Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (c. 1722 – 1772), the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan began his career by enlisting as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid Kingdom and quickly rose to become a commander of the Abdali Regiment, a cavalry of four thousand Abdali Pashtun soldiers. After the death of Nader Shah Afshar in 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani was chosen as King of Afghanistan.
Time line of Afghanistan
1838-42 – British forces invade, install King Shah Shujah. He is assassinated in 1842. British and Indian troops are massacred during retreat from Kabul.
1878-80 – Second Anglo-Afghan War. A treaty gives Britain control of Afghan foreign affairs.
1919 – Emir Amanullah Khan declares independence from British influence.
1926-29 – Amanullah tries to introduce social reforms, which however stir civil unrest. He flees.
1933 – Zahir Shah becomes king and Afghanistan remains a monarchy for next four decades.
1953 – General Mohammed Daud becomes prime minister. Turns to Soviet Union for economic and military assistance. Introduces social reforms, such as abolition of purdah (practice of secluding women from public view).
1963 – Mohammed Daud forced to resign as prime minister.
1964 – Constitutional monarchy introduced – but leads to political polarisation and power struggles.
King Zahir Shah, who ruled for 40 years until he was ousted in 1973
1973 – Mohammed Daud seizes power in a coup and declares a republic. Tries to play off USSR against Western powers.
1978 – General Daud is overthrown and killed in a pro-Soviet coup. The People’s Democratic Party comes to power but is paralysed by violent infighting and faces opposition by US-backed mujahideen groups.
1979 December – Soviet Army invades and props up communist government.
1980 – Babrak Karmal installed as ruler, backed by Soviet troops. But opposition intensifies with various mujahideen groups fighting Soviet forces. US, Pakistan, China, Iran and Saudi Arabia supply money and arms to the mujahideen.
1985 – Mujahideen come together in Pakistan to form alliance against Soviet forces. Half of Afghan population now estimated to be displaced by war, with many fleeing to neighbouring Iran or Pakistan.
1986 – US begins supplying mujahideen with Stinger missiles, enabling them to shoot down Soviet helicopter gunships. Babrak Karmal replaced by Najibullah as head of Soviet-backed regime.
1988 – Afghanistan, USSR, the US and Pakistan sign peace accords and Soviet Union begins pulling out troops.
1989 – Last Soviet troops leave, but civil war continues as mujahideen push to overthrow Najibullah.
1992 – Najibullah’s government toppled, but a devastating civil war follows.
1996 – Taliban seize control of Kabul and introduce hard-line version of Islam, banning women from work, and introducing Islamic punishments, which include stoning to death and amputations.
1997 – Taliban recognised as legitimate rulers by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They now control about two-thirds of country.
1998 – US launches missile strikes at suspected bases of militant Osama bin Laden, accused of bombing US embassies in Africa.
1999 – UN imposes an air embargo and financial sanctions to force Afghanistan to hand over Osama bin Laden for trial.
2001 September – Ahmad Shah Masood, leader of the main opposition to the Taliban – the Northern Alliance – is assassinated.
2001 October – US-led bombing of Afghanistan begins following the September 11 attacks on the United States. Anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces enter Kabul shortly afterwards.
2001 December – Afghan groups agree deal in Bonn, Germany for interim government.
Image captionLoya Jirga delegates adopted a new constitution in 2004
Hamid Karzai is sworn in as head of an interim power-sharing government.
2002 January – Deployment of first contingent of foreign peacekeepers – the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – marking the start of a protracted fight against the Taliban.
2002 April – Former king Zahir Shah returns, but makes no claim to the throne and dies in 2007.
2002 June – Loya Jirga, or grand council, elects Hamid Karzai as interim head of state. Karzai picks members of his administration which is to serve until 2004.
2003 August – Nato takes control of security in Kabul, its first-ever operational commitment outside Europe.
2004 January – Loya Jirga adopts new constitution which provides for strong presidency.
2004 October-November – Presidential elections. Hamid Karzai is declared winner.
2005 September – Afghans vote in first parliamentary elections in more than 30 years.
2005 December – Parliament opens with warlords and strongmen in most of the seats.
2006 October – Nato assumes responsibility for security across the whole of Afghanistan, taking command in the east from a US-led coalition force.
