Indian Kings

The land of India has witnessed strong and valorous kings and emperors. Throughout history we read about the dynasties that lifted their swords to conquer, defend, and expand. The story of Indian kings is interesting and worth listening to.

Here we have listed the most famous Indian Kings and Emperors across history of India. So go ahead and read this informative blog.

List of Greatest Indian Kings & Emperors

1. Ajatasatru (512-461 BCE)

Ajatasatru is a significant name among kings of ancient India. He was a successor of King Bimbisara, who headed the Haryanka Dynasty. Ajatasatru was a valor king who once ruled a huge Kingdom, starting from India’s northern tip to Bengal’s eastern part. The kingdom was also expanded to Punjab and reached Nepal. The expansion was made through wars or marriage alliances like other Indian kings.

Reign Period-492-460 BCE

Dynasty- Haryanka Dynasty

Highlights-

  • The name of Ajatashatru is mentioned in both Jaina and Buddhist literature.
  • He defeated and conquered more than 36 neighboring states.
  • He fought the battle for 15 years battling against the Licchavi republic to win Nepal’s Vajji region.
  • Ajatashatru employed a new weapon, catapult, which was a ballistic device.
  • He also employed a covered chariot with a swinging mace similar to the tank we see today. 

2. Harshavardhana (590-647 AD)

Harshavardhana or Harsha was a prominent king of the Vardhan Dynasty in the 7th century AD. He was the successor of Prabhakar Vardhana, who was the founder of the Pushyabhuti Dynasty or the Vardhana Dynasty. Harsh expanded his kingdom to North, Northwest, and South. He established the Kannauj as the capital of the kingdom. 

Reign Period- 606 A.D to 647 A.D

Dynasty- Vardhana Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He eventually turned to Buddhism.
  • Chinese Buddhist traveler named Xuanzang mentioned Harsh’s great deeds in his writings.
  • Hiuen Tsang visited India during Harsha’s reign. His book is a good source of knowledge about Harsha’s kingdom, his generosity, and justice.  
  • His kingdom was divided into two types of territories-Direct territories and Feudatories.
  • Banabhatta was his court poet who composed the Harshacharita.

3. Chandragupta Maurya (340-298 BCE)

Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the famous Mauryan Dynasty. He was one of the ancient kings of India yet a significant one. The policies of Chandragupta led him to occupy almost the whole India under one control. This is why he is considered the greatest emperor of India.

Reign Period- 324-297 BC

Dynasty- Mauryan Dynasty

Highlights-

  • The Greek ambassador, Megasthenes, was part of Chandragupta’s court.
  • Chanakya was the teacher of Chandragupta Maurya and the Chief Minister.
  • He is found in the Buddhist literary sources.

4. Ashoka (304-232 BCE)

Ashoka was India’s greatest ruler known in the history of India. He succeeded after Chandragupta Maurya and considered to be the crown of the Mauryan dynasty. The history of Ashoka’s kingdom and his works is known by the pillar inscription planted across his kingdom. 

Reign Period- 268-232 BC

Dynasty- Mauryan Dynasty

Highlights-

  • Kalinga war was the life-changing war in his life that he changed to Buddhism. 
  • Ashoka’s Dhamma was the calling of Ashoka that he spread Buddhism in the neighboring countries. 

5. Samudragupta (315-380)

Samudragupta was the son of Chandragupta I, who played a significant role in the expansion of the kingdom. He was one of such Indian kings who conquered North and South of India. The reason behind this is he was a military genius who added many territories.  

Reign Period- 268-232 BC

Dynasty- Gupta Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He is called ‘Napolean of India’
  • His military campaigns are inscribed in Eran inscription.
  • He also performed Ashvamedha sacrifice to claim his sovereignty. 

6. Pulakesi II (610-642)

Among the many rulers of India, Pulakesi II is a bright name of the Chalukya dynasty. He was a valorous king who ruled from north to south India.  He was the son of Mangalesha, and Adityavarman succeeded him.

Reign Period- 610-642 BC

Dynasty- Chalukya Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He was a Vaishnavite but stayed in harmony with other faiths like Shaivism, Buddhism, and Jainism.
  • The battle of Elapattu Simbige was a significant battle that lead him to the throne.

7. Raja Raja I (947-1014)

Raja Raja I was one of the Indian kings who ruled over Tamil Nadu, Malabar Coast, and north for Sri Lanka. He was one of the most significant rulers of 3rd Century BC. There were many conflicts and conquest which he faced with courage.   

