The Battle of Tarain – Muhammad Ghori and his Invasion on India

The Ghoris started as vassals of Ghazni but became independent after the death of Mahmud. Taking advantage of the decline of the Ghaznavid empire, Muizzuddin Muhammad popularly known as Muhammad Ghori brought Ghazni under their control. Having made his position strong and secure at Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori turned his attention to India. Unlike Mahmud of Ghazni, he wanted to conquer India and extend his empire in this direction. In 1175, Muhammad Ghori captured Multan and occupied whole of Sind in his subsequent expeditions. In 1186 he attacked Punjab, captured it from Khusru Malik and annexed it to his dominions. The annexation of Punjab carried his dominion eastward to the Sutlej and led his invasion of the Chauhan kingdom.

The Battle of Tarain (1191-1192)

Prithviraj ChowhanRealising their grave situation, the Hindu princes of north India formed a confederacy under the command of Prithiviraj Chauhan. Prithviraj rose to the occasion, and defeated Ghori in the battle of Tarain near Delhi in 1191 A.D. Muhammad Ghori felt greatly humiliated by this defeat. To avenge this defeat he made serious preparations and gathered an army of 1,20,000 men. He came with this large force to Lahore via Peshawar and Multan. He sent a message to Prithviraj asking him to acknowledge his supremacy and become a Muslim. Prithviraj rejected this proposal and prepared to meet the invader. He gathered a large force consisting of 3,00,000 horses, 3000 elephants and a large body of foot soldiers. Many Hindu rajas and chieftains also joined him. In the ensuing Second Battle of Tarain in 1192, Muhammad Ghori thoroughly routed the army of Prithiviraj, who was captured and killed.

The second battle of Tarain was a decisive battle. It was a major disaster for the Rajputs. Their political prestige suffered a serious setback. The whole Chauhan kingdom now lay at the feet of the invader. The first Muslim kingdom was thus firmly established in India at Ajmer and a new era in the history of India began. After his brilliant victory over Prithiviraj at Tarain, Muhammad Ghori returned to Ghazni leaving behind his favourite general Qutb-uddin Aibak to make further conquests in India. Aibak consolidated his position in India by occupying places like Delhi and Meerut. In 1193 he prepared the ground for another invasion by Muhammad Ghori. This invasion was directed against the Gahadavala ruler Jayachandra. Muhammad routed Jayachandra’s forces. Kanauj was occupied by the Muslims after the battle of Chandawar. The Battles of Tarain and Chandawar contributed to the establishment of Turkish rule in India.

Causes for the failure of Hindu kingdoms

The causes for the downfall of Hindu states have to be analysed historically. The most important cause was that they lacked unity. They were divided by factions. The Rajput princes exhausted one another by their mutual conflicts. Secondly, many Hindu states were declining in power. Their military methods were out of date and far inferior to those of Muslims. Indians continued to rely on elephants while the Muslims possessed quick-moving cavalry. The Muslims soldiers had better organization and able leaders. Their religious zeal and their greed for the greater wealth of India provided stimulus to them. Among the Hindus, the duty of fighting was confined to a particular class, the Kshatriyas. Moreover, the Hindus were always
on the defensive, which was always a weak position.

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