Medieval History of Himachal Pradesh

The history of Himachal Pradesh spans various eras, each of which has distinctive characteristics. The ancient period ended with the division of the region into Rahun and Thakurai. The 7th to 18th centuries, also known as the medieval period, brought challenges due to invasions by Muslim armies from Central and West Asia.

Early medieval period

Development of small states

After the death of Harshavardhana in 647 AD, the Indian subcontinent faced a period of instability. Many local rulers regained control of their territories after previously subjugating them to Harshavardhana. The Ranas and Thakurs regained control over their respective Rahunas and Thakurais.

Division into thakurais

The area between the Sutlej River in the northwest and the Yamuna River in the southeast was composed of several small kingdoms, known as Thakurai. These Thakurai were divided into two main groups: the twelve Thakurai and the eighteen Thakurai.

 Twelve Thakurais:
1. Keonthal
2. Kunihar
3. Mahlog
4. Beja
5. Baghat
6. Bhajj
7. koti
8. Bharoli
9. Kuthar
10. Dhami
11. Mangal
12. Baghal
Eighteen Thakurai:
1. Jubbal
2. Saree
3. Rawingarh
4. Balsan
5. kumarsen
6. khaneti
7. delath
8. Karangal
9. Kotkhai-Kotgarh
10. Ratesh
11. Ghund
12. Madhan
13. Theog
14. Darkoti
15. Tharoch
16. Grandmother
17. Sangri
18. Dodra-Kwar

Impact of Gurjar Pratiharas

Kannauj, a major power center of northern India founded by Harshavardhana, became the center of struggle between the Rashtrakutas, Palas and Pratiharas for dominance in the western Himalayan hill states. Eventually the Gurjara Pratiharas conquered the region, although they could not expand into the western Himalayas.

Conflict with Kashmir rulers

The conflict between the rulers of Kashmir and the Himachal region resulted in a change of power. Lalitaditya, the ruler of Kashmir, defeated Yashovarman in battle and extended his reach to the western Himalayan region. Later, Shankaravarman of Kashmir faced resistance from Prithvi Chandra of Trigarta while trying to conquer Gujarat. Despite opposition, Shankaravarman conquered Prithvi Chandra and incorporated Trigarta into his kingdom.

Medieval period

Rise of Rajput kingdoms

In the latter half of the 10th century, as the Pratihara Empire weakened, zamindars tried to establish their own kingdoms. This led to the rise of Rajput kingdoms in Chamba, Nurpur, Kullu, Suket, Mandi and other areas. Some of these states were established later in the 15th or 16th century.

Impact of Muslim invasions

The medieval period in Himachal Pradesh was marked by invasions from Muslim armies, which influenced the history and culture of the region.

Invasion of mahmud ghaznavi
In 1000 AD, Mahmud Ghaznavi, a Turkish ruler, launched a series of invasions of India. In 1009 AD he captured Nagarkot and destroyed the city of Kangra. Nagarkot Fort remained under their control till 1043 AD.

Mohammad Ghori’s attack
From 1175 to 1192 AD, Mohammad Ghori attacked India several times. Their conquests in the Indo-Gangetic plains influenced the history and culture of the Himachal hills. Many Brahmins and Rajputs, such as Chauhans, Chandelas, Tomars, Panwars and Sens, migrated into the hills of Himachal and established small kingdoms.

Tughlaq dynasty campaigns
The Tughlaq dynasty (1320-1414 AD) was ambitious, especially Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq. He personally led an expedition against Raja Prithvi Chand of Nagarkot in Kangra and captured the Nagarkot fort in 1337 AD. Although he introduced religious tolerance, he still caused damage to the Jwalamukhi temple.

His successor, Firoz Shah Tughlaq, responded to the incursions of Raja Roop Chand by leading an army to capture Nagarkot in 1361 AD. They caused considerable damage to the Jwalamukhi temple and laid siege to the Nagarkot fort for six months until Raja Roop Chand surrendered. Firoz Shah took religious texts from the Jwalamukhi Temple and translated them into Persian, titled “Dalail-e-Firozshahi.”

The medieval history of Himachal Pradesh was marked by significant changes including external invasions and the rise of local powers. These events played an important role in shaping the history and cultural development of the region.


The ancient era in Himachal Pradesh ended with the division of the region into Rahun and Thakurai.
The 7th to 18th centuries represent the medieval period of Himachal Pradesh, marked by invasions from Central and West Asia.
The early medieval period began after the death of Harshavardhana in 647 AD, which ended unrest and allowed local leaders to recapture their territories.
The region was divided into Thakurai, which were composed of twelve and eighteen separate areas.
The aim of the Gurjara Pratiharas was to control northern India, including the western Himalayan hill states.
Battles with rulers of Kashmir such as Lalitaditya and Shankaravarman affected control of the western Himalayan region.
In the late 10th century, the decline of the Pratihara Empire led to the rise of the Rajput kingdoms.
These Rajput states included Chamba, Nurpur, Kullu, Suket, Mandi and other places.
Mahmud Ghaznavi, a Turkish leader, invaded India in 1000 AD and destroyed Kangra in 1009 AD, retaining control over Nagarkot until 1043 AD.
The invasions of Mohammed Ghori between 1175 and 1192 AD influenced the culture and history of Himachal Pradesh.
The Tughlaq dynasty, particularly Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq and Firoz Shah Tughlaq, led expeditions into Himachal Pradesh in the 14th century.
His campaigns included capturing the Nagarkot fort and influencing local religious and cultural sites.
Despite these incursions, Himachal Pradesh saw the rise of local powers and preserved its unique history and culture.