Dynasties in India: Dynasties of Ancient India, Longest Ruling Dynasty

By K Balaji|Updated : December 1st, 2022

Dynasties in India can be better understood if divided into two different eras such as the dynasties of ancient India and medieval India. There have been many great rulers who gave birth to the great Indian kingdoms that enrich the country’s past with some of the greatest achievements making India one of the most amusing countries in the world.

The Mauryan Dynasty is considered the first dynasty of India that set foot in India around 321 BCE. The Mauryas were able to occupy several regions across India. Among the very many dynasties in India, the Ays was also a famous Tamil dynasty in India and was based in Kerala. Below mentioned are details about all Indian dynasties along with their founders and contributions.

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Indian Dynasties

India has a long history of many different kingdoms that emerged and eventually saw their downslide. There were several dynasties that ruled over India throughout the Ancient Age, but the Mahajanapada, Nanda, Maurya, Pandya, Chera, Chola, Pallava, and Chalukya kingdoms, among others, reigned for the longest periods of time. The Indian dynasties form a very significant part of Indian history and also for the UPSC aspirants.

List of Indian Dynasties and their Founders PDF

The list of empires in India is long and contributes to the glorious past of Indian history. India as a country saw many developments, changes & different kinds of culture throughout the reign of different kings and their kingdoms. We have discussed the details of all the royal dynasties in India below which give us a peek into the rich culture and heritage of India.

Oldest Dynasty in India

The Maurya Dynasty is considered the oldest dynasty in India. It was the first dynasty to have made its mark in the country around 321 BC. Chandragupta Maurya was the first ruler of this famous dynasty.

Chandragupta Maurya dethroned Dhananand, the last Nanda ruler, and took over Patliputra. He was succeeded by Bindusara, who was then followed by Ashoka the great. He is well-known for his Dhamma administration and Dhamma Principles.

Dynasties in India

The ancient Indian kingdoms date from prehistoric times to 700 AD. Important Ancient Indian dynasties were:

  • Haryanka dynasty (544-413 BCE)
  • Shishunaga dynasty (413-345 BCE)
  • Nanda dynasty (343-321 BCE)
  • Mauryan Empire (321 BC- 185 BC)
  • Gupta Empire (240 BC-550 AD)

The medieval period is an important era in Indian History for the development in the field of art, languages, culture, and religion. The major dynasties during Medieval India were:

Top 10 Longest Ruling Dynasty in India

India is known to have a rich and famous history of royalty and culture. There have been many invasions that led to the rise of many kingdoms and powerful Indian dynasties. Below we have listed the top 10 longest ruling dynasty in India:

  • Chola Dynasty
  • Ahom Dynasty
  • Mughal Dynasty
  • Maurya Dynasty
  • Shishunga Dynasty
  • Rashtrakuta Dynasty
  • Haryanka Dynasty
  • Nanda Dynasty
  • The Kushans/ Yeuchi Dynasty
  • The Sunga Dynasty

Indian Dynasties: List of Empires in India

The dynasties of Ancient India form a significant part of the extensive Indian history.

All Dynasty of Indian History

Indian Dynasties

Dynasties of India Timeline

Founder

Capital

Maurya Empire

(321 BC- 185 BC)

Chandragupta Maurya

Pataliputra

Haryanka dynasty

(544-413 BCE)

Bimbisara

Rajgir (Girivraja)

Shishunaga dynasty

(413-345 BCE)

Shishunaga

(Girivraja)

Nanda dynasty

(343-321 BCE)

Mahapadma Nanda

Pataliputra

Indo-Scythians Kingdom (The Shaka)

