Saviors of Hindu Dharma in South India-I

Several great heroes from the Southern realms of Bharatavarsha have faded from our memories despite the enormity of their sacrifices and spectacularity of their successes.

Of all the numerous ancient temples sprinkled across the fertile land of Karnata desha, perhaps the greatest among them is the Shrine of Lord Shiva at Halebidu, the former capital of the Hoysala Empire, which reached its zenith in the 12th century AD. The Hoysaleeshwara temple, which took half a century to construct, has been quite commonly described as ”the supreme climax of Hindu architecture”.

But upon closer examination, the modern day visitor might note that a large part of the temple structure appears to have been demolished with numerous stone sculptures defaced and maimed. What inhuman barbarity was unleashed upon this marvel of human craftsmanship? One can only imagine how those who worshipped at the temple fell attempting to defend their objects of reverence and love from the alien lunacy that sought to destroy it.

It is widely assumed that Southern India escaped the brunt of the ravages perpetrated by Muslim invaders and Islamic rule as was experienced elsewhere in the country, due to its great distance from the focal point of Muslim power in Delhi. However, if one were to dive deep into the history of South India, one will realize that this is simply not true.

Many of the ancient classical ruling dynasties of the South have been wiped out without a trace. They had ruled for several centuries before and had nurtured the flowering of Dharma in various forms such as literature, philosophy, art, and architecture in Southern India.

These kingdoms were among the most prosperous kingdoms in the world, as can be seen in references given to them in numerous chronicles and testimonies. But, the extinguishing of these great cultures at the hands of the invading Muslim armies is not well known to many even today.

It is important to bear in mind that the Islamist invading armies were aided via espionage and subversion by several Sufi ‘saints’ who had traveled into the South for preaching. In many cases as with the Yadavas at Deogiri and Pandyas at Madurai, the very Sufi preachers they had patronized acted as spies providing intelligence to the foreign invaders.

But, what is true is that the character of native Hindu resistance to the depredations of the Muslim invasion was more tenacious than elsewhere. This was undoubtedly aided by the topography of the South, which would have presented a greater challenge for any invader to surmount.

It’s a telling commentary on the state of the Hindu nation that we have collectively forgotten the titanic struggles of our forebears, who shed their blood in the millions to defend the very land we walk upon. In particular, several great heroes from the Southern realms of Bharatavarsha have faded from our memories despite the enormity of their sacrifices and spectacularity of their successes.

This, in part, we suspect is due to a motivated effort to deliberately erase them from our consciousness. Of them, the histories of some are known, thanks to the inscriptions and records they left behind in the ruins of the great empires they raised, or from the accounts of the scribes and historians affiliated to invader hordes. With these we are able to reconstruct a picture of the heroism they displayed in defending Dharma and Desha.

Four Kingdoms

mapTo place these epochal events in proper perspective, one needs to go back in time to understand the political scenario in early Medieval Peninsular India.

In their heyday during the 11th and 12 centuries AD, the Cholas of Tamil region ruled over a vast swathe of territory ranging from East Central India to Lanka and Malaya and were among the world’s mightiest kingdoms of the time. Their rule saw an era of abundance and prosperity, thanks to enlightened forms of governance and taxation systems and promotion of trade by bringing stability to sea trade routes.

They were also master temple builders and the monuments that still stand today rank among the greatest examples of Hindu architectural ingenuity. Their decline in the latter half of the 13th century lead to the resurrection of the fortunes of the Pandya Dynasty of the same region, who were formerly subordinate to the Cholas.

The Pandyas were among the 4 ruling kingdoms of Peninsular India of that time and ruled in an area encompassing most of modern day TN and Kerala. The Hoysalas ruled over most of what’s now Karnataka, while the Kakatiyas ruled over the lands of Telangana and Andhra. The 4th kingdom of the Yadavas ruled over most of the upper bounds of Peninsular India, in an area from Goa to Maharatta country right up to the Vindhya Mountains.

