THE fullest account of the Ancient History of the Kings of Delhi is given by Joseph Tieffenthaler. There is also a partial account by Mir Sheriben Afsos in the Khilassat attawarikh of the early history of the country of which Delhi was the capital. But in absence of proof and authority better than can be gleaned by perusing its pages, no reliance should be placed upon it. The former named work commences with the Pandava dynasty, from which sprang the Kings Judhistir, Paraxit, Janamejaya, and Asvamedhadatta—names mentioned only in the Mahabarata. Then follow sixty-eight unknown Rajahs up to Vikramaditya. The next dynasty is one of the Pala Kings, with eighteen Rajahs, who altogether reigned 381 years and six months. The last–Vikramapala–tried to take the kingdom of Baraez from Trilochanachandra King of Ajodya, but was defeated, and so followed the loss of his dominion. Of the succeeding dynasty nine kings and the Queen Primavati reigned 102 years. After this Harapreman came to the throne. His reign, added to those of the three succeeding kings, spreads over a period of fifty years. The last king of this line Mahapatra, relinquished the government, when Adharasena King of Bengal took the throne of Delhi. The twelve Sena kings maintained their government for 160 years. Afterwards Dipasinha, who came from Badaridesa near the source of the River Ganges, obtained the supremacy at Delhi. The six "Sinha"retained the kingdom for 107 and a half years. The last one, Givansinha, was driven away by the Chohan king Prithvi Rajah.1

In the Bhagavata Purana, Yiidhishthira was the first king of Indraprastha (see Plan II.) and the throne was occupied by the descendants of his brother Arjuna for thirty generations down to Kshemaka, who was deposed by his minister Visarwa; and the throne held for five hundred years by fourteen successive persons of his family. Then followed fifteen Gautamas, or Gotama vansas, followed by nine Mayuras. Rajapala, the last of the dynasty, is said to have been killed by Sakaditja the Rajah of Kumaon.

The foundation of Dilli by the Rajah Dhilu may be taken as occurring about 50 B.C., and about the same time Vikramaditya became king of Dilli. but his descendants are said to have reigned in Ugain until A.D. 736, or for seven hundred and ninety-two years, when the first Tomara raja Anangpal I. came to the throne and made Delhi the Capital.2

It was at this time that Delhi was rebuilt, and the site was probably the same as that now occupied by the Fort of Rai Pithora.

Delhi was ruled from A.D. 736 by the Tomara Dynasty of kings which commenced with Anangpal I. The second king of this name who reigned in the year A.D. 1051, gave his daughter in marriage to Someswara, one of the Chohan kings. The issue was the famous Rai Pithora, who came to be formally acknowledged as heir to the throne of Delhi. This Prince reigned in Ajimir from A.D. 1174, but appears to have occupied the throne of Delhi from A.D. 1145 as, according to Abul Fazl, his reign was forty-eight years long, and his death occurred in A.D. 1193; moreover, a Sanscrit inscription translated by Captain James Tod, shows that in A.D. 1167 he withstood a siege, and in that year therefore he was probably on the throne.

Shortly after this event, the Rajah of Sakambhari, Yisaladeva, the son of Avella, declared and commenced war against Pithora, and his commander Vigraharaja engraved two inscriptions on Firuz Shah's Pillar, so it may be inferred that for some time Delhi was in his power.

In A.D. 1175, Pithora forcibly abducted the daughter of Jai Chandra, king of Kanouj. who was not herself unwdling. Both Jai Chandra and Pithora were related to the last Chohan king, Anangpal II. : two of the daughters of the latter were married to the respective fathers of the two former. The circumstances of the abduction may be briefly told. Jai Chandra considering himself to be supreme king, determined to make a great religious offering and called together all the neighbouring princes. But Rai Pithora looked upon himself as the senior and proper representative of the Chohan line, and so objected to Jai Chandra's undertaking this ceremony. Accordingly he absented himself from the ceremonial. At this the King of Kanouj was highly incensed, and had a golden statue made of Pithora, which he placed in the position of a sentinel in his palace.3 The story relates how Pithora, with his body-guard of five hundred horsemen, carried off the statue from the palace, and then returned to Delhi. The daughter of Jai Chandra had in the meanwhile fallen in love with Pithora, and was consequently locked up by her father in a separate palace. From this she was carried away through the cleverness of Pithora' s celebrated poet, Chand. The issue of the union of this Princess with Pithora was the Prince Rainsi, who was killed in the final struggle with the forces of Shahab-ud-din before Delhi, in A.D. 1193. According to Colonel Tod, the Rajah Pithora reigned at Ajinir, and had a deputy only at Delhi, Chandra Rai, his brother-in-law.

In A.D. 1184, Rai Pithora carried on a great and successful war against Paramardi Deva, the Rajah of Mahoba, and the various events have been recorded in the Book "Mahoba Khand," by the poet Chand, which formed a part of the record called "Prithvi Rajah Chohan Rasi."

