It is well known that Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithviraj Chauhan at the 2nd Battle of Tarain in 1192 and laid the foundation of the Sultanate of Delhi. What is not so well known however, is the fact that 14 years before he won this battle, he was defeated by a Goa born Queen of Gujarat –Naikidevi! While little is known about Naikidevi , we don't even have an image of what she looked like - here is what we do know.
Muhammad Ghori was defeated by a Goa born Queen of Gujarat, Naikidevi
Naikidevi was the widow of a Solanki king ( the dynasty is also referred to as the Chalukyas of Gujarat) King Ajayapala who ruled for a short span of 4 years starting 1171. She was the daughter of the Kadamba ruler Mahamandalesvara Permadi of Goa and after the death of her husband,Naikidevi served as a Queen Regent as her son Mularaja II was just a child.
It was during her short regency that the Queen made history. Naikidevi is remembered as the the woman who defeated and sent back the invading armies of Muhammad Ghori in 1178 CE. This victory is chronicled by local Hindu as well as Muslim chroniclers.
Gujarati court poet Someshwara, who served in the court of the later Solanki kings mentions that the infant king Mularaja (Naikidevi’s son) defeated an army of mlechhas (Ghori invaders). However, the most exact description of Naikidevi defeating Muhammad Ghori’s army comes from works of the 14th CE Jain scholar Merutunga . In his work, Prabandha Chintamani he mentions how Naikidevi, the Queen and mother of Mularaja II, fought the armies of the mleccha king at Gadararaghatta or Kyara near the foot of Mount Abu.
Naikidevi, the Queen and mother of Mularaja II, fought the armies of the mleccha king near the foot of Mount Abu.
There are also references to Muhammad Ghori’s defeat from his kingdom. The 13th century Persian chronicler Minhaj-i-Siraj from Ghor, who later served as chronicler to the Slave dynasty of Delhi, mentions that Muhammad Ghori marched towards Nahrwala (the Solanki capital Anhilwara) via Uchchha and Multan. The ‘Rae of Nahrwala’ (the Solanki king) was young, but commanded a huge army with elephants. In the ensuing battle, ‘the army of Islam was defeated and put to rout,’ and the invading ruler had to return to without any accomplishment.
Sadly, this is where story of Naikidevi ends. Like many of the great women in history, she just finds a fleeting mention and gets lost in the pages of time!