Babur, 14 February 1483-26 December 1530

Babur, 14 February 1483-26 December 1530

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Babur, 14 February 1483-26 December 1530


First Phase: Timurid Squabbles

Second Phase: Afghan Warlord

Persian Ally or Client?

Third Phase: India

The first, second and third expeditions
Indian Politics and the Conquest of India
The Conquest of Hindustan
The Rajput Threat
Expanding the Empire


Babur (1483-1530) was the founder of the Mogul Empire, conquering large parts of northern India after spending most of his life attempting unsuccessfully to capture Samarkand.

Babur's actual name was Zahir al-Din Muhammad. He was descended from both Tamerlane (fifth generation) and Genghis Khan (fourteenth or fifteenth generation), and was the son of 'Umar Shaikh Mirza.

Most of Babur's life is very well documented, not least because we have his own memoirs, written after the conquest of northern India. Although there are some gaps in this work, it is still a remarkable autobiography,

Babur's life fell into three distinct parts. In the first he was one of a number of Timurid princes fighting to control parts of Tamerlane' empire in Transoxiana. While Tamerlane's descendents fought amongst themselves the Uzbeks of Shaibani Khan gathered strength, and eventually ended the contest by taking control themselves.

In the second phase Babur became an Afghan warlord, based in Kabul. From there he took part in one final attempt to seize Samarkand, an expedition to Herat, and the first few raids into northern India.

Finally, in the third phase of his career, Babur invaded northern India, overthrew the Delhi Sultanate and established what would become the Mughal or Mogul Empire. Only in this final stage can Babur be said to have been a great success, holding onto these conquests until his death.

The First Phase: Timurid Squables

In 1494 Babur inherited a kingdom surrounded by enemies. Farghana (or Ferghana or Fergana) was in the north-eastern corner of Tamerlane's old empire, with its capital at Andijan. In theory Babur' father Umar Shaikh had ruled as prince of Farghana under the authority of his brother Sultan Ahmad, the ruler of Timurid Transoxiana, and Babur's uncle. Sultan Ahmad's capital was at Samarkand, to the west of Farghana.

To the north was Mughalistan, ruled by Babur's elder maternal uncle Sultan Mahmud Khan, with his capital at Tashkent, while to the south another relative, Sultan Mahmud Mirza, his younger paternal uncle, ruled from Hisar. Further to the south-west Khorasan (eastern Persian) was ruled by Sultan Husayn Bayqara, the acknowledged head of the House of Timur. To the east Babur's youngest paternal uncle, Sultan Ulugh Beg Mirza, ruled at Kabul.

Further to the north-west were the Uzbeks, eventually to be ruled by Shaibani Khan.

Umar Shaikh had taken advantage of his alliance with the Mughals to repudiate his brother's authority. Immediately after Umar's death in an accident in June 1494 Sultan Ahmad gathered an army and invaded Farghana, intending to depose the young Babur, but he died on the march and the invasion was abandoned. Ahmad was succeeded by his brother Mahmud, who died in the following year. Mahmud was succeeded by his son Baisanghar, who continued to threaten Babur.

Baisanghar's plans badly misfired. He encouraged Ibrahim Saru, a Mongol who had served Babur's father before falling from favour, to rebel. Ibrahim seized the fort of Asfara, and declared for Baisanghar, but the expected help never came. Instead Baisanghar was distracted by an invasion from Tashkent. Although this threat was eliminated at the battle of Kan-bai, this victory came too late for Ibrahim, who after a forty day siege was forced to surrender (June 1495). Baisanghar was next attacked by Sultan Husain Mirza Baiqara of Khorasan, ruler of Herat, but this attack stalled outside Hisor (now in western Tajikistan).

Having seen off two external threats Baisanghar now faced a conspiracy in Samarkand, where he was believed to have been favouring his childhood companions from Hisor. He was seized and briefly replaced by his younger brother Sultan Ali. Baisanghar was sent to the Guk Sarai, a building in the citadel where the descendants of Timur were sent to be crowned, blinded or killed, but managed to escape and took sanctuary in the house of a respected religious figure, where he was able to remain until a popular uprising restored him to power. It was then Sultan Ali's turn to be sent to the Guk Sarai, where it was meant to be blinded. He managed to escape from this fate, and from Samarkand (by pretending to be blind), and fled to Bokhara, beginning a civil war.

There then followed a three-sided siege of Samarkand, involving Sultan Ali, his brother Mas'ad, who was motivated by his love for a woman inside the city, and Babur. This first siege of 1496 ended in failure, but Babur and Ali returned in 1497 and this second siege of Samarkand ended successfully. For the first of three times Babur entered the city of his dreams as its ruler.

All three of Babur's periods of rule in Samarkand would be short. This first one only lasted for 100 days before a conspiracy back in Andijan forced him to leave the city. Two of his chief supporters, Sultan Ahmad Tambal and Auzun Hasan, claimed Fergana for Babur's brother Jahangir, in the accurate expectation that they would be able to dominate him. Babur's mother and grandmother were besieged in Andijan. At this moment Babur fell seriously ill. News of this illness reached Andijan, and on the very day that Babur departed from Samarkand in an attempt to lift the siege, the defenders of Andijan surrendered. All was not yet lost. Babur still had his army, and he was able to convince his uncle, the Elder Khan, to support him. Unfortunately the Khan was soon persuaded to return home. After this setback most of Babur's men left, leaving him with a hard-core of 200-300 men, and a tiny foothold around Khujand, at the western end of Fergana.

Babur's come-back would be dramatic. Early in 1499 Ali-dost Taghai, the man who had surrendered Andijan, sent a messenger to Babur offering him his support and the city of Marghinan, to the west of Andijan. Babur made a dramatic dash to Marghinan to accept Ali-dost's offer. He now had a walled town as a base, and fresh troops rallied to his cause. Tambal and Auzun Hasan made an attempt to besiege Marghinan, but were defeated in the suburbs. This setback convinced their governor of Andijan to switch sides, and in June 1499 Babur was able to return to his capital city. Auzun Hasan was soon captured, but Tambal and Jahangir fled east to Auzkint, where they were safe for the moment.

Babur now made a mistake that triggered another revolt and would eventually cost him Fergana. Some of his Mongol mercenaries had previously fought against him, and Babur now ordered them to hand back any property that they had taken from his supports. Instead of doing this they rebelled, and moved east to offer their services to Tambal. Babur and his advisors underestimated the threat, and sent a small army under Qasim Beg to deal with the Mongols. One day out of Andijan, just after crossing the Ailaish River, Qasim Beg came face to face with Tambal and the Mongols, and suffered a heavy defeat. In the aftermath of this battle Tambal advanced towards Andijan, and for a short period Babur's capital was besieged.

When it became clear that he could not take Andijan Tambal moved south-east to attack Aush (Osh). Babur followed with a newly raised army, but when he reached Aush he discovered that Tambal had moved north, and was threatening Andijan yet against. Babur split his forces, sending some men back towards the city to protect it, and others east towards Tambal's base of Auzkint. This lifted the threat to Andijan, and left Babur free to besiege the fortress of Madu, just to the east of Aush. Once this fort had been captured, he moved north to intercept Tambal. The two armies spent a month facing each other around the village of Ab-i-khan, before Babur received reinforcements that allowed him to move onto the offensive. Faced with this attack Tambal abandoned Ab-i-khan, but he then managed to turn Babur's left flank, and advanced towards Andijan. Babur gave chase, and outside the village of Khuban fought his first open battle. Babur's left wing broke Tambal's right, and the rest of Tambal's army fled the field. Babur's generals advised him not to risk too hasty a pursuit, and most of Tambal's army was able to escape back to Auzkint.

Over the winter of 1499-1500 Tambal entered into negotiations with the Elder Khan at Tashkent, hoping to use his family connections at the court. These efforts succeeded, and an army advanced from Tashkent to besiege the fort of Kasan, close to Akhsi. When Babur advanced towards the besieged fort its defenders quickly abandoned the siege, leaving Tambul, who had just arrived on the scene, in a very vulnerable position. Once again Babur's advisors suggested caution, and Tambul was able to escape into the fort of Arcbian.

By now some of Babur's advisors would appear to have been getting nervous about him becoming too powerful. After a brief stand-off around Arcbian Ali-dost and Qambar-ali entered peace negotiations with Tambal, much to Babur's disgust. Despite disagreeing with what they were doing the young Babur knew that he would be unable to win the war without their support, and early in 1500 he was forced to agree to their terms. Babur would keep Fergana south of the Syr Darya (or Khujand) river, and would gain Auzkint. Jahangir (and thus Tambal) would get the northern half of the kingdom, which included the second city of Akhsi. More significantly it was agreed that the two brothers would then cooperate to capture Samarkand. Once this had been achieved Jahangir would be given Andijan and the rest of Ferghana, leaving Babur with Samarkand.

A new force now appeared on the scene, one that would in the new few years destroy the last vestiges of Timurid power. Muhammad Shaibani Khan was the grandson of the Uzbek leader Abu-l-khair. He had been forced to flee into exile, and had made his name working as a mercenary. In 1497 he had been briefly involved in that year's siege of Samarkand, but had retreated after arguing with Baisanghar. This first visit to the city made him realise both how rich and how vulnerable the city was. In 1500 Shaibani returned, this time at the head of the Uzbeks, and captured the city.

Soon after Shaibani had captured Samarkand Babur took it himself for the second time. This was one of the most daring of his successes, and was achieved through a surprise attack with only 200 men. Shaibani withdrew to gather strength, while Babur attempted to attract allies. In April-May 1501 he decided that the best way to achieve this would be to march out of Samarkand and offer battle. Although this did indeed force some of Babur's potential allies to send troops, few if any of them arrived before Babur suffered a serious defeat at Sar-i-Pul (April-May 1501). Babur managed to escape from this disaster and returned to Samarkand, where he was besieged for several months before arranging peace terms and fleeing to safety.

This left Babur without a powerbase. Ferghana was now held by his brother Jahangir, and so Babur was forced to seek refuge with his uncle, Sultan Mahmud Khan of Tashkint (referred to by Babur as his Khan dada or father). A frustrating year followed for Babur, before Mahmud's younger brother Ahmad Khan arrived from his home in Northern Mughalistan, where he had spent the last twenty years. The brothers decided to launch an invasion of Fergana, and attempt to overthrown Jahangir and Tambal, now the power behind the throne.

Tambal responded by asked for help from Shaibani, who was happy to send an army against the Khans. After a short campaign they suffered a major defeat at Arciyan (June 1503). Babur commanded a small force in this battle, but was able to escape from the disaster, and spent the next few years wandering amongst the nomads of Sukh and Hushyar.

The Second Phase: Afghan Warlord

It was now clear that if Babur was to continue the fight against Shaibani he would need a new, safer, base. He chose Kabul, which until 1501 had been ruled by his uncle Ulugh Beg Mirza. The power struggle that followed the death of his uncle ended with Muhammad Muqim, a member of the Arghunid dynasty of Kandahar, on the throne in Kabul. Ironically Babur's attack on Kabul was greatly helped by the threat from Shaibani.

Khosru Shah, a former wazir to the rulers of Samarkand, had ended up as a semi-independent ruler in Kunduz, but his Mongol troops were increasingly aware of the threat from Shaibani, and now decided that Babur offered them a great chance of success. They deserted Khosru, and made up a large part of the army that Babur now led towards Kabul. After a brief skirmish outside the city, and a siege that lasted for only ten days (October 1504), Muhammad Muqim surrendered, and was allowed to return to his father in Kandahar. Babur was once again an independent ruler (although his powers may have been rather limited by his reliance of Khosru's former troops).

