Why didn't Alexander invade India?

Why didn't Alexander invade India?

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Alexander conquered most parts of the Western World, but there is a great deal of controversy over his invasion of India. In BC 327 Alexander came to India, and tried to cross the Jhelum river for the invasion, but was then confronted by King Purushottama (King Porus, according to the English rendition.) According to Indian history he was stopped by Porus at his entry into the country, but most of the world still believes that Alexander won the battle. Many of Internet links claim that Porus was defeated by Alexander, then he returned to Greece, giving back the Kingdom to Porus.

This link from wikipedia says that "After victory, Alexander made an alliance with Porus and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom". This is difficult to believe: IMO no noble king would accept his kingdom back after being defeated.

Also claimed there: "Exhausted and frightened by the prospect of facing another giant Indian army at the Ganges River, his army mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas), refusing to march further East. Alexander, after the meeting with his officer Coenus, was convinced that it was better to return." Did that mutiny actually occur?

After traveling hundreds of miles from Greece and even winning the battle, why would Alexander return without conquering India?

Specifically, I want to know what actually happened in the battle between Alexander and Porus: Who won? Was it true that King Porus defeated Alexander and made him flee back to Greece ? Whoever won the battle, Alexander or Porus, what historical evidence is there regarding what actually happened in that encounter?

In regards to the battle between Alexander and Porus, both accounts are correct, in their own way.

Alexander won the battle, and received an acknowledgement of such from Porus; Porus won the war, by convincing the Greek army (if perhaps not Alexander himself) that continuing was pointlessly expensive. Both sides saved face through the reappointment of Porus as Satrap by Alexander.

Indian history tells of the glorious war won by Porus against Alexander, and Western history tells of the glorious battle won by Alexander against Porus. Everyone's history glorifies their own exploits, and everyone gets a happy ending. What surprises you of this? Real politik was just as real 2500 years ago as it is today,

The bulk of India then was not controlled by Porus, but by the Nanda dynasty, centered at Pataliputra. Porus controlled only a small section of India, close to Punjab (now divided between Pakistan as well as India). The Nandas were quite a powerful force, and the Greek troops had become war-weary (whether they actually refused orders is open to debate). So, Alexander reluctantly turned back without confronting the Nandas.

When Alexander built his great empire, what he was essentially doing is taking over the Achaemenid Empire piece by piece, at a point when the empire was weakened by internal fights.

The Kingdom of Pauruva is sometimes claimed to have lain outside the Achaemenid empire, but earlier Persian rulers seems to have claimed it was a part of the empire. This indicates that perhaps Porus his predecessor had already been paying taxes/tributes to the Persian empire, which doesn't make it surprising at all that Porus would accept a similar agreement after losing a battle.

That then brings us to the question of why Alexander didn't continue? And here we have to speculate a bit: It's probably the same reason that the Persians earlier didn't continue. The kingdoms further east probably were too powerful, so attacking them was not sure to win, at the same time they are too far from the centre of the empire, and so makes hard to extract taxes from.

It's likely that both in the case of Darius and Xerxes as well as Alexander, even though they conquered the Kingdom of Pauruva, it was just too costly and too far away to be worth it, and too hard to keep hold onto, showing that the empire building had come to it's eastern limit.

I would like put few points from my reading:

  1. Who won the battle ? Well as pointed out by others, it is not quite sure who won the battle i.e. "The Battle of Jhelum". Alexander being the great king would have had a victory in that battle. But according to Battle of the Jhelum analysis which gives valid reasons why Alexander would have lost the battle taking into consideration of his exhausted army which had already fought many battles and had a long journey across the plain. The given website explains them in detail including the geography factor and elephant factor. Also in my opinion, Puru (Porus) is from Vedic Tribe Pandava dynasty. Not much information is available about his life or about his success or failure in the war against Alexander due to loss of historical texts ! (I see this as the main reason that we lost the history about a king).

  2. Another point is the existence of Nanda dynasty which was very strong across the North India next to "Puru Dynasty" (King Porus). But there is one fact which see very interesting. There was a person named "Chanakya" political theorist and scholar from Taxila. (Remember Taxila was defeated by Alexander before his journey to Punjab !). Chanakya gives a warning message to King Dhana Nanda of Nanda dynasty that Alexander is invading but the King Nanda ignores this warning as he does not see any threat from Alexander ! Because Nanda's army was huge and Alexander had no match to Nanda's army !

So to summarize, from my first point though I mention the reasons to Alexander's "lost" but I want to say that at some point of time the battle was not won by both the army but both kings made some pact or agreement ! From the second point I would say that Alexander could not invade India because India (back then India was called Aryavartha because it had several kingdoms) was not ruled by one king but many. So with the small army it was not possible.

Alexander won ONE battle. That does not necessarily mean that he will win the second or third.

By being able to appoint Porus "Satrap," Alexander got the "props" for winning the first battle. By accepting the position from Alexander, Porus got to keep control of his country without risking a second or third battle.

It was a "win-win" (limited victory) situation for both sides. Each got what they most wanted out of the situation without having to risk everything.

I like to point out two reasons behind Alexander's return without conquering India which is not identified in this answer till now.

  1. From Madison to North-West India, Alexander faced few wars. We may say that his army first faced a war after coming to the Indian Border i.e. the battle with Porous beside the Sindhu. Distance from Madison to India was very big and his soldiers were unwilling to go any more.

  2. Modern Bengali were called Gangaridai at that time by Greek historians. They were a very strong fighting Indian community. They were very brave and became a greek myth. Porous fought bravely against Greeks. He also had solders from this community. Alexander saw their courage and braveness face to face in the time of war who were in his mythological stories. It forced him to come to the decision not to go any more inside India.

The given link will enlighten records available in modern age about Gangaridai and show the relationship of them with Greeks.

This is a grey area of history. While the Porus-Alexander story is legendary, there is no guarantee that it actually took place. Neither is there any guarantee that it did not. And there the matter lies as on date.

The Alexander episode does not find much mention in the entire written record, that is the strangest aspect of it. Neither is there any record of the presence of any King called Porus in North-Western India during that time. There are very few references in Indian records, which is a very curious and noteworthy aspect of this matter. The closest one comes to it is the Puru Tribe of Northwest India. Beyond that, there is little evidence. Remember that initial history was written by Europeans; a few of these initial writings are beginning to be challenged as new evidence emerges. There are quite a few gaps in the accepted records; even for established figures like Ashok. In Ashok's case, the narrative throws up significant differences in the approach of The Ashokavadaan and the other books from that time: like the Mahavamsa. The 2 simply do not reconcile in most of the important details of the emperor's life. Similar is the case of Alexander. The only thing that is certain is that the supposed invasion does not merit a detailed coverage in any Indian records from that day.

In 327 BC Alexander, in his march against Emperor Darius empire, came into India.This lasted for 2 years. There is no record in Indian sources of his exploits, and there was little consequence of his invasion in the long term. He came to India to reach the easternmost parts of Darius' empire - reach the ocean. This ran into trouble along the Sindhu river (Indus), and he then went along the river, fighting many battles - Puru, subduing of the Gana-Sanghas, Battle with the Malloi where he was injured - and exacted a brutal revenge.

He is supposed to have built an alliance with Ambhi of Taxila, and attacked Puru on the banks of the Jhelum. One historical source even claims that the name Puru may have been referring to the Puru Tribe, which has inhabited the area since Rug-vedic times. Alexanders' invasion is not mentioned in any Indian Texts; we only have Macedonian records, No one can say for sure how accurate they are. Some of them state the presence of giant ants that dig for Gold! Sample this observation:

There are men said to be 10 feet tall and six feet wide; some had ears reaching down to their feet - Megasthenes in Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian. This does not mean all of their observations were hogwash, some were accurate. They are supposed to be a mix of fact and fable.

