Ancient World

Dynasties of Magadha – I

While the Magadha kings aggressively expanded their territory, they also gave patronage to Buddhism and Jainism which originated in the empire.


Known history of the Magadha Empire goes back to the days of the Puranas, and Vedas, dating back to 1700 BC and earlier.
The Ramayana refers to Magadha only as a fertile and rich place, and it is the Mahabharata, the Vedas, Buddhist and Jain texts that bring to us the Magadha story of affluence and aggression.
Many dynasties ruled Magadha and the Magadha kings who stand out in Indian history – Bimbisara, Ajatashatru, Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka – owe part of their successful expansion to the kingdom’s location on the fertile Gangetic plain, on the southeast banks of the Ganga in present-day south Bihar, and to the copper and iron ore mines of Bihar and Jharkhand.
Moving alongside military expansion is the spread of Buddhism and Jainism from this region, finding patronage from the kings, Bimbisara, Ajatashatru, Kalasoka, Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka in particular. This is understandable, since the religions had emerged in the region, and Buddha and Mahavira were contemporaries of Bimbisara.

Brihadratha Dynasty
Known history of Magadha begins with Brihadratha who founded the dynasty in his name. His son, the powerful king Jarasandha attacked the Yadava kingdom Surasena seventeen times, forcing the Yadavas to move from its capital Mathura to Dwarka.
Later, Bheema, with guidance from Krishna, killed Jarasandha in a wrestling match and placed the latter’s son Sahadeva on the Magadha throne. Sahadeva fought alongside the Pandavas in Kurukshetra and was killed in the war.
Twenty four Brihadratha kings ruled Magadha for nine centuries, from 1700 to 800 BC, making it the longest ruling dynasty of the empire.
In 799 BC, the last Brihadratha king Ripunjaya was killed by his minister, who placed his son Pradyota on the throne, according to some sources. Now began dynasties known for their bloody feuds of succession.

Pradyota Dynasty
According to the Vayu Purana, the Pradyotas, who were already ruling Avanti in Madhya Pradesh, annexed Magadha. Their rule was short-lived with the five Pradyota kings ruling Magadha from 799 to 684 BC.
Crimes were commonplace, and according to Buddhist and Jain texts, a Pradyota tradition was that the king’s son kills his father to become the king. Eventually, the crimes and feuds for succession led to a people’s revolt, and Magadhis chose a Haryanka ruler. Meanwhile, the Pradyotas continued to rule Avanti.

Haryanka Dynasty
Bimbisara, who was anointed king when he was fifteen, by his father, Bhattiya was the first Haryanka ruler, although some sources refer to Bhattiya as the first king of the dynasty. Bimbisara built Girivraja (Rajagriha) as his capital and annexed Anga to the east, gaining access to the Ganges delta. He also formed marriage alliances with kingdoms to the north and west, laying the foundation for Magadha’s expansion.

Siddhartha Gautama met Bimbisara during his early wanderings and later, when he became the Buddha, Bimbisara became his disciple.
Bimbisara’s son Ajatashatru, continued the expansion, conquering Kashi and Kosala to the west, and after a sixteen-year battle with the Vrijji confederacy, he conquered this kingdom too. He is known for burning the Vrijji capital Vaishali. He also built a fort at the village, Pataligrama which would become Pataliputra.
Although Magadhis revolted against the Pradyotas for the latter’s succession feuds, the Haryankas continued the practice.


Succession was a bloody affair, with Ajatashatru imprisoning his father Bimbisara and becoming the cause of his death. Ajatashatru himself was murdered by his son, Udayabhadra, who in turn was assassinated by his son Anuruddha. Anuruddha was assassinated by his son Munda who was killed by his son Nagadasaka.
Yet another revolt rose within the kingdom, and Nagadasaka’s minister, Shishunaga came to power.

Shishunaga Dynasty
The Shishunagas ruled for a very short period, from 413 BC to 345 BC. Shishunaga, who was the son of a Lichchavi ruler, continued to expand Magadha, defeating Nandivardana of the Pradyota dynasty, and conquering Avanti.
Shishunaga ruled from Rajagriha (earlier called Girivraja), and it was during his son Kalasoka’s reign that Pataliputra became the Magadha capital and would remain so.
Mahanandin, the last Shishunaga ruler, was killed by his son Mahapadma Nanda who established the Nanda dynasty.