"When Muhammad Ghori4 in A.D. 1191 advanced towards Hindustan, Rai Pithora and Chandra Rai, his Viceroy, effected an alliance with the surrounding Hindu princes, collected a large army of two hundred horse and three thousand elephants, and met the invader fourteen miles from Thaneswar and eighty miles from Delhi, where they obtained a great victory. Muhammad Ghori would no doubt have suffered death had not one of the Muhammadan chiefs rescued him from off the field where he lay faint from loss of blood, and carried him to Lahore. Mr. Thomas writes of this, "In A.H. 587=A.D. 1191 in a more extended expedition into Hindustan. Muhammad Ghori was totally routed on the memorable field of Thaneswar, by the Chohan leader Prithvi Rajah of Ajmir.'' During a year's repose, the disgrace of this defeat did not cease to rankle within him, and after a much deliberated preparation he advanced towards this self-same battle-ground, where for the second time he encountered Pithora. this time supported by the whole force of the country, the confederated armies of one hundred and fifty princes.5 In relating the circumstances which caused the erection of the Kutb buildings, it will be perhaps considered interesting to supply a detailed notice of the great encounter which terminated fatally in the death of Rai Pithora, in whose reign so many buildings in and near Delhi were constructed.

After his disgraceful defeat, Muhammad Ghori dismissed all his officers who had deserted him in the battle, and subjcted them to various indignities. He then returned to his brother Gias-ud-din, who still retained the title of king, and proceeded on to Ghazni, where he spent the ensuing year in pleasure and festivity. At length having recruited an army of one hundred and twenty thousand chosen horsemen, composed of Turks, Tajiks, and Afghans, many of whom had their helmets ornamented with jewels, and their armour inlaid with silver and gold, he marched from Ghazni towards India, without disclosing his intentions. With this enormous army Muhammad Ghori proceeded towards Peshawar and Miiltan, where he found adherents. When at Peshawar, an old sage of Ghor threw himself before him, crying, "King, we trust in thy conduct and wisdom, but as yet thy design has been a subject of much speculation among us." Muhammad Ghori answered, "Know, old man, that since the time of my defeat in Hindustan, notwithstanding external appearances, I have never slumbered in ease or waked but in sorrow and anxiety. I have therefore determined with this army to recover my lost honour from those idolaters, or die in the attempt." The old man, kissing the ground, said "Victory and triumph be thy attendants, and fortune be the guide of thy paths; but, king, let the petition of thy slave find favour in thy ears, and let those chiefs you have so justly disgraced, be permitted to take the same opportunity of wiping away the stain on their character." Muhammad listened to the petition, and sent off a messenger to have the officers he disgraced at Lahore, released from the prisons at Ghazni. He then marched towards Lahore, whence he dispatched Kuwam-ul-mulk Hamsi and other noblemen to Ajmir, with an ultimatum to the Rajah Pithora, stating that he must choose between embracing the religion of the true faith, or a declaration of war. To this was sent back a haughty reply and Pithora at once sent round to all the neighbouring princes for aid, and in a short time was able to oppose the Muhammadans with three hundred thousand horse and three thousand elephants, besides an enormous multitude of foot-soldiers. With this powerful army he marched towards the enemy and waited for them on the banks of the holy Sarasvati (Sursutty). In the Hindu army were one hundred and fifty Rajput Princes who assembled in conclave, and having painted their foreheads with stripes of colour (as is at the present time still the custom) they swore by the holy water of the Ganges, that they would be the conquerors or die as martyrs to their faith. They then wrote a letter to the Muhammadans.

"We know you are no stranger to the bravery of our soldiers, or to our daily increasing numerical superiority, so, unless wearied of existence, take pity on your troops. Repent in time of your rash resolution and you shall be permitted to retreat safely, but if not, we have sworn to advance on you with our rank-breaking elephants, horses and invincible soldiers, and to crush you on the morrow."

Muhammad Ghori replied, "I am the general only of my brother (Ghias-ud-din), under whose command I have marched into India. I am bound by honour and duty to exert myself in his service and I cannot therefore retreat without orders, but I shall be glad to obtain a truce until I have his answer."

The effect of this was to cause the Hindus to believe in the intimidation of the enemy and they spent the night in revelry, whilst Muhammad was preparing to surprise them. He crossed the river at dawn, and entered the centre of the camp before the alarm was given. In spite of confusion, the Hindu army had sufficient time to draw out their cavalry, which they did in four lines, and with their elephants, forced the enemy to retreat, until Muhammad putting himself at the head of twelve thousand of his best horsemen, clad in steel armour, drove through the Hindu ranks, and created disorder and panic. The Muhammadans now commenced to slaughter right and left, and the enormous army of Rai Pithora was utterly annihilated. The Vice-King of Delhi, Chandra Rai, was killed on the field and Rai Pithora was taken prisoner and put to death. The whole of the camp equipage and treasure of the princes fell into the hands of the conquerors. Muhammad Ghori went himself to Ajmir, of which city he took possession after putting several thousand of the resisting inhabitants to death. Afterwards, having exacted a heavy tribute, he gave over the country of Ajmir to Gola a natural son of Rai Pithora.6

Muhammad Ghori now turned towards Delhi, intending to rase it to the ground, but the new (Hindu) king Gola, by means of presents of great magnificence, prevailed upon him not to put his intention into execution.7 However, upon his homeward march to Ghazni, he passed through Delhi and, unable to resist the temptation of its riches, he plundered it.

