Muhammad Ghori (Shahabuddin Muhammad)


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Muhammad Of Ghor

In AD 1173 Shahabuddin Muhammad (AD 1173–1206) also called Muhammad of Ghor ascended the throne of Ghazni.

The Ghoris were not strong enough to meet the growing power and strength of the Khwarizmi Empire; they realized that they could gain nothing in Central Asia. This forced Ghori to turn towards India to fulfill his expansionist ambitions.

Muhammad Ghori was very much interested in establishing permanent empire in India and not merely looting its wealth. His campaigns were well organised and whenever he conquered any territory, he left a general behind to govern it in his absence. His invasions resulted in the permanent establishment of the Turkish Sultanate in the region lying north of the Vindhya Mountains.

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Conquest of Punjab and Sind

Muhammad Ghori led his first expedition in AD 1175. He marched against Multan and freed it from its ruler. In the same campaign he captured Uchch from the Bhatti Rajputs.

Three years later in AD 1178 he again marched to conquer Gujarat but the Chalukya ruler of Gujarat, Ghima II defeated him at the battle of Anhilwara.

  • This defeat did not discourage Muhammad Ghori. He realised the necessity of creating a suitable base in Punjab before venturing on the further conquest of India.

He launched a campaign against the Ghaznavid possessions in Punjab. As a result Peshawar was conquered in AD 1179–80 and Lahore in AD 1186. The fort of Sialkot and Debol were captured next. Thus by AD 1190 having secured Multan, Sind and Punjab, Muhammad Ghori had paved the way for a further thrust into the Gangetic Doab.

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The First Battle Of Tarain (AD 1191)

Muhammad Ghori’s possession of Punjab and his attempt to advance into the Gangetic Doab brought him into direct conflict with the Rajput ruler Prithivaraja Chauhan.

He had overrun many small states in Rajputana, captured Delhi and wanted to extend his control over Punjab and Ganga valley. The conflict started with claims of Bhatinda.

In the first battle fought at Tarain in AD 1191, Ghori’s army was routed and he narrowly escaped death. Prithviraj conquered Bhatinda but he made no efforts to garrison it effectively. This gave Ghori an opportunity to re-assemble his forces and make preparations for another advance into India.

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The Second Battle Of Tarain (AD 1192)

The second battle of Tarain is regarded as one of the turning points in Indian History.

Muhammad Ghori made very careful preparations for this conquest. The Turkish and Rajput forces again came face to face at Tarain. The Indian forces were more in number but Turkish forces were well organised with swift moving cavalry. The bulky Indian forces were no match against the superior organisation, skill and speed of the Turkish cavalry.

The Turkish cavalry was using two superior techniques.

  • The first was the horse shoe which gave their horses a long life and protected their hooves.
  • The second was, the use of iron stirrup which gave a good hold to the horse rider and a better striking power in the battle.

A large number of Indian soldiers were killed. Prithviraj tried to escape but was captured near Sarsuti.

The Turkish army captured the fortresses of Hansi, Sarsuti and Samana. Then they moved forward running over Delhi and Ajmer.

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After The Second Battle Of Tarain

After Tarain, Ghori returned to Ghazni, leaving the affairs of India in the hand of his trusted slave general Qutbuddin Aibak.

In AD 1194 Muhammad Ghori again returned to India. He crossed Yamuna with 50,000 cavalry and moved towards Kanauj. He gave a crushing defeat to Jai Chand at Chandwar near Kanauj.

The battle of Tarain and Chandwar laid the foundations of Turkish rule in Northern India.

The political achievements of Muhammad Ghori in India were long-lasting than those of Mahmud of Ghazni. While Mahmud Ghazni was mainly interested in plundering Muhammad Ghori wanted to establish his political control.

His death in AD 1206 did not mean the withdrawal of the Turkish interests in India. He left behind his slave General Qutbuddin Aibak who became first Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate.

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Bibliography : NIOS – Medieval India

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