In the 6th century BC, there existed 16 large states in India which are known as 16 Mahajanpadas. They are Kasi, Kosala, Anga, Magadha, Vajji or Vriji, Malla, Chedi or Cheti, Vamsa or Vatsa, Kuru, Panchala, Machcha or Matsya, Surasena, Assaka or Ashmaka , Avanti, Gandhara & Kamboja. The names of at least 9 among them are given in the Vedic Literature.
Panini in the 4th century BC mentions as many as 22 different Janpadas, but also mentions 3 most important viz. Magadha, Kosala and Vatsa.
Following is the Brief Description of the 16 Mahajanpadas:
- Its Capital was Banaras
- Kasi was located on the confluence of Ganga and Gomti rivers and somewhere around today's Varanasi.
- Its capital was Shravasti
- Kosala was located in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh. It covers today's districts Faizabad, Gonda, Bhahraich etc. and was bordered by River Gomti on the west, River Sadaniva in the east, Nepal hills in the north and River Syandika in the South.
- Its Capital was Champa
- It covered the modern districts of Munger and Bhagalpur in Bihar It was later annexed to Magadha by Bimbisar. Magadh was on its west and Raja Mahal hills on the west.
- Its capital of Girivraja or Rajgriha
- It covered the modern districts of Patna, Gaya, Shahabad of Bihar. It was bordered by River Son non North and Ganga on South.
Vajji or Vriji
- Its capital was Vaishali
- It was located on the north of River Ganga in Bihar. The seat of 8 smaller clans / kingdoms called "Athakula" out of which Lichhavais, Janatriks, Videhas were very important. It was separated from Kosala from river Gandak.
- Its Capital was Kushinagar, Pawa
- It covered the modern districts of Deoria, Basti, Gorakhpur in Eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Chedi or Cheti
- It was located in the Bundelkhand division of Madhya Pradesh regions to the south of river Yamuna and along river Betwa or Vetravati. Its capital was Suktimati or Sotthivati located somewhere near Banda in Uttar Pradesh.
- Its capital was Kausambi
- It covered the modern districts of Allahabad and Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh.
- Its Capital was Indraprastha / Hastinapur / Isukara
- It covered the modern Haryana & Delhi-Meerut-Ghaziabad region. Its eastern border was River Yamuna.
- Its Capital was its capital were Ahichhtra (Western Panchal) and Kampilya (eastern Panchala).
- It covered modern day Rohilkhand division & Upper Gangetic Plains of today's Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand.
- Its Capital was Viratnagar
- It was located in the Alwar, Bharatpur, Jaipur districts of Rajasthan.
- Its Capital was Mathura
- It was located on the junction of Uttarpatha and Dakshinpatha around Mathura of Today.
- Its capital was Potali, Potana or Podana
- Located on the banks of the Godavari River. Its capital was Potali, Potana or Podana, which now lies in the Nandura Tehsil, Buldana district in the Indian state of Maharashtra and it was the only Mahajanapada situated to the south of the Vindhya Range, and was in Dakshinapatha
- Its capital was Ujjain & Mahismati
- Located on present day Malwa region. It was divided into two parts by the Vindhyas, the northern part had its capital at Ujjayini and the southern part had its centre at Mahishmati.
- Its capital was Taxila:
- Covered the regions between Kabul and Rawalipindi in North Western Provinces, Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River.
- Its capital Rajpur
- It was located around Punchh area of Kashmir.