1. Invasions of Arab in the Eleventh Century:
Hajjaj, the Muslim governor of Iraq sent a powerful army under the command of his nephew and son-in-law Muhammad-Bin-Qasim in 711 A.D. to attack Sindh. The religious zeal of the Arabs, the desire to extend the empire and the allurement of wealth through conquest were primary reasons of this attack though a pretext was found that Dahar, the ruler of Sindh, had failed to punish those sea-pirates who had captured the presents sent by the king of Ceylon to Hajjaj.
At that time, India was politically divided into many states which constantly fought against each other, yet were powerful enough to check foreign invasions. Socially, the caste-system existed but it had not grown rigid. The position of the women was, certainly, not equal to men, yet women enjoyed a respectable position.
Hinduism was the most popular religion though Buddhism was also fairly widespread. Economically, India was prosperous. Thus, at that time, India did not suffer from those weaknesses which crept up afterwards in the 11th and the 12th centuries.
Muhammad defeated Dahar and captured Sindh in 712 A.D. In 713 A.D. he captured Multan as well. But very soon Muhammad was called back and punished to death by the Khalifa. The Arabs in Sindh and Multan failed to make further conquests in India after him.
The meagre economic resources of Sindh, its military weakness, sharp social divisions in Sindh, the indifference of other Indian rulers towards the fate of Sindh, the superiority of arms and military tactics of the Arabs and the incompetence of Dahar were the main reasons of the success of the Arabs.
However, the conquest of Arabs in India remained limited only to Sindh and Multan. They failed to penetrate further in India. The growing weakness of the Khilafat, the division of Sindh and Multan into two separate Arab kingdoms, administrative incapacity of the Arabs, and the existence of powerful Rajput states in India which were determined to check further inroads of the Arabs in India were primary reasons of the failure of the Arabs in extending their power in India.
The Arabs failed to impress Indian polity and culture. Instead they themselves and through them the western world also drew advantages in many fields by coming into contact with the Indians.
2. The Invasions of Mahmud:
Henry Elliot described that Mahmud invaded India seventeen times. There are no sufficient proofs for that, yet, all historians agree that Mahmud attacked India at least twelve times. His first expedition took place in 1000 A.D. when he occupied some frontier fortresses. In 1001 A.D., he attacked again.
This time Hindushahi king Jayapala gave him a battle near Peshawar but was defeated and captured along with his many relations. Mahmud advanced as far as the capital city of Waihand and then returned to Ghazni after getting good booty. He released Jayapala after getting 25 elephants and 2,50,000 dinars from him. Jayapala could not tolerate his humiliation and burnt himself to death. He was succeeded by his son, Anandapala in 1002 A.D.
In 1004 A.D., Mahmud attacked Bhera. Its ruler Baji Ray opposed him but was defeated. He killed himself before his capture by the Turks. In 1006 A.D., Mahmud proceeded to attack the Shia kingdom of Multan. The Hindushahi king, Anandapala refused to give him passage, fought against him near Peshawar but was defeated and fled away.
Mahmud captured Multan in 1006 A.D. Its ruler Abu-i-Fath Daud agreed to pay an annual tribute of 20,000 Dirhams. Mahmud left Nawasa Shah (grandson of Jayapala who had accepted Islam) as governor of his Indian territories and went back to fight the Seljuq-Turks who were threatening his territories from the north. Daud and Nawasa Shah revolted in his absence. Therefore, he came to India in 1008 A.D., defeated both of them and annexed all the territories including Multan to his empire.
The Hindushahi kingdom was opposing the Ghaznavids from the very beginning. It had pursued an aggressive policy several times. Besides, it was the only Hindu state which tried to repulse foreign invaders with the help of other Hindu states. Again in 1009 A.D., its ruler, Anandapala, sought support from other Hindu states, collected a large army and proceeded towards Peshawar to challenge Mahmud.
Mahmud fought against him near Waihand and defeated him. Mahmud marched as far as Nagarkot and conquered it. The defeat of Anandapala reduced the strength and the territories of Hindushahi kingdom. Anandapala was forced to accept a treaty with Mahmud who firmly entrenched his power in Sindh and west Punjab.
