Battle of Khanwa

Battle of Khanwa

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Khanwa

date=1527 CE
place= Khanwa, about 60 km west of Agra
result=Mughal victory; Babur gains mastery of northern India
combatant2=Rajput confederacy
commander2=Rana Sanga
strength1=12,000 soldiers ,in addition to afghan nobels Fact|date=August 2008
strength2=100,000 horsemen"Babar the Conqueror." "Encyclopedia of World Biography". Vol. 1. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2004. 405-407. 23 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale.]

The Battle of Khanua (1527) was the second of the series of three major battles, victories in which gave Mughal warlord Zaheer-ud-din Babur overlordship over north India. The Battle of Panipat was the first of the series, the battle of Ghaghra was the last. This battle was fought near the village of Khanwa, about 60 km west of Agra on March 17, 1527. Babur defeated a formidable army raised by Rana Sanga of Mewar in this ten hour battle and firmly established his rule over northern India.


In the early years of the 16th century, North India was ruled by Ibrahim Lodi, a sultan belonging to the Lodi clan of Afghans. Under the Lodi rulers, the sultanate of Delhi encompassed both the Ganga River basin and the Punjab. This empire was crumbling at its very core and was on the brink of collapse.

Zaheer-ud-din Babur was a Mughal warlord belonging to the lineage of Timur and Genghis Khan. His father had ruled the Fergana valley in central Asia, but Babur had been driven out by his relatives, and was in 1526 ruling over Kabul in Afghanistan. He longed to regain his beloved Fergana valley in central Asia. However, that was not to be; he was destined to found an imperial dynasty in India.

Ibrahim Lodi’s governor in Punjab, Daulat Khan Lodi, with certain other Lodi chiefs of Punjab, opened communication with Babur, inviting him to attack Delhi with their help. Babur realized that it was hopeless to aim for Fergana, as the Uzbeks who now ruled it were too powerful for him. He concentrated on making his fortune in India. He started raiding the outlying Indian districts periodically, and finally, in April 1526, advanced towards Delhi. Ibrahim Lodi confronted Babur near the town of Panipat, not far from Delhi. The ensuing first battle of Panipat resulted in the collapse of the sultanate of Delhi; Ibrahim Lodi himself was killed on the field.

Whereas the sultanate of Delhi had been humbled, it was not at all clear what the future held for north India. It has long been the established tradition for invaders from Afghanistan and central asia to destroy all in their wake, conquer Delhi, loot the surrounding countryside, and then retire to their native lands with the booty thus obtained, leaving north India in a chaotic political vacuum. Not unnaturally, many in India surmised this to be Babur's intent as well, and prepared to exploit the situation.

Rana Sanga, more formally known as Maharana Sangram Singh I, ruler of Mewar in western central-India, was among the better placed to do so. Sanga was an intrepid warrior; legend has it that he had received as many as eighty wounds during his career of warfare. Rana Sanga had at this point united nearly all the major Rajput clans of India under his leadership, an event with neither precedent nor recurrence, and had thus formed a powerful confederacy. This situation whetted his appetite for conquest.

Immediate cause of the battle

The immediate cause of the battle seems to have been the defiance of Hasan Khan Meo, a Muslim chieftain belonging to the Meo Rajput community, who ruled over the Mewat region as a vassal of the Lodhi emperors. Mewat is a region lying south of Delhi, spread across south Haryana and North-East Rajasthan. The Meos themselves are Muslims of Indian descent, ethnic cousins of the Jat and Gujar castes. After the overthrow of the Lodhi dynasty, Hasan Khan allied with Rana Sanga and refused to acknowledge the suzerainty of Babur. Babur tried to win him over with promises of high position in Mughal service, but Hasan Khan was not impressed. It is possible that he also surmised that Babur would soon return to Kabul, and being firmly rooted in the land of Mewat, had no wish to follow him. Hasan Khan thought Rana Sanga would prevail.

