Sunday, August 18, 2019

Malik Amber (The story of a slave who eventually became a kingmaker)

Malik Amber

Initially, his name was Chapu, he was born in Harar Province of Ethiopia in 1548. He was born in a poor family and thus his parents sold him in a local market. Travelling first by caravan, and then by dhow, young Ambar was taken across the Red Sea to the port of Mocha in southern Arabia (Yemen). Then he was resold and sent to Baghdad, where his new master treated him as his son and hence he was educated but when his master died the sons of the master sold him to an Indian minster Chengiz Khan who savoured in Nizam Shahi of Ahmednagar at the age of 20. For twenty years the Ethiopian Christian, now a Muslim, loyally served Khan. Over this period Ambar assumed increasing responsibility in the Nizam’s court where he observed and learned diplomacy, military strategy, and political organization, crucial training that he carried into his life as a free man.

After the death of Chengiz Khan in approximately 1594, Amber caught a very fine opportunity which changed his political career. He got the command of 150 men, once a mercenary in Nizam Shahi now commander of 150 cavalrymen. He began to organise a rebel again the most powerful armies of that time that were the Mughals. As Mughals were trying to spread across southern India but Amber was resistance to them. Amber defeated two Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir.

By 1620, Amber's army rose up to fifty thousand men out of them forty thousand were Marathas which were Hindu warriors and ten thousand Habshi (Africans). By then he had already installed two young princes to the Nizam’s throne in succession, each time making himself Regent Minister and unlike his former master, functioning as de facto ruler.

Ambar also forged alliances along India’s western coast with the African-descended sailors-turned-rulers of Janjira Island.  His innovative techniques in guerilla warfare including the use of British-manufactured artillery, prevented the Mughals from occupying the southern half of India, endlessly frustrating the empire’s rulers, who referred to their indomitable foe as the “rebel of black fortune.”
In approximately 1619, Ambar founded the city of Khadki later rename by Aurangzeb after his name as Aurangabad, where he built several palaces, developed an irrigation system, patronized Hindu and Muslim craftsmen and artists (including the great portrait artist Hashim), and married his daughter and son into the families of Indian nobility—thus integrating Africans into elite South Asian society. When Ambar died in 1626, he was known across the Deccan as one of the greatest leaders of the region
                                 The Mughal emperor Jahangir whose dream was to kill Amber,
                                 but didn't manage to fulfil it, merely p[ut his fantasy on painting.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Battle of Talikota (End of the last Hindu empire of south India)

Battle of Talikota
Vijaynagar was only Hindu kingdom in India when all other ruling kingdoms were Muslim. The
Deccan sultanates were always looking for an opportunity to defeat the Vijaynagar empire. After the fall of Vijaynagar, there was no other Hindu ruling kingdom in entire India, but after nearly 300 years later in late seventeen century the Marathas rose to the power under Chhatrapati Shivaji maharaja and till eighteen they almost captured entire India. The Battle of Talikota (23 January 1565) was battle fought between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan sultanates. The battle took place at Talikota, today a town in northern Karnataka, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) to the southeast from the city of Bijapur. The defeat of the Vijayanagara Empire followed subsequent destruction and looting which became short-lived before the successors of Rama Raya. Rama Raya of the Aravidu family married the daughter of Krishnadevaraya and became famous as Aliya Ramaraya. He became a “de facto” ruler during the reign of Achyutaraya and Sadashivaraya. He interfered in the internal disputes of the Shahis. He followed the policy of divide and rule with the Shahis of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar. The Shahis forgot their enmity and united through various alliances and matrimonial relations. All these events led to the formation of the Grand Shahi confederacy, consisting of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Golkonda and Bidar. The Muslim Sultanates to the north of Vijayanagara united and attacked Aliya Rama Raya's army, on 23 January 1565, in an engagement known as the Battle of Talikota. The armies clashed on the plains near the villages of Rakkasagi
and Tangadigi (The battle is also known as the Battle of Rakkasa-Tangadi) The Vijayanagara army was winning the battle, but suddenly two Muslim generals of the Vijayanagara army switched sides and joined to the united Sultanates. They captured Aliya Rama Raya and beheaded him on the spot, with Sultan Hussain on the Sultanates side joining them. The beheading of Rama Raya created confusion and in the still loyal portions of the Vijayanagara army, which were then completely routed. The Sultanates' army plundered Hampi and reduced it into ashes. If the two generals had been loyal to there king Aliya Rama Raya the united sultanates couldn't defeat the Vijaynagar empire.

The greatest factor was the betrayal of the Vijaynagara Army by two Muslim commanders (Gilani Brothers). At the critical point of the war, Muslim officers in the Vijayanagara army launched a subversive attack. Suddenly Aliya Rama Raya found himself surprised when the two Muslim divisions in his ranks turned against him. The battle itself marked the end of the wealthiest empire of south India.
Robert Sewell, in his book The Forgotten Empire, concludes thus –
"With fire and sword, with crowbars and axes, they carried on day after day their work of
destruction. Never perhaps in the history of the world has such havoc been
wrought, and wrought so suddenly, on so splendid a city; teeming with a wealthy
and industrious population in the full plenitude of prosperity one day, and on the
next seized, pillaged, and reduced to ruins, amid scenes of savage massacre and
horrors beggaring description."


