Who were Shakas ? Saka Era, Origin, Rulers. Indian history [short notes for UPSC]


Belonged to central asia

Basically a nomadic tribes, pastoralists and good horsemans

Often attacked on territories in search of pastoral grasslands for their cattles


Driven out by yuezhi tribes from the steppe (grasslands)

Some of them migrated to bactria and sogdia or sogdiana

Setteled in bactria and parthia

Sakas forced to overrunning the parthians

Some of the sakas migrated to different parts of china and some of them worked as vassals to chinese dynasties

Some of the sakas also moved to the northwestern part of indian subcontinent in 2nd century bc

Sakas came to india after greeks

Also known as indo-scythians after they reached in india

Saka tribes entered through north west india one after the other

Established kingdoms

Took the advantage of the diminishing empire of alexander the great

Created territories on the eastern areas of the alexander’s empire after his death

Setup their kingdoms in different regions of india in 1st century bc

Sakas have 5 branches in different parts of india-

1st branch in afganistan

2nd branch in punjab region

3rd branch in mathura

4th branch in western india

5th branch in upper deccan area

2 branches of them had their influence on history are most important

  • Kardamaka dynasty of ujjain

Ruled the parts of malwa and parts of gujrat region

Their capital was ujjain

Kardamaka dynasty was founded by satrap castana

They are also called ujjain sakas

  • Kshahatrata dynasty of bharukachha

Ruled the modern day bharuch of gujrat

Their capital was nasik

They are also called bharukachha sakas

Saka’s in india

First saka ruler in india was maues or moga of kshahatrata dynasty

His capital was ‘sirkap’ punjab (present pakistan)

Indian saka rulers called themselves ‘satrap’

Southern indian branch of sakas ruled for 4 centuries

Nahapana assumed the title of-



Saka samvat

Vikramaditya ruler of ujjain expelled sakas from their territory and held the title of ‘vikramaditya’

To commemorate this victory, he started a new year called ‘vikram samvat’ in 57 bc

Official calender of nepal (bikram sambat) introduced in 1901 in nepal

Rudradaman-i -(150 bc-130 bc)

Famous and powerful ruler of kardamaka dynasty

Ruled over on the large part of gujrat

Grandson of chastana

We got information about him by its inscription of junagarh (gujrat) which was written in sanskrit

He was a patron of sanskrit literature

Sudarshan lake

Sudarshan lake of kathiawad was repaired by him

This lake was contructed by chandragupt maurya and rebuilt by ashoka


Defeated kushanas and capture the region of sind

Rudrasena-ii- (256 ad- 278 ad)

Rudrasena-ii was the last ruler of kardamaka dynasty.

  • Sakas and pahlavas used the satrap system in their ruling.

Causes for the decline of sakas

Defeat from satvahana ruler gautamiputra satakarni

Entry of kushanas in northwest india

The saka rule was came to an end in western india when the last saka satrap rudrasimha-iii was defeated by chandragupta –ii of gupta dynasty in 4th century ad