Reign Period- 985-1014

Dynasty- Chola Dynasty

Highlights-

  • Conquest of Sri Lanka showed his valor.
  • Chalukyan conflict of Karnataka made him visible in Rashtrakutas.
  • He also had a good hold in a naval expedition.

8. Prithviraj Chauhan (1166-1192)

Prithviraj Chauhan is one of India’s great kings who ruled in the northern front of the land. He was the son of Someshvara, king of the Chahamana territory, which majorly includes present Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi.

Reign Period- 1178-1192

Dynasty- Chahamana or Chauhan Dynasty

Highlights-

  • Prithviraj achieved military successes
  • He repelled the first few invasions by the furious invader, Muhammad of Ghor.
  • The second battle of Tarain made Ghurids defeat Prithviraj.

9. Krishnadevaraya (1471-1529)

Krishnadevaraya is the son of one of the bravest Indian kings, Viranarasimha Raya. He rose his dynasty after the decline of the Delhi dynasty. During his reign, Portuguese travelers visited his kingdom. He expanded his rule towards the Deccan plateau. He is counted among rulers of India who rose the dynasty to the heights conquering the neighbors. 

Reign Period- 1178-1192

Dynasty- Chahamana or Chauhan Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He learned many languages and wrote literature.
  • He respected all sects of Hinduism and built the famous Tirumala Venkateswara Temple.

10. Akbar (1542-1605)

Akhbar was the successor of Humayun. He was the most powerful king of Indian history. The reason behind this is that he respected diversity and tolerated all kinds of faith and views. Akbar was such Emperor of India who displayed valor on the battlefield, wisdom in the court, and love for his subjects. Therefore he ruled from north to south and from east to west. So he is undoubtedly one of the greatest kings in the world ever.

Reign Period- 1556-1605

Dynasty- Mughal Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He was a military genius and a great administrator.
  • Akbar introduced coin for trade and started trading from across the globe.
  • He introduced Diwan-I-Aam and Diwan-E –Khas.

11. Shah Jahan (1592-1666)

Shah Jaha was the son of Jahangir and a lover of architecture. During his reign, Mughal reached cultural glory and was counted among the rich country in the world. He constructed the famous Taj Mahal, which is a popular tourist destination in India. He is counted among few Indian kings who were fond of fine arts.

Reign Period- 1628-1658

Dynasty- Mughal Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He was a sound administrator.
  • He built Red Fort, Moti Masjid, Jama Masjid alog with Taj Mahal.
  • There was the use of gold, silver, and copper coins.
  • He started a free kitchen in the Deccan famine of 1630.

12. Aurangzeb (1618-1707)

Aurangzeb was the sixth Mughal Emperor. He is known for being one of the reasons for the downfall of the dynasty. Unlike his successors, he was an orthodox follower of Islam. He captivated Shah Jahan and mistreated his family and his subjects. Yet he was a warrior and skilled on the battlefield. 

Reign Period- 1658-1707

Dynasty- Mughal Dynasty

Highlights-

  • He established relationships with Muslim countries.
  • Aurangzeb imposed a Hindu pilgrimage tax and made the taxation difficult.
  • He fought against the rebels by Jat, Maratha, Satnami, Sikh, and Pashtun.

List of Famous Kings of India across History

13. Maharana Pratap (1540-1597)

The name of Maharana Pratap comes on the top of the list when it comes to the Hindu kings name list. He was born in a Rajput family. You can see a glimpse of him in Zee TV serial Jodha Akhbar.

Reign Period- 1572-1597

Dynasty- Chahamana or Chauhan Dynasty

Highlights-

  • Pratap won the famous battle of Haldighati against a huge army of Akbar.
  • Interesting conquest of Mewar made Maharana Pratap a patron of the Hindu king against Mughals. You can see these wars in ‘Bharat Ka Veer Putra – Maharana Pratap’, which is a Sony TV serial.

14. Sher Shah Suri (1486-1545)

Sher Shah Suri had a very short period of reign in India, yet he was an influential king. He came victorious over the Mughal dynasty and ruled a huge kingdom from Bihar. He was known for systematic administration and planning. 

Reign Period- 1538-1545

Dynasty- Sur Dynasty

Highlights-

  • Sher Shah Suri built grand Trunk Road as a concentrate highway of medieval India.
  • He started the use of currency called the Rupee, which is still in use. 
  • He also built Rohtas Fort and Purana Quila.

15. Shivaji Bhonsle (1630-1680)

Shivaji is one of the Indian kings who fought against the Mughals even if there was a huge difference in the resources. He was a valorous warrior who was crowned as Chhatrapati. He pioneered guerrilla warfare tactics.  Even today, Mumbai Airport and Railway station are named after him.

