May 17

The plunder of India by Timur

Timur invaded northern India in 1398 and attacked the Tughluq dynasty's Sultan Nasir-ud-Din Mahmud Shah Tughluq's Delhi Sultanate. On September 30, 1398, after crossing the Indus River, he attacked Tulamba and killed all of its residents. Then, by October, he had advanced and taken Multan. However, he did come up against resistance from the combined army of Rajputs and Muslims at Bhatner, led by the Rajput king Dulachand. Dulachand initially opposed Timur but when pressed, he considered surrender. Timur's invasion was unopposed as most of the Indian nobility surrendered without a fight. He was imprisoned outside the Bhatner walls by his brother, and Timur subsequently executed him. The Bhatner garrison then engaged in combat and was wiped out to the last soldier. Bhatner was vandalised and set ablaze.


Who was Timur?

Timur, also known as Taimur, was given the nickname "Taimur Lang" because he was forced to walk with a limp after suffering a leg injury on the battlefield. Taimur was an invader from Central Asia who had aspirations of being one of the world's most illustrious conquerors.

He now fixed his eyes on The Golden Bird, or India, which he was eager to loot and pass off as another country after capturing the Central Asian belt. India was the destination of his intense longing. Unfortunately, India was ruled by ineffective leaders throughout this time, and there was total political anarchy and unrest among the populace.

This was taking place as a result of Firuz Shah Tughlak's death. So Taimur's entry into India came at a favourable time. The historical records very clearly state that Taimur also travelled to India to persuade the non-Muslim Hindus to adopt the Islamic faith to absolve them of their sins and grant them the title of Ghazi, thus fulfilling Changiz Khan's aspirations.

It is said of Timur’s invasions, “Wherever he went he brought about destruction, massacres, burning, looting and dishonour to women”.

The capture of Delhi (1398)

Timur delegated the first work to Pir Muhammad, the grandson of Ghiyasuddin Jahangir, before he himself went out to attack India. Pir Muhammad conquered Uchha by fording the Indus. Then he moved on to Multan, which had been taken after a six-month siege. Pir Muhammad also conquered Pak Pattan and all of Dipalpur before arriving to the Sutlej River and waiting for his grandpa.

Leaving Kabul on August 15 and crossing the Indus on September 24 1398, he reached the Jhelum in two days. Shihab-ud-Din Mubarak, the local ruler, challenged Timur but was overpowered. In the Jhelum River, Mubarak Shah and his entire family drowned. Timur crossed the Jhelum and the Ravi before setting up camp in front of Tulamba on October 13, 1398. In exchange for a particular sum of money, he promised to spare the town, but he nevertheless gave the order to kill everyone. Jasrat, who had proven himself in Lahore, was a problem for Timur. Jasrat fled after his fortress on the Sutlej River was captured. Timur arrived at the Sutlej's northern side on October 25, 1398. He was accompanied by Pir Muhammad on October 26. Pir Muhammad oversaw the right wing of Timur's army throughout the remainder of the Indian war.

Hindus burned their women, children, and property by throwing everything into fire. There were over 10,000 Hindu deaths

Timur was not pleased with the uprising of the towns of Pak Pattan and Dipalpur against Pir Muhammad. The people of Pak Pattan were whipped, pillaged, and made into slaves. 500 people from Dipalpur were executed as retaliation for their killing of Pir Muhammad's soldiers there. The sultan of Bhatnir was Rai Dul Chand, a Bhati Rajput. Although he put up a valiant fight, he finally gave up on November 9th, 1398. The evaluation of Bhatnir's ransom and the ensuing resistance from the populace led to the burning and devastation of the city, "so that one would have said that no living thing had ever drawn breath in that neighbourhood," after a wholesale bloodbath. 

According to a description of what happened to the residents of Bhatnir, "Hindus burned their women, children, and property by throwing everything into fire; those who claimed to be Musalmans cut off the heads of their women and children as if they were goats; this done, the two communities determined to fight to the last." There were over 10,000 Hindu deaths. Muslim population numbers are not provided. The structures were demolished or set ablaze.

Timur departed Bhatnir on November 13th, 1398, and marched through Sirsa and Fatehabad, chasing and killing any locals who escaped in his path. Aharwan was burned and pillaged. Around 2,000 Jats were killed at Tohana. The whole army gathered at Kaithat on November 29 and headed to Panipat. The right wing of the armed forces arrived at Dehi's northern region, which overlooked the Jamuna, on December 7th, 1398. The soldiers crossed the river on December 9. Timur seized Loni on December 10th, and the Hindu residents were executed.

Nasir-ud-Din Within the city gates, Mahmud and Mallu Iqbal gathered their armies. On December 12th, Mallu Iqbal assaulted Timur's rear guard. To aid the rear-guard, two divisions were dispatched, and Mallu was eventually routed and pushed back to Delhi. His sole accomplishment was a dreadful slaughter. There were around one lakh adult male Hindus who had been taken by Timur at the time of the Mallu attack on the rear-guard, and they displayed their delight at the period of attack. Timur observed that and ordered the execution of each and every one of them. On the day of combat, Timur feared that they may "break their bonds, plunder our tents, and join the enemy."