Anandapala shifted his capital to Nandana and tried to build up his lost strength but failed. He was succeeded by his son Trilochanapala after his death in 1012 A.D. Mahmud attacked Nandana and occupied it in 1013 A.D. Trilochanapala fled to Kashmir and sought the help of its ruler but Mahmud defeated their combined armies. Mahmud did not attack Kashmir though plundered places on its border.
Trilochanapala retired to Shivalik hills, strengthened his position and also took the help of Vidyadhar, the Chandela ruler of Bundelkhand but he was again defeated by Mahmud in 1019 A.D. The Hindushahi kingdom was then reduced to the status of a small jagir. Between 1021-22 A.D., Trilochanapala was murdered by some unknown person and was succeeded by his son Bhimapala. Bhimapala died as a petty chief in 1026 A.D. and with him ended the once mighty Hindushahi kingdom of north-western India.
The defeat and decay of the Hindushahi kingdom encouraged Mahmud to penetrate deeper into India. Besides, the booty which he got in Panjab and Nagarkot whetted his appetite for Indian wealth. He repeated his raids on India and met no challenge anywhere, it seemed India suffered from paralysis and found itself incapable to fight against Mahmud even when he was systematically looting its wealth, dishonouring its women, destroying its temples and idols and bringing defame to its people.
In 1009 A.D., Mahmud defeated the ruler of Narayanpur and plundered his wealth. In 1014 A.D., he attacked Thaneswar, defeated Rama, the chief of Dera and then looted Thaneswar. All temples and idols of Thaneswar were destroyed while the principal deity of Chakraswami was taken to Ghazni and placed in a public square for defilement. In 1018 A.D., Mahmud proceeded to attack Ganga-Yamuna Doab. He first attacked and looted Mathura.
The city of Mathura was a beautiful city and a sacred religious place of the Hindus having a thousand temples. Mahmud described its main temple in his Memoirs. He wrote- “lf any one should undertake to build a fabric like that he would expend thereon one lakh packets of a thousand dinar, and would not complete it in 200 years, and with the assistance of the most ingenious architects.” There were many huge idols of gold and silver which were studded with costly pearls and diamonds.
Mahmud looted the city for twenty days, broke up all idols and destroyed all temples. He got enormous booty from Mathura. From Mathura, Mahmud marched to Kannauj. He encountered resistance from the Hindus at some places but triumphed over them. Rajyapala, the Pratihara ruler of Kannauj, fled away and left his capital at the mercy of Mahmud. He looted the city and then destroyed it. He invaded some more places and then went back to Ghazni.
After the return of Mahmud, Ganda (Vidyadhar) and some other Hindu chiefs organised a confederacy, attacked and killed Rajyapala who had failed to fight against Mahmud. In 1019 A.D., Mahmud returned to India with a view to punish Vidyadhar. He defeated the Hindushahi ruler Trilochanapala in the way and reached the border of Bundelkhand sometime during 1020-21 A.D.
Vidyadhar faced him with a large army but, for some unknown reason, left the field during the night. Mahmud, who had lost his courage at the sight of so large a force of the Chandelas, felt happy. He ravaged the territories of Vidyadhar and then left. Next year, he came again.
In the way, he forced the ruler of Gwalior to submit and then reached before the fort of Kalinjar. The siege of the fort lasted for a long time. Vidyadhar agreed to give Mahmud 300 elephants as tribute and, in return, received the right of governing fifteen fortresses from him.
In 1024 A.D., Mahmud came on his famous expedition to Somanath temple on the coast of Kathiawar. The temple received offerings in different forms from lakhs of its devotees daily and had a permanent income from the resources of ten thousand villages. It was a beautiful temple and possessed enormous wealth.
Its Shiva linga had a canopy studded with thousands of costly jewels and diamonds. The chain attached to one of its bells weighed 200 maunds of gold, one thousand Brahamanas were appointed to perform the worship of the linga and 350 males and females were employed to sing and dance before the deity.
