1. Today marks the 362nd anniversary of the #BattleofSamogarh; one of the most decisive (and defining), land-battles fought in the #history of Asia. A seminal conflict of arms that decided the future course of the #Mughal succession, and thus the history of #India.

A #Thread.
2. The Battle of #Samogarh was fought between the Mughal Crown Prince Dara Shikoh - commanding the Imperial Army - against his brothers, #Aurangzeb and Murad, Governors of the Deccan and Gujarat (respectively), on the 29th of May 1658, (7th Ramzān 1068), 17 kms S.E. of Agra.
3. The Battle of #Samogarh followed closely on the crushing defeat wrought upon the Mughal Imperial forces commanded by Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur, by the rebel Princes Aurangzeb and Murad at #Dharmat in April 1658.

#History #Mughals
4. A crippling illness in 1657 had led Shah Jehan the Mughal Emperor, to devolve power to his eldest (and most favoured) son, Dara Shikoh. This departure from Mughal tradition (of naming a successor), fermented a rebellion by the other princes; namely Aurangzeb, Shuja and Murad.
5. Many have wrongly portrayed this Mughal “War of Succession” as a religious or holy war; a completely mistaken and fabricated dynamic. Both sides were equally matched in terms of religious demographics. Power politics - not religion - was the motive for the conflict.

6. Although the Imperial army vastly outnumbered the forces commanded by Aurangzeb at Samogarh, the latter were veterans of many campaigns and the better fighters. Unlike the courtly Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb was by far a more able, bolder commander and strategist.
7. Outmanoeuvring Imperial fortifications waiting for them at #Dholpur, Aurangzeb’s army crossed the #Chambal at an unguarded ford thanks to some clever scouting by their #Bundela allies, and emerged on the plains of Samogarh. The Imperial army hurried to confront them.
8. While Aurangzeb’s army rested after crossing the Chambal, the Imperial army, due to Dara Shikoh’s incompetence in military matters, stood vigil in full armour, in the blazing heat of May (it was also Ramzān), awaiting a confrontation that didnt materialise that day.
9. The Battle of Samogarh commenced on the 29th of May 1658. #DaraShukoh’s weary Imperial troops began with a traditional artillery barrage that largely fell short of Aurangzeb and his rebel army.
The rebels held their fire until the Imperial troops charged forward.
10. Aurangzeb’s artillery took a heavy toll on the Imperial cavalry which nonetheless continued to charge forward and smashed through the Rebel’s centre, led by the Rajputs of Bundi. Other forces on Dara’s side, such as the Kacchawa contingents. switched loyalties midway.
11. All primary sources confirm that Aurangzeb had his elephants feet chained down where it stood to demonstrate retreat was not an option. Dara’s cavalry got as far as Aurangzeb’s position before being cut down.
On the left flank Prince Murad kept up a steady shower of arrows.
12. At least 8 princes of the Mughal line, including Dara Shukoh, Aurangzeb and Murad took part in this historic clash of arms. Murad’s 7 year old son was with his father in his howdah on the left flank, which took some of the heaviest brunt of the fighting.
13. As the battle raged, desertions continued to mount on Dara’s side. The Crown Prince himself charged the Rebel centre in a second wave, and nearly dispersed them but at a crucial moment swung left to reinforce his son’s position allowing Aurangzeb’s centre to regroup.
14. Khalilullah Khan, one of the Imperial commanders (treacherously) advised Dara to descend from his elephant and continue fighting on horseback; Dara unwittingly did. Seeing his howdah empty the already exhausted morale of his troops finally gave way to a general retreat.
15. As retreat turned to a rout, Dara Shukoh hastily reached Agra, late at night and collecting his private treasures marched towards Delhi with his remaining loyalists. Embarrassed and ashamed he did not even pause to call upon the Emperor whose forces he had led to defeat.
16. The Battle of #Samogarh fought on this day, and its result, paved the way for the succession of #Aurangzeb Alamgir as the #Mughal Emperor.

It begs the question, “what if” the battle had resulted in a victory for Dara Shukoh, would India’s #history have evolved differently?
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