The Year is 739. The Massive Umayyad Horde is approaching to raid the lands of the Chalukyan Territory.

The Invaders are led by Al Hakim the competent governor of Sindh. With a vast army they have Wrecked havoc in the regions of Gujarat and Rajasthan.

His main tactics included raiding and relying on the superior Arab cavalry to out manoeuvre his opponents.

Despite early victories of the king Jayabhata, Al Hakam has split his troops.

He wanted to passed through his territory without any major losses.

The Arabs then overran his kingdom as they approached the central and southern India.

Al Hakam’s main intention was to defeat the boundary forts of the Mighty Chalukya empire of south India. This would cut off any alliance between the north and south.

But at the south of the Mahi river was the great Chalukyan Warrior, Avanijanisharya Pulakeshin.

The alarming victory streak of the Arabs was about to come to a grinding halt.

Status Prior to the Battle:

The region where the Arabs had first laid siege to was the Sindh and when Sindh fell, they got a perfect invasion point to all of India.

Despite ruling the outer province of India, there were frequent local uprisings and anarchy.

Most of them were led by the regional lords. This meant that Sindh was still under the shadow of its true rulers, the kings of India.

This meant to solidify their rule, the Arabs will have to attack and claim the other surrounding kingdoms as well.

Al Junyad was considered one of the best governers of Sindh. He had led successful campaigns in the north western border subduing the local leaders either by force or by diplomacy.

All in all, almost all of Gujarat had fallen under his rule and there looked as if no one could stop the juggernaught of Arabia.

But then around 726-727 Al Juniayad misterously disppeares. No one knows what might be the reason as some sources claim he died while others state that he was just replaced by a more efficient ruler.

The Caliph found Tamim as the successor in Al Juniayab and made sure to keep the territories of war under their flag.

But then came the legendary Rajput king Bappa Rawal and by 726 almost all the gains made by the arabs fell in the Rajput’s hands.

Governor Tamim is said to have fled Sindh and died en route. The Caliphate appointed Al-Hakam in 731 who governed till 740.

He is the man who wishes to reconquer large territories from the Indian kings.
By all accounts he was just as aggressive as his previous rulers but this time he faced those Indian kings who were united in the cause to driving out the foreign yolk.

From likes of Lalitaditya Muktapida of Kashmir Karkota dynasty to Nagabhatta or Jaypala. All these kings acted as the buffer between Al Hakam and India.

And amongst these kings include Avanijanisharya Pulakeshin.

Very few details are known about Avanijanisharya Pulakeshin, apart from the fact that he is Mangalarasa’s younger brother and successor and ascended the throne sometime between 731 -739.

This puts him in the direct line of sight and conflict with the Arab king who is now marching with his giant army at the borders of Chalukya territories.

And that is as far as he will go.

The Battle.

The Arabs had ruled over a large region of Asia and Africa due to their superior horses and near perfect.

They were amongst those empire which successfully copied the military and administrative system of the Byzantine Empire.

The army structure was divided into five major corps.

The centre which included the heaviest infantry. The vanguards and rearguards which consisted of light mobile infantry and Skirmishing parties.

The two wings on the side included light and medium cavalry.

By 750 they had also introduced a small division of cohorts. At the back along with the baggage train would follow the artillery and siege crafts. This consisted of battering rams and ballista.

On the other hand, not many information is available about the Chalukyan forces. According to Huieng Tsang, The Chalukyas had one of the most well-organized army.

The core of the Chalukyan empire was the Elephant corp. With more than 800 elephants, this formed the bulwark of the entire army.

The elephants were specially trained and according to the legend before any confrontation, would be given a potion which would increase their aggression.

This is similar to the legend about those Vikings who drank before going to battle and were called berserkers.

The infantry was divided into two main parts, the core light armoured infantry and the auxialary infantry.

The core infantry included trained soldiers who would fight alongside the genrals and face the enemy head on.

While the Auxilary infantry included archers, who would unleash a rain of arrows on unsuspecting enemies.

The cavalry of Chalukyas was utilised not for direct assault completely but as out flankers.

This pincer movement would cut off the supply chains of the invaders, breaking their morale even further.

Overall, the two armies were fairly equally matched and the face off was ready.

But there was one minor difference between the two sides.

The Caliphate warriors were invaders. They were here to take out the upper regions of Chalukyas and annex it.

Their morale was certainly high but they were far away from their governing region in Sindh.

While on the other hand the Chalukyan forces were the defenders. The invaders could go back to their homes if they survived the clash but lost the war.

