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Hindu Shahi dynasty ruled over Kabul and the old province of Gandhara from the decline of the Kushan empire, in the 3rd to the 9th century. This kingdom was also known as the Kabul Shahi dynasty when they ruled over Kabul and latter when they moved their capital to the Hund, they were called Hindu Shahi dynasty. They were divided into two eras the buddist- Shahi and the Hindu Shahi in 870 AD. The term Hindu Shahi was a royal title of this dynasty and not its actual clan or ethnological name. Al Beruni used the title ‘shah” for many other contemporary royal houses in his descriptions as well.
Rise of Hindu Shahis
Before the Saffarid conquest of 870 the Buddhist “Turk Shahi” dynasty of Kabul which boasted descent from the Kushana king Kanishka was supplanted by a dynasty of Hindu kings. To this Al Beruni refers as Hindu Shahya and they are called ‘Shahi’ in Kalhana’s Rajataranini, and ‘Sahi’ in inscriptions. Al Beruni says that Kabul was the earliest capital of the Hindu Shahiyas after they expelled the Turk Shahi dynasty. In the beginning their authority extended from Kabul to Chenab River. The last Turk Shahi ruler, Lagaturman, is said to have been imprisoned by his Brahman vazir, Kallar, and it was the latter who became the founder of the dynasty of the Hindu Shahis, Kaller, according to Al Beruni,, was succeeded by ‘ the Brahman kings’ Samand, Kamala, Bhim, Jaypal and their descendants. But all other sources, including Kalhana, say that the Hindu Shahis were Kshtriyas. The Hindu Shahi dynasty succeeded from about the third quarter of the ninth century to the first quarter of the eleventh century-when they were finally reduced by the Ghaznavids, the Zubils and the Kabul Shahis as the occupants of the frontier of al-Hind. There was a struggle between Hindu Shahi and Ghznivids in which Hindu Shahi were expelled from Kabul in 870-71 and re established their capital at Udabhandapura ( modern Und; the town named Waihind by Al Beruni )in the area which was called the North West Frontier Privince by the British. Here, while being hard pressed by the Ghaznavids they became “the Rais of Hindustan “, “the SAmanids of Khurasan and Transoxiana, succeeding the Saffarids, could not consolidate their power in the Kabul Valley. In 933, the virtually independent Samanid wali of Zabulistan was driven out of his headquarters at Ghazna by Alaptagin, the slave general who became the founder of the dynasty of the ghaznavids and gave a new impetus to the Islamic expansionism. The Shahis were now driven toward thePunjab, where they ruled for some times as for as the Rama- ganga river. In the Kabul/ gandhara area only Lamghan remained in their hands.
The initial Hindu Shahi dynasty was the house of Kallar, but in 964 A D. the ruler was assumed from Bhima upon his death by the Janjua empire Maharaja Jaypal, who celebrated as a hero of his struggle in defeating his kingdom from the Turkic rulers of Ghazni. Jaypal was challenged by the armies of Sultan Subagtagin and latter by his son Sultan Mahmood Ghazna. In the wake of the Muslim invasions of Kabul in the second half of the 7th century the Kabul ruler made an appeal to the Ksatriyas of the Hind who had gathered there in large numbers for assistance and drove out the Muslim invaders as far as Bost.
In subsequent years, the Muslin armies returned with large reinforcements and Kabul swept when the Shahi rulers agreed to pay the tribute to the conquerors. For strategically reasons, the Shahis, who continued to offer stubborn resistance to Muslims onslaughts, finally moved their capital from Kapisa to Kabul in about AD 794. Kabul Shahi remained in Kabul until 897 AD when Ya’qub Laith Saffari, the founder of the Saffarid dynasty, conquered the city. Kaabul Shahis had built a defensive wall all round the Kabul city to protect it against the army of Muslim Saffarid. The remains of this wall are still visible over the mountains which are located inside the Kabul city.