Thursday, July 9, 2015

Delhi Sultanate of India.

Mahmud Ghazni; Turk Invader (971-1030)

Muhammad of Ghor: Ghurid Dynasty near Afghanistan (1149-1206)

Muhammad Ghori appointed Qutubuddin Aibak as ruler. The rulers who ruled Delhi between the period 1206-90 A.D. are popularly known as Slave dynasty. But neither of them belonged to one dynasty. Qutubuddin Aibak was the founder of the Qutubi dynasty, lltutmish that of Shamsi dynasty and Balban of Balbani dynasty. They were also called the llbafi Turks or the Mameluk Sultans of Delhi.

Qutubuddin Aibak (1206-1210 A.D.)
Shamsuddin lltutmish (1210-36 A.D.)
Sultana Raziya (1236-40 A.D.)
Balban (1246-86 A.D.)

Khilji Dynasty (1290 - 1320 AD.  Ruler of Khilji Dynasty was Jalaluddin Khilji)

Tuglaq Dynasty (1320-1412) Ghazi Malik.

Timurid Dynasty.Timur (1336-1405 A.D.) was a great military commander and conqueror of Central Asia. He conquered one kingdom after another. In course of a fight, his one leg was wounded and he limped for the rest of his life. Thereafter he came to be known as Timur-the Lame. The Persians called him ‘Timur-i-Lang’

Timur, a Turk, invaded India in 1398 during the reign of Muhammad Shah Tughlaq , the last ruler of Tughlaq dynasty. His army mercilessely sacked and plundered Dellhi. Timur returned to Central Asia, leaving a nominee to rule to Punjab which ended the Tughlaq dynasty. He was the great great great grandfather of Babur.

Sayeed Dynasty (1413-1451)

Lodhi Dynasty (1451-1526)

Mughal Dynasty (1526-1857)

Mahmud Ghazni (971-1030AD)

Mahmud Ghazni's Invasions of India
Venue: Various Parts of India
Year: 1000-1027 AD

In 998 AD, the Turkish conqueror, Mahmud of Ghazni, succeeded his father, and established a huge empire in Central Asia, with capital at Ghazni, the present-day South Kabul. He was 27 years old then and the first ruler to get the title as "Sultan", which means authority, thereby implying his power and strength. For 17 times, he attacked India during the period between 1000 and 1027 AD, a significant event in the history of India.

                                             The reasons that led to the invasions

Mahmud of Ghazni had started his invasions in India during the period when the Rajput power had declined. The two main reasons that led to the conquest of India by Mahmud Ghazni was firstly, to accumulate the vast amount of wealth that existed in India, and secondly, to spread Islam. Another reason was that he wanted to transform Ghazni, his capital city, into a region of formidable power in the entire Central Asia's political scenario.

He raided India for the first time in 1000 AD. After that, he is said to have conquered India 17 times, till his death. He was resisted by King Jaipal and then by his son Anandpal but both of them were defeated. Between 1009 AD and 1026 AD, the places that Mahmud of Ghazni invaded were Kabul, Delhi, Kanauj, Mathura, Kangra, Thaneshwar, Kashmir, Gwalior, Malwa, Bundelkhand, Tripuri, Bengal and Punjab. He died in 1030 AD, and before his death, his last invasion of India was in 1027 AD. In 1027 AD, he invaded the Somnath temple in Gujarat, on the coast of Saurashtra or Kathiwar. This was supposed to be his biggest invasion as he had looted all treasures and precious items of the fortified temple.

                                                      Strength of the warring forces

Mahmud Ghazni's invaders were more of fast moving cavalry, while the Indian armies were mainly of elephants. The army of Rajputs, no doubt, evolved during the Mughal rule, which was also appreciated by the Mughals. But this expansion and evolution of the Rajput's army was nothing in comparison to the Turkish invaders and could not keep pace with the military tactics and troops of Mahmud Ghazni.

