We hear stories about the bravery of kings again and again. However, our queens and princesses have never shied away from displaying their heroism and gallantry in order to stand for our country. In search of India’s richness and splendour, several foreign countries ventured to gaze up to the land of India. Thousands of valiant sons and daughters of this land responded appropriately to all foreign powers’ invasion attempts.
However, the amount of information the laymen have about heroic men in India doesn’t match that of brave women. It is critical that we understand and appreciate the contributions of women to our country and society. Be it Queen Velu Nachiyar of the South, Queen Abbakka, or the queen of Jhansi, who fought against the British, we know much about them but there are many who still don’t find their place in history textbooks and movies or TV serials.
On this Women’s Day, we will explore the tale of a queen who not only displayed otherworldly bravely in forcing Islamic invader Mohammad Ghori to flee but also exhibited remarkable benevolence in sparing his life. Naiki Devi, a queen from Gujarat, not only oversaw the affairs of the empire but also ended up fighting against external invaders.
Who was Rani Naiki Devi?
Rani Naiki Devi was the daughter of Mahamandaleshwar Parmadi, the king of Kadamba. Naiki Devi possessed a wide range of abilities, including horse riding, archery, combat skills, and weapon-wielding. Raja Ajaypal, the Solanki ruler of Gujarat (also known as the Chalukyas), married her. 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.
Aspirations of Muhammad Ghori
Muhammad Ghori invaded India between 1175 CE and 1206 CE, capturing Multan (1175), Punjab (1179), Peshawar (1180), Sialkot (1185), and finally Delhi (1192). After capturing Multan in 1175, Muhammad Ghori planned to strike India in search of wealth. Soon after, 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 obviously 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 the Hindu queen as weak and 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 neighboring 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): Ghori Vs Rani Naiki Devi
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 in 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 armored 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 Gadaraghatta, giving Naiki Devi and her allies a significant advantage and balancing the odds in a superb maneuver. 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 armored and lined up like mountainside steel. They crushed the morale of Ghori’s seasoned armored 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.