20 Greatest Kings of India – List, Photos, Biography


Over the centuries, several kings ruled different regions of the Indian subcontinent. Strong, brave, courageous, they displayed their skill and valor several times. Here we share a list of the greatest kings of India in Indian history starting from the ancient times.

Indian King Bimbisara

King Bimbisara, depicted in Burmese art, offering his kingdom to the Buddha.
Image Courtesy: Hintha / CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Haryanka

Reign – c. 544 – c. 492 BCE

Long before Chandragupta Maurya became the king of Magadh, Bimbisara (the son of Bhattiya) of Haryanka dynasty was the king of Magadh. In historical context, he is known widely for being Gautam Buddha’s friend as well as protector. Buddhist texts often talks about a place called ‘Rajgir’ – It was constructed by Bimbisara. Rajgir was also Bimbisar’s first capital. During his reign he also annexed ‘Anga’ (Yes, the same Anga that belonged once to Mahabharat’s Karna).

Ajatashatru – The Magadh King

Painting depicting Ajatashatru visiting the Buddha to assuage his guilt.
via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Haryanka

Reign – c. 492 – c. 460 BCE

The son of King Bimbisara, he was a contemporary of both Mahavir Jain and Gautam Buddha. Under his rule, Magadha became the most powerful region in north India.

King Porous – The Indian King Who Fought Alexander the Great

By Andre Castaigne (1898-1899) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

House – Puru tribe/Paurava

Birth – Not known

Death – Sometime time 321 BCE and 315 BCE

King Porous is known for fighting bravely with Alexander the Great and is therefore prominently called as one of the greatest kings of India.Though King Porous couldn’t win against Alexander, the Macedonian king was so impressed by his adversary that he not only reinstated him as a satrap of his own kingdom but also granted him dominion over lands till Hyphasis (Beas).

Also Read: All About King Porus – Biography, Family, History & Lesser Known Facts

Chandragupta Maurya – Founder of the Mauryan Empire

Helena and Chandragupta Maurya marriage
Marriage of Greek Princess Helena and Samrat Chandragupta Maurya

Dynasty – Maurya

Reign – c. 321 – c. 297 BCE

Chandragupta Maurya with the help of his guru and mentor Chanakya laid the foundation of the Maurya empire. Before his reign, the subcontinent of India was largely composed of independent states, however, after he succeeded to the throne, he began the process of unifying India. This unification happened for the very first time in India’s history.

Also Read: Know Everything about Chandragupta Maurya and His Two Wives!


Jean-Michel Moullec from Vern sur Seiche (35, Bretagne), France via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Maurya

Reign – c. 297 – c. 273 BCE

Bindusara, the son of Chandragupta Maurya consolidated the Mauryan Empire founded by his father. He was also the master of all the territory between the western and the eastern sea (Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal) after the Mauryan army with the help of Chanakya was successful in winning over all the 16 territories.

Also Read: Life of Samrat Bindusara: Facts & History

Ashoka the Great – One of the Greatest Kings in Indian History

emperor ashoka secret society the nine unknown men
The Great Ashoka Samrat. Image Courtesy: Photo Dharma from Sadao, Thailand via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Maurya

Reign – c. 268 – c. 232 BCE

The son of Bindusar and grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka was successful in ruling almost all of the Indian subcontinent. He expanded his empire from the Hindu Kush mountains in the north to the current state of Bangladesh in the east. His kingdom covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent except areas of present-day, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Also Read: All About the Secret Society of Emperor Ashoka – The Nine Unknown Men

Chandragupta I

House – Gupta Empire

Reign – c. 320 – c. 335 CE

Chandragupta I, the son of king Ghatotkacha was a king of the Gupta Empire during 320 CE. He was the grandson of Sri Gupta, the first ruler of the Gupta house. His kingdom comprised the west area of the present-day city of Allahabad and included the present-day Ayodhya as well as southern Bihar.


House – Gupta Dynasty

Reign – c. 336 – c. 380 CE

The son of Chandragupta I, Samudragupta ruled for four decades and expanded his kingdom greatly starting from his immediate neighboring states. Samudragupta exerted direct or indirect control over kingdoms in Nepal and the Punjab in the north and to the Pallava kingdom at Kanchipuram in the south-east.

Raja Bhoj

Dynasty – Paramara Dynasty

Reign – c. 1010-1055 CE

Raja Bhoj is one of the most celebrated kings of India. His kingdom encompassed the Malwa region in central India. At the peak of his reign, Raja Bhoj’s kingdom extended from Chittor in the north to Konkan in the south, and from Vidisha in the east to the Sabarmati River in the west.

