Prithvi Raj III, commonly known as Prithviraj Chauhan (1149–1192 CE), was a king of the Hindu Chauhan (Chauhamana) dynasty, who ruled the kingdom of Ajmer and Delhi in northern India during the latter half of the 12th century.
Prithviraj Chauhan belonged to the Rajput Chauhan clan, which according to a legend mentioned in later manuscripts of Prithviraj Raso was part of Agnivanshi Rajputs, derived its origin from a sacrificial fire-pit. Chauhan was the last independent Hindu king, before Hemu, to sit upon the throne of Delhi. He succeeded to the throne in 1169 CE at the age of 20, and ruled from the twin capitals of Ajmer and Delhi which he received from his maternal grandfather Arkpal or Anangpal III of the Tomara dynasty in Delhi. He controlled much of present-day Rajasthan and Haryana, and unified the Rajputs against Muslim invasions. His elopement in 1175 with Samyukta (Sanyogita), the daughter of Jai Chandra Rathod, 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 Chauhan's court poet and friend, Chand Bardai.
Prithviraj Chauhan defeated the Muslim ruler Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191 and set him free as a gesture of mercy. Ghauri attacked for a second time the next year, and Prithviraj was defeated and captured at the Second Battle of Tarain (1192). Sultan Ghauri took Prithviraj to Ghazni and blinded him.
Prithviraj Chauhan's succession was not secure since the death of Vigraha Raja in 1165. Prithviraj re-consolidated control over the Chauhan kingdom and conquered several neighboring kingdoms, making the Chauhan kingdom the leading Hindu kingdom in northern India. He campaigned against the Chandela Rajputs of Bundelkhand. His kingdom included much of present-day northwest India including Rajasthan, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab. The princely state of Nabha had close relations with Chauhan.
Anangpal Tomar-II, the King of Delhi, had two daughters, Roopsundari and Kamaladevi. Roopsundari was married to Vijaypal, King of Kannauj, and had a son named Jai Chandra. Jai Chandra's daughter was named Samyukta. Kamaladevi was married to Someshwar Chauhan, the King of Ajmer, and had a son, Prithviraj, and a daughter, Pratha. Prithviraj married Samyukta, and Pratha was married to Samar Singh, Maharana of Chittor. His uncle Kanha Chauhan's daughter was married to Raja Pajawan of Amber.
The battle against Bhimdev Solanki of Gujarat
Prior to this battle, Prithviraj Chauhan had killed many of Bhimdev's generals. During this battle Bhimdev's son, Vanraj Solanki, was seen as a real danger due to his military tactics. A general who served Someshwar had betrayed Prithviraj and had joined Bhimdev. He had given information to Bhimdev and had poisoned Prithviraj Chauhan's army, which was reduced to 300 men. Bhimdev's first round of combat was to send 500 soldiers to finish off Chauhan's army. When this failed, Bhimdev sent 1,000 soldiers to attack in the middle of the night. On the final day, Bhimdev himself clashed with Prithviraj Chauhan's sword and was defeated.
The battle against Mahoba
Some soldiers from Delhi were injured in Digvijay and decided to stop at the Mahoba royal gardens to ask for help. Guards at the gardens told the soldiers that they had insulted the Mahoba king Parmar by stepping into his garden and attacked and killed the men. Chauhan learned of this and declared war on Mahoba. During the battle the Mahoban army was split into three different sections. One was led by the Prince of Mahoba, while the other two were led by the brothers Alha and Udal. Chauhan defeated the sections under Udal and the Prince of Mahoba. Udal had injured Pundir, a friend and general of Chauhan, in combat. Udal was killed by Chauhan, who was badly injured and could hardly move. Prithviraj and Sanjham Rai, who was also badly injured, fell down a nearby hill and were left to be eaten by crows. Sanjham Rai, in an attempt to save his friend Prithviraj, allowed the crows to feed on him and not on Prithviraj. Chauhan was saved by Sanjham Rai, who died a slow death. Alha, commander of the third section, had seen Chauhan fall. Alha was stopped from killing Chauhan by his guru, who explained that Alha only wanted to kill to revenge his brother Udal, and not for the welfare of the Mahoba State. When help arrived from another friend, Chand Bardai, Prithviraj became unconscious. He woke in a hut in front of an alchemist, and was shocked and grieved to learn of the death of his friend.