His first task was to reward his followers. Both of his brothers were given fiefs - Jahangir got Ghazni and Nasir Mirza got Ningnahar. At this stage Babur had more followers expecting rewards than he had resources, and so he imposed heavy taxes on his new kingdom. Unsurprisingly this provoked revolts during 1505, which provoked Babur's first expedition towards India. This began as an expediton against the Hazaras, before developing into a march into Sind. After crossing the Khyber Pass he turned south, marched to Kohat, and then south on the western side of the Sind River, eventually reaching it at Bilah, somewhere near Multan. Here a plot to depose Babur in favour of his brother Jahangir was revealed by Jahangir himself in a dutiful mood and quickly put down. The army then made a difficult return march to Ghazni and then to Kabul, staying on guard against attack for most of the march.

The summer of 1505 was a difficult time for Babur. First his mother died, then he was struck down by a fever, and finally Kabul was badly damaged by an earthquake. At about the same time his brother Nasir was proving to be unreliable. He never turned up for the expedition into Sind, instead leading a disastrous expedition into the Nur Valley. He then learnt that the leaders of Badakhshan had rebelled against the Uzbeks, joined the rebels and by the end of the summer had made himself prince of Badakhshan.

When Babur was free to move again he wanted to attack Kandahar, but his supports convinced him to besiege Khilat instead. Once the place had been captured none of them were willing to garrison the place, and Babur was forced to abandon it. Next came another expedition against the Hazaras which triggered a forty day illness. At about the same time Jahangir convinced himself that he was in danger and fled from Kabul. He travelled to Ghazni, plundering on his way, and then fled through the Hazara country to seek sanctuary with the Mongol clans around Yai.


At the start of 1506 the senior member of the Timurid house was Sultan Husain Mirza Baiqara, ruler of Khorasan and sultan of Herat. For some time he had ignored the threat from Shaibani, but now he issued a rallying call to the remaining members of the dynasty to unite against the Uzbeks. Babur accepted this call to arms, and prepared to join up with the Sultan's army, but on 5 May 1506 Sultan Husain died. He was succeeded by joint heirs, Badi-uz-Zaman Mirza and Muzaffar-i-Husain Mirza, who ruled together. Babur still decided to join their army, although he didn't reach them until 26 October 1506. By this point it was clear that there was no urgency behind the campaign, and the brothers soon returned to Herat. Babur was forced to accompany them, spending twenty days in Herat before escaping from his hosts and making a dangerous trip across the snow-bound mountains to return to Kabul.


As Babur approached Kabul he discovered that the city was held against him by a group of rebels, although the citadel was still in his hands. Babur was able to get a message into the city, and coordinated a joint attack on the rebels, regaining control of the city. Babur's rule was made more secure by the death of Jahangir and Nasir's defeat at Khamchan in 1507 which forced him to abandon Badakhshan and return to Kabul.

The news from Khorasan was not so good. Shaibani responded to the events of 1506 by invading, catching the ruling brothers by surprise. An army led by the Governor of Kandahar was defeated at Maruchak, and after that resistance came to an end. Herat fell to the Uzbeks, and Babur was left as the only important ruler of the Timurid house.

This began a period in which Babur was greatly concerned with the affairs of Kandahar. It began when Shah Beg Arghun and Muqim Beg Arghun, the heirs of the defeated governor, offered Kandahar to Babur. He accepted, and marched towards the city at the head of his army. At this point the Arghuns changed their minds, and decided to accept Uzbek rule. Babur defeated the brothers in a battle outside Kandahar, and occupied the city, leaving his brother in command before returning to Kabul. Shaibani arrived soon after this, and laid siege to the city. Babur was so spooked by this that he prepared for a move into India, but the siege came to an end when Shaibani's harem was threatened. The Uzbek army withdrew, and the Arghuns regains command of their city.

Until this point Babur had used the title of Mirza, in common with the rest of the Timurids. With most of the family now out of power he now decided to adopt a new title, and declared himself to be Padshah

Persian Ally or Client?

After the events of 1507 Babur must have believed that he would never see Samarkand again, but an unexpected turn of events gave him one more chance to capture Tamerlane's old capital. In 1509 Shaibani provoked Shah Isma'el Safawi, the leader of a resurgent Persia. Towards the end of 1510 the Persians caught Shaibani outside Merv, defeating and killing him. Rebellions broke out across his former empire, and Babur was invited to intervene.


Early in 1511 Babur reached Kunduz, where he found a large force of Mongol mercenaries who had deserted the Uzbeks after Shaibani's death. At first they wanted to replace Babur with Sultan Sa'id, but he refused to take part in any revolt against Babur, who had provided him with refuge from Shaibani. Babur agreed to let Sa'id attempt to retake Andijan, and the two men separated on good terms. Babur then advanced north towards Hisar, but he found a strong Uzbek army and was forced to retreat. Back at Kunduz Babur was reunited with his elder sister Khanzada. She had been forced to marry Shaibani as the price of Babur's safety after his second occupation of Samarkand (see siege of Samarkand, 1501). Both Shaibani and her second husband Saiyid Hadi had been killed by the Persians, and they now returned her to her brother.

Babur took advantage of this chance to gain an ally and sent an ambassador to Shah Isma'el. An alliance was soon agreed, in which Babur was very much the junior partner. The terms of the alliance included one that would soon be very damaging. The Shah was a dedicated Shiite, and he insisted that Babur adopt the Shi'a faith and impose it on the Sunni inhabitants of Samarkand. This agreement would soon cost Babur the support of the inhabitants of Samarkand, and to make things worse Persian support probably didn't play a major part in his upcoming victory. Before his ambassador had returned from Persian Babur advanced back towards Hisar. A month-long stand-off followed, during which time Babur's ambassador returned, possibly with a small Persian contingent. The Uzbeks realised that Babur was probably weaker than they were, swam across a river and forced him to retreat from Pul-i-Sanghin to Abdara. The resulting battle ended in a major victory for Babur. Only after it was he joined by a strong Persian force, which took part in the triumphal advance to Bokhara. Samarkand was now open to Babur, but before taking the city he dismissed his Persian allies. Finally, in October 1511, Babur entered Samarkand for the third time, this time in triumph.


Babur's time in Samarkand can't have been pleasant. Initially greeted as a liberator, the reaction to him turned hostile when it became clear that he intended to honour his agreement with the Shah, even if he didn't persecute the Sunni population of Samarkand. At the same time his refusal to persecute the Sunni angered the Shah, who dispatched an army towards Samarkand to bring Babur into line. By the time the Persians arrived Babur had already lost control of the city.

The Uzbeks had recovered from the shock of defeat in 1510-11, and launched a two-pronged assault on Babur's new empire. The main army attacked Tashkent, while 3,000 men moved towards Bokhara. Babur led a small army against this second force, and was defeated at the battle of Kul-i-Malik (May 1512). He managed to escape to Bokhara, but was forced to abandon the city and return to Samarkand. It quickly became clear that Samarkand could not be held either, and Babur was forced to abandon the city for the third and final time (although this wasn't at all clear at the time).

The Persian army, under Najm Sani, arrived at the border of Khorasan to find Babur a refuge at Hisar. Instead of chastising him, the Persians decided to help him. The two armies were combined and advanced towards Bukhara. It soon became clear that Babur had very little influence in the army. After capturing Qarshi Najm massacred the entire population of the city, not just the Uzbek garrison. He then allowed himself to be diverted from the advance towards Bukhara into a siege of Ghaj-davan. This gave the Uzbeks time to concentrate against him, and after a siege that may have lasted four months the Persians were defeated in battle in the suburbs of Ghaj-davan (12 November 1512). Babur was able to escape with the rearguard, but Najm Sani was killed.

This defeat ended any real chance Babur had of retaking Samarkand. He probably spent most of 1513 at Kunduz, hoping to be able to regain Hisar, but early in 1514 abandoned this idea and returned to Kabul. This city had been left in the hands of his brother Nasir, who in a rare example of filial loyalty handing it back to Babur without any arguments and returned to Ghazni. In the next year Nasir died, and an obscure revolt broke out at Ghazni, which ended when Babur defeated the rebels in an open battle.

The Third Phase: India

The first, second and third expeditions

At about this date Babur began to look east, towards Hindustan (referring to the Ganges plain and the Punjab). This area had been briefly and brutally conquered by Tamerlane, and Babur would claim this gave him a legitimate claim to the area as Tamerlane's most important remaining descendant.

India must have been a very tempting target for Babur. Northern Indian had been dominated by the Sultanate of Delhi, but the sultans had been steadily losing power throughout the fourteenth century, and in 1398 Tamerlane's invasion has smashed what remaining power it had. A Sultan continued to occupy the throne in Delhi until Babur finally deposed the last one, but their authority rarely extended far outside the city and its immediate surroundings. Independent Muslim states appeared to the west of Delhi, in Sind, Multan and the Punjab, each ruled by an Afghan family. These Muslim states were bordered to the south by the principalities of Rajputana. Another band of Muslim powers were to be found to the south of Rajputana.

The most significant step towards Babur's conquest of Hindustan came at some point between 1514 and 1519, during a gap in his memoirs. In this period he secured the services of Ustad Ali, an Ottoman Turk, who became his first Master of Ordnance. Ustad Ali's job was to equip Babur's army with gunpowder weapons, and by 1519 we read of matchlocks and artillery pieces being used during the siege of Bajaur.

Babur began to move east in 1518, capturing the fortress of Chaghansarai (north-east of Kabul) late in the year. In January 1519 he besieged Bajaur, further to the east, capturing the fortress with the help of his matchlocks and artillery. In the aftermath of this victory the defenders of the fort were massacred, officially because they were heathens and rebels, but probably to send a message to the Afghans on Babur's invasion route into India.

Babur states that he made five expeditions into Hindustan, starting in 1519 and ending with the victory at Panipat in 1526. The first began in February 1519 as an extension of an expedition against Afghan tribes. Babur crossed the Indus just to the east of modern Mardan, and then moved south, crossing the Salt Range to reach Bhira (modern Bhera) on the Jehlam River (the most westerly of the five rivers of the Punjab). Babur made it clear to his men that they were not to pillage the areas they were passing through, as Babur claimed them as his own. This paid off for the moment, as the people of Bhira submitted to Babur.

At the start of March Babur decided to send an envoy, Mulla Murshid, to Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi to ask him to surrender those countries which had 'once depended on the Turk' - presumably meaning just the Punjab, rather than the entirety of Ibrahim's dwindling kingdom. This emissary reached as far as Lahore, where he was detained by Daulat Khan, officially Ibrahim's governor of the Punjab. Daulat would late play a major part in Babur's invasion of India, but for the moment his only role was to prevent the messenger from reaching Delhi. Several months later Mulla Murshid returned safely to Kabul.

The first part of March appears to have been spent indulging in a series of drinking parties, but in mid March, with the hot weather approaching, Babur appointed governors for Bhira and Khushab (thirty miles to the west, down the Jehlam), and then departed for Kabul, leaving Bhira on 13 March 1519.

Two days later Babur attacked Pharwala, a fort about 25 miles east of Rawalpindi held by the Gakhar tribe. This place was captured after a battle outside the walls and the Gakhars submitted to Babur. By the end of March he had returned to Kabul.

