Kingdom of Kanyakubja
c. 510 CEc. 606 CE
Coin of King Iśanavarman of the Maukhari of Kanyakubja, successors of the Guptas in the Gangetic region. Circa 535-553 CE. The ruler faces to the left, whereas in Gupta coinage the ruler faces to the right. This is possibly a symbol of antagonism and rivalry, as also seen on some similar coins of Toramana.[1] of
Coin of King Iśanavarman of the Maukhari of Kanyakubja, successors of the Guptas in the Gangetic region. Circa 535-553 CE. The ruler faces to the left, whereas in Gupta coinage the ruler faces to the right. This is possibly a symbol of antagonism and rivalry, as also seen on some similar coins of Toramana.[1]
Common languagesSanskrit
Historical eraClassical India
• Established
c. 510 CE
• Disestablished
c. 606 CE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Gupta Empire
Alchon Huns
Later Guptas
Pushyabhuti dynasty
Gauda Kingdom

The Maukhari dynasty (Gupta script: , Mau-kha-ri) was a post-Gupta dynasty who controlled the vast plains of Ganga-Yamuna for over six generations from their capital at Kanyakubja. Maukharis were Kshatriyas who belonged to the Chandravamsha or the Lunar race.[3] They earlier served as vassals of the Guptas and later of Harsha's Vardhana dynasty. The Maukharis established their independence during the mid 6th century. The dynasty ruled over much of Uttar Pradesh and Magadha. Around 606 CE, a large area of their empire was reconquered by the Later Guptas.[4] According to Hieun-Tsang, the territory may have been lost to King Shashanka of the Gauda Kingdom, who declared independence circa 600CE.[5][6]


The Maukharis were staunch Hindus. They tried to enforce and maintain the traditional social order[better source needed] among the people. Hinduism received state support, but Buddhism also managed to remain as a prominent religion.[7]


The Maukhari army consisted of elephants, cavalry and infantry. Ishanavarman in all probability would have taken much pains to reorganize the army and make it strong and worthy. The Maukhari strategy mainly focused on deploying elephant corps to crush the enemy armies. They were used against the Alchon Huns and the Later Gupta armies.[7] The Maukharis fought against the remnants of the Alchon Huns in the areas of the Gangetic Doab and Magadha, as documented in the Aphsad inscription, while the Aulikaras repelled them in the Malwa region.[8] The Aphsad inscription of Ādityasena mentions the military successes of kings of the Later Gupta dynasty against the Maukharis, themselves past victors of the Alchon Huns:[8]

The Aphsad inscription of Ādityasena

"The son of that king (Kumaragupta) was the illustrious Dâmôdaragupta, by whom (his) enemies were slain, just like the demons by (the god) Dâmôdara. Breaking up the proudly stepping array of mighty elephants, belonging to the Maukhari, which had thrown aloft in battle the troops of the Hûnas (in order to trample them to death), he became unconscious (and expired in the fight)."

The Maukharis, rather than the Guptas, were therefore the key actors in repelling the Hunas.[10]


Kanyakubja, the Maukhari capital, grew in prosperity and importance as a great cosmopolitan city. After the demise of the Maukharis, it even became the capital of Emperor Harsha. Hence, Kanyakubja was largely contested by imperial powers.[11]: 20 [7][12]

The first three Maukhari kings are mentioned in the inscriptions as Maharaja, but their successors assumed grander titles showing an increase in power and prestige. Ishanavarman was the first Maukhari ruler to adopt the title Maharajadhiraja (lit., King of Great Kings).[7]

Cultural and international exchanges

Asirgarh seal inscription of Sharvavarman, Maukhari dynasty, 6th century .[13][14]

The Maukhari kings were patrons of poets and writers and many literary works were composed during their reign.[7] Various seals and inscriptions are known, such as the Asirgarh seal inscription of Sharvavarman,[15] or the Haraha inscription of Isanavarman, discovered near the village of Harara in the Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh and dated to Vikrama Samvat 610 (ie 554 CE), which record the genealogy of the Maukharis.[16]

Contacts with the Sasanian Empire

Sasanian Empire King Khosrow I sits before the chessboard, while his vizir and the Indian envoy of Kannauj are playing chess. Shahnama, 10th century CE.[17]
The Harahara inscription of Ishanavarman. The inscription, dated to Vikrama Samvat 610 (ie 554 CE), record the genealogy of the Maukharis.[18]

With the end of Hunnic power, new contacts were established between India and the Sasanian Persia. Intellectual games such as chess and backgammon demonstrated and celebrated the diplomatic relationship between Khosrow I and a "great king of India." The vizier of the Indian king invented chess as a cheerful, playful challenge to emperor Khosrow. It seems that the Indian ruler who sent the game of chess to Khosrow was the Maukhari monarch Śarvavarman of Kannauj, between the beginning of Śarvavarman's reign in 560/565 and the end of Khosrow's reign in 579.[17][19] When the game was sent to Iran it came with a letter which read: "As your name is the King of Kings, all your emperorship over us connotes that your wise men should be wiser than ours. Either you send us an explanation of this game of chess or send revenue and tribute us."[20] Khosrow's grand vizier successfully solved the riddle and figured out how to play chess. In response the wise vizier created the game backgammon and sent it to the Indian court with the same message. The Indian king was not able to solve the riddle and was forced to pay tribute.[20]


