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Prithviraj Chauhan Richard the Lion heart
Muhammad Ghauri - Famous and Infamous Rulers
6553    Dibyendu Banerjee    19/06/2018

Renowned in History as Muhammad Ghauri or Muhammad of Ghor (1149-1206), Muizz Ud-Din Shahab-ud-Din Ghori was one of the greatest rulers of the Ghurid dynasty and was instrumental in the foundation of Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent, which continued for several centuries. For a prolong period he reigned over a vast territory spanning over parts of modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, a big chunk of north India, extended up to modern Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Before his invasion, Muslim invaders raided India time and again and barbarously plundered the country indiscriminately. But, before he left the country, Mohammad Ghauri appointed Qutub-ud-din Aybak as his Viceroy in India to rule the country on his behalf and after his death, Qutub-ud-din Aybak crowned himself the Sultan of Delhi and founded Mamluk or Slave Dynasty in the country.

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Son of Baha al-Din Sam I, a local ruler of the Ghor region, Mohammad Ghauri was born in the Ghor region of the present Afghanistan, though his exact date of birth is unknown. In his early life, he was imprisoned by his uncle Ala al-Din Husayn, along with his elder brother Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad, only to be released later by his son, Sayf al-Din Muhammad. After the death of Sayf in 1163, Ghiyath al-Din Muhammad ascended the throne, with the support and help of the Ghurid nobles. But his other uncle, Fakhr al-Din Masud, claimed the throne for himself and challenged his authority with the help of Tadj al-Din Yildiz, the Selijug governor of Heart and Balkh. However, the coalition was defeated by the brothers, who killed the Seljuq governor, spared their uncle and restored him as the ruler of Bamiyan and then conquered Zamindawar, Badghis, Gharjistan and Urozgan.

After he returned from an expedition from Sistan, Mohammad Ghauri was shortly awarded with Kandahar by his brother. Within a short time after that, the Ghurid brothers attacked Ghazni in 1173, defeated the Oghuz Turks, and Mu'izz was appointed as the ruler of Ghazni. In 1175, the brothers conquered Heart and Pushang and thus, having helped his brother in expanding the western frontiers of the Ghurid Empire, Mu'izz Ud-Din Shahab-ud-Din Ghori started his campaign in India. In 1175, he defeated the Qarmatian rulers of Multan and proceeded towards the Chaulukya capital of Anhilwara in modern Gujrat. On his way, he suffered a defeat in 1178, when in the Battle of Kasahrada the combined forces of young Chaulukya ruler Mularaja and their feudatories routed his army. As the army suffered heavy casualties, Mohammad Ghauri had no other way but to retreat back across the desert to Multan. Yet, on his way back, Mu'izz capatured Peshwar and Sialkot.

Muhammad Ghori
Muhammad Ghori

During 1186-87, along with his brother, he successfully terminated the Ghaznavid Dynasty by executing the Ghaznavid ruler Khusrau-Malik, captured Lahore and thus, brought the rest of Ghaznavid territory under control. In 1191, he again helped his brother Ghiyath to defeat the powerful army of Sultan Shah at Merv and annexed most of the latter's territories in Khorasan.

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Muhammad invaded the northwestern regions of the Indian Subcontinent many times. In 1191, he proceeded through the Khybar Pass, reached Punjab and captured a fortress in Bhatinda, which was under the domain of Prithviraj Chauhan, the Hindu Rajput ruler of Delhi and Ajmer. In the ensuing First Battle of Tarain, 14 miles away from Thanesar in present Haryana, the mounted Muslim archers initiated the attack to which Prithviraj counterattacked them from three sides and thus convincingly defeated the invaders. In the process of war, Mu'izz was wounded and his army had to retreat.

But, the defeat could neither weaken his spirit nor check his fiery ambition. On his return to Ghazni, he made adequate preparations to avenge the defeat and in 1192, again faced the combined forces of the Hindu Kings, under the leadership of Prithviraj Chauhan. As Mu'izz was aware that traditionally, the Rajputs fight from sunrise to sunset, he attacked them before the dawn. Due to the surprise attack, the unprepared Hindu army suffered heavy losses and was eventually defeated. Prithviraj was taken prisoner and was subsequently brutally executed.

Prithviraj Chauhan
Prithviraj Chauhan

After the fall of Prithviraj, Mu'izz captured the smaller Rajput kingdoms like Saraswati, Samana, Kohram and Hansi without any hiccup. Mu'izz also captured Delhi after the Battle of Chandwar in 1193 or 1194, defeating Raja Jaichand of Kannauj and within a span of one year, the northern part of the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, along with Ajmer and the northern Rajasthan, came under his control.

After months of illness, when his elder brother Ghiyath died at Heart in1202, Mu'izz had to quickly return to Ghor from India and with the support of the Ghurid nobles, he was crowned as Sultan of the Ghurid Empire at Firuzkuh.

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Immediate after his crowning, Muhammad II, the Shah of the Khwarezmian Empire, stormed and besieged Heart. However, Mu'izz recaptured Herat, forced Muhammad II back to Khwarezm and besieged their capital, Gurganj. But, due to the pressure from the Kara-Khitans, he had to relieve the siege, retreat and on his way back to his country, was defeated at Andkhud in 1204.

While Mu'izz was preparing for a counter attack against the Khwarmezians and Kara-Khitans, a revolt broke out in Punjab and the surrounding regions in northern India, which prompted Mu'izz to rush there, suspending his plan to counter-attack his enemies in the western front.

In 1206, Mu'izz, having settled the affairs in India, entrusted Qutub-ud-din Aybak to rule the new Kingdom on his behalf and left for Ghazni. On his way back, his troop camped at Dhamiak, near the city of Jhelum in the Punjab province of present Pakistan. There, far away from his country, Mohammad Ghauri was assassinated on March 15, 1206 while offering his evening prayers. Who killed the great warrior is really not known. Some historians believe that the murderer belonged to the warrior Gakhar tribe that resided in the area. Some also claim that he was assassinated by Hindu Khokhars, an agricultural tribe of Punjab or by a radical Ismaili Muslim sect.

Muhammad Ghori

Muhammad Ghori, undoubtedly one of the greatest military leaders the world has ever seen, was also one of the greatest rulers of the Ghurid Dynasty. It is true that, he had to suffer humiliating defeats several times. But, he took his every failure as a valuable experience, improved his weaknesses and ultimately achieved tremendous success.

Muhammad Shahab-ud-Din Ghori was very much loyal to his brother and always considered himself a general in his brother's army. He never betrayed his brother, never declared his independence, as he was aware that it would only result in civil war between the two brothers. In fact, the brothers were complimentary to each other. He was kind to his slaves and trained thousands of his faithful Turkish slaves in the art of warfare and administration.

Tomb of Muhammad of Ghor in Sohawa Tehsil, Pakistan
Tomb of Muhammad of Ghor in Sohawa Tehsil, Pakistan

Prithviraj Chauhan Richard the Lion heart
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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