This first conquest of the Punjab was very short lived. On 26 April Hundu Beg, Babur's governor of Bhira, arrived in Kabul. As soon as Babur had left the area the local Indians and Afghans had risen up and forced Babur's men to flee from the area. Perhaps surprisingly Babur did not immediately return to the Punjab. Most of the summer was spent in Kabul, with one expedition against an Afghan tribe in July, and another in September. This second expedition took Babur across the Khyber Pass, and he was intended ti garrison Pashawar when news reached him that Sultain Sa'id Khan of Kashghar was threatening to invade Badakhshan, on the border between his and Babur's kingdoms. This forced Babur to abandon any plans in India and return to Kabul. The problem was resolved without any fighting, leaving Babur free to make a third expedition into India in 1520, unfortunately during yet another gap in his memoirs.

Babur crossed the Indus at the same point as in 1519, marched south to Bhera and then east to Sialkot, which surrendered without offering any resistance. The same was not true of Sayyidpur (probably Saidpur, fifteen miles to the north of Sialkot). This place was taken by assault, the male population massacred and the women and children taken into captivity. Soon after this success Babur learnt that Shah Beg Arghun of Kandahar, or some of his supporters, had raided his Afghan lands. Babur was forced to return to Kabul to deal with this new threat.

The resulting siege of Kandahar lasted from 1520 until 1522, although it was actually three separate sieges, with breaks for the winters of 1520-21 and 1521-22. The siege was complicated by Babur and Shah Beg's relationships with Shah Isma'il of Persia. Kandahar formed a buffer between Persia and Babur's kingdom. The eastern part of the Shah's domains (Khorasan) had been held by members of Babur's own family until 1507, when it had been seized by Shaibani Khan, the Uzbek conqueror. It had been seized by Persia during the war with Shaibani that ended with his death at Merv in 1510, but there were still Timurid claimants to Khorasan, some of whom were refugees at Babur's court.

Babur's attack on Kandahar began in 1520. This first siege ended in June of that year, when a pestilence broke out in Babur's camp. He returned in 1521, and continued the siege. At the end of this year Shah Beg left for Sind, either after agreeing to hand the city over to Babur in a year's time, or in the belief that the Persian emissaries had convinced Babur to accept his submission. In this version of the siege Shah Beg's governor then betrayed the city to Babur. Whichever version of the end of the siege is true the keys of Kandahar were delivered to Babur on 6 September 1522, a date he celebrated on a victory monument.

Indian Politics and the Conquest of India

In 1519 and 1520 Babur had advanced into India without allies, intending to conquer the Punjab, but not necessarily to clash with Ibrahim Lodi, the Sultan of Delhi. His fourth and fifth expeditions would be launched with allies inside India, and with a clash with Delhi firmly in mind.

Ibrahim Lodi had inherited the throne of Delhi in 1517 from his father Sikander Lodi, and spent the next few years alienating the Afghan nobles whose support was holding the sultanate of Delhi together and putting down a series of rebellions. In 1523 his suspicions fell on Daulat Khan, governor of Lahore, who he summoned to Delhi. Fearing for his life Daulat sent his son Dilawar in his place. This angered Ibrahim, who took Dilawar into a dungeon to show him a number of former nobles who were now suspended from the walls. Fearing that he was about to suffer the same fate Dilawar fled back to Lahore. His father decided that his only chance of survival was to ask for help from Babur, and so Dilawar was dispatched to Kabul, where he was able to win Babur's support.

Babur's fourth expedition into India began late in 1523. His plan was apparently to place Alam Khan, Ibrahim's uncle, on the throne of Delhi. In return Alam Khan would recognise Babur as the ruler of the Punjab. The expedition was to begin with the handover of Lahore to Babur by Daulat Khan.

Things didn't go entirely as planned. By the time Babur reached the vicinity of Lahore Daulat had been forced to flee from the city. Ibrahim Lodi had acted quickly, and sent an army under Bihar Khan Lodi to Lahore to depose Daulat. Bihar Khan and Babur clashed close to Lahore in a battle that ended as a costly defeat for Ibrahim's forces. Lahore fell to Babur, who then moved south to capture Dibalpur (modern Dipalpur).

Soon after the fall of Dibalpur Babur was joined by his ally Daulat Khan, but the alliance soon fell apart. Babur kept Lahore for himself and gave Daulat Jalandhar and Sultanpur in its place. This made Daulat realise that Babur intended a permanent occupation of the Punjab, and he began to plot against Babur, suggesting military expeditions that would have divided his small army and left him vulnerable to attack. This plot was betrayed to Babur by Daulat's son Dilawar. Babur arrested Daulat, then released him and restored Sultanpur to them, but Daulat almost immediately fled into the hills.

Having lost his main ally, Babur decided to return to Kabul to gather strength, leaving a strong garrison in the Punjap. Dilawar was rewarded for his loyalty with Jalandhar and Sultanpur. Alam Khan, the pretender to Delh, was given Dibalpur, with Baba Qashqa Mughul to support and watch him. Mir 'Abdu'l-'aziz, Babur's master of the horse, was placed in command of Lahore and Khusrau Kukuldash was posted at Sialkot.

Babur's new conquests were not as secure as he may have thought. Daulat had clearly managed to build up an impressive power-base in the Punjab during his time in charge, and once Babur was gone he emerged from the hills at the head of an army. First he captured his brother Dilawar then he defeated Alam Khan at Dibalpur. The only setback came at Sialkot, where a force of 5,000 Afghans was defeated by Babur's combined garrisons from Sialkot and Lahore.

Ibrahim Lodi now briefly appeared on the scene, sending an army to reconquer the Punjab. Much to his embarrassment Daulat managed to win over a large part of the army, forcing the rest of it to return to the Sultan without a fight.


After his defeat at Dibalpur Alam Khan fled to Kabul, where he asked for help from Babur. The two men agreed to split the Sultanate of Delhi. Babur would support Alam's bid for the throne, and in return would be given full possession of Lahore and the Punjab. Alam Khan then returned to Lahore, while Babur remained in Afghanistan to deal with an Uzbek attack on Balkh.

On his arrival in Lahore Alam Khan attempted to convince Babur's men to negotiate with Daulat's son Ghazi Khan. When this failed he opened negotiations with Daulat, repudiated his alliance with Babur and entered into a similar one with Daulat. Once again the Sultanate was to be split, with Delhi going to Alam and Lahore and the Punjab going to Daulat. Alam Khan advanced towards Delhi at the head of an army of 30,000-40,000 men, and began a rather ineffective siege of Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi responded by marching towards the city, and the two armies were soon facing each other across a twelve mile gap. The rebels decided to launch a night attack on Ibrahim's camp, and at first met with some success, but at dawn on the following day Ibrahim emerged from his enclosure with a small force reinforced by a single elephant. This tiny force overwhelmed Alam Khan's men who were forced to flee, and the rebel army shattered.

The Conquest of Hindustan

In November 1525 Babur left Kabul at the start of his fifth expedition into Hindustan, crossing the Indus on 16 December. At this point his army was counted, and found to contain 12,000 men, including camp followers. He faced two main enemies - Daulat Khan, who threatened his position in the Punjab with 20-30,000 men, and Ibrahim Lodi, with the main army of Delhi. The first threat was quickly dealt with. Babur surprised Daulat with a rapid advance, and his army dissolved. Daulat was forced to submit to Babur. As was often the case Babur was generous to his defeated enemies, and Daulat was left in possession of his own tribe and villages.

Babur's route onwards took him from the northern Punjab to Sirhind, then on to Ambala, about 100 miles to the north of Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi was aware of his advance, and gathered a large army of around 100,000 men and 1,000 elephants, with which he advanced to Delhi, and then slowly north from the city.

Before reaching Ambala Babur learnt about a detachment of Lodi troops that was moving from Hisar-firuza towards either Ibrahim or Babur's right flank. Humayun was sent to deal with this threat, winning his first battle on 26 February 1526. Babur then moved south to Shahabad, before turning east to reach the River Jumna opposite Sarsawa, where he began the final advance south towards Delhi.

Ibrahim was now in or close to his final camp, from where he sent 5-6,000 men onto the eastern bank of the Jumna (into the Doab, the area between the Jumna and the Ganges). Babur responded by sending part of his army to deal with this new threat, defeating it at an unnamed location in the Doab on 2 April 1526.

The two armies now closed in on each close to the town of Panipat. Although Ibrahim vastly outnumbered Babur's army, he was unwilling to risk a battle, and for about a week the two armies faced each other at a distance of a few miles. Babur attempted to break the deadlock with a night attack on 19-20 April, which almost ended in disaster, but it does seem to have provoked Ibrahim, for on 21 April he finally advanced to the attack.

The resulting battle of Panipat (21 April 1526) was a crushing victory for Babur against apparently overwhelming odds. To overcome these odds Babur built a fortified line using 700 wagons and thousands of mantlets, which he used to protect the centre of his line. One flank was protected by Panipat itself and the other by a mix of brush and ditches. When Ibrahim attacked the centre of this line, Babur sent his cavalry to attack the rear and flanks of the Lodi army. Soon Ibrahim's numbers were telling against him. His men were unable to manoeuvre effectively, and by noon their resistance was broken. Ibrahim and at least 15,000 of his men were killed on the battlefield, and the rest of his army scattered, some coming over to Babur.

In the aftermath of his dramatic victory Babur occupied Delhi and Agra, but most of the rest of Ibrahim's former kingdom was still hostile. Afghan nobles held most of the fortified places in the area, while a major rebellion was still underway to the east of the Ganges.

A more immediate problem was caused by discontent in Babur's army. It was a long way from home, surrounded by hostile masses and it was the hottest part of the year. Many of his supporters wanted Babur to take his loot and return to Kabul (this does have shades of Alexander the Great's problems in India). Babur responded by calling a council of his leaders, at which he effectively shamed most of them into staying in Hindustan, although one or two still insisted on returning home. Babur's clear determination to stay in Hindustan won over a number of the former Lodi supporters, including Shaikh Baiazid, the brother and successor of the deceased Mustafa Farmuli, Ibrahim's lieutenant in the war against the eastern rebels.

This rebellion predated Babur's invasion. The area east of the Ganges had been held against Ibrahim by Nasir Khan Lohani, a support of Ibrahim's father, and Ma'aruf Farmuli. In the aftermath of Panipat they advanced two or three days march from their base at Kanauj towards Babur at Agra, and raised Bihar Khan Bihari to the dignity of Sultan Muhammad Shah, padshah and a pretender to Babur's new throne. For the moment the rebels proved to be less of a threat than they appeared. When Babur dispatched his some Humayun towards their base at Jajmau the rebel army broke up, allowing Babur's nominee to occupy Kanuaj without a struggle.

Babur's solution to the problem of the unconquered fortified places was to reward them to some of his senior supporters, whose job it then was to capture the places themselves.

In some places Babur's men only had to intervene in an existing dispute. Sambal was held by Qasim Sambali, who in the aftermath of Panipat found himself under attack by Malik Biban Jilwani, another Afghan noble. Babur allocated Sambal to his son Humayun, who sent an army under Hindu Beg to break the siege. Hindu Beg sent an advance guard to Sambal, and this advance guard defeated Biban's army. Qasim Sambali attempted to remain in control for Sambal, but Hindu Beg managed to sneak his men into the fort while Qasim was meeting with him.

Some places fell without a struggle. Rapri, about forty miles to the east of Agra, was held against Babur by Husain Khan Lohani, but he lost his nerve and abandoned the place. Babur gave it to Muhammad Ali Jang-jang.

