After Harshavardhana, the Rajputas emerged as a powerful force in North India and dominated the Indian political scene for about 500 years from 7th century.



  • The period from 750 – 1000 CE saw the rise of three important empires: Gurjara-Pratihara (Western India), Palas (Eastern India) and Rashtrakutas (Deccan).
  • The conflict among these three powers (basically for control over Kannauj area of Ganga valley) is often describes as “tripartite struggle”.
  • Kannauj was strategically and commercially very important. It was located on the Ganga trade route and was connected to the Silk route. Previously, Kannauj was capital of Harshvardhan Empire.



  • Known as Gurjara – Pratihara, as they originated from Gurjaras, who were primarily pastoralists and fighters.
  • Dynasty was founded by Harichandra, in and around jodhpur, south western Rajasthan.
  • Pratihara were instrumental in containing Arab armies moving east of the Indus River.
  • Gurjara-Pratihara are known for their sculptures, carved panels and open pavilion style temples. The greatest development of their style of temple building was at Khajuraho, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Sanskrit Poet & Dramatist Rajasekhara lived in the court of Mahipala–a grandson of Mihirbhoja.
  • Foreign traveller Al-Masudi had visited Pratihara empire.



Nagabhatta I (730-760)

· Most famous Pratiharas kings, known for containing Arab armies

· Defeated by Rashtrakuta king Dhruva.





· Made Kannauj in western U.P as his capital.

· Expansionist policy brought him into conflict with Dharmapala, the Pala king and Rashtrakuta king Dhruv, thus begantripartite struggle” and continued for about another 350 years.

· Vatsraja defeated the Pala ruler Dharmapala and Dantidurga, the Rashtrakuta king, for control of Kannauj.

Nagabhata II


· He conquered Kannauj and the Indo-Gangetic Plain as far as Bihar from the Palas, and again checked the Muslims in the west.

· He rebuilt the Shiva temple at Somnath in Gujarat, which had been demolished in an Arab raid from Sindh.

Bhoja I/ Mihir Bhoja


· Greatest ruler of Pratiharas, got victories over Palas and Rashtrakutas.

· Capital at Kannauj, which also known as Mahodaya.

· Devotee of Vishnu, adopted title ‘Adivaraha’.


Pratiharas were wiped out from political scenario by Ghaznavids and their rule was succeeded Chauhan in Rajputana, Chalukyas or Solanki in Gujarat and Paramara in Malwa.



  • In 750 AD, Gopala founded Pala dynasty.
  • Capital: Muddagiri/ Munger (Bihar)
  • Pala kingdom included Bengal and Bihar, which included major cities of Pataliputra, Vikrampura, Monghyr, Tamralipti.
  • Palas were followers of Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric schools of Buddhism.
  • Pala had close cultural relations with Tibet. The noted Buddhist scholars, Santarakshita and Dipankara were invited to Tibet. They introduced a new form of religion there.
  • They had close trade contacts and cultural links with South-East Asia.
  • Sailendra dynasty (Buddhist) which ruled over Malaya, Java, Sumatra sent many embassies to the Pala court.
  • Pala period is considered as golden period in history of Bengal.
  • Pala armies were famous for its vast war elephant cavalry.
  • Arab merchant Sulaiman had visited Pala kingdom.
  • The Palas power were destroyed by the Sena dynasty under Vijyasena.




Gopala (around 750 CE)

· As per Khalimpur copper inscription of Dharampala, he founded Pala dynasty, replacing later Guptas of Magadha and Khadga dynasty.

· Built famous Odantpuri monastery at Bihar, 2nd largest after Nalanda university.


Dharampala (770-810)

· Defeated by Rashtrakuta king Dhruva and Pratihara king Nahabhatta II.

· Founded the Vikramshila University near Bhagalpur, Bihar and built Somapuri monastery (paharpur, Bihar).

· Revived Nalanda University.


Devapala (810-850)

· Expanded empire in the east included Assam.

· His Inscriptions proclaims his victory over Hunas, Gurjaras and Dravidas.

· His Court poet was Buddhist scholar Vajradatta, author of Lokesvarasataka.


Pala & Pratihara’s Administration:


· The directly administered territories were divided into Bhukti (province) and Mandala or Visaya (Distructs)

· The governor of Bhukti was called Uparika & had duty to collect land revenue and maintain law and order.

