Prithviraj Chauhan was a king of the Kshatriya Chauhan (Chahamana) dynasty, who ruled a kingdom in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century. He was born c. 1168 to king Someshwara Chauhan and his wife Karpuravalli. He succeeded to the throne c. 1179, while still a minor, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi.
His elopement with Samyukta, the daughter of Jai Chandra, the Gahadvala king of Kannauj, is a popular romantic tale in India and is one of the subjects of the Prithviraj Raso, an epic poem composed by Prithviraj’s court poet, Chand Bardai.
The Chauhan succession had been rather confused since the death of Vigraha-raja in 1165; Prithviraj reconsolidated control of the Chauhan kingdom and conquered several neighboring kingdoms, which made his state the leading Hindu kingdom in northern India. Delhi was captured from the Tomara Rajputs during the early years of his reign and was renamed Qila Rai Pithora. He campaigned against the Chandela Rajputs of Bundelkhand.
His kingdom included much of the present-day Indian states of Rajasthan and Haryana, and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. To this day, Prithviraj is considered to be a legendary hero and martyr by Hindus, and his lineage appears quite spread out covering vast tracts of Uttar Pradesh, Harayana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttaranchal, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh.
The Muslim Ghaznavid Empire, which bordered Prithviraj’s kingdom to the north, was conquered by the Afghan Muhammad of Ghor towards the end of the 12th century. A dispute over a fort on the border of 3 kingdoms (thought to be either Sirhind or Bathinda in Punjab) brought the armies of the 3 kingdoms into conflict at the First Battle of Tarain in 1191.
In the First Battle of Taraori in 1191 Prithvi Raj Chauhan defeated Muhammad Ghouri, when he met Ghauri in personal combat and injured Ghauri. Later both armies attacked each other and Ghauri’s army was defeated. Ghauri retreated to Afghanistan. Ghauri is said to have vowed not to sleep on a bed or take a bath until he had defeated Prithviraj.
Due to internecine quarrels, Ghauri was encouraged and abetted to wage another war on Prithvi Raj Chauhan by petty kingdoms, in which Prithviraj was defeated.
Prithviraj captured Ghori and Ghori begged for his life. Prithviraj allowed him to go despite his generals asking him not to do so. Following year Ghori came again. Prithviraj advanced with his army and sent a letter to’ Ghori. In this letter, ghori was asked to return as he had been defeated the previous year and was spared his life.
Ghori replied that he was in India on the orders of his brother, Ghiasuddin and that he could only retreat after he got a word from his brother. This letter was sent in the evening and Ghori moved his camp back a few kilometers. On receiving this letter and sego. Ghori moves his camp back Prithviraj assumed that Ghori was not interested in fighting.
Ghori also knew that Rajputs did not fight in the night and only started fighting after the sun had come up. (This is an ancient Kshatriya practice e.g Mahabharata was also fought mostly in the daytime). He attacked in the early morning hours when Prithviraj and his army were sleeping and were able to win this war
Prithviraj captured by Ghori near a lake in Sambhal (Modem Uttar Pradesh). Ghori either executed him or retained him as his vassal. Ghori then returned to Ghur leaving Qutubuddin Aibak in charge of his Indian possessions. A different version of the events by Chauhan’s poet, Chand Bardai in the Prithviraj Raso says that Chauhan killed Ghori through a “Shabdbhedi” arrow although this claim is disputed.
There is a legend that Prithviraj was taken prisoner by Muhammad Ghori and blinded by his orders. The legend goes to say that later, Muhammad Ghori in his capitol held a victory ceremony and Prithviraj was brought in chains before the King and his Nobles and was asked to display his skills in archery although he was blind.
The legend says that Prithviraj agreed to display his archery skills and during this display, he shot Muhammad Ghori dead when the latter spoke. Prithviraj was immediately killed. Prithviraj Chauhan was a great Hindu ruler and it must be said that this story is not a legend but a truth that can make every Indian proud of their past.