In all history texts that I have read (please dont refer online or western sources for this) the entire Puru episode does not include more than 4 lines. There is no guarantee of the accuracy of that episode. That battle did take place is about the only thing that is certain; as is the fact that Alexander won. As to the rest - could be conjecture, or could be fact, No Idea.

The most important result of Alexander's exploits is sadly forgotten - the emergence of the Mourya Dynasty… but that is another story

Ref: Early India - Romila Thapar; Land Of The Seven Rivers- Sanjeev Sanyal

Alexander did not return after defeating Porus (or the puru tribe); he went further along the river. He was actually injured in the battle against the Malloi; not against Porus. He did decide to turn back after the Puru battle, but he instead went further along the river, thinking that this is the river Nile. They discovered their mistake on reaching the ocean, and then subsequently turned along the Makran and Persian Gulf coast.

That is all that is known - all from Greek records. None from Indian records; which are silent on this, which is very curious indeed.

First answered here: http://qr.ae/NCnTd

It is only a theory that Alexander moved back encountering elephants (for first time ?).

Having won the most of walk-able world Alexander would have seen different cultures and learnt all techniques. And, I believe, elephants are not so difficult to face in the following context. Wars are wars and they don't happen just after sunrise as we see or visualize. Burning homes, poisoning drinking water, terrorizing civilians, bribing for a win, all that I can remember. So elephants could have been easily poisoned/killed during night/"trained not to walk" with local supporters, etc.

As posted above, manageability must be the issue. He didn't want to settle down in India.

Secondly India had too many small kings and it would have been so easy for Alexander to buy some of them.

So, I believe he left coz he wanted to.

PS- excuse grammar mistakes if any

actually the greek force was fearful of the great Nand king that was ruling the vast empire of Magadh from its capital patliputra(modern patna and gaya area).he was tyrant but had a huge army under his command including elephants expert in war.had alexender moved to eastern part of punjab there was chance of direct confrontation with nand king .hence was compelled to retreat.

Alexandar did not have a single battle with Pourus. He had at least 2. Alexandar also had several small battles with small independent republics. AFAIK, Alexander lost the first battle to Porus because of the landscape. The Greeks were not used to Elephants and were surprised/terrified. Call it a retreat or loss, the next battle Alexander waged, he was assisted by rival kings of Pourus. Porus had an important place, but he was not a King of a great empire. Porus is important because he controlled the border areas; so just military might is not important here. When the battle weary Alexander's troops realized that they just defeated the King who guards the walls of India, and the mighty empire is 300 times bigger than the recently concluded battle, they lost all heart. Moreover, the Greeks were forming alliances/conquering small independent republics whom they could not control and trust after subduing; and they had a long way to go before reaching the Nanda dynasty. Chanakya was able to overthrow the Nanda dynasty without waging a real war/battle. Nanad's council was concerned about the direction their King was taking and needed someone with political will and stragegy to help them overthrow an emperor without the risk of being called traitors; that is how the Nanda king was overthrown. There was no huge war, just a couple of Raids, and Nanda was betrayed by his own army.

Alexander and his army were defeated by King Porus. We can infer this by two points the greeks make themselves. One, Porus remained King and his territory doubled and two, alexanders treasury was given to Porus as an act of 'friendship' even though he did not have enough gold to pay his men.

From what I have read, the Romans were slowly losing a long war with the Persians 300 years after the time of Alexander and needed some propaganda for their troops/people. Most of the accounts of alexanders 'greatness' was penned at this time by Romans, not greeks.

I believe Alexander lost heart after his horse, Bucephelus, died from a wound received in the battle against Porus. This is the horse which had carried him to victory across Greece and Asia. There was a bond between these two that can only be forged in battle together. He was easily persuaded by his men to abandon any plans to conquer the land of India. He sent many thousands of his men back to Rome, while reinforcing his remaining army with cavalrymen from the defeated Persians. This force then traveled south to the sea rather continuing into the heart of the land we know as India. Ironically, with the addition of the Persian cavalry, Alexander was probably very well suited for battle against the forces in India. Certainly the horses would help when they encountered elephants in battle.

Its is unbelievable that Alexander would actually win and then return the kingdom back to Alexander. This violent Macedonian who razed everything on his path would be unlikely to do so. Also, remember he did not actually reach Greece. According to the Greek accounts he died on his march back to Greece.

The more logical conclusion is that he not only lost the war to Porus but also likely died from the injuries sustained from that war.

Why didn't ancient persia ever conquer india?

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Immortal Guard

why did the persians never conquer ancient India? I mean they were able to conquer Greece then why not India. Was India really powerfull or the reason is something else?


Good question, what all was going on in Hindustan at the time?

Sandragupta conquered modern Bharat(India) in 300s or 280s BC. So before that India was pieces of enemy kingdoms from the times of the Mahabharat to Sandragupta.

I have read the Hackhamanids had Gujrat, but even Gujrat broke away from them after rebelling. And later all of Pakistan and Half of South Afghanistan was under the reign of Maghada and Buddhist proliferation spread.


King of Kings

Edited by Darius of Parsa - 21-Feb-2008 at 03:33

Arch Duke


King of Kings

Immortal Guard

They had the Punjab, the richest part of S Asia. WHat was the point of going further?




Well Persia cannot just will and conquer everything you know.

Are these your own deductions? You were there? Wow.

I think Sparten pretty much nailed it.


Well Persia cannot just will and conquer everything you know.

Are these your own deductions? You were there? Wow.


They had the Punjab, the richest part of S Asia. WHat was the point of going further?

"Alexander the great" by Wally Badge which is a Syriac edition, with English translation, of the folk-lore and legends connected to Alexander the Great. This ancient text represents a Greek text that is much older than any text that has been known before. This text shows that alexander was actually defeated (though perhaps a later layering of the text confuses the issue).

a) Darius's call to help from Porus

b) Porus's letter to Alexander and the reply and the ensuing fight

Immortal Guard


I think Alexander had a different rationale for his conquests than the Persian empire - he was simply concerned with size at any cost from what I know, for example perilously forcing his entire army over a long stretch of desert just to get to the subcontinent. In contrast the Persians were more concerned with cost-benefit and how much they could leverage from any peripheral region based on the cost. Obviously having to administer an area so far from the seat of power would have tremendous human and capital costs and would be susceptible to rebellion.



I meant the gravity of power which is not necessarily related to physical distance - the Persians were well established in the Middle East and Asia Minor and used familiar forms of governing and administration - I think deep India was culturally on a different plain, if you get my meaning.

Of course, I am just pondering here.

Immortal Guard

Immortal Guard

Immortal Guard

for example perilously forcing his entire army over a long stretch of desert just to get to the subcontinent.

no actually he did that to get back to Fars, he reached the Indus via the mountains.


I meant the gravity of power which is not necessarily related to physical distance - the Persians were well established in the Middle East and Asia Minor and used familiar forms of governing and administration - I think deep India was culturally on a different plain, if you get my meaning.


I don't tend to agree with that. Apart from the Achaemnids Persia borders never went inside into what is now Pakistan and apart from a few invaders like Nadir Khan Pakistan didn't saw much Persian attempts at expansionism .

The Perisianiazation of the west of Indus was indirect rather than direct. Many groups of people who were heavily Persianized like the Turks, Mughals, Afghans, Balochis (their movement into Baluchistan was not pan Iranian exopansionism) and not Persia itself brought Persian influence there.

But we are talking about a time when Persia had just came into being and in 300 B.C Afghanistan was a lot more under the subcontinental sphere of influence than it was Persian as a few centuries later under the Khushanis it would be a hub of Shiva worship and then later it would be largely Bhuddist.

When the Parsis moved east in about 700 A.D to protect their religion they moved into Gujrat and not what is now Pakistan pretty much indcating that til that time beofre the Afghani, Balochi, Turk and Mughal expansion that area had little Persian influence.

