Magadh Empire

Magadha formed one of the sixteen MahaJanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganges. Its first capital was Rajagriha (modern Rajgir), then Pataliputra (modern Patna). Many rivers such as the Ganga and Son flowed through Magadha. This was important for transport, water supplies and making the land fertile.

Magadha empire expanded to include most of Bihar and Bengal with the conquest of Licchavi and Anga respectively, followed by much of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.

Magadha Empire had great rulers like Bimbisara and Ajatshatru, who used all possible means to conquer other janapadas. Mahapadma Nanda was another important ruler. He extended his control up to the north-west part of the subcontinent.

Magadha played an important role in the development of Jainism and Buddhism, and two of India's greatest empires, the Maurya Empire and Gupta Empire, originated from Magadha.

Three important dynasties of Magadh Empire include:

  1. Haryanka dynasty (around 600 - 413 BC)
  2. Shishunaga dynasty (413 - 345 BC)
  3. Nanda Dynasty (345 - 321 BCE)

Magadha was ruled by the Haryanka dynasty for some 200 years, from around 600 BC to 413 BC. King Bimbisara of the Haryanka dynasty led an active and expansive policy, conquering Anga in what is now West Bengal. The death of King Bimbisara was at the hands of his son, Prince Ajatashatru. Pataliputra began to grow as a center of commerce and became the capital of Magadha after Ajatashatru's death.

The Haryanka dynasty was overthrown by the Shishunaga dynasty. The last ruler of Shishunaga Dynasty, Kalasoka was assassinated by Mahapadma Nanda in 345 BC, the first of the so-called Nine Nandas (Mahapadma and his eight sons).


Around 321 BC, the Nanda Dynasty ended and Chandragupta became the first king of the great Mauryan Dynasty.