Yamīn-ud-Dawla Abul-Qāṣim Maḥmūd ibn Sebüktegīn (Persian:
یمینالدوله ابوالقاسم محمود بن
سبکتگین), more commonly known as Mahmud of Ghazni
(محمود غزنوی; November 971 – 30 April 1030), also known as
Mahmūd-i Zābulī (محمود زابلی), was the most prominent
ruler of the Ghaznavid Empire. He conquered the eastern Iranian lands,
modern Afghanistan, and the northwestern
Indian subcontinent (modern
Pakistan) from 997 to his death in 1030. Mahmud turned the former
provincial city of Ghazna into the wealthy capital of an extensive
empire that covered most of today's Afghanistan, eastern Iran, and
Pakistan, by looting the riches and wealth from the then Indian
He was the first ruler to hold the title
signifying the extent of his power while at the same time preserving
an ideological link to the suzerainty of the Abbasid Caliphate. During
his rule, he invaded and plundered parts of the Indian subcontinent
(east of the Indus River) seventeen times.
1 Early life and origin
3 Early career
4.1 Ghaznavid campaigns in Indian Subcontinent
5 Political challenges
5.1 Campaign timeline
5.1.1 As emir
5.1.2 As sultan
6 Attitude on religion and jihad
7 Attack on the
7.1 Historiography concerning Somnath
9 See also
12 External links
Early life and origin
Mahmud was born on Thursday, 10 Muharram, 361 AH/2 November
971 CE in the town of Ghazna in Medieval Khorasan (modern
southeastern Afghanistan). His father, Sabuktigin, was a Turkic Mamluk
who founded the Ghaznavid dynasty and was thus the first Ghaznavid
Sultan Sebüktigin. His mother was the daughter of a Persian
aristocrat from Zabulistan. Mahmud had a younger brother, Yusuf
Mahmud married a woman named Kausari Jahan, and they had twin sons
Mohammad and Ma'sud, who succeeded him one after the other; his
grandson by Mas'ud, Maw'dud Ghaznavi, also later became ruler of the
empire. His sister, Sitr-i-Mu'alla, was married to Dawood bin Ataullah
Alavi, also known as Ghazi Salar Sahu, whose son was Ghazi Saiyyad
Mahmud's companion was a Georgian slave Malik Ayaz, and his love for
him inspired poems and stories.
Sultan Mahmud and his forces attacking the fortress of Zaranj
In 994 Mahmud joined his father
Sabuktigin in the capture of Khorasan
from the rebel Fa'iq in aid of the
Samanid Emir, Nuh II. During this
Samanid Empire became highly unstable, with shifting
internal political tides as various factions vied for control, the
chief among them being Abu'l-Qasim Simjuri, Fa'iq,
Abu Ali, the General Bekhtuzin as well as the
Buyid dynasty and Kara-Khanid Khanate.
Mahmud took over his father's kingdom in 998 after defeating and
capturing Ismail at the Battle of Ghazni. He then set out west from
Ghazni to take the Kandahar region followed by Bost (Lashkar Gah),
where he turned it into a militarised city.
Mahmud initiated the first of numerous invasion of North India. On
28 November 1001, his army fought and defeated the army of Raja
Jayapala of the Kabul Shahis at the battle of Peshawar. In 1002 Mahmud
Sistan and dethroned Khalaf ibn Ahmad, ending the Saffarid
dynasty. From there he decided to focus on Hindustan to the
southeast, particularly the highly fertile lands of the Punjab region.
Mahmud's first campaign to the south was against an Ismaili state
first established at
Multan in 965 by a da'i from the Fatimid
Caliphate in a bid to curry political favor and recognition with the
Abbasid Caliphate; he also engaged elsewhere with the Fatimids. At
Jayapala attempted to gain revenge for an earlier military
defeat at the hands of Mahmud's father, who had controlled
the late 980s and had cost
Jayapala extensive territory. His son
Anandapala succeeded him and continued the struggle to avenge his
father's suicide. He assembled a powerful confederacy that suffered
defeat as his elephant turned back from the battle at a crucial
moment, turning the tide into Mahmud's favor once more at
1008 and bringing Mahmud into control of the Shahi dominions of
Ghaznavid campaigns in Indian Subcontinent
Mahmud of Ghazni's last success in India against the Jats
Following the defeat of the Indian Confederacy, after deciding to
retaliate for their combined resistance, Mahmud then set out on
regular expeditions against them, leaving the conquered kingdoms in
the hands of
Hindu vassals and annexing only the Punjab region. He
also vowed to raid and loot the wealthy region of northwestern India
In 1001 Mahmud of
Ghazni first invaded modern day
Pakistan and then parts of India. Mahmud defeated, captured, and later
released the Shahi ruler Jayapala, who had moved his capital to
Peshawar (modern Pakistan).
