Historical Research

Battles That Changed Indian History Forever – God of Small Things

India is a country known for its diversity of culture, language, architecture, cuisine, and whatnot! But India was not always this way. India is an ancient country. It is the birthplace of some of the oldest human civilizations. From Harappa to the Aryans or from the Turks to the British, India’s journey has been full of experience. Since the time of Mahabharata, Indian land has time and again seen dynasties being destroyed and new kingdoms being built. The Indian land has been a witness to some of the world’s top 5 battles. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 battles of India which changed the course of Indian history forever.

Battles That Changed Indian History

1. The Battle of Hydaspes (326 BC)

top 5 battles of India The Battle of Hydaspes
Top battles of India: The Battle of Hydaspes

One of the world’s top 5 battles was the great Battle of Hydaspes. The Battle of Hydaspes was fought between Alexander the Great of Macedonia and King Porus of Paurava faced each other in one of the top 5 battles of India in 326 BCE.

On his campaign to conquer Asia, Alexander the Great captured the Persian Empire. He then set his eyes upon India. His conquest of India, initially, went rather unchallenged. He gained several allies as well. The courageous King Porus, however, refused Alexander’s alliance. He challenged him to a battle that would, later on, become one of the world’s top 5 battles.

King Porus ruled the territory lying between the rivers of Jhelum and Chenab. It was important for Alexander to defeat Porus in order to continue with his conquest. Indian King Ambhi, the ruler of Taxila sided with the Greek ruler to fight against Porus. The Battle of Hydaspes took place on the banks of the Hydaspes River (Jhelum) in Punjab, modern-day Pakistan.

Alexander set up his camp near a town on the right bank of the river. As Alexander’s men advanced towards their goal, King Porus’s army confronted them at a ford on the Hydaspes River. Numerically, both forces were almost equal. However, while Alexander had an advantage in terms of cavalry, Porus had the strength of around 200 war elephants. Both the mighty rulers would soon come face to face in one of the world’s top 5 battles.

top 5 battles of India The Battle of Hydaspes
Image Source: HistoriaRex

Alexander split his army into parts in order to confuse Porus.  His General Craterus led a small force against Porus on the Ford. Alexander took most of his army to cross another Ford somewhere around 27 km away.

As soon as Porus learned about Alexander’s advance across the river, he launched his attack. Porus arranged his cavalry on the flanks (left/right sides). His infantry took the central position while the war elephants took the front. Alexander, on the other hand, led the right-wing cavalry himself. His heavy infantry took the centre in a phalanx. His general Coenus led the left-wing cavalry behind a hill to outflank the enemy.

As one of the top 5 battles of the world commenced, the heavily armoured elephants with archers and javelin men on their backs charged the Macedonian phalanx. The phalanx had never faced war elephants before. The mighty animals caused great damage to the Macedonian men. After engaging in fierce bloodshed the Macedonian troops eventually repulsed back the elephants.

The Macedonian forces then confronted the Indian infantry. Alexander and his cavalry launched an attack on the right. But they could not find a gap to execute the attack.

Coenus, then, returned to the battlefield at the back end of the Indian forces. It was then that Alexander finally defeated the Indian cavalry in one of the best battles in history. King Porus quickly ordered his infantry to take up a defensive position. He offered to surrender to Alexander in return for favorable terms. Alexader agreed to this. He allowed Porus to remain the King of Paurava but imposed tribute as well.

top 5 battles of India: The Battle of Hydaspes
Image Source: Bharat Stories

At the end of one of the world’s 5 biggest battles, Alexander lost 1,000 of his 41,000 men. On the other hand, King Porus lost 12,000 of his 50,000 men. Apart from this 9,000 Indian men were captured. Porus also lost his two sons to the battle.

The valorous King Porus lost the Battle of Hydaspes. Yet he was the greatest opponent that Alexander ever faced. The battle, amongst the world’s top 5 battles, was also Alexander’s last major victory. In fact, many scholars consider it to be one of the greatest conquests of the Macedonian ruler.

