India is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of history and heritage. Many great rulers in the history of the World have been born in our country. This list includes kings who have ruled in India, from the BC era to modern India. There may be some names in this list who were not kings in the traditional sense, but who played an important role in their kingdoms.
The beautiful country, India, is the most populous democracy in the whole world. This vibrant democracy runs with the help of heavy political and executive machinery. The country is facing the ups and downs of diverse empires since around 600 BCE and it took many great rulers to ensure the proper governance of this vast land. Needless to say, India boasts a vibrant history full of fascinating stories of empires and rulers. Here’s a list of a few such great rulers. These powerful rulers and their style of governance showcase a glimpse of India’s turbulent yet glorious past. Our great nation came under fire from many wannabe emperors as well, including the Persian Achaemenid under Cyrus the Great, and, of course, Alexander the Great. Over the years, various kingdoms flourished here some of which have the remains till today. And among these kingdoms, there are a few that hugely impacted the history and culture of India.
Shivaji Bhonsale (c. 1627/1630 – April 3, 1680) was an Indian warrior-king and a member of the Bhonsle Maratha clan. Shivaji carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the chhatrapati...Read More
Ashoka, also known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty, who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. The grandson of the founder of the Maurya Dynasty, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka promoted the spread of Buddhism across ancient Asia. Considered...Read More
Prithviraja III (reign. c. 1178–1192 CE), popularly known as Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora was a king from the Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty. He ruled Sapadalaksha, the traditional Chahamana territory, in present-day north-western India. He controlled much of the present-day Rajasthan, Haryana,...Read More
Pratap Singh I (9 May 1540 – 19 January 1597), popularly known as Maharana Pratap, was the 13th king of Mewar, a region in north-western India in the present-day state of Rajasthan. He was titled as “Mewari Rana” and was notable for his military resistance against the expansionism of...Read More
Chandragupta Maurya (reign: 321–297 BCE) was the founder of the Maurya Empire in ancient India. He was taught and counselled by the philosopher Chanakya, who had great influence in the formation of his empire. Together, Chandragupta and Chanakya built one of the largest empires on the Indian subcontinent....Read More
Maharaja Ranjit Singh (13 November 1780 – 27 June 1839), popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or “Lion of Punjab”, was the leader of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He survived smallpox in infancy but lost sight in his...Read More
Lakshmibai, the Rani of Jhansi (19 November 1828 – 18 June 1858), was an Indian queen of the Maratha princely state of Jhansi in North India currently present in Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh, India. She was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and became a symbol of resistance to the British Raj for Indian nationalists.
Samudragupta (Gupta script: Sa-mu-dra-gu-pta, r. c. (350-375 CE) was a ruler of the Gupta Empire of Ancient India. As a son of the Gupta emperor Chandragupta I and the Licchavi princess Kumaradevi, he greatly expanded his dynasty’s political power.
The Allahabad Pillar inscription, a prashasti...Read More
Krishnadevaraya was a emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire who reigned from 1509–1529. He was the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty and is considered to be its greatest ruler. He possessed the largest empire in India after the decline of the Delhi Sultanate. Presiding over the empire at its zenith,...Read More
Kanishka I, or Kanishka the Great, an emperor of the Kushan dynasty in the second century (c. 127–150 CE), is famous for his military, political, and spiritual achievements. A descendant of Kujula Kadphises, founder of the Kushan empire, Kanishka came to rule an empire in Bactria extending to Pataliputra...Read More
Sambhaji Bhosale (14 May 1657 – 11 March 1689) was the second ruler of the Maratha kingdom. He was the eldest son of Shivaji, the founder of the Maratha Empire and his first wife Saibai. He was successor of the realm after his father’s death, and ruled it for nine years. Sambhaji’s rule...Read More
Abu’l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (October 1542– 27 October 1605), popularly known as Akbar the Great, (Akbar-i-azam اکبر اعظم), and also as Akbar I, was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun, under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped the young emperor expand and consolidate Mughal domains in India. Akbar was succeeded as emperor by his son, Prince Salim, later known as Jahangir.