Jayapala killed himself and was succeeded
by his son Anandapala. In 1005 Mahmud of
Ghazni invaded Bhatia
(probably Bhera), and in 1006 he invaded Multan, at which time
Anandapala's army attacked him. The following year Mahmud of Ghazni
attacked and crushed Sukhapala, ruler of
Bathinda (who had become
ruler by rebelling against the Shahi kingdom). In 1013, during
Mahmud's eighth expedition into eastern
Afghanistan and Pakistan, the
Shahi kingdom (which was then under Trilochanapala, son of Anandapala)
In 1014 Mahmud led an expedition to Thanesar. The next year he
unsuccessfully attacked Kashmir. In 1018 he attacked
defeated a coalition of rulers there while also killing a ruler called
Chandrapala. In 1021 Mahmud supported the
Kannauj king against
Chandela Ganda, who was defeated. That same year Shahi Trilochanapala
was killed at Rahib and his son Bhimapala succeeded him. Lahore
(modern Pakistan) was annexed by Mahmud. Mahmud besieged Gwalior, in
1023, where he was given tribute. Mahmud attacked
Somnath in 1025, and
Bhima I fled. The next year, he captured
Somnath and marched
to Kachch against Bhima I. That same year Mahmud also attacked the Jat
people of Jud.
The Indian kingdoms of Nagarkot, Thanesar, Kannauj, and
all conquered and left in the hands of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist kings
as vassal states and he was pragmatic enough not to neglect making
alliances and enlisting local peoples into his armies at all ranks.
Since Mahmud never kept a permanent presence in the northwestern
subcontinent, he engaged in a policy of destroying
Hindu temples and
monuments to crush any move by the Hindus to attack the Empire;
Nagarkot, Thanesar, Mathura, Kannauj,
Kalinjar (1023) and Somnath
all submitted or were raided.
This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help
improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (September 2015)
(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The last four years of Mahmud's life were spent contending with the
influx of Oghuz and
Seljuk Turks from Central Asia and the Buyid
dynasty. Initially, after being repulsed by Mahmud, the Seljuks
retired to Khwarezm, but Togrül and Çagrı led them to capture Merv
Nishapur (1028–1029). Later, they repeatedly raided and traded
territory with his successors across Khorasan and Balkh and even
Ghazni in 1037. In 1040, at the Battle of Dandanaqan, they
decisively defeated Mahmud's son, Mas'ud I, resulting in Mas'ud
abandoning most of his western territories to the Seljuks.
Sultan Mahmud died on 30 April 1030. His mausoleum is located in
994: Gains the title of Saif ad-Dawla and becomes Governor of Khorasan
under service to Nuh II of the
Samanid Empire in civil strife
Samanid rebels Fa'iq (leader of a court faction that had
defeated Alptigin's nomination for Emir) and Abu Ali expel Mahmud from
Nishapur. Mahmud and
Samanid rebels at Tus.
997: Kara-Khanid Khanate
999: Khorasan, Balkh, Herat,
Merv from the Samanids. A concurrent
invasion from the north by the Qarakhanids under Elik Khan (Nasr Khan)
Sistan from Saffarid dynasty
Sultan Mahmud defeats Raja
Jayapala at Peshawar;
Jayapala subsequently abdicates and commits suicide.
1002: Seistan: Is imprisoned in Khuluf
1004: Bhatia (Bhera) is annexed after it fails to pay its yearly
tribute, 1004 CE
1005-6: Multan: Fateh Daud, the Ismaili ruler of Multan revolts
and enlists the aid of Anandapala. Mahmud massacres the
Multan in the course of his conquest. Anandapala
is defeated at
Peshawar and pursued to Sodra (Wazirabad).
Muhammad ibn Suri
Muhammad ibn Suri are then captured by Mahmud, made prisoner
along with Muhammad ibn Suri's son, and taken to Ghazni, where
Muhammad ibn Suri
Muhammad ibn Suri dies. Appoints Sewakpal to administer the region.
Anandapala flees to Kashmir, fort in the hills on the western border
1005: Defends Balkh and Khorasan against Nasr I of the
Kara-Khanid Khanate and recaptures
Isma'il Muntasir of
1005: Sewakpal rebels and is defeated.
