The Rajput Clans

A Rajput (from Sanskrit raja-putra, “son of a king”) is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of Western, Central, Northern India and some parts of Pakistan. They claim to be descendants of ruling Hindu warrior classes of North India. Rajputs rose to prominence during the 6th to 12th centuries. Until the 20th century, Rajputs ruled in the “overwhelming majority” of the princely states of Rajasthan and Saurashtra, where the largest numbers of princely states were found. The Rajput population and the former Rajput states are found spread through much of the subcontinent, particularly in north, west and central India. Populations are found in Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

There are several major subdivisions of Rajputs, known as vansh or vamsha, the step below the super-division jati. These vansh delineate claimed descent from various sources, and the Rajputs are generally considered to be divided into three primary vansh: Suryavanshi denotes descent from the solar deity Surya, Chandravanshi from the lunar deity Chandra, and Agnivanshi from the fire deity Agni. Lesser-noted vansh include Udayvanshi, Rajvanshi, and Rishivanshi.  The histories of the various vanshs were later recorded in documents known as vanshaavaliis. Rajputs who are descended from the thirty-six royal Kshatriya clans mentioned in the sacred books, the Puranas, and in the two great Indian epics, the “Mahabharata” and the “Ramayana”, are classified into three basic lineages (vanshas or vamshas):

Suryavanshi or Raghuvanshies

The clans of the solar dynasty, descended through Manu, Ikshvaku, Harischandra, Raghu, Dasaratha and Rama.

Chandravanshi or Somavanshies

The clans of the lunar dynasty, descended through Yayati, Deva Nausha, Puru, Yadu, Kuru, Pandu, Yudhisthira and Krishna.

  1. The Yaduvanshi lineages are a major sub-branch of the Chandravanshi lineage. Lord Krishna was born a Yaduvanshi.
  2. The Puruvanshi lineages are a major sub-branch of the Chandravanshi Rajputs. The Kauravs and Pandavs of the epic Mahabharata were Puruvanshis.


The Agniculas the clans of the fire dynasty, descended from Agnipala, Swatcha, Mallan, Gulunsur, Ajpala and Dola Rai.

The Chahamanas of Shakambhari

The Chauhan dynasty ruled Shakambari region in 11th century, it was a politically strong dynasty known for its policies. The great Rajputs were the kings of Chauhan dynasty known for their bravery and loyalty. They originally belonged to Agnivanshi Clan (descendants of the Fire God). The territory ruled by them was known as Sapadalaksha.

When the Pratihara power declined after the Tripartite Struggle, the Chahamana ruler Simharaja assumed the title Maharajadhiraja.

In the early 12th century, Ajayaraja II moved the kingdom’s capital to Ajayameru (modern Ajmer). For this reason, the Chahamana rulers are also known as the Chauhans of Ajmer.The Chahamanas fought several wars with their neighbours, including the Chaulukyas of Gujarat, the Tomaras of Delhi, and the Paramaras of Malwa. From 11th century onwards, they started facing Muslim invasions, first by the Ghaznavids, and then by the Ghurids. The dynasty’s power effectively ended in 1192 CE, when the Ghurids defeated his nephew Prithviraja III.

Years Rulers
917–944 CE Vakpatiraja I
944-971 CE Simharaja
971-998 CE Vigraharaja II
998-1012 CE Durlabharaja II
1012-1026 CE Govindaraja III
1026-1040 CE Vakpatiraja II
1040 CE Viryarama
1045-1065 CE Chamundaraja
1065-1070 CE Durlabharaja III
1079-1090 CE Vigraharaja III
1090-1100 CE Prithviraja I
1100-1135 CE Ajayaraja II
1135-1150 CE Arnoraja
1150 CE Jagaddeva
1150-1164 CE Vigraha raja IV
1164-1165 CE Amaragangeya
1165-1169 CE Prithviraja II
1169–1178 CE Someshvara
1178–1192 CE Prithviraja III
1192 CE Govindaraja IV
1193–1194 CE Hariraja


Vakpatiraja I (c.917–944 CE)

  • He was also known as Vappayaraja, was an Indian king belonging to the Shakambhari Chahamana dynasty. He ruled the Sapadalaksha country, which included parts of present-day Rajasthan in north-western India.
  • He appears to have made an attempt to throw off the Gurjara-Pratihara overlordship, and was the first Chahamana king to assume the title Maharaja.

Simharaja (c.944-971 CE)

  • He founded the independent Chahamana Dynasty.
  • He took the title of

Vigraharaja II (c.971-998 CE)

  • He defeated Mularaja I. He also captured Chitttor.

