Siege of Ranthambore 1301.


Allauhdin Khalji’s invasion of Rajasthan was a series of brutal military tactics which swept through the territories of northern India. The reign of Khalji dynasty altered the economic, political and religious outlook of India.

But it was not unchallenged.

From the Kakatiyas in the Southern region of India to the mighty eastern Gangas Dynasty many fought tooth and nail against the impending invaders.

Today we are going to focus on one of the smaller kingdoms in north western parts of India, Rajasthan and how the Rana of Ranthambore proved his mettle against the enemy hell who was hell bent on destruction.

Status prior to battle:

There is an unsung rule in medieval India. According to the rule protection must be given to any person seeking asylum in any kingdom.

Two fugitives of mongols who were at war with the then northern emperor of India, Allahudin. And they had in their defence asked for protection by the king of Ranthambore, Hammirdeva.

Allahudin wrote a letter to the Hindu king about the might of his sultanate. In the letter he demanded that the fugitives be handed over. And the threat that loomed over the Samrat’s small kingdom lest he does not comply

It is in these small moments of history where legendary tales of bravado write themselves. These are the defining traits that form the bulwark of the great Rajputs.

“Its in these small movements where the stuff of legends take place.”

King Hammirdev responded in king to the emperor that though he respects Allahudin, he has given his word to the Mongols. He will not break his promise.

He also added that his people do not fear battle for his men are many and prefer to have their fate in their own hands.

The letter had its effect in enraging Allahudin. And so began the conquest of Ranthambore.

Battle 1:

He laid out the battle plans to annex Ranthambore and sent his chief Ulugh Khan to fight. Hammira in return sent his general Bhimasimha.

According to the legends, Bhimasimha on the advice of Dharamsimha charged straight towards the advancing Delhi army.

Unfortunately for both of them, the Delhi army was far bigger than they had anticipated.

To avoid his losses, Ulugh Khan sounded a general retreat. This served two purposes.

1: It made the Rajputs think that they won hence they will lower their guard.

2: When the surprise attack hits them they won’t be able to counter charge.

An everything went according to Ulugh Khan’s plans. By the hit and turn tactic, in the following battle, Bhimasinha lost his life.

The local people say that the Rajput archers did a valiant last stand. Due to which the rest of the routed army could flee. The reality of this claim is not yet clear.

Though it can be assumed that as the faction led by Bhimasimha survived someone from the contingent must have attacked

Prelude to the second battle:

Hammira was furious and had blinded Dharamsimha for his wrong tact. Dharamsimha in retaliation started to plot his revenge when there was a money and food shortage in the kingdom.

His tax schemes made the king unpopular amongst his own people. And all this kept on happening behind Hammira’s back.

Due to his political scheming, many minsters of Hammira defected towards Alauddin Khalji. And the sultan was a grateful acceptor. Infact, Bhoja, Hammira’s own brother defected and was gifted the jagir of Jagara by Allahudin.

And this defection led the foundation of the battles that were bound to come.

Battle 2:

The Delhi army now marched straight towards the castle of Ranthambore, home of king Hammir. According to bardic scholars the invaders had more than 200.000 men under them.

But modern estimates find this to be a gross exaggeration. New theories state the Delhi army had no more than 20,000 soldiers. 

As they marched forth, they passed through the mountain valley called Hinduvata. The sultanate had numerical and technical superiority with better cavalry and siege engines.

Due to the fact that invaders had so many advantages over the defenders, they did not think about sending their scouts to the forest laden valley.

Along with that they were carrying with them their own women and children.

After all they thought that only an army the strength of demons could fight against them head on.

Well, the Rajputs were about to fight them head on.

The Ranthambore soldiers were waiting right above the valley pass with their archers and skirmishers ambushed the oncoming invaders.

Khalji force wasn’t fully prepared for a full assault. Most of them weren’t even completely armoured.

They tried to form a semblance of a line but Hammir’s soldiers were led by his own brother. Along with that, they had two mongol generals.

With the mongol strategy of the pincer movements in short groups, the Rajputs went forth. The Ranthambore skirmishers formed smaller groups to cut of each section of the army. While the archers kept on showering volleys after volleys against the force at the back.

In this way, the large numerical advantage of the Delhi Army became its disadvantage.

Such was the swift attack of the Rajputs that the invaders were quickly routed and defeated. All the while taking minimal damage.

After the battle:

The sudden and swift Victory of the Rajputs completely altered what the Sutlan had thought previously. He would no longer take the Ranthambore kingdom as a simple rogue state. His plans will now take a more sinister approach while dealing with his enemy.

Meanwhile Hammira and his soldiers celebrated their victory. The Delhi Army had not even collected their weapons and armour which Hammir’s forces happily seized.

The Sultan’s forces were so badly defeated that they had left their women on the battle field. To commemorate his victory, Hammir made the women sell butter milk in his villages.

In his defence though, his treatment of the enemy women was far better the Sultan’s who was famous for his slave trade and huge harem.

In the coming article we will see who Allahudin pits against Hammirdeva and the fall of a great king.

Until next time.

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