Bayana (Biana), fifty miles to the west of Agra, was held by Hasan Khan. He refused to surrender to Babur, who began preparations for a siege. In the meantime Babur sent a raiding force towards Bayana. This force gained the support of Hasan Khan's brother, but was then defeated in battle close to the city. Soon after this, with the Rajput army threatening Bayana, Hasan Khan surrendered it to Babur. The Rajput also convinced Tatar Khan Sarang-khani to surrender Gwalior, and although he then changed his mind Babur's men were able to get into the fort without a struggle.

Etawa was held against Babur by Qutb Khan, who kept control of the place until news reached him of Babur's victory over the Rajputs at Khanua. At that point Qutb Khan abandoned the place, allowing Babur's nominee to occupy the town.

The most successful of these expeditions of conquest was led by Humayun. After dispersing the rebel army close to Agra he was ordered to continue on to the east. Jaunpur (250 miles to the east of Agra) was captured, and he then pushed on another 30 miles east to Ghazipur, hoping to catch Nasir Khan. Nasir crossed the Ganges to escape, followed by Humayun, who then moved to attack Kharid, close to the Gogra River (a northern tributary of the Ganges, here running from west to east). The defenders of Kharid escaped across the Gogra, leaving Humayun free to plunder the place. By this time Babur had learnt that Rana Sangha was on the move, and Humayun was ordered to return to Agra. He moved back south to cross the Ganges, then west back towards Agra, capturing Kalpi on the way. This expedition massively expanded the area under Babur's control, but only temporarily. While the threat from Rana Sanghe convinced some to surrender to Babur, it encouraged others to rebel. Babur himself would eventually be forced to fight on the Gogra to secure the eastern part of his new kingdom.

While Humayun and Babur's nobles had been expanding the empire, Babur himself had been based at Agra, spending part of his time building gardens and baths, and the rest preparing for the series of sieges he believed would be necessary. One massive cannon was produced that had a range of 1,600 paces.

The Rajput Threat

During the summer of 1526 Babur's nobles believed that Rana Sangha of Mewar did not present an immediate threat to their new conquests. During that year he had captured Khandhar, but that place was around 150 miles to the south of Delhi, and there were more urgent problems in the immediate neighbourhood. Towards the end of the year that judgement had to be changed. Rana Sangha raised a powerful Rajput army, and advancing into Babur's territory, seeking out a battle that if won may potentially have ended Muslim rule in Hindustan, although Rana Sangha would still have been faced with the difficult task of defeated the Afghans invited into India by the Lodis.

Rana Sangha's advance convinced the occupants of Bayana and Gwalior to submit to Babur, who threw a garrison into the town, commanded by Madhi Khwaja. He was soon besieged by Rana Sangha, and sent repeated messages to Babur asking for help.

Babur was given time to gather his scattered armies at Agra, and in mid-February began a cautious advance west towards Bayana. The morale of his men was poor during this advance, and was worsened by bad news from Bayana, where the garrison were defeated during a sortie, by the words of an astrologer who predicted defeat for anyone attacking from the east, and by a minor defeat suffered by a scouting party at Khanua in mid-late February.

Babur responded in three ways - first by building a line of linked carts and moveable tripods that the army advanced behind, second by renouncing wine and thirdly by declaring the fight to be a holy war. These moves helped restore the morale of his army, and on 16 March 1527 at Khanua Babur won the second of his three great victories in India. Rana Sangha escaped from the battlefield, but the power of the Rajput confederacy was broken, and the last major threat to Babur's power was gone.

Expanding the Empire

In the aftermath of the battle Babur briefly considered an expedition into Mewar, but was discouraged by the approaching hot season. Instead he decided to secure Miwat, previously held against him by Hasan Khan Miwati until his death at Khanua. When Babur's army approached the capital at Alwar Hasan's son Nahar submitted to him. Alwar was offered to one of Babur's supporters, while Nahar was given lands elsewhere. With this settled Babur returned to Agra.

Before the battle of Khanau Babur had promised that anyone who wanted to return to Kabul after a victory would be free to do so. Many of the men who now chose to take advantage of that offer had been serving under Humayun, and Babur decided to send his older son and heir back to Kabul, where he would spend the next few years acting as Babur's deputy. This move would also trigger a plot that must have darkened Babur's final years (see below).

Babur's next task was to recover control of the areas that had rebelled or been taken during the campaign against the Rana. This was achieved with surprising ease - most of the rebels fled at the approach of Imperial troops, and Husain Khan Lohani, one of the more able of Babur's opponents, drowned while crossing the Jumna. Another of his more persistent opponents, Biban, had besieged Luknur (probably modern Shahabad in Rampur), but retreated when Babur's approached.

Babur's next move was against the fortress of Chanderi, a former Muslim possession that had been taken by Rana Sangha during his wars with Ibrahim Lodi, and given to Medini Rao. Medini Rao had been present at Khanua, had escaped from the defeat and returned to Chanderi.

Babur was not free to concentrate entirely against Chanderi. Rumours had reached him that Shaikh Baiazid was planning to rebel against him, and so a second army was sent east to Kanauj. If the rumours were false it was to attack the hostile Afghans in the east, if they were true it was to attack Baiazid. The rumours were indeed true. Babur's men advanced against him, but were defeated, and forced to retreat to Kanauj. This news reached Babur just before his successful attack on Chanderi, which fell after its defenders, realising that the citadel was about to fall, performed the suicidal ritual of jauhar, killing their women in a fire and riding out to attack Babur's men in one last charge.

Babur was then free to turn against Baiazid. He reached Kanauj on 27 February, just after the town had been abandoned to the rebels. When they discovered that Babur was approaching them, the rebels, led by Biban, Baiazid and Ma'ruf, crossed to the eastern bank of the Ganges opposite Kanauj and prepared to resist any passage of the river.

This effort failed. Babur was able to build a bridge across the river under the protection of his matchlock men and mortars, and on 12 March the first few men crossed it, fighting some skirmishes with the rebels. The main force followed on 13 March, and another skirmish followed. That night Babur fell back to the west bank of the river, hoping to defeat them on the following day in an attempt to replicate the order of events before the battle of Kanauj (apparently purely as a matter of curiosity rather than because of any superstition!). Babur's planned symmetry was by the rebels who fled rather than offer battle. The rebels were pursued for some distance to the east, although were not caught.

The events of the summer of 1528 are obscure, falling into another gap in Babur's memoirs. They resume in September 1528, just before the start of Babur's final campaign. The first signs of trouble come on 11 November, when Babur sent out a message to all sides warning his troops that the army would soon be needed. At this stage we see Babur the warlord - no particular enemy threatened him, but as he recorded on 2 December 'this year the army must move in some direction'.

The eventual campaign in the east was only one of several possibilities. Babur had still not given up on his ancestral lands in Transoxiana, while the Rajputs tempted to the south and west. For the moment Prince Askari was sent east, with orders to gather an army and take it in 'whatever direction favoured fortune'. If Nasrat Shah, the independent ruler of Bengal, was friendly, and the rebels in the east posed no great threat then Babur would take the main army elsewhere.

Askari left Agra on 20 December, and on 30 December a messenger arrived from him reporting that Babur would not be needed. On the following day Babur's envoy returned from Bengal, and reported that Nasrat Shah would be loyal. Babur prepared for a campaign against the Baluchis, who had attacked several places in the west, while Askari was ordered to deal with the rebels in the east, most notably Shaikh Baiazid and Biban.

The situation was about to change dramatically. On 13 January Babur received news that Mahmud Lodi, a son of Sikander Lodi and thus at least a half brother of Ibrahim Lodi, had seized Bihar, at the eastern end of Babur's territory, close to Bengal. Babur summoned his counsellors, and together they decided to move east on 21 January. The existing rebels Baiazid and Biban supported Mahmud Lodi, making his appearance all the more threatening.

Babur's army advanced quite slowly. On 26 February he reached the banks of the Ganges, and two days later was joined by Askari. The two armies then continued to move east, on opposite banks of the river. More news began to come in about the rebels, who were now said to have 10,000 troops and to be advancing towards Chunar. They had been joined by Sher Khan Sur, soon to be the founder of the Sur dynasty, and the man who would depose Humayun and appear to have destroyed the Mogul Empire within two decades of its creation.

The rebels reached Chunar, and laid siege to the town, but when news reached them that Babur was close Sultan Mahmud's army broke up. Babur reached Chunar on 23 March. On 31 March letters reached him from a number of the rebels submitting to his authority (amongst them was Sher Khan). The remaining rebels abandoned Bihar by 6 April.

The first contact with the rebels came on 9 or 10 April, when a small raiding party sent out by Babur defeated a small group of rebels, and came close to catching Sultan Mahmud.

If the rebel army was proving to be no threat, the same could not be said about the army of Bengal. In mid April Babur learnt that the Bengalis had fortified twenty-four places on the Gandak River (a tributary of the Ganges that flows south-east across the plains of Bihar, joining the Ganges at Patna). As Babur moved east it became clear that the Bengalis were going to obstruct his pursuit of the various rebels. Eventually Babur was forced to fight them, winning a three day battle on the Gogra River (4-6 May 1529).

Soon after this peace was made with Nasrat Shah of Bengal, and Babur turned back west to try and catch Biban and Baiazid. The rebels had moved west to Luknur (probably Shahabad), which they captured after a fire broke out inside the fort. This was a short-lived success, and the rebels abandoned this fort when they discovered that Babur was closing in from the east.

The rebels managed to escape south across the Ganges, and probably reached safety amongst their families. The rains now stopped Babur's pursuit, and indeed he would never catch Biban, Baiazid or Mahmud Lodi.

Events now move rapidly towards Babur's death. In the autumn of 1529 Humayun returned to Agra from Badakhshan, possibly because he had heard rumours of an attempt to have him replaced as Babur's heir. Babur soon forgave Humayun for returning without permission, and allowed him to stay in Hindustan.

In the summer of 1530 Humayun was taken seriously ill. In one of the most famous incidents of his life Babur is said to have carried out a ritual in which he offered his life to save his sons. From this point onwards Humayun recovered, while Babur began to sicken (although his health was probably already suffering before this). On 26 December 1530 Babur died at Agra. At first he was buried in a garden at Agra, but eventually he was moved to Kabul (between 1539 and 1544), where his tomb still survives.


Although Babur had conquered an empire in Hindustan, he died too soon to have made it entirely secure. Humayun, who inherited the empire, was not as capable as his father, and a decade after coming to power was deposed by Sher Khan Sur (although he did defeat Biban, Baiazid and Mahmud Lodi). Fortunately for the future of Babur's dynasty Humayun shared his father's resilience, and was able to depose Sher Khan's successors and restore the empire before his own death.

Resilience must be seen as Babur's main attribute. In a military career that lasted from 1494 until at least the year before his death he suffered as many defeats as he won victories, losing his original kingdom and being forced out of Samarkand on three separate occasions. Despite these setbacks he was never discouraged, and eventually developed a very powerful military machine that combined the best cavalry traditions of his Timurid ancestors with an appreciation of the power of the new gunpowder weapons.

Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Baber Edit Profile

Baber, Babur, or Babar, was born in 1483. His name was Zahir ud-Din Muhammad, and his surname Baber, meaning "tiger," was derived from the Mongols. In 1495 he succeeded his father, Sheikh Omar Mirma, as king of Ferghana, a realm in western Turkestan, but was driven out by intrigues and revolts on the fringes of his domain. By 1501 he had lost almost all of his parental heritage, but through a series of daring military exploits he soon recaptured Kashgar, Kunduz, Kandahar, and Kabul--the last-named in 1504--as steps toward the subjection of Hindustan. Attempts to reconquer his capital at Samarkand having failed, he penetrated Hindustan in 1519-1524 and crossed the Indus River in 1525. He overthrew the Afghan sultan, Ibrahim Lodi, established his government at Delhi, and in 1527 won a decisive victory at Agra. The remaining years of Baber's life at Delhi were disturbed by insurrections.

Memoirs of Babur

1. Description of Fergana. (See my Fergana Valley Page)
2. Description of Samarkand. (See my Samarkand Page)
3. Babur leaves Kesh and crosses the Mura Pass.
4. Babur takes Samarkand by surprise, July 28, 1500.
5. Babur in Samarkand.
6. Ali-Sher Nawa’i, the famous poet.
7. Babur leaves Samarkand, July 1501.
8. Babur in Dikhkat.
9. Shabaq (Shaibani) Khan’s campaigns winter conditions and mountain springs.
10. The acclaiming of the military standards according to Mongol tradition.
11. Babur’s poverty in Tashkent.

Babur : the first mughal

Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur (14 February 1483 – December 1530 sometimes also spelt Baber or Babar) was a conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty in the Indian Subcontinent and became the first Mughal emperor. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father and a descendant of Genghis Khan through his mother.

Babur wrote his memoirs and these form the main source for details of his life. They are known as the Baburnama and were written in Chaghatai Turkic, his mother-tongue, though his prose was highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology and vocabulary.Baburnama was translated in Persian during the rule of Babur’s grandson Akbar.

Babur was born on February 14 [O.S. ] 1483 in the city of Andijan, in Andijan Province in Fergana Valley in contemporary Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of Omar Sheykh Mirzā, ruler of the Fergana Valley, the son of Abū Saʿīd Mirza (and grandson of Miran Shah, who was himself son of Timur) and his wife Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, daughter of Yunus Khan, the ruler of Moghulistan (and great-great grandson of Tughlugh Timur, the son of Esen Buqa I, who was the great-great-great grandson of Chaghatai Khan, the second born son of Genghis Khan).


Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, popularly known as “Babur”, meaning lion, was the founder of Mughal Empire in India. He was born in Farghana, now in Uzbekistan, on February 14, 1483. The Mughal Empire founded by him lasted for 331 years.

Babur was a descendant of Timur on his father’s side and of Chengez Khan on his mother’s side. When Babur’s father Umar Sheikh Mirza died in 1494, he inherited the ancestral kingdom of Farghana. He was only 14 years old at that time. Babur faced many hardships during this period of his life. He was driven out of his father’s state and for two years became a wanderer. In 1504, he came to Afghanistan and occupied Kabul. Here he assumed the title of Padshah.

On account of his precarious position in Central Asia, after crossing the Indus, he invaded India five times. The fifth expedition resulted in the death of Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat, in April 1526. Panipat was merely the beginning of the Mughal rule Akbar laid its real foundation in 1556. At the time of the battle of Panipat, the political power in India was shared by the Afghans and the Rajputs. In the battle of Kanwaha, Babur defeated the Rajput leader Rana Sanga of Mewar. In 1528, he captured Chanderi from the Rajput chief, Medini Rao and a year later he defeated the Afghan chiefs under Mahmud Lodhi in the battle of Ghagra in Bihar. These conquests made Babur the “Master of Hindustan”, and the founder of Mughal Empire in the Sub-continent.

Babur did not live long to rule his Kingdom. Towards the end of Babur’s life, his eldest son Humayun fell seriously ill. It is said that in a religious ceremony, he transferred his son’s illness to himself and sacrificed himself in order to save Humayun. As Humayun recovered, the former became worse and after two or three months Babur died at Agra on December 26, 1530. Babur was buried at Kabul, in accordance with his own wishes.

Babur’s personality can be judged by his own memoirs Tuzk-i-Baburi, also known as Babur Namah, written in Turkish, personally transcribed by his son Humayun, and afterwards translated into Persian during the reign of Akbar. It is considered among the most enthralling and romantic literary works of all times. Babur possessed in him the qualities of a born leader. He was not only a brilliant general but also a great swordsman who had the quality of correctly gauging the strength and the weakness of the commanders and armies opposed to him. Babur was a man of extraordinary energy and strength. He had been known to take up a man under each arm and run with them round the battlements of a fortress. He swam and crossed all the rivers of the Indian Sub-continent. He was perpetually in saddle, riding 80 miles a day. Babur was pre-eminently a man of faith. “Nothing happens” he used to say, “but by the will of God”.

During his brief period of absolute rule over India, Babur did not have the time, or indeed the opportunity, to set the affairs of state in permanent manner. Babur on his death left an empire barely held by force of arms, and lacking any consolidated civil administration. After him his 23 years old son Humayun came to power to rule an empire set up by his father.


After Babur fell seriously ill, Humayun was told of a plot by the senior nobles of Babur's court to bypass the leader's sons and appoint Mahdi Khwaja, Babur's sister's husband, as his successor. He rushed to Agra and arrived there to see his father was well enough again, although Mahdi Khwaja had lost all hope of becoming ruler after arrogantly exceeding his authority during Babur's illness. Upon his arrival in Agra it was Humayun himself who fell ill, and was close to dying.

Babur died at the age of 47 on January 5 [ O.S. 26 December 1530] 1531, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. Though he wished to be buried in his favourite garden in Kabul, a city he had always loved, he was first buried in a mausoleum in the capital city of Agra. His remains were later moved to Bagh-e Babur (Babur Gardens) in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Persian inscription on his tomb there translates as "If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!

In 1525 Babur set out to attack and conquer India. He had only about twelve thousand men with him but he had been promised help by Daulat Khan Lodi, the governor of Punjab. They planned to march together against the ruling Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, who was the King of Delhi at that time. When Babur reached India, the government was afraid to help him, and eventually backed out, and so Babur started off to Delhi by himself with his small army of men.

Ibrahim Lodi was reported to have one hundred thousand men and one hundred elephants. But Babur had something which Ibrahim did not have – heavy guns and cannons, the first proper Turkic style artillery seen in medieval India. There were hardly any guns at that time in India and Babur had managed to get hold of some in Kabul. He had cannons and some firearms as well.

The two armies met at the famous First battle of Panipat, at a small village near Delhi. Both armies remained in position opposite each other for a week before the battle began. Babur was an excellent general and he planned the battle very carefully as conquering Delhi was indeed very important to him. After the battle about fifteen thousand men of the enemy were killed including their commander Ibrahim Lodi.


Babarvani (Babar's command or sway) is how the four hymns by Guru Nanak alluding to the invasions by Babar (1483-1530), are collectively known in Sikh literature. The name is derived from the use of the term in one of these hymns "Babarvani phiri gal kuiru na rot khai - Babar's command or sway has spread even the princes go without food" (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 417). Three of these hymns are in Asa measure at Ang's 360 and 417-18 of the standard recension of Guru Granth Sahib and the fourth is in Tilang measure on Ang's 722-23.

In his first invasion, Babar came as far as Peshawar. The following year he crossed the Indus and, conquering Sialkot without resistance, marched on Saidpur (now Eminabad, 15 km southeast of Gujranwala in Pakistan) which suffered the worst fury of the invading host. The town was taken by assault, the garrison was put to the sword and the inhabitants carried into captivity. During his next invasion in 1524, Babar ransacked Lahore. His final invasion was launched during the winter of 1525-26 and he became master of Delhi after his Victory at Panipat on 21 April 1526.

Guru Nanak was an eye-witness to the havoc created during these invasions. The Janam Sakhis mention that Guru Nanak himself was taken captive at Saidpur. A little of his, outside of Babarwani hymns, indicates that he may have been present in Lahore when the city was given up to plunder. In six pithy words this line conveys, "For a pahar and a quarter, i.e. for nearly four hours, the city of Lahore remained subject to death and fury" (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Ang 1412). The mention in one of the Babalvani hymns of the use of guns by the Mughals against the Afghan defence relying mainly upon their war - elephants may well be a reference to the historic battle of Panipat which sealed the fate of the Afghan king, Ibrahim Lodhi.

Babar's son Humayun is creditied with using the first 'firing squad' to dispatch the soldiers of the losing side. There are descriptions of men laughing as the guns of Babar's troops were fired as they saw no arrows coming towards them. When Lodi's soldiers noticed the small holes, spurting blood, of those falling around them the laughter soon turned to panic.

Budhal, Dulal / Dolal, Khatril, and Jasgam/Jaskham tribes

This is my third installment, looking at some of the lesser known tribes of the Pothohar region. In this post, I shall look at the Budhal, Dulal, Khatril, and Jasgam tribes. None of these tribes claim either a Jat or Rajput ancestry, but connect themselves either with the the Abbasi (Khatril and Jaskham) or Qureshi (Dulal and Budhal) Arabs, with traditions of settling in the Pothohar Region between 13th and 15th Century. However, reflecting the fluidity of identity, the Khatril in popular estimations are seen as Jat, while Budhal in some areas are considered as Rajput. All these tribes are extremely localized, found only in Rawalpindi District, with the exception of a few Khatril villages in Jhelum District. They all speak Pothwari, and are largely Sunni.

Starting off with the Budhal, they are a small tribe which is supposed to be allied to the Bhakral, both tribes having said to have come across from Jhelum River from the Chibhal territory in Jammu and Kashmir sometime in the 17th Century. According to their traditions, they are a branch of the Awan tribe, and now occupy a block of villages near the town of Daultala in Gujar Khan Tehsil. Very little is known about this tribe, and their customs are very similar to the Bhakral, with whom they intermarry. As Awans, they trace their descent from Ali ibn Abu Talib, who was the cousin and son-in-law of the Islamic prophet, and the forth Caliph of Islam. The history of the Awan tribe is well known, and I will not spend a lot of time on it. Suffice is to say that the Budhal, like other Awans claim descent from an individual named Qutb Shah, a descendent of Ali, who originally resided in Herat in Afghanistan, and served in the army of Mahmud of Ghazni. The Awans all claim descent from the six sons of Qutab Shah, namely Gauhar Shah or Gorrara, settled near Sakesar, Kalan Shah or Kalgan, settled in Kalabagh, Muzammil Shah colonized the hills close to the Indus, Mohammad Shah (the elder son of Qutab Shah) or Khokhar, settled by the Chenab, and Turi Shah ‏and Jhajh Shah settled in Tirah the descendants of Turi or Tori and Jhajh are also known as Syeds of Tirah. These six clans are further divided sub-clans called muhins, the Budhal claim to be a sub-group of the Khokhar Awans, descended from the great grandson of Mohammad Shah nicknamed Khokhar called Budh Khan. According to tribal tradition, Budh Khan was granted a jagir of twenty villages by Sultan Sikandar, the Ghakhar ruler in what is now Gujar Khan Tehsil. Their customs are similar to other tribes in the vicinity, speaking the Pothohari language and following Sunni Islam.

In terms of distribution, in Gujar Khan Tehsil, they are found in Barki Badhal, Bhair Ratial, Bokra, Chak Bagwal, Dhoke Budhal, Dora Budhal, Garmala (near Kountrila), Karnali and Punjgran Khurd, while in Kallar Kahar Tehsil they are found Basanta, Chakrali Budhal and Sahote Budhal . Other villages includeAlipur Farash and Barki Badhal, located in the Islamabad Capital Territory. A separate group of Budhal villages are found near Chountra, on the Attock Rawalpindi borders, such as Bajnial in Rawalpindi Tehsil. Overall, they are found in 30 villages in Rawalpindi District. Other villages include Bishandour (Tehsil Sohawa, Jhelum District) and Khabbal (on GT Road, Tehsil Sohawa).

