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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)

Gurjjara was a Buddhist Kingdom visited by Xuanzang in 641 AD in Western Rajasthan.


Alexander Cunningham[1] writes that the name of Gurjjara was confined to Western Rajasthan in the time of Hwen Thsang, and that it was still a distinct country from Saurashtra in A.D. 812, when Karka Raja of Lateshwara recorded his grant of land.

Origin of name


Rajatarangini[2] writes .... on death of Avantivarman all the members of the family of Utpala aspired to the throne. But Ratnavardhana the Royal guard raised Shankaravarmma, son of the late king, to the throne. The minister Karnapavinnāpa became envious, and raises Sukhavarmma the son of Suravarmma to the dignity of heir-apparent and so the king and the heir-apparent became enemies to each other, and consequently the kingdom was frequently disturbed by their quarrels. Shivashakti and other warriors refused offers of wealth, honor, &c, from the opposite party, and remained faithful to their master, and died for him. Honorable men never desert their party. After much trouble the king prevailed at last. He defeated Samaravarmma and others, on several occasions, and acquired great fame.

Having thus beaten and subjugated his own relatives,he made preparations for foreign conquests. Though the country was weak in population, he was able to set out with nine hundred thousand foot, three hundred elephants, and one hundred thousand horse. He, whose command had been ill obeyed in his own kingdom a short while before, now began to pass orders on kings.

[p.116]: His army was joined by the forces of tributary kings, and increased as he went on. On his approach the king of Darvabhisara fled in terror and there was no fighting. The Kashmirian army caught several lions and confined them in a fort, a sort of abode in which they had never lived before. The king then marched for the conquest of Gurjjara. Prithivi-chandra the king of Trigarta hid himself, but his son Bhuvanachandra, on whom the king of Kashmira had bestowed wealth before, came to pay homage. But when he saw the large army of Kashmira, he became afraid of being captured, and accordingly turned and fled. The king of Kashmira, whom the historians describe as a very handsome man, was regarded by other kings as Death. Shankaravarmma easily defeated Alakhāna king of Gurjjara who ceded Takka a part of his kingdom to his conqueror. The king of the Thakkiyaka family took service as guard under the king of Kashmira. The latter caused the kingdom of the Thakkiya king which had been usurped by the king of Bhoja to be restored to him. The king of the country which lay between Darat and Turushka, (as the Aryavarta lies between Himalaya and Vindhya,) Lalliya Shahi by name, who was among kings even as the sun is among stars, and was also lord over Alakhāna, did not submit to the king of Kashmira, on which the latter drove him out of his country.

Visit of Gurjjara by Xuanzang in 641 AD

Alexander Cunningham[3] writes that Hwen Thsang places the second kingdom of Western India, named Kiu-che-lo or Gurjjara, at about 1800 li, or 300 miles, to the north of Balabhi, and 2800 li, or 467 miles, to the north-west of Ujain. The capital was named Pi-lo-mi-lo or Balmer[4], which is exactly 300 miles to the north of the ruins of Balabhi. From Ujain in a straight line it is not more than 350 miles ; but the actual road distance is between 400 and 500 miles, as the traveller has to turn the Aravali mountains, either by Ajmer on the north, or by Analwara on the south. The kingdom was 5000 li, or 833 miles, in circuit. It must, therefore, have comprised the greater part of the present chiefships of Bikaner, Jesalmer, and Jodhpur. Its boundaries can only be described approximately, as extending about 130 miles on the north from Balar or Sirdarkot to Junjhnu ; 250 miles on the east from Junjhnu to near Mount Abu ; 170 miles on the south from Abu to near Umarkot ; and 310 miles on the west from Umarkot to Balar. These figures give a total circuit of 860 miles, which is as close an approximation to the measurement of Hwen Thsang as can be reasonably expected.

All the early Arab geographers speak of a kingdom named Jurz or Juzr, which from its position would appear to be the same as the Kiu-che-lo of Hwen Thsang. The name of the country is somewhat doubtful, as the unpointed Arabic characters may be read as Haraz or Hazar, and Kharaz or Khazar as well as Jurz or Juzr. But fortunately there is no uncertainty about its position, which is determined to be Rajputana by several concurring circumstances.

[p.313]: Thus the merchant Suliman, in A.D. 851,[5] states that Haraz was bounded on one side by Tafek or Takin, which, as I have already shown, was the old name of the Panjab. It possessed silver mines, and could muster a larger force of cavalry than any other kingdom of India. All these details point unmistakably to Rajputana, which lies to the south-east of the Panjab, possesses the only silver mines known in India, and has always been famous for its large bodies of cavalry.

According to Ibn Khordadbeh,[6] who died about A.D. 912, the Tatariya dirhems were current in the country of Hazar ; and according to Ibn Haukal, who wrote about A.D. 977,[7] these dirhems were also current in the kingdom of Gandhara, which at that time included the Panjab. Suliman says the same thing of the kingdom of the Balhara, or the present Gujarat ; and we learn incidentally that the same dirhems were also current in Sindh, as in a.h. 107, or A.D. 725, the public treasury contained no less than eighteen millions of Tatariya dirhems.[8] The value of these coins is variously stated at from 1-1/8 dirhem to 1½ or from 54 to 72 grains in weight. From these data I conclude that the Titariya dirhems are the rude silver pieces generally known as Indo-Sassanian, because they combine Indian letters with Sassanian types. They would appear to have been first introduced by the Scythic or Tatar princes, who ruled in Kabul and north-western India, as they are now found throughout the Kabul valley and Panjab, as well as in Sindh,