1008: Mahmud defeats the Indian Confederacy (Ujjain, Gwalior,
Kalinjar, Kannauj, Delhi, and Ajmer) in battle between Und and
Peshawar, and captures the Shahi treasury at Kangra, Himachal
Note: A historical narrative states in this battle, under the
onslaught of the Gakhars, Mahmud's army was about to retreat when King
Anandapala's elephant took flight and turned the tide of the
1010: Ghor; against Amir Suri
Multan revolts. Abul Fatah Dawood is imprisoned for life at
1012-1013: Sacks Thanesar
Gharchistan and deposes its ruler Abu Nasr Muhammad.
1012: Demands and receives remainder of the province of Khorasan from
the Abassid Caliph. Then demands
Samarkand as well but is rebuffed.
1013: Bulnat: Defeats Trilochanpala.
Kafiristan is attacked
1015: Mahmud's army sacks Lahore, but his expedition to
due to inclement weather.
1015: Khwarezm: Marries his sister to Abul Abbas Mamun of Khwarezm,
who dies in the same year in a rebellion. Moves to quell the rebellion
and installs a new ruler and annexes a portion.
1017: Kannauj, Meerut, and Muhavun on the Yamuna,
Mathura and various
other regions along the route. While moving through
Kashmir he levies
troops from vassal Prince for his onward march;
Kannauj and Meerut
submit without battle.
1018-1020: Sacks the town of Mathura.
1021: Raises Ayaz to kingship, awarding him the throne of Lahore
Kalinjar attacks Kannauj: he marches to their aid and finds the
last Shahi King, Trilochanpaala, encamped as well. No battle, the
opponents leave their baggage trains and withdraw from the field. Also
fails to take the fort of Lokote again. Takes
Lahore on his return.
Trilochanpala flees to Ajmer. First Muslim governors appointed east of
the Indus River.
1023: Lahore. He forces
Gwalior to submit and pay
tribute: Trilochanpala, the grandson of Jayapala, is assassinated
by his own troops. Official annexation of Punjab by Ghazni. Also fails
to take the Lohara fort on the western border of
Kashmir for the
1024: Ajmer, Nehrwala, Kathiawar: This raid is his last major
campaign. The concentration of wealth at
Somnath was renowned, and
consequently it became an attractive target for Mahmud, as it had
previously deterred most invaders. The temple and citadel are sacked,
and most of its defenders massacred.
1024: Somnath: Mahmud sacks the temple and is reported to have
personally hammered the temple's gilded
Lingam to pieces, and the
stone fragments are carted back to Ghazni, where they are incorporated
into the steps of the city's new Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) in 1026.
He places a new king on the throne in
Gujarat as a tributary. His
return detours across the
Thar Desert to avoid the armies of
other allies on his return.
1025: Marches against the Jats of the Jood mountains who harry his
army on its return from the sack of Somnath.
1027: Rey, Isfahan,
Hamadan from the Buyids Dynasty.
1028, 1029: Merv,
Nishapur are lost to Seljuq dynasty
Attitude on religion and jihad
Following Mahmud's recognition by the Abbasid caliphate in 999, he
pledged a jihad and a raid on India every year. In 1005 Mahmud
conducted a series of campaigns during which the Ismailis of Multan
In the context of his religious policies toward Hindus, modern
historians such as
Romila Thapar and Richard M. Eaton have commented
that his policies were in contrast to his general image in the modern
Of the mercenaries, not an insubstantial number were Indians and,
presumably, Hindus. Indian soldiers under their commander, referred to
as Suvendhary, remained loyal to Mahmud. They had their own commander,
the sipasalar-i-Hinduwan, lived in their own quarter in
continued with their religion. When the Turkish commander of the
troops rebelled, the command was given to a Hindu, Tilak, and he is
commended for his loyalty. Complaints are made about the severity with
which Muslims and Christians were killed by Indian troops fighting for
Mahmud in Seistan.
Mohammad Habib states that there was no imposition of
"non-Muslims" during the reign of Mahmud of
Ghazni nor any mention of
[H]is (Mahmud's) expeditions against India were not motivated by
religion but by love of plunder.
Attack on the
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Relevant discussion may be
found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until
conditions to do so are met. (October 2016) (Learn how and when to
remove this template message)
A painting of the tomb of
Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, in 1839–40, with
sandalwood doors long believed to have been plundered from Somnath,
which he destroyed in c. 1024, but later found to be replicas of
In 1024 Mahmud raided Gujarat, plundering the
Somnath temple and
breaking its jyotirlinga. He took away a booty of 2 million
dinars. Historians estimate the damage to the temple to have
been minimal because there are records of pilgrimages to the temple in
1038 that make no mention of any damage. However, powerful legends
with intricate detail had developed regarding Mahmud's raid in the
Turko-Persian literature, which "electrified" the Muslim world
according to scholar Meenakshi Jain.
