Pre-Partition #6 The arriving of the Turks

The Turks entered the imperial arena with the gradual decline of the Abbasid Empire.


The Turk rulers of Afghanistan began the Islamic conquest of India in the 11th century from the Northeast. Mahmud of Ghazni (979-1030) led a series of raids and Ghandhara, Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan became the crucial parts of the Ghaznavid Empire, which had its capital at Ghazni in Afghanistan.

Mahmud’s empire extended from Iraq to the Ganges and from Khwarzim to khathiawar and the Arabian Sea. Mahmud’s successors consolidated the empire in the Indus valley and it was extended right up to Punjab. Then Lahore replaced Multan as the administrative and cultural center.

The Ghaznavid dynasty was ousted by the Ghaurids (1148 – 1206 AD). Muhammad Ghauri was appointed governor of Ghazni by his brother emperor Soften Ghayasuddin. He extended the borders of up to river Jamna and conquered Ajmir and Delhi. His Turkish successors advanced their domains southwards to Bengal. The Delhi Sultanate was established at the turn of the 13th century.

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During the Sultanate, there was a fruitful fusion of Islam and Indian culture with spiritual values. The political unit of the Sub-continent resulted in economic regeneration and trade on large scale. However, with all the pomp and splendor of the Delhi-based Indo-Turkish Empire, the spread of Islam was not the result of the military successes of the Sultans, but the peaceful preaching of the mystics.

The Mongols, who invaded the northern Sub-continent in the 13th and 14th centuries, were a considerable challenge to the Sultanate. At first, there were the troops of Ghengis khan who reached the Indus in 1221, to be followed by the Central Asian conqueror Timur in 1398.

Both caused destruction and death in the region, chaos, and confusion, but Sultanate survived until the dawn of the 16th century when it fell to the displaced descendant of the House of Timur (Samarkand), the great adventurer Babar. In 1526 the first Battle of Panipat was fought where the late Lodhi dynasty was sealed once and for all.

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