Naiki Devi – The fearless trigress Chalukyan Queen

 Naiki Devi – The fearless trigress Chalukyan Queen

A woman is no less than a rebellious tigress when she awakens herself against her adversaries. We have testimonials of this from ancient times. From scriptures citing the rage of goddess Durga to historical manuscripts quoting the valour of queens of ancient kingdoms. Among them, a less-known queen is Naiki Devi.

Her earlier life is not known, according to Prabandhachintamani of Merutunga, she was the daughter of one Paramardi. This Paramardin was earlier wrongly speculated as the Kadamba king Permadideva, but according to noted historian Ashoke Kumar Majumdar, she was likely the daughter of Chandela emperor Paramardi (reigned c. 1165-1203 CE).

She was then married to the Chalukya ruler Ajayapala. A son was born to them and he was named Mularaja. He then took over his father’s kingdom after Ajayapala’s death in 1175. But he was still a minor. So his mother, queen Naiki Devi became the regent to the throne.

It was in 1173, when Mohammed of Ghori first attacked parts of Multan and the fort of Uch. Mohammed of Ghori now had his eyes on Rajputana and Gujarat. He wanted the fertile land of Anhilwara Patan.

Everyone is aware of Mohammed Ghori defeating Prithviraj Chauhan in the second battle of Tahrain, but what is not known is that the same Ghori was defeated by a queen fourteen years ago.

When Ghori had planned his attack, he underestimated the power of Naiki Devi. He thought that a woman and child would be of no resistance. But he was to learn otherwise soon.

Naiki Devi was well-trained in sword fighting, cavalry, military strategies, and diplomacy. She wasn’t afraid after listening to Ghori’s attack rather got herself and her army ready for a battle. She also requested assistance from Prithviraj Chauhan but he denied it. Later she did receive assistance from leaders of the Naddula Chahamana clan, Jalor Chahamana clan, and the Arbuda Paramara clan.

A smart Naiki Devi now made a plan to subdue the Ghori army. She chose the Gadaraghatta terrain an area near the foot of Mount Abu, the village of Kahsrada as the battle site. The narrow hill passes of Gadaraghatta were a less-known area for Ghori’s army, giving Naiki Devi a huge advantage and balancing the odds in one masterful move. Hence when Ghori and his army finally arrived at Kahsrada the queen rode into the battle with her son on her lap, leading her soldiers into a thrilling counterattack.

In the battle that followed her army had now beaten one of the strongest groups of soldiers, the ones who had defeated the Sultans of Multan. Mohammed Ghori was now afraid to go any further and he decided to return back. He continued his expansion in the northwestern parts such as Punjab.

As mentioned in the Dharmayud, Mohammed Ghori had actually sent a message to Naiki Devi so as to surrender before he starts a war. Naiki Devi went to his cave along with her son. Mohammed Ghori assumed that the queen had surrendered but just then the Chalukyan army and the Rajputs launched an attack and trapped Ghori. Someshwara (Gujarati court poet), who served in the court of the later Solanki kings stated that the infant king Mularaja defeated an army of Ghori invaders.

The most exact description of Naiki Devi defeating Muhammad Ghori’s army, however, comes from works of the 14th CE Jain scholar Merutunga. In Prabandha Chintamani (one of his works) he mentions how “Nayaki Devi, the Queen, fought the armies of the mleccha king at Gadararaghatta or Kyara near the foot of Mount Abu”.

A fun fact is that the name Naiki Devi is also of a fictional character from an Indian epic-The Mahabharata. She was the daughter of the king of Matsya and sister of the king of Panchal. She was also known as Bhagirathi meaning daughter of the river. She had a beautiful voice and was skilled in music and dance. Our queen in the discussion was also no less.

Naiki Devi’s capital Patan is famous for the Rani ki Vav, an incredible step well that was said to be built by Rani Udayamati of the Chalukya Dynasty.

This queen is less known in history. We do not find much of evidence or proof about her rule or her contributions. The Gujarati film industry has decided to release a film Nayika Devi: The Warrior Queen to tell the masses about her contribution to the Chalukya Dynasty and how if she would have not defeated Mohammed Ghori the route of Indian history would be completely different.

There is a lot more to discover and comprehend from Indian history. It is important for us to look deep into the battles of the past and decipher their importance. Naiki Devi for instance was a great warrior, a wonderful ruler and yet so less is known about her. This was the story of Naiki Devi-The Chalukyan Queen.

Sneha Shastri

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