For Prelims: Muhammad Ghori, Battle of Tarain, Conquest of Bihar and Bengal.
For Mains: Significance of battle of Tarain, Significance of Bihar and Bengal conquest.
Who was the Muhammad Ghori?
The Ghurids had started as vassals of Ghazni, but had soon thrown off their yoke.
Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad, also known as Muhammad of Ghor, was the Sultan of the Ghurid Empire from 1173 to 1202 and as the sole ruler from 1202 to 1206.
He is credited with establishing Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent, which lasted for centuries.
Muhammad Ghori was of Persian origin,
He ruled over parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Northern India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
Ghaznavids felt threatened by the Ghurids so they captured and poisoned the brother of the Ghurid emperor Alauddin Hussain Shah.
Subsequently, Alauddin Hussain Shah captured Ghazni by defeating the Ghaznavid ruler Bahram Shah.
The power of the Ghurids increased under Sultan Alauddin who earned the title of the world burner’ (jahan-soz) because during the middle of the twelfth century he ravaged Ghazni and burnt it.
Following Mahmud Ghazni's death, Ghori ascended to the Ghazni throne.
Rise of Ghurids:
Towards the middle of the twelfth century, a group of Turkish tribesmen, who were partly Buddhist and partly Pagan, shattered the power of the Seljuk Turks.
In the vacuum, two new powers rose to prominence, the Khwarizmi empire based in Iran, and the Ghurid empire based in Ghur in northwest Afghanistan.
The rising power of the Khwarizmi empire severely limited the Central Asian ambition of the Ghurids.
Khurasan, which was the bone of contention between the two, was soon conquered by Khwarizm Shah.
This left no option for the Ghurids but to look for expansion towards India.
Proceeding by way of the Gomal pass, Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad conquered Multan and Uchch.
In 1178, he attempted to penetrate Gujarat by marching across the Rajputana desert.
By 1190, Muizzuddin Muhammad had conquered Peshawar, Lahore and Sialkot, and was poised for a thrust towards Delhi and the Gangetic doab.
Background for Conflict between Muhammad Ghori and other Indian Rulers:
Gujarat ruler completely routed the Muhammad Ghori in a battle near Mount Abu, and Muizzuddin Muhammad was lucky in escaping alive.
He then realized the necessity of creating a suitable base in the Punjab before venturing upon the conquest of India.
The Chauhan power had been steadily growing. The Chauhan rulers had defeated and killed a large number of Turks who had tried to invade Rajasthan, most probably from the Punjab side.
They had also captured Delhi (called Dhillika) from the Tomars around the middle of the century.
What is the Battle of Tarain?
First Battle of Tarain in 1191:
Thus, a battle between these two ambitious rulers, Muizzuddin Muhammad and Prithviraj was inevitable.
The conflict started with rival claims for Tabarhinda. In the battle which was fought at Tarain in 1191.
The Ghurid forces were completely routed, Muizzuddin Muhammad’s life being saved by a young Khalji horseman.
Prithviraj now pushed on to Tabarhinda and conquered it after a twelve- month siege.
Little attempt was made by Prithviraj to oust the Ghurids from the Punjab.
This gave Muizzuddin Muhammad time to regroup his forces and make another bid for India the following year.
He rejected the proposal said to be made by Prithviraj to leave Punjab under the possession of the Ghurid ruler.
Second Battle of Tarain in 1192:
The second Battle of Tarain in 1192 is regarded as one of the turning points in Indian history.
Muizzuddin Muhammad had made careful preparations for the contest.
It is said that he marched with 1,20,000 men, including a force of heavy cavalry, fully equipped with steel coats and armor and 10,000 mounted archers.
As soon as Prithviraj realized the nature of the Ghurid threat, he appealed to all the rajas of northern India for help.
Prithviraj fielded a force of 3,00,000 including a large body of cavalry and 300 elephants.
The numerical strength of the Indian forces was probably greater, but the Turkish army was better organized and led.
The battle was mainly a battle between cavalry.
A large number of Indian soldiers lost their lives.
Prithviraj escaped, but was captured near Saraswati (Sirsa).
The Turkish armies captured the fortresses of Hansi, Saraswati and Samana. Then they attacked and captured Ajmer.
Prithviraj was allowed to rule over Ajmer for some time. Soon after, Prithviraj was executed on a charge of ‘conspiracy’, and Prithviraj’s son succeeded him.
