A Brief Look Back At 5 Of India’s Most Unsung Battles That Changed Human History

battles of Indian history

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There are many battles of Indian history that are celebrated and well-known by a vast majority of people. Simply Google a list of the important battles in India and you will be flooded with several options. But wait, how many of us have been really interested in the battles fought in India that went unsung yet they altogether changed the course of history? 

If you fall into that category, there is not an ounce of time left for rumination. This article presents you five such battles of Indian history that brought significant changes in the due course of life events. Read them and you can have all your information in one go! 

Unsung Battles That Changed the Course of Indian History 

Some of the important battles are underrated in Indian history. They played a major role in a complete turn of events but not much credited or praised in general. These battles deserve to be known and so, here is a list of the important battles from Indian history that has some unique information to offer: 

Battle of Wandiwash 

  • The battle of Wandiwash derives its name from a place named Vandavasi in Tamil Nadu (India) where the battle was fought. The anglicized version of Vandivasi is Wandiwash and so the battle is known as the battle of Wandiwash.  
  • The battle took place in 1760 between the French and the British forces. Whereas General Comte de Lally presided over the French troops, British soldiers were commanded by Sir Eyre Coote. The battle was a part of the Third Carnatic war that took place between the two imperial powers. 
  • The battle concluded with the decisive victory of the Britishers over the French army. Compelled by the situation, the French had to sign up the Treaty of Paris in 10 February, 1763. The signing of the Treaty brought an abrupt end to the Seven Years War between the colonizers and their corresponding allies. The Britishers captured the French occupied territories like the Chetpattu, Tirunomalai, Tindivanam and Perumukkal. 
  • Pondicherry which was under the command of the French general Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau was captured following the surrender of the French troops in 1761. With the advancement of the British army and their subsequent victory, the French army recoiled.  
  • The gradual decline of French power in southern India limited the French to being mere traders. With the Britishers gaining strong foothold in the southern India, the French disappeared from the scene. This was one such battle which put a stop to the imperial ambitions of the French colonists or any other European power. 

Battle of Bahraich  

  • The Battle of Bahraich is one of the most decisive battles in the Indian history that often go unnoticed. It was fought between Raja Suheldev and Ghazi Saiyyad Salar Masud on 13-14 June 1033 BCE in Bahraich (Uttar Pradesh). 
  • Context: Saiyyad Salar Masud was equally barbaric as his uncle Mahmud of Ghazni. The latter grew up to be a religious extremist. After his uncle’s death, Masud invaded India at the young age of sixteen. He consequently annexed the territories of Multan, Delhi, Meerut, Kannauj, Varanasi etc. 
  • The resistance which he faced from Bahraich was brought under his control, with his father Salar Sahu’s timely intervention. Their main motive of the ruler was the subjugation of Hindu belief systems under Islamic authority. 
  • Shravasti which was close to Bahraich was the territory that strongly opposed the rule of Saiyyad Salar Masud. The king of Shravasti, Mordhwaj joined a confederacy that opposed the forces of Salar Masud. Suheldev was the eldest son of Mordhwaj.
  • To prove his dominance, Salar Masud arrived in Bahraich and challenged Suheldev’s army for a fight. The army under Suheldev vehemently fought against the Muslim ruler’s troops. 
  • In 1034, Raja Suheldev got the opportunity to exhibit his true potential through military intervention. He emerged hugely victorious in the battle of Bahraich that induced fear among Turks planning to invade India. For the next 150 years, not a single barbarian dared to conquer India or establish their dominance. The accounts of the battle exist in Mirat-e-Masudi, a Persian hagiography composed by the Sufi saint Abdur Rahman Chisti. 
  • Although Saiyyad Salar Masud continues to be remembered as the “Ghazi Miya” because he was martyred, there is no such memorial in the name of Raja Suheldev. Raja Suheldev and the Battle of Bahraich may be unsung, but true Indians must recognize their contribution and valor. 