Magadha’s Might – The Basis
Magadha’s expansion during this period was based on its strategic location on the lower Ganges, receiving revenue both from the fertile plains and from maritime trade. It had access to timber and elephants from the neighbouring forests, which helped in construction and in strengthening the army.
Rich deposits of copper and iron ore, and the associated technological advances gave birth to Ajatashatru’s military innovations, like the maha sila kantaka (catapult that threw heavy stones to a great distance) and ratha musala (covered chariot with wheels that had rotating spears and blades).
Bimbisara built an efficient administration system, and ruled with the help of the executive, the judiciary and the military. He also introduced land revenue, strengthening the kingdom’s coffers.
For whom Ajatashatru Burnt Vaishali: Amrapali
Smitten with Amrapali’s beauty, Manudev, the king of Vaishali, killed her groom on the day of her marriage and declared her nagar vadhu (bride of the city). Amrapali became the royal courtesan of the Lichchavis, one of the eight tribes that formed the Vrijji confederacy with Vaishali as the capital. She also becamse the raja nartaki (court dancer).
King Bimbisara who had heard of Amrapali’s beauty, attacked Vaishali and took refuge in Amrapali’s house. Amrapali who had a son by Bimbisara, came to know his identity and asked the king to leave. She also asked him to put an end to his war against Vaishali, which Bimbisara did.
Later, his son Ajatashatru conquered Vaishali, which was being ruled by the Lichchavis at the time. He too had heard of Amrapali’s beauty and sought her. The people of Vaishali came to know of their relationship and imprisoned Amrapali.
In anger, Ajatashatru burned the city, nearly ruining Vaishali and causing the death of hundreds of people. Seeing the massacre, Amrapali turned away from the king and became a Buddhist nun.
Amrapali is known to have served food to Lord Buddha when he visited Vaishali before his death. She gave away her vast property to the Buddha, and many sermons were held in her mango grove.


During the Vedic period, sixteen Mahajanapadas ruled northern India, of whom the Kurus are credited with establishing the Vedic heritage.


The decline of the Indus Valley Civilisation began in 1700 BC, coming to an end 400 years later. Meanwhile, the Vedic age emerged, thriving from 1500 to 600 BC. The janapadas, meaning foothold of tribes, emerged during this period and marked the second urbanisation, after the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Until about 1100 BC, tribal and pastoral cultures existed and were largely based in Punjab. The thick forest cover deterred them from migrating eastward, but by 1300 BC, the Iron Age had begun. The emergence of axes and ploughs made of iron helped them clear the forest cover.
Gradually, these tribes moved eastward towards the Gangetic Plain, and settled down to agriculture. They formed clans that evolved into the janapadas, which were republics or kingdoms.

Headed by a king, the tribes also had an assembly, that is, samiti, which elected or dethroned the king. Elders formed the sabha, which advised the king. Clans, or kulas developed, each with its own chief. The military emerged, with kshatriya warriors and eventually the janapadas evolved.


The smaller janapadas merged into 16 mahajanapadas, and extended across the northern part of India until 500 BC, coming to an end with the rise of empires like the Magadha Empire or due to the Persian and Greek invasions.
Accounts differ, but the 16 mahajanapadas are said to be Anga, Assaka, Avanti, Chedi, Gandhara, Kashi, Kamboja, Kosala, Kuru, Magadha, Malla, Matsya, Panchala, Surasena, Vajji and Vatsa.
ANGA had as its capital Champa, which was on the banks of the River Champa and was a centre of trade and commerce. Angad, son of Vali, is said to have established the kingdom. Duryodhana is said to have made Karna the king of Anga. King Bimbisara of Magadha annexed Anga into the Magadha kingdom, making Brahmadatta the last of the Anga kings.
ASSAKA or Asmaka was established near the river Godavari with Potali, or Podana as its capital. Its rulers were contemporaries to the Shishunagas of Magadha.
AVANTI was ruled by the Haihayas with Mahishmati as its capital initially. Later, it was divided by the Vindhyas into the northern region, with Ujjayini as its capital, and the southern region with Mahishmati as its capital. Later, it was ruled by the Pradyota dynasty. After Pradyota, his son Palaka ascended the throne. He was overthrown for his tyrannical rule. Later, Avanti came under the rule of the Shishunagas of Magadha.
CHEDI, to the south of the Yamuna, was ruled by Shishupala, and was known in the Mahabharata as Duryodhana’s ally. Its capital was Suktimati.
GANDHARA was a kingdom in the Peshawar valley, extending from what is today Pakistan to north-east Afghanistan. Its main cities were Purushapura (Peshawar), Takshasila and Pushkalavati, on the banks of the Swat and Kabul rivers. Pushkalavati was its capital until the 2nd century AD.
KASHI had as its capital, Varanasi or Kashi, which was on the banks of the Ganga. The city received its name from the rivers Varuna and Assi. It emerged as one of Hinduism’s cultural and religious centres.
KAMBOJA was situated beyond Gandhara with Rajapura (Rajauri) as its capital. Its inhabitants are believed to be of Indo-Iranian or Indo-Aryan origin. Since they were great horsemen, they often took part in battles among other nations.
KOSALA (present-day Awadh) was ruled from its capital Ayodhya. The Ikshvakus ruled Kosala and were later defeated by Ajatashatru of Magadha.
MALLA was situated north of Magadha and was divided probably by river Kakuttha (Kuku) into two parts, with Kusavati and Pava as the two capitals. During the post-Vedic period, both Gautama Buddha and Mahavira chose this republic as their place of death.
MATSYA was to the west of river Yamuna with its capital as Viratanagari. It was probably part of Chedi at some point in time.

