Written By Prisha Jain (Grade 7)
Turkish invasion marks the beginning of India’s Medieval Period. With the death of Harshvardhana, India entered a feudal era. There was a lot of political squabbling in Northern India, and everyone was too busy capturing small kingdoms to notice the Turks’ aggressive invasion. The Turkish invasion of India occurred around the 11th century, with the Mahmud of Ghazni raiding the country from Afghanistan. He triumphed over the Hindustani kings of Peshawar.
The Muslim rulers of Multan were the next targets. Mahmud of Ghazni plundered India 17 times in about 25 years, plundering its wealth and resources. Mahmud pillaged the prosperous areas surrounding Gujarat and Kannauj mercilessly. This wealth enabled him to strengthen his grip and power over northern India. He built many palaces and mosques in Ghazni, central Asia with the looted wealth. After plundering India several times, he died in Ghazni in 1030 A.D.
During the 11th and 12th centuries, Rajput kings fought among themselves for control of princely states. They took advantage of every opportunity to wage war on each other. This was also when Prithviraj rose to power and abducted the daughter of Kannauj’s king, Jaichand, in the middle of her wedding. At the time, Mohammed Ghori was planning an invasion of India, and the Rajput king assumed he simply wanted to loot India and return. As a result, he decided to join Mohammed Ghori’s side and assist him in defeating Prithviraj. But when he learned that Ghori intended to establish a kingdom here, he reluctantly joined Prithviraj and other Rajput kings in defeating Mohammed Ghori. When Ghori appealed to Prithviraj, he let him go. However, the Afghans launched another attack on Prithviraj the following year and defeated him badly in the war. Ghori, on the other hand, did not release Prithviraj, and his kingdoms fell into the hands of Qutub-ud-din.
With Mohammed Ghori’s conquest, India experienced proper dynastic rule for the first time. When Muhammad Ghori died in 1206 A.D., his three most important generals, Tajuddin Yalduz, Nasiruddin Qabacha, and Qutub-ud-din Aibak, fought for supremacy. Tajuddin ruled from Afghanistan to upper Sindh, while Nasiruddin Qabacha ruled from Uchch to Multan and Qutub-ud-din Aibak was appointed governor of Muhammad’s Indian provinces. He ruled as an independent monarch. Qutub-ud-din not only assisted Muhammad in all of his Indian campaigns but also helped to consolidate and extend his conquests while he was away. Qutub-ud-din Aibak was given manumission by Sultan Ghiasuddin Mahmud of Ghur, the nephew of Muhammad Ghori, who bestowed the title of Sultan on Aibak. During his governorship, Aibak faced a severe rebellion in Rajasthan, which was put down. Following that, in 1197 A.D., Aibak attacked Anhilwara in Gujarat and defeated Bhima II. He also conquered Badaun, Benares, and Chandawar before consolidating his conquest in Kannauj. Bundelkhand was one of Aibak’s most important conquests. In 1203 A.D., Aibak attacked the fort of Kalinjar, which was thought to be impregnable. Aibak was successful in driving the Chandellas out of the region. He also had control of Mahoba and Khajuraho. The rulers who ruled Delhi between 1206 and 90 A.D. are known as the Slave dynasty. However, neither of them belonged to a single dynasty. Qutub-ud-din Aibak founded the Qutubi dynasty, lltutmish founded the Shamsi dynasty, and Balban founded the Balbani dynasty. They were also known as the llbafi Turks or the Delhi Mameluk Sultans.
The conquest of Bengal and Bihar was attempted by a petty noble named Bakhtiar Khilji, not Muhammad Ghori or Aibak. He began his career as an ordinary soldier, and his master at Oudh gave him some villages as jagirs. Khilji gathered a small force of followers and began raiding nearby Bihar territories. He began to expand his territory, eventually conquering Nalanda and Vikramshila as well. Bakhtiar Khilji marched with an army towards Nadia, the capital of the Sena kings of Bengal, making meticulous preparations. Lakshman Sena believed the Turks had launched a surprise attack and fled in terror. He pillaged the city and later made Lakhnauti in North Bengal his capital. From Sonargaon, the Lakshman Sena and his successors continued to rule southern Bengal. Bakhtiar Khilji attempted to conquer Tibet, but his expedition was a colossal failure. Later, his army of men assassinated him. He constructed the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque in Delhi and Adhai Din Ka Jhopra in Ajmer. By building Quila-i-Rai Pithaura, he also laid the groundwork for one of medieval Delhi’s seven cities. He initiated and coordinated the construction of the Qutub Minar in Delhi in 1199 A.D., named after the Sufi saint Khwaja Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki, but he died in 1210 A.D. at Lahore while playing Chaugan (Polo). His immediate successor, Aram Shah, was most likely not his son. He was later assassinated by lltutmish.
Featured Image Courtesy – Dharmayudh