List Of 16 Mahajanapadas Of Ancient India : Capitals, Present Locations And Facts For UPSC

Looking at the history of ancient India, we certainly find the existence of Mahajanapadas. So there were 16 Mahajanapadas in Ancient India. These were the sixteen kingdoms that existed from the sixth to fourth centuries BCE during the second urbanisation period.


In Ancient history, questions from Mahajanadas are often asked in examinations like UPSC, SSC etc. So it is important for you to be aware of this term. In this article you will get to learn about all 16 Mahajanapadas and some interesting facts about it.

List Of 16 Mahajanapadas Of Ancient India

Origin Of Mahajanapadas

Basically the period from 6th century BC onwards is known as the period of new Kingdoms when the tribes came together to form various independent groups. These groups later formed the permanent area of settlement known as States or Janapadas. These Janapadas gradually became stronger and with the expansion of Geographical boundaries these turned into Mahajanapadas.

Mahajanapadas In 5th To 6th Century BCE

The era of 5th to 6th century BCE saw socio-economic and political development across the Indo-Gangetic plain. At this time the focus of political activities moved from the western part of Gangetic plain to the eastern part. At present time the eastern part of Gangetic Plains consists of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Ancient Buddhist texts like the Anguttara Nikaya make frequent reference to sixteen great kingdoms and republics which had developed and flourished in a belt stretching from Gandhara in the northwest to Anga in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. This process of settlement on land had completed its final stage prior to the times of the Buddha and Panini. In "Ashtadhyayi", which was written by Panini these Janapada stands for country. Each of these Janapadas was named after the Kshatriya people who had settled therein.

Name Of 16 Mahajanapadas

Here we are presenting a list of those 16 Mahajanapadas.

  • Kasi
  • Kosala
  • Anga
  • Magadha
  • Vajji
  • Malla
  • Chedi
  • Vatsa
  • Kuru
  • Panchala
  • Matsya
  • Surasena
  • Assaka
  • Avanti
  • Gandhara
  • Kamboja

Questions On Mahajanapadas

What is the Origin of Mahajanapadas?

In the sixth century BC, before the birth of Buddha, India was divided into 16 Mahajanapadas. These were called the administrative units in ancient India. Initially these were extended from Afghanistan to Bihar in the north and from the Hindukush mountain to the Godavari river.

Which is the most powerful Mahajanapada?

Magadha is known as the strongest and most powerful among 16 Mahajanapadas. Its description is also found in Mahabharata and Ramayana period.

Which Book Mentions about Mahajanapadas?

Panini's Ashtadhyayi is the book that mentions about the Mahajanapadas and janapadas of ancient India.

Gautam Buddha was related to Mahajanapada?

Gautam Buddha was born in Lumbini, Nepal. His father Suddhodana was the king of Vajji Mahajanapada. While Gautam Buddha's contemporary king was Bimbisar from Magadha Janapada.

List Of Mahajanapadas With Its Capital And Present Location

16 MahajanapadasCapital of 16 MahajanapadasModern Location of 16 MahajanapadasFacts about 16 Mahajanapadas
AngaChampaMunger and BhagalpurAnga 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.
MagadhaGirivraja| RajagrihaGaya and PatnaMagadha finds mention in the Atharva Veda which conveys that Magadha was semi-Brahmanical habitation.
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.
KasiKasiBanarasIt was located in Varanasi.
This city got its name from rivers Varuna and Asi as cited in the Matsya Purana.
VatsaKausambiAllahabadVatsa is also known as Vamsa
This Mahajanapada followed the monarchical form of governance.
The capital is Kausambi.
This was a central city for economic activities.
There was a prosperous trade and business scenario in the 6th century BC. After the rise of Buddha, the ruler Udayana made Buddhism a state religion.
Vatsa was located around the present-day Allahabad.
KosalaSravastiEastern Uttar PradeshIt was located in modern Awadh region of Uttar Pradesh.
Its capital was Sravasti
SaurasenaMathuraWestern Uttar PradeshThis place was a centre of Krishna worship at the time of Megasthenes. Also, there was a dominant followership of Buddha here.
PanchalaAhichchatra and KampliyaWestern Uttar PradeshIts capital for northern Panchala was Ahichchatra and Kampilaya for its southern regions.
It was situated in present-day western Uttar Pradesh.
Later the nature of governance shifted from monarchy to republic.
KuruIndraprasthaMeerut and Southeastern HaryanaThe area around Kurukshetra was apparently the site for Kuru Mahajanapada.
It moved to a republic form of governance.
MatsyaViratnagarJaipurIt was situated to the west of the Panchalas and south of the Kurus.
The capital was at Viratanagar
It is situated around present-day Jaipur.
ChediSothivatiJaipurThis was cited in the Rigveda
The capital was Sothivati.
It located in the present-day Bundelkhand region.
AvantiUjjaini or MahismatiMalwa and Madhya PradeshAvanti was significant in relation to the rise of Buddhism.
The capital of Avanti was located at Ujjaini or Mahismati.
It was situated around present-day Malwa and Madhya Pradesh.
GandharaTaxilaRawalpindiThe capital was at Taxila.
Gandhara is cited in the Atharva Veda
The people were highly trained in the art of war.
It was significant for international commercial activities.
KambojaPoonchaRajori and HajraThe capital of Kamboj is Poonch.
It is situated in present-day Kashmir and Hindukush.
Several literary sources mention that Kamboja was a republic.
Ashmaka or AssakaPratisthan/ PaithanBank of GodavariThe capital of this Mahajanapada was located at Pratisthan or Paithan.
It was located on the bank of Godavari.
VajjiVaishaliBiharIt is the capital of Vajji was Vaishali.
The main races residing in this Mahajanapadas were Licchavis, Vedehans, Jnatrikas and Vajjis.
MallaKusinaraDeoria and Uttar PradeshIt finds a reference in Buddhist and Jain texts and Mahabharata.
Malla was a republic
Their capital was Kusinara situated around present-day Deoria and Uttar Pradesh.

FAQs on Mahajanapadas

How did Magadha emerge as the most successful Mahajanapada?

Magadha Mahajanapada became more powerful than others because of its strategic location. The Ganga river flowing through Magadha made the region fertile and improved transport.

What was the main source of income of the Mahajanapadas?

During age of Mahajanapadas, taxes on crops was the most important source of income as most people were farmers.

Head of the village of Mahajanapada was known as-

Grama bhojaka

Who was the first ruler of Magadha Mahajanapada?

Bimbisara was the first king of Magadha's Haryanka dynasty.

Why were Mahajanapadas more powerful than Janapadas?

In Vedic Age period, the Janapadas were small kingdoms. With the development of iron in some parts of Northern India, the Janapadas became more powerful and evolve into the Mahajanapadas.

Which was the most powerful state among the Mahajanapadas?

Magadha became the most powerful kingdom. It was the centre of power in North India.

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