The battle

Babur moved into Mewat to chastise Hasan Khan Meo, and soon Rana Sanga joined the war. The two armies closed in near Khanwa in March 1527.

trength of the armies

According to Mewari sources, the Rajput army which took to the field composed of 100,000 horsemen and 500 war elephants and included 7 Rajas, 9 Raos and 104 Rawals and Rawats (lesser chieftains). It had no artillery or Muskets. Hasan Khan Mewati and Mahmood Lodhi (the claimant to the Lodhi throne) joined this army with their contingent. Estimates of Mughal army strength are not clear. Babur had come to India with twelve thousand soldiers. There is reason to believe that this number must have swelled, as Mughal army must have been joined by the Afghan nobles who had invited Babur to India. Yet it is generally believed that Babur was vastly outnumbered by the Rajput confederacy. However, the Mughal army possessed artillery and firearms, which were a novelty in India at that time. This gave them a decisive edge in the battle.

Babur motivates his men

The challenges facing Babur appeared insurmountable. The entire broad basin of the Ganga was dominated by Afghan chiefs who had strong associations with the Lodhi dynasty. Although in disarray at that moment, they had formidable military potential. Thus, with most of the neighboring strongholds held by his foes, he was virtually surrounded. His own men, suffering from the heat and disheartened by the hostile environment of this new land, had no notions of supplanting the Lodhi Afghans as the settled gentry of the country; they only wished to return home to central asia with the booty of war. As if all this was not enough, Babur's astrologer warned him against this conflict. All this might have disheartened a lesser man, but not Babur. By using threats, reproaches, promises, and appeals, vividly described in his memoirs, Babur preserved his army’s unity.

The theatrics that Babur employed to motivate his men remains to this day one of the most excellent displays of military leadership. Publicly addressing his men, he declared the forthcoming battle a "Jihad" or Islamic crusade. His soldiers were facing a non-Muslim army for the first time ever. This, he said, was their chance to become either a "Ghazi" (soldier of Islam) or a "Shaheed" (Martyr of Islam). Then he thought up something truly brilliant. Babur was a hard drinker in the tradition of Turko-Mongol warriors, and so were most of his men. He now publicly renounced alcohol and urged his men to do the same. To dramatize the event further, he ordered all the wine in his army collected and poured down a well, vowing never to touch forbidden drinks again. All wine cups, vessels etc were broken down. Gold and silver or the precious cups were taken out to be distributed among the poor. The spirits of his men lifted.

Precursor to battle

Babur sent about fifteen hundred choice cavalry troops in a probing attack on the rajput army. These were entirely destroyed by the rejputs; this prompted Babur to ask for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. Unfortunately, Rana Sanga failed to follow up his advantage, being hampered by discord among his allies (one reason why Rajput confederacies were few and far between and seldom worked). He sent his one of the most trusted generals, Silhadi (Shiladitya), a Purabia Rajput chieftain, to Babur for discussions. Babur won over this general by promising him an independent kingdom in northeast Malwa. Silhadi came back and reported to Sanga that Babur does not want peace, and wants to fight. The die was cast.

In preparation for the battle, Babur used the same tactics that he had used a year earlier at the first battle of Panipat. He lined up the wagons and connected them with ox-hide ropes and chains to form a barricade. In front of this barricade, he dug trenches to prevent his fortification being overrun by cavalry charge. Behind this barricade and in between the wagons, he positioned his artillery and musketeers. Every few yards between this line of carts, he left gaps from where his horsemen can sally forth and attack the enemy. Babur calls this fortification an Ottoman tactic. He had effectively created a movable fortress right in the middle of the flat plains.

The armies meet

On March 17, Rana Sanga launched a furious attack on the centre and right wing of the Mughal force; the conflict lasted several hours. Mughal artillery wreaked havoc in the Rajputs’ closed ranks. Their cannon fire caused the elephants in the Rajput army to stampede. Mughal cavalry archers made repeated flanking charges from the left and right of their fortified position. These mounted archers seem to have inflicted maximum losses on rajput ranks, as the latter were not accustomed to these tactics. Despite sustaining heavy losses because of superior Mughal tactics, the Rajputs initially appeared to have an advantage due to their sheer numbers and their frenzied charges at the Mughal position. Yet after many hours, the Rajputs failed to overrun the strongly defended central "fortress" of the Mughal army. This signaled to Silhadi which way the penny would drop.

