The first battle at Tarain (1191):
Prithviraj was the ruler of Delhi and Ajmer when Ghori was marching towards Delhi after conquering several parts of Punjab. Prithviraj was able to unite some Rajput states to present a united front against the common enemy.
However Jai Chand, the ruler of Kanauj did not join the confederation of some Rajput states headed by Prithviraj, on account of his personal animosity. A fierce battle between Ghori and Prithviraj took place at Tarain.
Ghori was wounded and defeated. He was carried away from the battle-field by a Khalji soldier. His army fled. True to Indian traditions, the Rajputs did not follow the fleeing enemy—a blunder which India had to repent for centuries.
The second battle of Tarain (1192):
Muhammad Ghori was determined to establish his authority over India. He was not disheartened over his defeat. He wanted to avenge his humiliation. He reorganised and strengthened his army. With a large cavalry of unrivalled marks-men, he again descended the plains of Tarain in 119.
Prithviraj again formed a confederation of the north Indian Kings. Nevertheless, Jai Chand of Kanauj, not only kept himself aloof from the battle but is also said to have helped Muhammad Ghori in order to wreck his vengeance on Prithviraj. Conflicting accounts of the defeat and ultimate fate of Prithviraj as well as Muhammad Ghori are given.
The numerical strength of the Rajput forces was far greater than Ghori’s army which, however, was better organised. The fighting quality of the Turkish cavalry decided the issue. A large number of Indian soldiers lost their lives. Prithviraj was captured and slain. Chandbardai, the court poet of Prithviraj has another version to tell.
According to him Prithviraj was taken to Ghori as a prisoner. In a show of exhibiting his skill as an archer, the blind Prithviraj shot a sound-guided arrow at Muhammad Ghori killing him instantly. Prithviraj later committed suicide. Col-Todd, the well known historian of the Rajput period, does not attach credence to this version of Chandbardai.
Results of the Second Battle of Tarain:
The crux of the defeat of Prithviraj is that the sovereignty of a considerable part of India passed into the hands of the foreigners. The sovereignty of the Rajputs ended to a great extent. In the words of V.S. Smith, “The second battle of Tarain in 1192, may be regarded as the decisive contest which ensured the ultimate success of the Mohammadan attack on Hindustan.”
The victory of Ghori settled the future course of Indian history and as Dr. D.C. Ganguly writes, “The defeat of Prithviraj in the second battle of Tarain not only destroyed the imperial power of the Chauhans, but also brought disaster on the whole of Hindustan.” S. Lanepoole has said, “The result of this victory was the annexation of Ajmer, Hansi and Sirsuti, ruthless slaughter and a general destruction of temples and idols and building of mosques.”