Taimur’s invasion and the aftermath in Haryana

Taimur’s invasion and the aftermath


Taimur’s Indian expedition was ‘a pure plundering raid with an excellent time- table’. As precisely put in the Zafarndma ‘the order was issued that the soldiers were to seize grains wherever they could find Accordingly the solidiers invaded the cities, put houses on fire, captured inhabitants and plundered whatever they could find. No one escaped except religious scholars and Saiyyids.


Taimur crossed the Indus on September 21, 1398 with a formidable force of 92,000 horsemen and within no time subdued most of the Punjab. He thereafter entered Rajasthan and devastating the Bikaner region moved into Haryana along the vallev of Ghaggar sometime in the month of November. His historian Sharfuddin makes the following observation of the then conditions of Haryana. He wrote:


In the precincts of Delhi, the Hindus (this term he uses for the common peasantry) were dominant, and in Haryana robbery was rampant so that the passage of the caravans was difficult. The Jats were assertive everywhere and the people of Samana, Kaithal and Asand burnt their homes and advanced towards Delhi.


Taimur’s intention was to plunder Delhi. He therefore took great care in selecting his route, avoiding big cities, and concentrating on small towns and villages where provisions for his soldiers could be easily had.


Taimur entered Haryana via Bhatnir (modern Hanumangarh) which after desperate fighting with the Rajputs ultimately fell into their hands. Timur’s first halt in Haryana was at Kinar-i-Hauz-i-ab (bank of a lake) which, according to District Sirsa Settlement Reports is presently known as Anna Kai Chhamb, a lake near the town of Rania. The tired general along with his soldiers took a day’s rest at this place. Their next march (November 15) was to Sarsuti (Sirsa) via Firozabad. The inhabitants of Sirsuti specialized in the rearing of pigs put a strong resistance and one of the ablest generals of Timur, Adil Farrash fell fighting with them. The people, finding it very difficult to withstand the charge of Taimur’s powerful cavelry for long, were defeated, thousands of them being put to the sword. This was followed by an attack on Fatehabad at a distance of 18 from Sirsa. The town was captured without any resistance. Most of the people fled to the nearby jungles to save their lives, their cattle, wealth and corn fell into victor’s hands, and a large number of the inhabitants who were left behind, were massacred. The forts of Rajab and Ahruni were next invested. At Ahruni the Ahirs offered some resistance, but were soon out- numbered by Tairaur’s forces, thousands of them were killed many taken prisoners and the town was reduced to ashes.


From Ahruni Taimiir marched to Tohana, whose inhabitants the Jats are described by Yazdi as ‘having deviated from the path of truth and adopted robbery as their profession’. The people put some opposition and then decided on flight as a result of which nearly 200 were killed and many others were taken prisoners. The attack on Tohana was led by Tokal Bahadur and Maulana Nasiruddin. Many of the Jats and Ahirs took shelter in the sugar cane jungles of Tol ana showing thereby that Ghaggar valley was fertile even up to Taimur’s times. Thereafter following the Ghaggar Taimur reached Samana. Somewhere in this region he was joined by his other commanders Mahmud and Rustam with their forces whom Taimur had left behind on his way from Kabul to India. The Jats ‘a robust race, numerous as ants and locusts, a veritable plague to the merchants and way-fares’ offered here a stiff resistence. Small in numbers and inferior in warfare to the Central Asian forces of the invader, they could only make supreme sacrifices in their attempt to defend their territory.


Passing through Pul-Kopla and Pul-Bakran Taimur’s forces reached Kaithal. Having plundered the tom and massacred the people they next proceeded to Asand also destroying all the villages lying on the route. The dwellers of Asandh were fire worshippers. Already got scared of the invader the people took to flight to Delhi after destroying their houses. The invading army then reached the Tughlaqpur fort and Salwan and subduing its people next arrived at Panipat (December 3) whose people, as per imperial instructions, had already deserted tEe place. Timur freely plundered the town and took 1,60,000 mounds of wheat from that place. These plundering expeditions were successful because the inhabitants of Fatehabad, Kaithal, Samana Asandh and Panipat fled to Delhi in panic and not further east in various parts of the doab. Passing through Kanhi Ghazin the invader next halted at the village Palla on the Yamuna (or possibly a branch of it) where his army was ordered to collect provisions for men and fodder for horses and cattle. Delhi, the imperial capital was next attacked whose ruler Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah was defeated on December 16, 1398.


Taimur’s invasion, although lasted for a very short duration (about a month or so) produced disastrous consequences. The people lost all faith in the efficacy of the administration to protect their lives and property against foreign invasion. There is no doubt that the people of Haryana offered resistance and at every step obstructed Taimur’s march to Delhi, but in the absence of imperial help they could not hold their own against the well-equipped Central Asian army. The only thing they could do was to lay their lives in hundreds and thousands in course of action. The weakness of the central authority thus became apparent and discontent widespread.


Many advanturer sprang up during this period and occupied whatever territory they could. When Taimur departed, Haryana was held by Daulat Khan who was defeated later on by Khizr Khan (the jnuqla of Dipalpur whom Taimur had nominated to look after his conquered territory) near Fatehabad. Khizr Khan now distributed his newly conquered territory among his supporters; Hisar-Firuzah for instance, was assigned to Qiwam Khan. Sultan Mahmud who still retained Rohtak besieged Hisar-Firuzah and succeeded in wresting it from Qiwam Khan.’ Khizr Khan’s retaliatory action followed in 1410, when he laid seige to Rohtak for six months and forced Malik Idri, Sultan Mahmud’s officer, to surrender. Khizr khan, whose military prestige was now’ considerably increased, occupied most of Haryana including Narnaul and Jhajjar which he had recovered from Bahadur Nadir. After the death of Sultan Mahmud in 1412 began Khizr Khan’s struggle with Daulat Khan for the capture of Delhi in which he ultimately succeeded, defeating his formidable rival and putting him in imprisonment in the fort at Hisar-Firuzah. He occupied the throne of Delhi in 1414, and became the founder of a new dynasty — the Saiyyids.


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