Narasimhadeva I

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Langula Narasingha Deva I
Yavanabaniballava, Hammiramanamardana, Gajapati
Reign 1238-1264 A.D.
Successor Bhanu Deva I
Spouse Sitadevi (Paramar Princess of Malwa), Chodadevi (Chola Princess), etc.
House Eastern Ganga Dynasty
Father Rauta Anangabhima Deva III
Religion Hindu
Sketch of a Konark Sun Temple Stone Panel Depicting Langula Narasimha Deva I Bowing with Hands Folded Before a Priest with the Hindu Deities Jagannath, Shiva Lingam and Goddess Durga in the Background

Langula Narasingha Deva I (Odia: ପ୍ରଥମ ଲାଙ୍ଗୂଳା ନରସିଂହ ଦେବ) was a powerful monarch and warrior of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty of medieval Odisha who reigned c. 1238–1264.[1] He defeated the Muslim forces of Bengal who were constantly posing a threat to the Eastern Ganga dynasty's rule over Odisha from the times of his father Anangabhima Deva III. He was the first king of Odisha and one of the few rulers in India who took the offensive against the Islamic expansion over India, though his father had successfully played a defensive military role against the Turkic-Afghan rulers of Bengal. He has also built the Konark temple [2] to commemorate his victories over the Muslims along with a fort complex at Raibania in Balasore[3] and Khirachora Gopinatha Temple of Remuna. The Kendupatana plates of his grandson Narasimhadeva II mentions that Sitadevi, the queen of Narasimhadeva I was the daughter of the Paramara king of Malwa.

Military conflicts with Mamluk dynasty of Bengal[edit]

Narasimha Deva was victorious against the Turkic-Afghan rulers of Mamluk dynasty in Bengal that had captured Bihar and Bengal.[4] He not only repulsed their attacks but pushed them as far behind as Padma River in current-day Bangladesh. According to the Sanskrit work of Ekavali of the poet Vidydhara, he has decorated Narasimha Deva's achievements with titles like "Yavanabani Ballabha" meaning conqueror of Yavana or Muslim kingdom and "Hamira Mada Mardana" meaning vanquisher of the Muslim Amirs of Bengal.[5][6][7] After his accession in 1238 A.D., Narasimha I followed the policy of aggressive imperialism. By that time, Tughril Tughan Khann (1233 – 1246 A.D.) had become the governor of Bengal. After consolidating his position, Narasimha marched with his grand army aided by Paramadrideva, his brother-in-law towards Bengal in 1234 A.D. The Odishan army overran a number of semi independent Hindu rajas of the neighbouring area, east of the river Ganges and made a calculated move to northern Radha, the territory of Tughri Tughan Khan. At this juncture, Tughril Tughan gave a clarion call to all the Muslims for a zihad (holy war) against the Hindus. Even Qazi Minhaj-us-Siraj joined this holy war.

In his Tabaqat-i-Nasiri Minhaj gives a vivid picture of the war. By 1244 A.D. Tughril Tughan launched a counterattack on the Odishan army. Gaining some initial success, the Muslim army compelled the forces of Narasimhadeva to retreat towards their frontier fort Katasin (Kantei in the Midnapur district of West Bengal) which was surrounded by jungles and cane-bushes and provided strategic defence to the Odishan army. Tughril-Tughan Khan retired to Lakhnauti in order to save his life. His rule over Radha came to an end. The victory of Narasimhadeva I over the Muslim army has been described in the Anantavasudeva temple inscription.

Narasimha Deva I Kneeling Before Sun God Surya
Image of Langula Narasingha Deva at Konark Sun Temple Depicting him Kneeling at the Feet of Hindu Deity Surya (Sun)

It certainly established the fact that Narasimha had extended his sway up to Radha by defeating Tughril-Tughan Khan. Narasimhadeva did not retire after conquering Radha. He wanted to extend his sway up to Varendra. By that time Lakhnauti consisted of two main divisions- Radha and Varendra, situated on either side of the Ganges. Lakhnor was the headquarters of Radha while Diwkot was that of Varendra. Having his sway over Radha, Narasimhadeva directed his army against Varendra. The Odishan army ransacked the Muslim territory at Bengal and created panic in the minds of the Muslims. Being fearful, Tughril Tughan Khan appealed to Sultan Alauddin Masud Saha of Delhi to come to his rescue who sent Quamuruddin Tamur Khan, the governor of Oudh to help Tugha Khan. However, after reaching Bengal, Tamur had a sharp difference of opinion with Tughril Tughan who was ultimately driven away from Bengal and Tamur Khan continued as its governor till his death in 1246 A.D.

