Battle of Chandawar: Fall of Raja Jai Chand

Raja Jai Chand Gahadavala (r: 1170-1194) was known for his vast empire that extended from the borders of China to Malwa, as documented by Ibn Asir. The Persian chroniclers referred to him as the king of Kannauj and Banares. (Banares is also known as Kashi and Varanasi.)

In 1194, a fierce battle was fought between Muhammad Ghori, the ruler of Ghazni, and Jai Chand in Chandawar. (modern Chandawal, near Etawah in the state of Uttar Pradesh)


Muhammad Ghori Vs Jai Chand: Battle of Chandawar (1194):

Ghori had commissioned Qutub-ud-din Aibak, his slave, to raid Indian territories. Aibak captured many territories and engaged in acts of violence, enslavement, and plundering. Upon receiving news of these atrocities, Jai Chand determined to take action. He mobilized his army and prepared to confront the Turks.

When Aibak heard that his master, Ghori, had marched from Ghazni on an expedition against Kannauj and Banares, he advanced to receive him and showed him honour. Together with Izzu-d din Husain Kharmil, Aibak led the vanguard of the Ghurid army.

As the vanguard arrived in the confines of Chandawal, Jai Chand advanced to oppose them with an army 'countless as the particles of sand', along with more than 300 elephants (some sources claim 700). Surprisingly, Jai Chand's army included many Muslims too.

Jaichand was defeated by the vanguard of the Ghurid army. The Rai, "who prided himself on the number of his forces and war elephants, seated on a lofty howdah, received a deadly wound from an arrow, and fell from his exalted seat to the earth", notes Hasan Nizami. Jai Chand's body was identified by his artificial teeth, which were held in place by golden wires.

However, Abul Fazl's account differs, claiming that Jaichand met his demise by drowning in the Ganges while attempting to flee. Additionally, Amir Khusrus asserts that, "Qutub-ud-din Aibak drove Jai Chand into the Ganges, where he was drowned, and took from him 1400 elephants".

After the fall of Jai Chand, Muhammad Ghori took control of the fort of Asni, where Jai Chand's treasures were stored. He then marched towards Banares and destroyed a large number of temples.

After this conquest, Ghori got possession of over 300 elephants, although some sources claim the number was as high as 700, while others say it was only 90. Ghori returned to Ghazni with an immense booty.

It was after this victory that Ghori appointed Aibak as the Viceroy of Hind, according to some accounts. Ibn Asir notes that a white elephant was also among the spoils captured. When the elephants were brought before Ghori, they were ordered to kneel, and all of them did so except the white one.

Ferishta recounts that Ghori presented the white elephant as a gift to Aibak. From that day forward, Aibak rode the majestic creature. When he passed away, the white elephant was overcome with grief and died three days later. However, it seems that the white elephant was taken to Ghazni and presented to the Khwarezm Shah by Ghias-ud-din Mahmud, the nephew and successor of Muhammad Ghori.

Jai Chand, also known as Jayachandra, has been accused of inviting Muhammad Ghori to invade India. The Mughal historian Abul Fazl also claims that Jai Chand made alliance with Muhammad Ghori to overthrow Prithviraj Chauhan. However, these claims have been proven to be false.

After Jai Chand's demise, his son Harishchandra took over the reins in 1194. It is assumed that Ghori allowed him to govern Kannauj as his feudatory on condition of payment of a tribute.

Kannauj was eventually conquered in 1198 by Aibak. It is likely that Harishchandra either perished in the conflict against Aibak or was deposed.