Naiki Devi: Gujarat Chalukyan Queen Who Defeated Mohammad Ghori in 1178 Battle
It has been rightly said that a woman becomes a hundred times more powerful when she becomes a mother. Here is a historical saga of a brave mother, a young Chalukyan queen, who led a huge army with her young son tied to her lap against Mohammad Ghori in battlefield. Hundreds of enemy soldiers were slain by her flashing sword. She won! We are delving about Naiki Devi, the Chalukyan queen of Gujarat, from the late 12th century. Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi fought in battle with her young son tied to her back. That was how brave mothers of India fought in battlefield in the bygone days! But do we get to read in detail about their heroic and inspiring feats in our history books? No!
Naiki Devi was the daughter of Paramardin, the Kadamba chief of Goa. According to one account, Paramardin has been identified with Mahamandalesvara Permadi also called Sivachitta, a Goan chief. Naiki Devi was married to king Ajayapala of Gujarat. Ajayapala, who belonged to the Chaulukya (Solanki) dynasty, ascended the throne of Gujarat in 1171. The Chalukyan kingdom included parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan with capital at Anahilavada, modern Patan. This dynasty was founded by Mularaja in 940 CE after supplanting Samantsimha, the last ruler of the Chapotkata dynasty. The Chalukyas were also known as Solankis and Agnivanshi Rajputs.
Ajayapala’s rule was short lived. He died in 1175. After his death, his elder son Mularaja II became his successor. But as he was a minor, his mother Naiki Devi acted as the Queen Regent. She looked after the complete administration and military affairs of the kingdom. Besides, she trained herself in the art of warfare to lead possible future battles.
During this time, Mu’izz ad-Din Muhammad of Ghor, also called Mohammad Ghori, was the Sultan of the Ghurid empire in Afghanistan. The Ghurids were originally Buddhists but converted to Islam after Mahmud of Ghazni conquered Ghor in 1011. Mohammad Ghori ruled Ghor along with his brother Ghiyath ad-Din Muhammad.
It was Mohammad Ghori who laid the foundation of Muslim rule in India. Do you know his first expedition of attacking, looting, and plundering India was foiled by Naiki Devi? After capturing Multan in 1175, Mohammad Ghori made plans to attack India. He heard a lot about the wealth and riches of India.
With base at Multan, Mohammad Ghori marched with a huge army to Uch, the southern part of Pakistan’s Punjab province. From there the Muslim army crossed the desert and started marching towards Anhilwara, the Chalukyan capital in 1178. 13th century Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj wrote about Muhammad of Ghor advancing towards Anahilavada, the Chaulukya capital through the routes Uchchha and Multan. Ghori did learn about Gujarat being ruled by a boy. Little did he know that the Chalukyan army would offer stiff resistance under the leadership of the boy’s mother Naiki Devi!
Meanwhile, Naiki Devi heard from her spies about the advancing Muslim army towards her capital. She heard their forces were huge. Immediately, she sought help from neighboring feudatory rulers, namely Jalor Chahamana ruler Kirtipala, Arbuda Paramara ruler Dharavarsha, Naddula Chahamana ruler Kelhanadeva, and more. They agreed to help.
Mohammad Ghori camped at Kayadara near Mount Abu and sent a messenger to the court of the Chalukyan queen with a condition that he would not attack, loot, and plunder Gujarat if the queen herself surrendered to Ghori along with her sons and handed over to him all of the gold and women of the Chalukyan kingdom. The queen pretended to agree.
Mohammad Ghori waited in his camp for the arrival of the queen, her sons, gold, and women. Naiki Devi approached towards the camp on a horse with the minor king of Gujarat Mularaja II tied to her lap. Approaching hoofs alerted the Ghurid Sultan. He was overjoyed that the Chalukyan Rajputs easily accepted defeat and accepted his conditions. Soon, sound of more hoofs followed and then it was unending.
The combined forces of the Chalukyan army led by Naiki Devi surrounded the camp of Mohammad Ghori. A fierce battle ensued between the two forces. Soon the Battle of Kayadara witnessed major casualties from Ghori’s army. Swords and spears clashed amid war cries. Naiki Devi tore into the enemy forces killing the enemy soldiers on either side with her sword. As she fought, her son watched the fast dwindling enemy forces from her lap! Firishta, a Persian historian from the 16th century mentions how the ruler of Gujarat defeated the Muslim army “with great slaughter”. Ghori’s army was badly defeated. The Sultan and the remaining Muslim army fled from the battlefield. Chalukyan army chased them out of the territories of Gujarat.
Minhaj-i-Siraj wrote how the huge Chaulukya army with elephants defeated Ghor. In his words, “the army of Islam was defeated and put to rout”. 16th century Muslim historian Badauni also mentions Ghori’s defeat. He also mentions how the ‘remnant of the defeated army’ returned to Ghazni out of great difficulty.
Mohammad Ghori was so badly defeated in this expedition that he did not think about attacking India until 1191! Never again did he attack Gujarat in his life!
Salute to Naiki Devi! Jai Hind!
1. Chaulukyas of Gujarat, Asoke Kumar Majumdar
2. Ancient India, Ramesh Chandra Majumdar
3. Early Chauhan Dynasties, Dasharatha Sharma.
Featured image courtesy (representation purpose only): Quora.