Hindu resistance to the Islamic conquest of North India - The Battle of Bahraich

  • Article tells about 3 cities in modern day Pakistan that were important to Hindus, how they came under Muslim rule and their destruction thereafter. 
  • The invading Muslims were defeated in Battle of Bahraich 1033.
  • The next invasion was by Mohammed Ghori in 1187.

Part one was about the brutal Muslim conquest of Sindh, Multan, Afghanistan and how they used deceit to unsusceptible Hindus to conquer them. Here is part two.


Today cities like Kandahar, Kabul, Makran and regions of Balouchistan, Sindh, West Punjab etc. which are considered to be a part of the Islamic West, were wholly Hindu majority parts of Bharatvarsha right up to the16th century.

“The Shahi Ruler Veka/ Vakkadeva ruled the northern region of Afghanistan, had established a Shiva Mandir there and issued copper coins of the Elephant and Lion type with the legend Shri Vakkadeva”. Source- ‘Mazare Sharif Inscription’. 


Like other parts of the world Bharatvarsha too suffered destruction of their cities, temples and culture by Islamic invaders. Even today there is evidence of the long forgotten Hindu past, in the form of ruins of Hindu Shrines and structures and some surviving ancient Hindu temples.


Some of the ancient cities of historical importance to Hindus are Peshawar, Multan and Lahore. Read on.  


Peshawar  (Purushapur)

From Sanskrit Purushapur/ पुरूषपुर the town was renamed Peshawar by Akbar. In Persian Peshawar means meaning ‘frontier town’. 


The ancient Purushpur was the western terminus of a Mauryan road that connected the city to its capital Patliputra, near the modern day Patna. Peshawar was also headquarters of the Nath Panthi Yogis. The Sufis, Hydaris of the invading Muslims were influenced by Nath Yogis and adopted their yogic practices.


Peshawar had its first encounter with Muslims when the Hindu Shahis fought the invading forces in 986 CE. On November 28, 1001, Sabuktigin's son Mahmud Ghazni established the Ghaznavid Empire in Peshawar region. 


Prahladpuri Temple, Multan.

Lahore   (Luvkushpura)

Luvkushpura or Lavapuri as Lahore was earlier called is said to be founded by Sri Ram’s son, Lava. To this day the Lahore Fort has an empty ‘Temple of Lava’ called Loha, hence name is Lohawar/ Fort of Loha. The arches and patterns on walls of the temple suggest that there were other structures or that the temple was much bigger.


After a long siege and battle in which Trilochanapala Shahi was killed, Lahore was annexed by Mahmud Ghazni in 1021. Thereafter the city was torched and depopulated.                

Lava Temple in the Lahore Fort.

Multan   (Kashyap Puri)

Kashyap Puri/ Mulasthana is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Mul’ meaning the root. It was one of the biggest and most prominent city of the Indian sub-continent. 


The town was called Parhalad Puri after Hiranyakashyap’s son Prahlad succeeded the throne. 


It came to be called Multan because of the Malavas/ Mallians/ Malloi tribe in that region, around the time of Alexander’s invasion around 326 BCE. The Malavas later migrated southwards to present-day Rajasthan and ultimately to Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. Their coins dated between 250 BCE and 250 CE bear ‘Malavanam jaya’ meaning victory of the Malavas. 


Mulasthana was known for Adityasthana/ Aditya Mandir. This temple and other sun temples in Martand in Kashmir, Modhera in Gujarat and Konarak in Orissa made a Tetralogy of famous Sun Temples across Bharatvarsha. Adityasthana is said to have been built by Shri Krishna’s son Samba. 


Muhammad bin Qasim captured the city but chose not to destroy the Temple because of the large offerings made by Hindus. Apart from the Moorthi of Adityanath being the principal source of revenue to the Arab state, it was also used by them for defence. Whenever any Hindu Raja attacked to reconquer Multan, the Arabs would exhibit the revered Moorti on the fort wall and threatened to break it.

“When Muhammad bin Qasim was told about the revenue the temple generates, he spared the idol of Multan, but he hung a piece of cow’s flesh on its neck by way of mockery”. Source History of Sind, Vol.2, Dr Mumtaz Husain Pathan, published 1978 in Pakistan.


Muhammad bin Qasim looted & carried on ships to Basra, 330 chests of treasure containing 13,300 mounds of gold from the Adityasthana….The idol of Multan which was named after Adith (sun) was built in the Karta-Jug Trerta Yuga”. Quote Sanskrit scholar AL-Beruni. 


Multan's Hindu temple (right), by Joan Lendering


When the Arabs failed to conquer Bharatvarsha, the Turks and Mongols/ Mughals took up their so called holy war against Bharat. 


The second Muslim crusade towards Bharatvarsha was not led by Arab Muslims but by the newly converted Persian, Turkish and Mongols. The first Turko-Persian chieftain to attack the Hindu domains was Sabuktagin. 

When the Saffarid rule weakened and Sistan/Seistan (border region of eastern Iran and south western Afghanistan) became a part of Samanid Empire, the Hindu Shahis seeing the danger, stepped up on their western frontier establishing their power at Ghazni. 

By mid tenth century, Turkish slaves began to acquire power in the Samanid realm. Alaptigin, a door keeper, defeated the royal army, took over Bamia and Ghazni from the Hindu rulers after a prolonged siege of four months. His son Alaptigin’s son Abu Ishaq succeeded him in 963 A.D.