The last great Pandyan king Maravarman Kulasekhara Pandya I ascended the throne in AD 1268 and ruled for 42 years, ushering in an era of peace and prosperity. After his death, the infighting between his 2 sons, who sought to rule over his kingdom, lead to conditions precipitating the first Muslim invasion of Southern India.

First Blood

Meanwhile, in the year AD 1292, in faraway Karra (now known as Allahabad, UP), the newly appointed governor Ghazi Alauddin Khilji heard an exciting news from his spies. They told him of a rich prosperous Hindu kingdom that lay just over South of the Vindhyas that was ruled by an aging ruler who was busy fighting wars in his Southern frontiers with his son leading bulk of his army.

The fact that no Mohammedan Warrior had ever set foot in that place exercised a powerful hold over Alauddin’s imagination. Plundering virgin Infidel territory, he reasoned, would give him sufficient credit and resources to pursue his ambitions of unseating his Uncle Jalaluddin Feroze as the Sultan e Hind who ruled from Delhi.

In the following year, Alauddin marched across the Vindhya mountains with a force of 8000 cavalry, concealing his actions from the knowledge of his Uncle, the Sultan in Delhi. En route to Deogiri, the capital of the Yadava empire, he circulated the rumor that he’s only the advance guard of a much larger cavalry force before laying siege to the city.

The Yadava King Ram Deo offered ransom while letting Alauddin know his son Shankar Deo was due to return along with the main army anytime. While Shankar Deo did in fact return with his army, Alauddin deployed a clever ruse, to make it appear that the much larger rumored Muslim cavalry force is attacking, causing Shankar’s army to flee in alarm.

Under cover of darkness, Alauddin then pressed on with the siege of Deogiri’s main citadel, slaughtering several hundreds of its inhabitants, including many men of the Brahmana caste. The beleaguered King Ram Deo then offered an enormous ransom of gold, silver, diamonds, and elephants, and yearly tribute to Alauddin Khilji ‘s state. Thus satisfied, Alauddin marched back into Kharra and into history as the first successful Muslim invader of the Deccan, paving way for the invasions of wealthy Southern India.

News of Alauddin’s exploits reached the Sultan’s court in Delhi and the worried Sultan Jalaluddin Feroz visited his nephew in Kharra, where in familiar Sultanate tradition, he was promptly murdered right in front of Alauddin in the middle of dinner service. Jalaluddin’s sons were fighting at distant frontiers while a victorious Alauddin made his way to Delhi to ascend the throne of the Sultan in AD 1296, buying support with the massive wealth he plundered from the Yadavas of Deogiri.

A man with Alauddin’s strategic skills and appetite for violence knew that to defend his kingdom and his position within his kingdom, he needed to raise and maintain an enormous standing army. He thus imposed harsh and punitive tax measures on his mostly Hindu subjects, rendering them incapable of rebellion.

But even that wasn’t enough to supply and keep the loyalty of his 500,000 strong army. Alauddin’s gaze was always Southwards, remembering his first taste of heady success at Deogiri. That initial plunder alone was enough to buy his way to Delhi, yet Deogiri had much more to offer and there were much more wealthy kingdoms Southwards of Deogiri.

Jihad Further South

The celebrated Sufi Muslim bard Amir Khusrau, who was employed at the court of Alauddin Khilji, records with unconcealed delight in the Tarik i Alai–

The great Ghazi Alauddin Khalji, who had successfully extinguished the depraved Satanic ways of Hindus with his sword from the mountains of Ghazni to mouth of the Ganges, by destroying their temples and putting to death their holy-men (Brahmans), was possessed by a zeal to spread the light of the Mohammedan faith to hitherto untouched regions, namely the Deccan and Southern India.’

Malik Kafur, Alauddin Khilji‘s best general, was originally an attractive slave boy whom the Sultan took a fancy to. He eventually rose up the ranks with Alauddin’s infatuated favor and proved his mettle as a military commander. After successful expeditions in Gujarat and Rajputhana, Malik Kafur in the years AD 1307 and 1309 respectively, conquered and extracted, rich tribute from the Yadava kingdom at Deogiri and Kakatiyas at Warangal.

