Was Jaichand a Traitor? Story of Raja Jaichand: Battle of Chandawar (1194)

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Background: Raja Jaichand & His Gahadawala Kingdom

After the fall of the great Prithviraj Chauhan, the Turks were able to penetrate northern India. Their leader i.e. Mohammad Ghori returned to India with an ambitious plan to ransack the kingdom of the Gahadawala dynasty. He called his able slave i.e. Qutub ud din Aibak for this grand plan.

Raja Jaichand
Artistic Image of Raja Jaichand of Kanauj

The kingdom of the Gahadawala Dynasty was located in the region of Kanauj. This kingdom was one of the strongest empires in north India.

Its ruler i.e. Raja Jaichand was a great leader and a patron of literature too as evident from various inscriptions and literary works of several authors. It was during his reign the famous author known as Shri Harsha wrote Naishadhiya-Charita one of the five traditional Mahakavyas of Sanskrit.

He was the son of King Vijayachandra who was the son of another great king Govindchandra Gahadawala (Gahadvala). Both these kings had a history of warfare against the Turks.

Historians had suggested his reign was from 1170 CE-1194 CE. He ruled the region of Antaravedi in Kanauj which can be considered a center of Hindu culture and tradition of that period.

Raja Jaichand’s kingdom also included the region of Kashi, Kanyakubja, some parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.

Did Jaichand invite Ghori to invade India?

Raja Jaichand for centuries has been portrayed as a national traitor due to the fact that he had invited Mohammad Ghori to invade India. However, no evidence had been found regarding this fact. Muslim authors of that period never mention this incident of Jaichand giving invitations to the sultan or proposing any friendly agreement with him.

Mohammad Ghori Invades Kanauj

It was in the year 1193 when Mohammad Ghori decided to execute his plan for another invasion of India. This time though Gomal pass. As mentioned above Mohammad Ghori was assisted by his able slave in this campaign too.

Mohammad Ghori who fought against Raja Jaichan in the battle of Chandawar
Image of Shasabani Turk Mohammad Ghori

It is believed that when Qutub ud din met his Sultan he presented an elephant carrying tremendous amounts of gold and silver.

The Shasabani Turks had an army of 50,000 cavalry. They had the support of mounted Turkish horse archers which inflicted heavy damage on the Rajputs during the second battle of Tarain.

On the other hand, the Rajput’s under the able leadership of Raja Jaichand also had a huge army and it is firmly believed that they also had the support of around 300 elephants.

Battle of Chandawar

The details of this epic clash between two giants are not fully available. Muslim authors of that period didn’t give enough attention to this battle as compared to the two battles of Tarain.

This war was fought on the banks of river Yamuna between the region of Etawah and Kanauj. The battle was tough and bloody and both sides fought gallantly.

Qutub ud din Aibak led the first charge of the battle probably with his mounted archers and cavalry. Historians claim that though the battle was equally contested there was a moment in the war when the Rajputs gained significant impetus.

The ferocious Rajputs started to push back the Turks. In the midst of all this, it is believed that Aibak or some other mounter archer shot Raja Jaichand with an arrow.

The leader of the Gahadawala kingdom who was sitting on the howdah fell on the ground from his elephant. Witnessing this incident the Hindu army got trapped in the confusion and gave up.

Mohammad Ghori also used very innovative tactics during this battle. His mounted archers were ordered to target the rulers sitting on elephants as they were easy to target.

However, it is unclear how the great king of the Gahadawala Dynasty died. Some suggest that the king died shortly after when he was shot; others claim that he died by drowning while retreating from the battlefield.

The battle ended with the defeat of the Gahadawala dynasty and the victorious Turks marched forward to plunder the helpless kingdom of Kanauj.

The aftermath of the Battle

A terrible massacre of the general population was ordered. Every village, temple, and building was razed to the ground and a tremendous amount of wealth was looted.

Hasan Nizami a court poet of Qutub ud din Aibak describes these atrocities as the distribution of Justice.

Mohammad Ghori then marched towards the holy cities of Kashi, Varanasi, and Banares. It is believed that the Turks plundered around 1000 temples in the city of Kashi.

Next, they marched towards the fort of Asni where the treasure of the Gahadawala dynasty was kept. The Turks looted all the treasures and on account, it is believed that around four thousand camels were used to carry the precious material of loot.

After the fall of the Gahadawala kingdom, the Turks were able to establish their hegemony over northern India. But the according to several sources it is also true that the son of Raja Jaichand i.e. Harischandra (Hariscandra) was able to capture the region of Kanauj, Jaunpur, and Mirzapur.

In the year 1197, Harischandra was ruling Kanauj and it was during the reign of Ilitumish when Kanauj fell under the dominion of the Delhi Sultanate.

Most of us for decades had considered Raja Jaichand as a national traitor but this great king who was a great patron of literature fought till his last breath for the sake of his kingdom and his people.

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