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The Ring of Iron

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  • Faris Udeen
    Re: The Ring of Iron

    A detailed depiction of Tughlaqs Fortress taken
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  • Faris Udeen
    started a topic The Ring of Iron

    The Ring of Iron

    People often ask me a good question. If the 13th Century Mongol hordes were the best soldiers on the planet at the time, how did they fail to conquer Hindustan (India)...

    The answer is in fact more than just lack of numbers and sheer size of the Indian plains. It is actually down to a number of other factors.

    The arid dry climate and hot dusty plains of Pakistan and India were a serious problem for any invading force, especially a force like the Mongols who relied on speed and mobility of cavalry. In the Summer Months the region of Sindh and Punjab become a roasting oven, green vegetation for horses becomes spare and the general heat does not favour the Mongol armies. The Mongols conquered Kashmir easily and most of the Potowar plataue but failed to hold the rest of what is today Pakistan. Apart from large scale raids and destruction of towns the campaigns could not achieve much more.

    However the biggest obstacale to further Mongol incursions into Hindustan was the "Ring Of Iron".

    Construction began as early as 1223 by the legendary Ruler of the Delhi Sultanate Shams-Udin-Iltutmish. Iltutmish's vission for the future protection of his empire against the forces of Chingiz Khan hinged on the use of strong fortifications running across his empire from the mighty City of Lahore in the NorthWest to Kolkota in the East. He also consolidated his Wester frontier building along the Indus rivers Eastern bank. From the plains of Jhelum down past Multan and all the way to Hyderabad (Pakistan)

    These mighty fortifications were larger than anything ever seen before, the example below is just one type of defence that has survived but dates from about 80 years after Iltutmish, it was built by the Sultan Giyas Ud Din Tughlaq, whose tomb lies close by. It gives us an idea of how formidable the Delhi Sultanate fortifications could be. While most fortifications in Europe and the Middle East featured Square towers, these towers are rounded, conical shapes in nature, the bottom is super thick and it tapers towards the top. Designed to deflect the shots of powerful siege engines and to counter the ladders of an attacker. The fact these fortifications are double walled makes them even more of a challenge for an attacking force.

    This was state of the art construction and up to this point the Mongols had not faced anything like it. Even if the Mongols could construct larger siege engines or try and scale the walls they would need a lot of time... time which the forces of the Delhi Sultanate would never give them. The Delhi Sultanate could always summon vast resources and men to counter even the largest of invasions. When Chingiz Khan first appeared on the Indus it is said Iltutmish prepared an army of 80,000 to march to Lahore.

    In later times of the IL Khanate when the hordes under Hulegu made an attempt to take Multan again, they were faced by immense walls and could not take them in time for a large and powerful relief force came out to face them and drive them away.

    The other innovation that the Turkic Rulers of the Delhi Sultanate came up with in later times was the Iqta system. An Iqta was a fuedal estate and given as a land grant to warriors and adventurers willing to fight for the empire. It allowed permanent garrisons and troops to be stationed close to the border further securing the defences.

    It is my personal belief that Ranikot, said to be the largest fortress in the world and dubbed the "Great Wall of Sindh" is in fact from this same period perhaps to deter Mongol Invasions into the Sindh heartland.