                                                Aftermath of the battle: winner and loser

Obviously, the clear winner was Mahmud Ghazni. It is said that he always attacked India during the hot summer seasons and with the onset of monsoons, would go back to Ghazni, the reason being, he wanted to avoid the flooding rivers of Punjab, so that his forces won't get trapped there. In all his 17 invasions, a number of dynasties were conquered by him.

First invasion of Mahmud Ghazni in 1000 AD : Mahmud of Ghazni first invaded modern Afghanistan and Pakistan in 1000 AD. He defeated Hindu shahi kingdom ruler Jaya Pala, who killed himself later, and his son Ananda Pala became his successor.

1005 : Ghazni invaded Bhatia.

1006 : Ghazni invaded Multan. During this time, Ananda Pala attacked him.

1007 : Mahmud of Ghazni attacked and crushed Sukha Pala, ruler of Bhatinda.

1011 : Ghazni raided Nagarkot in the Punjab hills.

1013 : This was Mahmud's 8th expedition into Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan, the shahi kingdom under Anand Pala, who was defeated by Ghazni in the Battle of Waihind, the Hind shahi capital near Peshawar.

1014 : Thanesar was conquered by Mahmud.

1015 : Kashmir was attacked by Mahmud.

1018 : He attacked Mathura, where a number of coalition of rulers were defeated, including a ruler called Chandra Pala.

1021 : Mahmud conquered Kanauj by defeating Kanauj King Chandella Ganda. In the same year he defeated and killed two more rulers, Shahi Trilochana Pala and his son Bhima Pala, thereby conquering Rahib and Lahore (modern Pakistan).

1023 : Gwalior was invaded and conquered by Ghazni.

Last invasion of Mahmud Ghazni, 1027 : In 1027, he attacked the Somnath temple. The brave Hindu Rajputs tried to defend the temple when the enemy tried to get inside it. The Hindus fought very bravely and initially the enemies could not damage the temple. However, after 3 days of fights, Mahmud Ghazni's troops were successful in plundering the Somnath temple, in which the sacred idol, Linga was destroyed. Ghazni looted all the treasures of the temple, which was at that time worth 20-million Dinars, more than eighty times of what he had collected in his first invasion. Around 5000 Hindus died during this last invasion.

                                             The larger implications of the battle 

Mahmud's invasions of India were no doubt bloody. He was a ruthless raider and plunderer of wealth.
In each invasion of an Indian dynasty, he carried back vast wealth with him. Places like Mathura, Kanauj, Thaneshwar were transformed into ruins. The demolition of the Shiva temple at Somnath earned him tremendous hatred of many Hindus. He looted the wealth of the temples and then destroyed them completely at various places such as Jwalamukhi, Maheshwar, Narunkot and Dwarka.
Though his invasions did not show any systematic effort to conquer the subcontinent, they led to the foundation of the Turkish rule in India and his conquest opened the gates of India to be conquered from the Northwest.

Mahmud Ghazni built a large empire covering Samarkand in the north, Gujarat in the south, Punjab in the east and Caspian sea in the west. His empire included Persia, Afghanistan, Trans-oxyana, and Punjab. He was considered a great Islamic Hero.

                         The overall place and significance of the invasions in Indian history

The 17 invasions of India undertaken by Ghazni, one after the other, revealed the Indian rulers' military weakness. These invasions also disclosed how the Rajput rulers had no political unity among themselves. These conquests proved that the Muslims were superior to Hindus in the field of war, discipline and duty. With Ghazni's invasions, the economic condition of India weakened.

Huge wealth was looted out of the country. The resources of India were drained out by his repeated conquests and India was deprived of her manpower, which also adversely affected the future political scenario of the country. There was a huge setback to Indian arts, architecture and sculpture due to the demolition of idols and temples. Islam also gained a major foothold in India after the attacks. The conquests also led to a growing hatred and fear among the Hindus and the Muslims. However, these conquests also led to the coming of the Sufis or the Muslim saints for more Hindu-Muslim interaction. Ghazni's conquests, especially the inclusion of Punjab and Afghanistan in his kingdom, made the Indian frontiers weak. This made easier for other Afghan and Turkish rulers to enter India into the Gangetic valley at any time. One special mention is of Muhammad Ghori's invasion of India.