Delhi also was restored to its Tomar ruler but this policy was reversed soon after.
The ruler of Delhi was ousted and Delhi was made a base for further Turkish advance into the Ganga valley.
Following a rebellion, a Muslim army recaptured Ajmer and installed a Turkish general there.
Prithviraj’s son moved to Ranthambore and founded a new powerful Chauhan kingdom there.
Thus, the Delhi area and eastern Rajasthan passed under Turkish rule.
Conquest of Bihar and Bengal:
Turkish dominance was expanded over the Ganga-Yamuna doab and the surrounding territory including Bihar and Bengal between 1192 and 1206.
In order to establish themselves in the doab, the Turks had first to defeat the powerful Gahadavala kingdom of Kanauj.
The Gahadavala ruler Jaichandra had been ruling over the state peacefully for two decades.
After Tarain, Muizzuddin returned to Ghazni leaving the affairs in India in the hands of one of his trusted slaves, Qutbuddin Aibak.
During the next two years, the Turks overran parts of upper doab, without any opposition from the Gahadavalas.
Battle of Chandawar:
In 1194, Muizzuddin returned to India. He crossed the Jamuna with 50,000 cavalry and moved towards Kanauj.
A hotly contested battle between Muizzuddin and Jaichandra was fought at Chandawar near Kannauj.
Jaichandra had almost carried the day when he was killed by an arrow, and his army was totally defeated.
Expedition to Banaras:
Muizzuddin now moved on to Banaras which was ravaged, a large number of temples there being destroyed.
The Turks established their hold over a huge territory extending up to the borders of Bihar.
Thus, the battles of Tarain and Chandawar laid the foundations of Turkish rule in north India.
Muizzuddin lived till 1206. During this period, he occupied the powerful forts of Bayana and Gwaliyar to guard the southern flank of Delhi.
A little later, Aibak conquered Kalinjar, Mahoba and Khajuraho from the Chandel rulers of the area.
With a base in the doab the Turks launched a series of raids in the neighboring areas. Aibak defeated Bhima III, the ruler of Gujarat, and Anhilwara and a number of other towns were ravaged and plundered.
Though a Muslim governor was appointed to rule the place he was soon ousted.
This showed that the Turks were not yet strong enough to be able to rule over such far-flung areas.
The Turks, however, were more successful in the east.
Expedition of Bakhtiyar Khalji (1205 AD.):
Bakhtiyar Khalji, whose uncle had fought at the battle of Tarain, had been appointed in charge of some of the areas beyond Banaras.
He had taken advantage of this to make frequent raids into Bihar, which was at the time in the nature of a no-man’s land.
During these raids, he had attacked and destroyed some of the famous Buddhist monasteries of Bihar, Nalanda and Vikramasila which had no protector left.
He had also accumulated much wealth and gathered many followers around him. During his raids, he also collected information about the routes to Bengal.
Bengal was a rich prize because its internal resources and flourishing foreign trade had given it the reputation of being fabulously rich.
Making careful preparations, Bakhtiyar Khalji marched with an army towards Nadia, a pilgrim center where the Sena ruler, Lakshmana Sena, had built a palace, and to which he had gone on pilgrimage.
Turkish horse merchants had become a common sight in those days.
Pretending to be a horse-merchant, Bakhtiyar Khalji made a sudden attack on the palace, and created a great confusion.
Bakhtiyar then marched and occupied the Sena capital, Lakhnauti, without any opposition.
Lakshmana Sena moved to Sonargaon in south Bengal where he and his successors continued to rule.
Bakhtiyar Khalji was formally appointed the governor of Bengal by Muizzuddin.
He ruled over it as a virtually independent ruler. But he was not to enjoy this position for long.
How did Muhammad Ghori Die?
He foolishly undertook an expedition into the Brahmaputra valley in Assam.
The Magh rulers of Assam retreated and allowed the Turkish armies to come in as far as they could.
Finally, the fatigued and drained armies realized they couldn't go any farther and chose to retire.
They could find no provisions on the way, and were constantly harassed by the Assamese armies.
Tired and weakened by hunger and illness, the Turkish army had to face a battle in which there was a wide river in front and the Assamese army at the back.
The Turkish armies suffered a total defeat.
Bakhtiyar Khalji was able to come back with a few followers with the help of some mountain tribes. But his health and spirits were broken.
Ghori was critically ill and confined to his bed when he was stabbed to death by one of his own amirs.