· The head of Visaya was Visayapati and had same duties like Uparika within their territories.

· Smaller unit below the Visaya was pattala.

· Bhogapatis or Samantas were small chieftain, dominated villages.



  • Rashtrakutas meaning ‘the chief of a rashtra’, they considered as the feudatory of the Chalukyas.
  • Capital: Manyakheta or Malkhed near Solapur.
  • Rashtrakuta fought constantly against the eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and Pallavas of Kanchi and Pandya of Madurai.
  • Krishna III was the last great ruler of Rashtrakutas. In 972 CE, Capital city was burnt to ashes by the united This marks the end of Rashtrakutas.
  • They were tolerant in their religious views and patronised Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Jainism.





· Feudatory of the Chalukyan king, Kirtivarman II,

· Founded Rashtrakutas kingdom in 753 CE.


Krishna I

(756- 774)


· Extended the empire, included present day Karnataka and Konkan under his control.

· Gave final blow to Pallavas.

· The rock-cut Kailasanath (Shiva) temple at Ellora caves was built during his reign.



· He led successful expeditions to Kannauj, defeated the Nagabhatta II (Pratiharas) and Dharmapala (Pala).


Amoghavarsha I



· Called as “Ashoka of the South” and also compared to Gupta king Vikramaditya.

· Built new capital city at Manyakheta (Modern Malkhed).

· Defeated Eastern Chalukyas, maintained friendly relations with neighbours.

· He wrote Kavirajamarga (Kannadda) and the Prashnottara Ratnamalika (Sanskrit).

· He was follower of Jainism.



  • Architecture reached a milestone in the Dravidian style, the finest example of which is seen in the Kailasanatha (Shiva) Temple atEllora in modern Maharashtra.
  • Other important contributions are the Kashivishvanatha temple and the Jain Narayana temple at Pattadakal in modern Karnataka, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  • The great Apbhramsha poet Svayambhu and his son lived in Rashtrakuta court.


Kavirahasya Halayudha
Parsvabhudya Jinasena
Adipurana Gunbhadara
Amogavritti Sakatayana
Ganitasaram Viracharya
Nalachampu Trivikrama Bhatta
Vikramasenavijaya Pampa
Santipurana Ponna



  • The system of administration in these empires was based upon the ideas and practices of Gupta empire.
  • King was head of administration and commander in chief of the armed forces. He also dispensed justice.
  • The king was assisted by number of ministers, generally form leading families and their position was hereditary.
  • The empires consisted of areas administered directly and areas ruled by vessels. The latter had autonomy in internal affairs.
  • The directly administered territories were divided into: Rashtra (province) and Visaya (Districts) and Bhukti.
  • The head of Rashtra was Rashtrapati, and had similar functions as the Uparaika performed in Pala and Pratihara.
  • Village was the smallest unit. The village headman carried out duties with the help of Grama-Mahajana or Grama-Mahattara (village elders).
  • Villages also had commitees to manage schools, tanks, temples etc.
  • Law and order in the towns and in areas in their vicinity was the responsibility of Koshtapala or Kotwal.
  • Nad-gavundas or Desa-gramakutas were the hereditary revenue officers.



THE CHOLAS (850 – 1279 AD)

  • Known as Imperial Cholas of Tanjore.
  • The founder of Chola dynasty was Vijayalaya who was at first a feudatory of Pallavas.
  • The greatest kings of Cholas were Rajaraja & his son Rajendra I.
  • The use of Agrahatta (Persian wheel) also facilitated the already established smooth irrigation networks of tanks, canals, wells and sluices.







Rajaraja I

(985- 1014 AD):

· Greatest Chola Ruler, who helped raise chola empire as largest dominion in South India.

· He took titles – Mummidi Chola, Jayankonda & Shivpadshekhara.

· He defeated Chera, Pandya & conquered Maldives Islands.

· Naval expedition against the Sailendra Empire (Malaya Peninsula).

· Expanded trade with china.

· In 1010 CE, constructed the Rajarajeshwara or Vrihadeshvara temple, dedicated to shiva at Thanjavur.

· Rajarajeshwara or Vrihdeshwara temple is a part of “Greatest Living Chola Temples”, & entered the UNESCO World Heritage site list in 1987. This temple is the finest example of Dravidian architecture.

· Developed revenue system where land was surveyed and then revenue was assessed. So, he was referred as Ulakalanada Perumal (the great who measured the earth).