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In 326 BC, Alexander invaded India, after crossing the river Indus he advanced towards Taxila. He then challenged king Porus , ruler of the kingdom between the rivers Jhelum and Chenab. The Indians were defeated in the fierce battle, even though they fought with elephants, which the Macedonians had never before seen. Alexander captured Porus and, like the other local rulers he had defeated, allowed him to continue to govern his territory.

During this trip to rivers Hydaspes and Indus in the south, Alexander sought out the Indian philosophers, the Brahmins, who were famous for their wisdom, and debated with them on philosophical issues. He became legendary for centuries in India for being both, a wise philosopher and a fearless conqueror.

One of the villages in which the army halted belonged to the Mallis, who were said to be one of the most warlike of the Indian tribes. Alexander was wounded several times in this attack, most seriously when an arrow pierced his breastplate and his ribcage. The Macedonian officers rescued him in a narrow escape from the village.

Alexander and his army reached the mouth of the Indus in July 325 BC, and turned westward for home.

The Mauryan Empire

The period of the Mauryan Empire (322 BC-185 BC) marked a new epoch in the history of India. It is said to be a period when chronology became definite. It was a period when politics, art, trade and commerce elevated India to a glorious height. It was a period of unification of the territories which lay as fragmented kingdoms. Moreover, Indian contact with the outside world was established effectively during this period.

The confusion following the death of Alexander gave Chandragupta Maurya an opportunity to liberate the countries from the yoke of the Greeks, and thus occupy the provinces of Punjab and Sindh. He later overthrew the power of Nandas at Magadha with the aid of Kautilya, and founded a glorious Mauryan empire in 322 BC. Chandragupta, who ruled from 324 to 301 BC, thus, earned the title of liberator and the first emperor of Bharata.

At a higher age, Chandragupta got interested in religion and left his throne to his son Bindusar in 301 BC. Bindusar conquered the Highland of Deccan during his reign of 28 years and gave his throne to his son Ashoka in 273 BC. Ashoka emerged not only as the most famous king of the Maurya dynasty, but is also regarded as one of the greatest king of India and the world.

His empire covered the whole territory from Hindu Kush to Bengal and extended over Afghanistan, Baluchistan and the whole of India with the exception of a small area in the farthest south. The valleys of Nepal and Kashmir were also included in his empire.

The most important event of Ashoka's reign was the conquest of Kalinga (modern Odisha) which proved to be the turning point of his life. The Kalinga war witnessed terrible manslaughter and destruction. The sufferings and atrocities of the battlefield lacerated the heart of Ashoka. He made a resolve not to wage war any more. He realised the wickedness of worldly conquest and the beauty of moral and spiritual triumph. He was drawn to the teachings of Buddha and devoted his life to the conquest of men's heart by the law of duty or piety. He evolved a policy of Dharma Vijaya, 'Conquest by Piety'.

End of the Mauryan Empire

Ashoka was succeeded by weak rulers, which encouraged the provinces to proclaim their independence. The arduous task of administering such a vast empire could not be executed by the weak rulers. The mutual quarrel among the successors also contributed to the decline of the Mauryan Empire.

Alexander in India

In a single decade of fighting, Alexander the Great conquered an enormous empire, as large as the one the Romans later painstakingly accumulated over hundreds of years. While the young Macedonian king was fortunate in at least one of his opponents—Darius, king of Persia, a faint-hearted commander who twice fled the field to avoid confronting him—Alexander personally deserved much of the credit for his victories. A courageous, inspirational leader, he repeatedly exposed himself to great danger in the field, and as a master of strategy and tactics he had no superiors and few equals in all of ancient history.

One of Alexander’s most interesting and romantic campaigns came near the end of his career during his march through India. There, at the edge of the earth (as the Macedonians believed), he faced King Porus of the Punjab. Porus, almost seven feet tall, was both literally and figuratively a giant of a man. For the first time in a major battle, Alexander’s Macedonian troops also encountered a large number of elephants, and the huge beasts, driven by their mahouts, terrified the ranks.

In 326 B.C., at the Battle of the Hydaspes, a tributary of the Indus, the elephants were awesome. Alexander and the Macedonians treated the beasts with wary respect, seeing them as fearsome instruments of war. The battle on the Hydaspes (today called the Jhelum River) turned into a hard-fought, near-run cavalry battle. Although many of the tactical details of the fighting are reasonably clear, there is still some confusion over the role of the squadrons on the Macedonian left and the Indian right, and in this confusion elephants figure prominently. By carefully reviewing the war against Porus and taking a critical look at the Battle of the Hydaspes, it may be possible to resolve some of the uncertainties.

Early in 326 B.C., as Alexander prepared to invade India, he sent the bulk of the Macedonian army under his close friend and companion Hephaestion over the Khyber Pass and down toward the Indus. As the main army moved south into the Punjab, the king took some crack infantry, skirmisher, and cavalry units by another route farther north in order to secure its flank. In extremely difficult fighting against fierce Indian hill peoples, the mobile force under Alexander seized walled villages and strategic strongholds, notably the city of Massaga in the valley of the Swat and the mountain fortress of Aornos on the upper Indus, a site that, according to Greek mythology, not even Heracles could storm.

When Alexander was ready to rejoin the main army, Hephaestion had already succeeded in building a brudge across the Indus. The Macedonian king and his men, 75,000 strong, knew little of what lay ahead. They believed, for example, that the valley of the Indus flowed through a large desert to the Upper Nile because there were crocodiles in the Indus’s tributaries, and the only other river in the world known by them to have crocodiles was the Nile. At that time, India was a land of mystery. The ancient Middle Eastern empire of Mesopotamia had traded with India, and Persia had exercised a nominal control over the Indus valley, but to Greeks and Macedonians India extended to the end of the earth and was inhabited by giants and elephants. Although Alexander went there mainly to round out his conquest of the Persian Empire, he also had a romantic desire to go to the edge of the world.

One of the most remarkable features of Alexander’s campaigns in India is that supply was almost never a problem. The Indus valley was extremely fertile and crossed by many navigable rivers. As a result, the collection of supplies proved relatively easy. While in India, Alexander’s army received a shipment of equipment that had been sent all the way from Macedonia. The streamlined logistical system created by Alexander’s father, Philip II, served the Macedonian army well, even though by one calculation Alexander’s troops had marched 17,000 miles from Pella, the Macedonian capital.

On a day in May, Alexander crossed the Indus and pushed into the Punjab. He anticipated little opposition for the initial part of the advance because the first major city to the east was Taxila, and its ruler, whom the Greeks called Taxiles, had already joined Alexander’s cause. Using Taxila as headquarters, the Macedonian king received emissaries from Kashmir and elsewhere before moving on against the great Porus, whose domain stretched Alexander in India 35 far to the east beyond the Hydaspes River. Because of spring rains the river was flooded. The Indian potentate had prepared a strong position on the east bank to defend his kingdom against the foreign invader. His army numbered approximately 35,000, including 30,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry, 300 war chariots, and 200 elephants.

Alexander knew that his horses would panic if he tried to send them on rafts directly across the river into the mass of elephants grouped on the opposite shore, so he decided against a head-on attack. Instead, he moved his army upstream under the cover of darkness and came down swiftly on Porus’s flank. Porus might have had time to wheel his entire line, including elephants, to face the Macedonians, so Alexander left part of his army behind under General Craterus with instructions to cross the river and attack Porus’s rear if this happened. If, on the other hand, Porus had left elephants on the riverbank to defend against a crossing, Craterus was ordered not to challenge them. As it turned out, the Indian king had left some elephants along the river, and Craterus did not figure in the fighting until the very end.

Since the surprise element was crucial, Alexander tried to deceive and lull Porus in several ways. To persuade the Indian leader that the Macedonians intended to wait for the river to recede, Alexander began openly to stockpile large quantities of supplies. He also made a great show of building rafts, presumably for use in a frontal attack on Porus’s position. Then he massed his cavalry every night, and with much noise and fanfare they pretended to prepare for crossing at different points along the riverbank. Porus responded at first by shifting his forces up and down the river night after night when his men tired out, he simply stopped reacting to Alexander’s feints.