The Hindu Shahi Raja Jaypala, sensing the serious threat of the rising Turkish power, attacked Ghazni with a huge army, ousted Abu Ishaq back to Bukhara and secured their western frontiers. The final defeat of the last of the Shahi Bheempal in 1026, opened the heartland of Bharatvarsha to the Muslim invaders. To read more about it  

In contrast with the conversion of Persia, Syria, Egypt, North Africa, and Spain to Islam in less than 80 years, 635 C.E. - 711, the Muslims were able to temporarily make a dent into Bharatvarsha only after more than seven hundred years of consistent aggression and treachery.


The Hindus inflicted the biggest and decisive defeat on Muslims at the battle of Baharaich in 1033.


Mahumd Ghazni’s son, Masud Ghazni invaded India with an army of more than 100,000 men in May 1031 AD. 

After defeating Anandpal Shahi, whose Kingdom stretched from Kabul to Kashmir, Sirhind to Multan and Peshawar, and Rai Arjun of Sialkot, Masud advanced towards Malwa and Gujarat. King Mahipal Tomar tried to check their advance but was defeated.


Masud penetrated deep in to the Ganges valley and established his camp at Bahraich (near Lucknow) in eastern Uttar Pradesh. He sent a word to the surrounding Hindu kings to surrender and embrace Islam.


According to their practice the Hindu kings sent a messenger to Masud that this land being theirs Masud should peacefully vacate it. To which Masud replied that all land belonged to Allah, he could settle wherever he pleased. He added that it was his holy duty to convert to Islam all those who did not recognize his Khuda.


On June 13 1033 an allied army of about 120,000 soldiers consisting of seventeen Kings of North of Bharatvarsha under Raja Sukhdev descended on Masud's Ghazni camp at Bahraich near Chittaura Jheel, 8 km away from modern Bahraich on Bahraich-Gond Road. The biggest confederation that ever existed, was of Rai Raib, Rai Saib, Rai Arjun, Rai Bheekhan, Rai Kanak, Rai Kalyan, Rai Makaru, Rai Savaru, Rai Aran, Rai Birbal, Rai Jaypal, Rai Shreepal, Rai Harpal, Rai Hakru, Rai Prabhu, Rai Deo Narayan and Rai Narsinha. Raja Bhoj of Malwa also supported actively. 


Showing no mercy, every man in Masood's camp was killed. The Hindus had learnt their lesson about Muslim treachery of over four hundred years starting 638 A.D. On 14th June 1033 A.D. Salar Masud was beheaded by Raja Sukhdev.


Thus, Hindus inflicted the biggest and decisive defeat on Muslims at the battle of Bahraich in 1033.


Near Bahraich is the grave of the commander of the invader, ‘Ghazi Mian Masud’. Local Muslims hail him as a Ghazi and a Peer and an Urs is held every year. However, the gallantry of the Hindu soldiers who lost their lives in this major victory is forgotten. Sadly some local Hindus visit his grave too.  


The victory was so resounding that no Muslim king from the Northwest dared to invade India from 1033 to 1187 A.D.   


Battle of Bahraich. Raja Sukdev (or Suhel Dev) who led the army and beheaded Salar Masud.  

The next Muslim onslaught started in 1187 under the leadership of Mohammed Ghori.


The Ghaznivid occupiers of the Shahiya kingdom in West Punjab made peace with its Hindu neighbours. They issued coins in Sanskrit using the Sanskrit version of Muslim names e.g., Mahamada for Mohammed. The Hindus assumed that the Ghaznivids, would like the Greeks, Huns, Kushans merge into Hindu society adopting Sanatana Dharma and its culture.


After defeating the Shahiyas, the Ghaznavids forcibly converted the Gauris, cowherd Hindu subjects of Hindu Shahiyas, 980 C.E.


Two hundred years later ie by 1187 these converts had become cruel and merciless. There was not a trace of their Hindu ancestry except the name Gauri, derived from Gau/ cow. It is from their name comes the Islamized name of the place Ghaur/ Ghor. 


The Muslim chieftain of Ghor, Muhammad Ghauri/ Mohammed-ibn-Sam/ Mu'izz al-Din, a Hindu convert overthrew the Muslim ruler of Ghazni. Annihilating the kingdom of their former tormentors, the Ghaznavids, ironically now became the new ruthless tormentors of their ancestors, the Hindus.


After overcoming the Ghaznivid governor of Punjab, Mohammed Ghori in 1187, marched way into India only to find it blocked by three powerful Hindu kingdoms, the Solankis/ Chalukyas of Anahilwada in Gujarat, the Chahmanas/ Chouhans of Delhi, Ajmer and Sambhar and the Rathods/ Gahadwals of Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh.


Mohammed allied himself with the Muslim governor of Sindh and with full fury of aggression attacked Gujarat. The Solankis and Chalukyas defeated him at the battle on the plains below Mount Arbuda / Abu, forcing him to flee across the Thar Desert.


Having tasted defeat, Mohammed decided to make use of subterfuge. Like Sabuktgin, he studied Hindu warfare.


Invading from another route, Mohammed advanced through West Punjab and attacked the fortress of Bhatinda in East Punjab which was the frontier of the domains of Prithiviraj Chauhan, the brave Maharaja of Sambhar/ Shaka-ambara.


In Part 3 read, how the Rajputs defeated the Arab Muslims for 500 years and the counter aggression that saved Hindu society fro extinction.  


Also read

1 The Battle of Bahraich

2 Natha Pantha

Receive Site Updates