Panipat has been described as the pivot of indian history for 300 years. And its story begins in the first great battle of 1526.After the fall of the sayyids,the afghan lodi dynasty had seized power at delhi. The power of the sultanate had decreased considerably at this time,though the sultan could still command significant resources. Ibrahim lodi,the third ruler was unpopular with the nobility for his persecution and execution of a large number of old nobles. A prominent noble,Daulat khan fearing for his life appealed to Zahir-ud-din Babur,the Timurid ruler of Kabul to come and depose ibrahim lodi. It was thought that babur would defeat lodi,plunder and leave. Babur however had different ideas.
Babur, a timurid prince with descent from Timur and Chingiz khan had originally inherited the kingdom of fergana — one of the brekaway regions in the aftermath of the breakup of the once mighty timurid empire. The twoforemost powers in the region at this time were the Safavids of Iran and The Uzbeks of central asia. Squeezed between them babur had to fight for survival. Gaining and losing Samarkand 3 times he eventually moved to Kabul in 1504,where he aimed to consolidate a powebase. It was here that he came into touch with India and between 1504 and 1524 had raided across the Northwestern frontier 4 times. His main goal at this time was to consolidate his position in Afghanisthan by crushing the rebellious pathan tribes of the region, particularly the Yusufzais. Having given up his aspirations of retaking Samarkand in 1512 he now dreamed of a new empire east of the Indus,and bided his time for an oppurtunity. In the Baburnama he writes that as these territories were once conquered by timurlane he felt it was his natural birthright and he resolved to acquire them by force if necessary.The invitation of the Afghan chiefs provided him with this opportunity. (India 1525 & Babur’s Invasion route — The delhi sultanate and rajputs under Rana sanga were the 2 major powers in north india. South india being dominated by the deccan sultanates and Vijaynagar).
The battle was fought on 7 April near the small village of Panipat(now an industrial town in Haryana), in the present day Indian state of Haryana, an area that has been the site of a number of decisive battles for the control of Northern India since the twelfth century. It is estimated that Babur's forces numbered around 15,000 men and had between 20 to 24 pieces of field artillery. Babur estimated Lodi had around 100,000 men, though that number included camp followers, while the fighting force was around 30,000 to 40,000 men in total, along with at least 1000 war elephants.
Babur started for Lahore, Punjab, in 1524 but found that Daulat Khan Lodi had been driven out by forces sent by Ibrahim Lodi. When Babur arrived at Lahore, the Lodi army marched out and was routed. Babur burned Lahore for two days, then marched to Dipalpur, placing Alam Khan, another rebel uncle of Lodi’s, as governor.There after he returned to Kabul to gather reinforcements. Alam Khan was quickly overthrown and fled to Kabul. In response, Babur supplied Alam Khan with troops who later joined up with Daulat Khan and together with about 30,000 troops, they besieged Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi. He defeated them and drove off Alam’s army , Babur realized Lodi would not allow him to occupy Punjab. Meanwhile Alam also demanded Babur assign delhi to him after its capture,which was not acceptable to Babur. In 1525 November ,Babur set out in force to seize the empire he sought.Crossing the Indus a census of the army revealed his core fighting force numbering 12,000.This number would grow as it joined his garrison in Punjab and some local allies or mercenaries to around 20,000 at Panipat. Entering Sialkot unopposed he moved on to Ambala. His intelligence alerted him that Hamid Khan was about to reinforce Lodi’s force with a contingent,he sent his son Humayun to defeat his detachment at Hisar Firoza.From Ambala the army moved south to Shahabad, then east to reach the River Jumna opposite Sarsawa.