2007 August – Opium production has soared to a record high, the UN reports.
2008 June – President Karzai warns that Afghanistan will send troops into Pakistan to fight militants if Islamabad fails to take action against them.
2008 July – Suicide bomb attack on Indian embassy in Kabul kills more than 50.
2008 September – US President George Bush sends an extra 4,500 US troops to Afghanistan, in a move he described as a “quiet surge”.
2009 January – US Defence Secretary Robert Gates tells Congress that Afghanistan is new US administration’s “greatest test”.
2009 February – Nato countries pledge to increase military and other commitments in Afghanistan after US announces dispatch of 17,000 extra troops.
New US approach
2009 March – US President Barack Obama unveils new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. An extra 4,000 US personnel will train and bolster the Afghan army and police and there will be support for civilian development.
2009 August – Presidential and provincial elections are marred by widespread Taliban attacks, patchy turnout and claims of serious fraud.
2009 October – Mr Karzai declared winner of August presidential election, after second-placed opponent Abdullah Abdullah pulls out before the second round.
2009 December – US President Obama decides to boost US troop numbers in Afghanistan by 30,000, bringing total to 100,000. He says US will begin withdrawing its forces by 2011.
An Al-Qaeda double agent kills seven CIA agents in a suicide attack on a US base in Khost.
2010 February – Nato-led forces launch major offensive, Operation Moshtarak, in bid to secure government control of southern Helmand province.
2010 July – Whistleblowing website Wikileaks publishes thousands of classified US military documents relating to Afghanistan.
General David Petraeus takes command of US, ISAF forces.
2010 August – Dutch troops quit.
Karzai says private security firms – accused of operating with impunity – must cease operations. He subsequently waters down the decree.
2010 September – Parliamentary polls marred by Taliban violence, widespread fraud and a long delay in announcing results.
2010 November – Nato – at summit in Lisbon – agrees plan to hand control of security to Afghan forces by end of 2014.
2011 January – President Karzai makes first official state visit to Russia by an Afghan leader since the end of the Soviet invasion in 1989.
2011 February – Number of civilians killed since the 2001 invasion hit record levels in 2010, Afghanistan Rights Monitor reports.
2011 April – Burning of Koran by a US pastor prompts country-wide protests in which foreign UN workers and several Afghans are killed.
Some 500 mostly Taliban prisoners break out of prison in Kandahar.
2011 July – President’s half-brother and Kandahar governor Ahmad Wali Karzai is killed in Taliban campaign against prominent figures.
2011 September – Ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani – a go-between in talks with the Taliban – is assassinated.
2011 October – As relations with Pakistan worsen after a series of attacks, Afghanistan and India sign a strategic partnership to expand co-operation in security and development.
2011 November – President Karzai wins the endorsement of tribal elders to negotiate a 10-year military partnership with the US at a loya jirga traditional assembly. The proposed pact will see US troops remain after 2014, when foreign troops are due to leave the country.
2011 December – At least 58 people are killed in twin attacks at a Shia shrine in Kabul and a Shia mosque in Mazar-i-Sharif.
Pakistan and the Taleban boycott the scheduled Bonn Conference on Afghanistan. Pakistan refuses to attend after a Nato air strike killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghan border.
2012 January – Taliban agree to open office in Dubai as a move towards peace talks with the US and the Afghan government.
2012 February – At least 30 people are killed in protests about the burning of copies of the Koran at the US Bagram airbase. US officials believed Taliban prisoners were using the books to pass messages, and that they were extremist texts not Korans. Two soldiers are also killed in reprisal attacks.
2012 March – US Army Sgt Robert Bales is accused of killing 16 civilians in an armed rampage in the Panjwai district of Kandahar.
2012 April – Taliban announce “spring offensive” with audacious attack on the diplomatic quarter of Kabul. The government blamed the Haqqani Network. Security forces kill 38 militants.
2012 May – Nato summit endorses the plan to withdraw foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
Image captionNato troops will withdraw by late 2014, giving security responsibilities to Afghan forces
New French President Francois Hollande says France will withdraw its combat mission by the end of 2012 – a year earlier than planned.
Arsala Rahmani of the High Peace Council is shot dead in Kabul. A former Taliban minister, he was crucial in reaching out to rebel commanders. The Taliban deny responsibility.