Dulal or Dulaal

I shall next look at the Dulal, sometimes spelt Dolal or even Dolaal, who are extremely localized tribe, confined entirely Gujarkhan tehsil. They claim to be Qureshi Arabs, the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad. Unlike other Qureshi groups found in the Pothohar region, the Dolal have no tradition of claiming descent from a Sufi saint. Their ancestor, according to tribal traditions, was Abu al-Aswad al-Du’ali (ca. 603 – 688), a close companion of Ali ibn Abi Talib and a grammarian, who is said to be the first to place consonant-pointing and vowel-pointing (markings) on Arabic letters to clearly identify them. Abu Aswad is said to have had a son, who accompanied Mohammad Bin Qasin in his conquest of Sindh. The tribe settled initially in Sindh, but when Mahmud of Ghazni conquered the Punjab in the 10th Century, the Ad-Duali settled in what became the Gujar Khan region. Over time Ad-Duali was corrupted to Dolaal or Dulal. The tribe also intermarried with Rajput groups in the Gujar Khan region, and has now much in common with those tribes such as the Bhakral and Kanyal.

The Dolal are now farmers and soldiers , and therefore have much in common with Abbasi groups such as the Jasgam and Khatril, who I will look at latter in this blog. They now occupy a number of villages near the town of Mandrah, the main ones being Hachari Dulal, Karnali (especially in village Mohra Manjia), Mohra Dhamial, Nathu Dulal, Noor Dulal (Dhoke Qureshian / Lamian), Pharwal Dulal, Narali, Bhattian and Kuri Dolal. The Dolal should not be confused, by the Dulal branch of the Janjua, who are entirely distinct

We now look at the Khatril, sometime spelt Khatreel, they are a tribe found almost exclusively in Rawalpindi District, with a small number also found in Jhelum. The Khatrils claims descent from Hashim ibn ‘Abd Manaf, a great-grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad and the progenitor of the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraish tribe in Mecca, and in particular his grandson Abbas ibn Abul Mutalib. A descendent of Al-Abass, Zarab Khan or Zurab Khan Al-Abbasi is said to have accompanied Mahmood of Ghazni to India, and settled initially in Kashmir, which would therefore be sometime in the late 10th Century. This Zarab Khan is also claimed to be an ancestor by many of the other tribes of the Pothohar plateau and Murree Hills, and is quite likely to be a mythical figure. The Khatril were initially settled in the Kahuta Hills, from where the Khatril were said to have been expelled by the Jasgam, and they ended up settling in Gujar Khan Tehsil, in villages near the town of Mandrah. In claiming an Arab ancestry, the Khatril are not unlike many other tribes in the Pothohar region, where claims to Arab ancestry have become increasingly frequent since the start of the last century. This change in identity is seen by the fact that they were classed as Jats in 1911 census of India, but were included with the Dhund in the 1921 census.

Over all, the Khatreel are found in 28 villages in Kallar Syedan and Gujar Khan tehsils. Traditionally, the Khatreel of the village of Takal were home to the chief of the tribe, although that chief’s authority is no longer that widely recognized. Gayal Khatril make up the bulk of the Khatril in Gujar Khan, who are descendants of Gai Khan. The Gaiyal, descendants of Gai Khan, whose tomb is near Duberan in the Kahuta tehsil. Currently, the Khatril are found mainly in Gujar Khan Tehsil, especially around the town of Mandrah, in the villages of Dhok Luss near Paleena, Dhok Maira near Paleena, Durab Jatal, Kahili Khinger, Sapiali Khinger, Mardial, Mohri Khatril, Dhok Khatril, Dulmi Khatril, Jatal Surkhru, Miana Moda, Rumat and Roungtay. Another cluster of Khatril villages are found near Saeela, such as Hathia Dhamial in Jhelum District.


Like the Khatril, with whom they share many customs and traditions, the Jasgam, sometimes spelt Jaskham, also claim descent from Hashim ibn ‘Abd Manaf, through his grandson Abbas ibn Abul Mutalib. Also like the Dhund and Khatril, the Jasgam claim descent from Zarab Khan, who is said to have arrived in the Pothohar region in the late 10th Century. According to the traditions of the Khatril, the Jasgam are said to have expelled them from the Kahuta Hills, so it is likely their settlement post-dated that of the Khatril. Their own tradition makes their ancestor Jasgam, leaving Murree after quarrelling with his Dhund kinsmen, and founding the town of Panjar in the Kahuta hills. According to another tradition, the Jasgam took possession of the tract they now occupy under Gakkhar rule, when one Hazrat Zubair,nicknamed Jaskamb, a Abbasi Arab came from Arabia and settled near Kahuta. He had four sons, Gulab Khan, Bachu Khan, Bero Khan and Sewo Khan.The Jasgam territory lay between the Janhals and the Gakhars, and by playing one against the other, the Jasgam maintained their independence until the arrival of the Sikhs in the late 18th Century.

In customs and traditions, they still have more in common with the Murree Hill tribes such as the Satti and Kethwal, and less with their neighbours such as the Janhal and Janjuas, including that the fact that still speak the Dhund-Karaili dialect of Pahari. In 1857, when the British faced a rebellion in the Murree Hills, the Jasgam maintained their neutrality, and as such were left largely untouched by the colonial administration. A Jasgam family in the village of Salitta traditionally held the office of chief, but they no longer hold this position.

The Jasgam are mainly found in thirteen villages in Kahuta Tehsil, including Panjar, Bara, Saroha, Duberan, Khowain, Manyand, Phagwari Gala, Salabar, Sartha, Salitha, Sarai Kharbuza and Rajrot, A small number are also found in the town of Mandrah and villages of Soura Khatril and Qazian in the Gujar Khan Tehsil and Chakiala and Mohra Hiran in Kallar Syedan tehsil. Outside Punjab, there are two Jaskam villages in Sudhnoti District of Azad Kashmir, namely Gulkot and Chaloi.


Babur (Persian: بابر ‎, romanized: Bābur, lit. 'tiger' [3] [4] 14 February 1483 – 26 December 1530), born Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, was the founder of the Mughal Empire and first Emperor of the Mughal dynasty ( r . 1526–1530 ) in the Indian subcontinent. He was a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan through his father and mother respectively. [5] [6] [7] He was also given the posthumous name of Firdaws Makani ('Dwelling in Paradise'). [8]

Of Chagatai Turkic origin [9] and born in Andijan in the Fergana Valley (in present-day Uzbekistan), Babur was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza (1456–1494, governor of Fergana from 1469 to 1494) and a great-great grandson of Timur (1336–1405). Babur ascended the throne of Fergana in its capital Akhsikent in 1494 at the age of twelve and faced rebellion. He conquered Samarkand two years later, only to lose Fergana soon after. In his attempt to reconquer Fergana, he lost control of Samarkand. In 1501 his attempt to recapture both the regions failed when Muhammad Shaybani Khan defeated him. In 1504 he conquered Kabul, which was under the putative rule of Abdur Razaq Mirza, the infant heir of Ulugh Beg II. Babur formed a partnership with the Safavid ruler Ismail I and reconquered parts of Turkistan, including Samarkand, only to again lose it and the other newly conquered lands to the Sheybanids.

After losing Samarkand for the third time, Babur turned his attention to India and employed aid from the neighbouring Safavid and Ottoman empires [10] Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 CE and founded the Mughal empire. However by the time Delhi Sultanate was a spent force and was long crumbling before the battle on contray Mewar kingdom under able rule of Rana Sanga turned into strongest power of Northern India. [11] Thus, Babur called Sanga as greatest Indian king of that time along with Krishnadevaraya [12] Sanga unified several Rajput clans first time after Prithviraj Chauhan and advanced with a grand coalition of 100,000 Rajputs. However, Sanga suffered a major defeat in Battle of khanwa due to Babur's skillfull positioning of troops and modern tactics. The Battle of Khanua was one of the most decisive battles in Indian history more than First Battle of Panipat as defeat of Rana Sanga was a watershed event in the Mughal conquest of northern India. [13] [14] [15]

Babur married several times. Notable among his sons are Humayun, Kamran Mirza and Hindal Mirza. Babur died in 1530 in Agra and Humayun succeeded him. Babur was first buried in Agra but, as per his wishes, his remains were moved to Kabul and reburied. [16] He ranks as a national hero in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Many of his poems have become popular folk songs. He wrote the Baburnama in Chaghatai Turkic it was translated into Persian during the reign (1556–1605) of his grandson, the Emperor Akbar.

Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn is Arabic for "Defender of the Faith" (of Islam), and Muhammad honours the Islamic Prophet. The name was chosen for Babur by the Sufi saint Khwaja Ahrar, who was the spiritual master of his father. [17] The difficulty of pronouncing the name for his Central Asian Turco-Mongol army may have been responsible for the greater popularity of his nickname Babur, [18] also variously spelled Baber, [3] Babar, [19] and Bābor. [6] The name is generally taken in reference to the Persian word babur ( ببر ), meaning "tiger". [3] [4] The word repeatedly appears in Ferdowsi's Shahnameh and was borrowed into the Turkic languages of Central Asia. [19] [20] Thackston argues for an alternate derivation from the PIE word "beaver", pointing to similarities between the pronunciation Bābor and the Russian bobr ( бобр , "beaver"). [21]

Babur bore the royal titles Badshah and al-ṣultānu 'l-ʿazam wa 'l-ḫāqān al-mukkarram pādshāh-e ġāzī. He and later Mughal emperors used the title of Mirza and Gurkani as regalia. [ citation needed ]


Babur's memoirs form the main source for details of his life. They are known as the Baburnama and were written in Chaghatai Turkic, his mother-tongue, [22] though, according to Dale, "his Turkic prose is highly Persianized in its sentence structure, morphology or word formation and vocabulary." [4] Baburnama was translated into Persian during the rule of Babur's grandson Akbar. [22]

Babur was born on 14 February 1483 in the city of Andijan, Andijan Province, Fergana Valley, contemporary Uzbekistan. He was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, [23] ruler of the Fergana Valley, the son of Abū Saʿīd Mirza (and grandson of Miran Shah, who was himself son of Timur) and his wife Qutlugh Nigar Khanum, daughter of Yunus Khan, the ruler of Moghulistan (a descendant of Genghis Khan). [24]

Babur hailed from the Barlas tribe, which was of Mongol origin and had embraced Turkic [25] and Persian culture. [26] They had also converted to Islam centuries earlier and resided in Turkestan and Khorasan. Aside from the Chaghatai language, Babur was equally fluent in Persian, the lingua franca of the Timurid elite. [27]

Hence, Babur, though nominally a Mongol (or Moghul in Persian language), drew much of his support from the local Turkic and Iranian people of Central Asia, and his army was diverse in its ethnic makeup. It included Persians (known to Babur as "Sarts" and "Tajiks"), ethnic Afghans, Arabs, as well as Barlas and Chaghatayid Turko-Mongols from Central Asia. [28]

