What were the causes of Battle of Khanwa?

The summer of year 1526 CE. witnessed a period of major political turmoil in northern India when Zehiruddin Babur a runaway mogul prince from Farghana, Central Asia defeated Sultan of delhi Ibrahim lodi in a pitched battle fought at Panipat.

The battle of Panipat resulted in the collapse of Delhi sultanate and emergence of Mughal as a ruling dynasty in Delhi and its nearby areas. This victory made all the remaining Indian factions apprehensive of a mughal rule at delhi as most of them were expecting his withdrawal back to Kabul with his spoils like he did after his previous attacks over Punjab.

A year past and it became evident that this new Mughal invader’s intention was to stay in India and to establish an empire of his own.To bring these nobles/amirs under his dominion Babur sent an army under the command of his son humayun to make them submit to his authority. The Afghan amirs started joining arms against the foreign invader  and refused to submit to the authority of Babur.

Babar says in his memoirs about these nobles:
“From our first coming into Agra, There was a remarkable dislike and hostility between its people and mine. Peasants and soldiers ran away in fear of my men. Except for delhi and Agra the fortified towns strengthened their defenses and neither submitted nor pledged obedience. So did Kasim sambhali in Sambhal, Nizam khan in biana, In mewat  Hassan khan mewati, Tatar khan in Gwalior, Hussain khan lohany in rapri, Kutub khan in itawah, Alam khan kalpi in Kalpi,Kanauj and the farther sides of the ganges was all held by the afghan leaders in a hostility of their own. They were Nasir khan, Maruf and a host of other amirs.These had been in revolt  for three or four years before Ibrahim’s death, and when I defeated him were holding Kannauj and all the country beyond it”. 

How did Maharana sanga and Babur planned for the battle ? 

As Babar held delhi and Agra the eastern Afghans rallied around an ex-amir of Ibrahim lodi Babur khan lohany whom they raised to the throne of Bihar under the name Sultan Muhammed shah.

The western afghan confederacy headed by Nawab Hassan khan mewati who ruled at Alwar supported the cause of Mahmud lodhi a brother of Sultan Ibrahim lodi. Together these all afghan amirs made an appeal to the powerful  ruler of Mewar, Maharana sanga  to drive the turks out of India.

They acknowledged him as their sovereign and promised to govern their regions as his vassals after the expulsion of the invader.

Now at Agra, Babur’s position lay fairly between the Afghan rebels in east and the Rajputs in the west. With threats looming in from all sides Babur started preparing for the real test of his power in India.

      First he ordered his skillful Artillery commander Ali kuli khan to cast a strong and sturdy long range cannon for defending his men against the huge army of Indians. This was important as artillery played an important role in Panipat and he was counting on his experts topchis in Khanwa too. Moreover Indians in North whether Hindus or Muslims had not yet inducted artillery in their armies which was a clear edge for Babur and he utilized it well in all the battles that he fought in India.
Second thing he did was He called back his son Humayun from the eastern campaign. 
Thirdly he released the imprisoned son of Hassan khan mewati as a friendly gesture  towards him but Hassan khan even after receiving his son remained intact with Rana’s camp. An offer to fight a joint holy war against infidel Rana was also rejected by Hassan khan. However the two Afghan amirs Tartar khan of Gwalior and Zeitun khan from dholpur both surrendered their forts and  joined him against the Rana.

On 11th Feb 1527 Babar marched out from Agra to proceed against Sanga but halted a few days near the town to collect his troops and get his artillery in order. He advanced to Medhakur and from there to Sikri village where he ordered his troops to camp and then started fortifying his positions.

