A gallant king of Kanauj
Starting off as the ruler of tiny Thaneshwar, Harsha (17th century AD) rose to become the powerful monarch of the kingdom of kanauj. He avenged the wicked assassination of his elder brother and the cowardly abduction of his sister. His biographer Bana Bhatta and the chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang were unanimous in their praise of this learned king, whose fame did much to create a glowing image of India in lands far away.
If Harsha is remembered till this day as a great ruler, it is not only because he was a brave military leader, but also because he was a man of noble impulse, a great patron of learning and letters and he had great scholars like Banabhatta, Mayura and Divakara in his court. Harsha came to occupy the throne of Thaneshwar at a very critical moment in its history.
The neighbouring kingdom, Kannauj, ruled by Harsha's brother-in-law, had been overrun. Harsha not only surmounted these difficulties, but also raised the small kingdom of Thaneshwar into the most powerful kingdom of Northern India. Banabhatta's 'Harshacharita' gives a detailed account of Harsha's life till he rescues Rajyashri.
We know more about political and economic conditions of his times from the account of Hiuen Tsang, who visited India during his reign.