Harshavardhana was an Indian emperor who belonged to Pushibhukti family. He was born around 580 AD and is believed to be the son of Prabhakar Vardhan, the founder of Vardhan Dynasty. At the height of his glory his kingdom spanned the Punjab, Bengal, Orissa and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada river. He ascended the throne after his elder brother Rajya Vardhana got murdered by Sasanka, King of Gauda. At this time he was just 16 years of age.
After his accession to the throne he merged the two kingdoms of Thanesar and Kannauj and shifted his capital to Kannauj.
Harsha was a secular ruler and respected all the religions and faiths. In his early life he used to be a sun-worshipper but later he became the follower of Shaivism and Buddhism. According to the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang, who visited the kingdom of Harsha in 636 AD, Harsha built many Buddhist Stupas. He was also a great patron of the Nalanda University.
He was the first to establish the Sino-Indian diplomatic relationships.
He was a good scholar and a noted author. He wrote three plays in Sanskrit namely Ratnavali, Priyadarsika and Nagananda. We can find well-documented record of his reign in the work of his court poet Banabhatta. Bana wrote Harsha Charita, the first historical poetic work in Sanskrit language. Work of the Chinese traveler, Xuanzang also provides a deep insight into the life during Harshavardhana's rule.
He ruled India for almost forty years, and died in 647 AD, leaving behind no heir to the throne. After his death his empire disintegrated.