The year is 1173 and the Ghurid Warlord, Muhammad Shahabuddin Ghori has just conquered the Ghaznavids in Afghanistan.
As an upstart, Ghori did what many considered impossible. He did what the Persians, Macedonians, Umayad caliphate, the hepthalites, the huns and even the Ghaznavids couldn’t do.
Ghori formed his kingdom at the heartland of India.
Muhammad Ghori’s first invasions were on the states of Multan and the fortress of Uch. After capturing the two regions, he turned southwards towards the southern Rajputana and Gujarat.
His target? The rich fortified town of Anhilwara Patan.
Status Prior to the Battle
Established by the Chapotkata dynasty in the 8th century, Anhilwara Patan was capital of the Chalukya. They were an of shoot descendent of the Chapotkatas.
According to American historian Tertius Chandler, the ancient citadel was the tenth-largest city in the world in the year 1000, with a population of approximately 100,000.
If Ghori successfully could capture the region, he could secure one of the most prosperous trade routes to the seas. This would give him an ample of power and prestige.
Plus he had no worries in going against the Gujarat kingdom. After all it was ruled by a young king.
A mere boy and what can he do against the invading horde?
Mularaja was so young that his mother Naiki Devi had to act as a regent of his estate and make sure that everything was in the proper order.
Interestingly, it was this very fact that had made Ghori confident about capturing Anhilwara — he assumed that a woman and a child would not provide much resistance.
This was going to be his biggest mistake
Hailing from the region of today’s Goa, Naiki Devi was well-trained in sword fighting, cavalry, military strategy, diplomacy and all other subjects of statecraft.
Undeterred by the idea of facing of against her biggest enemy yet, she got to work and started strategizing her military for a possible war.
Naiki Devi also sent out emissaries and messengers throughout the land. She wanted to forge crucial partnerships and request assistance from nearby provinces for help, including the great king Prithviraj Chauhan.
Though if she ever talked to the Chauhan king is questioned
Unfortunately, these kingdoms did not accede to her request.
She only received aid from Chalukyan feudatories such as the leaders of the:
1: Naddula Chahamana clan
2: Jalor Chahamana clan
3: Arbuda Paramara clan.
Despite a good morale the queen knew this wasn’t going to stop the enemy horde.
She was still outnumbered at least two to one. She had her core of elephant corps as a last bit of leverage but this was not nearly enough.
Hence the queen tried to leverage the only thing that she could.
The Battle ground itself.
She chose the rugged terrain of Gadaraghatta — an area at the foot of Mount Abu.
The narrow hill passes of Gadaraghatta was unfamiliar ground for Ghori’s invading army.
The invaders depended on their superior breeds of horses, their riders running in circle as they killed their enemies.
But that requires a flat terrain with less unevenness.
Their superioririty would end up becoming a complete disadvantage in a region full of trees and mountain valleys.
Naiki Devi now had a huge advantage and balancing the odds in one masterful move.
When Ghori and his army finally arrived Kasahrada, they were met by the fierce warrior queen.
And behind her were the soldiers in a fierce counter-offensive position.
The invaders still had an advantage though. They were bigger in the sheer number of troops as there were more than the defenders.
And they could still count on the superiority of their light and heavy cavalry.
The sources differ as to how to battle would have take place.
What is speculated is that instead of a complete head on collision, the Ghurid forces separated and tried to follow up with light skirmishes.
This had always been their go to moves and they could always count on it.
Their horses were faster and could deal far more damage than any other breed.
The Invaders army separated and while the centre tried to attack head on, the cavalry made sure to out flank the Gujarati forces.
But the queen had already thought of that and her auxiliary forces waited to ambush.
The same cavalry that ruled vast plains of the desert now couldn’t contend with the militia of the mountain ranges.
As the horsemen rode forth, they were ambushed by the hidden warriors of the queen.
Meanwhile the battle raged on against the queen of the Gujarat against the invader of the north.
As the Chalukyas held their grounds in between the valley of Aravali hills, the impact of the enemy of distributed.
Ghurid heavy cavalry started to show signs of penetration, but the elephant corps of the queen charged forward to clash with the riders.
In the battle that ensued (known as the battle of Kasahrada), the outnumbered Chalukyan army and its troop of war elephants clashed against the enemy forces.
Ghori though only had to stall the queen long enough as his main objective was to out flank her and close of her retreat.
With that in mind the invaders could strategize a pincer movement, cornering the defenders.
The warlord encouraged his men to battle one despite taking heavy casualties.
Lances broke, swords clanged and the warriors from each side kept on dropping like flies. But the fight continued.
Suddenly the battered contingent of the out-flankers shouted a retreat and this was it.
This defection meant that the war is over.
Now the queen’s auxiliary forces were in hot pursuit. And if they arrived here first then they could follow up with a pincer movement.
Facing a major defeat, Ghori fled with a handful of bodyguards. His pride was shattered, and he never again tried to conquer Gujarat.
Naiki Devi’s spirit, courage, leadership and military genius had won her a decisive victory
Naiki Devi and her son Mularaja’s reign was short lived as he died soon after this incident.
Her ballads were sung as many poets. Many bards recognized her brilliance in repelling such a strong attacker.
The queen’s tactics were so superb that even the enemy chroniclers started to respect her legacy. They are ranging from chronicler Minhaj-i-Siraj to Firishta.
Her kingdom today is present part of the city of Ahemdabad, Patan, Gandhinagar and Anhilwada.
The surviving monuments evoke the feeling of honour amongst those who laid there lives for the defence of their kingdom.
People still talk of her glory and write about her bravery.
Meanwhile as for Ghori, he shifted his plans for a southward conquest. He had no reason to capture Gujarat. Its terrain was not suitable for his warriors and Sindh now had good ports anyway.
The warlord would now go up the northern plains where his army can shine in cavalry warfare. There he will battle against the legendary king of medieval India named Prithviraj Chauhan in the battles of Tairan.
But that is a story for another time.
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