2012 July – Tokyo donor conference pledges $16bn in civilian aid to Afghanistan up to 2016, with US, Japan, Germany and UK supplying bulk of funds. Afghanistan agrees to new conditions to counter corruption.
2012 August – The US military discipline six soldiers for accidentally burning copies of the Koran and other religious texts in Afghanistan. They will not face criminal prosecution. Three US Marines are also disciplined for a video in which the bodies of dead Taliban fighters were urinated on.
2012 September – US hands over Bagram high-security jail to the Afghan government, although it retains control over some foreign prisoners until March 2013.
The US also suspends training new police recruits in order to carry out checks on possible ties to Taliban following series of attacks on foreign troops by apparent police and Afghan soldiers.
2013 February – President Karzai and Pakistan’s Asif Ali Zardari agree to work for an Afghan peace deal within six months after talks hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron. They back the opening of an Afghan office in Doha and urge the Taliban to do the same for talks to take place.
2013 March – Two former Kabul Bank chiefs, Sherkhan Farnood and Khalilullah Ferozi, are jailed for the multi-million dollar fraud that almost led to its collapse and that of the entire Afghan banking system in 2010.
2013 June – Afghan army takes command of all military and security operations from Nato forces.
President Karzai suspends security talks with the US after Washington announces it plans to hold direct talks with the Taliban. Afghanistan insists on conducting the talks with the Taliban in Qatar itself.
2014 January – Taliban suicide squad hits a restaurant in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, the worst attack on foreign civilians since 2001. The 13 foreign victims include IMF country head.
2014 April – The presidential election produces an inconclusive result and goes on to a second round between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani.
2014 June – Second round of presidential election is held, with more than 50 reported killed in various incidents during the vote.
2014 July – Election officials begin recount of all votes cast in June’s presidential run-off, as part of a US-mediated deal to end dispute between candidates over widespread claims of fraud.
2014 September – The two rivals for the Afghan presidency, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, sign a power-sharing agreement, following a two-month audit of disputed election results. Ashraf Ghani is sworn in as president.
2014 October – The US and Britain end their combat operations in Afghanistan.
Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reaches an all-time high, according to a US report
2014 December – NATO formally ends its 13-year combat mission in Afghanistan, handing over to Afghan forces. Despite the official end to Isaf’s combat role, violence persists across much of the country, with 2014 said to be the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001.
2015 January – NATO-led follow-on mission “Resolute Support” gets underway, with some 12,000 personnel to provide further training and support for Afghan security forces.
Islamic State (IS) group emerges in eastern Afghanistan and within a few months captures a large swathe of Taliban-controlled areas in Nangarhar province.
2015 March – US President Barack Obama announces that his country will delay its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, following a request from President Ashraf Ghani.
The lynching of a woman wrongly accused of burning a Koran in Kabul provokes widespread revulsion and criticism of hard-line clerics. Police face accusations of doing too little to save her. The incident leads to widespread protests against the treatment of women. Four men are later convicted of murder.
2015 May – Taliban representatives and Afghan officials hold informal peace talks in Qatar. Both sides agree to continue the talks at a later date, though the Taliban insist they will not stop fighting until all foreign troops leave the country.
2015 July – Taliban admits that reclusive founder, Mullah Omar, died a few years ago, and appoints Mullah Akhter Mansour as his replacement.
2015 September – Taliban briefly capture major northern city of Kunduz in their most significant advance since being forced from power in 2001.
2015 October – Powerful earthquake kills more than 80 people in northeast of country.
2015 October – US President Barack Obama announces that 9,800 US troops will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2016, backtracking on an earlier pledge to pull all but 1,000 troops from the country.
2015 November – A new Taliban splinter group, headed by Mullah Rasool, announces its presence in southern Afghanistan. However, the group is totally crushed by the mainstream Taliban by spring 2016.
2015 December – Taliban make bid to capture Sangin, a town and district in Helmand Province. US warplanes deploy in support of Afghan security forces’ attempt to repel insurgents.
2015 December – NATO extends its “Resolute Support” follow-on mission by 12 months to the end of 2016.
2016 – Over one million Afghans are on the go during the year, either due to internal displacement because of the war, or are forced to repatriate by Pakistan, Iran and the European Union, according to the United Nations.
Heavy US air strikes reverse Islamic State’s gains in the east, and the group is cornered in a few districts in Nangarhar.
