Chalukya Queen Naikidevi- The Defender of Gujarat From Muhammad Ghori

The history of the Chalukyas of Gujarat has never suffered from want of historians since Hemachandra wrote his Dvyāśrayakāvya. His lead in this field of literature was followed by many writers such as, Someśvara, Somaprabha, Chandraprabha or Prabhachandra, Balāchandra, Udayaprabha, Merutunga, Jayasimha Suri and others. Many of these authors really wrote the biography of Kumarapala or of Vastupala and Tejahpala, but even such biographies usually contained a canto, or, if the whole work consisted of a short prasasti, several verses, in praise of the Chalukya kings. The information thus left is, however, often of the greatest importance for reconstructing the history of the Chalukyas of Gujarat.

Far more remarkable than the heroic ‘Veergati’ of Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi, was this dazzling victory in the  annals of Bharat scored by a valiant woman against a treacherous, ruthless, and barbaric invader compared to whom the British foe would look like a fine flower of civilization. Yet somehow the history of Naikidevi is little known to the people of Bharat.

Mularaja-II, or Bala Mularaja as he is affectionately called by the Chroniclers, ascended the throne of his father Ajayapala in 1175 CE, while still a boy. His mother was Naikidevi, the daughter of one Paramardin, who has been identified with the Goa Kadamba Mahamandalesvara Permadi or Sivachitta (circa 1147-1188 CE). The earliest known inscription of Mularaja’s brother and successor Bhima-II, is dated 1179 CE. Hence the reign of Mularaja-II lasted for not more than three years.

The most important event in the short reign of this boy king was the sanguinary defeat he inflicted on a Muslim army. The inscriptions of his successors invariably describe him as: prabhuta-durjaya-Garjanak-adhiraja, or Mlechchha-tamo-mchaya-chchhanna-mahi-valaya-pradyotana-valarka.

The Chroniclers rightly single out the defeat of the Muslims as the only incident worthy of being remembered about Mularaja. Somesvara states that Mularaja defeated the lord of the Turushkas, and vanquished the Mlechchha army. Balachandra states that King Mularaja, though an infant, defeated the Mlechchha king. Arisimha also refers to Mularaja’s victory over the Muslims, and an inscription of Bhima’s reign states that during the reign of Mularaja a woman had defeated Hammira (Amir).

A more detailed description of the battle is given by Merutuñga who states that Mularaja’s mother Queen Naikidevi, the daughter of Paramadin, taking her son in her lap, fought at a ghat called Gadararaghatta (near the foot of Mount Abu) and conquered the king of the Mlechchhas by the aid of a mass of rain clouds that came out of season attracted by her virtue. Apparently, Merutuñga could not check the temptation of improving his narration by introducing supernatural elements in aid of human valour in order to impress his readers.

However, it is evident that Naikidevi defeated a Muslim army; but, as none of the Chroniclers name the invader, there is some difficulty in identifying him. Forbes, Buhler, Jackson, Hodivala, and Habibullah are of the opinion that the defeated Muslim army was led by Mu’izz ud-din Muhammad bin Sam, better known as Muhammad Ghori. But the Muslim historians are unanimous in stating that the victor of Mu’izz ud-Din was Bhim Dev, king of Nahrwala, i.e. Bhima-II, the brother and successor of Mularaja-II. An inscription at Kiradu which mentions Bhima as the reigning monarch and records the repairs to a temple broken by the Turushkas is dated 1178 CE. As the invasion of Mu’izz ud-Din also took place in the same year (1178 CE), some scholars have assumed, on the authority of the Muslim sources alone, that Bhima defeated the Muslim army of Mu’izz ud-Din. But, if this assumption is accepted the difficulty would be to identify the Muslim army which was defeated by Mularaja, as between 1175-1178 CE the only recorded Muslim invasion was the one led by Mu’izz ud-Din, in 1178 CE.

It is important to emphasize here that the inscriptions of Bhima invariably give Mularaja the epithet of conqueror of Garjanakas (dwellers of Ghazni) etc., while never mentioning that Bhima ever defeated a Muslim army. It is more probable that Muslim historians would be wrong about the name of the Hindu monarch who must have died shortly after the battle was fought, than that all the chronicles written during the reign of Bhima should overlook his splendid military achievement, just as his inscription writers had done; such a conspiracy of silence is not probable. We must therefore conclude that Queen Naikidevi, acting as regent of Mularaja, defeated the army of Mu’izz ud-Din when he attacked Gujarat in 1178 CE.