Porus or Poros (from Ancient Greek: Πῶρος, Pôros), was an ancient Indian king, whose territory spanned the region between the Hydaspes (Jhelum River) and Acesines (Chenab River), in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. He is credited to have been a legendary warrior with exceptional...Read More
Ajatashatru (492 to 460 BCE or early 5th century BCE) was a king of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha in East India. He was the son of King Bimbisara and was a contemporary of both Mahavira (Nigantha Nataputta) and Gautama Buddha. He forcefully took over the kingdom of Magadha from his father and imprisoned...Read More
Tarabai Bhonsale (1675 – 9 December 1761) was the regent of the Maratha Empire of India from 1700 until 1708. She was the queen of Chhatrapati Rajaram Bhonsale, daughter-in-law of the empire’s founder Shivaji and mother of Shivaji II. She is acclaimed for her role in keeping alive the resistance...Read More
Bappa Rawal, also spelled as “Bappa Raval”, (c. 8th century) was a ruler of the Mewar region in Rajasthan, India. The bardic chronicles describe him as a member of the Guhila (Gahlot) clan (and thus an ancestor of the Sisodia dynasty), and some of these consider him as the founder of the...Read More
Maharana Sangram Singh Sisodia (12 April 1482 – 30 January 1528), popularly known as Rana Sanga, was an Indian ruler of Mewar and head of a powerful Rajput confederacy in Rajputana during the 16th century. Sanga succeeded his father, Rana Raimal, as king of Mewar in 1508. He fought against the Afghan...Read More
Baji Rao I (18 August 1700 – 28 April 1740), born as Visaji, also known as Bajirao Ballal, was a general and statesman of the Maratha empire. He was the Peshwa (Prime Minister) of the Chatrapati Shahu. In his 20-year military career, he never lost a battle and is generally considered to be one of the most successful conquerors.
Bindusara (r. c. 297 – c. 273 BCE), also Amitraghāta or Amitrakhāda (Sanskrit for “slayer of enemies” or “devourer of enemies”) or Amitrochates (Greek: Ἀμιτροχάτης) was the second Mauryan emperor of India. He was the son of the dynasty’s founder Chandragupta...Read More
Alha was a legendary general of the Chandel king Paramardideva (also known as Parmal), who fought Prithviraj Chauhan in 1182 CE, immortalised in the Alha-Khand ballad.
Alha and Udal were children of the Dasraj, a successful commander of the army of Chandel king Parmal. They belonged to the...Read More
Shahu Bhosale I (1682–1749 CE) was the fifth Chhatrapati of the Maratha Empire created by his grandfather, Shivaji. Born in the Bhonsle family, he was the son of Sambhaji, Shivaji’s eldest son and successor. Shahu, as a child, was taken prisoner along with his mother in 1689 by Mughal sardar,...Read More
Vikramaditya VI (r. 1076 – 1126 CE) became the Western Chalukya King after deposing his elder brother Someshvara II, a political move he made by gaining the support of Chalukya vassals during the Chola invasion of Chalukya territory. Vikramaditya’s reign is marked with the abolishment of the...Read More
Rajendra Chola I or Rajendra I was a Tamil Chola emperor of South India Present day of (Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Pondicherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep) who succeeded his father Rajaraja Chola I to the throne in 1014 CE. During his reign, he extended...Read More
Pulakeshin II (IAST: Pulakeśin, r. c. 610–642 CE) was the most famous ruler of the Chalukya dynasty of Vatapi (present-day Badami in Karnataka, India). During his reign, the Chalukya kingdom expanded to cover most of the Deccan region in peninsular India.
A son of the Chalukya king Kirttivarman...Read More
Mihira Bhoja (c. 836–885 CE) or Bhoja I was a ruler of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty of India. He succeeded his father Ramabhadra. Bhoja was a devotee of Vishnu and adopted the title of Ādivarāha which is inscribed on some of his coins. One of the outstanding political figures of India in ninth...Read More
Chandragupta II (Gupta script: Cha-ndra-gu-pta, r. c. 380 – c. 415 CE), also known by his title Vikramaditya, was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta Empire in northern India.
