Honour against Treachery: How & Why Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated – Second Battle of Tarain (1191 AD) , Who was Jaichand

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As the Turkish invaders retreated to Ghazni through Multan in humiliation. Mohammad Ghori was frustrated from his defeat and sworn an oath to avenge his defeat. Read to learn how and why Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated and who was jaichand.

Background of the second battle of Tarain :

Within a period of thirteen months Moh Ghori was able to raise a cavalry force of 1,20,000. However to prevent his northern dominion from the central Asian warlord  he only managed to put 40000-60000 force to meet the rajputs again.

Prithviraj Chauhan was left with few allies  due to his relation with the fellow rajputs kings. One of his biggest allies Rajput Chief Jaichandra had parted ways with Prithviraj Chauhan because of personal conflict and is also believed to had helped Mohd Ghori in the battle.

Because of these setbacks ,Chauhan had only managed to arranged a cavalry force of 80000 and elephants.

The two armies were camped opposite to each other and the stage was set for another gigantic battle at Tarain that would shape the future of India.

                                  Battle

Midnight attack on sleeping Rajputs

Mohd Ghori was aware about  Rajput’s principles of war so he decided to launch a night attack from his mounted Turkish bowmen’s who were mostly slaves and were ferocious warlords. They were armed with lance and caught the Rajput’s soldiers completely unprepared.

Despite being numerically outnumbered, the mounted bowmen were able caused much loss to the Rajput soldiers,who were caught offguard.

Army Formation

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2-battle-of-tarain-army-formation.png
The two armies in their formations . Notice the fresh reserve force of 12,000 shock troops at the back of Ghori’s army. One of the biggest reasons why Rajputs lost

After successful night attack the two armies came face to face in the morning.

Prithviraj Chauhan deployed his army in the same formation as he did in the first battle but with much less strength.

While Moh Ghori,learning from his mistake and knowing that rajputs were skilled and disciplined warriors decided to avoid engaging in direct Melee compact with them. He divided his army into 5 division in which 4 division were light cavalry of 7000 horse archers each and a reserve heavy cavalry of 12000 soldiers.

The light cavalrymen were equipped with composite bow and iron arrows while the heavy cavalry composed of shock troops and skirmishers were equipped with shields, cuirasses and heavy weapons.

Moh Ghori had decided to not engage in a close combat as he did in the first battle.

With his 4 division of Turkish horse archers Moh Ghori began the battle attacking the left, right and central wings of the Rajput army. 

They avoided head on assaults and took aim to hit the eyes and head of the Rajput’s cavalry. The main aim the archers was to harass and make them tired from their hit and run tactics.

The Rajput’s never got an opportunity to use their swords on the mounted archers , and when  they tried to catch them the Turkish horses were able to escape only to attack again . This continued for hours and made the Rajput army tired the continuous rain of arrows caused heavy casualties to the Rajputs.  To balance the situation Prithviraj decided to launch his heavy cavalry ,doing exactly what Moh Ghori wanted. In the afternoon, the 12000 reserved heavy cavalry of Ghori which were full of endurance and were isolated from the battlefield  till now make their move.

The reserved force were able to break  already tired  Rajput units and were able to kill Govind Rai. When Govind Rai got killed Prithviraj decided to launch last attack and was killed by Ghori’s bowmen thus ending the battle.

After the second, battle of Tarain kingdom after kingdom fell to the invaders and it led to the formation of the Delhi Sultanate.

Causes of Rajput Defeat(why Rajput lost)

Moh Ghori was able to detect the loopholes in the tactical approach towards the war by Rajputs. Indian system of Straight charge into battle was predictable and was used against them . The lack of innovation in the style of fighting lead to Rajput defeat

Different Rajput Chiefs and Prithviraj Chauhan

Interpersonal rivalry,conflicts and lack of unity among Rajput Chiefs to form a united front against the invaders was another main reason they lost to the invaders. They were involved in and exhausted by the endless mutual conflicts for small power, because of this Jaichandra did not help Chauhan and later himself lost to Mohd. Ghori.

He introduced shock cavalry and skirmishers in his military .

The night attack was also a turning point of the battle .

The turks were better equipped than the rajputs as they had lethal composite bow, better horses, iron stirrups etc.

Prithviraj Chauhan

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[…] history of India is full of countless invasions of the Turks and Arabs. From the formation of Delhi Sultanate to the establishment of the Mughal Empire, our ancestors had fought countless battles to free the […]