Second Battle of Panipat
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|Second Battle of Panipat|
A mural at the battlefield of Panipat
|Commanders and leaders|
Shah Ali Quli Khan
Lal Khan of Badakshan
Sikandar Khan Uzbeg
Mulla Pir Muhammad
Shadi Khan Kakkar
Cannons in larger number than Hemu[unreliable source?]
1,000 War elephants
500 falconets (Badayuni)
|Casualties and losses|
|120 War elephants captured|
The Second Battle of Panipat was fought on November 5, 1556, between the forces of Hemu, the Hindu ruler of north India from Delhi, and the army of Akbar. It was a decisive victory for Akbar's generals Khan Zaman I and Bairam Khan.
On January 24, 1556, the Mughal Emperor 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 an 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.
The fall of Delhi and Agra to Hemu and the defeat of the Mughal commander Tardi Beg Khan 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. Keene 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."
The Mughal Empire's army consisted of 10,000 cavalry with its centre was under the command of Shah Ali Quli Khan. Lal Khan of Badakshan led the light cavalry to attack Hemu's positions. The Mughal Army's vanguard was led by Muhammad Qasim (Mughal)'s brigade consisted of Mounted archers and the regular cavalry of Abdulla Khan (Mughal) and Iskander Khan.
Hemu enticed the Mughal army's left and right wings by inducing a retreat on his flanks. Shah Ali Quli Khan learned of this trick from Tardi Beg Khan and dug a trench to protect the Mughal Army's center. But Hemu's War elephants crossed the trench and caused panic in the Mughal Army's centre.
The wounded Hemu was captured by Shah Quli Khan and carried to the Mughal camp. According to Badayuni, Bairam Khan asked Akbar to behead Hemu so that he could earn the title of Ghazi. Akbar replied 'He is already dead, if he had any strength for a duel, I would have killed him'. After Akbar's refusal Hemu's body was denied honour by the Mughal battle tradition and was unceremoniously beheaded by Bairam Khan. Hemu's head was sent to Kabul where it was hung outside the Delhi Darwaza while his body was placed in a gibbet outside Purana Quila in Delhi.
After Hemu's death, a massacre of Hemu's community and followers was ordered by Bairam Khan. Thousands were beheaded and towers of skulls were built with their heads, to instill terror among the Hindus and Afghans. These towers were still in existence about 60 years later as described by Peter Mundy, an English traveler who visited India during the time of Jahangir.[ Sikandar Khan Uzbeg commanded the Mughal Army reserve which included the contingent of Mulla Pir Muhammad, who would reassert Mughal rule in Delhi.
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. 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. Hemu's relatives and close Afghan supporters were caught and many of them beheaded. 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.
Akbar retook Agra and Delhi without much resistance. 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. 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.
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- see the picture on the sides