Battle of Panipat (1526)

The first battle of Panipat took place in Northern India, and marked the beginning of the Mughal Empire.

This was one of the earliest battles involving gunpowder firearms and field artillery.

In 1526, the forces of Zahir al-Din Muhammad Babur, the ruler of Kabul and of Timurid descent, defeated the much larger army of Ibrahim Lodhi, the ruler of the large North Indian Delhi Sultanate.

The battle was fought on April 21 near the small village of Panipat, in the present day Indian state of Haryana, an area that has been the site of a number of decisive battles for the control of Northern India since the twelfth century.

It is estimated that Babur's forces numbered about 8,000 men and he had between 15 to 20 pieces of field artillery, however Lodhi had around 100,000 men, though that number included camp followers, while the fighting force was around 30,000 to 40,000 men in total, along with at least 100 war elephants. Babur's guns proved decisive in battle, firstly because Ibrahim Lodhi lacked any field artillery but also because elephants are scared of guns. Babur could use the guns to scare the elephants away, causing them to trample Lodhi's own men. Babur was an inspirational leader of men and commanded a well disciplined army.

Ibrahim Lodhi died on the field of battle, abandoned by his feudatories and generals (many of whom were mercenaries), most of whom would change their allegiance to the new master of Delhi.

The battle marked the foundation of the Mughal Empire in India. The word Mughal means Mongol and alludes to the Turkic and Mongol origins of Babur and his officers, though the majority of his troops were of Pathan, Indian and mixed Central Asian descent.