The temple of Somanath was wonderful but the pride of their priests was unique who claimed that Mahmud could do no harm to their deity and boasted that other deities were destroyed by Mahmud because they had incurred the wrath of god Somanath. Mahmud proceeded through Multan, reached the capital city of Anhilwara which was left by its ruler Bhima I without offering resistance and reached before the temple of Somanath in 1025 A.D.
The devotees of the temple offered him resistance but next day Mahmud entered the temple, looted it and destroyed it. He returned with a huge booty. He was troubled in the way by his Hindu guides who led his army to a dreary part of the desert. But, ultimately, he reached Ghazni safely with his booty.
Mahmud came back to India for the last time in 1027 A.D. to punish the Jats who had troubled him on his return journey from Somanath. The Jats were severely punished. Mahmud looted their property, killed all males and enslaved their women and children.
Thus, Mahmud attacked India repeatedly. He was never defeated here. He took from India whatever he could and destroyed the rest. Besides, engaging himself in loot and plunder he annexed Afghanistan, Punjab, Sindh and Multan to his empire. Mahmud died in 1030 A.D.
3. The Invasions Turkish Rule in India (Muhammad Ghur):
Muhammad first attacked Multan in 1175 A.D. and conquered it easily. Next, he annexed Uch and lower Sindh to his territories. In 1178 A.D., Muhammad attacked Gujarat. Mularaja II faced him near Mount Abu and defeated him. This was the first defeat of Muhammad in India. Afterwards, he changed his route to India. He next attempted through Punjab.
Muhammad conquered Peshawar in 1179 A.D., attacked Lahore after two years and received huge presents from the last Ghaznavid ruler, Khusrav Shah, conquered Sialkot in 1185 A.D., and attacked Lahore again in 1186 A.D. He imprisoned Khusrav Shah by treachery and occupied the entire territories of Punjab. Khusrav was murdered later on in 1192 A.D.
After the capture of Punjab, the boundaries of the kingdoms of Muhammad and Prithviraja III, the Chauhana ruler of Delhi and Ajmer, touched each other. In 1198 A.D., Muhammad attacked and captured Bhatinda. He was planning to come back when he received the news of the advance of Prithviraja against him with a view to recapture Bhatinda. Muhammad proceeded forward to face him.
The enemies met each other in the battlefield of Tarain, 80 miles away from Delhi and the first battle of Tarain took place in 1190-91 A.D. Muhammad was defeated in the battle. Hammir-Mahakavya describes that Muhammad was taken prisoner by Prithviraja but left free with grace. But this view is not accepted by historians. Muhammad was wounded and taken to a place of safety by a Khalji noble.
The Turkish army was routed and the battle was completely won over by the Rajputs. Prithviraja thereafter attacked the fort of Bhatinda but could capture it after thirteen months. Muhammad could not forget his defeat at the battle of Tarain.
Prithviraja had not only humiliated him but had also blocked his way to conquer India. Muhammad prepared himself well, collected a strong force of one hundred and twenty thousand men and then proceeded towards India to avenge his defeat.
After the capture of Bhatinda, Muhammad marched again to the plain of Tarain. Prithviraja came with a large army to face him and the second battle of Tarain was fought in 1192 A.D. Prithviraja was decisively defeated.
He tried to flee but was taken prisoner. He was taken to Ajmer and, as Professor Hasan Nizami says, he accepted the overlordship of Muhammad but, when found guilty of a conspiracy against Muhammad, was punished with death. The second battle of Tarain proved to be one of the decisive battles of Indian history. It settled the future course of Indian history.
Dr D.C. Ganguly writes:
“The defeat of Prithviraja in the second battle of Tarain not only destroyed the imperial power of the Chahamanas (Chauhanas), but also brought disaster on the whole of Hindustan.” The battle led the way to the conquest of India by the Turks. Ajmer and Delhi both were occupied by Muhammad which paved the way for his further conquests in India.