At the same time Ibrahim Lodi, Sultan of Delhi, had gathered his army and was advancing slowly north from Delhi, eventually camping somewhere close to Panipat. Late in March 1526 Ibrahim decided to send a small force across the Yamuna into the Doab (the area between the Yamuna and the Ganges).Babur learnt of this when he was two days south of Sarsawa, and decided to send a raiding force across the river to attack this detachment. His right wing had won the victory on 26 February, and so this time he detached his left wing, once again reinforced with part of the centre, so the two armies may have been about the same size. Babur’s men crossed the Jumna at midday on 1 April, and advanced south during the afternoon.At day-break on 2 April Babur’s men reached the enemy camp. Daud Khan and Hatim Khan would appear to have been caught by surprise and attacked before they could form their men up into a proper line. Babur’s men quickly broke their resistance, and chased Ibrahim’s men until they were opposite Ibrahim’s main camp. Hatim Khan was one of 60–70 prisoners captured, along with 6 or 7 elephants. Just as after the battle on 26 February most of the prisoners were executed, again to send a warning to Ibrahim’s men.
After this victory Babur continued to advance south, reaching Panipat on 12 April. Here Babur recieved news of the apparent huge size of Lodi’s army and began to take defensive measures. He was confident in his troops,the core of which were battle hardened veterans ,loyal friends to him through thick and thin. He also enjoyed a solid rapport with his men and treated them on a equal footing. Any could dine at his table.I brahim lodi however was facing dissension in ranks.He even had to resort to distributing riches to encourage his troops and promised more.Personally brave,ibrahim was an inexperienced commander and quite vain which upset some of the afghan nobility. For eight days Both armies stood facing each other without making a decisive move.Finally babur in an attempt to goad lodi into attacking him ordered a night raid by 5000 picked horsemen.However the attack faltered badly,and the mughals narrowly escaped.
"“In battle the great reliance of the Uzbeks is on the tulughmeh. They never engage without using the tulughmeh.’’ — Babur
The Delhi sultanate armies had traditionally been based around cavalry. To this the addition was made of the Indian war elephant. The Elephant and horse formed the 2 pillars of sultanate military strength.The army would be based on a quasi-feudal structure. A small central force under the Sultan’s direct control at Delhi supplemented by large number of contingents brought by the different afghan chiefs or Jagirdars,plus Jagirdars(turkish) and indian feudal levies and mercenaries(largely infantry).There was no gunpowder artillery and infantry was very much a cannon-fodder force. Ibrahim Lodi was at this time involved in attempts at centralization which was unpopular amongst his chieftains. Ibrahim Lodi’s army at Panipat may be estimated at 50,000 men and 400 war elephants. Perhaps 25,000 of these were heavy cavalry predominantly afghan ,rest being feudal levies or mercenaries of less value.
The afghans were not a steppe people and thus didn’t master horse archery. Rather they relied on heavy shock cavalry as the basis of their military power. Above shows the equipment of an afghan mailed heavy lancer. To the left is one wearing the standard plate-chainmail hybrid armour of the day. To the right is iron lamellar armour. Both would have been in use ,though mail would have predominated. The second picture depicts a typical afghan mailed lancer in action.They were a redoubtable foe and under Sher shah proved could easily turn the tables on the mughals.
Ghulam Armoured cavalry, standard melee cavalry of the delhi sultanate since the time of the ghurids.These would have changed little since the early days of the sultanate except perhaps in armour.Even though the turks were no longer in power at delhi,most jagirdars would be bringing cavalry of similar type.Armed with Shield,lance,Mace and scimitar. Ibrahim’s Primary shock force was his 400+ armoured elephants.A terrifying shock weapon as well as mobile fortress,used properly they were a formidable problem.They mounted a mahout and 2–3 infantrymen with spears and bows. Against the earlier mongol invasions of the delhi sultanate under the khiljis,the combination of armoured elephants and Sultanate cavalry had proved too much even for the mongols. However this descendant of genghis had something-that the earlier chagatai mongols didn’t have Cannons.
The battle formation consisted of the traditional five-fold divisions — the vanguard, the right, the left,the centre and the rear.Sultan stood at the centre with a picked body of cavalry. Skirmishing and night raids were common.The Afghans based their battle tactics around the shock strike forces of their elephants and heavy cavalry. Brute force in massed frontal assaults on the flat plains were therefore key elements of Ibrahim lodi’s plan. A considerable part of this army was feudal contingents from the various nobles,they were thus not drilled nor trained to work in co-operation with the whole body,and suffered from lack of maneuverability. They were however well equipped and courageous,if lacking the discipline of the veteran baburids. They also had no understanding of the Tulughma tactics of Central Asia.