Invasion of Gujarat by Mu’izz ud-Din (Muhammad Ghori)

In 1175 CE, Mu’izz ud-Din led his first expedition into Bharat and captured Multan from the Qarmatian ‘heretics’ and Uch from a Hindu prince. Thus he obtained two good bases in Bharat and could now turn towards Lahore as he wanted to do so. But it does not seem that at this date Mu’izz ud-Din was aiming to capture the Bharatiya capital of the Yaminis. The shortest route that leads from Ghazni to Lahore is through the Khyber Pass, so that if Mu’izz ud-Din had wanted to capture Lahore he would have naturally occupied Peshawar first, and then marched on Lahore as he did later. Instead he entered through the Gomal Pass and after taking Multan and Uch turned sharply south towards southern Rajputana and Gujarat. Had this invasion been successful the whole of southern Rajputana and Gujarat would have been fallen to the Muslims, and Mu’izz ud-Din could, after establishing secure bases in these regions and securing his line of communications with Ghazni, attack either Ghaznavids or the Chahamanas of Sakambhari.

Minhaj states that in the year 1178 CE Mu’izz ud-Din “marched an army towards Nahrwala by way of Uchchha and Multan. The Rae of Nahrwala… was young in years, but had numerous forces and many elephants, and when the battle took place, the army of Islam was defeated and put to rout and the Sultan-i-Ghazi (Mu’izz ud-Din) returned again without accomplishing his designs.” Nizam ud-Din states that “in the year 1178 CE he (Mu’izz ud-Din) again came to Uch and Multan, and thence marched towards Gujarat through the desert… the ruler of the country gave him battle, and after a severe struggle the Sultan was defeated, and after much trouble, he returned to Ghazni and rested there for a short time.” Badauni states: “Then in the year 1178 CE proceeding by the way of Multan he (Mu’izz ud-Din) brought an army against Gujarat and suffered defeats at the hands of… the ruler of that country, and with great difficulty reached Ghaznin and obtained relief. According to Ferishta, “in the year 1178 CE he (Mu’izz ud-Din) again marched to Oocha and Multan and from thence continued his route through the sandy desert to Guzerat. The prince (a lineal descendant from Brahma Dew of Guzerat, who opposed Mahmodd Ghiznevy), advanced with an army to resist the Mahomedans and defeated them with great slaughter. They suffered many hardships in their retreat before they reached Ghizny.” This defeat the Muslims were to remember for a long time.

In his march against Gujarat from Multan, Mu’izz ud-Din probably captured Naddula. The Sundha Hill inscription states that the Naddula Chahamana Kelhana “after destroying the Turushkas erected a goldan Torana, like diadem for the abode of the holy Somesa.” Kalhana’s brother Kirtipala is also said, in the same inscription, to have routed an army of Turushkas at Kasahrada. It is very often the case that the feudatories take the credit of winning a battle in which they fought under their overlord; it seems that Kelhana and Kirtipala too had really helped their soverign, Mularaja, and as Mu’izz-ud-Din probably occupied Naddula, they were compelled to help him out of self interest. The place Kasahrada has been identified with the village Kayadram which is at the foot of Mount Abu and is probably the same as Merutunga’s Gadararaghatta. The place was very well chosen by Gujarat’s generals, for, when during the next reign the Hindus and Muslims met again at the same place, the latter remembering their previous defeat did not dare to attack the Hindus.

Death of Mularaja

Soon after the battle with Mu’izz ud-Din, Mularaja died, for the earliest known inscription of Bhima-II is dated V.S. 1235 (1178 CE). All the chroniclers of Gujarat have proudly mentioned this ‘gallant boy’, as though they were bearing a testimony to the valiance of Queen Naikidevi, with affection, and Somesvara laments that the Creator swiftly uprooted the shoot of the tree of paradise that was Mularaja.


His defeat by Naikidevi in 1178 CE compelled Mu’izz ud-Din to change his plans entirely. The next year he entered Bharat through the Khyber Pass, captured Peshawar, and later occupied Lahore by a stratagem. Ultimately he had to face the Chahamanas in a frontal attack. Whatever effect this might have had on the history of northern Bharat, Mu’izz ud-Din never again in his life attacked Gujarat, and the next Muslim invasion of that Kingdom happened only in 1297 CE under Allauddin Khilji.

About the Author

Parin Shah
Foot-soldier of Hindutva, History Lover, News Junkie, Political Commentator; Electrical Engineer By Training and Electrical Contractor By Profession.