Friday, March 28, 2014

The First Battle of Panipat, Defeat of Lodhis by Mughals




The First Battle of Panipat gave a death blow to the Lodhi Empire and marked the end of the Delhi Sultanate's rule in India.

It led to the establishment of the Mughal Empire in India. Mongol prince, Zahir-ud-Din Muhammed, known as Babar, had promised to help Daulat Khan Lodhi, the Governor of Lahore, to fight the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodhi in 1523 and undertook many raids into the Punjab.

Babar, after occupying the whole of the Punjab by 1525 AD, marched towards Delhi. In November, 1525 he set out to meet the Sultan of Delhi. Passage across the Indus took place on 15th December.

Babar had about 12,000 soldiers. They crossed Sutlej at Ropar and reached Ambala without meeting any resistance. On April 1st, Babar reached Panipat. It was barren wasteland, dry and naked with few thorny bushes. Rumours came that Sultan was coming with an army of 10,000 soldiers and 1,000 war elephants. The Afgha SulUfti of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodhi advanced from Delhi to meet invader. Babar had strong artillery, which was effectively pressed into service.

The battle started at six o'clock in the morning. Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi advanced rapidly. At about 400 yards, Babar's cannons opened fire. Noise and smoke from the artillery terrified the Afghans and their attacks lost momentum. Babar sent his flanking columns to envelop the Sultan's army.

Here, the Afghans met for the first time the real weapon of Mongols-Turko-Mongol Bow. Its superiority lay in the fact that it was the weapon of the nobles and the finest warriors. Such a bow in the hands of a Mongol warrior could shoot three times as rapidly as a musket and kill, at a distance of at 200 yards.

Attacked from three sides, the Afghans jammed into one another. Elephants heard the noise of cannons at close ranges ran and out of control. Ibrahim Lodhi and about 6,000 of his troops were involved in actual fighting. Most of his army, stretching behind up to mile, never saw action. Battle ended in about three hours with the death of Ibrahim Lodhi who was at the forefront.

And at the place where fighting had been the fiercest, among the heap of Mongol bodies, lay the vain but courageous Sultan, Ibrahim Lodhi. His head was cut off and taken to Babar. Ibrahim Lodhi's tomb is still present at Panipat. When the Afghans fled, they left 20,000 dead and wounded behind Lodhi's.

Losses to Babar's army were heavy; 4000 of his troops were killed or wounded. Had Sultan Ibrahim survived another hour of fighting, he would have won as Babar had no reserves and his troops were rapidly tiring under the Indian mid-day sun. Babar observes in his autobiography, "The mighty army of Delhi was laid in the dust in the course of half a day".

In the words of Rushbrook Williams, "If there was one single material factor, which more than any other conduced to his ultimate triumph in Hindustan, it was his powerful artillery". The elephants trampled their own soldiers after being frightened away by the explosion of gunpowder. Two weeks later, the victorious Babar entered Agra where he was presented with the famous diamond Koh-i-noor. Babar celebrated his victory in a lavish manner and occupied Delhi and Agra.