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Medieval History / Early Medieval Era

Rajput Kingdoms of Early Medieval Period

There were 36 Rajput kingdoms of early medieval period that ruled over North India. Some important Rajput dynasties are Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, Chandela dynasty, Paramara dynasty, Solanki dynasty, Chahamana dynasty, Gahadavala dynasty, etc.

Colonial-era historians characterized Rajputs as being the descendants of Huns and Scythians but it is very much disputed. Many historians believe that Rajputs are local tribes, who got civilized over a period of time and got transformed into the ruling class. Rajputs are the bravest and honest people. They are ready to die for the word that is given.

Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty

  • Gurjara Pratiharas ruled first from Ujjain and later ruled from Kannauj. The founder of Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty is Nagabhata I, who himself claimed as Agnikula Kshatriya.

  • Mahendrapala - A Sanskrit scholar was present in his court (10th C), named Rajasekhara, who wrote Karpuramanjari, Kavyamimamsa, Viddhasalabhanjika, Balabharata, Balaramayaṇa.

  • Rajyapala - Invasion of Mahmud Ghazni took place during his reign and Kannauj city was plundered.

  • Mihira Bhoja - He was the greatest king of Pratihara dynasty. Arab traveller Sulaiman visited India during his period.

Chandela Dynasty

  • The Chandelas were the feudatories of Gurjara Pratiharas. Nannuka was the founder of Chandela dynasty. Capital of Chandela dynasty was initially located at Khajuraho and later at Mahoba. They ruled mostly the Bundelkhand area. Jejakabhukti was ancient name of Bundelkhand. That is why, they are sometimes called Chandelas of Jejakabhukti.

  • Under the king Dhanga, Chandela or Chandel dynasty established its sovereignty. Dhanga constructed most of the temples.

  • Ganda was an important king of Chandela dynasty. He was twice defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni. He was responsible for the confederation of Rajputs but was defeated by Mahmud of Ghazni.

  • Chandelas are the first kings to use inscriptions in Hindi.

  • Temples built by Chandel Dynasty - The famous Khajuraho temples were built by Chandelas. They built some of the best Nagara temples in the country. Some of the temples are Lakshmana Temple, Chaturbhuja Temple, Devi Jagadambi Temple, Vishwanatha Temple, Kandariya Mahadeva Temple, Adinatha Temple (Jain temple), Parshvanatha Temple (Jain temple), etc.

Paramara Dynasty

  • They are also called Pawar dynasty. The founder of Paramara dynasty is Upendra. Capital of Paramaras is Dhara (modern Dhar) and they ruled the Malwa region.

  • King Bhoja -
    • He was the most important king of Paramaras. He took the title of Kaviraja and he wrote many books. Some of his books are Ayurveda Sarvasva (on medicine), Samarangana Sutradhara (on architecture), Tattvaprakasha (on Shaivism), Yuktikalpataru (on Ship building, administration, etc.), Rajamartanda (on Yoga), Sarasvati Kantabharanam (Sanskrit grammar for poetic narrations), etc.

    • He built a new city called Bhojpur, very close to Bhopal. In Bhojpur, a sanskrit college was started with a Saraswati temple. This college was popularly known as Bhojshala or Saraswati Kanthabharana Mahavidyalaya.

    • He started Vagdevi cult and started worshipping Saraswati. Government of India has taken the replica of Vagdevi from his period for the Jnanpith award.

Solanki Dynasty

  • They are also called Chalukyas of Gujarat as they ruled mostly the Gujarat area and some parts of Rajasthan. Capital of Solanki dynasty is Anahilavada (modern Patan). Mularaja was the founder of Solanki dynasty.

  • Bhima I - During his reign around 1024-25 AD, Mahmud Ghazni invaded his kingdom and did an attack on Somnath temple. During this invasion, Bhima I ran away from his capital and took shelter in Kanthkot. Somnath temple is the most sacred Shiva temple and one of the Jyotirlingas. Bhima I had a Jain minister by name Vimala, who built Vimal Vasahi temple at Dilwara in Mount Abu (Best Jain temple in India).

  • Early rulers of Solanki dynasty were attacked by Mahmud Ghazni and later rulers by Muhammad Ghori.

  • A jain scholar named Hemachandra was patronised by Jayasimha Siddharaja and Kumarapala, son of Jayasimha. Kumarapala was influenced by Hemachandra and he banned animal eating in Gujarat. Some of the books written by Hemachandra are Kumarapala Charita, Parisistaparvan, Trishashti Shalaka Purusha Charita (Lives of 63 Jain Monks), Neminatha Charita, Abhidhana Chintamani, etc.

  • Bhima II - In 1178, at the Battle of Mount Abu, Muhammad Ghori was defeated by Bhima II and Muhammad Ghori ran away from the war. Bhima II had two Jain ministers in his court namely, Vastupala and Tejapala. Both built many Jain temples at Mount Abu.

Chauhan Dynasty

  • They are also called Chahamana dynasty. Capital of Chauhan dynasty was located at Shakambhari and hence they were known by their capital as Chahamanas of Shakambhari. There were also other Chahamanas like Chahamanas of Naddula, Chahamanas of Jalor, etc. The founder of Chauhan dynasty is Vasudeva.

  • Vigraharaja IV expanded the Chahamana territories greatly. He defeated the Tomaras of Delhi. He wrote a Sanskrit drama Harakeli Nataka (Vaishnavite drama).

  • Prithviraja III -
    • He is popularly known as Prithviraj Chauhan. A scholar named Jayanaka wrote a book named Prithviraja Vijaya. One more scholar was there in his court by the name Chand Bardai, who wrote Prithviraj Raso. It is about the Prithviraj Chauhan love story with the princess Samyukta of neighboring Gahadavala kingdom. It is the first book in Hindi literature. It was written in Braj Bhasha, which is one of the dialects of Hindi language.

    • Two wars were fought between Muhammad Ghori and Prithviraj Chauhan (in 1191 and 1192) at Tarain near Sthaneshvara. In the first battle, Ghori was defeated and he ran away. The second battle of Tarain is responsible for Muslim rule in India. Prithviraj Chauhan was killed and Chauhan dynasty came to an end.

      Ghori appointed a governor named Qutb-ud-din Aibak. When Ghori died in 1206, Qutb-ud-din Aibak proclaimed independence and established Muslim rule in India with Delhi as capital.

Gahadavala Dynasty

  • Capital of Gahadavala dynasty is Kannauj. They came after Gurjara Pratiharas. The founder of Gahadavala dynasty is Yashovigraha.

  • Jayachandra - He was a staunch rival of Prithviraj Chauhan. Against his wishes, his daughter Samyukta ran away with Prithviraj Chauhan and to take revenge he made an alliance with the Ghurids to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan.

    In 1194 AD, in the battle of Chandawar, Ghurids under Qutb-ud-din Aibak defeated Jayachandra. A Sanskrit scholar by the name Sriharsha was in the court of Jayachandra. Sriharsha wrote a book called Naishadha Charita. It was being translated into many languages.

  • Govindachandra - His minister Lakshmidhara was a great jurist. Lakshmidhara wrote two law books named Krtya-Kalpataru and Kalpadruma.

These are some of the important Rajput kingdoms of early medieval period. There were many Rajput dynasties that ruled North India throughout the medieval period.