In this article we will discuss about the invasions of Muhammad of Ghur in India.

Ghur is situated at a high altitude of more than ten thousand feet between Ghazni and Herat. Some historians described the Ghur dynasty as Afghans but now it is not accepted. The family was Turk known as Shansabani and originally belonged to eastern Persia.

Primarily, the district of Ghur was agricultural but Ghur was well-known in Central Asia for its good horses and steel which were the most effective means of warfare during those days. Ghur maintained its independence till the beginning of the eleventh century.

In 1009 A.D., however, Mahmud of Ghazni succeeded in defeating the ruler of Ghur who accepted his suzerainty. But with the decline of the Ghaznavids the rulers of Ghur began to assert themselves and in the beginning of the twelfth century became virtually not only independent but started contending for power against the Ghaznavids. The contest for power between the royal families of Ghur and Ghaznavids, ultimately, resulted in the destruction of the Ghaznavids.


Ala-ud- din Husain of Ghur succeeded in complete devastation of the city of Ghazni and earned the nickname of Jahan Suz. Ala-ud-din was succeeded by his son Saif-ud-din and Saif-ud-din by his cousin brother Ghiyas-ud-din.

Ghiyas-ud-din sent his brother Shahab-ud-din alias Muiz-ud-din Muhammad to conquer Ghazni which, at that time, was in the hands of Ghizz-Turks. Muhammad conquered Ghazni in 1173-74 A.D. This was the very Muhammad who attacked India in the 12th century and succeeded in establishing his empire in India.

While his elder brother tried to extend his empire towards the west and came in conflict with the Khwarizm Shah of Persia, Muhammad tried to extend the empire towards the east. Muhammad always accepted his brother Ghiyas-ud- din as his suzerain till his death though virtually he enjoyed the status of an independent ruler.

The Causes of the Invasions of Muhammad on India:

Muhammad attacked India due to several reasons.


Historians have accepted the following reasons among them:

1. Muhammad was an ambitious ruler. Like all great rulers of his age he wanted to extend his empire for power and glory. He decided to conquer India for the same purpose.

2. The royal families of Ghur and Ghazni were hereditary enemies. By that time, the Ghaznavids still ruled in Punjab. Mahmud after the capture of Ghazni desired to annex Punjab as well to his kingdom so that he could finish the remaining strength of his hereditary enemy and also provide security to its kingdom from towards the east.

3. The ambition of the Ghur dynasty of extending their power towards the west was challenged and checked by the rising power of the Khwarizm dynasty of Persia. Therefore, the next alternative before the Ghurides was to proceed towards the east viz., towards India. Besides, the responsibility of extending the power of the Ghurides towards the west was on the shoulders of his elder brother, Ghiyas-ud-din. Therefore, Muhammad decided to conquer India himself.


4. Probably, Muhammad also desired to acquire wealth from India and this too tempted him to invade India. But, in no case, this was the basic cause of his invasions.

India at the Time of the Invasions of Muhammad of Ghur:

Nearly 148 years had lapsed after the last invasion of Mahmud in 1027 A.D. as Muhammad’s first attack on India took place in 1175 A.D. But, there was not a single remarkable change in the condition of India except changes in the ruling dynasties and territories of their kingdoms. Politically, India was divided into many kingdoms both in the North and the South.

Many of them were quite extensive and powerful enough to meet the challenge of a foreign invader but their constant fighting against each other for glory and power constituted their primary weakness because it neither allowed them to unite themselves even in the hour of their greatest danger against a foreign enemy nor left them free to utilise their full resources against him. Feudalism or Jagirdari-system also existed with all its evils as in the eleventh century.

At that time, Sindh and Multan were ruled by two independent Shia Muslim rulers while Punjab was in the hands of the last Ghaznavid ruler. Khusrav Shah. Khusrav Shah was not a powerful ruler. He had failed to achieve any success in India. Rather, the Chauhana ruler of Delhi had succeeded in snatching away certain places from him. Gujarat and Kathiawar were ruled by the Chalukyas. Their capital was Anhilwara.

The Chalukyas had lost much of their power by fighting against the Chauhanas of Delhi and Ajmer. Their ruler was Mularaja II. Delhi and Ajmer were ruled by the Chauhanas. Their ruler was Prithviraja III, who was a capable commander and an ambitious ruler. He had tried to extend his empire at the cost of his neighbouring kingdoms.

Therefore, he had provoked the jealousy of all of them. He had defeated and disgraced the Chalukyas of Gujarat, snatched away Mahoba from the Chandela ruler Paramaladeva and by eloping with the daughter of Jayachandra, ruler of Kannauj, had provoked his permanent enmity. Prithviraja III was, no doubt, a chivalrous and daring ruler but he lacked farsightedness and diplomatic shrewdness.

Therefore, he failed to receive any support from any of his powerful neighbours in his fight against the Muslim invader. The Gahadavalas ruled at Kannauj. Their empire was most extensive in north India at that time and there the then ruler was Jayachandra. The Chandelas ruled in Bundelkhand while the Palas and Senas ruled in Bengal. The South was similarly divided politically and was totally indifferent to the fate of northern India.

There was no change in Indian society as compared to the conditions of the eleventh century except that a large section of Muslims had settled in many parts of India peacefully. Some of these small colonies of the Muslims were not effective in any way in the Indian politics but had attained to a high level of culture.

For example, Badaun provided good facility of Islamic theological studies long before Muslim rule was established in India. Except this, India had not changed itself socially, culturally or militarily since the days of the invasions of Mahmud.