Gandhara was a kingdom in the Peshawar valley, extending from Pakistan to north-east Afghanistan. Its main cities were Purushapura (Peshawar), Takshasila and Pushkalavati, on the banks of the SWAT and Kabul rivers. Pushkalavati was its capital until the 2nd century AD.

Kuru was formed by the Bharata and Puru tribes, becoming a key political and cultural centre during the reigns of King Parikshit and King Janamejaya. The vedas are said to have been arranged into collections during this period and Hindu rituals were crystallised. Asandivat was the first Kuru capital with Indraprastha and Hastinapura emerging later as the main cities. The capital shifted to Kausambi when floods destroyed Hastinapura. The Kurus eventually fell to the Salvas.
Magadha originated in Bihar to the south of the Ganga. Its capital was initially known as Girivrijja, and was later changed to Rajagriha during the time of Ajatashatru. Much later, its capital shifted to Pataliputra. The Haryanka dynasty ruled from 600 to 413 BC, with Bimbisara ascending the throne as the second king of the dynasty. His son, Ajatashatru imprisoned him and caused his death. Ajatashatru conquered Vaishali, Kashi and Kosala, in addition to many other republics, establishing Magadha’s power.
Magadha expanded to cover Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, parts of Uttar Pradesh as well as Bangladesh and Nepal. After the Shishunaga dynasty ruled from 413 to 345 BC, the Nanda dynasty ruled up to 321 BC. Chandragupta Maurya overthrew Dhana Nanda, the last of the Nanda rulers, to establish the Maurya dynasty.

PANCHALA was in the region where the Ganga and Yamuna converge. It was a powerful kingdom with close alliance with the Kurus. It later turned into a republic and was annexed into the Magadha Empire by Mahapadma Nanda. Panchala later regained its independence, but was annexed by the Gupta Empire.
SURASENA, which is mentioned in the Ramayana, has Mathura as its capital. It is said to be the land of Lord Krishna and its inhabitants were called Yadavas.

VAJJI, ruled from Vaishali, was a confederacy of eight clans, including the Licchavis, Jnatrikas and Videhas. The Licchavi king Manudeva is said to have had a desire for Amrapali, the legendary dancer.
VATSA, situated at the Ganga-Yamuna confluence, had as its capital Kausambi. It was a branch of the Kuru dynasty, the other being the Vatsas.
These 16 Mahajanapadas are important not only for being the starting point for many of India’s later dynasties, but more so for bringing Vedic culture into the mainstream.

King Herod

King Herod might have been just another footnote in the history of Judaea if it were not for the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was born in his kingdom.



To Antipater from Idumea, which was south of Judea, and Cyprus, the daughter of an Arabian Sheik, was born Herod in 73 BCE. To this he owed some of his conflicts. Since Antipater was from Idumea, the Jews considered him an outsider although he worshipped the Jewish God. Since they considered a person Jewish only if he had a Jewish mother, Herod’s mother being an Arab didn’t help matters although like his father, Herod was a practicing Jew.

