During the 8th century AD, a struggle for control over the Kannauj took place among three major empires of India namely the Palas, the Pratiharas and the Rastrakutas. The Palas ruled the eastern parts of India while the Pratiharas controlled the western India (Avanti-Jalaor region). The Rastrakutas ruled over the Deccan region of India. The struggle for control over Kannuj among these three dynasties is known as the tripartite struggle in Indian history.
Both Dharmpala, the Pala king and Pratihara king, Vatsaraja clashed against each other for Kannauj. The latter emerged victorious but was defeated by Rashtrakuta King Dhruva I. However, the moment the Rashtrakuta King returned to his kingdom in south, Pala king Dharmapala took the advantage of the situation and captured Kannuj. But his control over Kannauj was temporary.
The tripartite struggle thus started, lasted for two centuries and made all three dynasties weak in the long run. This resulted into the political disintegration of the country and benefited the Islamic invaders from Middle-east.
The significance of Kannauj
Kannauj was located on the Ganga trade route and was connected to the Silk route. It made Kannauj strategically and commercially very important. It was also the erstwhile capital of Harshvardhana's empire in north India.
Yashovarman setup a kingdom at Kannauj around 730 AD. He was followed by three kings namely Indrayudha , Vijrayudha, and Chakrayudha who ruled over Kannauj between the end of the 8th century and first quarter of 9th century.
Unfortunately, these rulers proved to be weak and the kingdom of Kannauj, the Gurjara-Pratiharas of Bhinmal (Rajasthan), the Palas of Bengal and Bihar and the Rashtrakutas of the Manyakheta (Karnataka) fought war against each other to take advantage of the immense economic and strategic potentialities of Kannauj.
This tripartite struggle for Kannauj continued for almost two hundred years and its result finally ended in favour of the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Nagabhata II who made Kannauj the capital of the Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom. This kingdom ruled for nearly three centuries.