The history of the word Gurjar can be confidently traced back to an ancient ethnic and tribal identity called Gurjara, which became prominent after the collapse of Gupta Empire. They were known as Gurjara in the previous centuries. The period from 500 A.D. to 1000 A.D. is generally seen as the early period of their history, near the end of which, they were ruling a huge empire. The ancient Gujars were great warriors, and had an extremely enterprising nature.A literal or definitive meaning of the word Gurjara is not available in any of the historical references. The oldest reference to the word Gurjara is found in the book called Harshacharita (Harsha’s Deeds), a biography of king Harshavardhana written around 630 CE. Banabhatta, the author of Harshacharita, mentions that Harsha’s father Prabhakravardhana (560-580 CE) was “a constant threat to the sleep of Gurjara”—apparently a reference to the Gurjara king or kingdom. Another ancient reference to the word Gurjara can be found in the memoirs of Xuanzang, the famous Chinese pilgrim who travelled around North India in the 6th century A.D. He mentions the Gurjara kingdom as the second biggest in north-western India, and says that its capital was known as Bhinmal. Inscriptions from a collateral branch of Gurjaras, known as Gurjaras of Lata, claim that their family was ruling Bharakucha (Bharuch) as early as 450 CE from their capital at Nandipuri. Based on these early dates, it has been proposed by some authors that Gurjara identity might have been present in India as early as the 3rd century CE, but it became prominent only after the fall of Guptas.
The name Gujarát is from the Prákrit Gujjara-ratta, the Sanskrit of which is Gurjjara-ráshtra that is the country of the Gujjaras or Gurjjaras. In Sanskrit books and inscriptions the name of the province is written Gurjjara-maṇḍala and Gūrjjara-deśa the land of the Gurjjaras or Gúrjjaras. The Gurjjaras are a foreign tribe who passing into India from the north-west gradually spread as far south as Khándesh and Bombay Gujarát. The present Gujars of the Panjáb and North-West Provinces preserve more of their foreign traits than the Gujar settlers further to the south and east. Though better-looking, the Panjáb Gurjars in language dress and calling so closely resemble their associates the Játs or Jats as to suggest that the two tribes entered India about the same time. Their present distribution shows that the Gurjars spread further east and south than the Játs. The earliest Gujar settlements seem to have been in the Panjáb and North-West Provinces from the Indus to Mathurá where they still differ greatly in dress and language from most other inhabitants. From Mathurá the Gurjars seem to have passed to East Rajasthan and from there by way of Kotah and Mandasor to Málwa, where, though their original character is considerably altered, the Gujars of Málwa still remember that their ancestors came from the Doab between the Ganges and the Jamna. In Málwa they spread as far east as Bhilsa and Saháranpur. From Málwa they passed south to Khándesh and west probably by the Ratlam-Dohad route to the province of Gujarát.
Like the modern Ahirs of Káthiáváḍa the Gurjars seem to have been a tribe of cattle-rearers husbandmen and soldiers who accompanied some conqueror and subsequently were pushed or spread forwards as occasion arose or necessity compelled. In the absence of better authority the order and locality of their settlements suggest that their introduction into India took place during the rule of the Kushán emperor Kanerkes or Kanishka (a.d. 78–106) in whose time they seem to have settled as far east as Mathurá to which the territory of Kanishka is known to have extended. Subsequently along with the Guptas, who rose to power about two hundred years later (a.d. 300), the Gurjars settled in East Rájasthan, Málwa, and Gujarát, provinces all of which were apparently subjugated by the Guptas. It seems probable that in reward for their share in the Gupta conquests the leading Gujars were allotted fiefs and territories which in the declining power of their Gupta overlords they afterwards (a.d. 450–550) turned into independent kingdoms.
Gurjar Kingdoms of Medieval Period
The Maitraka dynasty of Gurjars ruled western India (now Gujarat) from approximately 475 to approximately 776 CE from their capital at Vallabhi. With the sole exception of Dharapatta (the fifth king in the dynasty), who followed the Mithraic mysteries, they were followers of Shaivism. Following the decline of the Gupta Empire, Maitraka dynasty was founded by Senapati (general) Bhatarka, who was a military governor of Saurashtra under Gupta Empire, who had established himself as the independent around 475 CE.
