History experts believe that Kajula Kadphises was the founder of Kushan dynasty which originally was one of the five tribes within the Yueh-chi tribe tribe who lived in Chinese Turkistan. Kushan empire history begins with their first invasions that started in the 1st century AD. During these invasions, they defeated the Bactrians, Parthians and Sakas. The Kushans defeated the other four Yueh-chi tribes and founded their own dynasty.
Kanishka is considered to be the greatest king of Kushan Empire. There is still some confusion about the exact year when he came into power. He was the third emperor within the Kushan dynasty after Kajula Kadphises and Vima Kadphises. However, there was a big gap between him and his predecessor. According to some experts, Kanishka started his rule in 78AD, which is also when the Saka Era begins. It was during this Kushan period that Kashmir was annexed. He also led a war against Pataliputra, after which he captured Kashgarh, Khotan and Yarkand. At one point in time, the kushan empire extended from present day Bihar in the east to the Indus valley in the west; and from the present-day Kashmir region in the north to the Vindhyas in the South under Kanishka’s regime. During his time, the capital of Kushan Empire was Puruspur near modern-day Peshawar.
Many of the coins issued under Kanishka’s regime featured Zoroastrian, Greek and Indian deities. However, experts believe that he got converted to Buddhism when he was enthroned. The fourth and the last Buddhist council were conducted at Kundalavana in Kashmir, under his regime.
It was during the Kushan period that the Indian subcontinent started maintaining cordial trade relations with other civilised empires like the Roman Empire and Chinese Empire. Kushan art and architecture was pillared on Gandhara School of art which prospered and crossed borders as well. Gandhara Art is characterised by fine finishing and the depiction of human bodies in a natural and detailed way. It is also said that Sanskrit was promoted during the Kanishka period greatly. Asvaghosha and his works Buddhacarita and Sariputra Karanam were promoted by Kushans leading to the popularity of Sanskrit Literature.