Besides, the battle definitely weakened the morale of other Rajput rulers to resist the Turk invader. After leaving Qutb-ud-din Aibak as Governor of Delhi and Ajmer, Muhammad went back. Aibak consolidated the Indian conquests of Muhammad, suppressed the revolts of the Chauhans at Ajmer, made Delhi the capital of Turk kingdom in India in 1193 A.D. and conquered Ranthambhor, Meerut, Bulandshahar, Aligarh, etc. in the absence of Muhammad.
Muhammad came back to India in 1194 A.D. This time his target was the kingdom of Kannauj. Jayachandra, the ruler of Kannauj had enmity with Prithviraja III and therefore, had not helped him against the Muslims. Now, he too had to face Muhammad alone. The battle between Muhammad and Jayachandra took place near Chandawar on the river Yamuna between Etawah and Kannauj.
The Rajputs were defeated and Jayachandra was killed in the battle. Muhammad proceeded as far as Banaras and occupied all the important places of the kingdom of Kannauj though its conquest was consolidated afterwards slowly and gradually. Now, there remained no other powerful kingdom in north India to resist Muhammad’s armies.
Leaving Aibak again, Muhammad went back. Aibak consolidated his fresh conquests and suppressed different revolts which took place at Ajmer, Aligarh, etc. Muhammad came back to India in 1195 A.D. This time he conquered Bayana and attacked Gwalior.
Pratihara chief Sulakshana Pal accepted the suzerainty of Muhammad and peace was granted to him. Muhammad entrusted the command of the territories between Rajputana and Doab to Baha-ud-din Tughril and went back. Tughril captured the fort of Gwalior in his absence after one and a half years of fighting.
After this Muhammad could not come back to India for some years and the responsibility of consolidating his conquests in India rested on his governors here, particularly on Aibak. A serious revolt in Rajasthan was suppressed by Aibak after much difficulty. Thereafter, Aibak attacked Gujarat and plundered its capital Anhilwara in 1197 A.D. Aibak also conquered Badaun, Banaras and Chandawar and consolidated the conquest of Kannauj.
One of the most important conquests of Aibak was that of Bundelkhand. The Chandela ruler Paramaladeva was now the only independent Rajput ruler in central India and the fort of Kalinjar was regarded impregnable. Aibak attacked it in 1202-03 A.D.
Paramaladeva died during the period of fighting but the Chandelas fought under the leadership of his minister Ajayadeva. But ultimately, the Chandelas had to leave the fort which was occupied by Aibak. Aibak occupied Mahoba and Khajuraho as well.
The conquest of Bengal and Bihar was not attempted either by Muhammad or Aibak but by a petty noble named Ikhtiyar-ud-din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji. Ikhtiyar-ud-din Khalji began his career as an ordinary soldier and received some villages as his jagir from his master Hisam-ud-din Aghul Bak, the governor of Oudh.
There Ikhtiyar-ud-din collected a small force of his own followers and started raiding the nearby territories of Bihar. To his surprise, he found that nobody tried to oppose him anywhere. That increased his ambitions. He went on increasing his resources and his soldiers. In 1202-03 A.D., he attacked Odantapuri and plundered the Buddhist monastery there.
Next, he conquered Nalanda and Vikramasila as well. Lakshmana Sena, the ruler of Bengal, took no steps to check him so far and, ultimately, paid the price of his neglect. Ikhtiyar-ud-din attacked Nadia, the capital of Bengal in 1204-05 A.D. He moved so fast that he left the bulk of the army much behind himself and reached the palace gates with only eighteen horsemen. Lakshmana Sena felt that the Turks had made a surprise attack and fled away out of fear.
In the meantime, the Turkish army also reached there and Ikhtiyar-ud-din plundered Nadia. East Bengal remained with Lakshmana Sena while south-west Bengal was occupied by Ikhtiyar-ud-din for Muhammad of Ghur. He established his headquarters at Lakhnauti. Ikhtiyar-ud-din tried to conquer Tibet also but the expedition failed miserably. He had to return from near the border of Tibet because of geographical hazards.
On his return journey he was troubled by the hill-tribes and the soldiers of the state of Kamrupa. He could reach Devakot only with one hundred soldiers. There he fell ill and was murdered by one of his own lieutenants. Ali Mardan. But before his death he had brought Bihar and a large part of Bengal under Turkish control which was not even imagined by Muhammad or Aibak.
