Tomara dynasty

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Tomara dynasty

9th century–12th century
• Established
9th century
• Disestablished
12th century
Succeeded by
Chahamanas of Shakambhari
Today part ofIndia

The Tomara (also called Tomar in modern vernaculars because of schwa deletion) were an Indian dynasty who ruled parts of present-day Delhi and Haryana during 9th-12th century. Their rule over this region is attested to by multiple inscriptions and coins. In addition, much of the information about them comes from medieval bardic legends, which are not historically reliable. They were displaced by the Chahamanas of Shakambhari in 12th century.


Location of Haryana in present-day India

The Tomara territory included parts of the present-day Delhi and Haryana.[1] A 13th century inscription states that the Tomaras ruled the Hariyanaka (Haryana) country before the Chahamanas and the Shakas (Muslims in this context). A 14th century inscription states that they built the Dhillika (Delhi) city in the Hariyana (Haryana) state , and that their rule was followed by that of the Chahamanas and the mlechchha Sahavadina (Shihab ad-Din).[2]


The Tomaras are known from some inscriptions and coins. However, much of the information about the dynasty comes from medieval bardic legends, which are not historically reliable. Because of this, the reconstruction of the Tomara history is difficult.[2]

As feudatories[edit]

The earliest extant historical reference to the Tomaras occurs in the Pehowa inscription issued during the reign of the Gurjara-Pratihara king Mahendrapala I (r. c. 885-910 CE).[3] This undated inscription states that Jaula of the Tomara family became prosperous by serving an unnamed king. His descendants included Vajrata, Jajjuka, and Gogga. The inscription suggests that Gogga was a vassal of Mahendrapala I. It records the construction of three Vishnu temples by Gogga and his step-brothers Purna-raja and Deva-raja. The temples were located at Prithudaka (IAST: Pṛthūdaka; Pehowa), on the banks of the river Sarasvati.[4]

No information is available about the immediate successors of Gogga.[5] The Pehowa inscription suggests that this particular Tomara family was settled around the Karnal area. However, F. Kielhorn suggested that this Tomara family actually resided in Delhi: they may have visited Pehowa on pilgrimage, and built a temple there.[6]

As sovereigns[edit]

As the Pratihara power declined, the Tomaras established a sovereign principality around Delhi by the 10th century.[7] The medieval bardic literature names the dynasty as "Tuar", and classifies them as one of the 36 Rajput clans.[2] According to the bardic tradition, the dynasty's founder Anangapal Tuar (that is Anangapala I Tomara) founded Delhi in 736 CE.[3] However, the authenticity of this claim is doubtful.[2] A 1526 CE source names the successors of Anangapala as Tejapala, Madanapala, Kritapala, Lakhanapala and Prithvipala. The Dravya-Pariksha (1318 CE) of Thakkura Pheru mentions the coins of Madanapala, Prithvipala and another ruler, Chahadapala.[8]

Soon after gaining independence, the Tomaras became involved in conflicts with their neighbours, the Chahamanas of Shakambhari. According to a 973 CE inscription of the Chahamana king Vigraharaja II, his ancestor Chandana (c. 900 CE) killed the Tomara chief Rudrena (or Rudra) in a battle.[7] The Harsha stone inscription states that Chandana's descendant Simharaja (c. 944-971 CE) defeated a Tomara leader called Lavana or Salavana. Historian R. B. Singh identifies the defeated ruler as Tejapala.[9] Another fragmentary Chahamana prashasti (eulogistic inscription), now at the Ajmer museum, mentions that the Chahamana king Arnoraja invaded the Haritanaka country. This country is identified with the Tomara territory. According to the inscription, Arnoraja's army rendered the waters of the Kalindi river (Yamuna) muddy and the women of Hartinaka tearful.[10]

The writings of the medieval Muslim historians suggest that a king named Mahipala was ruling Delhi in the 11th century. Although these medieval historians do not mention the dynasty of this king, he is identified as a Tomara ruler by some modern historians. Some coins featuring crude depictions of a horseman and a bull, and bearing the name "Mahipala", have been attributed to this king. These coins are similar to those of Mawdud of Ghazni (r. 1041-50 CE), confirming that Mahipala must have ruled in the 11th century. The horseman-and-bull were a characteristic of the Kabul Shahi coinage; Mawdud probably adopted this style after capturing the Shahi territories. Mahipala probably imitated the same style after capturing Hansi and Thaneshvara regions from Mawdud. Some fragmentary Tomara inscriptions have been discovered from Mahipalpur near Delhi. Historian Y. D. Sharma theorizes that Mahipala established a new capital at Mahipalapura (now Mahipialpur).[11]

The construction of the Suraj Kund is attributed to a Tomara king

The Suraj Kund reservoir is said to have been commissioned by a Tomara king named Surajpala.[12]

Multiple (three) Tomara kings seem to have shared the name "Anangapala" (IAST: Anaṅgapāla). One of these is said to have established the Lal Kot citadel in the Mehrauli area. The construction of the Anang Tal tank and the Anangpur Dam is also attributed to him.[12] His coins also feature the horseman-and-bull figure, and bear the title "Shri Samanta-deva". These coins are very similar to those of the Shakambhari Chahamana kings Someshvara and Prithviraja III, indicating that Anangapala was a contemporary of these 12th century kings.[13] One of the several inscriptions on the Iron Pillar of Delhi mentions Anangapala. A medieval legend mentioned in a copy of Prithviraj Raso mentions a legend about the pillar: a Brahmin once told Anangapala (alias Bilan Deo) that the base of the pillar rested on the head of the Vasuki serpent, and that his rule would last as long as the pillar stood upright. Out of curiosity, Anangapala dug out the pillar, only to find it smeared with the blood of Vasuki. Realizing his mistake, the king ordered it to be re-instated, but it remained loose ("dhili"). Because of this, the area came to be known as "Dhilli" (modern Delhi). This legend is obviously a myth.[12]