Meanwhile, after the death of the Hasmonean Queen, Alexandra Salome who ruled over Judea, a bloody civil war was initiated by her sons Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. Judaea suffered. Hyrcanus won the struggle with the intervention of the Roman general Pompey and Antipater, who supported Hyrcanus, became the real power behind the throne.
Yet another civil war erupted, this time in Rome between Pompey and Julius Caesar in which Hyrcanus supported the latter. In 47 BCE, Caesar appointed Antipater a regent and granted Roman citizenship.
In 44 BCE, Caesar was murdered, bringing to power his nephew Octavian and his second-in-command Mark Antony.

Even as Brutus and Cassius, Caesar’s murderers, fled, Judaea had to pay thousands of kilos of silver. In the subsequent troubles, Antipater was killed. Herod in turn killed the murderers with the help of Rome.

When Hyrcanus’ nephew tried to usurp the throne in 43 BCE, Herod defeated him. He then divorced his wife Doris and sending her and their son away, he married Hyrcanus’ daughter Mariamne. With this alliance, he enhanced his claim to the throne.
With Octavian and Mark Antony defeating Caesar’s murderers at Philippi, Antipater was on the losing side, but Herod convinced Mark Antony that his father had been forced to take their side. Convinced of this, Mark Antony awarded the title Tetrarch of Galilee to Herod, indicating that he was the leader of a vassal kingdom. Hyrcanus was the Jewish leader, but only in name.
But, the Jews resented the appointment since Herod was not considered a Jew. They sided with the Parthians in the latter’s war against Romans. Hyrcanus was taken prisoner and Antigonus became king. Phasael committed suicide.

With the help of Rome, the Parthians were driven away and Herod came to Jerusalem with Roman legions, defeating Antigonus. Herod now became the ruler of Judaea.

To stabilise his position, he brought Hyrcanus, who was now an old man, back from the Parthians in Babylon, giving his reign the appearance of legitimacy.
King Herod embarked on an extensive building programme, leaving behind the new walls of Jerusalem and the citadel guarding its temple.
He minted coins in his name, and kept the Romans in good humour. While he tried to please Mark Antony in the east and Octavian in the West, civil broke out between the two leaders in 31 BCE in which Herod sided with Mark Antony who was defeated.


To secure his position, he had his father-in-law and the old king Hyrcanus executed. He then met Octavian, spoke to him frankly about his loyalty to Mark Antony, ending with the promise to be loyal to the Roman Empire.
Octavian who wanted Herod as an ally if he were to pursue Mark Antony, accepted Herod’s rule, adding Judaea and Samaria to the latter’s kingdom. Meanwhile Mark Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide and Octavian became the first Roman emperor and called himself Augustus. He rewarded Herod with Jericho and Gaza.

Herodian Architecture
King Herod’s most famous project was the reconstruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in 19 BCE. This would come to be known as the Second Temple of Jerusalem or Herod’s Temple. The temple itself was built in a year and a half, and construction on the outer builders continued for decades. Romans destroyed the temple in 70 AD. The Wailing Wall of Jerusalem is part of the four walls, which were built to create a flat platform called the Temple Mount. The temple itself was constructed over this.
Innovations in architecture and construction techniques are found in the constructions during King Herod’s reign, such as the use of the Jewish ritual bath as a frigidarium in the bathhouses in Herod’s palaces. His innovations in combining palace and fortress in Jerusalem, Herodium, Masada and Caesarea Maritima, and military architecture were followed during later periods.
He built great cities with notable constructions, including a new market, amphitheatre and a fortress in Jerusalem. Most of Herod’s structures were built over Hasmonean buildings.
The port of Caesarea was his achievement, and was built along the Greek plan with a market, an aqueduct, government offices, baths, and temples. Protected by wave-breaking structures and its piers made from hydraulic concrete that hardens underwater, the port was an engineering marvel.

End of Herod’s Reign
Herod continued to add land to his country, built a strong bureaucracy and enhanced economic development.
The different factions hated him for different reasons, but for economic reasons alone, he gave cause for dislike with his high taxation and had to resort to violence to ensure order and paying of levies.
Terror ruled the end of his reign. Herod fell ill and became increasingly erratic. When two teachers and their pupils removed the golden eagle from the Temple’s entrance, all of them were burned alive.
It is believed that a cancer-like gangrene afflicted Herod towards the end. His mental stability became questionable. He had Mariamne and her family killed. He disinherited his first son, Antipater and had him killed. He executed his sons Aristobulus and Antipater. After his death in 4 BCE, in the Herodion fortress which he had built and the Roman emperor divided Herod’s kingdom among the latter’s sons, Herod Antipas, Philip and Archelaus.
Herod had ruled Judaea between 37 and 4 BCE.