When the nobles of Muhammad were extending and consolidating his empire in India, he himself was busy in fighting against the Khwarizm Shah of Persia. Muhammad’s elder brother Ghiyas-ud-din had died in 1202 A.D. and therefore, Muhammad had become the ruler of the entire Ghur empire.
Ghiyas-ud-din had always fought against his westernly neighbour, the Khwarizmians. Muhammad pursued the same policy. But, he was severely defeated by them in 1205 A.D. at the battle of Andhkhud. He could hardly save his life and reached back his capital, Ghur. This defeat of Muhammad gave setback to his reputation in India and it was rumoured that he was killed. It led to revolts in different parts of India.
In the north-west, the Khokars tried to capture Lahore. Muhammad came to India in 1205 A.D. and fought a battle against the Khokars between the rivers Chenab and Jhelum. The Khokars fought fiercely but were defeated and punished mercilessly. After settling the affairs at Lahore, Muhammad returned to Ghazni.
On the way, he was stabbed on 15 March 1206 A.D. at Damyaka on the banks of the river Indus while he was engaged in his evening prayers. Whether the assassins were Khokars or fanatical Shias of the heretical Ismaili sect is not certain. Probably, both had conspired for it and succeeded. The body of Muhammad was carried to Ghazni and buried there.
4. Invasions of the Turks in India:
The credit of establishing the Muslim rule in India went to the Turks. The leadership of Islam was captured from the Arabs first by the Persians and then by the Turks. In the beginning, the Turks were barbaric hordes and their only strength was their power of arms. But, in less than a century, they converted themselves into extremely cultured people and succeeded in preserving the best elements of the Islamic culture even against the onslaughts of the Mongols. The Turks were new converts to Islam.
They, therefore, proved more fanatic in their religious zeal as compared to the Persians and the Arabs. They also believed in the superiority of their race. Thus, with confidence in the superiority of their race, inspired by their new religion, determined to propagate Islam and relying on the strength of their arms, the Turks conquered a large part of Western Asia and, ultimately, moving towards the east penetrated into India.
Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was the first to penetrate deep into India. He was successful in breaking up the military strength of the Indians and plundering the wealth of India. But, he did not establish his empire here. The credit of establishing the first Islamic empire in India went to Muhammad of Ghur who followed him after a lapse of nearly one hundred and forty-eight years.
5. The Mongol Invasion during the Reign of Tughlaq Dynasty:
During the reign of Muhammad Tughluq, the Mongols attacked only once. The Chaghtai Chief Ala-ud-din Tarmashirin of Transoxiana, attacked India in 1327 A.D. at the head of a powerful Mongol army. Dr M. Hussain contends that Tarmashirin was defeated by Amir Choban near Ghazni in 1326 A.D. and therefore, came to India as refugee.
Muhammad Tughluq gave him 5,000 dinars by way of help and then Tarmashirin returned. But this version of Dr Hussain has not been accepted by the majority of modern historians. They all agree that the Mongols came as aggressors and ravaged the country from Multan and Lahore to the vicinity of Delhi. However, these historians also differ as to how Muhammad Tughluq dealt with them.
According to Isami, the Mongols were defeated by the army of the Sultan near Meerut and forced to retreat. Sir Woolseley Haig has accepted this version of Isami. Firishta differed with Isami and holds the view that the Sultan gave the Mongols huge presents and, thus, bribed them to return back. Dr A.L. Srivastava and Dr Iswari Prasad have supported the viewpoint of Ferishta.
In view of the fact that the Mongols could reach the vicinity of Delhi without any resistance and turned back without fighting a battle, their contention seems more correct. It showed the weakness of the Sultan and also his neglect towards the defence of his north-west frontier.
However, he took preventive measures to safeguard his north-west frontier after the return of the Mongols. According to Isami the Sultan occupied Peshawar and Kalanor in Punjab and made arrangements for their defence.
