During the Middle Ages, the Indian subcontinent witnessed waves of Turkish invasions one after the other. The northwestern frontiers of the Indian sub-continent faced a series of brutal warfare against these Turkish hordes.
At that time the Rajputs dominated the politics of Delhi. They were the first line of Indian defense which for many decades fought a series of titanic battles against these central Asian invaders.
After the fall of the great Prithviraj Chauhan the Turks under the leadership of Mohammad Ghori subjugated a large part of north India. With time they even conquered Bengal and emerged as a paramount power in medieval Indian history.
However, the Rajputs didn’t sit quiet and continued their spirit of resistance. The descendant of the great Prithviraj Chauhan who reestablished their power at Ranthambore became the leading face of this resistance.
For years the Chauhan Rajputs of Ranthambore under their bold and dauntless leadership stood as a hope of Hindu resistance against the Turkish sultanates of Delhi. The fort of Ranthambore was attacked several times from the reign of Illtutmish to Jalauddin Khilji but the Chauhan Rajputs audaciously faced these attacks and maintained their hegemony over Ranthambore.
In this article, we will shed light on the forgotten resistance of the Rajputs of Ranthambore which wrestled against the Turks and continued the spirit of Hindu resistance.
Aftermath of Second Tarian
The Chauhans after the fall of their greatest leader Prithviraj Chauhan relocated themselves to a place called Ranastambhapura or Ranthambore. Hariraja the brother of Prithviraj Chauhan continued to offer resistance to the Turks and was preparing to wage war against Qutub ud din Aibak.
He gained the support of a Jat chief who was also planning to attack Qutub ud din at Delhi. He showed some fighting spirit and decided to re-establish the Rajput legacy over the throne of Dehli.
However, the Ghurids had already appointed Govindaraja IV the son of Prithviraj Chauhan as their vassal in return for heavy tribute. Hariraja revolted against Qutub ud din Aibak and Govidaraja and forced the latter to take shelter at Ranthambore fort.
In 1193 the ever-ambitious Hariraja captured Ranthambore. After hearing this news the Ghurids under Qutub ud din Aibak invaded Ranthambore. The small contingent of the newly settled Chauhans of Hariraja was no match in front of large and better-equipped hordes of the Ghurids.
A fierce battle ensued in which Hariraja after fighting gallantly embraced death by burning himself on the funeral pyre. The Turks reestablished their rule over the Ranthambore.
Resurrection of Chauhan Rajputs
After the death of Govindraja things changed drastically in the politics of Ranthambore. The new successor called Balhandev refused to accept the sultans of Delhi as their king. He even refused to pay regular taxes to Delhi and declared the independence of Ranthambore from the clutches of Delhi Sultanates.
This was a bold decision from Balhandev as the Rajputs were challenging a much bigger power than themselves. Due to these aggressive approaches from the Rajput Illtutmish attacked Ranthambore to curb the Chauhan power.
They were successful in annexing Ranthambore but Rajputs continued to offer fight to the Turks through guerilla warfare. Later during the reign of Viranarayana the successor and grandson of Balhandev was imprisoned and later executed by the Illtutmish.
Regarded as one of the most charismatic kings of Ranthambore who single-handedly repulsed the Turkish onslaughts of the Turks. Initially, Vagbhatta became prime minister during the reign of Viranarayana.
However, after some time the relationship between him and Viranarayana became It is suggested that Viranarayana insulted Vagbhatta and due to this the latter left the service of the former and went towards Malwa where he defeated its king and established his own rule.
Later after the death of Illtutmish Vagbhatta threw out the yoke of the Turkish rule (around 1236) from Ranthambore and reestablished Rajput supremacy over it. This incident took place during the reign of Razia. Note: Razia did send her army to recapture the fort but failed as this invasion was thoroughly checked by Vagbhatta.
He possessed all the characteristics of an astute and visionary leader. After conquering the fort he immediately strengthened its defense and put military contingents in every possible section of his kingdom. Even the historians serving in the court of the Sultanate openly praised the gallant personality of Vagbhatta.
Minhaj I Siraj called him Bahar Deo, the greatest Rais of Hindustan of that time. Vagbhatta also repulsed the invasion from Balban notably in 1248 and in 1253 CE. In these campaigns, the Rajputs defeated the Turks and killed two important military personnel of Balban namely Baha ud din Aibak and Khwaja.
This gives us the military prowess of the Rajputs under the able guidance of Vagbhatta. Later the Turks again sent their expedition towards Ranthambore during the reign of Jaitra Simha. Nasir ud din Mahmud the sultan was successful in defeating Jaitra Simha and the latter was forced to accept the sultan’s authority.
Tale of Veer Hammir Dev Chauhan
It was during the time of Hammir dev Chauhan when the Chauhan Rajputs reconquered Ranthambore. Hammir Dev Chauhan was a fearless king who ruled Ranthambore from 1282 to 1301 CE. He expanded the territorial boundaries of his kingdom through various conquests.
He is believed to have performed the digvijaya campaign which extended his authority over several parts of Rajputana. He twice defeated Jalaluddin Khilji who attacked Ranthambore in 1290 and 1292 CE.
Hammira also defeated the army of Alauddin khilji twice. It was in 1301 when the Khilji’s finally captured Ranthambore in their third attempt. But the courage of Hammir Dev Chauhan remained unmatched who didn’t surrender till his last breath and continued fighting for the sake of his country and for the pride of his Rajput ancestry.
We have covered the story of Hammir Dev Chauhan in detail in our previous article.
Ranthambore which today is seen as nothing more than a tourist place is the land of those fallen Rajput men and women who stood to their ideals and bled for their country to safeguard its thousand-year-old heritage and legacy.
The valor of Rajput kings like Vagbhatta and Hammir Dev Chauhan still echoes around the regions of Ranthambore their bard’s triumphs still generate a sense of pride in the hearts of those who hear it however it’s a big shame that only a few people remember their names in our country.
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