The decline of Gupta Empire in the north created political disunity which was resolved after Harshavardhan established his Empire. The details of Harshavardhan’s Empire can be seen in Huen Tsang’s, a Chinese traveler account and works of Bana, a court poet.
The founders were initially feudatories of the Gupta’s. They declared independence after the Huns invaded and the Gupta Empire weakened. When Harsha acceded to the throne he had to face crisis initially. His brother and brother in law were murdered and his sister was about to immolate herself. Harsha rescued her and took revenge on the rulers of Malwa and Bengal.
Harsha Empire extended over to entire north India. This was done by extensive military conquests. The suzerainty was also accepted by Kashmir, Sind, and Valabhi. However his ambition to entire the southern states was crushed by Chalukya ruler Pulekasin II who defeated him.
Harsha was initially a Shaiva later he became a Hinayana Buddhist. Huen Tsang converted him to Mahayana Buddhism with the assistance of his sister. He constructed many Stupa’s and monasteries. Once every five years he convened a gathering of Buddhist monks to discuss Buddha’s doctrine.
He patronised Nalanda University.
He was tolerant towards all religions.
The administration was on lines of the Gupta’s. Taxation was light and civil liberties were given. Administration was organized and inspections by the king were common. However cruel punishments of Mauryan age continued. Forced labor was rare.
Maintenance of records about events was done meticulously.