Ruler of Central Asia

As ruler of Fergana

In 1494, eleven-year-old Babur became the ruler of Fergana, in present-day Uzbekistan, after Umar Sheikh Mirza died "while tending pigeons in an ill-constructed dovecote that toppled into the ravine below the palace". [29] During this time, two of his uncles from the neighbouring kingdoms, who were hostile to his father, and a group of nobles who wanted his younger brother Jahangir to be the ruler, threatened his succession to the throne. [18] His uncles were relentless in their attempts to dislodge him from this position as well as from many of his other territorial possessions to come. [30] Babur was able to secure his throne mainly because of help from his maternal grandmother, Aisan Daulat Begum, although there was also some luck involved. [18]

Most territories around his kingdom were ruled by his relatives, who were descendants of either Timur or Genghis Khan, and were constantly in conflict. [18] At that time, rival princes were fighting over the city of Samarkand to the west, which was ruled by his paternal cousin. [ citation needed ] Babur had a great ambition to capture the city. [ citation needed ] In 1497, he besieged Samarkand for seven months before eventually gaining control over it. [31] He was fifteen years old and for him the campaign was a huge achievement. [18] Babur was able to hold the city despite desertions in his army, but he later fell seriously ill. [ citation needed ] Meanwhile, a rebellion back home, approximately 350 kilometres (220 mi) away, amongst nobles who favoured his brother, robbed him of Fergana. [31] As he was marching to recover it, he lost Samarkand to a rival prince, leaving him with neither. [18] He had held Samarkand for 100 days, and he considered this defeat as his biggest loss, obsessing over it even later in his life after his conquests in India. [18]

For three years, Babur concentrated on building a strong army, recruiting widely amongst the Tajiks of Badakhshan in particular. In 1500–1501, he again laid siege to Samarkand, and indeed he took the city briefly, but he was in turn besieged by his most formidable rival, Muhammad Shaybani, Khan of the Uzbeks. [31] [32] The situation became such that Babar was compelled to give his sister, Khanzada, to Shaybani in marriage as part of the peace settlement. Only after this were Babur and his troops allowed to depart the city in safety. Samarkand, his lifelong obsession, was thus lost again. He then tried to reclaim Fergana, but lost the battle there also and, escaping with a small band of followers, he wandered the mountains of central Asia and took refuge with hill tribes. By 1502, he had resigned all hopes of recovering Fergana he was left with nothing and was forced to try his luck elsewhere. [33] [34] He finally went to Tashkent, which was ruled by his maternal uncle, but he found himself less than welcome there. Babur wrote, "During my stay in Tashkent, I endured much poverty and humiliation. No country, or hope of one!" [34] Thus, during the ten years since becoming the ruler of Fergana, Babur suffered many short-lived victories and was without shelter and in exile, aided by friends and peasants.

At Kabul

Kabul was ruled by Babur's paternal uncle Ulugh Beg II, who died leaving only an infant as heir. [34] The city was then claimed by Mukin Begh, who was considered to be a usurper and was opposed by the local populace. In 1504, Babur was able to cross the snowy Hindu Kush mountains and capture Kabul from the remaining Arghunids, who were forced to retreat to Kandahar. [31] With this move, he gained a new kingdom, re-established his fortunes and would remain its ruler until 1526. [33] In 1505, because of the low revenue generated by his new mountain kingdom, Babur began his first expedition to India in his memoirs, he wrote, "My desire for Hindustan had been constant. It was in the month of Shaban, the Sun being in Aquarius, that we rode out of Kabul for Hindustan". It was a brief raid across the Khyber Pass. [34]

In the same year, Babur united with Sultan Husayn Mirza Bayqarah of Herat, a fellow Timurid and distant relative, against their common enemy, the Uzbek Shaybani. [35] However, this venture did not take place because Husayn Mirza died in 1506 and his two sons were reluctant to go to war. [34] Babur instead stayed at Herat after being invited by the two Mirza brothers. It was then the cultural capital of the eastern Muslim world. Though he was disgusted by the vices and luxuries of the city, [36] he marvelled at the intellectual abundance there, which he stated was "filled with learned and matched men". [37] He became acquainted with the work of the Chagatai poet Mir Ali Shir Nava'i, who encouraged the use of Chagatai as a literary language. Nava'i's proficiency with the language, which he is credited with founding, [38] may have influenced Babur in his decision to use it for his memoirs. He spent two months there before being forced to leave because of diminishing resources [35] it later was overrun by Shaybani and the Mirzas fled. [36] Babur became the only reigning ruler of the Timurid dynasty after the loss of Herat, and many princes sought refuge with him at Kabul because of Shaybani's invasion in the west. [36] He thus assumed the title of Padshah (emperor) among the Timurids—though this title was insignificant since most of his ancestral lands were taken, Kabul itself was in danger and Shaybani continued to be a threat. [36] Babur prevailed during a potential rebellion in Kabul, but two years later a revolt among some of his leading generals drove him out of Kabul. Escaping with very few companions, Babur soon returned to the city, capturing Kabul again and regaining the allegiance of the rebels. Meanwhile, Shaybani was defeated and killed by Ismail I, Shah of Shia Safavid Persia, in 1510. [39]

Babur and the remaining Timurids used this opportunity to reconquer their ancestral territories. Over the following few years, Babur and Shah Ismail formed a partnership in an attempt to take over parts of Central Asia. In return for Ismail's assistance, Babur permitted the Safavids to act as a suzerain over him and his followers. [40] Thus, in 1513, after leaving his brother Nasir Mirza to rule Kabul, he managed to take Samarkand for the third time he also took Bokhara but lost both again to the Uzbeks. [33] [36] Shah Ismail reunited Babur with his sister Khānzāda, who had been imprisoned by and forced to marry the recently deceased Shaybani. [41] Babur returned to Kabul after three years in 1514. The following 11 years of his rule mainly involved dealing with relatively insignificant rebellions from Afghan tribes, his nobles and relatives, in addition to conducting raids across the eastern mountains. [36] Babur began to modernise and train his army despite it being, for him, relatively peaceful times. [42]

Foreign relations

The Safavid army led by Najm-e Sani massacred civilians in Central Asia and then sought the assistance of Babur, who advised the Safavids to withdraw. The Safavids, however, refused and were defeated during the Battle of Ghazdewan by the warlord Ubaydullah Khan. [43]

Babur's early relations with the Ottomans were poor because the Ottoman Sultan Selim I provided his rival Ubaydullah Khan with powerful matchlocks and cannons. In 1507, when ordered to accept Selim I as his rightful suzerain, Babur refused and gathered Qizilbash servicemen in order to counter the forces of Ubaydullah Khan during the Battle of Ghazdewan. In 1513, Selim I reconciled with Babur (fearing that he would join the Safavids), dispatched Ustad Ali Quli the artilleryman and Mustafa Rumi the matchlock marksman, and many other Ottoman Turks, in order to assist Babur in his conquests this particular assistance proved to be the basis of future Mughal-Ottoman relations. [44] From them, he also adopted the tactic of using matchlocks and cannons in field (rather than only in sieges), which would give him an important advantage in India. [42]

Formation of the Mughal Empire

Babur still wanted to escape from the Uzbeks, and he chose India as a refuge instead of Badakhshan, which was to the north of Kabul. He wrote, "In the presence of such power and potency, we had to think of some place for ourselves and, at this crisis and in the crack of time there was, put a wider space between us and the strong foeman." [42] After his third loss of Samarkand, Babur gave full attention to the conquest of North India, launching a campaign he reached the Chenab River, now in Pakistan, in 1519. [33] Until 1524, his aim was to only expand his rule to Punjab, mainly to fulfill the legacy of his ancestor Timur, since it used to be part of his empire. [42] At the time parts of North India were under the rule of Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi dynasty, but the empire was crumbling and there were many defectors. He received invitations from Daulat Khan Lodi, Governor of Punjab and Ala-ud-Din, uncle of Ibrahim. [45] He sent an ambassador to Ibrahim, claiming himself the rightful heir to the throne, but the ambassador was detained at Lahore and released months later. [33]

Babur started for Lahore, Punjab, in 1524 but found that Daulat Khan Lodi had been driven out by forces sent by Ibrahim Lodi. [46] When Babur arrived at Lahore, the Lodi army marched out and his army was routed. In response, Babur burned Lahore for two days, then marched to Dibalpur, placing Alam Khan, another rebel uncle of Lodi, as governor. [47] Alam Khan was quickly overthrown and fled to Kabul. In response, Babur supplied Alam Khan with troops who later joined up with Daulat Khan Lodi, and together with about 30,000 troops, they besieged Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi. [48] He easily defeated and drove off Alam's army and Babur realised Lodi would not allow him to occupy the Punjab. [48]

First battle of Panipat

In November 1525 Babur got news at Peshawar that Daulat Khan Lodi had switched sides, and he drove out Ala-ud-Din. [ clarification needed ] Babur then marched onto Lahore to confront Daulat Khan Lodi, only to see Daulat's army melt away at their approach. [33] Daulat surrendered and was pardoned. Thus within three weeks of crossing the Indus River Babur had become the master of Punjab. [ citation needed ]

Babur marched on to Delhi via Sirhind. He reached Panipat on 20 April 1526 and there met Ibrahim Lodi's numerically superior army of about 100,000 soldiers and 100 elephants. [33] [45] In the battle that began on the following day, Babur used the tactic of Tulugma, encircling Ibrahim Lodi's army and forcing it to face artillery fire directly, as well as frightening its war elephants. [45] Ibrahim Lodi died during the battle, thus ending the Lodi dynasty. [33]

Babur wrote in his memoirs about his victory:

By the grace of the Almighty God, this difficult task was made easy to me and that mighty army, in the space of a half a day was laid in dust. [33]

After the battle, Babur occupied Delhi and Agra, took the throne of Lodi, and laid the foundation for the eventual rise of Mughal rule in India. However, before he became North India's ruler, he had to fend off challengers, such as Rana Sanga. [49]

Battle of Khanwa

The Battle of Khanwa was fought between Babur and the Rajput ruler of Mewar, Rana Sanga on 16 March 1527. Rana Sanga wanted to overthrow Babur, whom he considered to be a foreigner ruling in India, and also to extend the Rajput territories by annexing Delhi and Agra. He was supported by Afghan chiefs who felt Babur had been deceptive by refusing to fulfil promises made to them. Upon receiving news of Rana Sangha's advance towards Agra, Babur took a defensive position at Khanwa (currently in the Indian state of Rajasthan), from where he hoped to launch a counterattack later. According to K.V. Krishna Rao, Babur won the battle because of his "superior generalship" and modern tactics: the battle was one of the first in India that featured cannons and muskets. Rao also notes that Rana Sanga faced "treachery" when the Hindu chief Silhadi joined Babur's army with a garrison of 6,000 soldiers. [51]

Battle of Chanderi

This battle took place in the aftermath of the Battle of Khanwa. On receiving news that Rana Sanga had made preparations to renew the conflict with him, Babur decided to isolate the Rana by inflicting a military defeat on one of his staunchest allies, Medini Rai, who was the ruler of Malwa. [52] [53] [ page needed ]

Upon reaching Chanderi, on 20 January 1528, Babur offered Shamsabad to Medini Rao in exchange for Chanderi as a peace overture, but the offer was rejected. [53] The outer fortress of Chanderi was taken by Babur's army at night, and the next morning the upper fort was captured. Babur himself expressed surprise that the upper fort had fallen within an hour of the final assault. [52] Medini Rai organized a Jauhar ceremony during which women and children within the fortress immolated themselves. [52] [53] A small number of soldiers also collected in Medini Rao's house and proceeded to kill each other in collective suicide. This sacrifice did not seem to have impressed Babur who did not express a word of admiration for the enemy in his autobiography. [52]