Rajendra I

(1014- 1044 AD)

· Son of Rajaraja I, defeated & conquered whole Sri Lanka.

· Made Chola navy strongest in the area and ‘Bay of Bengal’ was converted into a ‘Chola Lake’.

· He assumed the title of “Gangaikondachola” & built a city-“Gangaikondacholapuram”.

· He was great patron of learning and known as Pandita – chola.

· Encouraged local self-government.


Rajendra III was the last king. Later Pandya conquered Chola empire.




· Kaikkolaperumpadai – Royal troops

· Velaikkarar – Personal troops to defend kings

· Kadagram – militari cantonment

· Puravuvanithinaikkalam – Revenue dept.

· Peruvazhis – Trunk roads

  • King was assisted by council of minister.
  • Perundanam & serundanam were important officials.
  • The Empire was divided into:
    1. Mandalams (provinces) – Royal princes (in charge)
    2. Valanadus – Perinattar
    3. Nadus (district) – Nattar
    4. Autonomous Villages – 30 wards (members selected by lottery type)
  • Local self-government was imp feature of Cholas rule. Uttiramerur Inscriptions gives detailed account of the village administration.
  • Ur Nattam was residential portion of the city.
  • Ur was general assembly of village & Sabha was gathering of adult men in the Brahmana village – Agrahara (rent free villages with autonomy).
  • Main source of Income for Chola Empire was land revenue, which was 1/6th of the produce.
  • Dues were levied on ceremonial occasions like marriage.



  • Karanmai (right to cultivate): Further divided into:
    1. Kudi Nikki: People previously settled in the village were either removed or deprived of their rights.
    2. Kudi Ninga: People were not to be disturbed of their land rights.
  • Mitachi (superior possessive right).



  • Divided on caste lines: Periyar (Untouchbles), Vellallas (Farming groups).
  • Emergence of supra caste dichotomy:
  1. Idangai (left hand caste groupings): Consisted mainly of artisanal and trading groups.
  2. Valangai (right hand groupings): Consisted mainly of agricultural groups.
  • Women were head of some villages, as per some inscriptions.
  • Significant shift of royal patronage from gifts to Brahmans to gifts to Temples.
  • Expansions in agrarian economy, use of Agrahatta (Persian wheel) for smooth irrigations.
  • Emergence of various crafts centers, i.e., Kanchipuram as important weaving industry centre, Kudamukku was center for betel nut & areca nut production.
  • Emergence of trading caste: Garveras (Northern merchants migrated southwards), Gaudas/ Gavundas (originally cultivators).
  • Shaivism & Vaishnavism
  • Chola had trade relations with Java, Sumatra, Arabia & China.
  • Inscriptions at Ennayiram, Thirumukkudal & Thirubuvanai gives details of education system & colleges.





Art & Architecture

· Dravidian type of temple architecture reached its climax under the cholas.

· Chola king built lofty temples & inscribed long inscriptions on the wall narrating their achievements. They also depict the socio-economic conditions of that period.

· Kailasanath Temple of Kanchipuram was built in 8th century. Airavatesvara temple & temple at Gangaicholapuram, Nataraja temple at Chidambaram are famous.

· Brihadeshwara temple at Tanjore was built by Rajaraja in 1078 was dedicated to Shiva.

· The Chola period is also remarkable for its sculptures and bronzes. The best example of this can be seen in Dancing figure of Nataraja.

· Bharatanatyam & kathakali are two types of dances performed during the Chola period.







· Sivakasintamani written by Thiruthakkadevar and Kundalakesi belonged to 10th century.

· The Ramayana composed by Kamban and the Periyapuranam or Tiruttondarpuranam by Sekkilar are the two master-pieces of this age.

· Telugu version of Mahabharata was started by Nanniah & completed by Tikkana.

· Jayankondar’s Kalingattupparani describes the Kalinga war fought by Kulotunga I.

· The Moovarula written by Ottakuthar depicts the life of three Chola kings.

· The Nalavenba was written by Pugalendi.

· The works on Tamil grammar like Kalladam by Kalladanar, Yapperungalamby Amirthasagarar, a Jain, Nannul by Pavanandhi and Virasoliyam by Buddhamitra were written during Chola rule.

· Pampa, Ponna, & Ranna known are considered 3 gems of Kannada literature lived in the 10th century.


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