When we talk about the expeditions of Mahmud Ghazni ,we seem to only give importance to the fact that he invaded India 17 times and plundered the temples, their huge wealth and took slaves through these barbaric raids. But what has been ignored for a long time is the fact that why he was not successful in establishing a proper dominion on Indian Subcontinent.
Mahmud ,who adopted the title of But-Shikan (the destroyers of Idols) after plundering the holy temples of India the yamini Sultan was unable to rule India or at least northern India. Why? Who defeated Mahmud of Ghazni in India? Why did Ghazni never successfully establish his rule over this wealthy land. It is because of the fact that he met a stiff resistance wherever he went. Although overcoming some of them, his expedition in 1018 met an end at the hands of a Rajput king of South India- King Vidhyadhara Chandela, of the Chandela Rajput dynasty .
In this article we will cover the two failed attempts of Mahmud Ghazni in which he was forced to offer peace terms and even returned 15 fort back to that Indian ruler. The Rajput king who harassed Ghazni twice was the Rajput king of Chandela clan. His name was KING MAHARAJA RAO VIDHYADHARA or simply Vidhyadhara. The Chandela Rajputs were the ruler of central India at Bundelkhand with Khajuraho as the capital.
Rise of But-Shikan (self proclaimed Destroyer of Idols ,Mahmud Ghzani)
Mahmud Ghazni ascended the throne of Ghazni in 998 BCE. Soon after becoming the leader of Yamini Turks, Mahmud took an oath to wage holy war (jihad) against Hindus.
The Hindu Shahis were the only kingdom in North West of India who had resisted several invasion of the Arabs and Turks. But due to regular conflict and raids from the Arabs and then the Turks the position of the Hindu Shahis were on the verge of disintegration.
The last ruler of the Shahi kingdom who courageously invaded the capital of the Yamini Turk i.e Ghazni was Raja Jaipal. This invasion from a Hindu King had a devastating impact on the Turks and especially on Mahmud Ghazni, who had witness the invasion from his eyes and saw the near collapse of his father’s army until a peace treaty was signed.
Read the story of Valiant Hindu Shahi dynasty who stopped the entry of Islamic invaders into India for centuries here: The Heroic Hindu Shahi Dyansty that defeated the Arab Invaders for 2 centuries| King Ranbal of Zabul vs the Caliphate
Due to this Mahmud & because of islamic religious zeal that considered it a muslim’s duty to destroy other religions , Ghazni decided to relentlessly attack the territories of India and its Hindu population which he considered Infidel. During his reign Mahmud , had already subjugated Khurasan, Persia, parts of central Asia and several other territories. He then shifted his focus to conquer the land of Hind.
One misconception about the raids of Mahmud Ghazni is that he had successfully invaded Indian territories for 17 times and there was no one who resisted or had the capability to defeat him in open battle.
NOTE: Tabakat-i- Akbari written by Nizamuddin Ahamad Bakshi gives the total number of 12 raids of Mahmud in India, while according to H.G Elliot the number of raids conducted by Mahmud are 17.”
In medieval world or in Islamic world, the raids done by Mahmud have been always glorified and whenever he returned from India with plunder, slaves (with innocent women and men), and idols they all unitedly appreciated his barbaric work.But there are some expedition of Mahmud which were unable to find their place in record of Turkish historian. One of this forgotten story is of Ghazni’s battle with Hindu king who repulsed his attack . He was the ruler of Bundelkhand : Chandela Vidyadhara.
According to an Arab historian known as Ali Ibn al-athir king Vidyadhara was the most powerful and greatest ruler of India. He further adds he had the largest armies and his nation was called as Khajuraho. Another historian whose name was Firista also mentioned the name of king Vidyadhara and his resistance to Mahmud.
Invasion of Vidyadhara’s Kingdom Bundelkhand
It was in 1018 or 1019 when Mahmud decided to invade the Chandela dynasty’s Vidyadhara’s kingdom. During this campaign, king Vidyadhara got help from the king of Lahore who according to Muslim and Arab historian was known as Pur-Jaipal.
This king of Lahore was none other than Trilochanapala the grandson of Raja Jaipala. It is impossible to believe that after losing almost of their kingdom and wealth, the Hindu Shahis continued to resist the invasion of Turks to protect the land and people of Hind.
Vidyadhara Chandela , the Rajput King who defeated Ghazni
The Turk and the combined armies of Vidyadhara met on the border of Bundelkhand. Seeing the large army of Vidyadhara ,Mahmud decided to send a messenger to Hindu king asking him to accept Islam and surrender. But the Rajput king refused this offer and replied that he had nothing to say except to face and crush him in the battlefield.
There is a little debate among the historian on the account of battle. Some suggest that a furious battle took place and continued for a day in which both sides suffers heavy losses while some suggest that battle didn’t happen. But the fact which is clear that the invasion done by Mahmud was a failure and both armies retreat from the battlefield. This was the first time when Mahmud returned to Ghazni empty handed.
It is believed and mentioned by Sita Ram Goel in his book Heroic Hindu Resistance to Muslim Invaders that Hindus had the chance of destroying Mahmud army once and for all but due to Rajput code of honour they let the retreating invader go.
Second Confrontation between King Vidhyadhara and Mahmud
Furious from this failed expedition , Mahmud Ghazni decided to launch a fresh invasion of Bundelkhand and Vidyadhara’s kingdom. In 1022 AD, the turuskas army of Mahmud Ghazni marched toward Gwalior fort which was guarded by Kirtiraja. Before Gwalior’s siege Mahmud captured 15 fort.
But after 4 days of intense struggle between Mahmud and Kiritraja, the invaders decided to establish a peace treaty. Then he along with his army moved towards Kalinjar fort which was the base of king Vidhyadhara.
But the attack of Mahmud Ghazni was repulsed by the hindu king. The fort of Kalinjar was itself almost impenetrable due to its remarkable architecture.
In night Vidhyadhara ordered his elephant to attack the invaders. Both sides suffered serious losses from this engagement. Mahmud realize that there is no hope for him now and both sides entered into another peace treaty.
15 forts which was earlier capture by Mahmud during his invasion of Bundelkhand were taken by Vidhyadhara.
This was the hidden and forgotten story of the resistance provided by the Chandela ruler Vidhayadhara who not only repulsed the attack of the greatest military general of medieval period but forced him to give up his fort in return of some tributes.
Legacy of the Chandela Rajput Dynasty
Even today, the legacy of the Chandela Rajput dynasty is alive in the form of the magnificent temples and other stunning works of architecture made by them.
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