Rana Sanga sustained more wounds, at one time being felled by an arrow; nevertheless, he fought on. For a while, the battle's outcome hung in balance. Then, sensing that Rana Sanga’s ship was sinking, Silhadi decamped to Babur with his entire force. After ten hours, the confederacy broke. It was all over for Mewar. The defection of a significant portion of the army fatally weakened the rajputs. Mughal flanks finally rolled back the rajputs flanks. The Rajput army disintegrated rapidly now. Rana Sanga chose to retreat from the battle, to live and fight another day.


After the customary erection of a tower of the heads of dead and prisoner enemy soldiers, a ritual that comes right from the Mongolian steppes, Babur added the title of "Ghazi" to his name, signifying his role as a warrior for Islam. The battle of Khanwa was almost certainly the first in which Babur confronted a Non-Muslim army. He remained firm on his vow of abstinence from alcohol till his death in 1530. At one time, he is said to have wistfully commented “Others have taken to the cup and later regretted it, I renounced the cup and never regretted it.”

To briefly summarize the subsequent careers of the main players in this battle:
*Babur retired to his capital, Agra. He would still have to face one more bid by the remnants of the Lodi dynasty, led by Mahmood Khan Lodi, in the battle of Ghaghra, but the foundation of the Mughal empire was well and truly set on the soil of north India.
*Mahmood Khan Lodi fled eastwards and would again pose a challenge to Babur two years later at the Battle of Ghaghra.
*Hasan Khan Mewati escaped from the battlefield, but was later killed by his own servants. His son Nahar Khan swore allegiance to Babur and received some area in his native Mewat region to administer as a vassal of the Mughal emperor.
*Rana Sanga died shortly after this battle (in 1527 itself) at Baswa on Mewar's northern border. His death was put down to war wounds, but there was also suspicion of poison.
*Silhadi retired to his fort at Raisen; he died in 1532 at battle with the sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah.
*Dham Dev Rao Sikarwar migrated to Gahmar(Gazipur district, UttarPradesh).

ee also

*First battle of Panipat
*Rana Sanga



* [ Brief sketch of battle]
* [ Another sketch of battle]
* [ On Babur]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Battle of Ghaghra — The Battle of Ghaghra, fought in 1529, was the last of a series of three major battles, victories in which gave Mughal warlord Zaheer ud din Babur overlordship over north India. It followed the first Battle of Panipat (1526) and the battle of… …   Wikipedia

  • Khanwa — (also spelt Khanua) is the name of a nondescript village lying about 60 km west of the city of Agra in India. It was the scene of a famous battle in the history of north India.The Battle of Khanua was fought on March 17, (1527), between Babur,… …   Wikipedia

  • Rana Sanga — Contents 1 Historical Fact 2 Early life 3 Local Legends 4 Battle of Khanwa 5 Early years …   Wikipedia

  • Sikarwar — Rajputs is an old clan of Suryavansha Dynasty Rajputs from the first century A.D. They draw their name from Sikar (Rajasthan), the district that was allocated to Swarup Rao Sikarwar to rule. Later Keshevdev Sikarwar founded the city of Sikri… …   Wikipedia

  • Jats in the pre-Aurangzeb period — The Jats in the pre Aurangzeb period, according to the historian Qanungo, had little scope for their lawless activity under the strong governments of the Surs and the Mughals down to the accession of Aurangzeb (1658 1707). They remained quiet… …   Wikipedia

  • Babur — Infobox Monarch name = Babur title = Mughal Emperor of India al ṣultānu l ʿazam wa l ḫāqān al mukkarram pādshāh e ghāzī caption = Portrait of Babur reign = 30 April 1526 – 26 December 1530 coronation = Not formally crowned othertitles = Founder… …   Wikipedia

  • Silhadi — was a Tomar Rajput chieftain of northeast Malwa in the early decades of 16th century India. He commanded a mercenary force of Purabiya soldiers (hailing from present day eastern U.P. and Bihar) and for that reason is himself occasionally referred …   Wikipedia

  • Humayun — for the film see Humayun (film) Humayun 2nd Mughal Emperor of …   Wikipedia

  • Mughal architecture — Taj Mahal at Agra, the epitome of Mughal Architecture Mughal architecture, an amalgam of Islamic, Persian[1][2], Turkish an …   Wikipedia

  • Mughal Empire — Mughals redirects here. For other uses, see Mughal (disambiguation). The Mughal Empire شاهان مغول Shāhān e Moġul …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”