Do You Know – 16 !


You must have learnt about the three empires in the Medieval period– Palas, Pratiharas, and the Rashtrakutas – but do you retain the relevant information regarding these empires ?

Here we go :



Unlike Gupta and Harsha empire in north India, no other kingdom was able to bring the entire Ganga valley under its control.

Pala empire – eastern India

Pratihara empire – western India + north India

Rashtrakuta empire – Deccan

These three empires fought among themselves but provided stable conditons of life.

Rashtrakuta empire lasted the longest.

Rashtrakuta acted as bridge between north and south India.

Pala empire was found by Gopala.

These three empires fough with each other for the control of Kannauj and north India.

Gaud was in Bengal or Bengal was called Gaud in those times.

Nagbhatta was Partihara ruler.

Sulaiman was an Arab merchant who visited India ( Pala empire ) in those times.

Sulaiman called the Pala kingdom – Ruhma.

The Nalanda university was revived by Dharmapala.

Dharmapala also founded the Vikramsila university.

Vikramsila university was located on the top of a hill on the banks of Ganga.

Pala rulers had close cultural relations with Tibet.

Buddhist scholars Santarakshita and Dipankara ( called Atista ) were invited to Tibet and they introduced a new form of Budhism there.

  • Palas also patronised Shaivism and Vaishnavism.
  • Palas had trade and cultural contacts with Souheast Asia-Burma, Malaya, Java, Sumatra, etc.
  • Sailendra dynasty ruled over Malaya, Java, Sumatra.
  • Sailendra dynasty was Budhdhist in faith and sent many embassies to Pala court.
  • Sailendra dynasty built a monastery at Nalanda.
  • Pratiharas ruled over Kanauj for a long time.
  • Pratiharas were also called Gurjara-Pratiharas as they originated from the Gurjaras.
  • Partiharas had their first capital at Bhinmal.
  • The real founder and greatest ruler of Pratihara empire was Bhoja.

Kanauj remained the capital of the Pratihara empire for almost a century.

Pratihara rulers had the best cavalry in India.

Bhoja was a devotee of Vishnu and adopted the title of Adivaraha. He is sometimes called Mihir Bhoja.

Bhoja was succeeeded by his son Mahendrapala.

Al-Masudi, a native of Baghdad, visited Gujarat (Pratihara empire ) during this period.

Al-Masudi calls the Gurjara-Pratihara kingdom al-Juzr.

Sanskrit poet and dramatist, Rajashekhar, lived at the court of Mahipala, the grandson of Bhoja.

During this time, many Indian scholars went to the court of the caliph at Baghdad. These scholars introduced Indian sciences, especially, mathematics, alegbra and medicine to the Arab world.

Rashtrakuta king, Indra III, attacked Kannauj and devastated the city. This weakened the Pratihara empire.

Rashtrakuta kingdom was founded by Dantidurga.

Capital of Rashtrakuta empire was at Manykhet or Malkhed.

Rashtrakutas also fought constantly against Chalukyas of Vengi, Pallavas of Kanchi and Pandyas of Madurai.

The greatest Rashtrakuta rulers were Govinda III and Amoghvarsha.

Amoghvarsha wrote the first Kannada book on poetics.

Amoghvarsha was a great builder and built the capital city of Manyakhet so as to excel the city of Indra.

Rashtrakutas patronised not only Shaivism and Vaishnavism but Jainism as well.

  • The rock-cut temple of Siva at Ellora was built by a Rashtrakuta king, Krishna I.
  • Rashtrakuta kings also allowed Islam to be preached.
  • Apbhramsha was a term used for the so-called corrupt languages or dialects which deviated from the norm of Sanskrit grammar.
  • The system of administration in these empires was based on the ideas and practices of the Gupta empire, Harsha’s empire and the Chalukyas.
  • As before, the monarch was the centre of all affairs. He was the head of the administration as well as the commander in chief of the armed forces. He also dispensed justice.
  • Women of the king’s household also attended the darbar on festive occasions. Women did not veil their faces in the Rashtrakuta empire.

The kings position was generally hereditary but succession of the eldest son was not a rule. Even daughters held administrative posts.

Ministers’ positions were often hereditary.

More than one post could be combined in one person.

All the minsters, except the purohita, were expected to lead military campaigns as well when called upon to do so.

There were officials of the royal household ( antahpur )as well.

The largest number of elephants was maintained by the Pala kings.

Troops were drawn from dfferent religions all over India. The troops were often hereditary.

The Pala kings had their own navies.

  • The empires consisted of area administered directly and areas ruled over by the vassal chiefs, which were largely autonomous.
  • The directly administered territories in the Pala and Pratihara empires were divided into :
    • bhukti ( provinces); the governor of province was called uparika
    • mandala or visaya ( districts); the head of district was called visaypati
    • pattala ( the unit below visaya)
    • heads of a group of villages were called samantas or bhogpatis

The directly administered territories in the Rashtrakuta empire were divided into

  • rashtra ( provinces ); the governor was called rashtrapati.
  • visaya ( district )
  • bhukti (the unit below district)


  • The basic unit of administration in these empires was village. The vilage headmen were often helped in their duties by the village elders called gram mahajana or gram mahattara.
  • Law and order in the towns was the responsibility of koshtapala or kotwala.

There were hereditary revenue officers called nad gavundas or desa gramakutas.

As the power of the hereditary elements grew, the central ruler found it difficult to assert his control over them. Thus, the government was becoming ‘feudalised’.

A king was not expected to interfere with the customs, or with the code of conduct prescribed by the law books called the

Medhatithi , a writer in this period and the foremost expounder of Dharmashastra in this period, said that the king’s authority was derived both from the Dharmashastras, including the Vedas and from Arthashastras or the science of polity. His public duty was to be based on This meant that politics and religion were kept apart; religion being a personal duty of the king.


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