Wisely, Alauddin did not seek to annex these Hindu Kingdoms to his empire due to the difficulties associated with governing faraway and restive provinces, but looted them and fleeced them by imposing annual tributes to replenish his coffers.

After a protracted bloody siege of Warangal, under threat of a mass slaughter, Malik Kafur extracted from the Kakatiya King Rudra Deva, almost his entire country’s wealth in diamonds, gold, silver, gems, horses, and elephants. The last was a particular attraction for the Delhi sultans in Southern India, given the importance that the elephant had as a war machine during that time. Malik Kafur then returned to Delhi with the loot of Warangal burdening a ”1000 camels under the weight of treasure”, according to Aamir Khusrau’s excited testimony.

With Deogiri Yadava and Warangal Kakatiyas looted and denuded of their riches and dignity, the Hoysalas of Karnata and Pandyas of Tamil country were the only 2 major Hindu kingdoms in the entire Indian mainland, who remained untouched by the sword of Islam in the year AD 1310.

Next wave of Southern Jihad 

Having brought the Yadava and Kakatiya kingdoms into submission, Alauddin Khilji set his sights further southwards to the regions of Ma’bar (present day Tamil Nadu and Kerala), which as Aamir Khusrau sagely informs us, were so distant they could be reached only after a 12 month march from Delhi and ‘‘never saw the arrow of a Holy warrior”.

In addition to the prospect of spreading his cult, what attracted Alauddin were the superior quality of elephants in the South and other loot prospects. He, therefore, set out Malik Kafur at the head of an enormous army from the gates of Delhi during November, AD 1310.

The army of Islam, led by Malik Kafur, arrived at the gates of Dwarasamudram (Halebidu), capital of the Hoysalas few months later, leaving behind a trail of destruction and demanded that the ruler convert to Islam or pay an enormous amount as Jaziya or die. The Hoysala ruler was then forced to part with nearly all of his treasure (except his sacred thread as Khusrau gleefully records) and was made to agree to pay an annual tribute to the tyrant in Delhi.

Having humbled the Hoysalas thus, Malik Kafur pressed southwards, setting his sights on Ma’bar, where following the death of the great Pandyan King Maravarman Kulasekhara, his sons Sundara and Vira Pandya were locked in a fratricidal war over their right to rule as successor. The late Pandya monarch had ushered in great prosperity over his realm and amassed great wealth in the 42 years of his rule. With this attractive target in mind, Malik Kafur pressed his army to the Pandya capital, leaving behind an enormous trail of massacres and destruction, the likes of which had never been witnessed before in the entire history of Southern India.

The great temple cities of Kanchipuram, Chidambaram, Madurai, Srirangam, and Rameshwaram in the Tamil country were completely devastated by the Mohammedan onslaught. As our genteel Sufi Bard Aamir Khusrau triumphantly records:

”the holy places of the Hindus, which the Malik Kafur dug up from its foundations with the greatest care… and the heads of the Brahmans and other idolaters danced from their necks and fell to the floor with torrents of blood. The stone idols called Ling, which had existed for a long time and until now, the kick of the horse of Islam hadn’t attempted to break… the Mussalmans destroyed all the idols”.

Khusrau also records that Malik Kafur seized over 500 elephants, 5000 horses, and over 500 mounds of gems of every imaginable manifestation (rubies, pearls, diamonds, emeralds etc.).The warring Pandyan brothers, meanwhile, upon hearing the fate that befell the Hoysala King, set their differences aside, went into hiding and continued to wage guerrilla war against the invading Jihadi army.

While Malik Kafur was ultimately unsuccessful in forcing the Pandyas to pay tribute, he did return to Delhi with a colossal booty from his campaigns in the South, in addition to leaving behind a garrison of soldiers in Madurai, the Pandyan capital. This would later lead to the genesis of the first Muslim ruled state in Southern India.