The Vardhana dynasty (also called "Pushyabhuti dynasty") ultimately succeeded the Maukhari dynasty, but it had originally only been a small polity around their capital Sthaneshvara (Thanesar). According to Hans T. Bakker, their ruler Aditya-Vardhana (or Aditya-Sena) was probably a feudatory to the Maukhari ruler Sharvavarman. His successor Prabhakaravardhana may have also been a feudatory to the Maukhari king Avantivarman in his early days. Prabhakara's daughter Rajyashri married Avantivarman's son Grahavarman. As a result of this marriage, Prabhakara's political status increased significantly, and he assumed the imperial title Parama-bhattaraka Maharajadhiraja ("the one to whom the other kings bow because of his valour and affection").[21]


The known Maukhari rulers of madhya-desha include:[22]

Maukhari design on a Nalanda Clay Seal of Sharvavarman.

Karenti branch of Maukhari Rulers

After the fall of Maukhari dynasty his descendants moved to Kuntalpur and later one of his descendant Kripal Dev moved to Kirtigadh in 661, where he defeated Baloch ruler of Kirtigadh and Makwanas ruled from (661 AD to 1089 AD). Last king was Kesar Dev Makwana, who died in battle against Hamir Soomra, ruler of Amarkot.[24]

Barabar branch of Maukhari rulers

The Gopika Cave Inscription of Anantavarman (left half).

The Barabar Cave inscriptions attest the existence of another Maukhari branch. This branch ruled as feudatories, probably that of the Later Guptas. The known rulers of this branch include:[25]

See also


  1. ^ Tripathi, Rama S. (1989). History of Kanauj: To the Moslem Conquest. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 45 Note 1. ISBN 978-81-208-0404-3.
  2. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 145, map XIV.1 (i), 25, 26. ISBN 0-226-74221-0.
  3. ^ Tandle, Dr Sanjeevkumar. INDIAN HISTORY. ISBN 978-1-312-37211-5.
  4. ^ "Maukhari dynasty (Indian dynasty) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2013-01-26.
  5. ^ Reza, Mohammad Habib; Bandyopadhyay, S.; Mowla, Azizul (July–September 2015). "Traces of Buddhist architecture in Gupta and post-Gupta Bengal: evidence from inscriptions and literature". Journal of Eurasian Studies. VII (3): 8–19. S2CID 163998400.[unreliable source?]
  6. ^ Dasgupta, Biplab (2005). European Trade and Colonial Conquest, Volume 1. Anthem Press. ISBN 978-1-84331-028-0. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d e Lal, Avantika. "World History Encyclopedia: Maukhari Dynasty". World History Encyclopedia.
  8. ^ a b GHOSE, MADHUVANTI (2003). "The Impact of the Hun Invasions: A Nomadic Interlude in Indian Art". Bulletin of the Asia Institute. 17: 145–146. ISSN 0890-4464. JSTOR 24049312.
  9. ^ Madan, A. P. (1990). The History of the Rāṣṭrakūṭas. Harman Publishing House. p. 208. ISBN 978-81-85151-38-0.
  10. ^ Willis, Michael (2005). "Later Gupta History: Inscriptions, Coins and Historical Ideology". Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. 15 (2): 140. ISSN 1356-1863. JSTOR 25188529.
  11. ^ Sen, S.N., 2013, A Textbook of Medieval Indian History, Delhi: Primus Books, ISBN 978-93-80607-34-4
  12. ^ Tripathi, Rama S. (1989). History of Kanauj: To the Moslem Conquest. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 215. ISBN 978-81-208-0404-3.
  13. ^ "Siddham. The Asian Inscription Database IN00144 Asirgadh Seal Inscription of Sarvavarman".
  14. ^ "Siddham. The Asian Inscription Database Śarvavarman".
  15. ^ Vats, Madho Sarup (1946). "Sohnag Terracotta Seal of Avantivarman". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 9: 74–77. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44137039.
  16. ^ Thomas, F. w (1918). Epigraphia Indica Vol.14. pp. 110–116.
  17. ^ a b Eder, Manfred A. J. (2010). South Asian Archaeology 2007 Proceedings of the 19th Meeting of the European Association of South Asian Archaeology in Ravenna, Italy, July 2007, Volume II (PDF). Archaeopress Archaeology. p. 69. ISBN 978-1-4073-0674-2.
  18. ^ Thomas, F. w (1918). Epigraphia Indica Vol.14. pp. 110–116.
  19. ^ Bakker, Hans T. (2017). The Huns in Central and South Asia. How Two Centuries of War against Nomadic Invaders from the Steps are Concluded by a Game of Chess between the Kings of India and Iran.
  20. ^ a b Canepa 2009, p. 181
  21. ^ Hans Bakker 2014, p. 79.
  22. ^ Ronald M. Davidson 2012, p. 34-35.
  23. ^ Documented by the Shankarpur copper-plate inscription: see SIDDHAM: the asia inscriptions database:
  24. ^ Girase, Jaypalsingh (2020-08-02). Rashtragaurav Maharana Pratapsingh: Ek Aprajit Yoddha (in Hindi). Notion Press. ISBN 978-1-64919-952-2.
  25. ^ Bindeshwari Prasad Sinha (1977). Dynastic History of Magadha, Cir. 450-1200 A.D. Abhinav. pp. 109–110. OCLC 464639312.