Battle of Kasahrada 

  • The battle of Kasahrada was fought between the Ghurid ruler Shahbuddin Ghuri and Chalukya queen Naiki Devi and his son Mularaja 2 in 1178 CE. The latter ascended the throne after the demise of his father, king Ajaypala. In the battle, Naiki Devi acted as the Regent of his son who was a minor. She fought the entire battle with his son tied to him on horseback. 
  • Ghuri’s interest in India deepened as expansion towards the Khwarazmian empire was not advantageous. His decision to conquer India was resolved after having heard the Mahmud Ghazni raid stories and the immense wealth that India has to offer. Moreover, he was vying to occupy the prosperous town of Ahilwara Patan, the capital of the Chalukyas.  
  • He invaded Multan and Uch and moved towards south to conquer the land of Rajputs. After capturing Nadol and making his way through the sandy desert of Rajputana, he reached the foothills of Mount Abu.  
  • Rani Naiki Devi played a major role in protecting her kingdom. Not only is the battle uncelebrated, she remains an unsung hero despite leading the Chalukyas to an incredible victory. Naiki Devi sent her ambassadors to nearby provinces to gain allies that would help fight the war against the Ghurid ruler. 
  • Majority of the kingdoms didn’t extend any support to the Rajputs. However, the Chalukya feudatories offered sufficient help. These feudatories include the Chahamanas of Nadol, Chahamanas of Jalor and Paramaras of Chandravati. 
  • When Rani Naiki Devi realized that her soldiers were outnumbered, she strategically planned to fight the rest of the battle. She chose the rugged terrain of Gadaraghatta (near village Kasahrada) as the battle location. 
  • Unaware of the ploy, the Ghurid army entered into the pass and was locked in due to the blocked path of retreat. These events culminated in the subsequent defeat of the Ghurids under the Chalukyas. Shahbuddin Ghuri fled from the battlefield and escaped to Ghazni after facing much adversity. Humiliated by the defeat, he didn’t make efforts to capture the region again without having a firm base. 
  • The battle of Kasahrada may not be one of the most celebrated battles but both the valour of the queen and the valiant battle must surely inspire generations to come. 

Second Battle of Tarain 

  • The second battle of Tarain occured between the Ghurid forces and the Rajput confederacy. The year of the battle is a little disputed. Some scholars think that the battle happened in late 1191, while others consider 1192 to be the valid date. In the battle that ensued, Ghurid forces led by Mu’izz al-Din emerged victorious against the army clan of Prithviraj Chauhan. Although this battle is rarely known, it is one of the battles that proved a major turning point in history. The reason owes to the fact that the Rajputs were badly defeated in the battle which paved the way for Muslim rule in India. 
  • Both the first and the second battle occurred near Tarain which is located in modern day Haryana. In the first battle of Tarain (1191) the Ghurid ruler Mu’izz al-Din suffered in the combat as he was seriously injured and defeated by the Rajputs. He planned to avenge himself after returning to Ghazni. For that, he made considerable preparations for war. 
  • According to historian Kaushik Roy’s speculation, the variables of the Rajput troops of Tarain outnumbered the Ghurid forces in the second battle. As per a 16th century writer, Firishta, the number of the Chauhan army was colossal but modern historians claim it to be an exaggeration. 
  • Mu’izz al-Din used clever strategies to win the battle. He instructed his 5th army unit to retreat to exhaust the advancing war animals, cavalry and the infantry. Once the plan was successful, he sent the other four units to end the war and claim victory. 
  • According to the Persian historian, Minhaj-i-Siraj, Prithviraj Chauhan fled from the battlefield and was consequently captured in a neighborhood of Sursuti. He was made a Ghurid vassal in Ajmer (Chahamana capital) and was later killed for rebellion and treason. With the end of the battle, north India became vulnerable to future invasions and Islam rule, by the Turkic tribes. 

Battle of the ten kings  

  • The battle of the ten kings occured between a Bharata king named Sudas Paijavana and a confederacy of tribes according to the 7th Mandala of the Rigveda. The battle of the Ten kings is also known as the Dasargana war. The ten kings or chieftains who revolted include the Puru, Yadu, Alina, Anu, Turvasa, Bhalanas, Vishanin, Druhyu, Pakha and Shiva. The battle took place between the Parusni river (modern-day Ravi) in Punjab. 
  • However, different names are allotted to the Bharata king and his priest in the Samaveda and Yajurveda Samhitas. Notable historian Michael Witzel claims the battle to take place approximately between 1450-1300 BCE (the Vedic era). 
  • The tribes who fought The Bharatas emerged victorious in the battle of the Ten kings. The battle is said an archetype or a prototype of the Kurukshetra war defined in the Mahabharata. The description of the battle in the Rigveda cannot be fully interpreted and continues to remain a mystery. Lord Indra is said to have blessed the Bharatas. However, a hymn also shows that the Purus were also able to gain the deity’s favor. 
  • There are several reasons attributed to the battle’s occurrence. According to speculations, the war might have been the cause of intratribal resentment or a revenge tale of an ousted family-priest. According to a notable Bengali author, Ranabir Chakravarti, the battle might have ensued with the purpose to take on the rivers for better irrigational advantages. 
  • After the decisive victory, the Bharatas occupied the entire Peru territory in Western Punjab as per their eastern-migration plans. The victory was celebrated with the Ashvamedha ritual that involves sacrificing a horse to prove his imperial sovereignty. A political realignment between the tribes and the Bharatas possibly took place in that period. It is one of the most important historical events but lags behind in general awareness. 

Wrapping up!  

Some of these battles in India don’t find their way in the history textbooks. They maybe categorized under the “least important ones” and may not be relevant as per the institution’s curriculum. However, the history of battles need to mention these unsung warfare and the valiant heroes that lead them. These topics might be minor in terms of general opinion but they were major enough to change the course of history.  

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