Prithviraj Chauhan recovered from this battle and continued his conquests winning one kingdom after another. One of Chauhan's minor battles was against King Raichand. King Raichand and some of the other neighbouring kings saw Prithviraj's injury. At a time when they knew he could not fight, they attacked. The generals and close friends of Chauhan guarded him. Some villagers also came to help fight off King Raichand. King Raichand was killed in this battle.
Chauhan had claimed victory over forces in mountains, taking over the Kukada kingdom. He continued to take over kingdoms, extending his dominion in all four directions. His army continued these tactics for over four years.
The last battle of his victory march was against the king of Dariyagargh. Chauhan won the battle and decided to return to Delhi to celebrate his victory.
First Battle of Tarain, 1191
In 1191, Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori, leading an army of 120,000 men, invaded India through the Khyber Pass and was successful in reaching Punjab. Shahabuddin Ghori captured a fortress, either at Sirhind or Bathinda, in present-day Punjab state on the northwestern frontier of Prithviraj Chauhan's kingdom. Prithviraj's 100,000 strong army led by his vassal prince Govinda-Raja of Delhi rushed to the defense of the frontier, and the two armies met at the town of Tarain, near Thanesar, in present-day Haryana, 150 kilometres (93 mi) north of Delhi.
Shahabuddin Ghori's army was divided into three flanks, with Shahabuddin Ghori on horseback leading the centre flank. In addition to being almost twice in number, Chauhan's army had elephant cavalry comprising 300 elephants, whereas Shahabuddin Ghori's army had no elephants. Many Turkish soldiers in Shahabuddin Ghori's army had not even seen elephants before. The armies clashed first with the charge of the Chauhan cavalry. Shahabuddin Ghori's horse cavalry was unable to hold its own against the elephants, which resulted in the defeat of Shahabuddin Ghori's left and right flanks.
Shahabuddin Ghori led two regiments in an attack on the center, where Shahabuddin Ghori met Govinda Raja in personal combat. Govinda Raja, mounted on an elephant, lost his front teeth to Shahabuddin Ghori's lance. As the battle continued, Ghori's army, exhausted in face of the persistent Rajput attacks and out of water, fled leaving their general Muhammad Ghauri as a prisoner in Pritiviraj's hands. Muhammad Ghauri was brought in chains to Pithoragarh, Prithviraj's capital, where he begged his victor for mercy and release. Prithviraj's ministers advised him against pardoning the aggressor but the chivalrous and valiant Prithviraj thought otherwise and respectfully released the vanquished Ghori. This which was a decision he would later come to regret. Muhammad Ghori started to regroup his forces again to defeat Prithviraj Chauhan the next year.
Second Battle of Tarain, 1192
In 1192, Shahabuddin Ghori reassembled an army of 120,000 men and returned to challenge Prithviraj at the Second Battle of Tarain. When he reached Lahore, he sent his envoy to demand surrender but Prithviraj Chauhan refused to comply. Chauhan then issued a fervent appeal to his fellow Rajput rulers and the aristocracy to come to his aid against Shahabuddin Ghori.
Prithviraj assembled a very large army with the aid of approximately 150 Rajput rulers and aristocrats. According to the Persian historian Firishta, it consisted of 3,000 elephants, 300,000 horsemen, and considerable infantry. The army was larger than that of Shahabuddin Ghori. The armies met in Tarain, where Shahabuddin Ghori delivered an ultimatum to Prithviraj that he convert to Islam or be defeated. Prithviraj countered with an offer that Ghori should consider a truce and be allowed to retreat with his army. Shahabuddin Ghori decided to attack.
Shahabuddin Ghori divided his troops into five parts and attacked in the early morning hours, sending waves of mounted archers. They retreated as the Chauhan elephant phalanx advanced. Shahabuddin Ghori deployed four parts to attack the Rajputs on four sides, keeping a fifth part of his army in reserve. General Khande Rao of the Chauhan forces was killed. At dusk, Shahabuddin Ghori himself led a force of 12,000 heavily-armored horsemen to the center of the Rajput line, which collapsed into confusion. Prithviraj attempted to escape but was captured. The Rajput army broke ranks and fled, thereby conceding victory to Shahabuddin Ghori.
Even today Afghans vent there anger by stabbing on the grave of Prithviraj Chauhan because according to them Prithviraj had killed Ghori. Sher Singh Rana, a member of Rajput community, visited Afghanistan to trace grave of Prithviraj Chauhan, he dug Chauhan's "grave" and collected sand from it. This incident created sensation in Indian news and public media – as he said he did it to get back India's pride & respect.