Babur's march
Babur's March as shown in Baburnama

Maharana on the other hand started from chittor along with Mehmood khan lodi and when he reached at Ranthambore he was aided by Hassan khan mewati and his 10,000 strong cavalry. Babar got alarmed as he knew the status of Rana sanga as a warrior in his memoirs he writes that
 “Lately he had become a famed warrior with  back to back victories against his enemies”.
Babur made overtures for peace by sending a vassal prince of Rana Raja silhaddi tuar of raisen but the Maharana rejected the overtures and after taking the strong fort of kandar from Hassan makan who escaped back to Babar for help advanced for Bayana. 

Initial skirmishes between scout parties of both the armies at Khanwa

Next day Maharana attacked and captured Bayana whose governor Mehdi Khwaja along with his troops  ran back for help to Babur. The Maharana’s army advanced and fell on babar’s advanced guard on 21st februray 1527 CE. This advanced guard was completely destroyed and the fugitives who some how reached to the main body of Babar’s army related a terrifying account of Rajput gallantry and battle prowess. The reinforcements sent were met with same fate and pursued till the camp.

Rajput soldier in battle of Khanwa

Did Babur tried to negotiate peace with Maharana sanga before battle of Khanwa 

According  to Mr. Erskine in History of India under Babur
They had some sharp encounters with the Rajputs,in which they had been severely handled and taught to respect their new enemy . Indeed the chaghtai turks found that they had now to contend with a foe more formidable than either the Afghans or any of the natives of India to whome they had yet been opposed . 
The Rajputs ,energetic,chivalrous,fond of battle and bloodshed, animated by strong national spirit and led on by a hero,were ready to meet face to face,the boldest veterans of the camp , and were at all times prepared to lay down their life for their honour”.

He further says
“The repeated successes of the Rajputs,the unexpected valour and good conduct they displayed ,and their numbers for they are said to have amounted to an hundred and twenty thousand horse,had begun to spread a visible discouragement among the troops”
Babur again opened negotiations for peace , and employed the time thus gained to strengthened his position and give his men time to recover their confidence. In order to reassure the sinking spirits of his troops , he threw up entrenchments, in which he placed his artillery, connecting his guns by chains ,and in the more exposed parts,united by leather ropes.

These operations were continued for 3 or 4 weeks,during which time the army remained blockaded in the encampment. About this time the army was joined a reinforcement of 500 volunteers from Kabul, who were accompanied by a noted astrologer ,Muhammad sharif . The irony was this astrologer instead of being of some kind of moral booster forecast-ed that the 8 prominent planets were against Mughal fortunes adding to the depression and panic which  prevailed in the camp.

Feelings of extreme uneasiness and dismay crowded the mind of Babur when he found himself in a situation which appeared to be so unfavorable and all his army looked up at him for motivation. One morning while inspecting his troops on his horse he was thinking about this tough situation that he landed in when a realisation occured to him he felt from inside that its been long time since he is promising to god that he will stop his habit of drinking but he hasn't really implemented it and  that he had openly committed a sin against his religion i.e by drinking alcohol in heavy amounts he had grossly broken the code of Mohammed and therefore he decided to throw all the wine that were kept inside the camp. 

He wrote in his memoirs
“On Monday, the 23rd of Jamadi ul Awwal, I had mounted to survey my posts,and in the course of my ride was seriously struck with the reflection that I had always resolved one time or another to make an effectual repentance,and that some traces of the hankering after a renunciation of forbidden works had ever remained in my heart: I said to myself :
 ‘Oh my soul, how long will thou continue to take pleasure in sin, Repentance is not unpalatable-Taste it.’
“Having withdrawanmyself from such temptation,I vowed never more to drink wine. Having sent for the gold and silver goblets and cups, with all the other utensils used for drinking parties ,I directed them to be broken,and renounced the use of wine,purifying my mind. The fragments of the goblets and other utensils of gold and silver I directed them to be divided amongst dervishes and the poor.”
Babur had also vowed not to cut the beard,but to allow it to grow like a true Mussalman. Nearly 300 of his men,great and small,made such vows of reformation.

 “The dejection and alarm of Babur’s troops ” says Erskine , “had reached their extreme point . The depressing environment in the camp had infected even his highest officers .”

