First Great War of India (The Ashes of Rome Map Game)
Timeline: The Ashes of Rome (Map Game)

First great war of India
Ganga (blue), Gupta (orange) and Hephthalite (brown) at the start of the war.

Date 666-682
Location India
Result Victory of the Ganga-Hephthalite alliance, resulting in the Treaty of Pataliputra and the foundation of the Indian Empire.

Ganga Dynasty flag Ganga Dynasty
Hephthalite Empire

Gupta Dynasty


-Ganga Dynasty flagRaja Khanchana I Ganga
-Ganga Dynasty flagSomesvara Ganga
-Ganga Dynasty flagChandravarman Ganga
-Ganga Dynasty flagYuvraj Palaka
-Muharaja of the Hephthalite Empire
-Many generals of the Hephthalite Empire

-Raja of the Gupta Dynasty
-Many Generals of the Gupta Dynasty

The First Great War of India, also known as War of the Three Kingdoms, is the first massive conflict in India between the Ganga Dynasty, the Gupta Dynasty and the Hephthalite Empire, which started with the attack of Ganga's territories by Gupta's troops.

Gupta first strike (666-670)

The Gupta Dynasty decided to make the first move and attacked the Ganga Dynasty, as they were the smallest kingdom in India.

However, the Ganga passed the last 10 years preparing for an eventual war with Gupta, and fortified the frontier

between the two nations. A large force of Ganga soldiers were staying there, lead by Chandravarman Ganga, younger brother of the Ganga's Raja. As a noble in ancient India, he was raised to be a good general.

Because of the strategic defences and positions made and the military knowledge of Chandravarman, the Ganga forces were able to hold the Gupta troops for three years.

Gupta first strike

Gupta gains during their first strike

However, the number of Gupta troops were regenerating faster than the Ganga, and in the end the Ganga forces were push back by the amazing number of enemy troops.

Ganga-Hephthalite Offensive (670- )

Entering the war at the beginning of 670, the Hephthalite Empire was able to conquer most of of the western part of the Gupta territory, invading it from every side at once, even if they were also waving war on the other side of their empire against zoroastrians.

In Ganga, reinforcements from both Sri Lanka (lead by the Yuvraj Palaka) and from the capital (lead by the Raja Khanchana I himself) were able to push back the Gupta invaders out of their lands, and even to gain some territories up north.


Territory gains after the Hephthalite entry in the war

At the same time, Somesvara, the Ganga Raja's brother, was orders to lead the navy on the Bengal coasts to open a second front, in hope it would weaken the Gupta forces. At first unsuccessful, the victories in the west helped Somesvara, who was leaved with less troops than supposed.

Attacked from every sides, the Gupta Dynasty was still able to enforced their troops in Hephthalite territory, and gained some lands in the west, even if it were a small compensation for their losses. 

The tactic used by the Ganga Dynasty ended up working, and they were able to gain more lands in the Gupta territory. The Raja of the Ganga Dynasty, Khanchana I, felt ill during the offensive, and returned to the capital of Bhubaneswar in 675, leaving the command of the front to his son Palaka.  

Palaka and Chandravarman got more and more into Gupta lands, planning to join force with Somesvara and continue the war together as one army. They ended up joining together around 679, which lead to even more gain of lands.  


Military movements around 675-680

The Hephthalite Empire also continued the offensive, conquering every Gupta lands into their territory. The lost of their western territories was a big hit to the Gupta's morale. 

However, bad news came from the capitals. In the Ganga Dynasty, Khanchana I died in 679, leaving Palaka as the new Raja. Both his uncles pledged allegiance to him. As for the Hepthalite Empire, numerous Indian tribes began to revolt against their rulers, calling the Hephtalite attention away from the war. 

Shortly after those events, the Gupta Dynasty send a letter to both Ganga and Hephthalite, offering peace to them, hoping to end the war without further losses.  

Treaty of Pataliputra and end of the War (680-682)

A ceasefire was ordered after when the peace negotiations began. It took two years for the treaty to be finalized, mainly because the new Raja of the Ganga Dynasty, Palaka I, wanted more lands, including some that weren't occupied by his troops.

The Hephthalite Empire used this time to create a new administrative structure and to officially claim the title of Indian Empire, as they possessed most of India by now (even if part of it was actually Gupta lands occupied by their forces).

When the three rulers finally met at Pataliputra, they agreed on the following terms for peace.

First Indian War end-0

The new frontiers after the Treaty of Pataliputra.

  1. The Indian Empire and Ganga Dynasty would keep the lands they invaded during the war.
  2. India, Ganga and Gupta all agree to 50 years of non-aggression.
  3. Ganga would gain additional territories, which included islands in the sea and some lands on the coast.

Even if Gupta were reluctant to accept the third point, they agreed, since they were on the losing side of the war. Each nation signed the treaty, and peace was finally achieved.