Muhammad Ghori's Invasion of India

Before we come up with the biography of Muhammad Ghori, let's have a look at the following list of  Ghaznavid rulers of Afghanistan and Lahore (successors of Mahmud of Ghazni):

Ghurid Dyasty of Ghor:

Sabuktigin, founder of Ghaznavid Empire (977-997) → Ismail (997-998) → Mahmud, better known as Mahmud of Ghazni (998-1030) → Muhammad (1030-1st reign) → Masud I (1030-1042) → Muhammad (1042-2nd reign) → Mawdud (1042-1049) → Masud II (1049) → Ali (1049-1051) → Abd-al-Rashid (1051-52) → Toghrul (1052) → Farrukh-Zad (1052-1058) → Ibrahim (1058-1098) → Masud III (1098-1115) → Shirzad (1115-1116) → Arslan-Shah (1116-1117) → Bahram Shah (1117-1152) → Khusrau-Shah (1152-1160) → Khusrau Malik (1160-1186)

Ghor was a province under the Ghaznavid rulers. During the reign of Sultan Masud III, Eiz-ud-din Hussain, a son-in-law of the late Sultan Ibrahim, was appointed the governor of Ghor. Eiz-ud-din's son and successor Qutub-ud-din Muhammad married Sultan Bahram's daughter. He founded the city of Firuzkoh and assumed the sovereignty of that place. When Sultan Bahram got knowledge of Qutub-ud-din's intentions he poisoned Qutub-ud-din. Saif-ud-din, a brother of Qutub-ud-din, marched towards Ghazni to take revenge of his brother's death. Ghazni fell and Bahram Shah fled to India. After some time Bahram Shah returned to Ghazni and put Saif-ud-din to death. Ala-ud-din, another brother of Qutub-ud-din, defeated Bahram Shah and recaptured Ghazni. Bahram again fled towards India where he died in 1152. Thus Ala-ud-din Husain became the first king of Ghor (1152-1156). He appointed his nephews Ghias-ud-din and Muiz-ud-din to the government of Sunja in Ghor. When Ala-ud-din got news that his nephews were making encroachments on their neighborhood, he confined them in a fort of Joorjistan. Sultan Khusrau Shah, Bahram's son, fled to Hindustan and established his capital at Lahore. After the return of Ala-ud-din to Ghor, Khusrau tried to recover Ghazni but then he got news that the turks of Ghuzz were marching with a large army to subdue Ghazni. So he retired to Lahore where he died in 1160. Meanwhile the Ghuzz expelled the troops of Ghor and got possession of Ghazni. At Ghor, Ala-ud-din was succeeded by his son Mallik Saif-ud-din (1156-1157), who on his accession released his two cousins from their confinement in Joorjistan and again conferred on them the government of Sunja. Mallik Saif-ud-din was succeeded by his eldest cousin Ghias-ud-din Muhammad Bin Sam (1157-1203).

When Sultan Ghias-ud-din ascended the throne of Ghor, he made over to his brother Muiz-ud-din the government of the city of Takinabad, the largest town in Garmsir. Historians say that the brothers held a sort of joint rule. From Takinabad, Muiz-ud-din began to make continuous raids to Ghazni which was then under the control of the Ghuzz turks. Finally in 1173, when Ghias-ud-din conquered Ghazni, he appointed Muiz-ud-din his viceroy at Ghazni; and thus began the journey of Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori also known as Muiz-ud-din Muhammad Bin Sam (1173-1206). Ghori officially succeeded his brother on his death in 1203.

Muhammad Ghori's Expeditions to India:

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Ghori

To extend his brother's dominions Ghori lead nine expeditions to India and was victorious except two times. The treasures he got from India was incredible. I. Muhammad Ghori in 1175, marched to Multan and after subduing that place, captured Uch. II. In 1178, Ghori again marched to Hindustan and advanced to Gujarat. Rai Bhim Dev of Gujarat gave a crushing blow and the Mohammedans suffered many hardships in their retreat. III. In 1179, Ghori marched to Peshawar and captured it.

End of the Ghaznavid Empire: IV. In 1180, Muhammad Ghori made war with Khusrau Malik at Lahore but concluded peace with him receiving his son as hostage. V. In 1182, the whole of Sind down to Debal and the sea cost was subdued. VI. In 1184, Ghori again invaded Lahore and Khusrau Malik again shut himself up in the fort. Ghori rebuilt the fort of Sialkot where he left a strong garrison. After Ghori's departure to Ghazni, Khusrau Malik assembled his forces and besieged Sialkot for a long time, however, was unable to take it and had to retire. VII. In 1186, during his 3rd expedition to Lahore, Muhammad Ghori got possession of Lahore and made Khusrau Malik and his family prisoners by treachery. Sultan Khusrau Malik and his son Bahram Shah were put to death during the subsequent war with Khwarezm Shah in 1191. Thus ended the Ghaznavid empire. The empire of Mahmud of Ghazni passed into the hands of the Sultans of Ghor.