Feast of the Holy Innocents
According to the Gospel of Mathew, when the Magi go to Judaea in search of the newborn who would be the king of Jews, Herod asks them to let him know when they find him. The magi though, return another way after they find Jesus.

Emperor Ashoka

Fierce emperor-turned-promoter of peace, Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya Empire is known through the rock edicts and pillars that he had erected across the Indian sub-continent



Although it cannot be proven beyond doubt, it is believed that Ashoka was crowned Emperor after he had his 99 half-brothers killed, leaving only Tissa alive. It is only in 269 BCE that he was crowned Emperor, four years after he ascended the throne. Over the next eight years, Ashoka expanded his empire.

Ashoka’s Reign
Ashoka was a fierce emperor, and some texts describe him as cruel. All that changed with the Kalinga War. Ashoka’s edicts describe the remorse he felt after the Kalinga War when he saw the more than hundred thousand deaths in the war, and the suffering of families of the deceased. He turned to Buddhism, promoting peace within his empire and sending emissaries to spread the religion to distant regions.
Ashoka is believed to have had five wives, Devi, Karuvaki, Asandhimitra, Padmavati and Tishyarakshita. Mahendra and Sangha Mitra who went on a Buddhist mission to Sri Lanka were Devi’s offspring.
Ashoka declared that dharma is the practice of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, mercy, benevolence, non-violence and being considerate towards others. He dissuaded extravagance, being acquisitive, and causing injury to animals.
He respected all religions while directing them to respect other religions, and not to criticise others’ viewpoints vehemently. On his periodic tours, he spoke of dharma and tried to relieve his people’s sufferings. His officers were required to do the same, and to be impartial in giving justice. Ashoka founded hospitals for humans and animals, planting trees alongside roads, digging wells, and building rest houses. He issued orders to prevent cruelty towards animals.

Ashoka’s chief consort Asandhimitra was childless. His youngest wife Tishyarakshita is believed to have blinded his son Kunala (son of Padmavati). Her intent was to have him killed, but the killers spared his life and Kunala became a wandering singer along with his wife Kanchanmala. Hearing of this, Ashoka condemned Tishyaraksha to death.
Ashoka’s end came in 232 BCE. His grandson Dasharatha is believed to have succeeded him to the throne. In 185 BCE, the last Mauryan Emperor, Brihadratha was assassinated by his Commander-in-Chief, Pushyamitra Shunga, who founded the Shunga dynasty and ruled over a part of the Mauryan Empire.
Emperor Ashoka is probably the most famous Mauryan Emperor, not just for expanding the empire, but also for turning from a fierce ruler to a peaceful one. He expanded the empire from Afghanistan to Bangladesh and from the Himalayas to the south, leaving just the southern region out of his control. Grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the empire, Ashoka ruled with Pataliputra (Patna) as his capital..

Also known by the names Devanampriya, (Beloved of the Gods), and Priyadarsin (He who regards everyone with affection), Ashoka lived up to these names after the Kalinga War.

