All About the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty

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Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty

The Gurjara Pratiaras or the Pratiharas was one of the most prominent dynasties that ruled western and northern India during the 8th century CE and 11th century CE. Although the dynasty saw the reign of multiple powerful leaders, it significantly flourished during the rule of Nagabata who defeated Arab invaders. Apart from their numerous victories, the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty is remembered for its power struggle with the Palas and Rashtrakutas. 

Historical Background of Gurjara Pratiharas

The exact origins of the Gurjara Pratiharas Dynasty are still a topic of debate. However, here are a few other essential details about their historical background: 

  • The rise of the Gurjara-Pratiharas Dynasty to prominence is somewhere attributed to the fall of the Pushyabhuti Dynasty at Kanyakubja.
  • It not only created chaos and political instability in the region but also helped many kingdoms to rise and fight for their rule over the Indian subcontinent.
  • Even after the rise of multiple dynasties, the Palas of East India and the Rashtrakutas of Southern India dominated India for a while. 
  • The name Pratiharas was derived from the Sanskrit word Pratihara which means doorkeeper. They were widely regarded as the tribal clan of the Gurjaras.
  • Interestingly, a theory suggests that the name came from Lakshmana, who in Mahabharata, acted as the doorkeeper for his elder brother King Rama. Thus, Lakshman is also considered their ancestor. 
  • Numerous other Gurjara families also began to work as local officials and established small principalities in modern-day Rajasthan state.
  • However, their popularity came when they defeated Arab invaders in the late eighteenth century CE.

Also Read: Hoysala Dynasty: History, List of Rulers, Administration & Decline

Important Rulers of Pratiharas 

Here is a list of the important rulers of Pratiharas along with important notes about them. 


  • Nagabhata was the founder of the Pratihara Dynasty.
  • His reign lasted from 730 to 760 CE.
  • His empire included different regions of the country such as Gujarat, Malwa, and Rajputana.
  • He was defeated by the Rashtrakuta king Dantidurga.
  • Nagabhata I was succeeded by his brothers Kakkuka and Devaraja.


  • Vatsraja was the son of Dharmapala.
  • The empire flourished under his rule as Vatsraja managed to consolidate the empire and expand its horizons over Western and Northern India.
  • During his rule, Ujjain was the capital center. 
  • Later on, he captured the region of Kannauj from Rajputana rulers and turned it into his capital. 

Also Read: Bahmani Kingdom (c.1347-1525 CE): Origin, Rulers, Administration, & Decline

Nagabhata II 

  • Nagabhata II was the son of Vatsraja.
  • He conquered Sindh and eastern India and made numerous attempts to expand the empire.
  • Nagabhata II regained control over Malwa from Rashtrakutas.
  • He constructed a popular temple of Shiva at Somnath in Gujarat that was later destroyed by Arabs.
  • Additionally, Nagabhata II won numerous battles, especially against the rulers of Kalinga, Saindhava, Vidarbha, and Andhra.


  • Yashpala was the last ruler of the Gurjara-Pratihara Dynasty. 
  • The empire came to its end when in 1090 AD, Kannauj was conquered by Gandhavalas.

Also Read: The Nanda Empire: Rise, Reign, and Fall

Society during the Gurjara Pratiharas Dynasty 

  • Society during this period followed the conventional Vedic caste system.
  • Every caste had various classes with Chaturveda and Bhatta the most prominent ones among Brahmans. On the other hand, the Vaishyas had Kanchuka and Vakata. 
  • According to the  Arab writer Ibda Khurdadab, there was a total of seven castes during the Pratihara dynasty.
  • While people from the Savakufria class selected the king of the region, Brahmans married Kataria who were regarded as the Kshtaryas.
  • On the other hand, Sudaria as Sudras were engaged in farming and cattle rearing. 
  • The Basuria class served others and people from the Sandila class looked after the menial jobs. 
  • Rajashekhara was a popular Sanskrit poet, dramatist, and critic during the reign of Gurajara Pratihara rule.
  • He emphasized conventional themes such as love and highlighted the prevailing political and economic conditions of the society. 
  • Some of his famous works include Karpuramanjari, Kavyamimasa, and Avantisundari. 

Also Read: Prarthana Samaj: History, Founder, Principles & Impact

During their reign in India, the Gurjara Pratihara Dynasty was a devoted believer in the promotion of art and architecture.

  • Amidst other popular sculptures, the Vishwapoora form of Vishnu and the marriage of Shiva and Parvati are noteworthy.
  • Moreover, carved pillars in the temples located in Kotah and Osian.
  • Another architectural marvel is the Teli ka Mandir in the Gwalior Fort. 
  • The Vishnu and Someshwara Temple at Kiradau is also a popular architecture of the Pratihara style. 
  • The Ambika Mata temple is also famous for its intricate architectural details. 
Teli ka Mandir,Gwalior

What was the Capital of Gurjara Pratiharas? 

Kannauj was the capital of Gurjara-Pratiharas. It is located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, Kannauj was also the focus of attention for being the capital of Guptas and Harshavardhana. 

What were the Pratihara Feudatories?

Unlike other dynasties, the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty had numerous vassal states, known as feudatories. In reality, these feudatories were subordinate rulers who were under the authority of the royal Pratihara kings. Moreover, they also ruled over small territories and owed their allegiance to the dynasty. 

  • Guhila dynasty
  • Chahamanas of Shakambari
  • Chandelas of Jejakabhukti
  • Tomaras of Delhi

Also Read: Chera Dynasty: Kings, Administration, Religion & Conquests

The Decline of Pratiharas 

  • The decline of Pratiharas began during the rule of Mahipala I due to the attack on the region of Kannauj by the Rashtrakuta king Indra III. It created havoc and massive destruction in the city.
  • Another reason for the decline of the Pratiharas was losing the economic center of Gujarat to the Rashtrakutas.
  • Moving on, Krishna III, a ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty also invaded and conquered the northern territories somewhere in 963 CE. 
  • Despite numerous attempts to revive the power and regain lost territories, the rulers of the Pratiharas dynasty were unable to revive their lost control over the region.
  • Later in the 11th century, the Ghaznavid Turks managed to completely remove Gurjara Pratiharas from India and established their rule. 


Who is the founder of the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty?

The Gurjara Pratihara dynasty ruled a major part of northern India from the middle 7th century to the 11th century. It was founded by Harichandra in the region of Jodhpur. Interestingly, the dynasty is renowned for its intricate sculptures, open pavilion-style templates, and carved panels.

Who was the famous king of Gurjara-Pratihara?

Mihira Bhoja was one of the most prominent rulers of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty. It was during his rule that the dynasty expanded at an unprecedented rate and defeated many budding dynasties. 

Who defeated the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty?

The Gurjara Pratihara dynasty was eventually defeated by the Rashtrakuras in 790 and again between 806-807. Upon losing the battle against the Rashtrakutas, rulers of the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty left the region and went to the Deccan. 

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