Kutb-ud-din one of the best of Muhammad Ghori's commanders, with a large body of troops, remained in possession of the newly conquered territory, and no considerable time elapsed before he subdued and obtained possession of Mirat, taking the government out of the hands of the Chandradeva's, the family of Prithvi Rajah's brother. Later Kutb-ud-din took up his residence at Delhi, and compelled all the neighbouring districts to acknowledge the Muhammadan faith.

Muhammad Ghori soon after left Ghazni, and marched on Kanouj, where he engaged the King Jai Chandra, who was at the head of a large body of horse, and three hundred elephants. Kutb-ud-din in command of Muhammad Ghori's army signally defeated the Hindus, taking the whole of then baggage and elephants. He then marched on to Benares, and there destroyed the idols in above one thousand temples.8 After this Muhammad Ghori returned to Ghazni, laden with treasure and spoil.

In A.D. 1195, Muhammad again made a raid into Hindustan, and took possession of Biana, in the Bhurtpur Territory and deputed Bahadur Din Toghrul to besiege Gwalior, whilst he returned to Ghazni. During the next year he heard of the death of his brother Ghias-ud-din, who had devoted himself essentially to the civil government of Ghazni. He forthwith retraced his steps while engaged in a military expedition and, in pursuance of the will of his deceased brother, he had himself duly instituted ruler at Ghazni. He then turned his attention to the conquest of Kharizm, in Transoxiana, but suffered a defeat which excited the Gakkars to rebellion. This tribe of mountaineers was a race of wild barbarians. Before they embraced Muhammadanism they had no religion or morality. Ferishta relates that whenever a female child was born, the child was carried to the house door and it was proclaimed, the child being held in one hand and a knife in the other, that any person who wanted a wife might take her there and then, otherwise she was immediately killed. In this way the number of men greatly exceeded that of the women, hence several men possessed one wife in common. When a wife was being visited by one of her husbands, she placed a mark on the door. This was the signal for any of the others not to enter there.

The Gakkars so frequently attacked the Muhammadans that their chief, assisted perhaps by promises of wealth and distinction, towards the end of Muhammad Ghori's reign became a convert to the Moslem faith.

In the year A.D. 1206, a band of twenty Gakkars, whose relations had been killed in the war against Muhammad, conspired to take his life and made their way into the royal tent at Rohtak on the Jhelam. He was asleep with two slaves fanning him; these stood transfixed with fear on seeing the Gakkars who, without hesitation, stabbed the body of the king in twenty places.

Thus died Sultan Moiz-ud-din Muhammad bin Sam Shahab-ud-din Ghori, after a reign of thirty-two years from the commencement of his government of Ghazni. The kingdom became divided, his nephew Muhammad not being strong enough to keep it together. Kutb-ud-din who was still at Delhi proclaimed himself king, Yilduz, a slave, took Ghazni and Nasr-ud-din, another slave, took Multan and Sinde. During the residence of Kutbud-din at Delhi, he commenced the buildings, the ruins of which are here illustrated and described. The capital then occupied the site of the Kutb buildings, and the ruined monuments have the double interest of recording the first Muhammadan conquest over the Hindus, and are also a few of the existing relics of the ancient capital before the transfer of the court to the north to Firuzabad and Shahjahanabad.

  • 1. Lassen, Indisehe Alterthumskunde III. Beilage III. p. 1171.
  • 2. General Cunningham's Report, J.A.S.B. of 18G4, page viii.
  • 3. Jai Chandra owned the greater part and the most productive lands of Bengal and the Doab, and was regarded, at that time as the most powerful king of India; but it is uncertain whether Rai Pithora at any time owned to any allegiance to him. — Lassex.
  • 4. "Moiz-ud-din Muhammad Bin Sam," or Shahab-ud-din.
  • 5. Thomas, "Pathan Kings of Delhi," p. 11.
  • 6. Mr. Edward Thomas in his "Pathan Kings of Delhi," describes a coin in his possession which contains both the names of Muhammad bin Sam and the Prithvi Rajah, and remarks, "We find that the son of Rai Pithora, who had been advanced under the protection of the sublime Court, was left in charge of Ajmir, in which case a numismatic confession of fealty would be quite appropriate."
  • 7. Brigg's " Mahomedan Power in India," vol. i. p. 178.
  • 8. Brigg's "Mahomedan Power in India," vol. i. p. 179.