2016 May – New Taliban leader Mullah Mansour is killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan’s Baluchestan province.
2016 July – US President Barack Obama says 8,400 US troops will remain in Afghanistan into 2017 in light of the “precarious security situation”. NATO also agrees to maintain troop numbers and reiterates a funding pledge for local security forces until 2020.
2016 August to October – Taliban advance to the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, and to the northern city of Kunduz. The group has brought much of the two provinces under its control since the bulk of NATO forces withdrew by end of 2014.
2016 September – The Afghan government signs a peace agreement with the militant group Hezb-e-Islami and grants immunity to the group’s leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
2017 January – A bomb attack in Kandahar kills six UAE diplomats.
2017 February – Rise in Islamic State activities reported in a number of northern and southern provinces.
2017 March – Thirty people are killed and more than 50 wounded in an attack by so-called Islamic State on a military hospital in Kabul.
2017 June – Islamic State militants capture the mountainous region of Tora Bora in Nangarhar province, which was formerly used as a base by the late al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
2017 August – US President Donald Trump says he’s sending more troops to fight a resurgent Taliban.
Chandragupta II (also known as Chandragupta Vikramaditya) was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta empire in India. His rule spanned c. 380–413 – c. 415 CE during which the Gupta Empire reached its peak. Art, architecture, and sculpture flourished, and the cultural development of ancient India achieved new heights. The period of prominence of the Gupta dynasty is often referred to as the Golden Age of India. Chandragupta II was the son of the previous ruler, Samudragupta. He attained success by pursuing both a favourable marital alliance and an aggressive expansionist policy
in which his father and grandfather (Chandragupta I) set the precedent. Samudragupta set the stage for the emergence of classical art, which occurred under the rule of Chandragupta II. Chandragupta II extended great support to the arts.
From 388 to 409 he subjugated Gujarat, the region north of Mumbai, Saurashtra, in western India, and Malwa, with its capital at Ujjain. Culturally, the reign of Chandragupta II marked a Golden Age.
India, by far the most ancient culture since the pre-Harrapan period (3500 BC), happens to be the most diverse nation in the world with over 1000 spoken languages and equal or more number of Hindu Gods from which sprout the mythologies, rituals and beliefs which form the backbone of Indian culture. The early Aryans (1700 BC) , Persians (600-500 BC), Greeks (356-100 CE), Parthians (100 BC -395 CE), Sassanians (30-10 BC) and Scythians (100 BC – 400 CE) brought their own culture to the doorstep of India in the north west. The interlude that followed between the invaders and the native dynasties resulted in an epitome of culture brought about by the fusion of the foremost civilized societies of the ancient world. As a result India holds today a bewildering range of ethnicity, culture, color and traditions. The ancient coins of India are a reflection of India’s glorious past and there is no better way than through these coins to realize and relive the splendor that was India.
This article is not meant to be an exercise in numismatics but rather an appreciation of India’s colorful history through its tangible objects in bronze, silver and gold: the coins
Sixteen kingdoms or oligarchic republics existed in ancient India from the sixth century BC to the fourth century BC. These Pre-Buddhist states in the Mahabharata epic, include Kosala, Kuru, Magadha, Malla, Machcha (Matsya), Panchala, Surasena, Vriji and Vatsa. Each of these Janapadas (Jana; people, pada; foot) reflected the culture of its own people of the region and unique. Janapadas are also mentioned in both Buddhist and Jain texts which confirm their historical reality and continuity.
599 BC Traditional birth year of Mahavira of Jainism,
A 19th Century Temple Token of Jainism
Mahavira, 24th Tirthankar is born (traditional date) into a royal family in the present Bihar region of India. At the age of thirty, he left home in pursuit of spiritual awakening and to spread his philosophy which is now followed by over four million people in India.
Persian King Cyrus I “The Great” Ca 559-530 BC
Cyrus, Gold Coin ca 550 BC.
Cyrus, son of Cambyses I, founds the Persian Achaemenid Empire, and conquers the borderline North Western regions of the Indian subcontinent to establish one of the greatest empires of the ancient world.
Empire of Cyrus the Great
Darius I, 522-486 BC
In 516 BC, the Persian king Darius of the Achaemenid tribe embarked on a campaign to Central Asia, Aria and Bactria by marching from Afghanistan to Taxila (present Pakistan) before capturing Gandhara and other regions surrounding the Indus River.
