Short notes on Kafur’s Invasion of Warangal

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Ala-ud-din now turned his attention to the kingdoms in the further south. S. Krishna Swami Aiyangar rightly observes in his well known work South India and Her Muhammadan Invaders about the motives of Ala-ud-din in undertaking these expeditions.

“Ala-ud-din’s object in these various invasions of the Dekhan and the farther south appears to have gone no farther than making them the milch-cow for the gold that he was often much in need for the efficient maintenance of his army to keep Hindustan free from internal disturbances and invasion by the Mughals from outside” Amir Khusrau and Barani have given a graphic account of the expeditions.

Kafur had to pass through innumerable towns beginning from Rewari, and cross many rivers and streams such as Chambal, Kaveri, Sindh and Betwah and negotiate difficult terrains which Khusrau calls “razor-bridge of hell’ before he arrived at Irijpur also known as Sultanpur.

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Kafur now took the straight road to Devagiri and arrived at Khanda in the first week of December 1309. Here they stayed for a fortnight before proceeding to a place called Nilkanth where they were received by Ramadeva who was said to have placed a contingent of Maratha troops at the disposal of the Imperial forces.

Sixteen days’ march brought them to Sirpur. The town was plundered, inhabitants massacred and the fort was set ablaze. Guided by the Ramadeva’s men, Kafur’s armies reached Hanumakonda from where “all the edifices and gardens of Warangal could be seen”. The fort of Warangal was protected by two massive walls with a circuit of about 12,546 yards.”

It was indeed one of the strongest forts of South India. Malik Kafur carefully surveyed the fortress and ordered it to be besieged from all sides; each division was entrusted with 1200 yards of area. A fierce attack was now launched on the stone wall after crossing another ditch which separated the two walls.

The rayas and their soldiers fought with great bravery and determination but as the siege prolonged, they realized the helplessness of their cause. Rana Prataprudradeva now opened negotiations and sent his envoys, with a golden image of himself and with a golden chain around his neck.

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Kafur insisted that the Rudradeva should surrender everything that “Rai’s country produced from vegetables to mines and animals”, and agree to send jaziya annually to Delhi otherwise he would order the general massacre of the population. Finding no other alternative, the Rai agreed to these conditions and gave away all his wealth accumulated during the course of many generations.

Among this precious treasure was the famous diamond Koh-i-Nur. Later historians including Khafi Khan have referred to it. Barani and Khusrau have, however, given a much exaggerated account, of this war and the success of Kafur.

The facts are that inner fort did not capitulate; Rudradeva never went personally to Kafur, his envoys only settled the terms, moreover the raya could not have surrendered his entire wealth. However, as a contemporary Hindu writer Vishvanath Kaviraj so rightly observed that “war and peace with Sultan Ala-ud-din made little difference, the former involved death and the latter the loss of everything that one possessed”.

Kafur left Warangal by the middle of March, 1310, with a huge booty, “a thousand camels groaned, under the weight of the treasure” and travelling through Devagiri, Dhar and Jhain, he returned to Delhi where he was received by the king in a richly decorated darbar on June 23, 1310. The treasures brought by Kafur were displayed before the sultan who was highly pleased with his favourite wazir and rewarded him profusely.

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