Historiography concerning Somnath
Historians including Thapar, Eaton, and A. K. Majumdar have questioned
the iconoclastic historiography of this incident. Thapar quoted
But, as is well known,
Hindu sources do not give any information
regarding the raids of
Sultan Mahmud, so that what follows is based
solely on the testimony of Muslim authors.
Thapar also argued against the prevalent narrative:
Yet in a curiously contradictory manner, the Turko-Persian narratives
were accepted as historically valid and even their internal
contradictions were not given much attention, largely because they
approximated more closely to the current European sense of history
than did the other sources.
Silver jitals of Mahmud of Ghazna with bilingual Arabic and Sanskrit
Lahore 1028. avyaktam-eka (La ilaha illAllah) Muhammada
avtāra (Muhammad Rasulullah Sal ALLAHu alayhi wasallam) Nrpati
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Verse to Mahmud of Ghazni
Coins of Mahmud with the Islamic declaration of faith. Obverse legend
with the name of the caliph al-Qadir bi-llah (in the fifth line).
Reverse legend: Muhammad Rasul/Allah Yamin al-Daw/la wa-Amin
Under the reign of Mahmud of Ghazni, the region broke away from the
Samanid sphere of influence. While he acknowledged the
caliph as a matter of form, he was also granted the title
recognition of his independence.
By the end of his reign, the Ghaznavid Empire extended from Ray in the
Samarkand in the north-east, and from the
Caspian Sea to the
Yamuna. Although his raids carried his forces across the Indian
subcontinent, only a portion of the Punjab and of
Sindh in modern-day
Pakistan came under his semi-permanent rule; Kashmir, the Doab,
Gujarat remained under the control of the local Hindu
The booty brought back to
Ghazni was enormous, and contemporary
historians (e.g. Abolfazl Beyhaghi, Ferdowsi) give descriptions of the
magnificence of the capital, as well as of the conqueror's munificent
support of literature. He transformed Ghazni, the first centre of
Persian literature, into one of the leading cities of Central
Asia, patronizing scholars, establishing colleges, laying out gardens,
and building mosques, palaces, and caravansaries. Mahmud brought whole
libraries from Ray and
Isfahan to Ghazni. He even demanded that the
Khwarizmshah court send its men of learning to Ghazni.
Mahmud patronized the notable poet Ferdowsi, who after laboring 27
years, went to
Ghazni and presented the
Shahnameh to him. There are
various stories in medieval texts describing the lack of interest
shown by Mahmud to
Ferdowsi and his life's work. According to
historians, Mahmud had promised
Ferdowsi a dinar for every distich
written in the
Shahnameh (which would have been 60,000 dinars), but
later retracted his promise and presented him with dirhams (20,000
dirhams), at that time the equivalent of only 200 dinars. His
expedition across the Gangetic plains in 1017 inspired
compose his Tarikh Al-Hind in order to understand the Indians and
their beliefs. During Mahmud's rule, universities were founded to
study various subjects such as mathematics, religion, the humanities,
On 30 April 1030
Sultan Mahmud died in
Ghazni at the age of 58. Sultan
Mahmud had contracted malaria during his last invasion. The medical
complication from malaria had caused lethal tuberculosis.
The Ghaznavid Empire was ruled by his successors for 157 years. The
expanding Seljuk empire absorbed most of the Ghaznavid west. The
Ghazni in 1150, and
Mu'izz al-Din (also known as
Muhammad of Ghori) captured the last Ghaznavid stronghold at
The military of
Pakistan has named its short-range ballistic missile
Ghaznavi Missile in honour of Mahmud of Ghazni. In addition,
Pakistan Military Academy, where cadets are trained to become
officers of the
Pakistan Army, also gives tribute to Mahmud of Ghazni
by naming one of its twelve companies Ghaznavi Company.
Muslim conquests on the Indian subcontinent
^ a b Saunders 1947, p. 162.
^ a b Heathcote 1995, p. 6.
^ Anjum 2007, p. 234.
^ Bosworth 1991, p. 65.
^ Neill 2008, p. 308.
^ Bosworth 1963, p. 89.
^ a b Holt, Lambton & Lewis 1977, p. 3-4.
^ a b Barnett 1999, p. 74-78.
^ Khan 2007, p. 66.
^ Blank 2001, p. 37.