Chandragupta continued the expansionist policy of his father Samudragupta: historical evidence suggests...Read More
Hemu ( also known as Hemu Vikramaditya and Hemchandra Vikramaditya; died 5 November 1556) was a Hindu king who previously served as a general and Chief Minister of Adil Shah Suri of the Suri dynasty during a period in Indian history when the Mughals and Afghans were vying for power across North India....Read More
Maharaja Suraj Mal (February 1707 – 25 December 1763) or Sujan Singh was a Hindu Jat ruler of Bharatpur in Rajasthan, India. Under him, the Jat rule covered the present-day districts of Agra, Aligarh, Bharatpur, Dholpur, Etawa, Gurgaon, Hathras, Mainpuri, Mathura, Mewat, Meerut, Rewari, and Rohtak.A...Read More
Skandagupta (Gupta script: Ska-nda-gu-pta, r. c. 455-467) was a Gupta Emperor of northern India. His Bhitari pillar inscription suggests that he restored the Gupta power by defeating his enemies, who may have been rebels or foreign invaders. He repulsed an invasion by the Indo-Hephthalites (known...Read More
Mahadaji Shinde (3 December 1730-12 February 1794) also spelled as Mahadji Scindia was a Maratha Statesman and ruler of Ujjain in Central India. He was the fifth and the youngest son of Ranoji Rao Scindia, the founder of the Scindia dynasty. Mahadaji was instrumental in resurrecting Maratha power...Read More
Pushyamitra Shunga (ruled c. 185 – c. 149 BCE) was the founder and first ruler of the Shunga Empire in East India. He was a follower of Hinduism.
Pushyamitra was originally a Senapati “General” of the Maurya Empire. In 185 BCE he assassinated the last Mauryan Emperor, Brihadratha...Read More
Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV (Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar; 4 June 1884 – 3 August 1940) was the twenty-fourth maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore, from 1894 until his death in 1940. At the time of his death, he was one of the world’s wealthiest men, with a personal fortune estimated in 1940...Read More
Rajaraja I, born Arulmoli Varman, often described as Rajaraja the Great, was a Chola emperor (reigned c. 985–1014) chiefly remembered for reinstating the Chola power and ensuring its supremacy in south India and Indian Ocean.
His extensive empire included the Pandya country (southern Tamil...Read More
Vishnugupta Candraditya was one of the lesser known kings of the Gupta Dynasty. He is generally considered to be the last recognized king of the Gupta Empire. His reign lasted 10 years, from 540 to 550 CE. From the fragment of his clay sealing discovered at Nalanda during the excavations of 1927–28,...Read More
Harihara I, also called Hakka and Vira Harihara I, was the founder of the Vijayanagara empire, which he ruled from 1336 to 1356 CE He and his successors formed the Sangama dynasty, the first of four dynasties to rule the empire. He was Bhavana Sangama’s eldest son.The early life of Hakka and...Read More
Vikramaditya II (reigned 733 – 744 CE) was the son of King Vijayaditya and ascended the Badami Chalukya throne following the death of his father. This information comes from the Lakshmeshwar inscriptions in Kannada dated 13 January 735 A.D. From inscriptions it has come to be known that even before...Read More
Mayurasharma (or Mayuravarma) (reigned 345–365 C.E.), a Kannada scholar and a native of Talagunda (in modern Shimoga district), was the founder of the Kadamba Kingdom of Banavasi, the earliest native kingdom to rule over what is today the modern state of Karnataka, India. Before the rise of the...Read More
Krishna III whose Kannada name was Kannara (r. 939 – 967 C.E.) was the last great warrior and able monarch of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty of Manyakheta. He was a shrewd administrator and skillful military campaigner. He waged many wars to bring back the glory of the Rashtrakutas and played an important...Read More
Bukka (reigned 1356–1377 CE), also known as Bukka Raya I, was an emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire from the Sangama Dynasty. The early life of Bukka as well as his brother Hakka (also known as Harihara I) are relatively unknown and most accounts of their early life are based on various theories...Read More
Simuka (Dhamma lipi?????, Si-mu-ka) was an Indian king belonging to the Satavahana dynasty. He is mentioned as the first king in a list of royals in a Satavahana inscription at Nanaghat. In the Puranas, the name of the first Andhra (Satavahana) king is variously spelt as Shivmukha, Sishuka, Sindhuka,...Read More
The Shaishunaga dynasty is believed to have been the third ruling dynasty of Magadha, an empire of ancient India. According to the Hindu Puranas, this dynasty was the second ruling dynasty of Magadha, succeeding Nagadashaka of the Haryanka dynasty.
