Battle of Khanwa

Dafato Team | Feb 7, 2023

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The Battle of Khanua was an armed engagement that took place in the homonymous village 60 km west of Agra on March 17, 1527. It was the second battle of the campaign of conquest of northern India of the first Mughal emperor Babur after the battle of Panipat.

After defeating Ibrahim Lodi, Babur had to face one of the last members of the Lodi dynasty, Mahmud Lodi, son of his great enemy Sikandar (sultan of Delhi between 1489 and 1517) and younger brother of Ibrahim. As the new Mughal Empire expanded it began to confront its rivals in Agra and Rajputana. Among these were the fearsome Muslim Rajput warriors led by Raja Hasan Khan Mewati of Mewat who enlisted the support of the Hindu Rajput Rana Sanga ruling in the same region, as both religious communities had the same goal of expelling the Muslim Mughals, although some Muslim Rajputs preferred to collaborate with the invading forces.

The army organized by both allies was much larger and better organized than that of Lodi, so it was Rana Shanga who led the battle. In spite of their numerical superiority, the Rajputs will be unable to pierce the Mughal defense formed by a line of chariots linked by chains (as they had already done in Panipat). In addition the Moghuls had firearms (muskets, cannons and mortars), while the Rajputs only had traditional weapons, which made that before arriving to the melee combat the Rajputs suffered numerous casualties, in many cases they did not even arrive to the Moghul lines being rejected by the rain of fire launched by the Moghuls. It is necessary to count that the numerical superiority of the Rajputs will play against them, since as Babur himself wrote in his autobiography: "each bullet found its pigeonhole". After suffering huge casualties attacking the center Rana will decide to change strategy and attack the Mughal flanks, this will make the majority of Mughal forces to concentrate on the flanks while the battle escalated and the charges (already desperate) of the Rajputs followed one after the other. Babur will try to make a pincer movement to envelop the enemy forces and annihilate them, however he will desist, deciding for a more conservative strategy. In the middle of the battle a stray bullet will hit Rana, leaving him unconscious and out of the battle. Seeing the battle lost, Silhadi, rajputs chief of northeastern Malwa and commander of the Purabiya mercenary force, switched sides in the midst of the battle and attacked the Rajputs. In the midst of all this, a bullet will hit Rana, leaving him unconscious and out of the battle. The new leader of the allied forces decided to launch a new attack against Babur's flanks, already reinforced, the attack was a disaster, ending with heavy casualties for the Rajputs. In a last attempt to win the Rajputs will launch an attack against the Mughal center, but Babur had already foreseen this, since the small rest that Rana's casualty offered he sent forces towards the center, and after the failure of the last offensive in the flanks Babur decides to send his best forces to the center to wait for the Rajput attack and then to counterattack. Everything will go as planned and the Mughal counterattack will catch the Rajputs by surprise and they will flee in desperation. The rapid flight will have the effect that eventually the Allied high command will be in the front line, so it was annihilated. The allies were finally defeated and their force destroyed. Babur's grandson, Akbar the Great had Fatehpur Sikri fort built in honor of his grandfather's victory.


  1. Battle of Khanwa
  2. Batalla de Khanua
  3. ^ John F.Richards puts the Rajput army at 80,000 while Sarkar considers the Rana's army to be double the amount of Mughals. Therefore considering the two estimates the Mughals numbered around 50,000.
  4. Davis, Paul K. (1999). 100 decisive battles: from ancient times to the present. ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara, California, pp. 185. ISBN 1-57607-075-1. (...) the Punjab had been conquered by the Afghan leader Ahmad Shah, but, upon his return home through the Khyber 1527 the armies of Rajputana tried to expand into Ibrahim's lands. At Khanua on 16 March, Babur with less than 20000 men (...)
  5. a b Dupuy, Richard Ernest & Trevor Nevitt Dupuy (1993). The Harper encyclopedia of military history: from 3500 BC to the present. HarperCollins, Nueva York, pp. 522, ISBN 978-0-06270-056-8. 1527, March 16. Battle of Khanua (or Fat- ehpur Sikri). Rana Sanga led a confederated Rajput army of nearly 100000 men against Babur. The Mogul, with less than 20000 men, marched to meet the Rajputs 40 miles west of Agra.
  6. An Advanced History of India, Dr K. K. Datta, p. 429.
  7. Military History of India by Jadunath Sarkar p. 58 – "Cavalry was formed in divisions, 5,000 under Humayun, 3,000 under Mahdi Khwaja, 10,000 under Babur and 2,000 elite horsemen in reserve for Taulqama"
  8. Military History of India by Jadunath Sarkar p. 59 – "The Indian allies of Babur were posted in his left wing"
  9. John F. Richards. The Mughal Empire. — Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1993. — P. 8. — «The next year near Agra, Babur led his troops to a landscape victory over confederacy of Rajput kings led by Rana Sangha of Mewar. Eigthy thousand Rajput cavalrymen and 500 armoured war elephants charged the much smaller Mughal force». — ISBN 978-0-521-25119-8. Архивная копия от 10 мая 2022 на Wayback Machine

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