Details of Ghori's 8th and 9th expeditions are described below:

The Historic Battles of Tarain

1st Battle (1191) → Victory of Prithviraj Chauhan:

Prithviraj Chauhan

When Ghori invaded India, the two powerful kings of Hindustan were Prithviraj Chauhan, otherwise known as Rai Pithora, of Ajmer (in Rajasthan) and Raja Jai Chand of Kannauj (in Uttar Pradesh). There's no doubt that Prithviraj Chauhan was one of the great warriors of India. Delhi and almost whole of Rajasthan were under his control. Prithviraj ruled the kingdom from Ajmer while his brother Govind Rai was the viceroy at Delhi. In 1191, Ghori marched to India and captured the fort of Sirhind (now in Punjab), which was under the dominions of Prithviraj Chauhan. Prithviraj advanced against Ghori and a fierce battle took place on the plains of Tarain near Thanesar (in Haryana). Govind Rai advanced on his elephant towards Ghori and Ghori attacked him with a lance. Many of his teeth were knocked out but in the meantime he could return the blow and inflicted a severe wound on Ghori's arm. Ghori was able to fled when he was about to become a captive. When Ghori left, Prithviraj recaptured the fort, after a siege of one year and one month.

2nd Battle (1192) → Defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan:

Next year Ghori again marched to Hindustan to avenge his defeat. He dispatched a messenger to Prithviraj at Ajmer declaring war against him if he didn't accept Islam. Prithviraj made preparations to oppose Ghori and marched to Tarain with his army. The two armies lie encamped on opposite sides of the Saraswati river. The Rajput force has 300,000 horse, 3000 elephants and a body of infantry. The Rajputs had assembled in this vast camp, after sworn by the water of the Ganges that they would defeat their enemies or die martyrs. They sent a message to Ghori, "To the bravery of our soldiers we know you are no stranger and to our superiority in number, which daily increases, your eyes bear testimony. If you are wearied of your own existence, yet have pity upon your troops, who may still think it a happiness to live. It were better, then, you should repent in time of the rash resolution you have taken, and we will permit you to retreat in safety; but if you have determined to brave your evil destiny, we have sworn by our gods to advance upon you with our rank-breaking elephants, our plain-trampling horses, and blood-thirsting soldiers, early in the morning, to crush the army which your ambition has led to ruin". Ghori played a trick and replied that he had marched to India by the order of his brother but he will not begin the battle till he had received answer from his brother.

Ghori's Stratagem to Defeat the Rajputs: Ghori's plan was to surprise the rajputs at night. He came to know that the rajputs kept their elephants drawn up in a separate array when preparing for battle so that the horses were afraid of them. He ordered a group of soldiers to remain in the camp and to keep fires burning during the night, so that the Hindus might suppose it to be their camping ground. Ghori divided his main cavalry into four groups of 10,000 and made them pass the river during the night, and thus they attacked the rajput camp at daybreak. Ghori directed them to harass the Hindus on every side with arrows and they were defeated. Govind Rai was killed in the battle. Thus Ghori got possession of Delhi, Ajmer, Hansi, Kohram and Sarsuti. The government of Ajmir was conferred on Prithviraj's son on the condition of paying a large tribute.

Death of Prithviraj Chauhan:

Here are the different accounts regarding the death of Prithviraj Chauhan: Prithviraj Chauhan was taken prisoner (Muntakhab-ut-Tawarikh & Jami-ul-Hikayat); Prithviraj Chauhan was captured and executed (Tabakat-i-Nasiri, Tajul Ma'asir, Tabakat-i-Akbari, Rauzatu-t-Tahirin, Mirat-i Ahmadi, Ferishta).

This battle is important in history as it marked the beginning of Muslim rule in India.

Death of Muhammad Ghori: Ghori returned to Hindustan to put out the rebellion of Ghakkar tribes in the neighborhood of Lahore. On the way back to Ghazni, he was assassinated by Ghakkars while resting in his camp near the village of Dhamiak in 1206. Thus ended the life of Muhammad Ghori, founder of the Muslim empire in Delhi.

Also read: Muhammad Ghori and His Slaves

The Historic Battles of Tarain


History of the Rise of Mahommedan Power in India by Ferishta translated by Briggs
Tabakat-i-Nasiri of Abu-'Umar-i-'Usman (Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani) Translated by H. G. Raverty
Jami'-ul-Hikayat of Muhammad Ufi