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Babur became the ruler of Delhi and Agra after the Battle of Panipat in 1526. He founded Mughal Empire in India. He now had to fight against two other enemies, the Afghan nobles of Bihar and Bengal, and the Rajputs under Rana Sangha of Mewar. Babur sent his nobles to unconquered parts of the country to expel the Afghans chiefs from there. He himself was engaged in collecting the resources to wage a war against the Rajputs. Rana Sangha was a brave warrior. He was joined by some Muslim supporters of the Lodi dynasty. He marched with an army of 120 chiefs, 80,000 horses and 500 war elephants, and the rulers of Ajmer, Gwalior, Amber, and Marwar against Babur. Babur’s army was comparatively small and was struck with terror and panic. Babur appealed to his men to fight bravely. His men promised to support him. Mughals and the Rajputs met in the decisive battle of Kanwha on March 16, 1527.
Khanwa is about 60 km west of Agra. The epic battle between the Mughals and the Rajputs was fought here. The weakness of Delhi Empire and the quarrels of the Afghan nobles had indirectly strengthened Sanga by giving him an opportunity of developing his power unhindered. His military forces exceeded those of any other prince of his time.
Sanga had opened negotiations with Babur when he was at Kabul. Babur writes in his memoir that it was arranged between the two parties that while Padshah would attack Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi from Delhi side, Rana Sangha was to attack him from the side of Agra. Both accused each other of bad faith and Rana Sangha claimed Kalpi, Dholpur and Bayana which had been occupied by Babur Generals.
Sangha Thought that Babur would go back to Kabul like his ancestor Timur and he would then occupy the throne of Delhi. He was disillusioned and awakened the sense of danger when he saw the mughal invader had not only occupied the throne of Delhi but also had no intentions of going back. So, immediately on hearing of Babur occupation of Kalpi, Dholpur and Bayana, Rana Sangha at once started preparations for war against Babur.
First of all, Rana Sangha launched an attack on Nizam Khan, administrator of Bayana on behalf of Babur. Nizam was defeated and he took shelter with Babur at Agra. The Mughal invaders could not tolerate the intrigues of Rana Sangha and advanced to Bayana. Rana Sangha had been joined by Hassan Khan Mewati, Muhammad Lodhi, brother of Ibrahim Lodhi. In this way, first time it became an alliance of Muslims and Hindus to expel the Mughals from their country.
Babur knew it well that it is not an easy task to fight against Rajputs. He promised that he will allow everyone to go home after home. He declared it a holy war, a jihad against Rana Sangha. He reminded his men that they were fighting for the glory of their religion. The response was enthusiastic. Everyone swear on the Quran that they will fight to the end and stand by Babur.
Babur had about 40000 soldiers while Rana Sangha had 80000 soldiers. It was on Saturday, 16th March, 1527 that the two armies came face to face. The battle continued for a dozen of hours. Babur employed the same tactics which he had used at Panipat. Till evening, the troops of Sangha were completely scattered and Babur proved victorious.
The battle began about 9:30 in the morning by a desperate charge made by the Rajputs on Babur’s right. Bodies of the reserve were pushed on to its assistance and Mustafa Rumi; an artillery commander opened a fire upon the assailants. Babur sent orders to the flanking columns to wheel round and charge. He soon after ordered the guns to advance and by a simultaneous movement the household troops and cavalry stationed behind the cannon were ordered to gallop out on right and left of the match lock men in the center who also moved forward and continued their fire hastening to fling themselves with all their fury on the enemy’s center.
The field was strewn with human corpses and so were the roads to Bayana and Mewar. The slaughtering was fearful and Sangha escaped from the battlefield only with the efforts of his followers. He died two years later. Babur ordered a tower of skulls to be built on a mound near the camp and assumed the title of Ghazi or the Champion of Faith. Rajputs fought bravely but Babur used the same tactics that he used in the battle of Panipat and thus defeated the Rajputs. Rana Sanga escaped with the help of some of the followers but died after about two years. This victory facilitated Babur’s task as it enabled him to establish the rule of the Mughals in India.
Though the battle of Khanwa lasted only for a dozen of hours, yet it was one of the few most decisive and most memorable battles fought in India. It was a very well contested battle till end. The loss on the side of Sangha was terrible. Rana himself was wounded and fled from the battlefield. A number of other nobles and chiefs including Hassan Khan Mewati died in the battle. However, Mahmood Lodhi escaped safely. The military power of Rajputs was crippled though not completely destroyed.
The Rajputs were thinking of taking advantage of the Mughal-Afghan contest and establishing their own empire in India. Rajputs dream of banishing foreign invaders remained unrealized. The battle of Khanwa established the Mughal Empire on Indian soil very firmly. Battle of Khanwa proved to be decisive and even more important than the battle of Panipat. Battle of Panipat broken the power of Afghan alone but the battle of Khanwa broke the most powerful of Rajputs. The menace of Rajputs confederacy was removed once and for all.
With the battle of Khanwa, the days of Babur wandering and misfortune ended. India became the keynote of Babur activities. Babur also paid full attention to establish himself in India. The centre of gravity for Babur shifted from Kabul to Hindustan. He remained in India for the rest of his life, fighting, gaining administration and putting all the things on a sound foundation.