“The destruction of the wine flasks” says Col. Tod “Would appear only to have added to the existing anxiety ”.In his despair ,as a last resort, Babur determined to make an appeal to the religious feelings of his followers, “So powerful with all Moslems”.


What kind of millitary General was Babur and how did he manage to boost the moral of his troops amidst the prevailing depression.

Babur says in his Memoirs : Ät this time ,as I have already observed,in consequence of preceding events, a general consternation and alarm prevailed among the great and small. There was not a single person who uttered a many word,nor an individual who delivered a courageous opinion . Babur ,
“Observing the universal discouragement of my troops and their want of spirit I came to a resolution. Having called a general assembly of my Amirs and Officers,I addressed them: Noblemen and soldiers! Every man that cometh to this world is subject to dissolution. When we are passed away and gone god survives ,one and unchangeable. Who-ever sits down to the feast of life must,before it is over ,drink of the cup of death. He who arrives at the inn of mortality ,the world must one day without fail ,take his departure from that mansion of sorrow. How much better then is it to die with honour than to live with infamy.
‘Give me but fame,andif I die I am contented,
If fame be mine ,let death claim my body.’
‘The most High god has been propitious to us. He has now placed us in such a crisis that if we fall in the field we die the death of martyrs; if we survive, we rise victorious, the avengers of his sacred cause. Let us therefore ,with one accord swear on God’s holy word,that none of us will for a moment think of turning his face from this warfare; or shrink from the battle and slaughter that ensue,till his soul is separated from his body .’ Master and servant ,small and great ,all with emulation seizing the blessed qoran in their hands ,swore in the form that I had given.’’
Immediately twenty thousand soldiers of Babur swore on the Qoran to win or die in the battle but not to  leave the field alive yet the Babur was not assured of success,and conscious of the grave consequences of a defeat at this juncture,he renewed the negotiations with the Maharana through Silhiddi,the chief of Raisen.

He offered to make peela khal near byana the boundary of their respective dominions and give an annual tribute to the Maharana on condition of being left Delhi and its dependencies.”

According to Col. Todd Rana’s advisers among whom Silhaddi was not at all popular dissuaded Sanga from accepting these terms, and the the negotiations finally came to an end. Colonel Tod further says that though the arrangement was negative,treason had effected the salvation of Babur. Silhidi,seeing that though the Maharana had been offered more than what he had started from chittor to fight for, the overtures were rejected only because he was the medium.

He took it to his heart and determined to stand in the way of victory.  Now while the peace process was going on Rana kept his forces kept under check while Babur kept strengthening his entrenchment. Maharana’s army consisted of chiefs from various parts of the country having  different interests with such diverse army the more time spent in inaction allowed disruptive forces to play their role.


What were the mistakes committed by Maharana sanga  in battle of Khanwa.

The Maharana’s delay in coming to an action gave time to Babur to instill some of his own courage of despair,some of his own courage of despair,some of his own heroic ardor into his dejected followers,as well as to give a start to the disruptive forces in the Maharana’s army and set treason to work.

Losing finally all hope of a peaceful settlement with the maharana, Babur determined to make the most of his resources and give battle .Taking advantage of the excitement and the exhilaration produced by his appeal to the religion of his followers,and their practical response to it and in order to lekeen in their newly acquired spirit ,he broke up the camp to which he had been confined for nearly a month and marched in order of battle to a position two miles in advance.

The dangers were thickening around him. Subdued Afghans and Hindu chiefs started showing rebellion tendencies in Gwalior and area near Agra. 

How did Babur displayed superior Generalship in front of fierce Rajput cavalry charge at Battle of Khanwa.

On 12th march, Babur drew forward his guns and a kind of defensive cover that moved on wheels, and which served as a breast work, supporting  them by his matchlocks and all his army. He himself galloped along the line animating his troops and officers and giving them instructions.