Battle of Katasin (Contai) in 1243 A.D[edit]

It was the Narasingha Deva's first offensive against the Muslim ruler of Bengal, Tughral Tughan Khan with the help of his brother in law Paramardi Dev who was also a Kalachuri prince. Small and semi independent Hindu states of South Bengal were overrun by the Odia army comprising the Kalachuri conscripts. A siege was laid on the fort of Lakhnauti which was a strategic point of entrance into the territory of the Mameluks from the west and also a point of communication with other Muslim dominated kingdoms of North India, especially the Delhi Sultanate. A counterattack was launched by the Muslim forces of Bengal due to which the Odia army retreated to the strategic location of Kantei (Contai).

According to the Muslim document called Tabaqat-i-Nasiri Minhaj, the area was covered with thick cane bushes and forest. The Odia army followed a guerrilla warfare tactics, initially staying hidden from the vision of the approaching Muslim forces. Once the Tughral Tughan Khan was convinced that the Odia army had left the area and halted the army in ease, the Odia forces launched a sudden attack ensuring a massive slaughter of the enemy forces. According to the Minhaj, a section of the Ganga army charged from the direction of the fort at while a concealed detachment of 200 soldiers and 50 horsemen pounced on the unsuspecting Bengal army of Tughan from behind the thick cane bushes. Several Muslims got killed in this attack and Tughan himself had a narrow escape being possibly wounded. In a dramatic description of these events, the descendant of Langula Narasingha Deva, Narasingha Deva II in his Sanskrit bronze inscription of Kendupatna, has mentioned as;

"Radha Varendra Yabani Nayanjanaasru,

Pureya Dur Binibesita Kalima Srihi,

Tadh Bipralamm Karayadrabhuta Nistaranga,

Gangapi Nunamamuna Yamunadhunavut”

Which means: The Ganga herself blackened for a great extent by the flood of tears which washed away the collyrium from the eyes of the Yavanis [Muslim women] of Radha and Varendra [west and north Bengal] whose husbands have been killed by Narasimha’s army.

Battle of Lakhnauti (1244 A.D)[edit]

In 1244 A.D, the Odia forces led a seize on two provinces of Varendra and Rarh situated side by side on the river Ganga with the fort Lakhnauti surrounded by the Odia army. The Muslim governor of Awadh and a vassal of the Delhi Sultanate, Qamruddin Tamur Khan arrived to the rescue of Tughan Khan but was enraged to see the Odia army surrounding the fort of Lakhnauti. Quarrel ensued between the two Muslim generals and Tughan Khan was discharged from his governorship of Bengal by Qamruddin with the authority of the Delhi Sultanate.[8] Muslim commander Fakr-Ul-Mulk-Karimuddin-Laghri of the Lakhnauti fort was killed by the Odia army and the two provinces of Bengal were ransacked and plundered by them. A huge amount of battle weapons were also seized by the Odia army from the Muslims. Qamruddin Tamur Khan himself assumed the governorship of Bengal after this incident.

Battles of Umurdan (1247 to 1256 A.D)[edit]

In 1247 A.D., a new able Muslim military commander lkhtiyar-ud-Din Yuzbak was appointed as the governor of Bengal with the primary task of freeing Bengal from the Odia forces of Langula Narasingha Deva that was commanded by his gallant Kalachuri brother in law, Paramardi Dev. The secondary task of the new governor was to suppress the rebellious activities of Tughan Khan who was plotting a revolt against the Delhi sultanate. Aided by the Delhi sultanate the new governor launched a new military campaign against the Odia forces on the soil of Bengal. Tabaqat-i-Nasiri Minhaj mentions that the two initial attempts to counter the Odia invasion was successful to an extent but the tide turned around when the gallant Kalachuri prince and commander of the Odia forces, Paramardi Dev inflicted a crushing defeat on the Muslim army. The Muslim army was resupplied and reinforced by the Delhi Sultanate on the appeal of lkhtiyar who marched further into the Odishan territory and a battle ensued at Mandarana or Umurdan in today's Jahanabad subdivision of Hoogly district. Paramadri Dev put up a stiff resistance but was killed while displaying incredible gallantry on the battle field. The Muslims halted their progress into Odisha fearing massive retaliation by the Odia forces.

Conflict with Kakatiya ruler Ganapatideva of Warangal[edit]

Brahmins asking for alms from Narasingha Deva I
Detached Konark stone panel showing Brahmins asking for alms from Narasingha Deva I with the Image of Jagannath Visible in the Background

The Kakatiya and Odisha conflict was prominent from the times of Narasingha Deva's father Ananga Bhima Deva III. The major territorial disputes were for the areas adjoining the Godavari river. Ananga Bhima Deva III had captured the Vengi territories south of Godavari. Draksharama inscriptions of Kakatiya general Mallala Hemadi Reddy from the year 1237 A.D. shows that they were able to claim some territory north of Godavari but were eventually made to halt their advance possibly due the military might of the Ganga forces under the command of Lāñguḷā Narasinha Deva. In the Lingaraja temple inscription of Narasingha states that he humbled the Kakatiya king Ganapati but according to scholar Surya Narayan Das, it was Rudrama, the daughter of Ganapati who was defeated by him while the confusion prevailed for accession to the throne in the Kakatiya kingdom after the death of Ganapati.