Turmoil in Delhi

While his confidant General Malik Kafur was causing a green Holocaust in the previously un-despoiled Holy land of Dakshina Bharata, the tyrant Sultan Alauddin Khilji, was being consumed by a kind of putrid hate and madness that comes only at the end of a lifetime of violence and rape. Paranoia combined with the Sultan’s zeal for repression was suffocating a large section of the population, especially the Hindus. Even Muslims born into other ethnicities weren’t spread of the mad King’s wrath. Upon Alauddin’s orders, over 30,000 newly converted Mongol origin Muslims, who had settled in Delhi, were massacred on the streets and their women and children sold into slavery. This incident sent shockwaves throughout India. Revolt was brewing and it was into this quagmire that Malik Kafur returned with the colossal wealth he had brutally looted from the Southern realms, vastly increasing the Sultanate’s fortunes.

Alauddin Khilji, the most wildly successful of all Muslim invaders to despoil Bharata, breathed his last in the month of January in 1316. Malik Kafur, the most powerful figure in Delhi post the Sultan, then wasted no time in decimating the entire Khilji clan. However, in a stunning twist of fate, the assassins he had paid to kill one of Alauddin’s sons, turned against him and dispatched him to hell, bringing an abrupt end to his fantastic career as of one the greatest Ghazis of all time.

Mubarak Shah, Alauddin Khilji’s son succeeded him on the throne in AD 1317. He appears to have inherited his father’s taste in drinks and handsome boys, and thus had taken a Gujarati Hindu sex slave (born into a deprived caste) and christened him Khusrau Khan. Like Malik Kafur before him, Khushrau ascended the ranks quickly and became a Vazir in the service of the Sultan.

Distant rumbles

The chaos and mayhem in Delhi gave the Deccan and Southern Kingdoms a reprieve and they stopped sending tribute of treasure and elephants to Delhi. The distant Hoysala Emperor Raja Veera Ballala III rebuilt his ruined city and consolidated his hold over his empire and parts of Tamil country.  In Devagiri, the Yadava King Harapala Deva ascended the throne and stopped sending tribute over to the Delhi sultanate. The Kakatiya Raja Pratap Rudra did the same and strengthened his hold over the frontiers of the old Kakatiya realm. While further down south the estranged Pandya brothers, Vira and Sundara began their fratricidal war again.

This enraged the new Sultan Mubarak Shah and he descended upon Devagiri with his huge army in AD 1318, while Khusrau Khan was sent to Warangal, the seat of the Kakatiyas to teach Pratap Rudra a lesson. The brave Harapala Deva put up a spirited defense, but was defeated, captured, and in typical barbarous Sultanate fashion killed, flayed, his skin stuffed with straw and displayed from the gates of Devagiri. Thus passed the end of the last great ruler of the Yadavas, who had ruled for nearly 600 years over the Deccan, claiming descent from Lord Krishna himself.

Mubarak Shah then partitioned the Maratha countryside to various Mohammedan governors, bringing the Deccan under the direct Muslim rule for the first time. The Sultan then ordered the main temples of Devagiri (city of the Gods) demolished and erected a huge Mosque with the pillars of the smashed temples, the first ever masjid in the Deccan. This domed monstrosity was a replica of the Qutub Minar’s masjid, similarly ‘decorated’ with Hindu temple parts. The Sultanate sought to reimagine Delhi in the Deccan.

mosque Daulatabad


Meanwhile, Khusrau Khan successfully waged war upon the Kakatiyas in Warangal and forced them to submit and pay tribute. He then turned to meet his Sultan in Devagiri, who by then had grown suspicious of rumors emanating from Delhi and left for it.

Mayhem in Delhi

In typical Sultanate fashion, Khushrau Khan gained power over an increasingly mad Mubarak Shah and finally gets him killed. Remarkably then, Khusrau Khan, to the consternation of the Muslim Ulema and nobility at Delhi, begins a process of Hinduization of the administration, appointing Hindu ministers and generals and banning slavery of Hindus.