Religious persecution

Babur defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi, the last Sultan of the Lodi dynasty, in 1526. Babur ruled for 4 years and was succeeded by his son Humayun whose reign was temporarily usurped by the Suri dynasty. During their 30-year rule, religious violence continued in India. Records of the violence and trauma, from Sikh-Muslim perspective, include those recorded in Sikh literature of the 16th century. [54] The violence of Babur, the father of Humayun, in the 1520s, was witnessed by Guru Nanak , who commented upon them in four hymns. [ citation needed ] Historians suggest the early Mughal era period of religious violence contributed to introspection and then transformation from pacifism to militancy for self-defense in Sikhism. [54] According to autobiographical historical record of Emperor Babur, Tuzak-i Babari, Babur's campaign in northwest India targeted Hindus and Sikhs as well as apostates (non-Sunni sects of Islam), and an immense number were killed, with Muslim camps building "towers of skulls of the infidels" on hillocks. [55]

Personal life and relationships

There are no descriptions about Babur's physical appearance, except from the paintings in the translation of the Baburnama prepared during the reign of Akbar. [34] In his autobiography, Babur claimed to be strong and physically fit, and that he had swum across every major river he encountered, including twice across the Ganges River in North India. [56]

Unlike his father, he had ascetic tendencies and did not have any great interest in women. In his first marriage, he was "bashful" towards Aisha Sultan Begum, later losing his affection for her. [57] Babur showed similar shyness in his interactions with Baburi, a boy in his camp with whom he had an infatuation around this time, reccounting that: "Occasionally Baburi came to me, but I was so bashful that I could not look him in the face, much less converse freely with him. In my excitement and agitation I could not thank him for coming, much less complain of his leaving. Who could bear to demand the ceremonies of fealty?" [58] However, Babur acquired several more wives and concubines over the years, and as required for a prince, he was able to ensure the continuity of his line.

Babur's first wife, Aisha Sultan Begum, was his paternal cousin, the daughter of Sultan Ahmad Mirza, his father's brother. She was an infant when betrothed to Babur, who was himself five years old. They married eleven years later, c. 1498–99 . The couple had one daughter, Fakhr-un-Nissa, who died within a year in 1500. Three years later, after Babur's first defeat at Fergana, Aisha left him and returned to her father's household. [59] [42] In 1504, Babur married Zaynab Sultan Begum, who died childless within two years. In the period 1506–08, Babur married four women, Maham Begum (in 1506), Masuma Sultan Begum, Gulrukh Begum and Dildar Begum. [59] Babur had four children by Maham Begum, of whom only one survived infancy. This was his eldest son and heir, Humayun. Masuma Sultan Begum died during childbirth the year of her death is disputed (either 1508 or 1519). Gulrukh bore Babur two sons, Kamran and Askari, and Dildar Begum was the mother of Babur's youngest son, Hindal. [59] Babur later married Mubaraka Yusufzai, a Pashtun woman of the Yusufzai tribe. Gulnar Aghacha and Nargul Aghacha were two Circassian slaves given to Babur as gifts by Tahmasp Shah Safavi, the Shah of Persia. They became "recognized ladies of the royal household." [59]

During his rule in Kabul, when there was a time of relative peace, Babur pursued his interests in literature, art, music and gardening. [42] Previously, he never drank alcohol and avoided it when he was in Herat. In Kabul, he first tasted it at the age of thirty. He then began to drink regularly, host wine parties and consume preparations made from opium. [36] Though religion had a central place in his life, Babur also approvingly quoted a line of poetry by one of his contemporaries: "I am drunk, officer. Punish me when I am sober". He quit drinking for health reasons before the Battle of Khanwa, just two years before his death, and demanded that his court do the same. But he did not stop chewing narcotic preparations, and did not lose his sense of irony. He wrote, "Everyone regrets drinking and swears an oath (of abstinence) I swore the oath and regret that." [60]



    (married in 1506), chief consort (married 1499–1503), daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza (married in 1504), daughter of Sultan Mahmud Mirza (married in 1507), daughter of Sultan Ahmed Mirza and half-sister of Aisha Sultan Begum (married in 1519), Pashtun of the Yusufzai tribe
  • Gulrukh Begum (not to be confused with Babur's daughter Gulrukh Begum , who was also known as Gulbarg Begum)
  • Dildar Begum
  • Gulnar Aghacha, Circassian concubine
  • Nargul Aghacha, Circassian concubine

The identity of the mother of one of Babur's daughters, Gulrukh Begum is disputed. Gulrukh's mother may have been the daughter of Sultan Mahmud Mirza by his wife Pasha Begum who is referred to as Saliha Sultan Begum in certain secondary sources, however this name is not mentioned in the Baburnama or the works of Gulbadan Begum, which casts doubt on her existence. This woman may never have existed at all or she may even be the same woman as Dildar Begum.


Babur had several children with his consorts:

    (6 March 1508 – 27 January 1556), son with Maham Begum, succeeded Babur as the second Mughal Emperor (died 1557), son with Gulrukh Begum , son with Gulrukh Begum , son with Dildar Begum
  • Ahmad Mirza, son with Gulrukh Begum, died young
  • Shahrukh Mirza, son with Gulrukh Begum, died young
  • Barbul Mirza, son with Maham Begum, died in infancy
  • Alwar Mirza, son with Dildar Begum, died in childhood
  • Faruq Mirza, son with Maham Begum, died in infancy
    Begum, daughter with Aisha Sultan Begum, died in infancy.
  • Aisan Daulat Begum, daughter with Maham Begum, died in infancy.
  • Mehr Jahan Begum, daughter with Maham Begum, died in infancy. , daughter with Masuma Sultan Begum. Married to Muhammad Zaman Mirza.
  • Gulzar Begum, daughter with Gulrukh Begum, died young.
  • Gulrukh Begum (Gulbarg Begum). Identity of mother is disputed, may have been Dildar Begum or Saliha Sultan Begum. Married to Nuruddin Muhammad Mirza, son of Khwaja Hasan Naqshbandi, with whom she had Salima Sultan Begum, wife of Bairam Khan and later the Mughal Emperor Akbar. (c. 1523 – 7 February 1603), daughter with Dildar Begum. Married Khizr Khwaja Khan, son of her father's cousin Aiman Khwajah Sultan of Moghulistan, son of Ahmad Alaq of Moghulistan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Babur. , daughter with Dildar Begum. Married firstly in 1530 to Sultan Tukhta Bugha Khan, son of Ahmad Alaq of Moghulistan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Babur. Married secondly to Abbas Sultan Uzbeg.
  • Gulrang Begum, daughter with Dildar Begum. Married in 1530 to Isan Timur Sultan, ninth son of Ahmad Alaq of Moghulistan, the maternal uncle of Emperor Babur.

Death and legacy

Babur died in Agra at the age of 47 on 5 January [O.S. 26 December 1530] 1531 and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun. He was first buried in Agra but, as per his wishes, his mortal remains were moved to Kabul and reburied in Bagh-e Babur in Kabul sometime between 1539 and 1544. [16] [49]

It is generally agreed that, as a Timurid, Babur was not only significantly influenced by the Persian culture, but also that his empire gave rise to the expansion of the Persianate ethos in the Indian subcontinent. [6] [7] He emerged in his own telling as a Timurid Renaissance inheritor, leaving signs of Islamic, artistic literary, and social aspects in India. [61] [62]

For example, F. Lehmann states in the Encyclopædia Iranica:

His origin, milieu, training, and culture were steeped in Persian culture and so Babur was largely responsible for the fostering of this culture by his descendants, the Mughals of India, and for the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic, and historiographical results. [26]

Although all applications of modern Central Asian ethnicities to people of Babur's time are anachronistic, Soviet and Uzbek sources regard Babur as an ethnic Uzbek. [63] [64] [65] At the same time, during the Soviet Union Uzbek scholars were censored for idealising and praising Babur and other historical figures such as Ali-Shir Nava'i. [66]

Babur is considered a national hero in Uzbekistan. [67] On 14 February 2008, stamps in his name were issued in the country to commemorate his 525th birth anniversary. [68] Many of Babur's poems have become popular Uzbek folk songs, especially by Sherali Jo'rayev. [69] Some sources claim that Babur is a national hero in Kyrgyzstan too. [70] In October 2005, Pakistan developed the Babur Cruise Missile, named in his honour.

Shahenshah Babar, an Indian film about the emperor directed by Wajahat Mirza was released in 1944. The 1960 Indian biographical film Babar by Hemen Gupta covered the emperor's life with Gajanan Jagirdar in the lead role. [71]

One of the enduring features of Babur's life was that he left behind the lively and well-written autobiography known as Baburnama. [21] Quoting Henry Beveridge, Stanley Lane-Poole writes:

His autobiography is one of those priceless records which are for all time, and is fit to rank with the confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau, and the memoirs of Gibbon and Newton. In Asia it stands almost alone.

[72] In his own words, "The cream of my testimony is this, do nothing against your brothers even though they may deserve it." Also, "The new year, the spring, the wine and the beloved are joyful. Babur make merry, for the world will not be there for you a second time." [73]

Babri Masjid

The Babri Masjid ("Babur's Mosque") in Ayodhya is said to have been constructed on the orders of Mir Baqi, one of the commanders of his army. In 2003 the Allahabad High Court ordered the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to conduct a more in-depth study and an excavation to ascertain the type of structure beneath the mosque. [74] The excavation was conducted from 12 March 2003 to 7 August 2003, resulting in 1360 discoveries. [75]

The summary of the ASI report indicated the presence of a 10th-century temple under the mosque. [76] [77] The ASI team said that, human activity at the site dates back to the 13th century BCE. The next few layers date back to the Shunga period (second-first century BCE) and the Kushan period. During the early medieval period (11–12th century CE), a huge but short-lived structure of nearly 50 metres north–south orientation was constructed. On the remains of this structure, another massive structure was constructed: this structure had at least three structural phases and three successive floors attached with it. The report concluded that it was over the top of this construction that the disputed structure was constructed during the early 16th century. [78] Archaeologist KK Muhammed, the only Muslim member in the team of people surveying the excavation, also confirmed individually that there existed a temple like structure before the Babri Masjid was constructed over it. [79] The Supreme Court judgement of 2019 held that there is nothing to prove that the structure, which was destroyed before the construction of the mosque, was a temple and that the remains of the structure was used for its construction. [80] [81]

What caused the rise of the Mughal Empire?

Find out everything you need to know about it here. Besides, what factors contributed to the rise and fall of the Mughal Empire?

A major factor in the Mughal Empire's successful expansion was its diplomatic approach towards its opponents. The Mughals offered the rulers to keep their land, wealth, and power as long as they accepted Akbar as their overlord. Many complied and the Empire grew.

Additionally, when did the Mughal empire rise? The Mughal Empire was established in 1526 when Babur, a conquer from Central Asia, took the city of Delhi. Later kings ruled most of India during the 16th and 17th centuries, but declined in the 18th century and ended in 1857.

Subsequently, question is, how did the Mughal empire expand?

The Mughal Empire It consolidated Islam in South Asia, and spread Muslim (and particularly Persian) arts and culture as well as the faith. The Mughals were Muslims who ruled a country with a large Hindu majority. However for much of their empire they allowed Hindus to reach senior government or military positions.

Why were the Mughals so successful?

The Mughal Empire was really successful because they had a highly powerful large army. So they can over size their opponent and defeat them with less trouble. The Mughal Empire was one of the only empires in India in 1500-1600 to have their hands on gun powder.