The Battle of Khanwa was fought between Babur’s Mughal army and Rana Sanga of Mewar’s Rajput alliance. The battle began on March 16, 1527. It ended with a decisive victory for the Mughal army, ensuring Babur’s and his successors’ rule for generations. Read the complete blog to know what led to the battle and its aftermath with this blog!
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What Led to the Battle of Khanwa?
The Battle of Khanwa began on March 16, 1527, near the village of Khanwa in the Bharatpur District of Rajasthan. After the Battle of Panipat, it was fought between the invading forces of the first Mughal Emperor Babur and the Rajput forces led by Rana Sanga of Mewar. The victory in the fight cemented India’s new Mughal dynasty.
Background of the Battle of Khanwa
Babur’s aim until 1524 was to expand his empire to Punjab, primarily to honour his ancestor Timur’s memory, as Punjab had previously been a part of his empire. Vast sections of north India were ruled by Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi dynasty, but the empire was collapsing. Babur had invaded Punjab twice before, in 1504 and 1518.
Babur decided to return to Punjab in 1520-21, easily conquering Bhira and Sialkot, which were considered as the “twin gateways of Hindustan.” Babur was able to conquer towns and cities until Lahore but was forced to stop due to the Qandahar rebellions. In 1523, he received invitations to invade the Delhi Sultanate from Daulat Khan Lodi, Governor of Punjab, and Ala-ud-Din, Ibrahim’s uncle.
Daulat Khan eventually abandoned Babur and marched towards Lahore with a force of 40,000 soldiers, capturing Sialkot from the Mughal army. Daulat Khan was soundly defeated at Lahore, and Babur became the undisputed master of Punjab as a result of this battle. In the First Battle of Panipat, when he killed the Sultan and formed the Mughal Empire, Babur continued his conquest and destroyed the Lodi sultanate’s army.
While Babur attacked Lodi and conquered Delhi and Agra, Sanga remained unmoved, having apparently changed his mind. Babur was enraged by this backsliding and accuses Rana Sanga of breaking their agreement in his autobiography.
Sanga may have envisioned a long, drawn-out battle between Babur and Lodi, after which he would be able to seize control of the districts he desired, according to historian Satish Chandra. Alternatively, according to Chandra, Sanga may have assumed that, in the case of a Mughal victory, Babur, like Timur, would retire from Delhi and Agra once he had seized the cities’ treasures.
Sanga proceeded to build a grand coalition to either push Babur out of India or limit him to Afghanistan once he understood Babur intended to stay in India. Babur began getting reports about Sanga’s progress to Agra in early 1527.
The Army Composition at the Battle of Khanwa
Rana Sanga built a grand alliance not only with the Rajput Clans but also with other Afghan rulers who had declared Mahmud Lodi, Ibrahim Lodi’s younger son, as the Sultan, using a variety of diplomatic means. While both the Rajput Alliance and the Mughal Army’s numbers were exaggerated, it was agreed that the Rajputs much outnumbered the Mughals.
Moreover, hearing of the vast number of their enemies and their fighting ability demoralized Babur’s army. To boost morale, Babur announced that he would abstain from all vices, including drinking wine, and that he would publicly break his liquor stores. It did have an effect on the Mughal Army’s morale.
Knowing that the Rajputs’ massive numbers would overwhelm his army, Babur devised a defensive strategy that included fortified camps supported by cannons. He would rain down a deadly blow on his enemies who did not have firearms by combining the guns and cannons. Carts linked together with adequate spaces for horsemen to approach would protect the firing positions.
Two delegations of elite horsemen were maintained in reserve for a flanking move, while the heavier Turkic horsemen stood behind carts. Babur had designed a powerful offensive-defensive formation for this.
Events of the Battle of Khanwa
The two sides had placed their forces information and were now facing each other at Khanwa. Rana Sanga launched a charge against the Mughal positions to begin the battle. The guns destroyed and stopped the Rajput horses and elephants’ initial charge. The elephants were frightened by the sound of the firearms because they were not used to it, and they ended up crushing the Rajputs.
Rana Sanga ordered an attack on the Mughal flanks after finding the Mughal centre strongly protected. The conflict continued for hours, with the Mughals raining bullets and arrows down on the Rajputs, who could only retaliate at close range.
Baburs’ attempt at a flanking movement was stopped as Rajput troops pushed his army back fiercely. The sheer weight of the numbers began to take its toll on the team soon after.
The Rana Silhadi of Raisen betrayed Rana Sanga and joined Babur’s army at this critical point. His numbers were sufficient to shift the power balance in the Mughal’s favour. The Rajput army was forced to change their entire war strategy as a result of this. During this time, Rana Sanga was stabbed and knocked out, which caused much concern among the Rajput ranks. The Mughals took advantage of this and increased their attacks, causing the Rajput force to shrink.
By leading a frontal charge, the remaining Rajput leaders attempted to rally their soldiers. They died as a result of all of the charges. The Rajputs, now almost without a leader, manage to carry their unconscious ruler out of the battle zone. Those who remained were killed in great numbers, and the Rajputs and their Afghan allies were soon destroyed.
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The Aftermath of the Battle of Khanwa
On April 21, 1526, the battle of Khanwa reinforced the victories won during the first battle of Panipat. Although the Mughal dynasty faced a temporary setback following the rise of the Sur Empire under Humayun, the Mughal dynasty would go on to rule India in the years that followed.
Rana Sangha had survived the fiasco at Khanwa, but not the grand alliance he had built. Due to this battle, he was completely shattered. On January 30, 1528, he died, still yearning to battle Babur to the final end.
Another consequence of the Battle of Khanwa was that firearms and cannons became standard issues in many Indian subcontinent armies, Mughal and others. Other Indian kings soon paid thugs to train their armies in gunpowder combat, and some even built their own cannons.
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