The anguished Ulema and the Muslim nobility then select Ghazi Malik, Governor of Deobalpur (in modern day Pakistan Punjab) to intervene on their behalf. The Ghazi Malik raises a huge army and attacks Delhi. Khushrau Khan empties his treasury to pay his Muslim soldiers to defend the city, but they decamp after taking the money from him to join the Ghazi. Khusrau is subsequently captured, tortured and killed and Ghazi Malik ascends the Throne as the first Tughluk emperor, Ghiyasuddin Tughluk in AD 1320.

The renewed Jihad

The Tughluk Sultan then turned Eastwards on a campaign of terror and destruction, launching invasions of Bengal and Odisha, which proved to be partly unsuccessful. Meanwhile, his favorite eldest son and heir apparent, Ulugh Khan, in the year AD 1322, launched an invasion of the Kakatiya empire, laying siege to the Kakatiya King Pratap Rudra‘s fort at Warangal. The Hindus, under Pratap Rudra, offered brave resistance withstanding the siege, in a cat and mouse game.

Some rumors were spread in the Tughluk camp saying that the Sultan in Delhi had died and that Ulugh Khan was planning to execute his generals, plummeting the morale and adding confusion amongst the ranks. The Hindus of the Kakatiya army then took advantage of the chaos and attacked, routing the army of Islam, which was at their gates. Ulugh Khan, then retreated to the Sultanate’s bastion at Devagiri (rechristened Daulatabad), waited for reinforcements to arrive from Delhi and re-launched the attack upon Warangal.


King Pratap Rudra committed the folly of thinking that the Muslim invaders had left and opened his fort granaries in celebration. But, despite this folly, Pratap Rudra and his brave soldiers managed to withstand the siege for another 6 months, when Ulugh Khan arrived with an enormous army.

Ultimately, the starving Kakatiya army was routed, most of Pratap Rudra’s family killed or enslaved, and the Kakatiya Raja himself was bound and taken to Delhi. Pratap Rudra then committed suicide en route in AD 1323, ending the old Kakatiya dynasty forever.

In a curious twist of events, Prince Ulugh Khan contrived to get his father, the Sultan killed in a bizarre accident and then ascended the throne as Muhammad Bin Tughlak in the year AD 1325. He then launched a series of Jihads across the country, which were very successful and placed him at the head of the largest Muslim Empire ever to rule over Bharata, whose frontiers extended from Gujarat to Bengal and from Punjab to Tamil Nadu.

Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlak sought to rule over such a vast empire through a policy of repression and political intrigue. The follies and horrors he committed would constitute several separate books by itself, such as his ruinous attempt at conquering China or introducing paper money or changing his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, forcibly moving the entire population southwards, to name a few. But, it is suffice to say that the condition of the lay Hindus became so dire in his rule, that ‘they were forced to flee to the jungles after abandoning their farms, a move done only in times of great distress’, as the Mohammedan chronicler Ziauddin Barani notes.

Southern Hindu struggles

The chaos and mayhem brought about by the Mad Sultan in Delhi did not escape the attention of the Southern Kings. His nephew Bahauddin Garshap, the governor of Gulbarga province (in modern day Karnataka), was apparently a moderate Muslim, who retained cordial relations with his neighboring Hindu rulers. In the year AD 1326, he declared himself as an Independent. He then entered into an alliance with his neighboring Hindu chieftain Kampili Deva, then a vassal of the Hoysala emperor. The enraged Sultan Muhammad sent a huge army under the leadership of Mujir Al Din Abu Rjia, the Mushriff of Deogiri, who then attacked Garshap causing him to flee and take refuge with Kampili Deva.

Rija, then attacked Kampili at Hosadurga, but the latter’s brave resistance and ingenious battlefield tactics caused the former to flee and return with a larger army. In the clash that followed, the Kampili raja enabled Bahauddin to flee to Dwarasamudra, the capital of the Hoysala state and prepared for a siege at his fort in Hosadurga. Facing a huge army with dwindling supplies, the resolute and brave Raja Kampili died fighting the enemy.

