The Hyderabad Liberation Day commemorated the heroic efforts of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in putting an end to the oppression of the Razakars under the Nizams. This historical event draws a striking parallel to a forgotten chapter in Indian history that unfolded nearly 575 years ago in the same region. It was a time when the indomitable spirit of a Hindu king, Gajapati Kapilendra Deva, led to the liberation of Telangana from the oppressive rule of the Bahmani Sultanate. Let us shed light on the remarkable saga of Kapilendra Deva. He was a dynamic ruler whose conquests and strategic brilliance are often overshadowed by more well-known historical figures.
The Rise of Kapilendra Deva:
During the 15th century, the Bahmani Sultanate, ruled by Allaudin Ahmad Shah, expanded its dominion over Telangana, subjecting the local Hindu population to brutal oppression. Sanjar Khan, the governor appointed by Ahmad Shah, unleashed a reign of terror, forcing Hindus into servitude and inflicting unimaginable cruelty, particularly upon women and children.
In the neighboring Kingdom of Odisha, a remarkable leader emerged in the form of Kapilendra Deva of the Suryavamsi Gajapati dynasty. Unlike many of his contemporaries who adopted defensive postures against Islamic kingdoms, Kapilendra Deva believed in taking the battle to enemy territories. He began with a modest domain but soon expanded his realm, defeating the Sultanate of Bengal and Malwa along the way.
The Clash of Titans:
With their dominions bordering each other, conflict between Kapilendra Deva and Sultan Ahmad Shah was inevitable. The Sultan recognized the formidable military strength of Kapilendra’s army, rumored to include an astonishing 2 lakh elephants. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Ahmad Shah advised his stubborn governor, Sanjar Khan, to avoid provoking the “possessors of elephants.”
However, Sanjar Khan ignored this counsel, leading to a pivotal battle in modern-day Khammam, Telangana. Kapilendra Deva’s well-prepared Gajapati army emerged victorious, and Sanjar Khan met his demise.
This marked the beginning of Kapilendra’s series of invasions into Bahmani territory.
The Liberation of Telangana:
Kapilendra Deva’s military campaigns were relentless. He liberated the entire Telangana region from the Bahmanis and captured key forts, including Mahur Fort in present-day Maharashtra, Racakonda, Devarkonda, and Warangal. His audacious siege of Bidar, the Bahmani capital in modern Karnataka, ultimately led to its capture. Kapilendra Deva’s unwavering commitment to Hindu interests had prevailed over the oppressors.
The historical episode of Kapilendra Deva’s conquest bears an uncanny resemblance to the events that unfolded during India’s struggle for independence. Both instances highlight the importance of leaders with a deep understanding of geopolitical circumstances and an unyielding commitment to the welfare of their people. They remind us that successful responses to oppression require meticulous long-term planning and preparation.
Gajapati Kapilendra Deva’s legacy as one of the greatest Hindu conquerors of the 15th century deserves greater recognition. His remarkable achievements in liberating Telangana from the Bahmani Sultanate, much like Sardar Patel’s strategic brilliance during the Hyderabad Liberation, underline the resilience and determination of the Indian people throughout history. Kapilendra Deva’s story stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit of leaders who rise to the occasion, steering their nations towards freedom and prosperity even in the face of adversity.