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The Age of Conflict : Ghaznavids 

The Age of Conflict : Ghaznavids 


  • The Samanid Empire ruled by people of Iranian descent in areas of Trans-oxiana, Kharasan and parts of Iran had many Turkish slaves who acted as governors. One such Turkish slave who rose to the position of a Samanid governor was Alaptgin.
  • He in course of time established an independent kingdom with its capital as Ghazni. The samanid kingdom soon ended and the Ghaznavids took over the task of defending the Islamic lands from the Central Asian tribesmen.
  • Alaptgin also came into conflict with the Hindushahi rulers who ruled in areas of Afghanistan to Punjab with their capital at Waihind (Ohinda).
  • The Hindushahi ruler Jayapala, recognizing the threat, invaded Ghazni but was defeated. He renewed the fight the following year, but was again defeated. Mahmud took an active part in these battles as a prince.

Mahmud (998 — 1030):

  • Mahmud was the son of Alaptgin. He organized stout defence against the central Asian Turkish tribal invaders. He was closely associated with the renaissance of the Iranian spirit. A high point of Iranian renaissance was Firadausi’s Shah Namah.
  • Firdausi was a court poet of Mahmud of Ghazni. Persian language and culture now became the language and culture of the Ghaznavids, so much so that Mahmud himself claimed descent from the Iranian legendary king, Afrasiyab.
  • The Turks not only became Islamized but Persianized. It was the culture that they were to bring with them to India two centuries later.
  • In India though, Mahmud’s memory is that of a plunderer and a destroyer of temples. He made 17 raids into India. His task was made easy due to political uncertainty in north India following the break-up of the Gurjara — Pratihara empire.
  • Mahmud took the offensive against the Hindushahi kings. He fought against the combined armies of the Hindushahi ruler Jayapala and the muslim rulers of Multan who supported Jayapala. Mahmud defeated them in 1001 AD, Jayapala felt humiliated and killed himself upon which Anandapala, his son succeeded him to the throne.    The Age of Conflict : Ghaznavids
  • Anandapala took the help of many princes of north — western India, Rajasthan and Kannauj alongwith the muslim ruler of Multan and the Khokkars of Punjab but was defeated by Mahmud in the decisive battle of Waihind in 1008-09 as a result of which Punjab and Multan passed into the hands of Mahmud though the Shahi Kings ruled over some portions of their former empire as Vassals.
  • The raids of Mahmud into India were aimed at plundering the rich temples and cities of north India to finance his Central Asian campaigns.
  • His raids in India alternated with battles in Central Asia. Mahmud posed as the ‘but’shikan’ or the idol breaker. From the Punjab, Mahmud raided Nagarkot and Thanesar near Delhi.
  • His most daring raids were against strong states which existed in North India at that time and no attempt was made by Mahmud to annex any of these areas. He died at Ghazni in 1030 AD.


  • The rise of the Seljuk empire, which included Syria, Trans-oxiana and Iran following the death of Mahmud meant that it came in conflict with Masud, the son of Mahmud for control of Khurasan and in a battle Masud was defeated and he fled to Lahore for refuge.
  • The Ghaznavid empire now shrank to the Punjab. They continued to make plundering raids into the Gangetic valley and Rajputana, but they did not pose a serious military danger to India.
  • Simultaneously, a number of states arose in north India which could counter the Ghaznavid raids.

The Rajput States

With the break-up of Pratihara — Gurjara Empire, a number of Rajput states came into existence in north India. Among them were,

  • The Tomars of Delhi
  • The Chauhans of Ajmer
  • The Parmaras of Malwa
  • The Chandellas of Bundelkhand
  • The Kalchuris of Jabalpur
  • The Gahadavalas of Kannauj
  • The Senas of Bengal

The Rajput states wanted to grow at the expense of the neighbouring states which led to rivalries which made it impossible for the Rajputs to oust the Ghaznavids from the Punjab.

In fact, the Ghaznavids felt strong enough to make raids even upto Ujjain. The Age of Conflict : Ghaznavids 



Medieval History

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