16 Mahajanapadas | Ancient History | UPSC

16 Mahajanapadas Capital of the Mahajanapadas Modern Location Facts about 16 Mahajanapadas
Anga Champa Munger and Bhagalpur
  • Anga Mahajanapada finds reference in the Mahabharata and Atharva Veda.
  • During the rule of Bimbisara, it was taken over by Magadha Empire.
  • It is situated in present-day Bihar and West Bengal.
  • Its capital Champa was located at the confluence of the Ganga and the Champa rivers.
  • It was an important commercial centre on the trade routes and merchants sailed from here to Suvarnabhumi (South East Asia).
Magadha Girivraja/ Rajagriha Gaya and Patna
  • Magadha finds mention in the Atharva Veda.
  • It was located in present-day Bihar close to Anga, divided by river Champa.
  • Later, Magadha became a centre of Jainism and the first Buddhist Council was held in Rajagriha.
Kasi/Kashi Kasi Banaras
  • It was located in Varanasi.
  • This city got its name from rivers Varuna and Asi as cited in the Matsya Purana.
  • Kasi was captured by Kosala.
Vatsa Kausambi Allahabad
  • Vatsa is also known as Vamsa.
  • Located on the banks of the Yamuna.
  • This Mahajanapada followed the monarchical form of governance.
  • The capital was Kausambi/Kaushambi (which was at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna).
  • This was a central city for economic activities.
  • Trade and business prospered in the 6th century. After the rise of Buddha, the ruler Udayana made Buddhism a state religion.
Kosala Shravasti (northern), 

Kushavati (southern)

Eastern Uttar Pradesh
  • It was located in modern Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The area also included Ayodhya, an important city associated with the Ramayana.
  • Kosala also included the tribal republican territory of Sakyas of Kapilavastu. Lumbini in Kapilavastu is the birthplace of Gautama Buddha.
  • Important king – Prasenajit (Buddha’s contemporary)
Shurasena Mathura Western Uttar Pradesh
  • This place was a centre of Krishna worship at the time of Megasthenes.
  • There was a dominance of the Buddha’s followers also.
  • Important king – Awantipura (Disciple of Buddha).
  • Its capital Mathura was on the banks of the Yamuna.
Panchala Ahichchatra and Kampilya Western Uttar Pradesh
  • Its capital for northern Panchala was Ahichchatra (modern Bareilly) and Kampilya (modern Farrukhabad) for its southern regions.
  • The famous city of Kannauj was situated in the Kingdom of Panchala.
  • Later the nature of governance shifted from monarchy to republic.
Kuru Indraprastha Meerut and Southeastern Haryana
  • The area around Kurukshetra was apparently the site for Kuru Mahajanapada.
  • It moved to a republic form of governance.
  • The epic poem, the Mahabharata, tells of a conflict between two branches of the reigning Kuru clan.
Matsya Viratanagara Jaipur
  • It was situated to the west of the Panchalas and south of the Kurus.
  • The capital was at Viratanagara (modern Bairat).
  • It is situated around present-day Jaipur, Alwar and Bharatpur area of Rajasthan.
  • Founder – Virata
Chedi Sothivati Bundelkhand region
  • This was cited in the Rigveda.
  • The capital was Sothivati/Shuktimati/Sotthivatinagara
  • It located in the present-day Bundelkhand region (Central India).
  • King – Shishupala. He was killed by Vasudeva Krishna during the Rajasuya sacrifice of the Pandava king Yudhishthira.
Avanti Ujjaini or Mahismati Malwa and Madhya Pradesh
  • Avanti was significant in relation to the rise of Buddhism.
  • The capital of Avanti was located at Ujjaini (northern part) and Mahismati (southern part).
  • It was situated around present-day Malwa and Madhya Pradesh.
  • Important king – Pradyota.
    • Father-in-law of Udayana (King of the Vatsas).
Gandhara Taxila Rawalpindi
  • The capital was at Taxila (Takshashila).
  • Present-day location – Modern Peshawar and Rawalpindi, Pakistan and the Kashmir valley.
  • Gandhara is cited in the Atharva Veda.
  • The people were highly trained in the art of war.
  • It was significant for international commercial activities.
  • Important king – Pushkarasarin.
  • Gandhara was conquered by Persians in the latter part of the sixth century BCE.
Kamboja Poonch Rajouri and Hajra (Kashmir), NWFP (Pakistan)
  • The capital of Kamboja was Poonch.
  • It is situated in present-day Kashmir and Hindukush.
  • Several literary sources mention that Kamboja was a republic.
  • Kambojas had an excellent breed of horses.
Asmaka or Assaka Potali/Podana Banks of Godavari
  • It was located on the banks of Godavari.
  • It was the only Mahajanapada situated to the south of the Vindhya Range and was in Dakshinapatha.
  • It included the region of Pratisthan or Paithan.
Vajji Vaishali Bihar
  • North of Ganga in the division of Tirhut was the state of the Vajjis.
  • It included eight clans, the most powerful being the Lichchhavis (Capital – Vaishali), Videhans (Capital – Mithila), Jnatrikas (based in Kundapura).
  • <>Mahavira belonged to the Jnatrikas clan.
  • The Vajjis were defeated by Ajatashatru.
Malla Kusinara Deoria and Uttar Pradesh
  • It finds a reference in Buddhist and Jain texts and in the Mahabharata.
  • Malla was a republic.
  • Its territory touched the northern border of the Vajji state.
  • Capitals – Kusinara and Pava.
  • Both capitals are important in the history of Buddhism. The Buddha took his last meal at Pava and went to Mahaparinirvana at Kusinara.

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