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The Downfall Of The Nandas

- October 10, 2020

By Samyukhtha Sunil

Not too far from the Indo-Gangetic plains somewhere in modern-day Bihar, there lies a forgotten region that witnessed the rise and fall of some of India’s most powerful kingdoms in history. Magadha was not only the heartland of some of the most successful kingdoms in India at the time, but also one of the most prosperous cities in the subcontinent.

One of the strongest empires to have ever ruled over this region was the Nanda Dynasty whose capital was in Pataliputra, where modern-day Patna stands today. Founded by Mahapadma Nanda, this lineage of rulers saw a rapid rise and an equally rapid decline in fortunes. Most of ancient India’s political activity was concentrated in this region and Magadha became the nucleus for several other Indian kingdoms that sprouted in neighbouring regions.

By the time the last ruler of the Nandas, Dhana Nanda, came to power, the kingdom had grown exponentially in its geographical expanse, wealth, and military conquests. Magadha’s army was believed to have over 20,000 cavalry, 200,000 infantry, 2,000 chariots, and 3,000 elephants. This army was so powerful that when Alexander the Great invaded India, his own army feared the might and control of the Nandas to an extent they were forced to cut short their conquest and return to Persia. The Nanda dynasty had successfully established itself as one of the strongest Indian kingdoms of its time.

Illustration: Ram Waeerkar | Script: Yagya Sharma

However, the overall prosperity of the kingdom and the power that came with it was intoxicating enough to turn some of the Nanda rulers, especially Dhana Nanda, against his subjects. Despite being a powerful king, Dhana Nanda was viewed as a cruel king who imposed severe......

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