First Battle of Panipat - [April 21, 1526] This Day in History

What happened?

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

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First Battle of Panipat

  • 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 descendant 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 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 a 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 were 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.First Battle of Panipat
  • A 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.

Major reason behind Babur’s Victory

The use of guns by troops of Babur helped them claim victory in the battle. The Lodi troops were lagging in terms of artillery skills and the sound emitted by canons frightened the war elephants of Lodi.

Babur had outstanding tactics in his favour more than the weapons, which helped him emerge victorious in the battle. The placement of troops as planned by Babur helped them defeat such a large force of Lodi.

Babur’s new tactics introduced during this first battle of Panipat were the Tulghuma and the Araba. Tulghuma referred to the division of the army into the left, right and centre units, whereas the Araba referred to carts used to launch cannon fire. This deadly combination was used by Babur dextrously to create havoc among Lodi’s troops.

Result of the Battle

The First Battle of Panipat resulted in the death of Ibrahim Lodi and also the end of Lodi Dynasty and the Delhi Sultanate in India. Also, with the end of the Sultanate, the Mughal rule began in India. 

Panipat, a part of modern-day Hariyana, has been a land of many important battles in the history of India and also the land that fought the maximum battles for rule over the Northern part of India. The Third Battle of Panipat was also one among the greatest battles fought in the history of the country.

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.

Read more ‘This Day in History‘ articles.

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