He threw up other trenches further in advance,near the spot which he fixed upon as favorable for a general action, and when they were finished,advanced to occupy them,dragging forward his guns. As soon as they reached the ground the rajputs were seen advancing .

All were ordered to their posts. Babur mounted and drew up his troops,riding cheerfully along the ranks and assuring them of victory. He took the centre to himself ,assisted by chin Timur Sultan. The right wing he committed to humayun, who had under him Kasim Husain sultan,Hindu Beg,and Khusrau Kokilatash, the left he entrusted to his son-in law, Sayed mehdi khwaja,and Muhammad Sultan Mirza,Abdul aziz and Muhammad Ali jeng-jeng.

He appointed strong reserves to carry succor wherever it was required and on the right and left placed two flanking coloumns composed of Moghul troops to wheel round the flank and rear of the Rajputs in the heat of the battle on a signal given. This arrangement he had learned in his wars with the Uzbeks.

His artillery,under Ustad Ali Kuli khan was placed in the centre, in front, connected by chains and protected by movable defenses, behind which were placed matchlock men, and in the rear a body of chosen troops ready to repel any attack from behind or to rush for-ward and charge whenever possible.

Who were the commanders of Maharana Sangas army in Battle of Khanwa

The Maharana’s army consisted of his own and that of the great chieftains who acknowledged his supremacy or followed his lead. Their names were :

Raja Silhidi, the Rajput chief of Bhilsa and Raisen commanded -35,000 horse
Rawal Udai singh of Dungarpur  - 12,000 soldiers
Hasan khan Mewati  of Mewat – 12000 soldiers
Raja Medni Rai of Chanderi-10,000 horse
Narbad hada of Boondi-7000
Khinchi Shatrudeva of Gangrone-6000
Bhar mal of Idar -4000
Rao Viramdeva of Merta-4000
Chauhan Narsinghdeva-4000
Mehmud Lodi- 10,000
Rai mal Rathor (Jodhpur) and Kunwar Kalyan mal (Bikaner)- 3000 each
Prithviraj of Amber, Rawat Bagh singh of Deolia,Chandra Bhan,Manik chand chauhan,Rai dalip and others commanded large divisions.

The Battle began about Half-past nine in the morning by violent Charges made by the Rajputs on Babur’s right and center, which began to give way. Bodies of the reserve were pushed on to their assistance and Mustafa Rumi, who commanded one portion of the artillery. Opened fire on the masses of Rajput cavalry rushing forward and falling on the turks like falcons on their prey.

How did the battle started ?

This fire made large gaps amongst them. Still new bodies of Rajput pushed on undauntedly.The battle was equally desperate on the left. Just as the turks began to show signs of wavering,the traitor silhaddi who commanded the van of the Maharaná’s army,went over to Babur with his 35,000 cavalry. This did not make much difference,but just at that time an arrow discharged by some one struck with such force on the forehead of the Maharana who was seated on an elephant,as to make him lose consciousness.

The chieftains around him considered it advisable to send him out of the battlefield, and appoint a person as his representative,to continue the battle. They placed him in a palanquin and sent him with as escort towards Mewat.

They asked Rao Ratan singh,The chief of Salumbar, to take the Maharana’s place and continue the battle. Ratan singh replied that his ancestor had relinquished the throne of Mewar,which was by right his, and that he would not now accept it even temporarily. 

 Maharana Sangram singh(Sanga) (image credit- https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rana_Sanga.jpg#mw-jump-to-license )

He added that he deemed it his duty to serve with zeal whosoever should occupy the royal elephant as the Maharana’s representative, and so long as a drop of blood was left in his body, never to allow the enemy to pierce the army under him.

Then Raj Rana Ajjaji, who held the first rank among the nobles of Mewar, was unanimously voted to take the place of Maharana. And Ajjaji, assuming all the ensigns of the sovereign of Mewar,occupied the vacant seat on the royal elephant. A chhattra was held over his head . For a little while the Rajputs continued fighting;but the rumour soon spread like wildfire,that the Maharana had been wounded and removed from the field.

