The Historic State of Gangaridai

Believed to have been established around 300 BCE, the state of Gangaridai and its capital city of Gange, was located in the historical and geographical region referred to as Bengal – an area including present day Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal State. The ruins of the city of Gange have not yet been discovered, but it has been suggested by scholars that either the Wari-Bateshwar ruins in the Belabo Upazila of Bangladesh, or the Chandraketugarh archeological site on the banks of the Bidyadhari River in India may be the lost city of the state of Gangaridai.

The earliest reference to Gangaridai is found in the written works of the Greek ethnographer Megasthenes (350-290 BCE). In the writings of Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, recorded between 60 and 30 BCE, he speaks of Alexander the Great pursuing King Porus of the state of Paurava to the nation of Gandaridai, which he described as “a nation possessing the greatest number of elephants and the largest in size.” Historians have proposed that Alexander the Great left the region in anticipation of a joint attack by the Prasii and Gangaridai Empires. The invasion of the region, and subsequent withdrawal of Alexander the Great is mentioned in a number of other writings by Greek and Roman historians. The aforementioned Megasthenes also wrote of the wealth and might of the people he referred to as the Gangarides, noting that their king possessed 1,000 horses, 700 elephants and 60,000 troops.

Dhana Nanda, the last ruler of the Nanda dynasty, was king of the Gangaridai region at the time of the invasion by Alexander the Great. The Nanda dynasty was an amalgamation of the Prasii and Gangaridai Empires. Dhana Nanda was later dethroned by Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Empire, which ruled until 185 BCE. Renowned Bengali historian, Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, noted that during the rule of Chandragupta Maurya, the state of Gangaridai was independent. Visitors to the Wari-Bateshwar ruins can gain insight into the ancient history of this region of Bangladesh, which once was the scene of battles between dynasties, and against foreign invaders.