Kalinga War
Kalinga, which constitutes present-day Odisha and northern part of coastal Andhra Pradesh, stood autonomous, defying Mauryan rule. Ashoka waged a war against the kingdom during the eighth year of his rule, annexing it in a bloody battle. The war which saw deaths estimated anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000, including war casualties and those who succumbed to death during deportation, brought change in the Emperor’s heart and Ashoka embraced Buddhism.
Ashoka Chakra
The Ashoka Chakra on the Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath is a famous symbol from the emperor’s time. It is a representation of the Buddhist Wheel of Dharma, or Dharmachakra. Twelve spokes of the wheel stand for the 12 causes of suffering. The other 12 spokes represent the principle of cause and effect. The 12 causes of suffering are avidya (ignorance), sanskara (mind’s conditioning), vijnana (consciousness), namarupa (name and form), sadayatana (six senses), sparsa (contact), vedana (sensation), trishna (thirst), upadana (grasping), bhava (being), jati (to be born), jaramarana (old age and death).
The remaining 12 deal with reversing these links so that with awareness of mind, we reach a stage of no cause and no effect. The Ashoka Chakra in the Indian flag comes from this Chakra.
Ashoka Chakra is also India’s highest peacetime military decoration. It is awarded to people who have acted with valour, courage and self-sacrifice away from the battlefield.
Ashoka Pillars
Ashoka Pillars are stone columns, which were erected by the emperor across the sub-continent. Ten pillars with inscriptions survive today. The inscriptions are in Prakrit written in the Brahmi script. Between forty and fifty feet in height, their weight is estimated at fifty tons. The stone came from Chunar, south of Varanasi.
Ashoka Mudra (Lion Capital of Ashoka)
Ashoka Mudra is a sculpture with four lions facing the four directions. Placed atop the Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, it has been shifted to the Sarnath Museum, while the pillar stands in its original location.
It has been adopted as India’s national emblem. The four lions stand on a short cylindrical stone, which carries sculptures of four animals, symbolising the stages of Lord Buddha’s life:
Elephant: Queen Maya’s dream of a white elephant entering her womb
Bull: Signifies desire when Buddha was a prince
Galloping Horse: Departure from life in the palace
Lion: Buddha’s accomplishments.
The four animals are separated by chariot wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. The entire sculpture was carved out of a single block of polished sandstone. It is said that the mudra was crowned by a Dharmachakra, the Ashoka Chakra.
Ashoka’s Legacy
The stupas of Sanchi, Sarnath are well-known. The Mahabodhi temple and Nalanda Mahavihara in Bihar, as well as Takshasila in Pakistan too are famous. Ashoka is also credited with more stupas in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Pakistan.

His name Ashoka means one without sorrow.
In addition to the second century compilations, Ashokavadana, which is part of Divyavadana, and Mahavamsa, a Sri Lankan compilation, his rock pillars, edicts and monuments tell us about him.
While there is no dispute that his father was Bindusara, some texts state that his mother was Subhadrangi, and others state that she was Janapadakalyani. Ashoka grew with his many half-brothers under royal military upbringing.

From Prince to Emperor
After suppressing a revolt during his father’s time, Ashoka became the Governor of the Malwa capital, Ujjain. Although Bindusara wanted Prince Susima, his elder son to succeed to the Mauryan throne, his ministers, with Radhagupta playing a strong role, supported Ashoka’s bid for the throne. Ashoka then made Radhagupta his minister.

UNESCO tag yet Ahmedabad needs to do more

Debashish Nayak, Director, Centre for Heritage Management of Ahmedabad University has been working for over two decades as advisor to the Heritage Programme of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) for revitalisation of the ‘Historic Walled City.’ An architect with over two decades of experience in managing urban conservation issues of ‘historic cities’ in both India and abroad, he is also the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award for “Enterprising Conservation of Heritage Properties” from West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. Talking to
Urban Vaastu, he opens his heart about the lack of awareness among the people and government bodies in preserving our priceless architectural heritage for coming generations

What has been the response to your short-term management programmes from professionals in heritage organisations and craftsmen?
We began with programmes like “the heritage walk for 5 days” which is a good way to introduce a person to the city. If you don’t know the city you can’t do good or bad with it. So knowing your city comes first. And then there’s another 5-day programme called Cultural Resources and Training (CCRT) for government officials aimed at promoting case-writing on heritage management issues. With funding from European Union and Spain we did a heritage management start-up. This programme lasts 30 months. Short term courses are crucial for students doing masters.

Can you tell us about your two-year Master of Management Studies (Heritage Management) course?
Master’s Programme in Heritage Management is one of its kind in India. It emphasises on critical understanding of heritage, and holistic management approach to heritage sector. The curriculum includes a diverse range of heritage sectors spanning tangible and intangible, cultural and natural, historic and contemporary/living with emphasis on management. A unique programme with lectures, seminars, discussion, group work and field-learning culminating in thesis.
Designed for four semesters, we had 15 enrollments in the first year. Then it came to 12. People do come for interview and are more interested in job prospects. But heritage management is a subject of passion. When heritage conservation started in NID and IIM, nobody was interested in studying management. We spread awareness among the companies about the programmes.

How many such courses do you offer every year?
Short courses and management. We also do projects. No expansion plans yet. Public discussions and debates are welcome and age is no bar. We have students from 24 to 60 and a 60-year-old student is punctual.


