Warrior Queen Karnavati of Uttarakhand

Posted August 9, 2013 by admin in Historical Figures

In the mid-1300s the legend goes that their Raja Ajayapala performed a vigorous mantra-sadhana of various bhairava mantra-s into which he had been initiated by a natha-yogin. Consequently, he came to dominate the whole Uttarakhand, and his clan became its paramount rulers.

In this period they used to have a lineage of kali kula (kali Tradition) sadhaka-s from the city of karnavati in the lata(regional) country visit them and perform rituals for martial glory. Their power was further consolidated during the reign of mahIpati shaha, when the Tibetans accepted their suzerainty, at least in the western provinces. After the death of this king, his queen, karnavati, took over the rule of the kingdom.

She is said to have been an accomplished sadhaki of the Kali Kula who gave a village grant to brahmins from the lata country. These brahmins are supposed to have held for centuries an idol of MahaKali which was originally housed in a temple in karnavati, Gujarat that was vandalized by the monstrous Mohammedan Ahmed Shah. They installed the idol in a temple of kali near the town of karttikeyapura, which was an ancient kaumara kShetra and the capital of the pre-paramara(clan) rulers of the land.

Shortly there after, in 1640 CE the Mughal tyrant Shah Jahan ( of the Taj Mahal fame) dispatched Ghazi Najabat Khan with the orders to extirpate the Kafirs of the Uttarakhand. The warrior queen karnavati is said to have prepared for the invasion by leading the troops herself. She drew the Mughals to an ambush in steep mountain slopes north of Dehradun and fallen upon them with the advantage of height. The Mughal army suffered a major defeat. She is said to have prevented their retreat by blocking their rear in the narrow valley and captured several Jihadis.

She is then supposed to have sacrificed some as narabalis (human sacrifice) for kali and had rest mutilated with their noses and ears lopped off. Thus, they were sent to back to Delhi as a strong message to Shah Jahan. Stung by the defeat Shah Jahan wanted revenge and assembled another force under ghazi Kalilullah, this time to march eastwards on the capital of the paramAra-s at shrInagara, Uttarakhand. The rani, however, withdrew with a part of her troops from the capital to her preferred stations at Newada on the southeastern dun of Dehra and Kaulagarh the fort on the northwestern dun. The Mughals moved in pleased with the lack of resistance only to find themselves trapped by the Rajputs.

Then karnavati resorted to psychological warfare by sending a message to the Mughal court that she is could chop of their noses, she could also chop of their heads. The Mughals panicked and tried to force their way back, but were encircled and massacred. Thus, the Mughal advance into the mountain passes was restrained by the fierce karnavatii. She is said to have orchestrated number of hydraulic constructions, the most noted of which was an irrigation system that prevented the water from sinking underground as it exited the hill into the gravels leading to the valleys. This, allowed agricultural development that allowed an efflorescence of several towns in the region.This consequently fed a local Hindu revival which was mainly seen in the form of various production of certain tantrika, legal, and medical texts under the patronage of this dynasty.

By mAnasa-taraMgiNI
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