150 BCE–400 CE

Maues alias Moga

Sigal

Taxila

Mathura

The Sunga Dynasty

185 BC- 75 BC

Pushyamitra Sunga

Pataliputra

The Kanva Dynasty

75 BC- 30 BC

Vasudeva

Pataliputra

The Satavahanas

1st century BCE–2nd century CE

Simuka

Pratishthana

Amaravati

The Chola Dynasty

300s BCE–1279 CE

Vijayalaya

Poompuhar, Uraiyur, Tiruvarur,

Pazhayarai, Thanjavur

Gangaikonda Cholapuram

Pandyan Dynasty

4th century BCE–1345 AD

-

Korkai

Madurai

Tenkasi

Tirunelveli

Chera Dynasty

3rd century BCE–12th century CE

Vanavaramban

Mahodayapuram

Quilon

Karuvur

Pallava Dynasty

275 CE–897 CE

Bappadevan

Kanchipuram

Chalukya Dynasty

543–753

Pulakesi I

Badami

Important Dynasties of India

India is famous for its glorious past and rich heritage. Many kingdoms and dynasties of India are part of Indian history. Each of these ancient kingdoms of India contributed in its own way and introduced India to a rich and royal culture. Some Indian dynasties like Mahajanpada, Maurya Dynasty, Nanda Dynasty, Pandya Dynasty, Chera Dynasty, Chola Dynasty, etc. held reigns of India for the longest period of time. Let us discuss these dynasties of India in detail.

Maurya Dynasty

The Maurya Dynasty is referred to as the oldest dynasty of India. The first ruler of the Maurya dynasty was Chandragupta Maurya who defeated the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty and took control of Patliputra in 322 BC.

  • He also defeated Seleucus Nikator in 306 BC.
  • The other two great rulers of the Maurya dynasty were Bindusara & the world-famous Ashoka, the great.
  • Ashoka was known for his great administrative skills and his Principle of Dhamma.

Mahajanapadas

The dynasty called Mahajanapadas ruled from 600 BC to 325 BC in India. It was one of the 16 great ancient kingdoms of India.

The title itself means “great realm” deriving from the word “maha” - great and “janapada” - a country or foothold of a tribe.

Haryanka Dynasty

The Haryanka Dynasty was also one of the famous dynasties of India. It spanned from 544 BC - 492 BC.

  • One of the famous rulers of the Haryanka Dynasty was Bimbisara, who was the founder of this dynasty.
  • Bimbisara was considered the contemporary of Gautam Buddha.
  • Other great rulers of this dynasty were Ajatashatru and Udayin.
  • Udayin was the one who set the foundation of Patliputra.

Shishunaga Dynasty

The Shishunaga Dynasty was founded by king Shishunga, thus the name. He was a minister to one of the kings of the Haryanka Dynasty.

  • This dynasty of India is most famous for its biggest achievement which was the destruction of Avanti.
  • Another important event during the reign of the Shishunaga Dynasty was the second Buddhists Council that happened in Vaishali (383 BC).

Nanda Dynasty

The Nanda Dynasty was founded by Mahapadma who was also known as the Sarvakshatrantak & Ugrasena, which meant the uprooting of all the Kshatriyas & the owner of a large army respectively.

  • Mahapadma is famously referred to as the first person to build an empire in the history of India.
  • He is also known as Ekrat, according to the Puranas.

Kushan Dynasty

Kanishka was the greatest ruler of the Kushana Dynasty. According to an old theory, he is also said to have started the Saka Era in 78 AD. Alternatively, the ascension of king Chashtana is also considered the beginning of the Saka Era leading to the establishment of the Saka Dynasty.

A number of scholars like Nagarjuna, Vasumitra, Asvagosha, Charak, Parsva, and Mathara were a part of Kanishka’s court.

Sunga Dynasty

The Sunga Dynasty was formed by Pushymitra Sunga, the Commander-in-Chief of the last Maurya ruler.

  • Patanjali, the great priest, is famous at this time for being a part of two Asvamedha Yajnas that was performed by Pushymitra Sunga.
  • Patanjali was also the author of ‘Mahabhasya’.
  • The most famous monument of this dynasty of India is the Bharhut Stupa.

The Pandyas

The mention of the Pandyas was done by the famous Megasthenes who was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat, and Indian ethnographer. He has described India in one of his books.

  • The Pandyas are known to have attempted trade with the Roman Empire.
  • They also sent embassies to Augustus.

The Chola Dynasty

The Chola Dynasty is also one of the oldest dynasties in India. It is also referred to as Cholamandalam.