Timur travelled from Delhi to Meerut, which was valiantly held back by Safi, Ilyas Afghan, Maulana Ahmad Thanesari, and his son Ilyas Afghan. Timur killed the inhabitants, destroyed the defences, and stole all they owned. All the walls and towers were to be brought to the ground, and the Hindus' homes were to be set ablaze. After a fight on the Ganges during which 48 boatloads of Hindus were seized and burned, Timur marched to the river, where he beat an army of 10,000 horse and foot under Mubarak Khan. He assaulted and pillaged two Hindu armies in the Hardwar neighbourhood. From then, he marched towards Kangra, butchering Hindus' daily bodies like lambs along the way. On January 16th, 1399, he took control of Kangra. After that, he marched towards Jammu, whose king had been overthrown and taken prisoner. "By hopes, anxieties, and threats, he was taught to recognise the beauty of Islam.” He recited the creed and consumed cow meat, which is considered abhorrent by his own countrymen. He received tremendous distinction for this, and the emperor took him under his care. Sikandar Shah of Kashmir sent a telegram giving his sub-mission just prior to Raja of Jammu's loss. To Lahore, an expedition was dispatched. The city was taken over, and a ransom was demanded. Shaikh Khokhar was brought before Timur, who killed him.

Timur conducted a court on March 6, 1399, to bid the princes and army leaders goodbye before returning them to their respective provinces. At that time, he appointed Khizr Khan to the Multan, Lahore, and Dipalpur governments. According to some historians, Timur chose him to serve as his viceroy in Delhi. Timur departed Bannu on March 19th, 1399, crossed the Indus two days later, and after some time, he arrived in Samarkand. He brought more sorrow to India in a single conquest than any conqueror had ever brought.

Causes of Timur’s invasion

Spreading Islam, he wanted to acquire the title of ‘Ghazi’.

Timur was extremely ambitious, much like previous great conquerors. He desired to rule over an increasing number of countries. Also, He had become interested in Hindustan's enormous wealth. Because the Delhi Sultanate was in disarray, the Turkish conqueror had a chance to realise his aspirations.

Further, Timur intended to take advantage of India's unstable political situation to his advantage. According to some historians, Timur wished to achieve Changez Khan's dream, which he allegedly saw during the Iltutmish era.

In his autobiography, Timur stated, “My object in the invasion of Hindustan is to lead an expedition against the infidels, to convert them to the true faith of Islam and purify the land itself from the filth, infidelity, and polytheism.” Spreading Islam, he wanted to acquire the title of ‘Ghazi’.

Effects of Timur invasion

After Timur left, the entire region of Northern India was in an unimaginable state of chaos. Delhi was nearly completely empty and in ruins. There was no master over it. Famine and disease were challenges for the survivors. Famine was a natural outcome of the invading army's extensive damage of the food stocks and standing crops. The city's air and water supplies were contaminated by the thousands of residents' dead corpses, which is where the pestilence got its start. The devastation was so total that "the city was utterly ruined and those who were left of the inhabitants died, while for two whole months not a bird moved wings in Delhi," according to a report. 

The devastation was so total that "the city was utterly ruined and those who were left of the inhabitants died, while for two whole months not a bird moved wings in Delhi

The Tughluq empire fell apart entirely. At Jaunpur, Khwaja Jahan ruled on his own. Bengal had a long history of independence. In Gujarat, Muzaffar Shah refused to acknowledge any master. In Malwa, Dilawar Khan exercised regal power. Khizr Khan, the viceroy of Timur, presided over the administration of the Punjab and Upper Sind. Ghalib Khan held Samana in his grasp. Shams Khan of Auhadi had control over Bayana. Under Muhammad Khan, Kalpi and Mohaba established a minor principality. Mallu Iqbal is still present at Baran. Nusrat Shah briefly held the title of Lord of Delhi before Mallu compelled him to flee and forced him to seek sanctuary in Mewat, where he later passed away.

There is no denying that the weak Tughluq dynasty, which was succeeded by the Sayyid dynasty in 1414, received a fatal blow from Timur's invasion. Timur shattered India's prosperity. Great structures and pieces of art were demolished at Delhi, Bhatnir, Dipalpur, Meerut, and Haridwar. India lost her immense wealth due to theft, burning, and looting. The gap between Muslims and Hindus grew as a result of Timur's invasion. The Muslim had failed to convert the Hindus who viewed the Muslims as Mlechhas due to their intolerance of the Hindus. Timur's brutal executions of Hindus and construction of towers topped with their skulls exacerbated the already present resentment.

The invasion of Timur made it much more challenging for Muslims and Hindus to interact. India art made its way to Central Asia as a result of the invasion. Timur sent many artisans and artists from India to Samarkand, where they worked on the construction of mosques and other structures. Timur's invasion made the Mughal conquest possible. Babur claimed the throne of Delhi in part because to the fact that he was a Timurid descendent. Babur discovered both a moral and legal basis for his invasion of India in Timur's conquest of the Punjab and Delhi.


India had lost all of its wealth and was on the edge of an economic collapse following Timur's onslaught. Due to the unattended dead bodies and destruction from his army's destruction of and burning of standing crops, there were food shortages and disease outbreaks. No Tughluq king ever recovered the strength to retake the throne as a result of the consequences of his invasion. The nation was in danger of disintegrating.

Timur personally named Khizr Khan, the ruler of Multan, to be the Sultan of Delhi. However, Khizr Khan was required to pay homage to the Timurids in Samarkand.

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