Economy after the Harsha Period


  • The literary and inscriptional evidences of the post Harsha period illustrate the advanced state of agriculture, trade, and economy.


  • Medhatithi (who was is one of the oldest and most famous commentators on the Manusmṛti) included a group of seventeen articles in the category of grain (dhanya).

  • Abhidhanaratnamala mentioned the scientific knowledge of agriculture. A large variety of cereals and other food grains with their synonyms are mentioned.

  • Classification of soil as fertile, barren, fallow desert, excellent as well as those green with grass or abounding in needs are also mentioned along with the types of soil such as black or yellow soil.

  • Different kinds of fields were selected for different classes of crops.

  • Irrigation by the arahata (Persian wheel) and by leather buckets is mentioned.

  • The inscriptions show that the Persian wheel was present in India much prior to the arrival of Muslim rulers.

  • It is mentioned by Medhatithi that the agriculturist should be expected to know about what seed was to be sown thickly and what sparsely, what soil was fit for a particular kind of seed and what soil was not so fit, and what harvest was expected from a special variety of seed.

  • Textile was the oldest industry. The progress of Gupta period continued during this period.

  • A number of variety and qualities of textiles such as woolen and hempen yarns, garments made of silk, deer's hair, and sheep and goats’ wool are find mentioned in the contemporary literature.

  • The contemporary literature of this period also mentioned about the professions of weavers, dyers, and the tailors.

  • Various metal namely copper, brass, iron, lead, tin, silver, and gold were used during this time. Some centers of metal industry were developed, for example, Saurashtra for bell industry and Vanga for the tin industry were known.


  • Indian, Chinese, and Arab sources mentioned the flow of trade between east and west through India.

  • The Arab traveler, Ibn Khordadbah in the end of the 9th century, mentioned about Indian exports consisting of diverse products including sandal wood, camphor, and camphor water, nutmeg, clove pink, coconut, precious, and semiprecious stones, pearls, fisheries, textiles of cotton, and silk and variety of metal products.

  • The best breeds of horses were imported from central and western Asia.

  • Foreign merchants were gradually settled in India. They were attracted by the prosperity of coastal towns of Gujarat, Malabar, and Tamil.

  • Arab geographers mentioned some of the India ports located on the west coast namely Debal (in Indus delta), Cambay Jhana, Sopara, and Quilon.

  • The Arab travelers gave descriptive details about the prosperity of Sailendra kings. He established political, cultural, and economic relations with Indian kings.

  • The guilds continued to play an important part as in the previous centuries.

  • Medhatithi mentions both the industrial and mercantile guilds.

  • Guilds consisted of people following common profession such as tradesmen, artisans, money lenders, etc.

  • South Indian inscriptions mentioned about the working of two famous trading corporations.

  • Manigramam was the first trading corporations. It was known since the 9th century to the 13th century. It carried on in the coastal as well as inland towns of south India.

Art and Architecture

  • This phase was undoubtedly a fruitful age for the art and architecture, which are apparent from the numerous temples standing for the 1,200 years.

  • These temples are among the most beautiful structures of that era and famous for their styles of architecture.

  • Bhubaneshwar temple of Orissa is an excellent example of the Nagar style or north Indian style.

  • The great Lingaraja temple of Bhubaneshwar and Sun temple of Konark are the monumental examples of architecture.

Lingaraj Temple
  • Khajuraho temples in Bundelkhand are excellent Nagar style temples built by the Chandelas. They were built on raised plinth and known for their carving and erotic sculptures.

Khajuraho Temples
  • Kandarya Mahadeva temple is another example of excellent architecture.

  • The Sun temple in Kashmir, called as the Martanda temple was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida around the 8th century A.D., It is the best example of Kashmir style of architecture.

  • The Jains temples generally have the octagonal dome and are decorated with subjects drawn from the Jain mythology.

  • The famous temples of Dilwara (Mt. Abu) and Satrunjaya (Palitana) are the best examples of Jain architecture. These temples are famous for their elegant carvings and rich design.

  • 57 feet high Jainis sculpture of Gommatesvara at Sravanabelagola in Hasan, Mysore is one of the largest free standing images in the world.

  • In the Deccan, the temples of Vatapi (Badami) and Pattadakal (Bijapur) are stylistically different. Further, Hoysalesvara temples (Halebid), though are incomplete, but distinct for its structural and decorative features.

Vatapi Temple
  • Pallavas built several temples in south India. Important among them are Dalavanur temple at (Arcot district) Pallavaram, Vallam (in Chinglepeet district), and Rathas.

  • The Kailash temple at Ellora is an example of solid rock temple, dedicated to Siva. It was excavated during the reign of Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is one of the architectural marvels of this period.

Kailash Temple
  • Meenakshi temple of Madurai is the specimen of the Dravidian style of temples.

Meenakshi Temple
  • The older tradition of wall painting continued to be used to decorate the walls of temples and palaces.