Rise of Turks in India:

Foundation of Islamic Rule in India was done by the Turks but not by the Arabs. Although the Arabs were the first Muslim invaders on India, they became insignificant after their initial success and their invasion became a passing episode in the political history of India. The work started by them, however, was carried to completion by the Turks.

The Turks by then had embraced Islam and had gained control over the Khalifa of Baghdad. They were more aggressive and ambitious than the Arabs. They were brave, bold and determined and were thoroughly materialistic in outlook. In patriotism and fanaticism, they even excelled the Arabs. In fact, they were fit to establish and rule over a vast empire. Disintegrated India became a victim to their ambition.

The first Turkish invader on India was Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni who was honored by the Khalifa with the titles of Yamin-ud-Doulah (the right-hand of the empire) and Amin-ul-Milat (Custodian of Faith). It is said that at the time when Mahmud was honored by the Khalifa, he took vow to lead every year an expedition against India, the land of the infidels. He tried to fulfill it. In between A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1027, Mahmud had led almost seventeen expeditions to India. Although these expeditions of Mahmud were for the propagation of Islam and destruction of the infidels, his materialistic attitude for this could not be undermined.

He invaded Indian kingdoms frequently and plundered Indian cities and temples. He took away huge quantity of wealth from India and killed her people in thousands. He made the Shahi kingdom out of existence which had been guarding the north frontiers against foreign invaders. Mahmud also made Punjab and Afghanistan a part of the Ghazni kingdom. But he did not establish an Islamic rule in India.

The credit of founding a Muslim empire in India does not go either to Muhammad-bin-Qasim or to Mahmud of Ghazni but to Muhammad Ghori, the ruler of Ghur, who succeeded in establishing a Muslim empire in India on a secured footing. Muhammad Ghori was the third Muslim invader of India. He made repeated invasions to India and conquered Punjab, Sind and Multan in some of his initial invasions.

After this his eyes fell on the powerful Rajput kingdom of Delhi and Ajmer which was then ruled by a young, energetic and dynamic king Prithviraja Chauhan. Muhammad Ghori who was bent upon conquering the whole of Hindustan, met Prithviraja in the first battle of Tarain in 1191 A.D. Muhammad was defeated and wounded in this encounter and had fled away with life.

In spite of the defeat, Ghori did not give up his Indian ambitions. In the very next year in 1192 A.D he met Prithviraj Chauhan in the battle field of Tarain and fought desperately with tricks and technique. He won the war this time and this was a great victory against a great king of India. Prithviraj was captured and taken as a prisoner.

The second battle of Tarain is a landmark in the history of India and it heralded Muslim rule in India. After conquering Delhi, Ajmer and Kanauj subsequently, Muhammad Ghori laid the foundation of the Muslim rule in India. But he left the work of its consolidation to Qutub-ud-din Aibak who was his most trusted lieutenant.

Alexander’s Invasion of India.

                                                  Alexander’s Invasion To India.

From the accounts of historian Plutarch it is gathered that when the Greek hero reached the Hindu Kush, he commanded an army of one lakh and twenty thousand soldiers. With that big army he crossed the Hindu Kush and marched through Swat and Gandhara. The mountainous tribes of those territories offered brave resistance to the invading armies, and fought fiercely to check their advance. But Alexander fought them down with utmost cruelty. He conquered the Swat valley, stormed some forts and subjugated the cities of Nysa and Pushkalavati. The latter named city was very near to modern Peshawar.


In 326 B.C. the Greek army approached the frontier city of Taxila (which was situated only within ten miles of modern Rawalpindi). It was unfortunate that the king of Taxila, Ambhi, to whom the Greeks called Omphis, did not resist the invaders, but instead opened the gates of his capital to the foreigners. It is known from the accounts of Curtius that Ambhi sent information to Alexander in advance, that he would not fight but offer his submission. As Alexander advanced towards the city, Ambhi kept his word and came out of his capital to receive the invader.