Birth of Buddha 463 BC, Reign of kings Bhattiya, Bimbisara Ca 590-491 BC
First mortal image of Buddha, Gold coin of Kanishka 127 AD
Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, born in Lumbini into a royal family in the republic of the Shakyas, which is now part of Nepal.
Darius III 450-330 BC
Gold coin of Darius III
Under the last Persian king Darius III the north western part of Indian Achaemenid Empire became fragmented and was ruled by many satraps. Alexander the Great defeated Darius and conquered the region
Alexander III of Macedon (356 BC – 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great
Posthumous Silver coin of Alexander III (Author’s Private Collection)
Alexander defeated Darius III and invaded India in 326 BC, but was eventually forced to turn back at the demand of his troops facing the prospects continued war with King Porus who ruled parts of present Punjab.
Seleucus I Nicator c. 358 BC – 281 BC
Tetradrachm of Seleucus I, the horned horse
Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, his Greek general Seleucus I Nicator (c. 358 BC – 281 BC) carried an expedition to India, where, after two years of war (305-303 BC) with the Indian Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, made peace with him.
Nanda Dynasty 345-321 BC
Karshapana Mahapadma Nanda
Nanda dynasty originated in the region of Magadha and lasted during 345–321 BC. Their empire extended from Bengal in the east to Punjab region in the west, as far south as the Vindhya Range. Chandragupta Maurya conquered the Nanda Empire and founded the Maurya Empire.
Mayuran Empire 320-232 BC, Chandragupta I 340 – 297 BC
Silver Karshapana ca 320 BC
Mauryan Empire was founded in 320 BC by Chandragupta Maurya in Magadha after he defeated the Nanda dynasty and the Macedonian Seleucid Empire. Chandragupta unified the Indian subcontinent, fragmented into Mahajanapadas in the North West, and the Nanda Empire in the Indo-Gangetic Plain
Samudragupta, (c. 335 – c. 380 CE)
Samudragupta, Gold Coin, King and Garuda on a pillai
Samudragupta, the son of Chandragupta I succeeded after his father’s death and conquered almost the whole of India except the south. His vast military campaign added the neighbouring kingdoms of Ahichchhatra (Rohilkhand) and Padmavati (in Central India), whole of present Bengal, Afghanistan and Kashmir to his empire.
Bindusara, the son of Chandragupta inherited the vast regions of northern, central and eastern parts of India along with parts of present Afghanistan and Balochistan at the age of 22 years. Greeks knew him as Amitrochates, the destroyer of foes). Bindusara later conquered almost all the Indian peninsula, except the Dravidian South.
Asoka 268-232 BC
Punch marked coin of Asoka
Asoka, son of Bindusara 268- 232 BC reigned over the entire Indian subcontinent except the present-day Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The misery following his war against the Kalinga state led him to embrace Buddhism. After his death, the Mauryan dynasty lasted just fifty more years.
The Shunga Empire (187 BC – 78 BC)
Shunga Copper Elephant and Swastik Coin
The Shunga Empire, an ancient Indian dynasty from Magadha that controlled vast areas of the Indian subcontinent was established by Pushyamitra Shunga following the fall of the Maurya Empire.
Indo-Greek Kingdom ca 180 BC – 100 AD
Silver Coin of Demetrius the Invincible ca 200 BC
The Indo-Greek kingdom was founded by Demetrius I who invaded the Indian subcontinent in the 2nd century BC. The kingdom had more than 30 Indo-Greek kings. Of them the most famous was Menander (Milinda) who ruled from his capital at Sakala in the Punjab (present-day Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan). The Indo-Greeks ultimately disappeared as a political entity around 100 AD following the invasions of the Indo-Scythians.
Scythians (Sakas), a large group of Iranian Eurasian nomads migrated to central and northern South Asia including Gandhara, Sindh, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in 100BC. The first Saka king in south Asia was Maues established Saka power in Gandhara (modern day Pakistan and Afghanistan region) extended supremacy over north-western India.