Finally, after personally inspecting the site, Alexander decided to execute a surprise crossing at a point almost seventeen miles upstream. A chief reason for selecting this spot—at Jalalpur—was that in midstream there was a large wooded island big enough to conceal the Macedonian force. Leaving Craterus behind in the main camp with a large part of the army, and leaving behind someone dressed to resemble himself, the king moved out in the night with a crack force of about 5,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry, including many of his best skirmishers. The operation ranks with Issus (in southern Turkey) and Guagamela (in northern Iraq) as one of Alexander’s most brilliant battles, and it has been compared with General James Wolfe’s Quebec campaign of 1759. Because of the distance Alexander and his men had to travel before coming into contact with the enemy, the extraordinarily diffcult nighttime river crossing, and the conflict with the expeditionary force sent by Porus to block the Macedonian advance, Alexander’s Battle of the Hydaspes is considered one of the most daring engagements in history.

When the Macedonians stole away from the main camp, they moved back some distance from the riverbank in order to approach the crossing undetected. With Porus having been lulled into thinking that Alexander’s night maneuvers were false alarms, this part of the ruse worked well, and a heavy rainfall helped cover the noise made by the troops. When Alexander and his men reached their destination upriver from Jalalpur, they assembled boats and rafts that had been taken there in sections earlier and prepared to launch them at the first light of dawn. The ability of Alexander’s engineers to construct, in sections, a fleet large enough to transport a force of 15,000 men and 5,000 horses has amazed modern military historians, but in fact similar troop movements had been mastered centuries earlier in the ancient Middle East by the Assyrians and Persians.

Just as the storm ended, the boats and rafts were ready, and Alexander personally led the flotilla in a 30-oared boat towing a raft bearing the royal foot soldiers. The entire force floated down the river in a narrow channel between the west bank and the island. When the vanguard reached the end of the island, it was spotted by Indian scouts who rushed off on horseback to warn Porus of the coming attack. Pushing on toward the opposite bank at the end of the island, Alexander and his men disembarked, thinking that they had reached the east bank. In fact they had landed on another island in the river. Realizing their mistake, they began to look for a place to ford, but the river was high. Finally they found a spot where they could barely wade across. The horses were submerged except for their heads.

Once ashore, Alexander moved out quickly with his cavalry, ordering the archers to follow as rapidly as they could and the infantry to advance at normal marching pace. He believed he had cavalry superiority over the Indians events were to prove him right.

When Porus received the news of the impending crossing, he did not know whether it was the main attack or a ruse, since there seemed to be a large Macedonian force opposite him at the base camp. What he chose to do was a mistake. He sent his son with 2,000 cavalry and 120 charioty to intercept the attackers, but he lost so much time to indecision that Alexander had completed the crossing before his troops arrived. Also, the Indian force was much too large for reconnaissance, yet too small to deal with Alexander’s cavalry. Moreover, the ground was excessively muddy for their chariots. When Alexander realized that the Indians had actually deployed a reasonably large force rather than a simple scouting party, he charged with his cavalry in waves of attacks that totally demoralized the foe. The Indians lost 400 cavalry and all their chariots probably much more important, Porus’s son was killed. This quick, decisive victory helped boost Macedonian morale, and Alexander continued to advance against Porus’s main force. As Alexander’s infantry marched downstream on the Indian side, other Macedonians began to cross the river from concealed positions along the west bank, rapidly swelling the numbers of his army.

When Porus learned of his son’s death, he decided to turn his main force against Alexander except for some elephants left behind to guard the river against a possible crossing by Craterus. Wheeling his army upstream, Porus advanced over muddy ground until he reached some dry, sandy terrain, where he assembled the men in battle formation. In so doing he surrendered the offensive to Alexander.

The Indian battle order was the traditional one—infantry in the center and cavalry on the wings—about 30,000 infantry altogether and 2,000 cavalry on each wing. But the situation was unusually threatening because Porus had stationed his elephants some 50 feet apart in front of his infantry in a line stretching for almost two miles. Ahead of the cavalry he had placed squadrons of chariots, 150 on each wing. Although the chariots were of doubtful utility against more mobile cavalry, the elephant screen made the center of Porus’s line nearly impregnable. Macedonian horses would react to the great beasts in terror, and foot soldiers would not advance through an elephant screen to attack the Indian infantry since the animals might turn and trample them from behind.

Alexander had outpaced his own infantry, so he delayed his advance long enough for it to catch up and rest a bit. But because the center of the Indian line seemed much too strong to penetrate with infantry, he decided to win the battle with his cavalry. He massed most of his horses on his own right wing, facing the Indian left wing, where the cavalry was under the personal command of Porus. Coenus, one of Alexander’s generals, was given two mounted units, totaling about 1,000 horses, and ordered to move across the field to the Macedonian left, facing the Indian right cavalry. That, at least, is the way most historians read a particular passage written in the second century A.D. by Arrian, the Greek historian whose account of Alexander’s campaign is the most reliable.

What Arrian actually wrote was that Coenus was to move “to [or against] the right.” There we have a bewildering quandary that occasionally faces every military historian. Did Arrian mean that Coenus was to go to Alexander’s right or the Indian right? Since in the previous sentence Arrian referred to Porus’s left, he must have been referring here to Porus’s right. That is the view of most, but not all, historians.

Having massed the bulk of his horsemen on his own right wing, Alexander expected Porus to move the Indian right cavalry to its left. Following the assumption above, Coenus’s orders were to pursue the Indian right cavalry if it tried to move to the left and to hit it in the rear. Macedonian infantry was not to charge until the cavalry had started a rout. At this point the stage was set for one of antiquity’s greatest cavalry battles.

Porus had yielded the initiative to Alexander by making a defensive stand therefore it was up to the Macedonian king to make the first move. After his infantry had rested, Alexander launched the battle by sending his mounted archers forward to attack the chariots in front of Porus’s left cavalry. One thousand horse archers swept down on the Indian chariots and drove them off the field. Porus then reacted just as Alexander had expected he would. He ordered his right cavalry to move over to support the left, whereupon Coenus, primed for such a move, swung around behind the Indian right cavalry and came in on their rear just as they joined with the Indian left. This forced Porus to split his cavalry in two and to wheel one part about to face Coenus. At that point Alexander threw in his own main cavalry and drove the Indians into panic and confusion. As Indian horsemen fell back onto the elephants, Alexander ordered his infantry forward, and what had started as a battle quickly turned into a rout. Their mahouts killed, the elephants panicked in a storm of missiles hurled by Macedonian infantrymen. All the while wave after wave of Macedonian cavalry attacked the Indian left and left In Arrian’s words:

By this time the elephants were boxed up, with no room to maneuver, by troops all round them, and as they blundered about, wheeling and shoving this way and that, they trampled to death as many of their friends as of their enemies. . . . Many of the animals had themselves been wounded, while others, riderless and bewildered, ceased altogether to play their expected part, and, maddened by pain and fear, set indiscriminately upon friend and foe, spreading death before them. The Macedonians could deal with these maddened creatures comfortably enough having room to maneuver, they were able to use their judgement, giving ground when they charged, and going for them with their javelins when they turned and lumbered back, whereas the unfortunate Indians, jammed up close among them . . . found them a more dangerous enemy even than the Macedonians.

When the elephants finally tired, Arrian continued, “Their charges grew feebler they began to back away, slowly, like ships going astern, with nothing worse than trumpetings.” Alexander then surrounded them and the Indian cavalry and ordered his phalanx to lock shields and push forward. Many Indians fell before this awesome formation the rest fled. Craterus followed the battle from the west side of the river and brought his fresh troops across just in time to set out in pursuit of the tired, frightened, and defeated foe. Twenty thousand Indian infantry and 3,000 cavalry fell in the Battle of the Hydaspes—far more fatalities than were suffered by the U .S. Marines in more than a month of fighting on Iwo Jima during World War II. All the Indian chariots were lost, and Porus sacrificed two more sons to the conquerors. Alexander’s losses were negligible, perhaps as low as 300 men.