Shishunaga, the founder of the dynasty, was...Read More
Sher Shah Suri (1486 – 22 May 1545), born Farīd Khān, referred to as Sher Khan in the scholarly literature, popularly known also as Hazrat-i-Ala and he belongs to Kakar, Barakzai tribe, was the founder of the Suri Empire in India, with its capital in Sasaram in modern-day Bihar. He introduced...Read More
Govinda III (reign 793–814 CE) was a famous Rashtrakuta ruler who succeeded his illustrious father Dhruva Dharavarsha. He was militarily the most successful emperor of the dynasty with successful conquests-from Cape Comorin in the south to Kannauj in the north, from Banaras in the east to Broach...Read More
Raziya al-Din (r. 1236–1240), popularly known as Razia Sultana, was a ruler of the Delhi Sultanate in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent. She is notable for being the first female Muslim ruler of the Indian Subcontinent.
A daughter of Mamluk Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish, Razia administered...Read More
Anizham Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1706 – 7 July 1758, known as the Maker of Modern Travancore, was ruler of the Indian kingdom of Travancore (Venadu) from 1729 until his death in 1758. He was succeeded by Rama Varma (“Dharma Raja”) (1758–98).Marthanda Varma defeated the Dutch (VOC)...Read More
Maharaja Jivajirao Scindia (26 June 1916 – 16 July 1961) of the Scindia dynasty of the Marathas was the last reigning Maharaja of Gwalior state in central India, and the rajpramukh (appointed governor) of the former state of Madhya Bharat, India. The Maharaja was and still is very popular due to his interest in model railroads. He assembled a toy train of silver in his palace dining table in Jai Vilas Palace, Gwalior to serve food, wines and chutneys to the guests.
Bhagabhadra was one of the kings of the Indian Shunga dynasty. He ruled in north, central, and eastern India around 110 BCE. Although the capital of the Shungas was at Pataliputra, he was also known to have held court at Vidisha. It is thought that the name Bhagabhadra also appears in the regnal lists of the Shungas in the Puranic records, under the name Bhadraka, fifth ruler of the Shungas.
Mahendravarman I (600–630 CE) was a Pallava king who ruled the Southern portion of present day Andhra region and Northern regions of what forms present-day Tamil Nadu in India in the early 7th century. He was a scholar, painter, architect, musician. He was the son of Simhavishnu, who defeated the...Read More
Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram ( 5 January 1592 – 22 January 1666), better known by his regnal name, Shah Jahan (Persian: شاه جهان, lit. ‘King of the World’), was the fifth Mughal emperor, and reigned from 1628 to 1658. Under his reign, the Mughal Empire reached the peak of...Read More
Dantidurga (reigned 735–756 CE), also known as Dantivarman or Dantidurga II was the founder of the Rashtrakuta Empire of Manyakheta. His capital was based in Gulbarga region of Karnataka. His successor was his uncle Krishna I who extended his kingdom to all of Karnataka.
The Ellora record...Read More
Amoghavarsha I (also known as Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I ) (r.814–878 CE) was a Rashtrakuta emperor, the greatest ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, and one of the great emperors of India. His reign of 64 years is one of the longest precisely dated monarchical reigns on record. Many Kannada and Sanskrit...Read More
Ismail Adil Shah (1498–1534; reigned 1510–34) was the king of Bijapur who spent most of his time extending his territory. His short-lived reign helped the dynasty establish a stronghold in the Deccan. Ismail Adil Shah succeeded his father Yusuf Adil Shah as the king of Bijapur as a minor. The...Read More
Yashovarman (IAST: Yaśovarman) was a medieval Indian ruler of Kannauj, who founded the Varman dynasty of Kannauj. There are few sources that provide information of his life, although he was indubitably a powerful man.
Narasimhavarman I or Narasimha Varma I was a king of the Pallava dynasty who ruled South India from 630–668 AD. He shared his father Mahendravarman I’s love of art and completed the work started by Mahendravarman in Mamallapuram. During his reign famous Pancha Rathas Temple was constructed...Read More
Lalitaditya alias Muktapida (IAST: Lalitāditya Muktāpīḍa; r. c. 724 CE–760 CE) was a powerful ruler of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir region in the Indian subcontinent.
The 12th-century chronicler Kalhana characterizes Lalitaditya as a world conqueror, crediting him with extensive conquests...Read More