Rani Naiki Devi the Warrior Queen

Chalukyan Kingdom, established by Vanraj of the Chapotkata dynasty in the 8th century, had Anhilwara Patan as its capital. 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.

Raja Ajaypal, the descendent of Vanraj married Naiki Devi, daughter of Mahamandaleshwar Parmadi, Kadamba king of Goa. Raja Ajay Pal’s reign was short-lived since he died only four years after ascending to the throne. Mulraj II, the son of Naiki Devi and King Ajay Pal, was installed on the throne, but Rani Naiki Devi remained to govern the empire as Raj Mata. Naiki Devi was well-trained in sword fighting, cavalry, military strategy, diplomacy and all other subjects of statecraft.

Shihab al-Din (also Muʿizz al-Din Muhammad ibn Sam), popularly known as Muhammad Ghori (1173-1206 CE) was of Persia. He ruled a vast area comprising parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan together with his elder brother Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad (1139-1202 CE), which widely came to be known as the Ghurid or Ghorid Empire.

Muhammad Ghori planned to strike India in search of wealth. He invaded India between 1175 CE and 1206 CE, capturing Multan (1175), Punjab (1179), Peshawar (1180), Sialkot (1185), and finally Delhi (1192). Soon after capturing Multan in 1175, he led a major army march to Uch in Pakistan’s Punjab province’s southernmost district. From there, he was able to traverse the desert and begin his journey towards Anhilwara (capital of Chalukyan Kingdom). At the time, Gujarat and Rajasthan were part of the Chalukyan kingdom.

Ghori was confident that the Chalukyas were susceptible to invasion since they lacked a monarch. Because he had a significantly greater army at his disposal, he considered Rani Naiki Devi as weak and one who could be easily conquered.

When Rani Naiki Devi learned that Ghori planned to invade her by crossing the desert and landing in her capital city of Anhilwara, she appealed to nearly all neighbouring Kingdoms for help in preventing the invasion and safeguarding the kingdom. She did get help from Chalukyan nobles including the leaders of the Naddula Chahamana, Jalor Chahamana, and Arbuda Paramara clans.

The Battle of Kayadara (1178): Rani Naiki Devi versus Ghori

Naiki Devi realized that her preparations were insufficient to defeat Mohammad Ghori. So, she devised a battle strategy that would benefit her soldiers. She picked Gadarghatta, a rugged region on the slopes of present-day Mount Abu, as the battlefield. This was in the vicinity of Kasahrada village. This location is in the Sirohi district of modern-day Rajasthan.

She picked the terrains because she knew Ghori’s army was full of experienced warriors, including steppe nomads who were outstanding archers and superior armoured cavalry. Ghori and his warriors, in addition to having a technological edge, were motivated by religious enthusiasm and were passionate about eliminating non-Muslims and transforming the entire territory into an Islamic land.

Ghori’s army was unfamiliar with the narrow hill passes of Gadarghatta, giving Naiki Devi and her allies a significant advantage and balancing the odds in a superb manoeuvre. As a result, when Ghori and his army came, she rode into combat with her son on her lap, leading her troops.

The rest is all history now. The small Chalukyan army and its troop of war elephants routed the invading force, which had previously defeated Multan’s formidable sultans. The Rajput war elephants were armoured and lined up like mountainside steel. They crushed the morale of Ghori’s seasoned armoured cavalry.

Ghori’s performance in the battle was a colossal failure. He fled the battlefield with a few of his men to save his life.

His pride had been crushed, and he never attempted to conquer Gujarat again. Instead, he turned his attention to the more susceptible Punjab, intending to penetrate north India through the Khyber Pass.

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