The Lingaraja Temple Sanskrit Inscription of Narasingha Deva I :


Gajabaji-Samaja -Rarajaja-Tanujatmaja-Sya

Marici-Parasara- Acara- Vicara- Caturaviranara-Kesari



Saro Jasya-Samrajya-Bhiseka- Atrutha-Samvat-Sare"

Constructive Activities and Cultural Contribution[edit]

Narasingha Deva I is mentioned as Paramamahesvara, Durga-Putra and Purushottamaputra in the Chandrashekhera temple inscription. The titles show that he was a protector and a follower of the Shaiva, Shakti and Jagannath sects during his rule. A sculpture from the Konark sun temple build by him shows bowing before the three lead deities of the sects as per his titles and a priest. The Lingaraj temple inscriptions says that he had constructed a Matha (monastery) called as Sadashiva Matha to give shelter to the fleeing refugees from Radha and Gauda after the incursion by Muslim forces there. According to the Srikurmam temple inscription, he was an extremely sober person without any bad nature and agitation. He possessed valuable articles and was a sincere learner of art, architecture and religion.[5]

He administered the state by the traditions of Marici and Parasara while following the Niti sashtra (book of law). Due to his dedication towards faith and spiritualism, he commissioned and completed the building projects for many architecturally marvelous temples like Konark, Kapilash, Khirachora Gopinatha, Srikurmam, Simahanchalam and Ananta Vasudeva temple which was built by the interest of his widowed sister, Chandrika. Sanskrit was patronized as a court language during his rule and the books like Ekavali of Vidhydhara were written during this time. An inscription at Kapilash temple built by him compares him to the Varaha avataar (incarnation) of Vishnu who saved and raised the Vedas and the world from the oceans of uncertainty. He was the first king to use the title of 'Gajapati' or lord of war elephants among the Odishan kings.[9]

Historical impact[edit]

Langula Naraingha Deva rule came at critical juncture political backlashes in eastern India. He was able to capitalize over the military achievements of his father and became a uniquely aggressive monarch of his era dictating ancient Odisha's military might over eastern India and defending the parts of Central India and the Eastern coast from the invading foreign Turkic forces who had almost subdued all the independent dynastic rulers across India without much of a problem after the fall of Delhi's ruler Prthiviraj Chauhan in the second Battle of Tarain in 1192 AD. Due to his aggressive military policies and strategic decisions, the Gangas were able to establish a complete independent state with a powerful military presence. Not until the next two and half a centuries the Muslim forces would be successful in threatening the borders of ancient Odisha or greater Kalinga. Due to this extended period of peace, tranquility and presence of military might; religion, trade, literature and art flourished and attained new heights. Jagannath cult got absorbed into every Odia household. Numerous magnificent temples were constructed in this era beginning with the Eastern Gangas, one of the most remarkable initial rulers of which was Langula Narasingha Deva. The Sanskrit poet Vidhyadhara treats him as a great hero in his work Ekavali. Langula is glorified as devotee of goddess Shakti by describing him as a devotee of Katyayani. Eastern Ganga copper plate grants treat him as the son of Bhavani.[10]

Forts built[edit]

Raibania fort

Temples built[edit]


  1. ^ "World Heritage Sites - Konarak - Sun Temple - Introduction". 
  2. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 36–37. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  3. ^ The Fort of Barabati. Dr H.C. Das. pp.3
  4. ^ "History of Odisha (From Earliest Times to 1434 A.D.)" (PDF). DDCE/History (M.A)/SLM/Paper from Utkal University: 109–110. 10 August 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Narasimhadeva I (1238-1264 A.D.)" (PDF). Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  6. ^ History of Odisha. New Delhi: Kalyani Publishers. 2004. ISBN 81-272-1367-5. 
  7. ^ "Aspects of Socio Cultural life in Orissa under the Mughals 1592 to 1751 AD - Geo-political profile of Orissa" (PDF). pp. 11–15. Retrieved 12 August 2017. 
  8. ^ "Far East Kingdoms South Asia". Retrieved 10 August 2017. 
  9. ^ "Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 50". Retrieved 11 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "Historicity of Vidyadhara and General Outline of Ekavali" (PDF). Retrieved 30 January 2018.