Durlabharaja II (c.998-1012 CE)

  • Durlabha-raja was a son of the Chahamana king Simharaja.
  • He succeeded his brother Vigraharaja II on the Chahamana throne.

Govindaraja III (c.1012-1026 CE)

  • The Muslim ruler Mahmud of Ghazni invaded the Chahamana kingdom during the reign of Govinda.
  • The Prabandha Koshastates that Govindaraja defeated Mahmud.

Vakpatiraja II (c.1026-1040 CE)

  • According to Prithviraja Vijaya, Vakpati defeated and killed Ambaprasada, the ruler of Aghata (identified with modern Ahar).

Viryarama (c.1040 CE)

  • Viryarama succeeded Vakpatiraja II as the Chahamana king, and was succeeded by Chamundaraja after a very short reign.
  • According to Prithviraja Vijaya, Viryarama was killed by the Paramara king Bhoja.

Chamundaraja (c.1045-1065 CE)

  • Chamundaraja appears to have defeated a Muslim army, as suggested by multiple texts including Prabandha KoshaHammira Mahakavyaand Surjana Charita. The Prabandha Kosha describes him as “the slayer of the Sultan”, while the Hammira Mahakavya states that he defeated one “Hejim-ud-Din”.
  • The Chahamana kingdom bordered the Ghaznavid Empire, and it is possible that Chamundaraja foiled a Ghaznavid invasion.
  • No Ghaznavid Sultan after Mawdud of Ghazni is known to have personally led an army to India; it is possible that the “Sultan” slayed by Chamundaraja was a Ghaznavid general.
  • According to Prithviraja Vijaya, Chamundaraja commissioned a Vishnu temple at Narapura (modern Narwar in Ajmer district).

Durlabharaja III (c.1065-1070 CE)

  • Durlabha-raja III, also known as Dusala, succeeded his father Chamundaraja on the Chahamana throne.
  • Durlabha seems to have faced Muslim invasions, most probably from the Ghaznavids, whose king was Ibrahim. The Prithviraja Vijayastates that he was killed in a battle with the Matangas.

Vigraharaja III (c.1079-1090 CE)

  • Vigraharaja III, also known as Visala or Bisala, was a son of the Chahamana king Chamundaraja.
  • The name of Vigraharaja’s queen was Rajadevi, as attested by the Bijolia rock inscription. The epic poem Vigraharaja Rasoclaims that he married Rajamati, the daughter of the earlier Paramara king Bhoja.

Prithviraja I (c.1090-1100 CE)

  • Prithviraja succeeded his father Vigraharaja III on the Chahamana throne.
  • Prithviraja appears to have been a Shaivite. According to the Prithviraja Vijaya, he built a food distribution centre (anna-satra) on the road to Somnath temple for pilgrims.

Ajayaraja II (c.1100-1135 CE)

  • He carried on the aggressive policy, defeated the Paramaras and captured their capital Ujjaini.
  • He founded the city of Ajayameru (Ajmer).

Arnoraja (c.1135-1150 CE)

  • Arnoraja repulsed a Ghaznavid invasion from the west, and also defeated several neighbouring Hindu kings including the Paramaras and the Tomaras.
  • He had to face defeats against the Chaulukyas, and was ultimately killed by his own son, Jagaddeva.

Jagaddeva (c.1150 CE)

  • He ascended the throne after killing his father Arnoraja, and ruled briefly before being dethroned by his brother Vigraharaja IV.

Vigraha raja IV (c.1150-1164 CE)

  • He moved the capital from Shakambhari to Ajmer.
  • He captured Delhi from the Tomars in 1151 CE but allowed them to rule as feudatories.
  • He also took possession of Eastern Punjab, sacked and plundered Gujarat.
  • He also came in conflict with the Paramaras of Malwa, which was probably ruled by their famous ruler Bhoja.
  • He authored a famous play named as Harikeli Nataka.
  • The structure that was later converted into the Adhai Din ka Jhopra mosque was constructed during his reign.
Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra is large and imposing structure in the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan. Originally a Sanskrit college with a temple of Saraswati within it, it was converted into a mosque by Qutb-ud-Din-Aibak, on the orders of Muhammad Ghori, in 1192 CE. However, the new mosque retained most of the original Hindu and Jain features, especially on the ornate pillars, with only the effigies of Hindu Gods and Goddesses removed neatly. The conversion to a mosque was completed in 1199 CE, and further beautified by Iltutmish of Delhi in 1213 CE. The structure was used as a mosque up to 1947. After the independence of India, the structure was turned over to the Jaipur circle of ASI (Archaeological survey of India) and is today visited by people of all religions, as a fine example of a mix of Indian, Hindu, Muslim and Jain architectures.