Babur’s army consisted of turks,mongols,iranians and afghans. It was built as a veteran core which had been campaigning alongside him for over a decade and thus the troops and commanders were confident,and familiar with each other.It also had an element of equality where any trooper could dine with babur or give his opinion on tactics in contrast with the tiered hierarchy in the sultanate army.And they were campaigning far away from home,where defeat would mean annihilation with nowhere to retreat.All these factors contributed to better morale.The army was organized along timurid lines -units of 10,50,100,500,1000.Babur’s army at Panipat numbered 15,000–20,000 men.The bulk of them timurid cavalry,supplemented by turkish gunners with gunpowder matchlocks and cannons-till now an unknown feature on the indian battlefield.
Cavalry was the centerpiece of the mughul army. Babur’s horsemen would have been composed of Horse archers — mainly mongols recruited from moghulistan in central asia and masters of steppe warfare and also turks and heavy melee cavalry(who may also use bows).Even the horseachers in the mughul army wore full armor. Lamellar armour was in extensive use alongside chainmail-plate hybrid armours.(so called ‘mirror’ armor).First picture on top shows baburid shock cavalry using lances ,swords.They usually wear mailshirts beneath a padded jacket on top.On the right is a light horseman with scimitar.Second picture above shows a cavalryman in lamellar armour and lance on the left,he is fully capable of acting as a horse archer.On the right is pure heavy cavalryman in mail armour(mail more suited to close combat)with straight sword and battle-axe.
New tactics introduced by Babur were the tulghumaand the araba. Tulghumameant dividing the whole army into various units, viz. the Left, the Right and the Centre. The Left and Right divisions were further subdivided into Forward and Rear divisions. Through this a small army could be used to surround the enemy from all the sides. the Centre Forward division was then provided with carts (araba) which were placed in rows facing the enemy and tied to each other with animal hide ropes. Behind them were placed cannons protected and supported by mantelets which could be used to easily manoeuvre the cannons. These two tactics made Babur's artillery lethal. The guns and cannons could be fired without any fear of being hit as they were shielded by the bullock carts which were held in place due to the hide ropes holding them together. the nozzle of the heavy cannons could also be easily changed as they could be manoeuvered by the mantelets which were provided with wheels.
Babur’s victory led to the end of the delhi sultanate and the establishment of the Mughul dynasty which was to mark an epoch in the history of medieval india. Babur went on to deal with threats to his position at Khanua against the Rajputs and Gogra against the Afghans,but died before he could consolidate what he had conquered. His son humayun had to deal with a resurgent afghan threat under Sher Shah. The final consolidation of the Mughul Empire was left to Akbar,Babur’s grandson.Militarily,the battle of panipat marks the beginning of the gunpowder age in earnest and the end of the age of elephants as the prime weapon of indian warfare.
It is said that the day before the battle Ibrahim summoned all his nobles and wanted them to dress in the best clothes and made preparations for a festival. He delivered all gold, pearls, jewels and other valuable to them and said,
"O friends, tomorrow we shall battle with the Mughal army. If I gain victory, I will endeavour to please you; if I do not, be at least content with these presents and my declared intentions"
In the morning Sultan Ibrahim with his forces marched towards Panipat. Although the Afghan army greatly outnumbered its opponents, the soldiers were dispirited and disheartened from the Sultan's ill ¬treatment. When the battle was about to lost Mahmud Khan, an officer came to Ibrahim and requested him to leave the battle field. He said, "If the king is saved, it will be easy to find another army and again make war against the Mughals. We shall soon be able to find an opportunity of accomplishing our wishes". But Sultan Ibrahim replied that it is a disgrace for kings to fly from the battle field. He added, "My nobles, my companions, my well-wishers and friends have partaken of the cup of martyrdom. One has fallen here, another there; where then can I go now? My horse's legs are dyed with blood up to his chest. While I was king I governed the empire as I pleased; now fortune has sided with the Mughals, what pleasure is there in life? It is better that I should be like my friends, in the dust and in blood". On saying this he rushed into fight with 5000 bravest horsemen and killed many Mughals and obtained martyrdom towards the close of the day.