But if the Chalukyans lost, then they would have no home in the first place. At least not in the upper region of their empire.

The defenders had desperation on their side.

Unfortunately, as the exact number of soldiers in the battle is not known hence what follows next is a mere speculation.

The Arab army had approached near the nascent city of Navsari Which according to legends was built by Pulakeshin himself.

The small city was surrounded by forests which gave an advantage to the local army.

Invaders arrived in an elongated column. Their large army stretched along the land.

Once they capture Navsari, almost of all Gujarat would Capitulate under the Caliphate’s control. On the plus side they will have a jumping of point via both the sea route and land path.

Even though the army’s morale was high, Al Hakam knew that this battle would be the most difficult.

They were far away from their base in Sindh, constant battles had tired his men and the supply lines were over stretched.

But if he could pull of this victory, then all the fruits of his labour will shower upon him.

Meanwhile against them marches the giant army of the defending Chalukyas. Pulakeshin is over his slumbering elephant surrounded by his core.

His spy network is far superior to the enemies who were in foreign land. He knew his only chance to repel the enemy is by becoming an impenetrable wall.

Avanijanisharya had chosen perfect spot, his men were held up in a small forest which directly stood between the targeted city and the enemy.

The defenders are in orange color. The invaders in Dark green

The forest cover will provide decent protection against the projectiles such as volley of arrows and ballista.

(This is one of the best utilisation of natural covers that local rulers did. Same technique will be used by Rani Naiki Devi in Battle of Kasahadra)

Despite the impeccable organization of the Umayad army, the warriors approached in seperate small bands.

The invaders were anxious to reach the city before their supplies extinguished and hence their lines ended up in complete anarchy.

The battle raged on as the two hordes duked it out. The Arabs had better armour as they copied the Greek style of armament while the Indian soldiers relied more on the terrain for their advantage.

As the dust settled, it was clear that there was a slight edge advantage of the Arabs due to their superior armour.

The Indian king knew that if they lost now, nothing could save their kingdom from the invaders.

Pulakeshin boosted the morale of his soldiers when he along with his mighty elephant charged into the enemy lines.

The bewildered enemy was shocked as the defenders mounted a counter charge and fought as if they were demons.

To save his men, Al Hakam ordered his elite Cavalry unit to march forth and help his contingent.

When the Arabs saw their leader approaching, their confidence rose to new heights and they too kept on battling.

But in his strategy, he made a grand mistake.

When the Umayad Elite Cavalry galloped forward to help their soldiers, they had left their camp and provisions under a very small number of guards.

Grabbing this opportunity, Pulakeshin ordered his Cavalry force to destroy the enemy camp.

Arabs make a big mistake

At the head of his cavalry was Dantidurga, a Rashtrakuta prince whose tale will be told at some other date.

As the invaders pressed on against the Chalukyan forces, their Cavalry harassed the campsite, burning whatever they could find.

The already weakened enemy watched in horror as they saw their camp being razed to the ground with all their resources in it.

They quickly turned to save whatever they could but in doing so they had to turn their backs to the Chalukyan soldiers.

This was what Pulakeshin was counting on.

The moment Arabs showed signs of defection, the Indian king ordered his troops to march on and give no quarters.

He had heard of the barbarity of the invaders and he wished to give them a taste of their own medicine.

His wish came true.

This defection led to a complete routing of the forces.

According to many historians, Al Hakam tried to re group his soldiers but was killed by Pulakeshin and his men.

Down to a man the Umayyad army was destroyed with only a small remnant of soldiers that survived to tell the tale.

Aftermath

Pulakeshin subsequently received the titles “Solid Pillar of Deccan ” (Dakshināpatha-sādhāra) and the “Repeller of the Unrepellable” (Anivartaka-nivartayitr).

The Rashtrakuta prince Dantidurga, who was subsidiary to Chalukyas at this time, also played an important role in the battle.

The battle at Navsari was such a destructive loss for the Arabs that this led to defection all throughout the regions under their control.

Local rulers retook their lands back from the invaders and brought the war to them.

Out of all these kings, Bappa Rawal made sure to reclaim all the lands under Indian rule.

As for Pulakeshin, his rule grew and matched up to his legend. His victory will seal the fate of Indian kingdoms which will continue this tradition of resisting the invaders for years to come.

Thank you

P.S. I apologize for not adhering to my schedule. Due to some technical problems and Coronavirus outbreak I could not get my laptop fixed in time.

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