Gurjars of Lata
The Gurjaras of Lata, also known as Gurjaras of Nandipuri or Bharuch Gurjaras, was a dynasty which ruled Lata region (now South Gujarat, India) as a feudatory of different dynasties from c. 580 CE to c. 738 CE. The Gurjara capital seems to have been Nāndīpurī or Nāndor, the modern Nandod near Bharuch. Two of their grants issue Nāndīpurītaḥ that is ‘from Nāndīpurī’, a phrase which seems to show the place named was the capital since in other Gurjara grants the word vāsaka or camp occurs.
The Chavda dynasty (Chawda, Chavada, Chapa, Chaparana, Chapokata) was a Hindu Kshatriya family line that ruled what is now northern Gujarat from 746 to 942. Chavada Dadda, the founder of Pratihara dynasty, established the Gurjar rule at Nandipur (Nandol). Dadda III wrested Broach from the Maitraks whose citadel had started shaking. In fact, there were three powerful dynasties which were ruling different parts of Gujarat: the Gurjars had their sway over the north, the Chalukyas ruled the south and the Maitraks were saddled in Saurashtra.
The vaccum created by the fall of the Maitrak dynasty was filled up by the Pratiharas from the north and Rashtrakutas from the south. As vassals of the Valabhis (from the town of Valabhis or Vala, where the Guhilot ruled and is related to Bhavnagar Palitana and Lathi), the Chavadas held their sway over parts of north Gujarat. They assumed independent control after the fall of Valabhi. Vanraj, the most prominent of the eight Chavada kings, founded a new capital at Anhilpur Patan. he reconquered his father’s lost territories and founded the Chavada dynasty which lasted a shade under a century. In the 14th century Mesaji ruler of this dynasty founded Mahasana in Gujrat. Samantsinh, the last Chavada ruler, did not have an issued and he adopted Mulraj who overthrew him in 942 AD and set up what came to be known as the Solanki dynasty.
Gurjar Pratihars of Mandor
The Gurjar Pratiharas of Mandavyapura or Mandore, were royal Gurjars ,ruled parts of the present-day Rajasthan between 6th and 9th centuries CE.
The Pratiharas of Mandavyapura, also known as the Pratiharas of Mandore ruled parts of the present-day Rajasthan between 6th and 9th centuries CE. They first established their capital at Mandavyapura (modern Mandore), and later ruled from Medantaka (modern Merta).This particular dynasty of Pratharas initially ruled differently and independently from the greater imperial Gurjara-Pratiharas but as evidences suggest later became a feudatory of the bigger imperial Gurjara-Pratiharas. Many experts of the subject believe on the basis of various evidence that Pratiharas of Mandore were of the same origins and infact kinsmen of the greater imperial Gurjara-pratiharas.Information about the origins of Pratiharas of Mandore is obtained by two inscriptions found in Jodhpur which are dated 837 and 861 CE, both the inscriptions sanctioned by Bauka and Kakkuka, the then Kings of the dynasty share the same genealogy of the Pratiharas of Mandore.
Gurjar Pratihar of Ujjain/Kannauj
The Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty was an imperial power during the Late Classical period on the Indian subcontinent, that ruled much of Northern India from the mid-8th to the 11th century. The founder of the Gurjar Pratihar kingdomm Nagabhata I (8th century), appears to have ruled in Malwa, and his grandnephew Vatsaraja is attested as king of Ujjain in 783.the Indus River. Nagabhata I defeated the Arab army under Junaid and Tamin in the Caliphate campaigns in India. Under Nagabhata II, the Gurjara-Pratiharas became the most powerful dynasty in northern India. He was succeeded by his son Ramabhadra, who ruled briefly before being succeeded by his son, Mihira Bhoja. Under Bhoja and his successor Mahendrapala I, the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty reached its peak of prosperity and power. By the time of Mahendrapala, the extent of its territory rivalled that of the Gupta Empire stretching from the border of Sindh in the west to Bengal in the east and from the Himalayas in the north to areas past the Narmada in the south. The expansion triggered a tripartite power struggle with the Rashtrakuta and Pala empires for control of the Indian Subcontinent. During this period, Imperial Pratihara took the title of Maharajadhiraja of Āryāvarta (Great King of Kings of India).
The Chalukya dynasty was a Classical Indian dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the “Badami Chalukyas”, ruled from Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakeshin II. After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from Vengi until about the 11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of the 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas, in the late 10th century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) until the end of the 12th century. In 1299 AD, the army of Alauddin Khilji defeated King Karna of Anhilwad and captured the capital. Gujarat remained a province of the Delhi Sultanate from then till 1401 AD. Ahmad Shah (1411-1442 AD) made Ahmedabad the new capital in place of Anhilvad. With this the sun of the glory of Anhilvad (Patan) had set.