The Guptas and Their Successors: The Chronology of the Rulers

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The Guptas and Their Successors

The decline of Kushanas led to the emergence of the Gupta dynasty ruling entire northern India. The major advantages of the Guptas were the fertile lands of the UP and Bihar and the exploitation of iron ore mines. The significant development of this period was the great progress achieved in the field of art, architecture and literature.

Chronology of the Rulers

Chronology of the Rulers

Chronology of the Rulers

Chronology of the Rulers

Srigupta founded the Gupta dynasty. His son Ghatotkacha, who carried the title maharaja, succeeded him. The most significant rulers of this dynasty were as follows.

Chandragupta I

  • He is regarded as the real founder of the Gupta dynasty. Chandragupta I year of succession AD 319 marked the beginning of the Gupta Era.

  • The capital of the Gupta dynasty was Pataliputra.

  • He used the title maharajadhiraja (king of kings). His realm includes Magadha, Saket and Prayag.

  • He was married to Lichchhavi princes Kumara Devi. This event was recorded in his gold coins.


  • Chandragupta I was succeeded by his son Samudragupta in AD 335. Samudragupta followed the policy of conquest to enlarge his kingdom.

  • His achievements were written in inscription called Allahabad prashasti, written in Sanskrit. His court poet Harisena composed the inscription. It enumerates the people and the region conquered by the ruler.

  • Samudragupta exercised direct administrative control over his territory.

  • The conquests were celebrated by horse-sacrifice or ashvamedha and by issuing ashvamedha type of coins.

  • He was also a poet, a musician and a patron of learning. The lyrist type coin issued by Samudragupta showed his interest in music.

  • Different policies adopted by Samudragupta to conquer different areas. These were

Policies Adopted

Policies Adopted

Policies Adopted

Chandragupta II

  • Chandragupta II known as Chandragupta Vikram Aditya, succeeded Samudragupta.

  • He extended his empire through matrimonial alliances with other dynasties. He married the Naga princess Kuvernaha and had a daughter named Prabhavati from her. His daughter Prabhavati was married to Rudrasena II of the Vakataka dynasty. After the death of her husband, Prabhavati ruled the kingdom as regent with the help of Chandragupta II.

  • His remarkable military achievement was victory over Shaka kings.

  • The iron pillar inscription of Mehrauli suggests that his empire was extended till north-western India and Bihar.

  • His court patronised literary luminaries called the nine jewels or the navaratnas. Kalidasa was famous among them.

  • The Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien visited India during this reign.

  • Kumaragupta succeeded Chandragupta II.

Causes for the Decline of the Gupta Dynasty

  • The succession of weak rulers after Kumaragupta.

  • The empire faced frequent Huna invasion after the reign of Kumaragupta. This caused significant damage to the empire. Hunas first attacked Gupta empire during the period of Skandagupta. This made the empire very weak.

  • Gradual decline of economic prosperity was another cause—the gold coins issued to contain more of alloy than gold. There was gradual disappearance of gold coin from the economic activities.

  • The emergence of feudalism in society was another reason. Feudalism means the practice of giving land for religious and secular activities in lieu of the services rendered to the state. This creates a group of powerful landed magnates who tried to expand their realm of authority.

The result after the decline of Guptas: The decline of the empire resulted in the emergence of the ruling dynasties in part of north India. They were the Pusyabhutis of Thanesar, Maukharies of Kanauj and Maitrakas of Valabhi.

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