Vijayalaya Chola

Dynasty – Chola Dynasty

Reign – c. 850 – c. 870 CE

During a war between Pandyas and Pallavas, Vijayalaya rose out of obscurity and captured Thanjavur in South India and laid the foundation of the Chola Empire. He ruled over Thanjavur to the north of the river Kaveri.

Raja Raja the Great – One of the Greatest Kings of South India

Image Courtesy: Nittavinoda via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Chola Dynasty

Reign – 985 and 1014 CE

Raja Raja Chola I or Raja Raja the great was a renowned Chola king who ruled over the regions of southern India. During his reign, the Cholas expanded their kingdom from Sri Lanka in the south to Kalinga in the north. The king also launched various naval campaigns and captured the Malabar Coast along with the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Rajendra Chola

Dynasty – Chola Dynasty

Reign – c. 1014 – c. 1044 CE

One of the greatest rulers and military generals of India, Rajendra Chola is the son of Raja Raja Chola I. During his reign, he extended the Chola empire to the banks of the river Ganga in North India and across the Indian ocean to the West which made Chola Empire one of the most powerful empires of India.

Mahendravarman I

Dynasty – Pallava Dynasty

Reign – c. 600–630 CE

Simhavishnu re-established the Pallava kingdom after defeating Kalabhras and Mahendravarman I was Simhavishnu’s son. An architect, painter, scholar, the rock-cut temples that you see in Mahabalipuram was started builing during his time. He ruled the Northern regions of present-time Tamil Nadu in the early seventh century. One of the most prominent kings in Indian history he is known to establish Kanchi University

Narasimhavarman I

Dynasty – Pallava Dynasty

Reign – c. 630 – c. 668 AD

Narasimhavarman I became the Pallava king after the death of his father Mahendravarman I. He is known as a great wrestler and shared the same taste as that of his father. Amidst his historical tales, he is revered for defeating the Chalukya king Pulakeshin II and ransacking the Chalukyan capital city Badami (Vatapi). The city of Mahabalipuram is named after him.

Pulakeshin II

Original frescoes in Ajanta Cave 1, and corresponding artistic depiction of Pulakeshin receiving envoys from Persia.
Original 5th century CE fresco photographed by Daderot.Drawing: Dudley, Ambrose (fl. 1920s). / Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Badami Chalukya

Reign – 610–642 CE

Pulakeshin II is the most celebrated and eminent monarch of the Chalukya dynasty. It was during his reign, that the Badami Chalukyas could extend their kingdom in most of the Deccan region. Although he had defeated northern emperor Harsha-vardhan during his invasion in the Chalukya reign, he was defeated and killed by Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava dynasty.


Dynasty – Pandya

Reign – 590–620 CE.

Kadungon was the Pandya king who revived the rule of the Pandyas in South India. He along with the Pallava king Simhavishnu is credited for ending the Kalabhra rule. Thus, marking the beginning of a new era in the Tamil speaking region.

Prithviraj Chauhan

Dynasty – Chahamana Dynasty

Reign – reign. c. 1178–1192 CE

Prithviraj Chauhan or Rai Pithora from the Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty is quite famous in Indian history. He ruled the traditional Chahamana territory of Sapadalaksha which happens to be today’s north-western India. Prithviraj Chauhan controlled much of the present-day Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi; and some parts of Madhya Pradesh as well as Uttar Pradesh. His capital was Ajayameru (modern day Ajmer)

Maharana Pratap – One of the Greatest Kings of India

Maharana Pratap Serial Sony TV
By: By Shahakshay58 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

Dynasty – Sisodia Rajput

Reign – Feb 1572 – January 1597

Maharana Pratap, the 13th king of Mewar is not just one of the greatest Rajput but also India’s greatest warrior. Interestingly, during the medieval times he was one of the few kings who kept his fight against the Mughal Emperor Akbar. The tales of his bravery and valor is well-known even in modern day.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh – The Sikh King of India

maharaja ranjit singh photo

From the Sikh Empire

Reign –1801 – June 1839

Maharaja Ranjit Singh united the 11 small Sikh kingdom and formed the Sikh empire. He fought with the Afghan and Muslim rulers of that time. A secular king, he was loved by people of different religion. In his kingdom, citizens of all caste, religion and creed lived happily and peacefully. He is not only revered as the great Sikh ruler but also as one of the greatest kings of India.

Also Read: Lesser Known Interesting Facts About Maharaja Ranjit Singh

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Image Courtesy: Abhay Bhosale via Wikimedia Commons

From the Maratha Empire

Reign – 1674–1680 CE

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj aka Shivaji Raje Bhonsle was a Maratha warrior king who carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanate of Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. His guerrilla warfare against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and his huge army is quite famous, showing his intelligence, capability and courage.

Here are some of the greatest kings of India in Indian history starting from the ancient times till the British times.

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