  • It was located in the North-East direction of the kingdom of Pandyas.
  • The capital of Cholamadalam was Kaveripattanam or Puhar.

Gupta Dynasty

The Gupta Dynasty or the Gupta Empire existed around the early 4th century CE to the late 6th century CE. The Gupta Empire spread its wings in India from 319 CE to 467 CE which is considered the Golden Age of India.

  • The Gupta Dynasty was founded by Chandragupta I (319 - 334 AD).
  • He began the Gupta Era in 319 AD - 320 AD.
  • The other great ruler of this dynasty was Samudragupta who reigned from 335 AD - 380 AD.
  • Samudragupta was known as the Napoleon of India.
  • Other important rulers of this dynasty were Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta I, and Skandagupta.

Rashtrakutas Dynasty

The Rashtrakutas Dynasty was founded by Dantidurg. The Rashtrakutas are famous for their creation of the cave shrine - Elephanta, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

  • The first Kannada poetry is also attributed to this dynasty. Amogvarsha wrote the poetry Kaviraj Marg.
  • The Kailasha temple was built during the reign of Rashtrakutas by Krishna I at Ellora.

Pallavas Dynasty

The Pallava Dynasty of India was founded by Simhavishnu. Other achievements of this dynasty were the creation of the rock-cut Ratha and pagoda.

  • Narsimhavarman was the greatest king of the Pallava Dynasty of India.
  • He also founded the town of Mamallapuram.
Important Notes for UPSC
Difference Between Non Cooperation Movement and Civil Disobedience MovementInterlinking of Rivers
AshokaUnited Nations Organization
IES vs IASSavitribai Phule
Measurement of National IncomeConstituent Assembly Debates
Non Aligned MovementRajya Sabha

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FAQs on Dynasties in India

  • All Indian dynasties have their own contribution and impact on current India. Some of the different dynasties in India were:

    • Haryanka dynasty (544-413 BCE)
    • Shishunaga dynasty (413-345 BCE)
    • Nanda dynasty (343-321 BCE)
    • Mauryan Empire (321 BC- 185 BC)
    • Gupta Empire (240 BC-550 AD)
  • The Indian dynasties that ruled in South India were Chola Dynasty, Pallava Dynasty, Chalukyas Dynasty, and Rashtrakutas Dynasty. The dynasties of Chera, Pandyan, Travancore, and Satavahana were other major dynasties that were at their highest during various periods.

  • The Mauryan and Gupta dynasties in India were different in many respects. Firstly, the Mauryan Empire's reign was during the B.C. era, whereas the Gupta dynasty ruled in the A.D. Secondly, the Mauryan Empire was much bigger than the Gupta Empire.

  • The Chola Dynasty is considered the longest ruling dynasty in India and the world. It was a Tamil empire ruling in the Southern part of India.

  • The Satavahana Dynasty started the practice of Land Grants in India. The rulers of the Satavahana Dynasty are said to have first provided a land grant to the Brahmanas.

  • The oldest dynasty in India is the Mauryan Dynasty, commonly called the Mauryan Empire. This dynasty was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who was a great king. It was founded in 321 BC and occupied large parts of India.

  • Having the exact number of Indian dynasties is a complicated task. There were several great dynasties in India that existed in ancient times. Some of the great dynasties were the Maurya Dynasty, the Cholas, the Gupta Dynasty, the Pallavas, Nanda Dynasty, etc.

  • Some of the famous kings of Ancient India were Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Bimbisara, Shishunga, Chandragupta I, Mahapadma, etc. All of these were great rulers who contributed in a major way to Ancient Indian history.

  • The top 10 longest-ruling dynasties in India are the Marya Dynasty, Haryanka Dynasty, Sunga Dynasty, Chola Dynasty, Gupta Dynasty, Pallava Dynasty, Mahajanpadas, Nanda Dynasty, Rashtrakutas Dynasty, and Kushan Dynasty.

  • The period of the Gupta Empire's reign is known as the Golden Age of India. It was called so due to the many achievements of Indians during this period in many fields, such as art, culture, science, and literature.

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