6. Invasion of Timur (1398-1399 A.D.):
Timur was born in the year 1336 A.D. at the town of Kech or Shahar-i-Sabz about 40 miles south of Samarqand in Transoxiana. His family belonged to Barlas clan of the Turks and his father Amir Turghay was the master of the small principality of Kech. Timur became the master of the small principality after the death of his father in 1361 A.D.
From that year onwards till his death in 1405 A.D., Timur engaged himself in warfare and succeeded in establishing a vast empire. The once mighty empire of the Mongols had shattered to pieces and there was lacuna of power in Central Asia.
Timur fillea it up and earned his name in history. Timur proved himself a great military commander and astute diplomat. He succeeded in establishing an extensive empire which included Transoxiana, a part of Turkistan, Afghanistan, Persia, Syria, Qurdistan, Bagdad, Georgia and the major part of Asia Minor within its territory.
He successfully looted southern Russia and India up to Delhi. When he was marching to attack China, he died on the way. Timur was a cruel ruler. Besides, one primary aim of his conquests was to amass wealth. Therefore, wherever he went he brought about destruction, massacres, burning, looting and dishonour to women. Terrorising the populace was one of his means to get quick submission from his rivals.
Timur paid scant attention towards administration and. welfare of his subjects. Timur, primarily, was a conqueror and he conquered one kingdom after another like a great born commander. In course of a fight, his one leg was wounded and he limped for the rest of his life. Hence his Turkish enemies called him “Aksak Timur” and the Persian ‘Timur-i-lang’ which the Europeans corrupted into Tamerlane.
Timur himself cleared his objectives for attacking India. The one was to fight against and destroy the infidels, and the other was to plunder their wealth Prior to his invasion, his grandson Pir Muhammad, the governor of Kabul, had already sent an expeditionary force against India which had captured Uch and besieged Multan.
Timur himself started from Samarqand in March or April 1398 A.D. He crossed the river Sindhu in September and entered Punjab. Pir Muhammad also joined him after the capture of Multan. The governor of the fort of Bhatnir submitted after a brief resistance and the fort and the city were destroyed by Timur. Timur proceeded towards Delhi massacring people and destroying everything which came in his way and reached its vicinity in December, 1398 A.D.
Till then Sultan Nasir-ud-din had done nothing to resist the invader. Now he and his vazir Mallu Iqbal attacked the army of Timur but were easily defeated. Another battle took place between Timur and the army of Delhi on 17th December 1398 A.D. and the Indian army was completely routed. Both the Sultan and his vazir then fled away from the capital.
Timur entered Delhi on 18 December. First he agreed to spare the citizens when requested by the people headed by the Ulema, but when the citizens resisted the oppressive conduct of the soldiers of Timur, he ordered a general massacre and plunder.
It continued for several days in which thousands of people were massacred, thousands were taken as slaves and entire wealth of the city was plundered. Timur stayed in Delhi for fifteen days and looted immense wealth.
On 1 January 1399 A.D. he started on his return journey. On the way, he plundered Firozabad, Meerut, Hardwar, Kangra and Jammu. Before he left India, he appointed Khizr Khan as governor of Multan, Lahore and Dipalpur.
Timur brought about unparalleled devastation to India. Wheresoever he went, he completely destroyed everything. Thousands of villages were burnt, lakhs of people were massacred and all cities were thoroughly plundered. The city of Delhi remained depopulated and ruined for months and because of large number of dead bodies epidemics broke out. Timur destroyed the Delhi Suitanate and also the dynasty of the Tughluqs.
Of course, the Tughluq dynasty had lost its prestige and power prior to the invasion of Timur but now it was completely destroyed forever which, ultimately, resulted in the occupation of Delhi by Khizr Khan and the establishment of a new dynasty.
7. Mongol Invasions during the Period of Delhi Sultanate:
During the period of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mongols who inhabited the steppes beyond the desert of Gobi in North Asia threatened the security of India from towards the north-west and attempted to penetrate deep into the Indian territory. The Mongols made themselves the greatest power of Asia under the leadership of Chengiz Khan in the beginning of the 13th century.