Designed for four semesters, we had 15 enrollments in the first year. Then it came to 12. People do come for interview and are more interested in job prospects. But heritage management is a subject of passion.


Does the word ‘heritage’ attract lot of students these days?
Not yet. They are curious and do ask questions. Prefer short term courses but the attraction is still missing. Though response is picking up not on enrollment side.

Do you also get foreign students, especially from the developing world?
No. A few inquiries came from Egypt and Bangladesh but for short-term courses and not for management. With our fees low compared to the US and Europe, there is hope that enrollment will go up. Our focus now is on Indian students learning about heritage.

Centre for Heritage Management is involved in bringing institutions and corporates together for ‘mission heritage’ activities in India. Are there any recent initiatives?
Funding from Europe and Spain has helped in creating some awareness. Take for example the “National Heritage Areas” in the US. These are community-led conservation and development. National Heritage Areas are places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large live-in landscapes. It is a multi-disciplinary project and we should collaborate with many universities around the world. In India, we collaborated with Gujarat Ecology Constitution, Dehradun Wildlife Institute, in Calcutta, Khamir in Kutch. There are 253 cities recognized as world heritage. Ahmedabad is the first city in India to be named as “world heritage city.” Now there is clamour for more cities to be named as “world heritage city.”

Does the centre have close ties with similar institutions elsewhere in the world? Which are these institutions and what kind of collaboration you have with them?
We collaborated with many institutions. From universities outside India to those in the country. Our programmes range from student exchange, faculties exchange and experience exchange.

You advise many Indian city bodies on heritage programmes. Any major achievement because of these interactions?

We are working in Lucknow for UP tourism and Punjab tourism. We renovated and repaired many havelis in historic places. I am advising many cities in India, and if they call us to promote, I will visit and guide them. We worked hard to make Ahmedabad a world heritage city. But there’s no proper awareness among people or government bodies.

UNESCO recently declared Ahmedabad as World heritage city. What will be its impact?
The impact is so high that people have started using the phrase “Oh, you live in world heritage city.” It made an impact in India and Asia and in economy terms it is thumbs up. People now know more about the city and those working in this sector see their work recognized. Trade has increased. It also means understanding the importance of preserving heritage monuments.

Are you satisfied with the way conservation is being done for over two-dozen ASI-protected monuments in Ahmedabad?
Lot needs to be done. At least they are protected. More than 42 monuments are there and strict laws are needed to safeguard them. It’s a slow progress yet work goes on.
Most ancient structures in India are deteriorating rapidly. What is the solution? Can a replica be made to keep the heritage intact?
Depends on situation to situation. Not every monument is deteriorating. Pollution is a threat and dedicated groups are conserving our heritage. There are plenty of monuments & heritage buildings. All need proper care.

Chandragupta Maurya

Born in a humble family, Chandragupta Maurya rose to build the largest empire on the Indian sub-continent with a prosperous economy and a powerful army under the shrewd guidance of Chanakya


Once Chanakya, who would later write the Arthasastra, had arrived from Takshashila at the court of the powerful Nanda rulers on the Gangetic plains. Insulted by King Dhana Nanda, Chanakya swore revenge and was leaving in fury when young Chandragupta sought to meet him. It was this chance meeting that led to one of the greatest partnerships of all times and the creation of the Mauryan Empire.
Known to the Greeks as Sandrokottos or Androkottos, Chandragupta’s reign is known for its prosperous economy and was driven by Chanakya’s shrewd grasp of statecraft and economics. With a strong central administration from Pataliputra, Chandragupta ruled over nearly the entire Indian sub-continent through an organised, efficient structure. The focus was on building economic prosperity, connectivity by land, diplomacy and a powerful army that was in permanent readiness. Religions thrived, with Buddhism, Jainism and Ajivika living along with Hinduism.

