Mughals : Nadir Shah

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Aurangzeb's death had created a void in the Mughal empire which none of his successors were able to fill. Frequent struggles for throne and betrayal of ministers had resulted in the weakening of the empire. Nadir Shah, who from being a chief of dacoits had become the king of Persia, saw the weak empire as an opportunity.

In 1738, Nadir Shah proceeded to invade India. The excuse for the invasion being that the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah had insulted the Persian envoy at the royal court of Delhi. He overran the western frontiers of Mughal empire capturing Ghazni, Kabul and Lahore in 1739. When Nadir Shah crossed Khyber pass the Governor of Punjab requested the Mughal empire to reinforce the defences in Punjab, but the then Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah turned a deaf ear towards his genuine request.

Soon Nadir Shah stormed Punjab, Muhammad Shah realizing the danger asked Khan Dauran and Nizam-ul-Mulk to lead the Mughal forces against Nadir Shah. But the two declined, so ultimately Muhammad Shah decided to lead the forces himself. The two forces met at Karnal, but soon the Mughal forces were encircled and defeated. The Nawab of Awadh Saadat Khan was taken prisoner and Khan Dauran was seriously wounded.

The defeat of the Mughal army created confusion in their ranks. The Nizam played the role of mediator and persuaded Nadir Shah to return to Persia on receiving 20 million rupees. Mughal emperor pleased with Nizam conferred him the title of 'Amir-Ul-Umra' and also appointed him the Prime Minister. Jealous Saadat Khan approached Nadir Khan and told him that he should not get satisfied with such a paltry sum which even a provincial governor can give him. This had an electrifying effect on the Persian ruler and the grandeur of Delhi flashed before his eyes.

Triumphant Nadir Shah entered Delhi along with the humbled Mughal Emperor. The keys of the Delhi fort and treasure had already been surrendered. An amount was also settled with Nadir Shah as a condition for his return. But a rumour spread that Nadir Shah has been killed. Riots were sparked off in Delhi in which few Persian soldiers were killed. As Nadir Shah heard of this he straightaway rode into the city, in the city he saw the corpses of Persian soldiers lying on the streets. Near the Sunhari masjid of Roshnuddola, some people hurled stones at him also a stray bullet killed a Persian soldier. He was enraged, he ordered a general massacre at all those localities where the bodies of Persian soldiers were found. Consequently on 11th of march 1739 citizens of Delhi were plundered and slaughtered, some historians say that nearly 0.2 million people were killed.

Nadir Shah on his return after plundering and slaughtering Delhites for 57 days, took with him the famous 'Peacock throne' built by Shahjahan and the legendary 'Koh-i-noor' along with 600 million rupees worth of jewellery, gold worth 10 million rupees and coins worth 6 million rupees. His total collection of booty was worth 700 million rupees and also took care to include in his train 100 elephants, 7000 craftsmen, 100 stone-cutters and 200 carpenters.

Nadir Shah's invasion did a irreparable damage to the Mughal empire. Mughal provinces across the Indus were seceded to the Persians. Later on inspired by the antics of Nadir Shah his successor Ahmad Shah Abdali too invaded India several times between 1748 and 1767 and plundered Delhi.

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