It is further known that this unusual and unkingly action of king Ambhi was due to his hostility towards the neighbouring kindgoms of Paurava and Abhisara in the east and the north. Ambhi wanted to see the foreigners on his own soil so that his enemies should suffer foreign invasion of their own territories. The action of Ambhi has remained a bad example for all time to come.

Alexander thus entered Taxila unopposed. Tactfully enough he showed much generosity towards the Taxilan king. It is said that both Alexander and Ambhi offered each other valuable gifts. For the Greek invader the courtesy towards his host was more of a diplomatic nature as he wanted his friendship before proceeding further. To the satisfaction of Alexander, he received presents from Abhisara while in Taxila. While all these things were going on, beyond the frontiers of Taxila, king (Purushottam) Porus or Paurava was preparing for his resistance to the foreigners and to check their further advance inside the Indian landmass.

                          Alexander and Porus: The Battle of Hydaspes (Jhelum) 326 B.C:

King Porus was a man of gigantic and powerful body, and was gifted with heroic virtues. Brave and courageous, and having the strength of mind and conviction, he was angry at the conduct of the king of Taxila, and stood determined to defend his country against the invasion of the Greeks. As Alexander marched eastward from Taxila, on the other side of the river Vitasta or Jhelum, which the Greeks called Hydaspes, king Porus stood with his forces to face the invasion. His army contained 30,000 foot soldiers, 4,000 soldiers on horse, 300 chariots, and 200 elephants.

Porus kept his elephant force in front of the infantry, and placed the cavalry forces on either side with chariots in their front. For the first time, the Greeks were surprised to find in the Indian elephant force, standing in lines like huge walls, a terrifying war machine before which the Macedonian Phalanx paled into insignificance.

The river Jhelum separated the Greek and the Indian sides as the opposing forces stood on its opposite banks. It was the month of May when the melting of the Himalayan snows made the river swollen with flood. Alexander saw the army of Porus from his side of the bank, and could not take courage to attack it straight away or immediately. For several weeks he delayed the invasion during which he thought of various tactics to deceive the enemy. Night after night he caused false shows of attack and of the crossing of the river.

Arrian described the strategy of the Greeks in the following way:

“The cavalry was led along the bank in various directions, making a clamour and raising the battle cry – as if they were making all preparations for crossing the river. When this had occurred frequently…, Porus no longer continued to move about also; but, perceiving his fear had been groundless, he kept his position.”

Alexander planned to take the enemy by total surprise. To his luck, there came a night of severe storms on the Jhelum, with the roaring sounds of clouds and furies of rains. That stormy dark night, Alexander left his camp and proceeded with his army about 17 miles upward on the bank. There, taking advantage of a sharp bend of the river and the existence of an island in the water, he crossed to the other bank, unnoticed by the enemy. According to Arrian, “The noise of the thunder drowned with its din the clatter of the weapons.”

Having crossed the river in night Alexander advanced to fall upon the enemy from behind. Porus was taken by complete surprise. Added to that military tragedy, and to his misfortune, the Nature went against him in that fateful battle. The rains of the previous night had left the river bank muddy. Making the wheels of the chariots immobile, Porus first sent his son with a force to check the enemy march. But the prince fell dead with his soldiers while fighting hard.

When the Macedonian cavarly forces came in swiftly, the chariots of Porus could not run in speed on the mud to face them. The archers on the Indian side who used their long bows by pressing one end of the bow on the ground, found the soil too soft for their strong action. They could not thus shower their arrows on the enemy.

The infantry too could not fight on the watery ground. Worst of all, the huge elephants of Porus became useless in action, unable to run on the mud. When wounded by arrows from Greek mounted archers, those furious animals created havoc amidst their own soldiers instead of rushing at the enemies. Among the madly behaving elephants, and on muddy ground, the cavalry forces of Porus also could not fight in an effective manner.

Overtaken by Alexander’s tricks and betrayed by Nature, Porus found his cause hopeless, but decided to fight till the last. Riding a huge elephant, he went on fighting as his soldiers were losing the battle and scattering in all directions. He received several wounds, but did not think of escape. A severe wound on his body finally brought to an end the valiant struggle of Porus against his formidable foes. The Battle of Hydaspes was won by the Greeks.

