The Forgotten Triumph of the Rajputs over the Turks: Story of Rajput and Turkish Encounters

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Background: The Age of Conflict

During the age of conflict in medieval India, the frontiers of the Indian sub-continent were threatened by the forces of central Asian hordes known as the Turks.

At that time the warrior class of the Rajputs emerged as the protectors of the Hindu land. They were ruling most of the northwestern part of the sub-continent and maintained a healthy force to safeguard their kingdom.  The Turks made countless attempts to establish their hegemony over the Hindu land of India. However, this was not an easy task as they had to wrestle against the Rajputs.

Both the Turks and Rajputs were engaged in a never-ending battle where both sides suffered losses and gained victories over each other.

Artistic depiction of the Rajput Administration

However, from a certain perspective, the Rajputs were portrayed as weak and inferior compared to the Turks. Many people had presented the Rajputs as defeat specialists which is horribly wrong.

It is true that the Turks were able to succeed in breaking the resistance of the Rajputs and established their rule over a good portion of the Subcontinent. But the Rajputs never stopped fighting in order to take what was rightfully theirs.

In this article, we will cover the hidden battles and glory of the great Rajput’s over their Turkish rivals which to this date remained unheard by the general public.

Rajput Triumph Over Turks

Mahmud Ghazni and King Vidhyadhara

The Turks invaded India under the leadership of Mahmud Ghazni from 1000 to 1027 AD. Although Mahmud took an enormous amount of wealth and defeated many Indian rulers through his raids there was one incident where his invasion was halted by a Rajput king.

The Chandella Rajput king Vidhyadhara is believed to have stopped the ruler of Ghazni when the latter invaded the region of Bundelkhand around 1018 -1019 AD.

Mahmud of Ghazni - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Turkish Warlord Mahmud Ghazni

According to Ram Gopal Misra, there were two encounters that took place between King Vidhyadhara and Mahmud. One in 1018 and the other in 1022.

These two campaigns of Mahmud were not successful and it also believed that both sides exchanged tributes to honor one another.   

Read the full story here: Chandella Rajput King Vidhyadhara

Prithviraj Chauhan and Mohammad Ghori: Arch Rivals

After Mahmud Ghazni, the Turkish leadership fell into the hands of Muhammad Ghori who invaded India towards the end 12th century CE.

Ghori was the ruler of the Ghurid Empire in Afghanistan and had a serious urge to establish Islamic rule over the Indian heartland. He attacked India towards the last quarter of the 12th century i.e. from 1175 to 1206 CE.

While Mahmud Ghazni’s campaigns were limited to only raids and plunder Mohammad Ghori had different ambitions i.e. establishing a proper empire in India.  

Naiki (Nayiki) Devi and the defeat of Ghori

His initial campaigns resulted in tremendous success for him as the Turks were able to capture the region of Multan (1175), Peshawar (1180), and Sialkot (1185).

But in the year 1178, the ambitious plan of Ghori was thrashed by the Chalukyan Rajput forces of Queen Nayiki Devi. The Rajput’s under their able queen crushed the invading Turkish army near Mount Abu.

The elephant unit of the Rajputs broke havoc on Ghori’s army and the battle resulted in total disaster for the Turks. After this battle, Mohammad Ghori never dares to attack India from the Gujarat region.

Want to more about the forgotten battles of Kasahrada??

Read here the full story of Naiki Devi and the battle of Kasahrada.

Prithviraj Chauhan and the battles of Tarain

Later Mohammad Ghori shifted his mind to capturing the precious throne of Delhi which was ruled by a charismatic Rajput ruler known as Prithviraj Chauhan.

Both Ghori and King Prithviraj had a history of unending tussle. Although historians have suggested that both these rulers had fought several wars and the ruler of Delhi at that time emerged as a symbol of Hindu resistance.

Prithviraj Chauhan
The Rajput king fought wars against the Turkish army of Mahmud Ghori.
Statue of the great Prithviraj Chauhan

However, two major which were fought between the Ghurids and the Chauhans were the two battles of Tarain. To this day the heroic resistance and sacrifice of the great Prithviraj Chauhan is honored throughout the country.

Read the story of the valor of Prithviraj Chauhan

Ranthambore and its Unending Wars   

During the period of the Delhi Sultanate, the region of Ranthambore became battle ground for the Rajputs and the Turks.

After the fall of Prithviraj Chauhan Ajmer fell into the hands of Mohammad Ghori and the Chauhans later migrated towards Ranthambore and made it their stronghold to carry on the struggle of Rajputs against the invading Turks.

Several decades later when Illtutmish became the sultan of Delhi the struggle between the Rajputs and Turks again found an impetus.

Rise and Resistance of Vagabhatta

Vagabhatta (Vagbhatta) who secured the region of Malwa gathered the support of several small principalities and marched towards Ranthambore and liberated it from the clutches of the Sultanate.

After this, the new leader of Ranthambore immediately worked at improving the defense of the city and placed a good amount of troops in every possible region to prevent any Turkish raid into the kingdom.

In the year 1248 Vagbhatta repelled the invasion led by Balban. In the words of Minhaj I Siraj the soldiers of the sultanate (troops of Balban) fought audaciously and even killed many infidels… however the army of the sultanate failed to capture Ranthambore which was guarded by brave Rajputs of Vagabhatta.

Thus the campaign Balban resulted in failure. Later in 1253 he again marched towards Ranthambore this time more prepared than the last attack. But this time the result was even worse than the previous encounter.