Amaragangeya (c.1164-1165 CE)

  • Amaragangeya was a son of the Chahamana king Vigraharaja IV.
  • He appears to have ascended the throne as a minor, and ruled for a very short period. He was succeeded by his paternal cousin Prithviraja II, who was a son of Vigraharaja’s brother Jagaddeva.

Prithviraja II (c.1165-1169 CE)

  • Prithviraja was a son of the Chahamana king Jagaddeva.
  • Prithviraja appears to have faced Muslim invasions from the west. According to the 1168 CE Hansi stone inscription, he assigned his maternal uncle Kilhana as the in-charge of the Ashika Fort (modern Hansi), anxious to save it from Hammira (Emir). The “Hammira” can be identified with Ghaznavid king Khusrau Malik, who controlled Lahore at the time.

Someshvara (c.1169–1178 CE)

  • He was brought up at the Chaulukya court in Gujarat by his maternal relatives. After death of Prithviraja II, the Chahamana ministers brought him to the capital Ajmer and appointed him as the new king. He is said to have commissioned several Shiva temples in Ajmer, and is best known as the father of Prithviraja III (Prithviraj Chauhan).

Prithviraja III (c. 1178–1192 CE)

  • He was popularly known as Prithviraj Chauhanor Rai Pithora in the folk legends, was an Indian king from the Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty.
  • Early in his career, Prithviraj achieved military successes against several neighbouring Hindu kingdoms, most notably against the Chandela king Paramardi, Chalukya Bhima II and Gahadvala Jayachandra.
  • Ascended the throne at the young age of 11, after death of his father Someshvara, but took the reigns of Administration in his hands when he was 16.
  • Led an expedition in Bundelkhand against Chandella ruler and its capital Mahoba and it was in this struggle the famous Chandella warriors Alha and Udal lost their lives.
  • He defeated Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithiviraj Chauhan in the First battle of Tarain in c.1191 CE.
  • In 1192 CE, Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithiviraj Chauhan in the Second Battle of Tarain, and subsequently executed him. His defeat at Tarain is seen as a landmark event in the Islamic conquest of India.
  • Two great poems, Prithviraj Raso and Prithviraj Vijaya, were written by his court poets Chandbardai and Jayanka respectively.

Govindaraja IV (r. c.1192 CE)

  • After defeating and killing his father Prithviraja III, while he was still a minor, the Ghurid invaders appointed him as a vassal ruler of the Chahamana kingdom. His uncle Hariraja dethroned him for accepting the Ghurid suzerainty.

Hariraja (c.1193–1194 CE)

  • Hariraja was the son of the Chahamana king Someshvara and queen Karpuradevi. He and his elder brother Prithviraja III were born in Gujarat.
  • Hariraja revolted against the Ghurid rule in the Chahamana capital Ajmer, forcing Govindaraja to take shelter in the Ranthambore Fort. When the Ghurid governor Qutb al-Din Aibak heard about this, he rushed from Delhi to Ranthambore. Hariraja made a retreat, knowing that he would not be able to defeat the Ghurid army. While the Ghurids were busy fighting other Hindu dynasties such as the Gahadavalas, Hariraja once again invaded Ajmer in 1193 CE. This time, he managed to recapture Ajmer, and became the new Chahamana king, with support from Prithviraja’s former general Skanda. Subsequently, Hariraja sent a force led by Jatira (called Jihtar or Jhitar in Muslim accounts) to capture Delhi. However, this force had to retreat in fear of a larger Ghurid army. As Jatira’s force was returning to Delhi, Hariraja set out from Ajmer with another army in its support. The Ghurids decisively defeated the Chahamana forces in the ensuing battle.
  • According to the 16th century Muslim historian Firishta, Hariraja and Jaitra were killed in this battle. However, the near contemporary 13th century source Taj-ul-Maasirstates that Jaitra “sacrificed himself in the flames of a fire”. Hammira Mahakavya by the Jain scholar Nayacandra Suri also states that Hariraja had to fall back to Ajmer, where he determined that any further resistance against the Ghurids was fruitless. As a result, he and his family then committed suicide by self-immolation.

The Chauhan dynasty then retired to Ranthambor and ruled there in diminishing glory. But in c.1301 CE, Ala-ud-Khalji captured Ranthambor and uprooted the last stronghold of Chauhan power.

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