The name of the great Hindu Rajput Samrat Prithviraj Chauhan has been immortalized in the history books. He was the one who struggled against the Islamic conqueror Muhammad Ghori. But little do we know that long before this, even his grandfather- Arnoraja, fought and crushed the Turkish invaders who were trying to consolidate an empire for themselves in India. This is the story of that great ruler of the Chauhan Rajput dynasty or the Chahamana dynasty.
Background– Ghaznavids & their long standing dream of Conquering India
We all know that Mahmud Ghazni,who is regarded as one of the greatest military generals of the medieval age was able to successfully raid, loot and plunder the wealth of the Indian subcontinent.However, the motivation behind all the expedition of Mahmud was plundering and looting ,which drained India’s enormous wealth. The rise of Ghaznavids (Yamini Turks) tremendously effected the political situation of medieval India.
The Ghaznavids especially under Ghazni was able to subjugate the Hindu Shahi kingdom-the defenders of north western India, although the latter provided stiff resistance to the former for a very long time.
Later Mahmud was able to plunder Somnath temple in 1025 AD, he became a well-known name in the Islamic world. But although he was successful in various campaigns in India, but during his reign he did face various setbacks.
The invasion of Bundelkhand (Read Here) where he was forced to retreat after being stopped by the Chandela Rajputs under King Vidyadhara or his failed expedition at Kashmir are some events that could not get the attention of the historians.
Similarly, after his death, the failure of the later Ghaznavids and their disastrous defeat at the hands of Indian kings had been completely wiped out from history.
The king who crushed the ambitions of the Turuksas (Turks) was the Chauhan Rajput Arnoraja Chauhan. According to Jayanaka, the court historian of Prithviraj Chauhan, there are 3 mentions of the defeat of the Turks at the hands of Arnoraja.
He is also known as Ana, Anna, Analadeva. Arnoraja belonged to the Chauhan or Chahamana Rajputs line. The Chahamanas- known in the Skanda Purana as Sakambhara-sapada-laksa which means a territorial unit that was supposed to have 125000 villages.
He was the son of Ajayraja and was married to Chalukya princess Kanchan Devi, daughter of Chalukyan ruler Jaisimha. He also repulsed an attack from the fellow Rajput ruler of Gujrat and defeated the Paramaras and Tomaras. Kumarapala attacked Arnoraja but this attack was thwarted by Arnoja. This information is available from the book titled as Prabandh Chintamani by Meerutung.
The last three rulers of Ghaznavids i.e. Bahram Shah (1118-1152), Khusrau Shah (1152-1160), and Khusrau Malik (1160-1186) couldn’t manage to conduct frequent lightening raids like their predecessor Mahmud had done.
This gave the Indian kings enough time to settle and enhance their military strength to guard their borders from any possible invasions.
It was in the reign of Bahram Shah that India once again witness several incursions from the Yamini Turks. The various Rajput sources did mention about the regular defeat of the turks in their failed invasions. However the most important defeat that the Turks faced was at the hand of Arnoraja.
Military Campaigns Against Ghaznavids
The Ghaznavid sultan Bahram Shah had a governor in the Punjab region. The name of the governor was Bahlim. Bahlim was able to subjugate several Hindu regions on the border of Punjab.
Later he was able to capture Nagaur, and it is believed that he was able to establish a proper tukish rule over Nagaur. With the Turks having a strong base in the Punjab region, the Indian frontier was once again threatened by the invasions.
During the reign of Arnoraja , these turks under Bahlim were able to advance as far as Ajmer. A battle was inevitable now.
There is a little debate on who was the leader of the Turks during this battle. As the governor of Punjab, Bahlim had revolted against his sultan Bahram Shah, and the latter one had come to crush the rebellion in Punjab. Historian R.B Singh identified the name of the Ghaznavid leader as Bahram Shah. But it is debatable.
The battle resulted in a total disaster for the Turks and their commander fled from the battlefield. The military leadership of Arnoraja along with the Rajput’s skill of warfare was able to crush the invaders. Many Turkish soldiers of the Ghaznavids lost their lives during this retreat and many perished due to thirst and exhaustion.
The Rajputs collected a large of Turkish horses which would improve their mobility in future campaigns against the Ghaznavids.
After the battle the Rajput king Arnoraja purified the land by constructing a lake on the battlefield by diverting the water of the River Chandra. The lake was later named Ana Sagar. According to the Chauhan Prasasti of the Ajmer museum.
The land of Ajmer soaked with the blood of Turuskas, looked as if it had dressed itself in a dress of deep red colour to celebrate the victory of her lord.
This was a short but courageous story of a Rajput king who defeated the Ghaznavids in an open battle and freed the Indian region of Nagaur from the mlecchas. Later the struggle against the Ghaznavids and Turks was continued by his successor Vigraha-raja 4 (Visaladeva) and the great Prithviraj Chauhan 3.
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