The date of Kharavela is a highly controversial one. We may rely upon some clues in the Hatigumpha inscription to determine the date of Kharavela. This inscription says that in the twelfth year of his reign, Kharavela defeated the Magadhan king Bahasati Mita (Bruhaspati Mitra). Mitra was being suffixed by the rulers of the Sunga dynasty which came to power in Magadha in 187 B.C. on the break-up of the Mauryan empire and continued to rule upto 40-30 B.C. The first ruler of this dynasty was Pushya Mitra who ruled from187 B.C. to 151 B.C. Some scholars identify Pushya Mitra with Bruhaspati Mitra without proper justification. Pushya Mitra was succeeded by his son Agni Mitra, the hero of Kalidas’s drama, Malavikagnimitram. After Agri Mitra the Sungas became weak. It is probable that Kharavela defeated a later Sunga king, bearing the name Bruhaspati Mitra. Therefore, his invasion of Magadha could have taken place sometimes after 151 B.C. and before 40 B.C. Another clue of Kharavela’s date is the statement in the Hatigumpha inscription that in the fifth year of his reign Kharavela renovated a canal which had been dug by a Nanda ~ (Nanda Raja) 103 or 300 years (Ti-basa-sata) before. Some scholars identify the Nanda Raja with Mahapadrnananda, the powerful founder-king of the Nanda dynasty of Magadha and read Ti-basasata as there hundred years.
In this line of fixation, we have to know accurately the year of the commencement of Mahapadmananda’s reign. Taking 345 B.C. as the year of digging of canal by Mahapadmananda, N. K. Sahu fixes 40 B.C. as the year of Kharavela’s coronation. Relying upon the Puranic sources, according to which Nandas ruled for one hundred years, and taking 424 B.C. as the starting point of Nanda rule and reading Ti-basa- Ita as 300 years, Kedarnath Mahapatra fixes 100 B.C. as the your of Kharavela’s coronation.
Some palaeographists are of the opinion that the Hatigumpha inscription should be assigned to the first century B.C. On the other hand, K.C. Panigrahi holds a different view. He accepts B.M. Barua’s Identification of Nanda Raja with Asoka on two grounds. First, there was no Nanda rule in Odisha, as Asoka was the first king of Magadha to conquer Kalinga according to his statement in Rock Edict XIII. Secondly, as Chandragupta Maurya, Asoka’s grand father, has been called Nandanvaya (an offspring of Nanda family), the description of Asoka as Nanda Raja should not appear absurd. Panigrahi also reads Ti-basa-sata as 103 years and taking 261 B.C. as the year of conquest of Kalinga by Asoka (after which the canal was dug), he fixes the coronation of Kharavela at 159 B.C. Panigrahi identifies Bruhaspati Mitra as a later Mauryan king, named Bruhaspati who is mentioned in Divyavadana. The Hatigumpha inscription also mentions Satavahan king Satakarni as Kharavela’s contemporary. Satakarni is identified as Satakarni-l who belonged to second or first century B.C.. From the above discussion we may conclude that Kharavela could not be earlier than second century B.C. and later than first century B.C. Most probably he belonged to first century B.C.
However, N. K. Sahu has fixed up the chronology of Kharavela’s reign, as follows:
(1)Establishment of Chedi rule in Kalinga -73 B.C.,
(2) Birth of Kharavela-64 B.C,
(3) Coronation-40 B.C., and (4) Rule as Heir-apparent- 49-40 B.C.