[p.314]: Rajputana, and Gujarat. Colonel Stacy's specimens were chiefly obtained from the last two countries, while my own specimens have been procured in all of them. In weight they vary from 50 to 68 grains ; and in age they range from the fifth or sixth century down to the period of Mahmud of Ghazni. They are frequently found in company with the silver pieces of the Brahman kings of Kabul, which agrees with the statement of Masudi that the Tatariya dirhems were current along with other pieces which were stamped at Gandhara.[9] The latter I take to be the silver coins of the Brahman kings of Kabul, whose dynasty began to reign about A.D. 850, or shortly before the time of Masudi, who flourished from A.D. 915 to 956. I have also found some of the Indo-Sassanian or Tatar dirhems in central India to the east of the Aravali range, as well as in the Upper Gangetic Doab ; but in these provinces they are extremely scarce, as the common coin of Northern India in the mediaeval period was the Vardha, with the figure of the Boar incarnation of Vishnu, varying from 55 to 65 grains in weight. From this examination of the coins I conclude that the kingdom named Hazar or Juzr by the early Arab geographers, is represented as nearly as possible by Western Rajputana.

Edrisi,[10] quoting Ibn Khordadbeh, states that Juzr or Huzr was the hereditary title of the king, as well as the name of the country. This statement confirms my identification of Juzr with Guzr or Gujar, which is a very numerous tribe, whose name is attached to

[p.315]: many important places in north-west India and the Panjab, and more especially to the great peninsula of Gujarat. It is not known when this name was first applied to the peninsula. In early times it was called Saurashtra, which is the Surastrene of Ptolemy ; and it continued to bear this name as late as A.D. 812, as we learn from a copper-plate inscription found at Baroda.[11] In this record of the Saurashtra kings, Gurjjara is twice mentioned as an independent kingdom.

About A.D. 770 the king of Grurjjara was conquered by Indra Raja of Saurashtra, but was after-wards reinstated; and about A.D. 800 Indra's son Karka assisted the ruler of Malwa against the king of Gurjjara. These statements show most clearly that Gurjjara still existed as a powerful kingdom, quite distinct from Saurashtra, nearly two centuries after Hwen Thsang's visit in A.D. 640. They show also that Gurjjara must have been adjacent to Malwa, as well as to Saurashtra, a position which clearly identifies it with Rajputana, as I have already determined from Hwen Thsang's narrative.

In the seventh century the king is said to have been a Tsa-ti-li or Kshatriya; but two centuries earlier a dynasty of Gurjjara or Gujar Rajas was certainly reigning to the north of Maharashtra, as we have contemporaneous inscriptions [12] of a Chalukya prince of Paithan, and of a Gurjjara prince of an unnamed territory, which record grants of land to the same persons. These inscriptions have been translated by Professor Dowson, who refers the dates to the era of Vikramaditya, but in the total absence of any authentic ex-

[p.316]: ample of the use of this era before the sixth century A.D., I must demur to its adoption in these early records. The Saka era, on the contrary, is found in the early inscriptions of the Chalukya Raja Pulakesi, and in the writings of the astronomers Arya Bhatta and Varaha Mihira. The inscription of Pulakesi is dated in the Saka year 411, or A.D. 489, from which I conclude that the record of the earlier Chalukya Prince Vijaya, which is dated in the year 394, must refer to the same era. The contemporary records of the Gurjjara prince, which are dated in S. 380 and 385 must therefore belong to the middle of the fifth century A.D. All these copper-plate inscriptions were found together at Khaidra, near Ahmedabad. The first inscription of the Gurjjara Raja records the grant of lands to certain Brahmans "who having left the town of Jambusara, dwell in the village of Sirishapadraka, included in the district of Akrureswara." Five years later the same Brahman grantees are described as those " who are to dwell in the town of Jambusara ;" and accordingly in the Chalukya inscription, which is dated nine years subsequent to the latter, they are described as actually dwelling in the town of Jambusara. This town is no doubt Jambosir, between Khambay and Baroch, and as it belonged to the Chalukya princes, who ruled over Maharashtra, the kingdom of Gurjjara must have been situated to the north of Khambay, that is, in Rajputana, where I have already placed it on the authority of Hwen Thsang, and other independent evidence.


  1. The Ancient Geography of India/Gurjjara, p.320-321]
  2. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book V,pp. 115-116
  3. The Ancient Geography of India/Gurjjara, p.312-316]
  4. James Todd Annals/Sketch of the Indian Desert, Vol.III, p.1269, fn-3 says The old name of Bhinmal was Srimal or Bhillamala, which Erskine (iii. A. 194) identifies with Pi-lo-mo-lo of Hiuen Tsiaug. But Beal (Buddhist Records of the Western World, ii. 270) transliterates this name as Balmer or Barmer.
  5. Dowson's Sir Henry Elliot, i. 4.
  6. Dowson's edition of Sir Henry Elliot's Muhamm. Hist., i. 13.
  7. Ibid, i. 35.
  8. Sir Henry Elliot, ' Arabs in Sindh,' p. 36. Dowson's edit. i. 3.
  9. Dowson's edition of Sir Henry Elliot's Muliamm. Hist., i. 24.
  10. Geogr., i. 175, Jaubert's translation.
  11. Journ. Asiat. Soc. Bengal, viii. 300.
  12. Journ. Royal Asiat. Soc, new series, i. 270, 277.