Narasimha Deva I or (also Lāñguḷā Narasinha Deba) was a king of Eastern Ganga Dynasty of ancient Utkal (present day Odisha). He ruled the dynasty from 1238–1264. He has built the Konark temple, a fort complex Raibania fort in Balasore and Khirachora Gopinatha Temple of Remuna.
Victorious battle against Tugan Khan in 1248 C.E.
After the easy victories over North India from Punjab, through Bengal, the Muslims turned to attack Orissa. Here the Muslims met their match. The people of Orissa were hardy fighters. (In ancient and medieval times, Orissa was also called Kalinga or Utkal – from Uttam Kala which means ‘Excellent Art’ that reflects the artistic tradition of sculpture of that region) The warriors of Orissa had given a hard time to Samrat Ashoka Mauya, when in the 3rd century B.C.E. Kumara, the king of Kalinga, gave a tough battle to the Mauryan invader, before Orissa could be annexed to the Maurya Empire.
Now in the 13th century, when Tugan Khan attacked Orissa, the then ruling king of Orissa, Narsimhadeva, decided to use subterfuge against the Muslims. He sent word to the invaders that he wanted to surrender without a fight, as had Lakshmansena, the ruler of neighboring Bengal.
Tugan had easily conquered Bengal a few years before attacking Orissa. He found Bengal to be easy meat as the king of Bengal instead of fighting, fled from the advancing Muslim armies and Bengal fell without a fight. Having tasted blood in Bengal, Tugan thought that the conquest of Orissa would also be a cakewalk. Tugan boasted that he had put the fear of death in the heart of the Hindus and could overrun the entire country in a single campaign. But Narasimhadeva had other ideas. He decided to use the Muslims’ patent tool subterfuge against the enemy. He sent word to Tugan that Orissa was ready to surrender to the Muslims without a fight, as had its neighbor Bengal. Tugan accepted Narasimhadeva’s surrender proposal and asked for the surrender of the major city of Puri that was an important Hindu Pilgrim center (Narasimhadeva had his capital elsewhere at Jajanagara). Tugan’s other conditions included handing over all weapons to the Muslim army, the embracing of Islam by the entire population in the central square in front of the Jagannath Temple or agreeing to pay Jazia and to convert the Jagnnath temple at Puri into a Mosque as an acknowledgement of submission.
To the delight of the Muslims, all these terms were accepted and the Muslims advanced into the city, blissfully unaware that the shrewd Hindu king had laid a trap for them. On the orders of Narasimhadeva, the bustling city had been completely evacuated of its pilgrims, the aged and children; and professional soldiers from all over the kingdom had occupied every nook and cranny of the city, hidden away inside the closely built houses across the narrow winding lanes.
Once the Muslim army was inside the city, it had to disperse itself into the maze of narrow lanes and bylanes with which they were not familiar and where they had to dismount from their horses and advance single file.
Unaware of the danger lurking they advanced cautiously and slowly towards the central square where the surrender ceremony was to take place.
When the Muslim army was so dispersed, at a prearranged signal from one of lookouts from the temple spires, the temple bells started ringing, and this was the signal for the Hindus to pounce on the Muslims. The pitched battle lasted one whole day and went into the night pierced by the cries of wounded and dying Muslim and Hindu soldiers. While the Hindus took many losses, the entire Muslim army was caught like as in a mousetrap, and annihilated. Very few Muslims could escape this trap.
This unorthodox idea succeeded, and it caught the Muslims totally off-guard as it had never been used till then, by any Hindu king, as it went against the Hindu rules of warfare based on fair-play and fighting a noble war.
Other temples built by Langula Narasimhadeva
- "World Heritage Sites - Konarak - Sun Temple - Introduction".
- Stirling's Orissa p. 77
- "The boldnes and enterprise of the Orissan monarchs in those days, may surprise us when we consider the situation of Kola in the heart of Central India beyond Kalberga and Bedar".
- THE FORT OF BARABATI. Dr H.C. Das. pp.3
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