The bardic legends state that the last Tomara king, Anangpal Tomar (also known as Anangapala), handed over the throne of Delhi to his son-in-law Prithviraj Chauhan (Prithviraja III of the Chahamana dynasty of Shakambhari; r. c. 1179-1192 CE). However, this claim is not correct: the historical evidence shows that Prithviraj inherited Delhi from his father Someshvara.[2] According to the Bijolia inscription of Someshvara, his brother Vigraharaja IV had captured Dhillika (Delhi) and Ashika (Hansi). He probably defeated the Tomara ruler Anangapala III.[6]

List of rulers[edit]

Various historical texts provide different lists of the Tomara kings:[14]

  • Khadag Rai's history of Gwalior (Gopācala ākhyāna) names 18 Tomara kings, plus Prithvi Pala (who is probably the Chahamana king Prithviraja III). According to Khadag Rai, Delhi was originally ruled by the legendary king Vikramaditya. It was deserted for 792 years after his death, until Bilan Dev [Veer Mahadev or Birmaha] of Tomara dynasty re-established the city (in 736 CE).
  • The Kumaon-Garhwal manuscript names only 15 rulers of "Toar" dynasty, and dates the beginning of their rule to 789 CE (846 Vikram Samvat).
  • Abul Fazl's Ain-i-Akbari (Bikaner manuscript, edited by Syed Ahmad Khan) names 19 Tomara kings. It places the first Tomara king in 372 CE (429 Vikram Samvat). It might be possible that the era mentioned in the original source used by Abul Fazl was Gupta era, which starts from 318-319 CE; Abul Fazl might have mistaken this era to be Vikrama Samvat. If this is true, then the first Tomara king can be dated to 747 CE (429+318), which is better aligned with the other sources.

As stated earlier, the historians doubt the claim that the Tomaras established Delhi in 736 CE.[2]

List of Tomara rulers according to various sources[15][16]
# Abul Fazl's Ain-i-Akbari / Bikaner manuscript Gwalior manuscript of Khadag Rai Kumaon-Garhwal manuscript Ascension year in CE (according to Gwalior manuscript) Length of reign
Years Months Days
1 Ananga Pāla Bilan Dev 736 18 0 0
2 Vasu Deva 754 19 1 18
3 Gangya Ganggeva 773 21 3 28
4 Prithivi Pāla (or Prithivi Malla) Prathama Mahi Pāla 794 19 6 19
5 Jaya Deva Saha Deva Jadu Pāla 814 20 7 28
6 Nīra Pāla or Hira Pāla Indrajita (I) Nai Pāla 834 14 4 9
7 Udiraj (or Adereh) Nara Pāla Jaya Deva Pāla 849 26 7 11
8 Vijaya (or Vacha) Indrajita (II) Chamra Pāla 875 21 2 13
9 Biksha (or Anek) Vacha Raja Bibasa Pāla 897 22 3 16
10 Rīksha Pāla Vira Pāla Sukla Pāla 919 21 6 5
11 Sukh Pāla (or Nek Pāla) Go-Pāla Teja Pāla 940 20 4 4
12 Go-Pāla Tillan Dev Mahi Pāla 961 18 3 15
13 Sallakshana Pāla Suvari Sursen 979 25 10 10
14 Jaya Pāla Osa Pāla Jaik Pāla 1005 16 4 3
15 Kunwar Pāla Kumara Pāla 1021 29 9 18
16 Ananga Pāla (or Anek Pāla) Ananga Pāla Anek Pāla 1051 29 6 18
17 Vijaya Pāla (or Vijaya Sah) Teja Pāla Teja Pāla 1081 24 1 6
18 Mahi Pāla (or Mahatsal) Mahi Pāla Jyūn Pāla 1105 25 2 23
19 Akr Pāla (or Akhsal) Mukund Pāla Ane Pāla 1130 21 2 15
Prithivi Raja (Chahamana) Prithvi Pala 1151


  1. ^ Upinder Singh 2008, p. 571.
  2. ^ a b c d e f D. C. Ganguly 1981, p. 704.
  3. ^ a b Sailendra Nath Sen 1999, p. 339.
  4. ^ Dilip Kumar Ganguly 1984, pp. 116-117.
  5. ^ D. C. Ganguly 1981, p. 705.
  6. ^ a b Dilip Kumar Ganguly 1984, p. 117.
  7. ^ a b Swati Datta 1989, p. 102.
  8. ^ Buddha Prakash 1965, p. 182.
  9. ^ R. B. Singh 1964, pp. 100-102.
  10. ^ H. A. Phadke 1990, p. 87.
  11. ^ P. C. Roy 1980, pp. 93-94.
  12. ^ a b c Upinder Singh 2008, p. 570.
  13. ^ P. C. Roy 1980, p. 95.
  14. ^ Alexander Cunningham 1871, p. 141-145.
  15. ^ Alexander Cunningham 1871, p. 149.
  16. ^ Jagbir Singh 2002, p. 28.