The issue of the origin of Rajput lineage is highly complex and controversial.
Some historians are of the view that the Rajputs descended from Central Asian migrants perhaps, Hunas or possibly Gurjaras. But this view appears to be shaky.
There is also a view that they were the Kshatriyas of the lunar race of Somavamshi and also the Kshatriyas of the solar race. Rajasthan’s bards and chroniclers consider them as fire-born or Agnikula Kshatriyas. The legends in currency refer to four fire-born clans – Paramara or Pawar, Pratihara or Parihar, Chahamana or Chouhan, and Chalukya or Solanki.
The legends state that four heroes emanated from the sacrificial fire pit of Sage Vasishta on Mount Abu. These are considered to be the ancestors of the chief Rajput clans and this is mentioned in Chand Bardai’s Prithivirajraso. The birth of Rajput heroes from the sacrificial fire pit implies that they were purified by Agni or fire and if it is so, what could be the reason? It is very difficult to answer this in one sentence and we can agree with Romila Thapar that the discussions of Rajput identity are related to process of historical change characteristic of this period, particularly the widespread phenomenon of families from varied backgrounds rising to royal authority. They also claim a Brahama Kshatriya status. Bardic tradition holds that there were 36 Rajput founding clans and interestingly the list varies from source to source.
Early Rajput activities were dominated by the four clans claiming Agnikula origin. The new Pratiharas ruled in southern Rajasthan. The Chahamanas or Chauhans originally were based at Sakambhari, near Delhi but developed separate lines at Nado, Ranathambhor, Jalor and Sanchor in Rajasthan. Chalukya or Solanki power was concentrated at Gujarat and Kathiawar. The Paramaras established their rule in Malwa with their capital at Dhar near Indore.
Others, claiming to be Rajputs started their career as local kings in various parts of western and central India. Of such, the Chandelas of Khajuraho, Guhillars of Mewar, the Tomaras of Delhi, the Kalachuris of Tripura and the Chedis are important powers to be reckoned with and during the nearly five centuries of their rule they exercised control over a vast region in western Rajasthan and Gujarat.
Of the four fire-born clans, the most important were the Gurjara Pratiharas. Aihole epigraph of AD 634 first refers to them and Hieun Tsang also refers to them as Kuchelo. It is agreed upon that they ruled from the 8th century to the beginning of the 11th century. Their capital appears to be Bhimamal. The founder of the line of the Pratiharas was Nagabhatta I. Nearly 12 rulers are known of this dynasty and out of them Vatsaraja, who ruled between AD 775 -800, Nagabhatta II who ruled between AD 800-833, are important rulers and with the rise of the Chalukyan kingdom of Anhilvara in AD 961, the Gurjara Pratiharas lost their political and historical significance.
The Ghadwalas or Gharwars came into prominence in the latter half of the 10th century and were in power till AD 1194. Govindachandra, who ruled between AD 1104 and 1155, was the greatest of this line. The Chahamanas or the Chauhans are known to have ruled from AD 700 from Sakambari. In this lineage come Vigraharaj IV and Prithviraja, the Rai of Pithora of legend and song and who opposed and died in war with Muhammad Ghor at the battle of Tarain in AD 1192 was the most important.
The Chalukyas or Solankis ruled from Anhilpura from AD 974 to the beginning of the 13th century. They patronized Jainism. Mularaja was the founder of this line. The Solankis fought with contemporary Chauhans and the Paramaras of Dhara. The Paramara kingdom was established by Upendra or Krishnaraja early in the 10th century.
The glory of the Paramaras comes to an end with the end of Paramara Bhoja and his successors continued as local rulers till the beginning of the 13th century. Another Rajput kingdom of importance was the Chandelas of Bundelkhand or Jajakabhukti. Dhanga was one of the most powerful kings of this line, who ruled between AD 954 and AD 1002. He was a great temple builder and even today the temples of Khajuraho are world famous.
The last worthy king of this line was Paramardideva who was defeated by both Prithviraj Chauhan in AD 1182 and again by Qutubudin Aibak in AD 1203. The Chandela authority comes to a close and it lingered as a titular kingdom till AD 1310, when it was annexed to the Delhi Sultanate. They had dynastic and political relations with their southern neighbours, the Kalachuris of Chedi.
The Chedi kingdom comprised two parts – northern part of ancient Dahala and southern Kosala. Tripuri or Tewar in Jabalpur was the capital of Dahala and Ratnapura or Bilaspur was the capital of Dakshina Kosala. There was enmity between the Chandelas and the Kalchuris and on account of mutual warfare; the Kalachuris of Chedi became weak and later disappeared. Thus, all the Rajput clans, in spite of their great individual valour and freedom loving temperaments failed to stop the invaders because of their mutual jealousies and desire to expand their political power base at the cost of other powers.