The ancient Janapads of Bangla : Location and Characteristics

Ancient Janapads in Present Bangladesh Map
Fig: Ancient Janapads in Present Bangladesh Map


      Normally   in the history from few centuries before Christ born to 5Th century after Christ is normally called the ancient time or era. Although with regions it varies. Till before 13Th AD almost two thousand years is counted as ancient era of Bangla.

      At the ancient time Bangla was not a united country like today. Different parts of Bangla were divided into different small regions. The ruler of each region ruled separately as their will. These small regions of Bangla were aggregately called as ‘Janapad’. 

      Starting From 4th century AD.; from the stone inscription and the literature of the Gupta era, post Gupta era, pal, sen and from others we found the Names of the Janapads. These janapads actual area cannot say. But from different historical element their position can be imagined.

Geographical Map of ancient Janapads of Bangla

Fig: Geographical Map of ancient Janapads of Bangla

The geographical location of ancient Janapads of Bangla


Name of ancient Janapads

Current Location



Parts of greater Bogra, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Dinajpur districts are special.



North – western part of Bogra, Pabna, Rajshahi division and some parts of Rangpur and Dinajpur.



Kushtia, Jessore, Nadia



Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Burdwan and Chapainawabganj



Greater Cumilla and Noakhali regions



Burdwwan district in the southern part of West Bengal


Harrkul or Harikel

Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Tripura, Sylhet


Chandra Dip

Barishal, Bikrampur, Munshiganj district and its adjoining areas.



Khulna and Coastal Areas



Jalpaiguri, Greater Goalpara District of Assam, Greater Kamrup District



Medinipur District



Cox’s Bazar, Parts of Myanmar, South of the Karnafuli River



The southern part of the west bank of the Ganges – Bhagirathi modernly the southern part of Burdwan, the greater part of Hughli, the Howrah and the Birbhum districts.



Munshiganj and surrounding areas



Barishal, Khulna and Bagherhat


Bangla or Bangala

Khulna, Barishal, Sundarban forest areas of Patuakhali

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Though gauro name is quite familiar but there are much controversy about which area was the actual Gauro and how they named it. The first mention of Gauro was found in panini’s book. Kautilya's Arthashastra mentions the industries and agricultural products of this town.  The inscription of Harshavardhana proves that the country of Gauro was not far from the coast.  In the 7th century, Karnasuvarna of Murshidabad district was the capital of Shashanka, the king of Gauro.

Gauro was most famous under Pala dynasty. In modern times Maldaha, Murshidabad, Birbhum and some parts of Burdwan are considered to be the borders of Gaur.  In the 7th century, Karnasuvarna of Murshidabad district was the capital of Shashanka, the king of Gauro.

Coins during Shashanka’s Rule
Fig: Coins during Shashanka’s Rule 


Among ancient Janapads Pundra is very important. It has been said that a tribe named “Pundra” build up this Janpads.  This nation is mentioned in Vedic literature and Mahabharata. The name of the capital of Pundra was Pundranagar. Later that its name changed to Mohasthangar. Possibly at the time of Mourja king Ashok (273 AD.-232 AD.) this ancient Pundra lost its independence. With the growth of prosperity it turns into Pundrabardhan at 5Th-6Th century AD. Experts claims that Mohasthangar (7 miles from Bogra) is the ruins of ancient Pundrabardhan. From the historical prospect Pundra was the most enriched Janapad.

Mohasthangar (Bogra)

Fig: Mohasthangar (Bogra) 


Bangla is a very old janapad. in very ancient book it has been said that banga was the neighbor of Magadh and Kalink. The description of this janapad also find in king Chandra Gupta, Bikramaditta,Chalukka and others inscription and  the books of Kalidas. At the south-east side of the present Bangladesh a Janapad named Banga had build up.Belive that here lived a nation named “rong” from that this nation introduced as Bong. From different sings and other things it Seems  that the place between Ganga and Vhagirathi was called Banga. At the time of Pala and Sen dynasty the area of Banga had been reduced. At the end of the pal dynasty the banga divided into north Banga and south Banga . After that at the time of keshob Sen and Biswa Sen banga was divided into two parts- “bikrampur” and “nabbo”. Ancient Bengal was a strong kingdom. Greater Dhaka, Mymensingh, Comilla, Barisal, Pabna, Faridpur, Nayakhali, Bakerganj and Patuakhali's lower wetlands and the western highlands of Yasher, Kushtia, Nadia, Shantipur and the adjoining areas of Bikrampur in Dhaka belonged to Banga Janapada.

Buddhist Bihar at Roghurampur, Bikrampur, Munshiganj

Fig: Buddhist Bihar at Roghurampur, Bikrampur, Munshiganj


Seventh-century writers describe a town called Harikela. Itik Singh, a Chinese traveler, said Harikela was the last frontier in eastern India. Harikela stretches from Sylhet to Chittagong, a parallel region of the Tripura range. In two inscriptions preserved at Dhaka University, Harikela is mentioned as a supporter with Sylhet.

