Magadha Empire: Rise, Dynasties, Rulers & Decline

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Magadha Empire

The kingdom of Magadha was where we have west-central Bihar today. However, between the 6th and 8th centuries, this kingdom was the epicentre of major influence over other kingdoms and empires. Magadha Empire was situated over the river Ganges (Ganga) which gave it a strategic position for communication as well as trade by providing access to rich ports. 

Magadha Empire
Source: Prepp

Rise of the Magadha Empire

There were four major Mahajanpadas; Magadha, Kosala, Avanti and Vatsa who were competing for power. Eventually, Magadha emerged successfully as the winner of this centuries-long struggle between kingdoms to establish its supremacy and a newfound unity among the kingdoms. 

The Magadha Empire was founded by Jarasandha and Brihadratha whose stories we have also heard from the epic of Mahabharata. The kingdom however was expanded by Haryankas, and its glory was continued by Sisungas and Nandas. The kingdom was in its highest glory at the time of Mauryas. 

Magadha Empire

Also Read: Maratha Empire (1674-1818): History, Wars, Important Leaders

Dynasties that Ruled the Kingdom of Magadha

The Magadha Empire was an extraordinary one, having been ruled by a few different dynasties over the years. Here are the dynasties and their important rulers in the Magadha Empire.


The dawn of this dynasty was at the time of Gautam Buddha. Here are some of the famous rulers of this dynasty. 

  • Bimbisara (558 BC – 491 BC)
  • Ajatashatru (492-460 B.C)
Magadha Empire
Source: News9Live

Sisunaga Dynasty

The rulers of this dynasty shifted their capital to Vaishali which was later again shifted to Patliputra. They curbed the tussle between Avanti and Magadha by defeating Avanti. Here are the important rulers of the dynasty.

  • Sisunaga
  • Kalasoka
Magadha Empire
Source: World History Encyclopedia

Nanda Dynasty

Nanadas established a very powerful rule over the area and their founding ruler’s valour was a sight to behold. Hence, the first ruler Mahapadma Nanda was also called Ekarat, Eka-Chchhatra, or Sarvakshatrantaka. Here are some important rulers of the dynasty. 

  • Mahapadma Nanda
  • Dhana Nanda
Magadha Empire
Source: News9Live

Mauryan Dynasty

Mauryas were the rulers that gave the Magadha Empire the greatest heights of economy, political and regional influence and better administration. Here are some important rulers. 

Magadha Empire

Also Read: The Mauryan Empire (321-185 BC)

Decline of the Magadha Empire

After the Mauryas, the Magadha Empire lost its integrity. The kingdom faced massive invasions from Indo-Greeks and Indo-Scythians. Because of disrupted governance and administration the powerful kingdom soon broke down to pieces. Buddhism has great influence and roots in the kingdom of Magadha. The religion’s decline in India also led to the decline of this powerful kingdom. The geopolitical changes reshaped the empire in the north and a new empire of Guptas was born. 

This was all about the origin, major dynasties and decline of the Magadha Empire. For more such informative blogs on Indian History stay tuned to our General Knowledge section.

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