Rise of an empire

Babur’s win at the Battle of Panipat brought Mughal rule to India.

April 21, 2017 10:07 am | Updated 10:07 am IST

Shaping history: The first battle of Panipat. Photo: Special Arrangement

Shaping history: The first battle of Panipat. Photo: Special Arrangement

he First Battle of Panipat took place on April 21 1526, paving the way for Mughal rule in India. Babur, a Central Asian ruler and a descendant of the Mongol conqueror Genghis Khan, invaded India and defeated the Lodi Empire of Northern India. The battle of Panipat was between the armies of Babur and Ibrahim Lodi. Babur was invited by Daulat Khan Lodi to defeat Ibrahim Lodi.

Indian dreams

Babur was the eldest son of Umar Sheikh Mirza, and he ascended the throne of Fergana in 1495 when he was 12. But he faced rebellion from his relatives, and wanted to conquer Samarkand. But not finding success there, he decided to create his empire in Northern India. There were two dynasties in power — the Sultanate of Delhi under Ibrahim Lodi, and Rajputana ruled by a Hindu Rajput Confederacy, led by Rana Sanga of Mewar. However, the empire under Lodi was crumbling under a weak leadership and rebellion. Daulat Khan Lodi, Governor of Punjab and Ala-ud-Din, Lodi’s uncle, invited Babur to wage a war and take over.

Babur started for Lahore in 1524. On his arrival at Lahore, he faced the Lodi Army and decided to re-route but set the city on fire. He then continued to Dipalpur, Punjab after placing Alam Khan, Ibrahim’s rebel uncle as governor. But Alam Khan was overthrown and fled to Kabul. Alam Khan joined hands with Daulat Khan Lodi, and with Babur’s support and 30, 000 troops, fought Ibrahim Lodi at Delhi and was defeated. This did not deter Babur, who waited with 8,000 soldiers for the clash at Panipat (now a town in Haryana). He decided to secure his army and built a Tulghuma (building divisions within the army as left, right and centre) at Panipat and dug a trench which he covered with branches. He placed 700 carts interspersed with soldiers and enough room to allow the cavalry to charge between the carts.

The Lodi army of 40,000 soldiers found the approach to Babur’s army too narrow while Ibrahim took time to redeploy his forces. This time around, things proved advantageous for Babur who attacked the army even before they were ready. The Lodi army crumbled as they faced cavalry and cannons from all sides. Babur’s guns were an important part of this battle as the Lodi army lacked field artillery; the sound of the cannons frightened the elephants which in turn trampled Lodi’s men.

Ibrahim Lodi was defeated in the battle and he died in battle along with 15,000 soldiers. This is one of the earliest battles to use gunpowder, firearms, and field artillery. Babur won the war and his troops occupied both Delhi and Agra, and Mughal rule came into being.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.