital City-  Kuishinara and Pawa

Machcha (or Matsya)

Alwar, Bharatpur and Jaipur in Rajasthan

Capital City- Viratnagar


Ruhelkhand, Western UP

Capital City- North  Panchal (Ahichhatra), South Panchal (Kampilya)



Capital City- Mathura


Districts of Muzaffarpur & Vaishali in Bihar

Capital City- Videha, Mithila, Vaishali

Vatsa (or Vamsa)

Districts of Allahabad, Mirzapur in UP

Capital City- Kausambi

Haryanka Dynasty (544 BC- 492 BC)


Contributions & Achievements


Founded the dynasty

Expanded the dynasty (Magadha Kingdom) by annexing Anga and entering into matrimonial alliances with Kosal and Vaishali.

He was contemporary of Buddha

Capital City was Rajgir (Girivraja)


He killed his father and seized the throne

Built the fort of Rajagriha and a watch-fort (Jaladurga) on the bank of Ganga


Laid the foundation of Patliputra at the confluence of the Son and Ganga

Shishunaga Dynasty

Shishunaga founded the dynasty (Minister of king Nag-Dasak of Hrayanka dynasty)
The greatest achievement of the dynasty was the destruction of Avanti
The second Buddhists Council in Vaishali (383 BC) was convened during Kalashoka (Kakvarna) reign

Nanda Dynasty

Founded by Mahapadma (known as Sarvakshatrantak which means Uprooter of all the Kshatriyas; Ugrasena which means Owner of huge army) by overthrowing Shisunaga dynasty.
Mahapdma was described as “the first empire builder of Indian history”. The Puranas called him Ekrat which means the sole Monarch.
The invasion of Alexander took place in north-west India in 326 BC during the reign of Dhanananda.

Maurya Dynasty


Contributions & Achievements

Chandragupta Maurya

Dethroned the last Nanda ruler Dhananad and occupied Patliputra in 322 BC with the help of Kautilya

Defeated Selucus Nikator in 306 BC

Megasthenese (Greek Ambassador) came in his court 


Known to the Greeks as Amitrochates (Derived from the Sanskrit word Amitraghata i.e. slayers of foe)

Patronised Ajivikas


Well known for his administration and Principle of Dhamma.

Maintained a large and powerful army to maintain peace and authority, Ashoka expanded friendly relations with states across Asia and Europe, and sponsored Buddhist missions.

Mahendra, Tivara/Tivala (the only one mentioned in an inscription), Kunala and Taluka were prominent among Ashoka’s sons. Two of his daughters Sanghamitra and Charumati were known.

The Indo-Greeks

Menander (165-145 BC) was very famous king among Indo-Greeks and also called Milinda
Converted to Buddhism by Nagasena as per the Millindapanho (Pali Text)
Greeks were the first to issue gold coins in India.
Introduced Hellenistic art

The Shakas

Rudradaman I (130-150 AD) who repaired Shudarshana Lake in Kathiawar region.
Issued first ever inscription in Chaste Sanskrit (Junagarh Inscription)

The Kushanas Dynasty

Also called Yechi or Tocharians who were nomadic people from the steppes.
Kanishka was the greatest ruler of Kushanas  who started Saka Era in 78 AD
In the court of Kanishka , a host of  scholars found  patronage like Parsva, Vasumitra, Asvagosha, Nagarjuna, Charak (Physician) and Mathara

The Sunga Dynasty

Established by Pushymitra Sunga (Brahmin Commander-in-Chief of last Maurya Ruler)
Patanjali, author ofMahabhasya’ was born at Gonarda in Central India. Patanjali was the priest of 2 Asvamedha Yajnas, performed by Pushymitra Sunga.
Bharhut Stupa is the most famous monument of the Sunga period.
Sunga Art: Vihar, Chaitya and Stupa of Bhaja (Poona), Amaravati Stupa, and Nasika Chaitya

The Kanva Dynasty

Founded by Vasudeva (Minister of Sunga Dynasty who killed Devabhuti last ruler of Sunga Dynasty)

The Satavahanas Dynasty

Founded by Simuka (60-37 BC)
Under the Satavahanas, many chaityas (Worship Halls) and Viharas (Monasteries) were cut out from rocks mainly in North-West Deccan or Maharashtra the famous examples were Nasik, Kanheri and Karle.

The Pandayas

They were first mentioned by Megasthenese
Traded with Roman Empire, sent embassies to Augustus.

The Chola Dynasty

It is also called as Cholamandalam which was situated to the North-East of Pandya Kingdom between Pennar and Vellar rivers.
Kaveripattanam/Puhar was the capital city.

The Chera Dynasty

Vanji (Now called Kerala) was the capital city of the kingdom
Trade relation with Romans

Sangam Age

Corresponds to the Post-Maurya and pre-Gupta periods
It was a college or an assembly of Tamil poets, held under royal patronage.
Kural written Tiruvalluvar which is also called the ‘Fifth Veda’ or ‘the Bible of Tamil Land’

Three Sangams were held:

1. At Madurai chaired by Agastya

2. At Kapatpuram, chaired by Tolkappiyar

3. At Madurai, chaired by Nakkirar

Gupta Dynasty


Contributions & Achievements

Chandragupta I (AD 319-334)

First Gupta ruler to acquire the title of Maharajadhiraj

Established  Gupta authority over Magadha, Prayaga and Saketa

Started the Gupta Era in 319-20 AD

Samundragupta (AD 335-380)

Known as ‘Napoleon of India’

Meghavarman (Srilankan Ruler) sent a missionary in his court for permission to build a Buddhist temple at Gaya.

Allahabad pillar inscription gives detailed information about Samundragupta.

Assumed the titles of Kaviraj and Vikrama

Chandragupta II (AD 380-414)

Mehrauli inscription on Iron Pillar near Qutub Minar is related to him.

Court was adorned by Navratnas, the chief being Kalidas and Amarsimha.

Fa-hien (Chinese Pilgrim AD 399-414) visited in his reign

Adopted title of Vikramaditya as mark of victory over the Shaka Kshatrapas of Western India.

Kumaragupta I (AD 415-455)

He was the worshiper of God Kartikeya

Founded the ‘Nalanda Mahavihara’ which development into a great centre of learning

Skandagupta (AD 455-467)

During his rule, empire was invaded by Hunas

Bhitari Pillar inscription is related to him

Pushyabhuti Dynasty

Harshavardhan was the greatest ruler of the kingdom who shifted its capital to Kannauj
Hieun Tsang visited during Harshavardhan period
Harshavardhana established a large monastery at Nalanda.
Banabhata adorned the Harshavardhan court, wrote  Priyadarshika, Ratnawali and Nagananda

Rashtrakutas Dynasty

Founded by Dantidurg
Krishna I built the Kailasha temple at Ellora.
Amogvarsha wrote the first Kannada poetry Kaviraj Marg.
Rashtrakutas are credited for building cave shrine Elephanta (dedicated to Shiva)

Gangas Dynasty

Narsimhadeva built the Sun Temple at Konark.
Anantvarman built the Jagannath Temple at Puri.
Kesaris built the Lingaraja Temple at Bhuvaneshwar.

Pallavas Dynasty

Founded by the Simhavishnu.
Narsimhavarman (Greatest King of Dynasty) who founded the town of Mamallapuram (now Mahabalipuram) and built rock-cut rathas and pagoda.

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