When Babur was informed of Sultan Ibrahim's death, he was standing in the rear. He accordingly went out to the plain where the slain were lying, and found that powerful Sultan prostrate in the dust and weltering in blood, the royal crown fallen from his head, the canopy also on the ground. Babur ordered his men to bury him on the spot where he had fallen. During the British period, when the Grand Trunk Road was built, the tomb, which obstructed the road, was shifted to another site (1866), between the tehsil and the old city of Panipat. It was one of Sher Shah’s dying regrets that he could not materialize his wish to raise a tomb to Ibrahim Lodi in Panipat with such architectural embellishment that friend and foe might render their tribute of applause, so that his name could remain honoured upon earth until the day of resurrection.45 Later, the district committee built a plain masonry platform over it with an Urdu inscription. The inscription is fixed on the northern wall of the platform. It is a marble tablet measuring 30 inches by 20 inches. It has 2.5 lines, whose English translation is as follows:
“The tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi who was slain along with his army in the great battle of Panipat (934 A.H.) against Ghiyasuddin Babur Badshah; and that the tomb was repaired and set right in 1867 A.D.”
According to Rodgers, the inscription has two gross mistakes. Babur’s name was Zahiruddin and not Ghiyasuddin as mentioned in it. Secondly, the battle was fought in 943 A.H. and not in 934 A.H. Strangely, nobody has cared to rectify these mistakes so far. In 1969, a boundary walls and barbed-wire fencing was put up around the monument. In 1974 the structure was repaired. In 1978, the grave was provided with plinth of country brickwork, and lime concrete was laid on the platform in order to complete the platform, which had fallen off. It is suggest that the two mistakes in the inscription must be pointed out in a slab put up under the inscription.
Always the victorious person wrote the history. After the first battle of Panipat between Babar and Ibrahim Lodhi, it was Babar who won the battle and hence built the Kabuli Bagh Mosque also known as Kabuli Bagh Masjid.
Located in Kabul Bagh Colony of Panipat district, Kabuli Bagh Mosque is known to be the first Mughal monument of India. It was built by Babar who was the first Mughal ruler of India. This mosque is under the protection of Government of India. It was built during the period of 1526-1527 A.D. The mosque is situated at a distance of 2 km from Panipat city. Babar defeated Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi in the battle of Panipat after which the Kabuli Bagh Mosque was constructed. This mosque was constructed to show the victory of Mughals over Pathans. Thus the bagh was named Kabuli Bagh, where Mussammat Kabuli Begam was the name of Babar’s wife. After Babar’s, son of Babar, Humayun worn the battle over Sher Shah Suri in Panipat.
The mosque Kabuli Bagh Mosque has all the names and descriptions of king and queen along with the names of the builder written on a separate black marble stone. The mosque’s entrance has been built with bricks and red sandstone. The entrance of the mosque opens to an attached “bracket type lintel” which is of a large size. The towers in the north-west region and south-west region of the mosque are of octagonal-size. The prayer room of the mosque is very large and is covered by a large stone. Prayer room is also known as Qibla and is oriented towards Mecca. The Kabuli Bagh mosque’s architecture is almost the replica of Samarkhand Mosque. Due to unavailability of trained engineers in India, Babar was not able to create the exact architecture like that of Samarkand Mosque. The front face of the mosque is very high and is made of panels of lime plaster. Chabutra-I-Fateh Mubarak surrounds the whole mosque and was built by Humayun when he won the battle over Salim Shah. This chabutra depicts their appraisal of victory. The mosque is built with bricks and plaster within a compound wall is in the northern part.