The Delhi Sultanate was endangered, first, by an impending invasion of Mongols under Chengiz Khan himself when Sultan Iltutmish had hardly consolidated his position in Punjab. Chengiz Khan destroyed and annexed the empire of Persia. Its ruler Sultan Ala-ud-din Muhammad Shah fled to an island in the Caspian Sea for safety while his son and heir to the throne, Jalal-ud-din Mangbarni fled to India.
Chengiz Khan pursued the fugitive Prince up to the bank of the river Indus but when the Prince crossed to the other side he waited there and watched the attitude of the Sultan of Delhi. Jalal-ud-din sought protection and assistance from Iltutmish. Iltutmish was in a dilemma. It was against the rules of hospitality to refuse shelter to a fugitive co-religionist Prince.
At the same time, he had neither the desire nor the power to face such a mighty foe as Chengiz Khan. He finally decided not to annoy Chengiz Khan. He got murdered the messenger of Jalal-ud-din and declined to provide shelter to the Prince on the plea that the climate of Delhi would not suit him.
That diplomatic move of Iltutmish saved him from the wrath of Chengiz Khan. Chengiz Khan appreciated this wise move of Iltutmish and turned back after leaving the task of capturing Jalal-ud-din to his officers.
Thus, the nascent Turkish kingdom in India was saved from the onslaught of the Mongols who would have certainly destroyed it. Jalal-ud-din too did not penetrate into the territory of Iltutmish, withdrew towards lower Sindh and finally left India. Sultana Raziyva also pursued the policy of not annoying the Mongols like her father Jalal-ud-din had left Hasan Karlugh as the governor of Ghazni and Baniyan.
He was seriously pressed by the Mongols and therefore, sought the support of Raziyya against them. Raziyya declined to help him and, thus, saved her kingdom from the attacks of the Mongols. After the fall of Raziyya, the unwritten understanding between the Delhi Sultanate and the Mongols came to an end.
In 1241 A.D the Mongols, under the command of Bahadur Tair, crossed the river Indus and besieged Lahore. They returned after plundering it. In 1247 A.D., the Mongols, under the command of Sali Bahadur, attacked Multan and got an indemnity of one lakh dinars from its governor. He, next, attacked Lahore and forced its governor also to pay indemnity and accept his tutelage.
The Mongols attacked Punjab and its neighbouring territory during the reign of Sultan Nasir-ud-din several times. They gradually captured Multan, Sindh and West Punjab. Sultan Nasir-ud-din and his Naib Balban avoided hostilities against the Mongols.
They, rather, tried to befriend them. That is why Sher Khan who intended to recover Multan and Uch from the hands of the Mongol governor, Kashlu Khan, was transferred from Bhatinda in 1258 A.D. Sultan Nasir-ud-din even exchanged envoys with the Mongol chief, Hulagu.
When, Balban himself ascended the throne of Delhi, he took some effective steps against the Mongols. Multan, Sindh and, a little later, Lahore were recovered from the hands of the Mongols.
During early years of Balban’s reign Sher Khan, cousin of Balban was appointed as the warden of the North-West frontiers. Professor Habibullah and Dr A.L. Srivastava have described Sher Khan as a great warrior who had terrorised the Mongols and the Khokhars. But Dr K.A. Nizami does not agree with them.
He contends that Minhaj has not described a single battle which was fought by Sher Khan against the Mongols. Instead he described that Sher Khan had agreed to serve the Mongols. Balban, therefore, desired to shift him from the North-West and assigned him a jagir near Delhi. Sher Khan did not take up his new assignment. Balban, therefore, got him poisoned.
Whichever view might be correct but the fact remains that the invasions of the Mongols did not take place during the early period of Balban’s reign or, perhaps they were repulsed. In 1270 A.D., Balban went to Lahore and ordered the construction of strong forts on the frontier. A chain of strong forts was built up there and strong armies were kept therein.
After some years, the north-west frontier was divided into two parts for the purpose of defence. Multan, Sindh and Lahore were placed in charge of prince Muhammad Khan while the province of Sunam and Samana were handed over to Prince Bughra Khan. Each Prince was supported by an army of eighteen thousand horsemen.