Do you know one of the largest tank battles took place between India and Pakistan and the story is of high valor: Battle of Asal Uttar Indo-Pak War of 1965

2. The Second Battle of Tarain (1192)

top 5 battles of India: Second Battle of Tarain
Top battles of India: The Second Battle of Tarain

Another one of the top 5 battles of India is the Second Battle of Tarain. The Second Battle of Tarain was fought between The Ghurid King Mu’izz al-Din (Mohd. Ghori) fought against King Prithviraj Chauhan II at Tarain. Mohd. Ghori was the ruler of the Ghurid Empire. He secured his empire by overthrowing the Turks from Ghazni. Later on, he captured the Multan and the whole of Sind.

Prithviraj Chauhan, the King of Ajmer, hailed from the Chahamana (Chauhan) dynasty. He ascended the throne at the very young age of 11. The Rajput King is well-known not only for his valour but also for his romance as well. Various epics present an account of the Chauhan King’s life.

Prithviraj Chauhan defeated Ghori in the First Battle of Tarain in 1191. The Rajput King, however, committed a blunder of letting Ghori leave. This blunder brought back great trouble for Chauhan in one of the top 5 battles of India.

The majestic army of Prithviraj Chauhan comprised around 3,00,000 cavalry and infantry along with nearly 2,000 elephants. On the other hand, Ghori had the support of around 40,000 cavalries. Both sides came face to face in one of the top 5 battles of India.

The Ghurids were well aware of the discipline that Chauhan’s army possessed. Hence, they refrained from engaging in direct combat with the Rajputs. Instead, Ghori split his army into five units. Ghori planned on encircling the Rajput army from all sides. He ordered four of them to attack the Rajput flanks (side) and rear (back). The units consisted of light cavalry of fewer troops with mounted archers. He had saved most of his men for later.

top 5 battles of India: Second Battle of Tarain
Image Source: India Online

 Ghori instructed his men to refrain from combat with Chauhan’s troops when the latter launched an attack. The Ghurids would pretend to retreat whenever it happened. By doing so, Ghori wanted to exhaust Chauhan’s horses, elephants, and infantry.

Ghori, then, ordered the fifth unit to fake a retreat. As they had expected, Chauhan’s troops charged the fleeing Ghurids. This is when Ghori sent a fresh cavalry of 12,000 men which managed to push back the Rajput advance. Mohd. Ghori fulfilled his revenge and won one of the top 5 battles in the history of India.

What happened to Prithviraj Chauhan in one of the top 5 battles of India is not accurately known. Some historians believe that Chauhan fled the battlefield but the Ghurids were captured within a short distance.

However, a poem written by Prithviraj’s court poet Chandrabardai presents a rather famous account of the mystery. As per this poem, Ghori captured Prithvi and took him to Ghazni. There he blinded the Rajput King when the latter did not accept Ghori’s supremacy.

Chandrabardai entered Ghori’s court in disguise. He told Ghori about Prithvi’s skill in archery. Chauhan could take aim only by relying on sound. Ghori did not believe so and asked to see it with his own eyes.

This was when Chandrabardai recited a poem through which he gave Chauhan the location where Ghori sat. Following the directions, Prithvi shot his arrow and killed Ghori.

After the Battle, Ghori’s general Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak took over Ajmer. He went on to strengthen the Ghurid rule in northern and central India. The roots of Turkish rule in India were established after the Second Battle of Tarain.

3. The First Battle of Panipat (1526)

top 5 battles of India: Battle of Panipat
Top battles of India: The First Battle of Panipat

The name of First Battle of Panipat is among the top five battles in the history of India. The First Battle of Panipat was fought between Babur and Ibrahim Lodi and engaged in one of the most important battles in Indian history at Panipat in 1526. Sultan Ibrahim Lodi ruled the Delhi Sultanate at that time. On the other hand, Babur, a descendant of Timur, had already captured Kabul by then.

