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Punjab History - Mongol Intrusion

Chengiz Khan, at the head of his hordes of Monguls, after overrunning and desolating the great Mahomedan empires of Central Asia, in 1221, approached the Indus. Taj-ud-dln, driven from Central Asia by the Khwarizmis, retreated into the Punjab, wrested Lahore from Nasir-ud-dln, and attacked Altamsh, only to be defeated and taken prisoner at Talawari. Altamsh then seized Lahore, and thus became master of the Punjab, though Nasir-ud-din maintained himself at Uch. Meanwhile, the Khwarizmis themselves had had to yield to the invading Mongol hordes, and in 1221 their Sultan Jalal-ud-dln fled into the Punjab, pursued to the west bank of the Indus by Chingiz Khan. Escaping from his pursuer with a handful of followers, Jalal-ud-din defeated an army of Altamsh, but fearing to attack Lahore turned south towards Multan and Uch, overthrew Nasir-ud-dln, and returned to summer in the Salt Range. These events led to the first Mongol invasion of the Punjab.

Alarmed by Jalal-ud-dln's successes, Chingiz Khan had dispatched against him a force which captured Nandana and invested Multan. In the following year (1223) another Mongol army compelled Jalalud-dln to evacuate the Punjab, after burning Uch in his retreat. Five years later Altamsh defeated Nasir-ud-dln and annexed Mongol Multan and Uch, with Sind. His authority, thus extending over raidsnearly the whole Punjab, was confirmed in 1229 by a diploma 'of investiture from the Abbassid Khallfa of Baghdad. He failed, however, to extend his frontier beyond the Salt Range, and an unsuccesful expedition against the'Mongols in that quarter was followed by his death in 1236. Under the influence of 'the Forty,' a corps of Turkish Mamluks which he had formed, his dynasty rapidly decayed. His daughter Razia, the only Muhammadan queen who ever ruled at Delhi (1236-40), had to face religious disaffection within the city, where a Karmatian rising was suppressed after much bloodshed. Her feudatories of Lahore, Hansi, and Multan also rebelled, though unsuccessfully, but such was the weakness of the kingdom in 1241 that a Mongol army sacked Lahore.

The reign of the next king, Ala-ud-dln Masud, was chiefly noteworthy for the rise of Balban, one of 'the Forty' who in 1246 compelled the Mongols to raise the siege of Uch. For the next twenty years, Balban and his cousin, Sher Khan, feudatory of Lahore, kept the Mongols and Karlugh Turks at bay. Under Balban's stern rule the disaffection, which had brought rapine to the very gates of Delhi, was checked. More than once he had to ravage the Mewat, while the Mongols made good their footing in the Indus valley, and, aided by a disloyal vassal at Uch,. placed an intendant at Multan. In 1266 Balban was placed on the throne of Delhi, and devoted his whole reign to organizing resistance to the Mongol encroachments.

The power of 'the Forty' was broken. Sher Khan died, not without suspicion of poison. Balban's son Nusrat-ud-din Muhammad, the patron of the poet Amir Khusru, bid fair to continue his father's work, but in r285 fell in battle with the Mongols near Dipalpur, and earned his title of 'the Martyr Prince.' Khiljia and Two years later Balban died, and was succeeded by the Tnghlaks. Khilj; line of sultans in 1290. Its founder, Firoz Shah II, had to contend with religious disaffection, and in r2o6 was assassinated by Ala-ud-d1n Muhammad Shah, his nephew and son-in-law, who usurped the throne. Ala-ud-d1n's ambition led him to attempt conquests in Southern India, while from 1296 to 1305 the Mongols overran the Punjab.

In 1298, with 200,000 men, they penetrated to Delhi, but met with severe defeat under its walls. In 1303 they beleaguered the Sultan within the city, and, though compelled to retreat after a few > months' siege, invaded Hindustan in the following year. Ala ud-din now reorganized his forces, and rebuilt the frontier towns of Samana and Dipalpur, but failed to protect Multan and the Siwaliks from the Mongol inroads. In 1304, however, Ghazi Beg Tughlak, governor of the Punjab, routed their retreating forces and secured a respite from their inroads until Muhammad Shah's death in 1316.

Four years of anarchy followed, but eventually Ghazi Beg seized Delhi and established the Tughlak dynasty. The vice-royalty of Lahore seems, at this period, to have been a post of great power, and Ghazi-ben-Toghluk (whose mother was a Jat), who held it in 1321, marched to Delhi, subverted the Khilji dynasty of India, and seized upon the throne. In the subsequent reign of his son, Mahomed (who extended the Mahomedan empire in India to its widest limits), an army of Monguls having entered the country of the Five Rivers, the sultan bought them off by an immense contribution, the first instance in India of this delusive and dangerous policy. The extravagant projects of this prince threw his empire into confusion, and prepared its dismemberment; the governors of the provinces, beginning with that of Multan, rebelled; in 1339, the Afghans crossed the Indus, and ravaged the Punjab; when they retired, they were succeeded by the fierce Gakkars, under a leader, who took Lahore, and completed the ruin of the province.

While the Mahomedan empire of India was thus rent asunder, and almost in a state of dissolution, its great provinces having become independent kingdoms, another mighty conqueror was preparing to lead his victorious bands across the Indus. Timur (or Tamerlane), having conquered Persia, Transoxiana, and Mesopotamia, turned his arms, without the pretext of a quarrel, upon the distracted empire of Hindustan. In August, 1397, he proceeded from Cabul to Dinkot (supposed to be Attock), crossed the Indus on a bridge of rafts, marched to the Jelum, and down its banks to Toolumba, reducing the country, levying contributions, and massacreing the inhabitants. On the Ghara he was joined by his son, Pir Mahomed, who had taken Multan the preceding year, and marking his progress with fire and sword, he advanced to Delhi. The disorganized state of the provinces, and the weakness of the sovereign, permitted no effectual resistance to be offered to Timur, who was proclaimed emperor of India. Three months after, he quitted the country, marching from Hurdwar, on the Ganges, along the foot of the mountains, to Jummoo, north of Lahore; then, turning to the south, he fell into the route by which he had advanced.




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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:16:03 ZULU