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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Battle of Tughlaqabad (Battle of Delhi - 1556)

The Battle of Delhi also known as the Battle of Tughlaqabad was fought between the forces led by Hemu (the general and chief minister of Adil Shah Suri) and the forces of the Mughal led by Tardi Beg Khan. The battle was fought on 7 October 1556 at Tughlaqabad near Delhi.


After the death of Babur(founder of Mughal empire), Humayun succeeded the throne of Delhi. However after the Battle of Kanauj  (17 May 1540) Sher Khan(Sher shah Suri) became the master of Agra and Delhi. Mughal Empire was put to an end for a while and Humayun lived in exile for next 15 years because of this Short Sur Dynasty founded by Sher Shah Suri.

Later Islam Shah Suri ascended the throne of Sur dynasty after the death of Sher Shah in 1545 at Kalinjar. Islam Shah Suri was a capable ruler, but died in 1554.  With these two deaths the Sur Empire was caught up in a succession battle. Humayun used this perfect opportunity for the Mughals to march back to India and regain the lost power in 1540. Humayun with Bairam Khan (commander-in-chief of the Mughal army) fought the Battle of Srihind againt Sikandar Shah Suri in 1555 and became victorious. The Mughal Empire was finally regained control over Delhi and Agra after 15 years.

Islam Shah was succeeded by his 12-year-old son, Firoz shah suri. But after a short period Adil Shah Suri maternal uncle of Firoz shah murdered him and ascended the throne of sur Empire. He appointed Hemu (general of the Suri forces) as his Chief Minister. Most of the affairs of the state were left to Hemu as Adil Shah Suri was interested in luxury and pleasure.

Later Humayun died on 27 January 1556 and succeeded by Akbar. Bairam Khan was appointed regent over the young king Akbar. Tardi Beg Khan was the governor of Delhi when Humayun died. 

Humayun's death provided a great opportunity for Sur dynasty to defeat Mughals and regain the lost territories. Hearing about the death of Mughal leader, Hemu made a quick march and conquered  Sambhal, Bayana, Kalpi, Narnaul and Etawah. Hemu continued to Agra and by hearing about the invasion, the governor of Agra fled away without a fight. This news reached the Tardi Beg Khan and he wrote to his master Akbar in Jalandhar explaining the situation for reinforcements to defend Delhi. Bairam khan sent Pir Muhammad Sharwani (lieutenant) to Delhi. Finally Tardi Beg Khan made all the preparations to stand and fight Hemu.


After winning Agra, Hemu reached Tughlaqabad near Delhi where he faced Mughal forces. According to Abd-ul-Qadir Bada'uni (a historian and translator lived in the Mughal Empire), Hemu's forces were well equipped with 51 cannon, 500 falconets, 1000 elephants and 50,000 horses. Andthe Mughals were outnumbered.

According to Jadunath Sarkar (a prominent Indian Bengali aristocrat and historian), the Mughals were commanded by Tardi Beg in the centre with Haidar Muhammad and Iskandar Beg leading the right and the left wings. Abdullah Uzbeg commanded the vanguard.

The cavalry in the vanguard and left wing launched an attack to beat back the Afghan vanguard along with Hemu's right wing. In this assault Abdullah Uzbeg and Iskandar Beg captured 400 elephants and 3,000 of Hemu's men lay dead. Imagining that they won the battle, many of Tardi Beg's forces pursued the enemy camp to plunder the wealth, and Tardi Beg e was left in the field very thinly guarded.

Hemu, however, had held back 300 of his best elephants and cavalry unit in reserve. Seizing the opportunity, he made a sudden charge on thinly-guarded Tardi Beg with with his reserve. And this attack was also supported by the timely arrival of fresh reinforcements from Alwar under the command of Haji Khan.

Seeing the troop of war elephants and dense cavalry advancing upon them, many of the Mughal officers fled away in terror without waiting to offer a defense and Tardi Beg along with Pir Muhammad Sharwani fled away.
Later the previously victorious Mughal vanguard and left wing returned from their pursuit, and left without offering a fight realizing they lost the battle.
Thus Afghans won the battle.

After the battle

Hemu took possession of Delhi after the battle and claimed royal status, assuming the assuming the title of Raja Vikramaditya (Samrat Hemachandra Vikramaditya). Following his failure, Tardi Beg was murdered by Akbar's regent, Bairam Khan. After 1 month Hemu would fought again with Mughals in second battle of Panipat.

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