 The enormous wealth of India had always tempted Babur. However, he did not launch his mission to invade the Sultanate in a hurry. Babur took enough time to make essential preparations for a battle which would be amongst the top 5 battles of India. He fully trained his army of 10,000 men in warfare skills and the use of gunpowder weapons. It was not before 1525 that he embarked on his mission.

As one of the five biggest battles in India commenced, Babur’s army easily handled the Afghan force that came in its way. Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, then, took the lead of a second army in the battlefield of Panipat. On 12 April 1526, Babur and his 10,000 men faced a gigantic army of 1,00,000 men and 1,000 elephants. But he kept his calm. He was about to win one of the world’s top 5 battles in history.

Babur decided to build a fortress on the open plain. His army tied together around 700 carts and fronted them along with the earthen defensive wall. This would provide cover for his canon and his musketeers with matchlocks. On the other hand, Ibrahim Lodi was hesitant to launch an attack on Babur’s army. This gave Babur ample amount of time to strengthen his position. He ordered his men to dig trenches and fall trees to create barriers for the enemy. In between, they left enough gaps so that Babur’s cavalry could charge without trouble.

top 5 battles of India: Battle of Panipat
Image Credits: India Today

On April 21, Ibrahim Lodi finally made an advance. His troops moved forward only to be dumbfounded by the fortifications. And as they were trying to figure it out, Babur’s cavalry came like a storm through the gaps. The Mughal cavalry surrounded the Afghan army. At the same time, the Mughals launched bombardments from behind the barriers. They fired at point-blank range targeting closely packed enemy troops. The Afghan army was so badly trapped that they could neither advance nor retreat.

Around 20,000-50,000 Afghan men were killed at Panipat one of the top battles in the history of India. Ibrahim Lodi lost his Sultanate and his en.  Babur, on the other hand, emerged victorious in one of the top 5 battles of India. His victory established the foundation of the Mughal Empire in India.

4. The Battle of Plassey (1757)

top 5 battles of India:  Battle of Plassey
Top battles of India: The Battle of Plassey

One of the top 5 battles in the world is the Battle of Plassey. It was fought at Plassey in Calcutta. The Battle of Plassey was fought between The Battle of Plassey was fought in 1757 between the British and the Nawab of Bengal who was joined by the French. The battle determined the future of the British in India for the next two centuries. This is why we can consider it to be among the world’s top 5 battles.

At that time, the British East India Company had exclusive trading rights in India as granted by a royal charter in 1600. The charter included the right to form an army as well. French East India Company was another rival trading company. Both of them wanted to establish their dominance in India. For the same reason, they engaged in the Carnatic Wars from 1746.

Siraj Ud-Daulah became the Nawab of Bengal in 1755. He was the last Nawab who ruled Bengal independently. In 1756, the English began strengthening their troops in Bengal fearing French and Dutch fortifications there. Siraj Ud-Daulah was against this. But when the British refused to stop, he launched an attack on them. The British, consequently, surrendered.

The Nawab captured many British officers as prisoners of war. He also imprisoned a number of Indian, Portuguese and Armenian soldiers. They were stuffed into small prison cells where around 43 of them died in one night due to asphyxiation. This incident became the infamous “black hole of Calcutta”. It became the precursor of one of the top 5 battles in the world.

In response to this, the British Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive arrived in Calcutta. He began plotting to overthrow the Nawab in a battle that would later become one of the world’s top 5 battles. Clive bribed some Bengali Generals including Mir Jafar, a discontented follower of the Nawab. Mir Jafar was promised the throne in return for his support of the British.

top 5 battles of India: Battle of Plassey
Image Credits: India Online

A British force of 3,000 European and Sepoy men advanced towards Murshidabad, the Nawab’s capital. But a colossal Bengali army of 50,000 men awaited them at Plassey (Palashi). Two-thirds of Nawab’s infantry was armed with matchlock muskets. Moreover, the French artillery force stood in their support. The Bengali troops greatly outnumbered the British. This is also the reason why the battle is one of the top 5 unequal battles in India.

