The Story of the forgotton Warrior Naikidevi and KuramDevi
Naikidevi ( Queen Mother, Kingdom of Gujarat )
The region of Saurashtra and Kachchh was under the reign of Solanki Dynasty (an offshoot of the Chalukya Rajputs) established by Mularaj Solanki in the year 961 AD. In future it came to be ruled by his descendant Ajaypal who was married to Naikidevi daughter of Shivchitta Permardin – the Kadam dynasty chieftain who ruled Goa. After the death of the king, his son Mulraj II, still a boy barely in his teens ascended the throne. In reality, the reigns of the Kingdom were in the hands of the Queen Mother Naikidevi, while his uncle Bhimdeva II was the commander of the army. When the news of Sultan Ghori’s march accompanied by a vast army, reached the Royal Darbar of Gujarat, the wise queen mother dispatched her envoys to all the kingdoms of North including Prithviraj Chauhan.
Not much is available in the terms of historical records, but seems she found no allies except the Rai of Narwhala, who dispatched a troop of War Elephants.
Even in the time of great adversity however, when odds heavily favoured the enemy, the Queen-Mother Naikidevi decided to put up a fight and refused to bow down to the demands of surrender put forth by Sultan Ghori.
Despite being heavily outnumbered, she realised that she had one distinct advantage over the enemy- the geography of the region, and the fact that she could choose the time & place of the battle, and not the enemy.
She laid out her defenses accordingly, at the hilly passes of Gadaranghatta, near the village of Kayadra about forty miles to the north-east of Anhilwara, at the base of Mount Abu. By the time numerous small chieftains had joined her ranks and her army swelled in size despite still being outnumbered.
The choice of battlefield greatly evened the odds. By this battle of the passes, one is instantly reminded of the Battle of ‘Hot Gates of Thermopylae’ where 300 odd Spartans and their handful of Athenean allies successfully withstood the onslaught of the massive Persian Army.
When Ghori arrived, Naikidevi and her defenders were more than ready for him and his Gazhis.
Mounted on an elephant herself, with the young boy-king by her side, The brave Naikidevi led the charge herself.
By the the time the dust settled, Ghori was seen retreating towards the desert of Multan, with only a handful of his bodyguards in tow.
The routing of his army was complete and thorough !
Some of the employed Ghuri court historians have deliberately omitted certain parts of this disastrous adventure but this deficiency is made up by Jaina sources.
Acharya Merutunga, famous Jaina Acharya and writer gives details of this encounter in his work called “Prabandha Chintanami”, he writes:-
“Muhammad Ghuri advanced upon Gujarat in AD 1178 with a large army by way of Multan. The mother of young Mulraja, queen Naikadevi, the daughter of Parmardin of Goa, taking her son in her lap, led the Solanki army against the Turushkas and defeated them at “Gadararaghatta” near (Kayadra) at the foot of Mount Abu. Mulraja II was a minor at that time. There are two Sanskrit inscriptions of Gujarat, where Mulraja-II is invariably mentioned as the conqueror of Garjanakas [dwellers of Ghazni]. One inscription states that “even a woman could defeat the Hammira [Amir], during the reign of Mulraja II..”
The defeat left such a terrible dent on Ghori’s psyche that he never again dared to march towards Gujarat and instead planned of entering mainland India through Northern routes. If only other chieftains of India had joined forces with the brave Naikidevi, history would have been different.
Kuramdevi and Defeat of Qutb-ud-din Aibak
Sometime in the 1170s, the young princess Kuramdevi daughter of Naikidevi (Regent Queen of Gujarat) was wedded to Samar Singh Deva, the Rawal of Chittorgarh. Samar Singh was a Chauhan Rajput, a descendant of the legendary Bappa Rawal.
Historical records suggest that Kuramdevi was Samar Singh’s second wife. In or about 1171, Samar Singh had married Prithabai, sister of Prithviraj III, the Chauhan maharaja of Ajmer and Delhi. Soon after her marriage, Prithabai had born a son, Kalyan Rai, but having failed to bear any further sons, fell out of favor of the King in the following years.
Rawal Samar Singh married again, hoping for more sons, in about 1178 or 1179, approximately around the same time Nayakidevi administered that resounding defeat to Muhammad Ghori.
Samar Singh was killed in the 2nd Battle Of Tarain (1191-92 AD) fought between the forces of Prithiviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori, who had returned to conquer India.
Both Samar Singh Deva and his eldest son, Kalyan Rai, died in the second battle of Tarain, and, when Prithabai received the news of her double loss, she immediately mounted the pyre to rejoin her husband. Kuramdevi would eventually follow her, but first she had unfinished business to tend to. She had to ensure that her son Karna seamlessly succeeded his father and that his seat on the throne of Chittorgarh was secure.
By this time Mohammad of Ghori had retreated to Multan having left Qutub-ud-din Aibak, his chief general, in charge of Delhi and Ajaimeru (Ajmer). During this time Kuramdevi consolidated her forces, forging new alliances with Rajput rulers of the neighbourhood.
When his father Samar Singh died, Karna was still a minor, around 12 years of age. The succession encountered no serious obstacles, and Kuramdevi became regent during the remaining year of her son’s minority. Inspired by the example set by her own mother, young Kuramdevi was an able ruler and re-strengthened her forces following the loss suffered in the 2nd Battle of Tarain.
When the boy king Karna reached his 13th birthday , she led the army and marched northward in search of the man who had killed her husband — this probably in 1193 or 1194 in the month of Asoj (Asvin) following Dassera, the traditional beginning of the warfare season. Nine rajas and eleven chiefs with the title of rawat with their men accompanied her on her march towards Delhi.
As per the accounts of the battle in Prithvi Raj Raso- young KuramDevi and her forces encountered Qutb-ud-din and his army near the old Amber fort.
At the head of her army, leading the charge herself, just like her mother, brave Kuramdevi drove deep into the ranks of Qutub-ud-din’s Army, deep enough for her to confront the general himself and to challenge him in a personal duel.
During the mounted duel, she managed to bury her sword deep into Qutb-ud-din’s flesh, wounding him so severely that he tumbled from the saddle.
Seeing their General fall, and his body being carried away from the fight and, consequently, believing him dead, the Muslim army went into a complete disarray and fled from the battlefield.
Having believed She had killed Qtub-ud-din, and seeing his army fleeing the battlefield, Kuramdevi regrouped her army and led it back south.
Returning to Chittorgarh, she mounted the pyre and, like Prithabai, became Sati !!
Little did She know that Qtub-ud-din did not die from his wounds. He eventually recovered and returned to Delhi, and subsequently declared himself not viceroy but Sultan of Hind.
The tales of Indian chieftains of the medieval times do not lack the element of valour and courage in the face of insurmountable odds. It is evidently clear that they placed emphasis more on personal glory – what they lacked was strategic wisdom and foresight.
Alas, the History of India would have been very different otherwise !
PS: There were no pictures of the two brave warrior queens available online, hence I am using the picture of Mata Durga – The manifestation of all feminine power and energy in the universe.