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Invasions of Muhammad Ghori

  • Name of the Battle: Invasions of Muhammad Ghori
  • Venue: Various Parts of India
  • Year: 1175-1206 AD

Historians say that the actual founder of the Muslim Empire in India was Muiz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam, also known as Muhammad of Ghur, Muhammad Ghori or Shihabud Din Muhammad Ghori. Though, it was the Muslim invader Muhammad bin Qasim, who invaded India for the first time, followed by Mahmud of Ghazni, both of them could not create a Muslim empire in India in a true sense. It was Muhammad Ghori who was successful in establishing a secured and powerful Muslim kingdom in India, after a series of invasions. He was the true founder of the Muslim rule in India.

The reasons that led to the invasions

Muhammad Ghori was an ambitious leader. He was the younger brother of the ruler of Gaur, Ghais-ud-Din, who handed the responsibility to Ghori to rule over Ghazni in 1173 AD. But Ghori, being a very ambitious ruler, was not satisfied with only Ghazni and wanted to expand his empire to get hold of more power and control and wanted to conquer India. He was well aware of India's political, religious, social, and military weaknesses and also the enormous wealth and gold that India had. He wanted to attain more power and more wealth. He also had the desire to spread Islam in India by conquering the Hindus of the country. Thus, for all these reasons, he carried out a number of invasions to take over India.

The Strength of warring Forces

Though the exact number of forces is not known for all his invasions; according to historians, in the second battle of Tarain, the Rajput army consisted of 3,000 elephants, 3,00,000 cavalry and infantry, while Muhammad Ghori had 1,20,000 fully armoured men.

Aftermath of the battle: Winner and Loser

Historians say that there were as many as 7 major invasions of Muhammad Ghori against India, in which he was the winner in most invasions. His invasions in India were:
  • Conquest of Multan and Sindh, 1175-1178: The first invasion of Muhammad Ghori was in 1175 AD when he attacked Multan, defeated the ruling Ismailian Heretics and was successful in capturing Multan. From Multan, he captured Uch in Upper Sindh in 1178 AD and established a fort there. He also conquered Lower Sindh later.

  • Anhihvara, Capital of Gujarat, 1178: During the same year, he also invaded Gujarat but suffered defeat from Gujarat ruler Bhimdev at the battle of Kayadara. This was his first invasion against a Hindu ruler in India and he had to go back to his kingdom.

  • Conquest of Punjab and Lahore, 1179-1186: Muhammad Ghori realised that the main place to conquer India was not Sindh and Multan but Punjab. In 1179 AD, he captured Peshawar. In 1181 AD, he attacked Khusrau Malik, who did not fight against him and gave him gifts as compensation and also his son as a hostage. In 1185 AD, Ghori invaded Punjab once again and this time he looted the countryside and occupied the fort of Sialkot. Khusrau Malik took the help of Khokhars to take over Sialkot but was not successful. In 1186 AD Muhammad Ghori attacked Punjab once again and this time he besieged Lahore.

  • The First Battle of Tarain, 1191: In 1191, to conquer the whole of India, Ghori marched towards Delhi and he captured Sirhind. It was the Rajput King of Delhi and Ajmer, Prithavi Raj Chauhan, who put up a brave fight with his soldiers against Ghori in Tarain, a place near Karnal in the present Haryana state of India. In this first battle of Tarain, Ghori was badly injured and defeated and he had to retrace back his steps.

  • The Second Battle of Tarain, 1192: In 1192 AD, Muhammad Ghori invaded India again, this time he came with an army of 1,20,000 soldiers, which also included the help of Turks, Afghans, Persians etc. In the second battlefield of Tarain, Prithavi Raj Chauhan could not restrain the strong army of Ghori. Muhammad Ghori defeated Prithavi Raj, he was captured and killed. Thus, Ghori was successful in capturing Delhi and Ajmer.

  • The Battle against Jai Chand Rathor in Kanuaj, 1194 AD: Jai Chand Rathor, the king of Kanuaj was not in good terms with Prithavi Chauhan and was happy when he was captured and killed. But, in 1194 AD, when Muhammad Ghori invaded India again, this time he attacked Kannauj and defeated Jai Chand Rathor, in the battlefield of Chandawar. After this invasion, Qutab-ud-Din Aibak became the viceroy of Muhammad Ghori. After this, while Ghori returned back to the west to carry out his conquests in the western frontiers, Qutab-ud-din Aibak continued his conquests in India.

  • Conquests of Gujarat, Bundelkhand, Bengal and Bihar, 1195-1202 AD: Qutab-ud-Din Aibak attacked Bhindev, king of Gujarat. He was defeated first but in the next battle he defeated Bhimdev and conquered Gujarat. His next target was Bundelkhand, ruled by the Chandel Rajputs. He defeated them also and conquered Bundelkhand. During this time, Muhammad Khilji, a slave of Muhammad Ghori attacked Bihar in 1197 and Bengal in 1202. Both Bengal and Bihar came under the control of Ghori, and Khilji became the viceroy of Bengal and Bihar.

  • Revolt of Khokhars, 1205 AD: In 1205, Ghori again came to India, and this time the Khokhars stood against him. But he defeated them.

In 1206, when Ghori was going to Ghazni, he was killed by someone in Dhamyak district of Jhelum (now in Pakistan). Some say that this act was the result of the revenge for the massacres that took place in India due to Ghori's invasions of India.

The larger implications of the invasions

He was the real founder of the Muslim rule in India and brought a major part of Hindu lands under his control. His slave and viceroy, Qutub-ud-Din Aibak and his successors were successful in expanding the Islam domination in India and formed a dynasty of Muslim rulers in Delhi. Muhammad Ghori was successful in creating a permanent settlement in India, in the hands of Qutub-ud-Din Aibak. This led to the downfall of the Hindu states. Also, there was no unity among the Hindu Rajput rulers. Ghori's successive invasions opened the gates of India to all foreign rulers.

The overall place and significance of the battle in the Indian History

Muhammad Ghori's invasions of India are always of great significance in the medieval history of India.
  • As already mentioned, his invasions laid the foundation of the Muslim rule in India.
  • These Muslim conquests of India led to the end of the multi-state system in India.
  • The invasions of India by the Muslims led to the beginning of the centralised political administration under the monarch, which was the political ideal of the Muhammad Ghori.
  • During the invasions of India, trade received a new impetus. India got connected to the outer Asiatic world after the Ghori's invasions.
  • For the first time, the invasions proved the weaknesses and in-capabilities of the Hindu rulers in protecting their territories from foreign conquests.
  • Ghori's invasions led to the growth of a new dynasty known as the Slave Dynasty.
  • The invasions also led to spread of communalism and anti-religious feelings towards the non-Muslim religions.

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Last Updated on : December 22, 2014