Mlechchha dynasty – Ancient Assam History

The Mlechchha dynasty :

Bhaskaravarman remained a celibate throughout his life. It is for this reason that he is called Kumara Raja in the Harshacharia and in the account of Hiuen Tsang. Naturally, therefore, at his death an anarchical situation arose, taking advantage of which a non-Aryan chief named Salastambha usurped the throne. Who was the immediate successor of is not known for certainly.

According to K.L. Barua, Bhaskara was succeeded by one of his near relations,whom he identifies with Avantivarman of Visakhadatta’s Sanskrit Drama Mudrarakshasa. He holds the view that Salastambha,the leader of governor of the Mlechchas usurped the throne by deposing Avantivarman,who did not reign for more than five years.

That Salastambha was a usurper is indicated in the text of the Bargaon grant of Ratnapala which runs as follows :”After thus,for several generations,kings of Naraka’s dynasty had ruled the whole country,a great chief of the Mlechchas, owing to a turn of adverse fate, took possession of the kingdom. This was Salastambha. In succession to him,their were chiefs altogether twice ten in number…”.

Mlechha Kings
c.AD 655 – 900

The Mlechha (or Mlechchha) kings were local natives of long standing, pre-dating many of the later arrivals, including any Indo-Europeans(Aryans) in the region. They emerged as kings at roughly the same time as the Kamata kingdom in Assam. They gained control of the territory which had very recently belonged to the now-extinct Varman kings. They established a capital at Hadpeshwar (present day Tezpur).

c.655 – 675


c.675 – 685

Vijaya / Vighrasthambha

c.685 – 700


c.700 – 715


c.715 – 725


c.725 – 745

Harshadeva / Harshavarman

c.750 – 765

Balavarman II

c.765 – ?


Name of this one, possibly two, king(s) unknown.

? – c.790

Pralambha / Salambha

c.790 – 810


c.810 – 815


early 800s

Pala king Devapala conquers Pragjyotisha (Assam), where the (unnamed) king submits without a fight.

815 – 832


832 – 855



The first of the Kachari kings claims to rule in the town of Dimapur in Assam, probably as little more than powerful chieftains at this point.

855 – 860


860 – 880

Balavarman III

890 – 900



The Mlechha are forced out of their base by the Kamarupa Pala kings and are pushed towards Dimapur, Maibong, Khaspur and Sadiya. The remnants of the Mlechha later establish new kingdoms; the Kachari kingdom at Khaspur and the Chutiya kingdom at Sadiya. Kamarupa takes over the bulk of their former territory.

According to the Hara-Gauri-Sambada, after the end of the period of the family of Naraka-Bhagadutta, came a prince from the west,named Madhaba, who established himself in Kamarupa a new line of kings having twentyone kings. As the number of kings given in this source exactly tallies with that given in the inscriptions as belonging to Salastambha, P.C. Choudhury rightly identifies Salastambha with Madhava of the Hara-Gauri-Sambada and holds that Salastambha and Avantivarman were the same person, who was referred to as Devavarman, ”King of Eastern India” by the Chinese pilgrim It-Sing.

The Salastambha kings called their descent from the ancient Bhaumas of Bhauma-Narakas like the Varman kings,whom they supplanted. Salastambha’s reign can tentatively be placed between 655 to 675 A.D. Though there were twentyone kings in his family,names of only fifteen have so far been found. During the rule of this dynasty,the capital city was located at Haruppeswara, identified with the modern town of Tezpur. The sixth king of the dynasty, Sri Harsha or Harshadeva (c.725-50 A.D) was the most famous, being credited with the overlordship of Gauda, Odra, Kalinga, Kosala and other lands. It is recorded in the Pasupati epigraph of the Nepal king, Jayadeva II, that Sri Harshadeva who was the lord of these lands gave his daughter Rajyamatiin marriage to this king. It appears that after conquering Kalinga and Kosala, Harshadeva led an expedition to the south and was defeated by the Cahlukya king of Karnataka, Kirtivarman II. Soon after, he was overthrown and killed by Yasovarman of Kanauj. Thus though for a short period, Kamarupa, during the rule of Harshadeva reached the highest point of its military glory ”when its suzerain power extended from Sadiya in the east to Ajodhya in the west, and from the Himalayas in the north as far as the Bay of Bengal and Ganjam in the south”.

It is presumed by Gait that the family of Salastambha came to an end with the death of Harshadeva. But according to the Hayunthal epigraph, Harshadeva was succeeded by his son Balavarman II (c.750-765A.D.),who was also a powerful monarch. Pralambha the great-grandson of Harshadeva was contemporary of Gopala, the first king of the Pala Dynasty of Gauda. Pralambha’s son Harjaravarman was perhaps the first of this line of kings to perform his coronation ceremony according to Vedic rites. He assumed the High-sounding title Maharajadhiraja Parameswara Paramabhattaraka. He was left us two inscriptions, the Hayunthal copper plates found at Nagaon and the Tezpur rock epigraph. The second one is dated Gupta era 510=829-30 A.D. Harajaras reign is tentatively placed between c.815-35 A.D.

The Tezpur inscription was sasana or royal charter regulating the plying of boats in the Brahmaputra within certain boundaries specified therein. This sasana indicates that Harjara had a big navy at his command. Hajaravarman built a lofty Siva temple and rows of stately buildings in the capital city at Haruppeswara. Extensive ruins of temples and buildings in and around the modern town of Tezpur along with the existence of a big tank called Hajarapukhuri.

Choudhury opines that Salastambha was probably established,as a ruler of the Nalanda region by Bhaskara and immediately after the latter’s death without leaving an heir,he came to Pragjyotisha and declared himself as king .Hajaravarman’s son Vanamalavarman (c.835-65A.D.)was perhaps the last powerful king of Salastambha dynasty .He recovered Kamarupa’s lost possession of Pundravardhana and to signalise this victory donated lands to a Brahmana near about the area where Bhutivarman of the Varman dynasty made land-grants in the middle of the 6thcentury A.D. This is recorded in the Tezpur grant issued in his 19th regal year. He made several other land-grants. He rebuilt the Siva temple erected by his father and made grants of lands,elephants and temple girls to it. From his Nagaon grant it is learnt that his capital city was inhabited by virtuous men, merchants and learned scholars and people of all classes lived there happily.

Vanamala, a devout worshipper of Siva abdicated the throne in favour of his son Jayamala (c.865-85A.D.) and himself fasted unto death.Vanamala’s grandson Balavarman III (c.885-910A.D.)also made several land grants in different parts of his kingdom. In his grants he too assumed the high-sounding epithet Maharajadhiraja Parameswara Paramabhattaraka. Nothing is known about the successors of Balavarman III. There is a gap in the historical account of the period between the reign of Balavarman III and Tyagasingha, the last king of the family. They possibly ruled during the period c.910-970 A.D., after which Brahmapala started the rule of Pala line of kings.

***This Notes are the Self Studies and prepared by the Author of Assam Gk taking help and reference from Govt. of  AssamWikipedia, World History Maps and published work of other Authors.

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