Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Tears of Red Fort – 1 : Babur and Humayun- From rags to riches


The rivers originating from the Himalayas had irrigated the vast plains of northern India for millions of years and nurtured its flora and fauna. These plains on the banks of the Indus, Saraswati, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, Beas, Ganges and Yamuna were called paddy bowls. The cattle that had been grazing green grass in these plains used to give substantial amount of milk similar to the sacred waters flowing in the Ganges and the Yamuna .
Colorful birds used to mask the sky above and the sun and the moon used to come in turns and look at this beguiling vista of earth with an enchanting sense.  Delhi was the ancient capital of Hindus who lived happily for thousands of years in these plains, which was established by Pandavas as Indraprastha five and a half thousand years ago.  In the twelfth century AD, Delhi used to be under the rule of Prithviraj Chauhan, the second son of Tomars.  These Tomars built the Red Fort in Agra on the banks of river Yamuna.
When the Turks who came from Afghanistan in AD 1192 killed the last Hindu Emperor of India, Prithviraj Chauhan and occupied Delhi, they built a new fort for themselves which was called the fort of Siri. From AD 1192 to AD 1526 several Turkish dynasties ruled over  India.  During this time, they took away the graft earnings of the farmers of India and filled their treasures with it. How big this treasure was, can be gauged from the fact written by Ibn Batuta that the treasury of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq was always full of money and jewels.  He built a palace at Tughlakabad whose bricks were covered with gold and also built a lake in that palace which was filled with melted gold.
The Ottoman Sultans of Delhi often stayed in the fort of Siri, but the Tughlaqs built the fort of Tughlakabad outside Delhi.  After the Tughlaqs, the Turks returned to live in the fortress of Siri.  The last Afghan ruler of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi, lived in the Siri fort of Delhi but his predecessor, Sikandarshah Lodi, lived in the Red Fort of Agra.  He kept the treasure of Delhi Sultanate in the Red Fort of Agra.  It was a huge treasure whose tales were prevalent not only in India but throughout Central Asia.
The whole world was tempted to loot this gold.  One of these was Fargana and Samarkand’s ruler, Babur.  Babur’s Paternal Uncle Ahmad Mirza snatched the kingdom of Samarkand from Babur and Maternal Uncle Mahmud Khan made Babar and his son Humayun rate beggars.  Babar had to stay hidden in the mountains for three long years to save his life and during this time he had to work hard to keep his head above water.  Babur had the blood of Genghis Khan and Timur Lung in his veins.  Therefore, he was not afraid to die.
He heard a lot about the hidden treasures in the palace of Indian Sultans.  Babur planned to loot this treasure and for that purpose, he started building an army of youth living in the mountaineous region of Afghanistan.  In 1526, Babur left for India with this army.  His son Humayun also came to India along with his father and an army. This father and son duo defeated the last weak ruler of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi, and took control of Delhi and Agra.  Thus beggars Babur and Humayun became the legal owners of treasuries worth crores.
Babur lived in the Siri fort of Delhi for some time, but later on he ordered to repair an ancient fort situated on the banks of the Yamuna and built some strong corridors around it and got some construction done inside it.  This fort was built on the ruins of the very ancient fort built by the Pandavas.  Babur named this fort as Deen Panah. Now it is called Purana Qila.  Babur lived only four years after his arrival in India and died in 1530 AD.
After Babur, Humayun also stayed in Deen Panah, but in 1540, Humayun’s kingdom was taken away and he had to face exile in Iran for 15 years.  Sher Shah Suri and his descendants ruled Delhi during this period.  Sher Shah Suri demolished some buildings in Deen Panah and  got new ones built in its place. In 1546, when Sher Shah Suri’s son Salim Shah became the ruler of Delhi, he built a new fort on a small island in the middle of the Yamuna, which is called Salimgarh.
In 1555, when Humayun returned to India, he again resided in the old fort of Delhi, Deen Panah.  He died in 1556 AD at Deen Panah.  After that Humayun’s son Akbar became the emperor.  He did not like Delhi’s Siri Durg, Deen Panah and Salimgarh, and instead of Delhi, he made Agra his capital and repaired the Red Fort of Agra and built many palaces for himself and his harem.  After some time, Akbar built a new fort at Fatehpur Sikri, about 35 km from Agra and took his harem from Agra to Sikri.  Akbar lived in the fort of Fatehpur Sikri till his death.
When Jahangir ascended the throne of the Mughals in AD 1605, he again brought his capital to Agra’s Red Fort.
Look in the sequel – Red Fort had landed on the earth with wings of dreams! 

Article by Dr. Mohan Lal Gupta, English Translation By Er. Ayush Dadhich, Video Presentation by Er. Dipti Tayal

Dr. Mohanlal Gupta
Dr. Mohanlal Gupta
Dr. Mohan Lal Gupta is a renowned historian from India. He has written more than 100 books on various subjects.

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