With the fall of the Chahamanas, the Islamic forces turned their attention towards the Gahadavalas. The error of not making common cause with other contemporary Hindu rulers that cost Prithviraj Chauhan was to come back to haunt Jayachandra as well.
Jayachandra leads Gahadavala resistance
Islamist raids into the Gahadavala territories had already begun during the reign of later Ghaznavid rulers. Jayachandra’s Benares Copper Plate Grant talks of his father Vijayachandra (1155-1170 CE) achieving victory over the Ghaznavids. Even as Muslim historians make no mention of an expedition during this period, Dr. Ram Gopal Mishra believes the inscription contains a reference to the Gahadavala conflict with the forces of either Yamini ruler of Ghazni Khusrau Shah or Lahore’s Yamini king Khusrau Malik.
In any case, when Jayachandra came to the throne in 1170 CE, the Muslim incursions ceased albeit temporarily on account of the weak rule of Khusrau Malik. Jayachandra failed to cash in on the opportunity and instead busied himself by indulging in petty feuds with Prithviraj III Chahamana. We can certainly discount the exaggerated accounts of the Prithviraja-Raso, however, the fact remains that Prithviraj and Jayachandra were not on friendly terms.
Jayachandra was so overjoyed by Prithviraj’s defeat and death that he actually had his capital illuminated. His joy was short-lived as he came to know of the Muslim plan to annex the whole of North Bharat and thereby began preparations to attack them. The Ghaznavid forces led by Muizuddin also came fully prepared to fight the Rai of Benares in 1194 CE.
The battle between the two forces took place at Chandawar (modern Firozabad). In the fiercely fought battle, the Gahadavala forces led by Jayachandra were gaining the upper hand and would have won had Jayachandra received a fatal arrow wound that brought an end to the Gahadavala resistance. The Chandawar defeat didn’t bring about the end of the Gahadavala dynasty as Jayachandra’s son and successor Harishchandra appears as an independent ruler in the Machlishahr grant issued by him. However, it did pave the way for Islamist forces to make inroads into northern Bharat.
Kannauj remained independent till Iltutmish’s reign when he finally succeeded in conquering it from Harishchandra’s successor. Adakkamalla was the last ruler of the Gahadavala and his feudatory identified as Bartu, who was ruling Oudh at the time of Iltutmish’s rule, is said to have slain more than one hundred and twenty thousand Mussalmans. Iltutmish’s eldest son Nasiruddin Mahmud killed and overthrew Bartu. This effectively drew the curtains on the reign of the Gahadavalas.
Deafeat and death of Bhaktiyar Khalji
The defeat of the Gahadavalas left the field open for the Muslim conquest of Bihar and Bengal. Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji took advantage of the opportunity to conquer Bihar which was caught in no man’s land after the decline of the Gahadavalas, as the aging ruler of the Sena dynasty Laksmanasena whose rule extended up to the boundary of Bengal made no effort to check the advance of Khalji. Laksmanasena was probably unnerved by the defeat of the mighty Chahamanas and Gahadavalas. His sons Visvarupasena and Kesavasena, however, continued to rule in East Bengal for a long time after the invasion of Khalji.
Khalji’s victorious march was brought to a grinding halt at Kamrup (Assam). As per the Kanaibarshi (Guwahati) inscription, Khalji arrived at Kamrup on March 7, 1206 CE. Minhaj says Khalji was on his way to invade Tibet. The Muslim army had to pass through a bridge comprising of more than twenty arches and at the head of the bridge, two of his Amirs were left with troops to guard the bridge. The Hindus of Kamrup took advantage of the negligence of these officers and destroyed the bridge.
On their return, Khalji and his army were stuck as there was no way to cross the river thereby forcing them to take refuge in a temple. The ruler of Kamrup wasted no time in taking advantage of the distress and weakness of the Muhammadans and rallied the Hindu forces. Fearing that they would be surrounded, the Muslim army pressed forward closely pursued by the Hindus till they reached the river. Only Khalji and about a hundred others managed to cross the river with great difficulty while the others drowned. Minhaj says Khalji died soon after on account of this disaster.
Repeated incursions were made into the Brahmaputra valley over the next five centuries of Islamic rule in northern Bharat which ended in failures and Islam couldn’t make any inroads into the valley. Aurangzeb’s general Mir Jumla’s campaign was the last of these invasions that ended in a disaster.
The Chahamanas, Chaulukyas, and Gahadavalas displayed great individual brilliance in pushing back the Islamist forces but failed to make common cause with each other. Had they offered a united resistance, Bharat’s history would have taken a different turn!
- Heroic Hindu Resistance To Muslim Invaders 636 AD 1206 AD – Shri Sita Ram Goel (Source)
- Indian Resistance To Early Muslim Invaders up to 1206 AD – Dr. Ram Gopal Mishra