The bond which had tied different sections of his forces together was thus broken and various sections of Maharana’s army not finding their leader present, left the field. Rawal Udai singh of Dungarpur, Hasan Khan Mewati,Raja Manik chand and Chandra bhan the Chauhan chief of Mewar ,Rawat Ratan singh Chondawat of Salumbar, Raj Rana Ajja ji , Rao Ramdas Songarah,Gokal das Parmar, whose descendants hold Bijolia, Rai Mal Rathor Heir Apparent of Marwar, The Brave Mertia leaders Ratan Singh(The father of the celebrated Mirabai) and Rai Mal, and others were killed after performing deeds of valour. The Rajputs lost the battle not because they were inferior to the enemy,but because of one of those chances that have often decided the fate of kingdoms in India, irrespective of the intellectual and material resources of the parties engaged.

The day long battle fought at Khanwa resulted into a total disaster for the Rajputs and Afghans not only their best leadership perished but also their hopes of ruling over Delhi received a setback.

The pain of defeat in battle of Khanwa is expressed in Poems of Mewar by poet S.O.Hienmann in following words..

"Drear were the years that followed that sad day, when Rana Sanga , forsaken by the gods, Betrayed by one he had esteemed and loved , was crushed at Khanwa by overwhelming odds. No clan no house of all of Rajputana, but mourned the loss of some brave sons , whose bones lay whitening the dreary desert plains, where still at night the wanderers hears the moans of stricken wounded"

What was the result of Battle of Khnawa and it's significance in Indian history.

The victorious Babur assumed the title of Ghazi. According to Col. Todd  
He advanced to Biana, where he arrived after three days and held a council of his nobles as to the advisability of following up the victory by an invasion of the Rana’s dominions. Babur’s resources,however,were so crippled and the dread of meeting Sanga in the field a second time was so great, the the approach of the hot season was pleaded as an excuse and enterprise was given up.

He had promised his soldiers that he would allow them to go back to their home after the victory at Khanwa so being a true commander he could not ignore the sufferings of his soldiers that they were facing since from last one year in foreign land so a counter campaign into Rana's heartland didn't materialize. However a campaign against one of his trusted and distinguished lieutenant Medni rai of Chanderi in central India was successfully executed which resulted in occupation of chanderi fort and death of Medini rai in the battle.

The Battle of Khanwa is considered as one of the greatest battle ever fought in the plains of northern India . The unexpected loss of Rajputs was a decisive setback to their hopes of capturing delhi and to rule whole of North India.

It was like an eclipse over the recent rise in their stature that they had attained after the consecutive victories in the  battles before Khanwa. Wounded Rana sanga was taken to  Ranthambore fort by his nobles where he was told about the mishap and resulting loss in the battle.

When he was told about the loss he became sorrowful and vowed to enter his capital chittor only after defeating Babar but he never came out of that painful loss and died after just one year. Thus ended the glorious life of the great man who was one of the greatest warrior of his time so much that even his enemy had a word of praise for him in his personal memoirs.

He was one of the greatest sovereigns that have ever ruled Rajputana. Babur on the other hand finally got rid of his biggest enemy in India whose presence near Delhi  and Agra kept him worried and disturbed for past one whole year and his demise gave him a big relief thus leading to the strong foundation of Mughal empire in India.


1.Annals and antiquities of Mewar Col. Todd


2. Memoirs of Babur (Baburnama) A.S.Beveridge


3. A history of India under first two Mughals Sovereigns  by William Erskine


4. Poems of Mewar by S.O.Heinmann


5. Babur the tiger By Harold Lamb


(Special Tags)
Khanwa ka Yudh, Khanwa ki ladai, Mughal Rajput Yudh. 

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