Battle of Ghaghra

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Fought in 1529, the Battle of Ghaghra was a crucial battle in the Mughal Empire’s conquest of India. It came after the First Battle of Panipat, which took place in 1526, and the Battle of Khanwa in 1527. It was fought between Babur’s Mughal armies and Sultan Nusrat Shah’s Sultanate of Bengal forces. In the context of the IAS Exam preparation for this topic, this blog summarises key information about the Battle of Ghaghra.

Battle of Ghaghra

DateMay 6, 1529
LocationGhaghara River, Bihar, India
ResultVictory of the Mughals 
Territorial changesBihar and surrounding territories were annexed by Mughal Empire.
A peace settlement with the Kingdom of Bengal.
VictorBabur won the Battle and established the Mughal Dynasty.


Despite the fact that the battle of Khanwa had secured Babur’s position as Delhi’s undisputed monarch, he had still to face the remaining Afghan leaders. Muhammad Lodi, Ibrahim Lodi’s younger brother, was one of the most prominent among them.

Muhammad Lodi and Babur battled in the Battle of Ghaghra in 1529. In which the ruler of Bengal, Nusrat Shah, helped Muhammad Lodi. However, Babur was successful once more, consolidating his control throughout India.

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The Battle of Ghaghra

Following the death of his brother, Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, at the second Battle of Panipat in 1526, Mahmud Lodi declared himself the legitimate successor to the Delhi Sultanate. His title was threatened following his defeat and escape in the Battle of Khanwa in 1527. Mahmud Lodi requested and received assistance from his Afghan relatives in the east. His troops, which included Eastern Afghan Confederates, conquered Bihar.

The Pathan ruler of Bihar died after Sultan Mahmud Shah Lohani. His minor son Jalal ud-Din Lohani was crowned as the ruler. His mother Dudu, on the other hand, had a falling out with another noble, Farid Khan, better known as Sher Shah Suri. The Lohani nobles’ bickering distracted them from Babur’s approaching soldiers, forcing the young prince to seek refuge in the nearby sultanate of Bengal. The Afghans of Jaunpur asked Mahmud Lodi to seize the throne of Bihar and Jaunpur in order to prevent the state’s total collapse. He was able to seize control of the majority of Bihar without opposition after the approval.

Source: Wikipedia

After hearing about the events in Bihar, Babur decided to march there with his army, and on February 27, 1529, he arrived at Dadaki on the banks of the Ganges, where he was welcomed by his son Humayun and general Askari. The Mughal army marched along the right side of the river soon after.

Sultan Mahmud Lodi was in the Bengal camp with a huge force of Afghans. Babur learned through his spies in the camp that Mahmud Lodi’s request to have their families removed from the front lines was turned down by the Bengalis. They most likely wished to keep collateral in case Mahmud changed his mind. This behaviour was offensive to Babur, and their actions were disgusting. As a result, their impartiality was violated, giving him Casus Belli (cause for war) against the Bengalis.

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  • Babur found the Bengal army, known as the Kherid army, between what is today the Saran region in the north.  They set their tent on the Ganges’ left bank. He also learned that the Bengali generals had gathered around 100–150 vessels on their side of the stream, allowing them to simultaneously block an enemy’s passage while facilitating their own. 
  • With around 20,000 soldiers, Sultan Junaid Birlas from Jaunpur joined Babur.
  • The army’s main body, led by Askari, was ordered to march down the river in order to attract the enemy out of the camp. They were supposed to divert the Bengali army long enough for a division led by Babur and Muhammad Zaman to cross the river with artillery and muskets.
  • As soon as Askari’s army began to march on May 6, 1529, Babur ordered his whole division, as well as Zaman’s, to cross without delay. The Afghans tried numerous times to stop the river crossing but were quickly defeated by withering small-arms and artillery fire.
  • They soon found themselves being gradually encircled. on each of the three sides.  However, before the encirclement could be completed, Afghan leaders decided to withdraw before their casualties became too high, and retreated. The Mughals won the battle of Ghaghra.

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The Aftermath of The Battle of Ghaghra

The win has far-reaching consequences. The fight put an end to Afghan hopes for a separate kingdom in the east, as well as a proxy kingdom in Delhi. The rivalries between the Lodi and Lohani groups were enough to put an end to the idea of an independent Afghan kingdom.

The Battle of Ghaghra was the last battle that Babur fought. He used jagirs (Estates) to distribute to loyal nobles and friends as he continued to solidify his rule and create an administration system in his new Empire. He died of an unexplained illness on December 26, 1530, at the age of 47, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Humayun.

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