UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Apr 21

21 April 1526

First Battle of Panipat


What happened?

The First Battle of Panipat was fought on 21 April, 1526 between the forces of Babur and Ibrahim Lodi.

Background

  • The Delhi Sultanate was ruled by the Afghan Lodi dynasty from 1451.
  • Ibrahim Lodi, a great warrior but an undiplomatic ruler, was the reigning king of the Sultanate from 1517.
  • Babur, a descendent of both Timur and Chengiz Khan, was the ruler of Fergana (in Uzbekistan) and had conquered Kabul in 1504. He tried to capture Samarkand but lost it three times. Hence, he turned his attention to the Punjab.
  • He was invited by Daulat Khan, the governor of Punjab, to invade the region and unsettle Ibrahim Lodi.
  • Babur reached Lahore in 1524 but was sent back by Lodi’s troops. He tried to defeat Lodi again with the help of another rebel chief, but in vain.
  • However, in 1526, Babur prepared better with an improved intelligence network. Although he had the smaller number of troops compared to Lodi, he organised his men better into three flanks. He also introduced gunpowder firearms and field artillery into the subcontinent with this war.
  • Lodi’s army relied heavily on cavalry and especially on elephants, which in earlier times, could shock the enemy and rout them.
  • However, this time around, the terrible sound of the gunfire excited the elephants so much that many of Lodi’s own men being trampled under their feet.
  • Even though possessing the numerically superior army, Lodi’s bravery could not match up to the expertise of Babur on the battlefield.
  • Babur’s new tactics introduced during this battle were the Tulghuma and the Tulghuma referred to the division of the army into the left, right and centre units, whereas the Araba referred to carts used to launch canon fire. This deadly combination was used by Babur dextrously to create havoc among Lodi’s troops.
  • Military genius and modern technology and warfare led to the defeat of Lodi’s nearly 50,000 troops at the hands of a mere 12000-strong army.
  • Ibrahim Lodi died in battle and was the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • This battle brought an end to the Delhi Sultanate and ushered in the era of the Mughals in northern India.
Also on this day
1938: Death of Muhammad Iqbal, Urdu poet who wrote ‘Saare jahan se achha’. 2006: The first Civil Services Day celebrated in India.

 

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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