Reign Period- 1674-1680

House- Bhonsle

Highlights-

  • He pioneered Guerrilla war practices.
  • He fought a fierce battle with Afzal Khan.
  • Shivaji faced multiple conquests with Mughals.

16. Hyder Ali (1720-1782)

Hyder Ali was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was mapped on the national politics when he raised the sword against British conquest. While the British were approaching to conquer Deccan, Hyder Ali was the toughest warrior king to defeat. He was among the courageous kings of India in Deccan.

Reign Period- 1761-1782

House- Sultan (Mysore)

Highlights-

  • He participated in the Mughal-Maratha war and Carnatic wars.
  • Hyder Ali fought the first and second Anglo-Mysore war.
  • He made Mysore a stronghold of a firm Indian kingdom.

17. Tipu Sultan (1750-1799)

Tipu Sultan was named Tiger of Mysore among other Indian kings. He was the son of Hyder Ali and grew strong than him. Tipu Sultan was credited for the excellent administration of the army and navy. He was encouraged the coinage dating system. He fought with Marathas and Mughals. So it is not wrong to say he was one of the greatest warriors in India.

Reign Period- 1782-1799

House- Sultan (Mysore)

Highlights-

  • He contributed to planned road development.
  • King emphasized the judicial system and moral administration.
  • He maintained sober relationships with Hindu and Muslim subjects.  

18. Rana Sanga(1482-1528)

Maharana Sangram Singh Sisodia is famously known as Rana Sanga. In the life span of 45 years, he achieved fame and victories, which many Indian kings could not. He was born to a Rajput family and succeeded in becoming the ruler of Mewar. It is said that Sanga fought more than 100 battles and in the way lost one eye, one arm, and leg still never succumbed to the enemies. 

Reign Period- 1782-1799

House- Sisodia  

Highlights-

  • He was a military strategist and credible warrior.
  • He fought with Ibrahim Lodi and Mughals.
  • His own chef apparently poisoned him.

19. Jahangir (1569-1627)

The fourth Mughal King was Jahangir, who is still known for his justice. He was one of those Indian kings who loved to take part in literature and art. He was counted as a weak and incapable ruler.

Reign Period- 1605-1627

House- Mughal  

Highlights-

  • Jahangir had good relations with foreign countries.
  • He married Nur Jahan, who was known for incomparable beauty.

20. Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839)

Maharaja Ranjit Singh is called Sher-e-Punjab, and he is also the 1st Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. He is listed as one of the few Indian kings who took the Sikh empire to the heights. Maharaja took advantage of the vacuum created after the death of Aurangzeb. He expanded to entire North India, especially Punjab.  

Reign Period- 1801-1839

Dynasty- Sandhawalia

Highlights-

  • He was a secular king yet walked in the path of Sikhism.
  • Khalsa army welcomed warriors outside his community.
  • Maharaja Ranjit Singh built the famous Golden Temple (Harminder Sahib).
  • He encouraged skilled metal crafters.

Conclusion

The never-ending story of brave and skilled kings and warriors of India is extremely captivating. Since ancient India, till independence, we have seen significant monarch figures who changed the stream of history time and again. In this blog, we have a curated list of famous kings and emperors who influenced India’s history even though they ruled for a short period. We have you will enjoy the read. If you think we can add more to the list, you can let us know. 

FAQs Related Indian Kings

1. Who is the first king of India?

Chandragupta Maurya is considered to be the first king of India. He was also ruling a large, diverse area, so you can call him an Emperor too.

2. Who is the best King of India?

India was blessed with many courageous and wise kings. In this blog, we have listed famous and popular kings in India.

3. What is an Indian ruler called?

The Indian rulers were traditionally called Maharaja (Great King). With the coming of Islamic kings, the kings were also called Sultan.

4. Who was the worst king of India?

Aurangzeb is considered the worst king in Indian history because of his inhuman policies and heavy taxation.

5. Who ruled the largest Indian Empire?

According to the study, the Mauryan Empire ruled 152% of present India.

6. Who is the greatest Indian warrior?

Ashoka, Chandragupta Maurya, Prithviraj Chauhan, Tipu Sultan, Rana Sanga are some of the greatest warriors of Indian history.

7. Which Indian kings died on the battlefield?

Maharana Pratap, Chatrapati Shivaji, Tipu Sultan, etc. died on the battlefield.

8. Did Indian kings rule other countries?

Ajatasatru, Ashoka, and few other kings ruled over other neighboring countries.

9. Which Indian kings defeated the British?

Tipu Sultan defeated British power to save the Mysore Kingdom in the Deccan.

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