Vijayalaya Chola (The founder of the imperial Chola empire)

Vijayalaya Chola

Vijayalaya Chola was the founder of the imperial Chola empire. He started the empire by ruling over a small region to the north bank of the river Kaveri.

Cholas under Pandyas and Pallavas.
There is very little of the fate of the Cholas in the long interval when the Chola power fell to the lowest of all time after 300CE and that of the Pandyas and Pallavas rose to the power in north and south of them respectively. These two dynasties fought for the lands of each other. The Cholas though not in prominent or powerful at that time as they were earlier, were not completely in danger of extinction and continued to rule over small regions which included today's districts of Mayiladutural, Chidambaram, Thanjavur, Tiruchy and Pudukkattai in modern Tamil Nadu.

Rise of vijayalaya Chola.
Vijayalaya saw an opportunity during a war between Pandyas and Pallava. Vijayalaya rose out of all obscurity and captured Thanjavur from Elanga Mutharaiyar, who was the last ruler of Mutharaiyar dynasty. At this time there was a great struggle going on for supremacy over south India between Pallavas and Pandya. Vijayalaya seems too have great opportunity to defeat Pandyas and make himself king of Thanjavur and Chola dynasty, he later defeated Pallavas also. Making complete use of opportunity during a war between Pandyas and Pallavas, he rose to power and re-established Chola power at Thanjavur with the help of Muttaraiyar king Sattan Palliylli. Further Cholas become so powerful that they wiped out Pallavas from Thanjavur region.

After Vijayalaya captured Thanjavur, the Pandya king Vragunavarman 3rd (c. 862-885 C.E) become a subordinate ally of the Pallava king Nandivarman 3rd (c846-869C.E). Nandivarman wished to check the growing influence of Cholas power under Vijayalaya and called upon Varangunavarman to suppress Vijayalaya. Varaguna led the army expedition into Chola country. Pandya army reached to the northern bank of river Kaveri near Thanjavur. By this time Vijayalaya had gained good experience from many battles he fought, but he was ageing and was invalid. So the prince Aditya 1st took control of the army in the defence of Chola kingdom. Vijayalaya was succeeded by Aditya 1st after his death in c 871 CE

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


The Chola dynasty was one of the longest-ruling dynasties in the history of India. Till 850 A.D Cholas were paying tributes to Pallavas. But they retain enough prestige that their daughters often got married to Pallava and Pandya families. As Cholas were also equally powerful to them till 350 A.D after that their power declined. In 850 A.D war broke between  Pallava and Pandya kingdom and at this time then Chola king Vijayalaya renounced his Pallava over-lord and captured the city of Thanjavur and announced it as their new capital. This marked the start of medieval Cholas and also the peak of Chola empires.

Son of Vijayalaya, Aditya 1 went on defeating the Pandya kingdom and Pallava kingdom in 885 A.D and 897 A.D respectively. The Cholas ruled all over the Tamil region. After defeating the Pallava kingdom and Pandya kingdom there was no other regional power which could oppose them. Cholas started their conquest to Srilanka in 925 A.D. The next two great rulers of the Chola empire were Rajaraja Chola (r. 985-1014 A.D)  and Rajendra Chola(r. 1012-1044 A.D) they expanded the empire still further.
Rajaraja Chola pushed the northern boundaries out of Tamil region to Kalinga in the northeast of India and sent his navy to capture the island nation  Maldives and also the rich Malabar coast along the subcontinent's southwestern shore. These territories were important, as they were the trade routes, and so they had captured it. So that there would be no trouble along Indian ocean trade routes. Rajendra Chola further expanded beyond the mighty river Ganga. Regions like Bihar, Bengal come under his control and he also had taken the coastal line of  Burma (Myanmar), the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the key ports in the Indonesian archipelago and the Malay Peninsula. So we can say that it was the first true maritime empire based in India. The Chola Empire under Rajendra even exacted tribute from Siam (Thailand) and Cambodia. 

Cultural and artistic influences flowed in both directions between Indochina and the Indian mainland. Although Cholas had a powerful army and navy power, the  Chalukya empire in the western Deccan plateau, rose up periodically and tried to throw off The Chola dominance. After decades of intermittent warfare, the Chalukya kingdom collapsed in 1190 A.D. The Chola Empire, however, did not long outlast its gadfly.  It was an ancient rival that finally did in the Cholas for good. Between 1150 and 1279, the Pandya family gathered its armies and launched a number of bids for independence in their traditional lands. The Cholas under Rajendra III fell to the Pandyan Empire in 1279 A.D and ceased to exist.

The Chola Empire left a rich legacy in the Tamil country. It saw majestic architectural accomplishments such as the Thanjavur Temple, amazing artwork including particularly graceful bronze sculpture, and a golden age of Tamil literature and poetry. All of these cultural properties also found their way into the Southeast Asian artistic lexicon, influencing religious art and literature from Cambodia to Java. Thus Chola time is also called a "GOLDEN PERIOD OF SOUTH INDIA"