^ Hanifi 1964, p. 21.
^ Daftary 2005, p. 68.
^ a b c Barua 2005, p. 27.
^ Chandra 2006, p. 18.
^ Kumar 2008, p. 127.
^ Qassem 2009, p. 19.
^ Virani 2007, p. 100.
^ Eaton 2000, p. 63.
^ Thapar 2005, p. 40.
^ Habib 1965, p. 77.
^ Yagnik & Sheth 2005, pp. 39–40.
^ Thapar 2005, pp. 36–37.
^ Thapar 2005, p. 75.
^ Thapar 2005, Chapter 3.
Meenakshi Jain (21 March 2004). "Review of Romila Thapar's
"Somanatha, The Many Voices of a History"". The Pioneer. Retrieved
^ A. K. Majumdar, Chalukyas of
Gujarat (Bombay, 1956), quoted in
Thapar 2005, p. 16
^ Thapar 2005, p. 14.
^ "Arts, Islamic". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 20 October
^ Bosworth 1963, p. 132.
^ Ramachandran 2005.
Anjum, Tanvir (Summer 2007). "The Emergence of Muslim Rule in India:
Some Historical Disconnects and Missing Links". Islamic Studies. 46
Barnett, Lionel (1999). Antiquities of India. Atlantic.
Barua, Pradeep P. (2005). The State at War in South Asia. University
of Nebraska Press.
Blank, Jonah (2001). Mullahs on the mainframe: Islam and modernity
among the Daudi Bohras. University of Chicago Press.
Bosworth, C.E. (1963). The
Ghaznavids 994–1040. Edinburgh University
Bosworth, C.E. (1991). "Mahmud bin Sebuktigin". Encyclopedia of Islam.
Grockelmann, Carl; Perlmann, Moshe; Carmichael, Joel (1947). History
of the Islamic Peoples: With a Review of Events, 1939-1947. G.P.
Putnam's sons. – via
Chandra, Satish (2006). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the
Delhi Sultanat (1206–1526) Part 1. Har-Anand Publication Pvt
Daftary, Farhad (2005). Ismailis in Medieval Muslim societies. I B
Taurus and company.
Eaton, Richard M. (December 22, 2000). "
Temple Desecration and
Indo-Muslim States, Part I". Frontline. 
Habib, Mohammad (1965).
Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznin. S. Chand &
Hanifi, Manzoor Ahmad (1964). A Short History of Muslim rule in
Indo-Pakistan. Ideal Library.
Heathcote, T.A. (1995). The Military in British India: The Development
of British Forces in South Asia:1600-1947. Manchester University
Holt, P. M.; Lambton, Ann K. S.; Lewis, Bernard (1977). The Cambridge
History of Islam:. Cambridge University Press.
Khan, Iqtidar Alam (2007). "Ganda Chandella". Historical Dictionary of
Medieval India. Scarecrow Press.
Kumar, Raj (2008). History Of The Chamar Dynasty : (From 6Th
Century A.D. To 12Th Century A.D.). Kalpaz Publications.
Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra (2003) [first published 1952]. Ancient India.
Neill, James (2008). The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations In
Human Societies. McFarland.
Qassem, Ahmad Shayeq (2009). Afghanistan's Political Stability: A
Dream Unrealised. Ashgate Publishing.
Ramachandran, Sudha (Sep 3, 2005). "Asia's missiles strike at the
heart". Asia Times Online.
Ritter, Hellmut (2003). Handbook of Oriental studies: Near and Middle
East. 69. Brill.
Saunders, Kenneth (1947). A Pageant of India. Oxford University
Thapar, Romila (2005). Somanatha:The Many Voices of a History. Penguin
Virani, Shafique N. (2007). The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History
of Survival, A Search for Salvation. New York: Oxford University
Yagnik, Achyut; Sheth, Suchitra (2005), Shaping of Modern Gujarat,
Penguin UK, ISBN 8184751850
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mahmud of Ghazni.
Mahmud of Ghazna Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition)
Mahmud Encyclopædia Britannica (Online Edition)
Dynasty Encyclopædia Britannica (Online Edition)
Ghaznavids and Ghurids Encyclopædia Britannica (Online Edition)
History of Iran: Ghaznevid Dynasty
Rewriting history and Mahmud of Ghazni
 Online Copy:Last Accessed 11 October 2007 Elliot, Sir H. M.,
Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own
Historians. The Muhammadan Period
Tarikh Yamini, or Kitabu-l Yami of
Abu Nasr Muhammad
Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Muhammad al
Ismail of Ghazni