Alexander was surprised at the valour of his great foe. When, after the battle, the vanquished Porus was brought before the victor, he was as heroic as he was in the battle. A proud Alexander asked him how he would like to be treated. Porus demanded bravely that “He should be treated as a King”.

A hero as Alexander was, he greatly admired the courage of a hero. As it is known from the Greek accounts Alexander “not only granted him the rule over his own Indians but also added another country of larger extent than the former to what he had before. Thus he treated the brave man in a kingly way”. The heroic role of Porus was a glorious episode of the Greek invasion of India. A small king though he was, he gave a good example of fighting the foreigners for the freedom of the land.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kashmir and Delhi: Summer of 2015-II

Late afternoon; nun chai, pampori Shirmaal and Kulche.

Two decades back, I would refuse to call it home. Home for me meant Khanyar. No other place could replace it. And now, with all memories that I look back through this house- of my grandfather and grandmother, this is home. No other place like. We humans are entwined.

The rabab player and folk singer Noor Mohammad.

Zohan, my naughty nephew.

The Quencha tent I brought for Za and our Kidney parties in the garden. The duo of Mamu and nephew love our fried lamb kidneys.

A rose plucked from my garden and Hemingway.

Akhter and pakora chai at Peer Zoo restaurant.

Beautiful sunsets at Peer Zoo. Though the quality of tea and eateries is a let down, but views such as this recompense. 
The corridors of what we used to call Nov makaan (new house). My Mamu's house.
The plush galleries of Nov Makaan and the Khatamband.
My ancestral house. Built by Khwaja Siddiq Gundroo in early 19th century. 
The downtown boys- with Khalid near 14th Avenue, Rajbagh.
The batte gully- Food street, Lal chowk.
Nadir monje from Sonwar and liptop chai.
The historic bund. High school drama.
The erstwhile Grindlays Bank.
Old friends from school.
An old architectural marvel in downtown Srinagar.
The shrine of Shah-i-Hamdaan.

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A man praying near Hujre khaas. The place where Amir Kabir used to meditate.

Zum Zum in the brass container.

Hujre-khaas. Notice the delicate paper machie on walls.

The baroque wood work one of the old city structures.

Laborers Gafoor and Rafiq from Shupiyan, outside Dastgir Sahib shrine.

Insanely mouth watery stuff- the quintessential Masal Tzot. 

Our ancentral graveyard. The oldest grave belonging to my great great great great Grandfather- Khwaja Siddiq Gundroo, who died in 1818.

Badam waer, with Za and Shabana my sister.

Kaeth Darwaz, built around the Hari Parbat fort in Akbar's time.

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Near Sumbal.

Akki in his salt and pepper avatar.

The road winding through paddy fields. On way to Tull Mul, Ganderbal.

The many green tunnels that you drive through.

Tul Mull spring.

The silent Buddha or the pretending Buddha?

Yeh kahan agaye hum.

You are the man. 

Do yaar. Puraane yaar.

What captivates me about Shalimar is its voyeuristic air. It is believed emperor Jehangir made love to his queen in the open pandalans. 

Trying to do a SRK, Veer Zaara. Mai yahan hon yahan.

Master Goor, Barbershah.

Matoo House, Barber shah.

The the shikara ride. While in Kashmir can I miss it. 

With Mohsin. A friendship that goes back 26 years.

Tujje. Mutton barbecue.

That is Peter the shikar walla (in white sun hat). Blind in his eyes by 90% he rows the boat remarkably with exact precision. Kashmir a place in the midst of a sad melancholy, characters like Peter keep the humor alive, no matter what the circumstances.

Khushwant Singh at Delhi airport.

A picture of old times. Of happier times. They shall return by the Vitasta, where we wait.

The mighty chinars lined up near Jhelum, visible from the overpass that connects Sumbal with Ganderbal. They find a mention in Ward Deny's Our Summer in the vale of Kashmir.