It was the end of Alexander the Great’s conquests. When his armies refused to cross


the River Beas and move eastward into the Indian sub-continent, Alexander chose not to wage war against the powerful Magadha kingdom of the Nandas. Leaving his troops west of the River Indus, he returned to Babylon in 323 BC. It is said that a young Chandragupta had met Alexander, but that held no significance in the Mauryan’s rise.
In 323 BC, it had been a year since Alexander’s retreat. Under Chanakya’s shrewd guidance, Chandragupta formed a small army of his own and through alliances with local rulers, defeated the Greek-ruled cities in the region. By 322-321 BC, he began rising in prominence.
To the East were the powerful Nandas who had been ruling the region since 345 BC. In preparation for a war against the professional Nanda army, Chandragupta, under Chanakya’s guidance, formed more alliances and strengthened his army.
After forming an alliance with Parvataka, a ruler in the Himalayan region, his march towards Magadha on the Gangetic plains began.
After an initial rebuff at the hands of the Nandas, the capital Pataliputra fell into Chandragupta’s hands, ending the Nanda dynasty. With the Gangetic plain under his rule, Chandragupta may have formed alliances with the Kings of Rajputana on the west and Kalinga in the south.
According to Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador’s records, Chandragupta’s army would number at least 400,000 when he gained full control, compared to the 200,000-foot troops of the Nandas.
Meanwhile Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC. Chandragupta looked towards the west. Alternately assassinating or defeating the governors that Alexander had left behind, Chandragupta expanded his empire into the northwest.

Alexander’s Macedonian general, Seleucus I Nicator had established the Seleucid kingdom in 312 BC with Babylon as his capital.


A powerful ruler, he had conquered almost all of Alexander’s Asian empire, including Bactria and Indus. This brought him into conflict with Chandragupta.
Seleucus crossed the Indus and the two armies battled each other. Soon, the two kings arrived at peace through a marital alliance in which Chandragupta married a Seleucid princess. Not only did he have peace with Seleucus, he had also annexed some of the latter’s provinces. In return, he sent 500 elephants to Seleucus which enabled the latter to win the Battle of Ipsus in which he, in alliance with others, defeated the Macedonian Greek rulers. At this point, the Greek ambassador Megasthenes arrived in Chandragupta’s court.
Chandragupta turned his eye south of the Vindhyas, conquering the Deccan Plateau. At its peak, Chandragupta’s Empire extended over almost the entire Indian subcontinent.

Chanakya’s Arthasastra, which is known for his shrewd principles of administration and economics, was implemented in governing the Empire. Chandragupta ruled with the aid of a ministerial council, the ministers themselves were called amatya. The empire was structured into janapadas, that is, territories and regional centres which were protected by forts. The royal treasury funded the state functioning as well as the army.


Paying heed to Chanakya’s wisdom, Chandragupta had many reservoirs and networks built, facilitating irrigation which in turn ensured reliable food supplies to his citizens and to the army. In fact, his officials were given the duty of ensuring regional prosperity through agriculture. His irrigation works were so well-planned that 400 years later these works, built by Chandragupta and strengthened by Ashoka, continued to function, and were repaired and enlarged by later rulers.
Economics and safety took precedence over arts and architecture, and there is no conclusive evidence that archaeological findings of artefacts dating back to the period can be credited to Chandragupta Maurya.
Chandragupta’s Death
Chandragupta renounced his throne in 298 BC and went to the south with the Jain teacher Bhadrabahu, leaving his son Bindusara as the emperor. Ashoka would rise to the throne after Bindusara.
Chandragupta lived in Shravanabelagola and eventually, followed the Jain practice of fasting to his death in 297 BC.

Humble Origin
Chandragupta’s birth is unrecorded. It is quite possible that Greek sources are authentic in their narrative that Chandragupta did not come from a warrior background. Jain and Buddhist sources, which were written centuries later, stated that he was from noble lineage, at the least from a village chief.
The most likely event is that Kautilya, whose real name was Chanakya and who originated from the north-western region, had trained Chandragupta at Takshashila.
Stable Economy
The Mauryan economy was very developed for its time. The existence of a stable centralized government and the unity of the sub-continent made by the emperor resulted in an advanced trade. Land routes were built to transport goods with roads suitable for the movement of carts. The Empire was no longer dependant on the trickle of movement through mules or on water transport. In fact, a 1000-mile highway connected Pataliputra to Takshashila. Others connected the capital to Kapilavastu, Kalsi, Sasaram, Kalinga, Andhra and Karnataka. With this, Chandragupta achieved not only extensive trade, but also rapid movement of his army.
State-owned weapon-manufacturing centres were another of Chanakya’s ideas. Chanakya’s principle was that prosperity is necessary to pursue Dhamma, that is, morality. He also states in his Arthasastra that diplomacy must prevail over war and if that is not possible, an army that is always ready has to be maintained.