Mayuran Empire 380-415 CE, Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya)
Silver coin Rudrasimha III 380-387 CE
Gold Coin of Chandragupta II, 380-415 CE
Author’s Private Collection
Indo-Scythian rule in North Western India ended following the defeat of the last Saka Satrap Rudrasimha III by Chandragupta II, the son of Samudragupta, in 395 CE. During the latter’s rule the Gupta Empire reached its peak in art, architecture, and sculpture and came to be known as the “Golden Age” of India.
From the years 388 to 409 CE Chandragupta subjugated Gujarat, the region north of present Mumbai, Saurashtra, in western India, and Malwa, with its capital at Ujjain. Chandragupta was succeeded by his second son Kumaragupta I
Kumaragupta (415 – 455CE)
Gold Coin of Kumaragupta
Kumaragupta I succeeded Chandragupta II as emperor and kept the empire intact by defeating the invaders Pushyamitras from the banks of Naramada River and the White Huns, a Nomadic tribe from Central Asia. Kumaragupta was succeeded by his son Skandagupta after whom seven Gupta emperors ruled until the middle of 6th century when the greatest empire of ancient India disintegrated into petty chiefdoms.
The Indo-Parthian Kingdom (30-10 BC)
Coin of Gondophares I
Ancient Indo-Parthian Kingdom that occupied the present regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan was founded by Gondophares I or Phraotes of Central Asian Iranian Tribe in ca 30 BC . The city of Taxila is thought to have been the capital of the Indo-Parthians as per excavations by Sir John Marshall in 1913.
Kushan (Guishuang ) Empire (30-240 CE)
Bronze Coin of Kujula Kadphise
Gold Coin of Kanishka I
Gold Coin of Vasudeva I
The Kushan Empire was founded in the early 1st century by Kujula Kadphises (ca 30 – 80 CE) of a Yuezhi Chinese Tribe in the Bactrian region, encompassing much of present Afghanistan, and the northern parts of the Indian subcontinent as far as Sarnath near Varanasi
Vima Kadphises (c. 95 – c. 127) the grandson of Kadphises was Kushan emperor from ca 90–100 CE and his successor and son Kanishka I (c. 127 – c. 140) the Great ruled virtually all of northern India from his two capitals Purushapura (Peshawar) and Mathura.
Vasudeva I (c. 190 – c. 230) was Kushan emperor from about 20 years after the death of Kanishka. He was the last of the “Great Kushans whose rule coincided with the invasion of the Sasanians in the present Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India from around 240 AD.
The Satavahanas (273 BC-220 CE)
Copper Coin of Satakarni 100 BC
Author’s Private Collection
Coin of Gautamiputra Satakarni 2nd century CE
At the decay of the Mayuran Empire a new power arose from the Deccan region which dominated from 1st century BC to 3rd century CE. This new Satavahana kingdom comprised of the present-day Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra and led by the early kings like Satakarni and reaching its zenith under the rule of Gautamiputra Satakarni and his successor Vasisthiputra Pulamavi. The kingdom fragmented into smaller states in the early 3rd century CE
South India, Chera. Chola Pandyas 300 BC – 900 AD
Pandya Sangam Period Coin 300-100 BC
While the North of India was subjected to almost continuous invasions and political upheaval the Dravidian peninsular in the south remained unscathed protected by the Vindhya mountain range in the north and the sea. on its either side. Never the less the Chera, Chola and Pandiya Kingdoms were known to King Asoka. The Tamil language and culture flourished through the support of the kings for the Tamil Sangam
The Hephthalites or White Huns ca 450-600 CE
Hephthalite coin of King Khingila, 5th century CE
The Hephthalites or White Huns, were a confederation of nomadic and settled people from Central Asia who expanded their domain westward in the 5th century. They invaded North-West India in ca 450 CE, posing a threat to late Gupta Empire. Although they were repelled, they served to destabilise the Guptas. At the height of its power in the first half of the 6th century, the Hephthalite Empire controlled territory in present-day Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, present Pakistan and other regions of north-west India.
Empire of Harsha 590-647 CE
Silver Coin of Harshavardhana
Prabhakarvardhana the 4th emperor of Vardhana dynasty defeats the Huna invaders, and his son and successor Harsha (c. 590–647), also known as Harshavardhana rules North India from 606 to 647 from his capital Kanauj. The Empire of Harsha at the height of his power spanned the Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bengal, Odisha and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada River. Harsha was defeated by the south Indian Emperor Pulakeshin II of the Chalukya dynasty when he invaded the southern peninsula of India.