Both sides engaged in intense firing. The Bengali cavalry was close to the French artillery. A British bombardment aimed at the French artillery missed it but caused damage to the Bengali cavalry instead. Consequently, the Nawab had to order the cavalry to withdraw. Then as Nawab’s infantry moved forward, the British charged them with open gunfire accompanied by grapeshot and musket fire. At the same time, the Nawab received betrayal as Mir Jafar with around one-third of the Bengali Army refusing to join the battle.

Later, as the battle continued, it started raining. The British used tarpaulins to save their powder from the rain. On the other hand, the Nawab and his army were not prepared for this. Moreover, the Bengalis were under a false assumption that their enemy must have suffered the same way. The cavalry hence charged. But the British did open fire. The cavalry commander Mir Madan Khan lost his life along with many others.

As the Nawab lost an important general, he ordered his men to retreat. As they moved back, the French artillerymen stood exposed. The British wasted no time and took advantage of the situation. They captured the French artillery force and then used the French canons to bomb Nawab’s army. Siraj Ud-Daulah escaped the battlefield on a camel.

After the Battle ended, Clive installed Mir Jafar on the throne, keeping his promise. Mir Jafar became a British puppet from thereon. This is how the British gained the reign of rule in Bengal in one of the top 5 biggest battles in the world.

If you loved reading about the Battle of Panipat then we are sure you would love to read one more Indian Army Heroic Battles: The 1971 Battle Of Longewala

5. The Battle of Buxar (1764)

top 5 battles of India: Battle of Buxar
Top battles of India: The Battle of Buxar

Another of the top 5 battles of India took place in a town called Buxar. The northeastern part of India witnessed a battle of historic importance. The Battle of Buxar was fought between an alliance of Indian states including Bengal, Awadh, and the Mughal Empire fought against the British East India Company in the Battle of Buxar. The battle is one of the top 5 battles of India.

The Battle of Plassey, amongst the 5 biggest battles of India, had brought huge gains for the British East India Company. Following the battle, the British sought to strengthen their rule over Bengal. So they began assembling an army comprised of Indian Sepoys and Indian cavalry.

The Battle of Buxar took place in October 1764. The northeast Indian town of Buxar witnessed one of the top 5 battles of India.

Sir Hector Munro led the British forces against the alliance. He split the army into three parts. Major Stibbert took control of the regular troops on the left flank. Similarly, Major Champion had the command of Bengalese troops on the right. The Bengali cavalry along with four sepoy companies strengthens the central position.

When the battle commenced the Indian forces outnumbered the British army. Somewhere around 35,000 men of the Indian alliance fought against around 8,000 British men.

Major Champion and his men attacked a village near the town of Buxar. They pushed back the Indian forces there and occupied the village.

At that time, a major Indian force advanced towards Stibbert’s regular troops. But with a favourable position in the village, Champion moved out and outflanked the Indian move. The British assaulted the Indian forces with their musket volleys. They caused heavy casualties on the Indian side. A detachment of the Durrani cavalry failed to turn the battle. The Indians were left with no choice but to retreat.

top 5 battles of India: Battle of Buxar
Image Credits: Awaaz Nation

The Indian alliance lost 6,000 out of 35,000 men at Buxar in one of the top 5 battles of India. On the other hand, the British East India Company lost less than 1,000 men out of a total of 8,000.

Consequently, the Treaty of Allahabad came into force in 1765. Through the treaty, the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II surrendered Bengal’s sovereignty to the British East India Company. The Company received Diwani of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha. This meant that the Company now holds the right to collect revenues from these states. Robert Clive, the man who led the British towards victory at Plassey, became the first Governor of Bengal.

Source: Wikipedia

Do you know which battle is been awarded as the greatest tank battle in history:? It is the Battle of Kursk| World War 2

One thought on “Battles That Changed Indian History Forever – God of Small Things

  • Sandeep Dhawan

    Succinct and informative article, Parvi. Keep them coming.


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