The Tughlak armies, then gave chase to Bahaduddin Garshap right up to the gates of Dwarasamudram, the capital of Hoysalas and launched a catastrophic attack, despoiling the numerous temples and palaces of the ancient city, including the grand temple of Shiva (Hoysaleeshwara), the ruins of which can be seen even to this day. Never again would Dwarasamudram regain a shadow of its former glory, as it was abandoned in AD 1327 forever following the attack of the army of Islam under the leadership of Tughluk.


The Hoysala King fled and took refuge at Thiruvannamalai, his outpost deep within Tamil country, avoiding the barbaric fate that befell Bahauddin Garshap. The Sultan’s nephew was tortured, killed, flayed, and stuffed with straw and displayed for all to see. Then, his flesh was cooked with rice and sent over to his wife and children.

In AD 1330, with the ancient Yadavas, Kakatiyas, and Kampilideva dynasties all dead and gone and the Pandyas having degenerated into numerous petty feuding chieftains, the Hoysala Monarch Veera Ballala III was the last remaining major Hindu ruler in the Deccan and Southern India. A calamity had been unleashed upon the South by the invasions of the Muslim Sultanate over the previous 30 years, resulting in the wiping out of several ancient Southern dynasties, demolition of countless ancient temples, and death and displacement of thousands of Hindus.

Madurai Sultanate

Meanwhile, in Madurai, the erstwhile capital of the Tamil Pandya rulers, the local Muslim governor Ahsan Shah after having observed the events in Delhi and around him, decided to throw off Delhi’s yoke and crowned himself the Sultan of Madurai in AD 1335. A force was then promptly dispatched by Sultan Tughlak to teach Ahsan Shah a lesson, but ended in failure. Madurai Sultanate quickly achieved immense notoriety in the 50 years of its brutal existence by the barbaric treatment it meted out to the native Tamil Hindus.

Among the numerous sultans of Madurai, the most notorious Sultan for his cruelty was Ghiyasuddin Al Damaghani, who crowned himself the Madurai Sultan after murdering Ahsan Shah’s son. A particularly blood curdling eye witness account of his cruelty by the famed Mohammedan traveler and chronicler Ibn Batutta (who was touring India then) is as follows,

”…The next morning, the Hindu prisoners were divided into four sections and taken to each of the four gates of the great catcar. There, on the stakes they had carried, the prisoners were impaled. Afterwards, their wives were killed and tied by their hair to these pales. Little children were massacred on the bosoms of their mothers and their corpses left there. Then, the camp was raised…

“This is shameful conduct such as I have not known any other sovereign guilty of. It is for this that God hastened the death of Ghiyath-eddin [Ghiyath-ud-din]. One day whilst the Kadhi (Kazi) and I were having our food with [Ghiyath-ud-din], the Kazi to his right and I to his left, an infidel was brought before him accompanied by his wife and son aged seven years. The Sultan made a sign with his hand to the executioners to cut off the head of this man; then he said to them in Arabic: ‘and the son and the wife.’ They cut off their heads and I turned my eyes away. When I looked again, I saw their heads lying on the ground…

“I was another time with the Sultan Ghiyath-eddin when a Hindu was brought into his presence. He uttered words I did not understand, and immediately several of his followers drew their daggers. I rose hurriedly, and he said to me: ‘Where are you going?” I replied: ‘I am going to say my afternoon (4 o’clock) prayers.’ He understood my reason, smiled, and ordered the hands and feet of the idolater to be cut off. On my return I found the unfortunate swimming in his blood…”

Needless to say, this was the general character of rule of the Madurai Sultanate and Islamist rulers of the South, though Ghiyasuddin Al Damaghani ranks amongst its most depraved. The piteous condition of the Hindus in Tamil country was later immortalized in words of the Goddess of Madurai in the famous poem Maduravijayam composed by a Vijayanagar Princess.