Porus himself had fought bravely on the back of an elephant and continued fighting even after his troops had been routed, at least until he was wounded by a missile in the right shoulder. Alexander, impressed by the king’s bravery, sent his Indian ally Taxiles to bring Porus in, but Porus hated Taxiles and refused to accompany him. Alexander then sent one of Porus’s friends in the Macedonian entourage, who was successful in bringing the Indian king to him. When Alexander asked Porus how he wished to be treated, he replied, “as a king.” Arrian wrote that Alexander then restored the Indian leader to the throne and let him rule as a vassal over the Punjab, along with Taxiles (the two presumably were reconciled). So ended the Battle of the Hydaspes.

There is one controversy about the battle, however, that has never been resolved. It concerns the movement of the cavalry forces from the Macedonian left and the Indian right over to the other side of the field. When the Indian right cavalry was ordered to support its left wing, did it ride around behind the Indian line or in front of it? Assuming that the Indian right galloped behind the line, did Coenus follow behind the line too, or did he cross the field in front of it? Almost every battle plan in print shows a different version of what happened. Some plans show the Indian right going behind the line with Coenus following in the same path. Others show the Indian cavalry behind the line and Coenus in front. A few show both the Indian cavalry and the Macedonian cavalry wheeling around in front of the Indian line. Finally, a very few authors actually show Coenus attacking from the Macedonian right these are the historians who prefer to read the controversial passage in Arrian “to [or against] the right” as indicating a move in that direction. The only major discussion by a scholar since World War II is one by the historian J.R. Hamilton, who argued in a paper published in 1956 that the Indian cavalry moved behind its own line. That has become the standard view.

But there are reasons to believe that the Indian cavalry must have moved in front of its own line. One of them is that, as Porus needed help on his left fast, it would have been shorter and quicker. Further, there would have been fewer impedimenta before the line than behind it, so it would actually have been easier to move that way. More important, Arrian seems to support the idea of a forward movement, since it clearly states that the Indian left cavalry had moved ahead of the elephants when it was joined by the right cavalry and then was attacked by the Macedonian left. for the right cavalry to have moved behind the line to join a unit that had taken a forward position makes no sense.

In September 1986, the author gave a lecture on this controversy to cadets and offcers at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. At the end of the lecture, several offcers added another reason the Indian cavalry must have moved forward in front of the line: It would have been extremely demoralizing to the troops stationed nearby to see the cavalry withdrawing. No commander worth his salt would have appeared to be retreating at the outset of the battle. The consensus was that modern reconstructions of this famous battle are wrong on this matter. The Indian right cavalry must have moved in front of its own line, and Coenus and the Macedonians must have followed it on the field between the two opposing infantry formations.

The Battle of the Hydaspes was Alexander’s last great pitched battle. India proved to be much bigger than the Macedonians had supposed. The mouth of the Indus lay some 800 miles to the south, and they had not even seen the valley of the Ganges. Alexander moved his army on to the east, still hoping to find the end of the earth. When the troops reached the Hyphasis, the modern Beas River, they refused to go any farther. After a three-day standoff, the mortified king agreed to take his soldiers home. He nearly lost his life along the way in the siege of an Indian stronghold, and there were many minor confrontations, but never again was any army willing to risk conventional battle against Alexander. Tragically, much of this fine army was lost from hardships suffered while marching through the Cedrosian desert of southern Persia (now southeast Pakistan and Iran). That Alexander survived with any part of his army is one of the great miracles of world history. He had been lucky, yes, but he was also one of the best generals ever to lead troops.

Alexander’s conquests changed the course of cultural history by producing a fusion of Greek and ancient Middle Eastern civilization that we call the Hellenistic Age but his romantic foray into India was not, in the long run, politically important. He garrisoned India and brought it administratively into the network of his vast empire, but his successors were unable to hold it for long. Several hundred years later India was almost as mysterious to the Romans as it had been to the Greeks. This fact in no way diminishes the greatness of Alexander’s military achievement. He stands above even Napoleon in the success of his strategy and tactics. The war for the Punjab is a superb illustration of his unparalleled prowess. MHQ

ARTHER FERRILL teaches history at the University of Washington. He is the author of The Origins of War and The Fall of the Roman Empire.

This article originally appeared in the Autumn 1988 issue (Vol. 1, No. 1) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Alexander in India

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7 Historic Invasions of Foreign Forces on India | History

Hajjaj, the Muslim governor of Iraq sent a powerful army under the command of his nephew and son-in-law Muhammad-Bin-Qasim in 711 A.D. to attack Sindh. The religious zeal of the Arabs, the desire to extend the empire and the allurement of wealth through conquest were primary reasons of this attack though a pretext was found that Dahar, the ruler of Sindh, had failed to punish those sea-pirates who had captured the presents sent by the king of Ceylon to Hajjaj.

At that time, India was politically divided into many states which constantly fought against each other, yet were powerful enough to check foreign invasions. Socially, the caste-system existed but it had not grown rigid. The position of the women was, certainly, not equal to men, yet women enjoyed a respectable position.

Hinduism was the most popular religion though Buddhism was also fairly widespread. Economically, India was prosperous. Thus, at that time, India did not suffer from those weaknesses which crept up afterwards in the 11th and the 12th centuries.

Muhammad defeated Dahar and captured Sindh in 712 A.D. In 713 A.D. he captured Multan as well. But very soon Muhammad was called back and punished to death by the Khalifa. The Arabs in Sindh and Multan failed to make further conquests in India after him.

The meagre economic resources of Sindh, its military weakness, sharp social divisions in Sindh, the indifference of other Indian rulers towards the fate of Sindh, the superiority of arms and military tactics of the Arabs and the incompetence of Dahar were the main reasons of the success of the Arabs.

However, the conquest of Arabs in India remained limited only to Sindh and Multan. They failed to penetrate further in India. The growing weakness of the Khilafat, the division of Sindh and Multan into two separate Arab kingdoms, administrative incapacity of the Arabs, and the existence of powerful Rajput states in India which were determined to check further inroads of the Arabs in India were primary reasons of the failure of the Arabs in extending their power in India.

The Arabs failed to impress Indian polity and culture. Instead they themselves and through them the western world also drew advantages in many fields by coming into contact with the Indians.

2. The Invasions of Mahmud:

Henry Elliot described that Mahmud invaded India seventeen times. There are no sufficient proofs for that, yet, all historians agree that Mahmud attacked India at least twelve times. His first expedition took place in 1000 A.D. when he occupied some frontier fortresses. In 1001 A.D., he attacked again.

This time Hindushahi king Jayapala gave him a battle near Peshawar but was defeated and captured along with his many relations. Mahmud advanced as far as the capital city of Waihand and then returned to Ghazni after getting good booty. He released Jayapala after getting 25 elephants and 2,50,000 dinars from him. Jayapala could not tolerate his humiliation and burnt himself to death. He was succeeded by his son, Anandapala in 1002 A.D.

In 1004 A.D., Mahmud attacked Bhera. Its ruler Baji Ray opposed him but was defeated. He killed himself before his capture by the Turks. In 1006 A.D., Mahmud proceeded to attack the Shia kingdom of Multan. The Hindushahi king, Anandapala refused to give him passage, fought against him near Peshawar but was defeated and fled away.

Mahmud captured Multan in 1006 A.D. Its ruler Abu-i-Fath Daud agreed to pay an annual tribute of 20,000 Dirhams. Mahmud left Nawasa Shah (grandson of Jayapala who had accepted Islam) as governor of his Indian territories and went back to fight the Seljuq-Turks who were threatening his territories from the north. Daud and Nawasa Shah revolted in his absence. Therefore, he came to India in 1008 A.D., defeated both of them and annexed all the territories including Multan to his empire.