Silver Coins of Harikel Janapads
Fig: Silver Coins of Harikel Janapads


According to the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang , Samatata was a new kingdom in the southeastern part of Bengal. Some experts believe that somototh was the ancient name of comilla. The present Comilla and Nayakhali areas, including the Mehna, are included in the Samatat. 12 mile west from Comilla , bara kamta was the capital of somototh . One of the ancient monuments found in Comilla Mainamati is 'Shalban Bihar'.

Shalbon Bihar(Moynamoti, Cumilla).
Fig: Shalbon Bihar(Moynamoti, Cumilla).


In bangla we come to know another janapad named Barendri ,Barenda or Barenda land. It is also a part of north Bengal. Barendra was the most popular area of pundrabardhan. After that this area introduced as barendra. This famous janapad was situated in between Ganga and korotoya river. Bogura, Dinazpur and a large area of  Rajshahi and Pabna belonged to Barendra.

Fig: Barendra Muserum, Rajshahi 


To the south of Harikela (secondary history), to the south of Radha was the town of Tamralipta. Tamralipta was a famous port of ancient Bengal. The Tamlukai area of ​​the present Midnapore district was the center of the Tamralipta town. For maritime trade it was  a famous place. From the seventh century onwards, it came to be known as Dandabhukti. The prosperity of the copper-plated port was lost after the eighth century.

Old Geographical map of Janapads of Bangla
Fig: Old Geographical map of Janapads of Bangla 


Radh is an ancient town in Bengal. From the west bank of the river Bhagirathi, the southern part of the river Ganges belongs to the Radha region. The river Ajay divides the Radha region into two parts. North Radh The whole of Birbhum district in the western part of the present Murshidabad district and the Katwa subdivision of Burdwan district, the southern Radh in Burdwan, the southern part of Hughli Bahulangsh and the Howrah district.


Bakla Pargana mentioned in 'Ain-e-Akbari' belongs to the present Barisal district. In the Middle Ages, present day Barisal district was the mainland and heart of Chandradwip. This ancient town was situated between Baleshwar and Meghna. In the Pala period, it was ruled as a territory under the rule of the Trilakeya Chandra.

Chandradip Map Location

Fig: Chandradip 


Khulna and costal areas were  belong to this ancient Janapads.


Jalpaiguri, Greater Goalpara District of Assam, Greater Kamrup District ,these areas were belong to Kamrupa

Geographical Location of Kamrupa Janapad

Fig: Geographical Location of Kamrupa Janapad


Cox's Bazar, parts of Myanmar, south of the Karnafuli River were belong to Arakan

Geographical Location of Arakan

Fig: Geographical Location of Arakan


This Janapad was located in the southern part of the west bank of the Ganges-Bhagirathi, modernly the southern part of Burdwan, the greater part of Hughli, the Howrah and the Birbhum districts.

Sukho was an eastern state territory now occupied by West Bengal, India and Bangladesh. In this kingdom the epic Mahabharata is mentioned with its neighboring kingdom Prasukha , which is now in Bangladesh.

Old Geographical map of Janapads of bangla.
Fig: Old Geographical map of Janapads of Bangla


Munshiganj and surrounding areas were belong to this Janapad

Location of ancient Bikrampur.
Fig: Location of ancient Bikrampur. 


Barisal, Khulna, Bagerhat were belong to Bakerganj.

Bangla or Bangala

Bangala was a strong kingdom once. Khulna, Barisal, Sundarban forest areas of Patuakhali were belong to Bangala.


From description of these ancient Janapads  we can get idea about the ancient geographical location, politics, trade and commerce and their life.

Culture in Ancient Bengal

Economic Activities:

  • Agriculture was the main occupation of the people in ancient Bengal ( Paddy and Sugarcane)
  • Village weavers produced fabrics in hadlooms
  • Market, bazaar and business centers grew up by the side of the rivers.

Dress and recreation:

  • Men wore Dhooti and Chadar and women wore Saree and orna as attires
  • Fashionable for men to keep long hair, long nails colored to attract women
  • Both men and women wore rings and studs in their ears, rings on their fingers, necklaces and hair ornaments
  • Chess and dice were most common games in the ancient Indian society

Art and Architecture:

  • Buildings, temples and other structures built in ancient Bengal hardly survived in their original forms
  • Evidence of Bengal being rich in architecture: Huge structuresb and Vihars found at Mahasthangarh, Paharpur and Maynamati


Professions in Ancient Bengal

Agriculture: The history of agriculture records the domestication of plants and animals and the development of techniques for raising them productively. Wild grains were collected and eaten at the earlier time of ancient period . Later on, irrigation , crop rotation and fertilizers were introduced. People started producing food like wheat, rice and barley for themselves.

Trade and Commerce: Bengal enjoyed prosperity through trade and commerce in ancient period . The rivers afforded easy communication for internal trade and Bengal’s location on the Bay of Bengal offered her the opportunity of participating in International trade. For an example, Bengal used to import spices and silk clothes in Greece and Rome .

Small Industries: Small industries were also introduced in ancient Bengal. Salt industry, Jute industry, Shipping industry were the proof of the existence of small industries.


  1. I like this article because it's very thorough and clearly written. You included lots of great information and I feel like I know a lot more about the history of Bangladesh after reading this. It's a very interesting topic as well.Good Place to Retire

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