Open main menu

Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/190

This page needs to be proofread.

Turkish and Afghans Sultans of Delhi.— He had no son, and his strong viceroy, Kutbuddin Aibak, became in 1206 the first of the 33 Muhammadan kings, who in five successive dynasties ruled from Delhi a kingdom of varying dimensions, till the last of them fell at Panipat in 1526, and Babar, the first of the Moghals, became master of their red fort palace. The blood-stained annals of these 320 years can only be lightly touched on. Under vigorous rulers like the Turki Slave kings, Altamsh (1210-1236) and Balban (1266-1287), a ferocious and masterful boor like Ala ud din Khalji (1296-13 16), or a ferocious but able man of culture like Muhammad Tughlak (1325-1351), the local governors at Lahore and Multan were content to be servants. In the frequent intervals during which the royal authority was in the hands of sottish wastrels, the chance of independence was no doubt seized.

Mongol Invasions.— In 1221 the Mongol cloud rose on the north-west horizon. The cruelty of these camel-riding Tatars and the terror they inspired may perhaps be measured by the appalling picture given of their bestial appearance. In 1221, Chingiz Khan descended on the Indus at the heels of the King of Khwarizm (Khiva), and drove him into Sindh. Then there was a lull for twenty years, after which the Mongol war hordes ruined and ravaged the Panjab for two generations. Two great Panjab governors, Sher Khan under Balban and Tughlak under Ala ud din Khalji, maintained a gallant struggle against these savages. In 1297 and 1303 the Mongols came to the gates of Delhi, but the city did not fall, and soon after they ceased to harry Northern India. During these years the misery of the common people must often have been extreme. When foreign raids ceased for a time they were plundered by their own rulers. In the Panjab the fate of the peasantry must have depended chiefly on the character