Battle of Panipat (1556)

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Second Battle of Panipat
Date November 5, 1556
Location Panipat, Haryana, India
Result Victory and restoration of the Mughal Empire by Akbar
Mughals Hem Chandra Vikramaditya
Commanders and leaders
Bairam Khan Hem Chandra Vikramaditya

The Second Battle of Panipat was fought on November 5, 1556, between the forces of Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, popularly called Hemu, the Hindu ruler of north India from Delhi, and the army of Akbar.[1] It was a decisive victory for Akbar's generals Khan Zaman I and Bairam Khan.[2]


Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya, the Hindu King of North India, before battle

On January 24, 1556, the Mughal ruler Humayun died in Delhi and was succeeded by his son, Akbar. Akbar was only thirteen years old. On February 14, 1556, Akbar was enthroned at Kalanaur, in Punjab. At this time, Mughal rule was confined to Kabul, Kandahar, parts of the Delhi region and Punjab. Akbar had been campaigning at Kabul with his guardian, Bairam Khan.

Hemu had become the ruler of North India after he defeated Akbar's army in the Battle of Delhi in 1556. Earlier Hemu had acted as Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army of Afghan ruler Adil Shah. He was a Hindu from Rewari in present day Haryana. Hemu had won 22 battles as Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army during 1553-1556, from Punjab to Bengal. At the time of Humayun's death in January 1556, Hemu had just quelled a rebellion in Bengal, killing the Bengal ruler Muhammad Shah in the war. When he heard of Humayun's death, he told his commanders he would seize the Delhi throne for himself. He then launched and open rebellion, winning battles throughout northern India. When he attacked Agra, the commander of Akbar's forces there fled without fighting. Hemu gained control of Etawah, Kalpi, and Agra provinces, comprising present day Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. At Gwalior, Hemu consolidated his army by recruiting more Hindus.

Hemu defeated the Mughal army on 6 October in the Battle of Delhi (near Tughlaqabad). Around 3,000 Mughals were killed, and Mughal commander Tardi Beg fled with the survivors, leaving Delhi to Hemu. The next day, Hemu was crowned at Purana Qila fortress, re-establishing Hindu rule in north India, after 350 years of Muslim rule. According to Abul Fazl in Akbarnama, Hemu was preparing for an attack on Kabul and made several changes in his army.


Mural of "2nd Battle of Panipat" at war-site, Kala Amb, Panipat

The fall of Delhi and Agra disturbed the Mughals at Kalanaur. Many Mughal generals advised Akbar to retreat to Kabul, rather than challenge Hemu larger forces. but Bairam Khan decided in favor of war. Akbar's army marched towards Delhi. On November 5, the armies met at the historic battlefield of Panipat, where, thirty years earlier, Akbar's grandfather Babur had defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat. H. G. Keen writes; "Akbar and his guardian Bairam Khan did not participate in the battle and were stationed 5 Koss (8 miles) away from the war zone. Bairam Khan did not permit the 13 year old child King to be present on the battlefield in person. Instead he was provided with a special guard of 5,000 well trained and most faithful troops and was stationed at a safe distance far behind the battle lines. He was instructed by Bairam Khan to flee towards Kabul for life in case the Mughal Army was routed in the battlefield."[3]

Hemu led his army himself. Hemu's army included 1,500 war elephants and a force of up-to-date artillery. Hemu marched in excellent order with 30,000 well-trained Rajput and Afghan cavalry, whose previous exploits increased their pride and arrogance.


'Beheaded Skulls Minaret' built by Akbar's army after 2nd Battle of Panipat

Despite Hemu's numbers, Akbar's force won the battle. Hemu was captured and beheaded. His skull was sent to Kabul for display outside the 'Delhi Darwaza.[citation needed] His torso was sent to Delhi and hanged outside Purana Quila on a "gibbet: to intimidate the Hindu population. Hemu's wife escaped from Purana Qila, with the treasures of the fortress, and remained untraceble. Bairam Khan ordered mass executions of Hindus which continued for many years.[4] Hemu's relatives and close Afghan supporters were caught and many of them beheaded.[5] Minarets were made of their skulls at different places. Hemu's 82 year old father who had escaped to Alwar was traced after six months, and was beheaded for refusing to convert to Islam.[4]

Akbar retook Agra and Delhi without much resistance.[citation needed] But soon after he took possession of his capital, he had to return to Punjab to meet the advance of Sikandar Shah Suri (Adil Shah Suri’s brother). Sikandar Shah was defeated and taken captive after the siege of Fort Mankot by Mughal forces and exiled to Bengal.[citation needed] The victory of Akbar at Panipat in 1556 was the real restoration of the Mughal power in India. It took Akbar eight years to capture the territory which was occupied by Hemu up to Bengal.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Singh, Jagjit (Maj. General.) (2006). Artillery: The Battle-winning Arm. Lancer Publishers. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-81-7602-180-7. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  2. ^ S. Chand. History of Medieval India. ISBN 81-219-0364-5. 
  3. ^ Keen, H. G. A Sketch of the History of Hindustan: From the First Muslim Conquest to Fall of the Mughal Empire (Indian Edition) (1972), page 87.
  4. ^ a b A History of Early India, p. 233
  5. ^ see the picture on the sides