First Islamic Expansion into India 695-715 CE
Umayyad dynasty. al-Walid I, 705-715, Silver dirham,
‘Imād ad-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Qāsim ath-Thaqafī ( 695 – 715 CE) was an Umayyad general who conquered the Sindh and Multan regions along the Indus River (now a part of Pakistan) for the Umayyad Caliphate. He was born and raised in the city of Taif (in the present Saudi Arabia). Qasim’s conquest of Sindh and southern-most parts of Multan enabled Islamic expansion into India.
Gold Coin, Dharmapala, Pala Dynasty
Gold Fanam of Chalukyas
Rashtrakuta (753-982 CE) was a royal dynasty ruling large parts of the Indian Subcontinent between the sixth and 10th centuries. Having defeated King Kirtivarman of Chalukiya Dynasty (543-753) they rose to power with Karnataka as their power base in South India ca 753. Their contemporary rulers were the Pala dynasty of Bengal (ca 800-1200) and the Prathihara dynasty of Malwa (700 – 1036) in eastern and north-western India respectively.
There are more animals and immortals depicted on coins than Gods. Yet religion is the oldest culture in the world. Religion and deities depicted on coins are construed by some pious people as effacing the value of their gods. Coins are a part of everyday life for everybody, and religious coins can also be a reminder to the presence god in daily life. In a puritan’s sense the use of religious coins in monetary transactions could mean that god looks over honesty and integrity when his image is used.
It is notable that the first ever mortal figure of Buddha (Boddo) too was on a coin by Kanishka I (the Great) who was the emperor of the Indo-Greek Kushan Kingdom in 127–151 AD.
First depiction of Buddha , King Kanishka ca 100 AD,
The Hindu religious coins have been issued since at least 2000 years ago, first by the Kushan kings of India in Greco-Roman style. Often made of gold, they are an expression of the power and pomp of the kings when it comes to religion. The high value of these coins is one of the reasons for then being preserved in such pristine condition, but unfortunately they are far and few and rare.
Shiva and Nandi, Kanishka 100 AD from Anton Sebastian Private Collection
The Shiva and Nandi coin of the Kushan kings of Indo-Greek Empire, originating in Bactria (the present Afghanistan, Peshawar and Pakistan) is not only an example of exquisite expression in Hindu Art, but also the earliest known depiction of Shiva and his sacred vehicle, Nandi.
Rama and Sita on the Darbar, Temple Token, 19th Century
In India Temple Tokens were produced since 19th century but more recent productions to generate funds for temples are common. Most of these coins carried the effigies of Rama, Sita, Lakshamanan and Hanuman. The Jain tokens were relativly rare. It would be difficult to precisely date them but the wear and tear and pattern would be of guidance in valuing them. However almost all the gold tokens usually genuine. It is an experience and pleasure to hold these old
Hindu coins in our hands.
As Buddha himself did not sanction personal worship the early images of Buddhism for veneration were confined to Buddha’s foot marks and stupas.
Gandhara in the present Pakistan is credited with the first representation of the Buddha in human form; the portrayal of Buddha in his human shape, rather than shown as a symbol. As Buddhist art developed and spread outside India, the Gandhara style spread to most eastern regions of the world. The adjacent Swat Valley, the land of romance and beauty, is celebrated as the holy land of Buddhist learning and piety. It is said that the Swat was filled with fourteen hundred imposing and beautiful stupas and monasteries, which housed as many as 6,000 gold images of the Buddhist pantheon for worship and education. There are now more than 400 Buddhist sites covering and area of 160 Km in Swat valley alone.
The earliest discovered statue at Gandhara is that of the seated Buddha from 2nd or 3rd century AD. Other Buddha images from this period too are of Greco-Roman style. They seem to have flourished during the adjacent Kushan reign of Mathura (Uttar Pradesh). Gandharan’s role in the evolution of the Buddha image has been a point of considerable disagreement among scholars. It now seems clear that the schools of Gandhara and Mathura each independently evolved its own characteristic depiction of the Buddha about the 1st century CE. The Gandhara school mostly drew from the traditions of Rome and Greece and represented the Buddha with a youthful Apollo face, dressed in royal garments. The ancient Gandharan artisans in their composition of Buddha’s images and his experiences have transformed the religion into Buddhist Art.