Hindus Fight Back

The aging Hoysala Raja Veera Ballala III was a battle hardened veteran. Having ascended the throne in AD 1292, he had made his mark suppressing numerous revolts in his kingdom and fended off a Yadava invasion in AD 1303. He had also dabbled his hand in siding with one of the warring Pandya brothers of the Tamil country. But it was against the Muslim conquerors starting from Malik Kafur to Khusrau Khan to Muhammad Bin Tughlak, that he proved his real mettle as the sole torchbearer of the Southern Hindu resistance of to the Jihad of the Delhi Sultanate.

Taking advantage of the chaos in Delhi post Alauddin Khilji’s death, he had swiftly re-established his control over the Kingdom and ventured into Tamil country, building outposts setting up a strong chain of defense against invasions from the North. With deft strategic skills, he prevented a Muslim garrison being set up within his territory. He ruled from three capitals, two of them in the present Tamil country after his main capital in Dwarasamudram (Halebidu). He managed to create a strong Hindu resistance to the Islamist depredations that had ravaged the South.

After hearing about the atrocities meted out to Hindus in Madurai by Al Damaghani and troubled by the Madurai Sultanate’s repeated attacks on his territory, in AD 1342 the 80 year old King Veera Ballala III assembled a large army of over 100,000 soldiers to launch an attack on Madurai. He had one of his capitals in Kannur (nearby present day Srirangam, in Tiruchirappalli district, TN), which was strategically located towards the North of Madurai, en route to the core Hoysala territory. This was to prevent reinforcements from reaching the Madurai sultanate from the former Kakatiya regions, which had become part of the Sultanate in Delhi.

In Kannur, the Sultanate army numbered a mere 6000 of which as Ibn Batuta remarks, ‘over half of them were worthless’. This was quickly crushed by the far larger Hoysala force under Veera Ballala III. In an inexplicably stupid move, however, Al Damaghani was allowed to retreat to Madurai as Veera Ballala III made his way to the ancient city, intending to seize it and end the first Muslim state in the South for good.

The old King Veera Ballala III then gave an ultimatum to Sultan Al Damaghani to surrender, which was read out in the prayer congregation of the main mosque in Madurai. The Sultan knowing that his end was near resolved to not surrender and decided to give one last desperate attempt to fight.

Under the cover of darkness, as the Hoysala camps slept around the walls of Madurai, Al Damaghani and a small force of loyal Muslims set out and fell upon the sleeping Hoysala army. In the panic and confusion, the aged Hoysala Monarch Veera Ballala III attempted to mount a horse and flee but was captured by Al Damaghani’s nephew Nasiruddin near the gates of Madurai. This was a turning moment in the history of South India.

The elderly king was then taken to Sultan Al Damaghani. In apparent consideration for his status, the Hoysala Monarch was treated kindly by the Muslim ruler while being asked to give his riches and elephants in return for his safe release. After his wealth was extorted from him, the 80 year old Hoysala Raja Veera Ballala III, the last great Hindu ruler of the South, was murdered, his skin stuffed with straw and displayed on the gates of Madurai for the whole world to see. Thus, passed the last great torchbearer of Hindu resistance to the Islamic Jihad in the entire Indian subcontinent.

When apparently the last hope of Dharma was killed and displayed on the gates of Madurai, a new revolution was brewing on the banks of the Tungabhadra River further up North, deep inside Karnata country, where two brothers Harihara and Bukka would forever change the fate of South India and Dharmic civilization across the subcontinent.

To be continued.


  1. South India and Her Muhammadan Invaders – by S Krishnaswami Aiyangar, published 1921.
  2. The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History – by Peter Jackson, published 1999.
  3. Tarikh i Alai – by Syed Aamir Khusrau, contemporary Moslem historian scholar at Alauddin Khilji’s court in 14th century.
  4. Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi by Ziauddin Barani, contemporary Moslem historian scholar at Muhammad Bin Tughlak’s court in 14th century Delhi.
  5. Ibn Battuta’s chronicles of travels in Southern India, 14th century.

The article is being reproduced from author’s blog with his permission.

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