The Hindushahi kingdom was opposing the Ghaznavids from the very beginning. It had pursued an aggressive policy several times. Besides, it was the only Hindu state which tried to repulse foreign invaders with the help of other Hindu states. Again in 1009 A.D., its ruler, Anandapala, sought support from other Hindu states, collected a large army and proceeded towards Peshawar to challenge Mahmud.

Mahmud fought against him near Waihand and defeated him. Mahmud marched as far as Nagarkot and conquered it. The defeat of Anandapala reduced the strength and the territories of Hindushahi kingdom. Anandapala was forced to accept a treaty with Mahmud who firmly entrenched his power in Sindh and west Punjab.

Anandapala shifted his capital to Nandana and tried to build up his lost strength but failed. He was succeeded by his son Trilochanapala after his death in 1012 A.D. Mahmud attacked Nandana and occupied it in 1013 A.D. Trilochanapala fled to Kashmir and sought the help of its ruler but Mahmud defeated their combined armies. Mahmud did not attack Kashmir though plundered places on its border.

Trilochanapala retired to Shivalik hills, strengthened his position and also took the help of Vidyadhar, the Chandela ruler of Bundelkhand but he was again defeated by Mahmud in 1019 A.D. The Hindushahi kingdom was then reduced to the status of a small jagir. Between 1021-22 A.D., Trilochanapala was murdered by some unknown person and was succeeded by his son Bhimapala. Bhimapala died as a petty chief in 1026 A.D. and with him ended the once mighty Hindushahi kingdom of north-western India.

The defeat and decay of the Hindushahi kingdom encouraged Mahmud to penetrate deeper into India. Besides, the booty which he got in Panjab and Nagarkot whetted his appetite for Indian wealth. He repeated his raids on India and met no challenge anywhere, it seemed India suffered from paralysis and found itself incapable to fight against Mahmud even when he was systematically looting its wealth, dishonouring its women, destroying its temples and idols and bringing defame to its people.

In 1009 A.D., Mahmud defeated the ruler of Narayanpur and plundered his wealth. In 1014 A.D., he attacked Thaneswar, defeated Rama, the chief of Dera and then looted Thaneswar. All temples and idols of Thaneswar were destroyed while the principal deity of Chakraswami was taken to Ghazni and placed in a public square for defilement. In 1018 A.D., Mahmud proceeded to attack Ganga-Yamuna Doab. He first attacked and looted Mathura.

The city of Mathura was a beautiful city and a sacred religious place of the Hindus having a thousand temples. Mahmud described its main temple in his Memoirs. He wrote- “lf any one should undertake to build a fabric like that he would expend thereon one lakh packets of a thousand dinar, and would not complete it in 200 years, and with the assistance of the most ingenious architects.” There were many huge idols of gold and silver which were studded with costly pearls and diamonds.

Mahmud looted the city for twenty days, broke up all idols and destroyed all temples. He got enormous booty from Mathura. From Mathura, Mahmud marched to Kannauj. He encountered resistance from the Hindus at some places but triumphed over them. Rajyapala, the Pratihara ruler of Kannauj, fled away and left his capital at the mercy of Mahmud. He looted the city and then destroyed it. He invaded some more places and then went back to Ghazni.

After the return of Mahmud, Ganda (Vidyadhar) and some other Hindu chiefs organised a confederacy, attacked and killed Rajyapala who had failed to fight against Mahmud. In 1019 A.D., Mahmud returned to India with a view to punish Vidyadhar. He defeated the Hindushahi ruler Trilochanapala in the way and reached the border of Bundelkhand sometime during 1020-21 A.D.

Vidyadhar faced him with a large army but, for some unknown reason, left the field during the night. Mahmud, who had lost his courage at the sight of so large a force of the Chandelas, felt happy. He ravaged the territories of Vidyadhar and then left. Next year, he came again.

In the way, he forced the ruler of Gwalior to submit and then reached before the fort of Kalinjar. The siege of the fort lasted for a long time. Vidyadhar agreed to give Mahmud 300 elephants as tribute and, in return, received the right of governing fifteen fortresses from him.

In 1024 A.D., Mahmud came on his famous expedition to Somanath temple on the coast of Kathiawar. The temple received offerings in different forms from lakhs of its devotees daily and had a permanent income from the resources of ten thousand villages. It was a beautiful temple and possessed enormous wealth.

Its Shiva linga had a canopy studded with thousands of costly jewels and diamonds. The chain attached to one of its bells weighed 200 maunds of gold, one thousand Brahamanas were appointed to perform the worship of the linga and 350 males and females were employed to sing and dance before the deity.

The temple of Somanath was wonderful but the pride of their priests was unique who claimed that Mahmud could do no harm to their deity and boasted that other deities were destroyed by Mahmud because they had incurred the wrath of god Somanath. Mahmud proceeded through Multan, reached the capital city of Anhilwara which was left by its ruler Bhima I without offering resistance and reached before the temple of Somanath in 1025 A.D.

The devotees of the temple offered him resistance but next day Mahmud entered the temple, looted it and destroyed it. He returned with a huge booty. He was troubled in the way by his Hindu guides who led his army to a dreary part of the desert. But, ultimately, he reached Ghazni safely with his booty.

Mahmud came back to India for the last time in 1027 A.D. to punish the Jats who had troubled him on his return journey from Somanath. The Jats were severely punished. Mahmud looted their property, killed all males and enslaved their women and children.

Thus, Mahmud attacked India repeatedly. He was never defeated here. He took from India whatever he could and destroyed the rest. Besides, engaging himself in loot and plunder he annexed Afghanistan, Punjab, Sindh and Multan to his empire. Mahmud died in 1030 A.D.

3. The Invasions Turkish Rule in India (Muhammad Ghur):

Muhammad first attacked Multan in 1175 A.D. and conquered it easily. Next, he annexed Uch and lower Sindh to his territories. In 1178 A.D., Muhammad attacked Gujarat. Mularaja II faced him near Mount Abu and defeated him. This was the first defeat of Muhammad in India. Afterwards, he changed his route to India. He next attempted through Punjab.

Muhammad conquered Peshawar in 1179 A.D., attacked Lahore after two years and received huge presents from the last Ghaznavid ruler, Khusrav Shah, conquered Sialkot in 1185 A.D., and attacked Lahore again in 1186 A.D. He imprisoned Khusrav Shah by treachery and occupied the entire territories of Punjab. Khusrav was murdered later on in 1192 A.D.

After the capture of Punjab, the boundaries of the kingdoms of Muhammad and Prithviraja III, the Chauhana ruler of Delhi and Ajmer, touched each other. In 1198 A.D., Muhammad attacked and captured Bhatinda. He was planning to come back when he received the news of the advance of Prithviraja against him with a view to recapture Bhatinda. Muhammad proceeded forward to face him.

The enemies met each other in the battlefield of Tarain, 80 miles away from Delhi and the first battle of Tarain took place in 1190-91 A.D. Muhammad was defeated in the battle. Hammir-Mahakavya describes that Muhammad was taken prisoner by Prithviraja but left free with grace. But this view is not accepted by historians. Muhammad was wounded and taken to a place of safety by a Khalji noble.

The Turkish army was routed and the battle was completely won over by the Rajputs. Prithviraja thereafter attacked the fort of Bhatinda but could capture it after thirteen months. Muhammad could not forget his defeat at the battle of Tarain.

Prithviraja had not only humiliated him but had also blocked his way to conquer India. Muhammad prepared himself well, collected a strong force of one hundred and twenty thousand men and then proceeded towards India to avenge his defeat.

After the capture of Bhatinda, Muhammad marched again to the plain of Tarain. Prithviraja came with a large army to face him and the second battle of Tarain was fought in 1192 A.D. Prithviraja was decisively defeated.