Two important chiefs of Balban i.e. Bahauddin Aibak and a Khwaja lost their lives in this battle. After the second failure at Ranthambore Balban never attacked the region leaving the idea of subjugating the region.

Vagabhatta and his dauntless spirit of resisting the invasion from the Delhi sultanate are mentioned nowhere. For decades he fought and stood like a lone warrior when the invaders were bringing chaos and misery all over North India.

Hammir Dev Chauhan and his legacy

In later years Ranthambore again witnessed several invasions and during the reign of Alauddin Khilji, the Turks finally conquered Ranthambore.

During this time Ranthambore was under the rule of Hammir Dev Chauhan. King Hammir Dev Chauhan like his predecessors had defeated the sultanate army in 1290 CE when Jalaluddin Khilji was the sultan of Delhi.

Hammir Dev Chauhan
Rajput king who fought and defeated the Turkish forces of allauddin khilji
Rajput King Hammir Dev Chauhan

Later Hammira twice defeated the army of Alauddin Khilji and fought till his last breadth to protect Ranthambore’s legacy.

Read the full story of Hammir Dev Chauhan and his resistance here. Rise of Hammir Dev Chauhan

Rebellion of Mher Community and Chalukya Rajputs of Gujarat

The Mher community rose in rebellion against the rule of the Sultanate at Ajmer. The community also gathered support from the Chalukya kingdom and together they fought for the sake of Hindu power. 

Around 1195 the alliance of Mhers and Chalukyas defeated the army of Qutub ud din Aibak at Ajmer and revitalized the hope of freedom among Hindus for which the great Prithviraj Chauhan stood for.

Read here the story of the Mher and Chalukyan rebellion..

Mewar and its Suryavanshis

One region which resisted the onslaughts of Turks continuously was the kingdom of Mewar. From the reign of Alauddin Khilji to the decadent rule of Aurangzeb the Suryavanshi Rajputs of Mewar never comprised with their pride and freedom.

Its rulers like Bappa Rawal, Rana Kumbha, Rana Sanga, Maharana Pratap, Maharana Raj Singh and so on stood like a mountain in front of Arabs, Turks, and Mughals.

Undefeated Maharana Kumbha

Rana Kumbha remained undefeated throughout his reign and crushed his neighboring Turkish sultanates. Mahmud Khilji the sultan of Malwa Sultanate was defeated four times by Rana Kumbha.

Maharana Kumbha
Image of undefeated Rajput king Maharana Kumbha

Furthermore, the Sultanates of Nagaur and Gujarat also faced crushing defeat at the hands of Mewari king Rana Kumbha. Apart from his great militaristic career, Rana Kumbha was also a great patron of art, literature, architecture, and culture.

It is difficult to believe that Rana Kumbha patronized art and culture at that time when his kingdom was surrounded by Turkish sultanates that always threatened his kingdom.

We covered the full story of this brave heart of Rajputana in another article.

Read here. The Glory of Rana Kumbha

Maharana Sanga: Winner of Hundred battles

After Rana Kumbha Maharana Sanga took charge of facing the onslaughts of Turks. Rana Sanga who ascended the throne of Mewar in 1508 CE fought against the Afghans, Turks, and several other regional forces in order to safeguard the Rajput pride and culture.

Rana Sanga
Image of Maharana Sanga

Rana Sanga defeated Ibrahim Lodhi the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate twice, the sultanate of Gujarat, the sultanate of Malwa, and a Mughal army of Babur in the battle of Bayana.

It is believed that throughout his career Rana Sanga fought around a hundred battles and had more than 80 scars on his body.

Read here the full story and glory of the great Rana Sanga.

Maharana Pratap and His Triumph

During the reign of Maharana Pratap the Mughals under their able ruler Akbar had conquered half of the Indian subcontinent.

However, still, the Mughals could not able to subjugate the region of Mewar and it was because of Rana Pratap. After the battle of Haldighati Rana Pratap continued his struggle against the Mughals through guerrilla warfare.

Maharana Pratap
Image of the great Maharana Pratap

All in all, Maharana Pratap repulsed around 6-8 invasions of Mughals and freed around a total of 36 territories including Kumbhalgarh, Gogunda, Udaipur, Pindwara etc.

Read here the inspiring story of the great Maharana Pratap.

Several other rulers of Mewar like Maharana Uday Singh, Rana Amar Singh, and Maharana Raj Singh also resisted and fought continuously against the Mughals.

Read their heroism right here

1 Maharana Uday Singh

2 Maharana Amar Singh

3 Maharana Raj Singh

For decades the Kingdom of Mewar stood as a symbol of freedom which generated hope in the hearts of Hindus who were facing inexhaustible persecution in their own country.   

Veer Durgadas Rathore: The Knight of Marwar

To this day Durgadas Rathore is remembered as the savior of the kingdom of Marwar as he stood against the decadent rule of Aurangzeb.

Alamgir declared Marwar as a Jagir when the region was facing the struggle for the throne among its nobles. The situation became even worse when Aurangzeb declared Indra Singh Rathore as the ruler of Marwar.

However, Durgadas opposed this act of Aurangzeb and wanted Ajit Singh the rightful heir to be declared as the king of Marwar.

For decades Durgadas protected Ajit Singh from Aurangzeb and fought against the Mughal army for the sake of Marwar.

Read here the full story of Veer Durgadas Rathore

All in all, there are unending stories where the great Rajputs triumphed over their Turkish rivals. However, only a few people know these stories as our school history books focus more on the achievements of invaders rather than those brave hearts who relentlessly fought against them to safeguard the nation.

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