First Islamic Conquest of India: How Prithviraj Chauhan defeated Mohammad Ghori in the battle of Tarain 1191 AD

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Prithviraj Chauhan vs Ghori- The first Islamic Conquest of India( Battle of Tarain)

After the break up of the Rashtrakuta empire at the end of the 10th century the Rajput chiefs spread out from rajasthan to north India .  Prithviraj Chauhan, who later came to be known as the poster boy for hindu resistance against foreign invaders, came out to be the most powerful among these chiefs.

On the other, Muhammad Ghori was a follower of Mahmud Ghazni. Muhammad Ghori took over the control of Mahmud Ghazni’s empire after death. Later he became successful in capturing Peshawar and Sialkot in 1181. Mohd Ghori captured Ghazni in 1174 ad and establish Ghurid dynasty over Afghanistan

Difference between Hindu warriors and Islamic invaders

 In warfare Rajputs followed the principles dharmayuddha, for them enemy soldiers were not to be attacked while they were eating or sleeping. It was a sin for a Rajput warrior to use false operation or deception.

Artistic impression of Prithviraj Chauhan

On the other hand Moh Ghori Turkish(Tartar or Turkoman) warlords were motivated by religious zeal and holy war to spread islam. Capturing slaves, plundering temples and cities were common for them which resulted in brutality of warfare, while the Rajputs believe in valour, personal honour respect for the defeated army.

The Battle of Tarain

The two armies met at Tarain 14 miles from Thaneswar (Haryana). Moh Ghori divided his army standard Turkish battle formation (three units right, left and center) composed mainly of highly trained Turkish mounted archers and cavalry. One major advantage for the turks were their central Asian horses which were superior in endurance as compare to indian horses.

 Prithviraj Chauhan deployed his army centre and two flanks.

Elephants were placed in the front line and cavalry in the second.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 1-battle-of-tarain-Army-formation.png

Moh Ghori started the battle by sending his archers to harass the elephants in return Prithviraj order for a full frontal attack with cavalry and elephants.

Moh Ghori underestimated the skills, strength and ferocity of the Rajputs in close combat due to this the rajputs were able to cut off the Ghori’s centre from the right and left wings and soon started dominating the battle.

The broken flanks of Ghori’s army began to flee and the war elephants were able to push experienced Turkish cavalry.

To raise the moral of his army Moh Ghori charged towards the war elephant of Govind rai and threw lance which broke rai’s teeth in return govind rai flung a spear towards Ghori, which seriously injured him.

Pruthwiraj Chauhan Smarak in Ajmer

 One of Ghori soldier carried him to safety. Soon after it the Ghurids started retreating from the battlefield. The rajputs pursued the retreating army for almost 40 km but their cavalry couldn’t match the pace of the fast moving Turkish horses of their enemy.

Finally the Rajput army came out to be victorious.

Importance of the First Battle of Tarain for India

This was the first big scale direct war between the islamic conquerors from Central Asia and indigenous Indian Kings. It also shows how vastly different the two sides were in principles and ideals to each other. The Rajputs were honorable, rightful rule following warriors that always stuck to their words and fought bravely while the invaders were deceitful, cruel, motivated by plunder and committing atrocities and war crimes on local populations of India.

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[…] Turkish invasion of India began with the rise of Muhammad Ghazni in 1000 AD. In 1025 AD he plundered the Somnath Temple and looted its wealth.  After him , several other Turkish invaders invaded India and with the formation of Delhi Sultanate in 1206 whole of north India was under their rule. […]

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[…] invasions of the Arabs, Ghaznavids, Ghoris, Khilji’s and many more had a significant role in shaping the medieval history of the Indian […]