When Bughra Khan was appointed governor of Bengal, then the entire responsibility of defending the frontier fell on the shoulder of Prince Muhammad. The defence measures of Balban proved successful. The Mongols failed to penetrate deeper into India.
In 1279 A.D., the Mongols attacked the territory of the Delhi Sultanate but the combined armies of Prince Muhammad, Prince Bughra Khan and Malik Mubarak Bektar from Delhi defeated them and forced them to withdraw.
In 1285 A.D., the Mongols, under the command of Timur Khan invaded Lahore and Dipalpur. Prince Muhammad challenged them and checked their advance. He, however, was ambushed by the enemy at one time and killed in February 1286 A.D. Yet, the Mongols failed to break the defence measures of Balban and retreated.
Next, Prince Kaiqubad was appointed the warden of the north-western frontier. Kaiqubad was not capable, yet two attacks of the Mongols which took place during his time were repulsed. When Kaiqubad became the Sultan, he appointed Jalal-ud-din Khalji to look after the defences of the North-West. Jalal-ud-din was successful in repulsing some minor attacks of the Mongols.
Thus, the Mongols failed to advance further in the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. However, this was a limited success. Balban also could not dare to extend his influence beyond Lahore. Besides, the Mongol menace profoundly affected the domestic and foreign policy of Balban. He had to keep a strong army in the North-West and at Delhi at an enormous cost and also to abstain himself from pursuing a policy of extension of his empire.
Thus, the attacks of the Mongols during the period of rule of the Mameluk Sultans failed in affecting the fortunes of Delhi Sultanate adversely. It was both because of the successful diplomacy of its early rulers and the strict defence measures of Sultan Balban during the later period.
Yet, another factor was that the power of the Mongols was weakened by the defeat of their leader, Hulagu in Egypt. Besides, during this period, the Mongols limited their activities merely to plunder.
They did not aspire to occupy the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. But, on the other hand, the Mameluk rulers also did not dare to dislodge the Mongols from the north-west. The territory west of the river Beas remained occupied by the Mongols.
The Mongols failed to capture permanently even a part of the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. Their only success was in the north-west region of India and that too mostly remained limited to plunder. Many factors were responsible for the failure of Mongol invasions in India. Chengiz Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire and the ablest chief of the Mongols, did not attack India.
He returned from the banks of the river Indus on his own otherwise he could destroy the Delhi Sultanate with one single powerful stroke. After the death of Chengiz Khan, the Mongols were divided among themselves. The Mongol chiefs in Central Asia revolted against their chiefs in China and carved out independent kingdoms for themselves. It weakened the power of the Mongols.
The attacks of the Mongols in India were not carried out by their great Khans of Mongolia and China but by the Il-Khans of Persia or the Chaghtais of Transoxiana who had less power and resources at their command. Besides, both these ruling dynasties were contending against each other for power which further reduced their strength and did not leave anyone of them capable enough to gain success in a distant place like India.
The Mongols, by then, had lost their mobility and fighting vigour. They had also started bringing their families with them to battlefield as is clear from the imprisonment of a large number of women and children by the victorious armies of the Delhi Sultanate. That must have also adversely affected their fighting strength.
Besides, the fiercest attacks of the Mongols took place in India when there ruled a most capable military commander and organizer of the army at Delhi, viz., Ala-ud-din Khalji. Certainly, Ala-ud-din Khalji and his powerful standing army was responsible for the failure of Mongol invasions against India.
Effects of Mongol Invasions:
The invasions of the Mongols affected the domestic and foreign policy of the Sultans of Delhi. Among them, the powerful Sultans like Balban and Ala-ud- din, kept not only powerful armies with them but also attempted to establish a despotic government at the Centre.
It was, certainly, to some extent, because of the threat posed before them by Mongol invasions. Besides, till Mongol menace was there, none of them except Ala-ud-din Khalji could dare to adopt a policy of extending the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. Thus, invasions of the Mongols affected Indian politics to a certain extent indirectly.