He tried to flee but was taken prisoner. He was taken to Ajmer and, as Professor Hasan Nizami says, he accepted the overlordship of Muhammad but, when found guilty of a conspiracy against Muhammad, was punished with death. The second battle of Tarain proved to be one of the decisive battles of Indian history. It settled the future course of Indian history.

Dr D.C. Ganguly writes:

“The defeat of Prithviraja in the second battle of Tarain not only destroyed the imperial power of the Chahamanas (Chauhanas), but also brought disaster on the whole of Hindustan.” The battle led the way to the conquest of India by the Turks. Ajmer and Delhi both were occupied by Muhammad which paved the way for his further conquests in India.

Besides, the battle definitely weakened the morale of other Rajput rulers to resist the Turk invader. After leaving Qutb-ud-din Aibak as Governor of Delhi and Ajmer, Muhammad went back. Aibak consolidated the Indian conquests of Muhammad, suppressed the revolts of the Chauhans at Ajmer, made Delhi the capital of Turk kingdom in India in 1193 A.D. and conquered Ranthambhor, Meerut, Bulandshahar, Aligarh, etc. in the absence of Muhammad.

Muhammad came back to India in 1194 A.D. This time his target was the kingdom of Kannauj. Jayachandra, the ruler of Kannauj had enmity with Prithviraja III and therefore, had not helped him against the Muslims. Now, he too had to face Muhammad alone. The battle between Muhammad and Jayachandra took place near Chandawar on the river Yamuna between Etawah and Kannauj.

The Rajputs were defeated and Jayachandra was killed in the battle. Muhammad proceeded as far as Banaras and occupied all the important places of the kingdom of Kannauj though its conquest was consolidated afterwards slowly and gradually. Now, there remained no other powerful kingdom in north India to resist Muhammad’s armies.

Leaving Aibak again, Muhammad went back. Aibak consolidated his fresh conquests and suppressed different revolts which took place at Ajmer, Aligarh, etc. Muhammad came back to India in 1195 A.D. This time he conquered Bayana and attacked Gwalior.

Pratihara chief Sulakshana Pal accepted the suzerainty of Muhammad and peace was granted to him. Muhammad entrusted the command of the territories between Rajputana and Doab to Baha-ud-din Tughril and went back. Tughril captured the fort of Gwalior in his absence after one and a half years of fighting.

After this Muhammad could not come back to India for some years and the responsibility of consolidating his conquests in India rested on his governors here, particularly on Aibak. A serious revolt in Rajasthan was suppressed by Aibak after much difficulty. Thereafter, Aibak attacked Gujarat and plundered its capital Anhilwara in 1197 A.D. Aibak also conquered Badaun, Banaras and Chandawar and consolidated the conquest of Kannauj.

One of the most important conquests of Aibak was that of Bundelkhand. The Chandela ruler Paramaladeva was now the only independent Rajput ruler in central India and the fort of Kalinjar was regarded impregnable. Aibak attacked it in 1202-03 A.D.

Paramaladeva died during the period of fighting but the Chandelas fought under the leadership of his minister Ajayadeva. But ultimately, the Chandelas had to leave the fort which was occupied by Aibak. Aibak occupied Mahoba and Khajuraho as well.

The conquest of Bengal and Bihar was not attempted either by Muhammad or Aibak but by a petty noble named Ikhtiyar-ud-din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji. Ikhtiyar-ud-din Khalji began his career as an ordinary soldier and received some villages as his jagir from his master Hisam-ud-din Aghul Bak, the governor of Oudh.

There Ikhtiyar-ud-din collected a small force of his own followers and started raiding the nearby territories of Bihar. To his surprise, he found that nobody tried to oppose him anywhere. That increased his ambitions. He went on increasing his resources and his soldiers. In 1202-03 A.D., he attacked Odantapuri and plundered the Buddhist monastery there.

Next, he conquered Nalanda and Vikramasila as well. Lakshmana Sena, the ruler of Bengal, took no steps to check him so far and, ultimately, paid the price of his neglect. Ikhtiyar-ud-din attacked Nadia, the capital of Bengal in 1204-05 A.D. He moved so fast that he left the bulk of the army much behind himself and reached the palace gates with only eighteen horsemen. Lakshmana Sena felt that the Turks had made a surprise attack and fled away out of fear.

In the meantime, the Turkish army also reached there and Ikhtiyar-ud-din plundered Nadia. East Bengal remained with Lakshmana Sena while south-west Bengal was occupied by Ikhtiyar-ud-din for Muhammad of Ghur. He established his headquarters at Lakhnauti. Ikhtiyar-ud-din tried to conquer Tibet also but the expedition failed miserably. He had to return from near the border of Tibet because of geographical hazards.

On his return journey he was troubled by the hill-tribes and the soldiers of the state of Kamrupa. He could reach Devakot only with one hundred soldiers. There he fell ill and was murdered by one of his own lieutenants. Ali Mardan. But before his death he had brought Bihar and a large part of Bengal under Turkish control which was not even imagined by Muhammad or Aibak.

When the nobles of Muhammad were extending and consolidating his empire in India, he himself was busy in fighting against the Khwarizm Shah of Persia. Muhammad’s elder brother Ghiyas-ud-din had died in 1202 A.D. and therefore, Muhammad had become the ruler of the entire Ghur empire.

Ghiyas-ud-din had always fought against his westernly neighbour, the Khwarizmians. Muhammad pursued the same policy. But, he was severely defeated by them in 1205 A.D. at the battle of Andhkhud. He could hardly save his life and reached back his capital, Ghur. This defeat of Muhammad gave setback to his reputation in India and it was rumoured that he was killed. It led to revolts in different parts of India.

In the north-west, the Khokars tried to capture Lahore. Muhammad came to India in 1205 A.D. and fought a battle against the Khokars between the rivers Chenab and Jhelum. The Khokars fought fiercely but were defeated and punished mercilessly. After settling the affairs at Lahore, Muhammad returned to Ghazni.

On the way, he was stabbed on 15 March 1206 A.D. at Damyaka on the banks of the river Indus while he was engaged in his evening prayers. Whether the assassins were Khokars or fanatical Shias of the heretical Ismaili sect is not certain. Probably, both had conspired for it and succeeded. The body of Muhammad was carried to Ghazni and buried there.

4. Invasions of the Turks in India:

The credit of establishing the Muslim rule in India went to the Turks. The leadership of Islam was captured from the Arabs first by the Persians and then by the Turks. In the beginning, the Turks were barbaric hordes and their only strength was their power of arms. But, in less than a century, they converted themselves into extremely cultured people and succeeded in preserving the best elements of the Islamic culture even against the onslaughts of the Mongols. The Turks were new converts to Islam.

They, therefore, proved more fanatic in their religious zeal as compared to the Persians and the Arabs. They also believed in the superiority of their race. Thus, with confidence in the superiority of their race, inspired by their new religion, determined to propagate Islam and relying on the strength of their arms, the Turks conquered a large part of Western Asia and, ultimately, moving towards the east penetrated into India.

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was the first to penetrate deep into India. He was successful in breaking up the military strength of the Indians and plundering the wealth of India. But, he did not establish his empire here. The credit of establishing the first Islamic empire in India went to Muhammad of Ghur who followed him after a lapse of nearly one hundred and forty-eight years.

5. The Mongol Invasion during the Reign of Tughlaq Dynasty:

During the reign of Muhammad Tughluq, the Mongols attacked only once. The Chaghtai Chief Ala-ud-din Tarmashirin of Transoxiana, attacked India in 1327 A.D. at the head of a powerful Mongol army. Dr M. Hussain contends that Tarmashirin was defeated by Amir Choban near Ghazni in 1326 A.D. and therefore, came to India as refugee.

Muhammad Tughluq gave him 5,000 dinars by way of help and then Tarmashirin returned. But this version of Dr Hussain has not been accepted by the majority of modern historians. They all agree that the Mongols came as aggressors and ravaged the country from Multan and Lahore to the vicinity of Delhi. However, these historians also differ as to how Muhammad Tughluq dealt with them.

According to Isami, the Mongols were defeated by the army of the Sultan near Meerut and forced to retreat. Sir Woolseley Haig has accepted this version of Isami. Firishta differed with Isami and holds the view that the Sultan gave the Mongols huge presents and, thus, bribed them to return back. Dr A.L. Srivastava and Dr Iswari Prasad have supported the viewpoint of Ferishta.

In view of the fact that the Mongols could reach the vicinity of Delhi without any resistance and turned back without fighting a battle, their contention seems more correct. It showed the weakness of the Sultan and also his neglect towards the defence of his north-west frontier.

However, he took preventive measures to safeguard his north-west frontier after the return of the Mongols. According to Isami the Sultan occupied Peshawar and Kalanor in Punjab and made arrangements for their defence.

6. Invasion of Timur (1398-1399 A.D.):

Timur was born in the year 1336 A.D. at the town of Kech or Shahar-i-Sabz about 40 miles south of Samarqand in Transoxiana. His family belonged to Barlas clan of the Turks and his father Amir Turghay was the master of the small principality of Kech. Timur became the master of the small principality after the death of his father in 1361 A.D.

From that year onwards till his death in 1405 A.D., Timur engaged himself in warfare and succeeded in establishing a vast empire. The once mighty empire of the Mongols had shattered to pieces and there was lacuna of power in Central Asia.

Timur fillea it up and earned his name in history. Timur proved himself a great military commander and astute diplomat. He succeeded in establishing an extensive empire which included Transoxiana, a part of Turkistan, Afghanistan, Persia, Syria, Qurdistan, Bagdad, Georgia and the major part of Asia Minor within its territory.

He successfully looted southern Russia and India up to Delhi. When he was marching to attack China, he died on the way. Timur was a cruel ruler. Besides, one primary aim of his conquests was to amass wealth. Therefore, wherever he went he brought about destruction, massacres, burning, looting and dishonour to women. Terrorising the populace was one of his means to get quick submission from his rivals.

Timur paid scant attention towards administra­tion and. welfare of his subjects. Timur, primarily, was a conqueror and he conquered one kingdom after another like a great born commander. In course of a fight, his one leg was wounded and he limped for the rest of his life. Hence his Turkish enemies called him “Aksak Timur” and the Persian ‘Timur-i-lang’ which the Europeans corrupted into Tamerlane.

Timur himself cleared his objectives for attacking India. The one was to fight against and destroy the infidels, and the other was to plunder their wealth Prior to his invasion, his grandson Pir Muhammad, the governor of Kabul, had already sent an expeditionary force against India which had captured Uch and besieged Multan.

Timur himself started from Samarqand in March or April 1398 A.D. He crossed the river Sindhu in September and entered Punjab. Pir Muhammad also joined him after the capture of Multan. The governor of the fort of Bhatnir submitted after a brief resistance and the fort and the city were destroyed by Timur. Timur proceeded towards Delhi massacring people and destroying everything which came in his way and reached its vicinity in December, 1398 A.D.

Till then Sultan Nasir-ud-din had done nothing to resist the invader. Now he and his vazir Mallu Iqbal attacked the army of Timur but were easily defeated. Another battle took place between Timur and the army of Delhi on 17th December 1398 A.D. and the Indian army was completely routed. Both the Sultan and his vazir then fled away from the capital.

Timur entered Delhi on 18 December. First he agreed to spare the citizens when requested by the people headed by the Ulema, but when the citizens resisted the oppressive conduct of the soldiers of Timur, he ordered a general massacre and plunder.

It continued for several days in which thousands of people were massacred, thousands were taken as slaves and entire wealth of the city was plundered. Timur stayed in Delhi for fifteen days and looted immense wealth.

On 1 January 1399 A.D. he started on his return journey. On the way, he plundered Firozabad, Meerut, Hardwar, Kangra and Jammu. Before he left India, he appointed Khizr Khan as governor of Multan, Lahore and Dipalpur.

Timur brought about unparalleled devastation to India. Wheresoever he went, he completely destroyed everything. Thousands of villages were burnt, lakhs of people were massacred and all cities were thoroughly plundered. The city of Delhi remained depopulated and ruined for months and because of large number of dead bodies epidemics broke out. Timur destroyed the Delhi Suitanate and also the dynasty of the Tughluqs.

Of course, the Tughluq dynasty had lost its prestige and power prior to the invasion of Timur but now it was completely destroyed forever which, ultimately, resulted in the occupation of Delhi by Khizr Khan and the establishment of a new dynasty.

7. Mongol Invasions during the Period of Delhi Sultanate:

During the period of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mongols who inhabited the steppes beyond the desert of Gobi in North Asia threatened the security of India from towards the north-west and attempted to penetrate deep into the Indian territory. The Mongols made themselves the greatest power of Asia under the leadership of Chengiz Khan in the beginning of the 13th century.

The Delhi Sultanate was endangered, first, by an impending invasion of Mongols under Chengiz Khan himself when Sultan Iltutmish had hardly consolidated his position in Punjab. Chengiz Khan destroyed and annexed the empire of Persia. Its ruler Sultan Ala-ud-din Muhammad Shah fled to an island in the Caspian Sea for safety while his son and heir to the throne, Jalal-ud-din Mangbarni fled to India.

Chengiz Khan pursued the fugitive Prince up to the bank of the river Indus but when the Prince crossed to the other side he waited there and watched the attitude of the Sultan of Delhi. Jalal-ud-din sought protection and assistance from Iltutmish. Iltutmish was in a dilemma. It was against the rules of hospitality to refuse shelter to a fugitive co-religionist Prince.

At the same time, he had neither the desire nor the power to face such a mighty foe as Chengiz Khan. He finally decided not to annoy Chengiz Khan. He got murdered the messenger of Jalal-ud-din and declined to provide shelter to the Prince on the plea that the climate of Delhi would not suit him.

That diplomatic move of Iltutmish saved him from the wrath of Chengiz Khan. Chengiz Khan appreciated this wise move of Iltutmish and turned back after leaving the task of capturing Jalal-ud-din to his officers.

Thus, the nascent Turkish kingdom in India was saved from the onslaught of the Mongols who would have certainly destroyed it. Jalal-ud-din too did not penetrate into the territory of Iltutmish, withdrew towards lower Sindh and finally left India. Sultana Raziyva also pursued the policy of not annoying the Mongols like her father Jalal-ud-din had left Hasan Karlugh as the governor of Ghazni and Baniyan.

He was seriously pressed by the Mongols and therefore, sought the support of Raziyya against them. Raziyya declined to help him and, thus, saved her kingdom from the attacks of the Mongols. After the fall of Raziyya, the unwritten understanding between the Delhi Sultanate and the Mongols came to an end.

In 1241 A.D the Mongols, under the command of Bahadur Tair, crossed the river Indus and besieged Lahore. They returned after plundering it. In 1247 A.D., the Mongols, under the command of Sali Bahadur, attacked Multan and got an indemnity of one lakh dinars from its governor. He, next, attacked Lahore and forced its governor also to pay indemnity and accept his tutelage.

The Mongols attacked Punjab and its neighbouring territory during the reign of Sultan Nasir-ud-din several times. They gradually captured Multan, Sindh and West Punjab. Sultan Nasir-ud-din and his Naib Balban avoided hostilities against the Mongols.

They, rather, tried to befriend them. That is why Sher Khan who intended to recover Multan and Uch from the hands of the Mongol governor, Kashlu Khan, was transferred from Bhatinda in 1258 A.D. Sultan Nasir-ud-din even exchanged envoys with the Mongol chief, Hulagu.

When, Balban himself ascended the throne of Delhi, he took some effective steps against the Mongols. Multan, Sindh and, a little later, Lahore were recovered from the hands of the Mongols.

During early years of Balban’s reign Sher Khan, cousin of Balban was appointed as the warden of the North-West frontiers. Professor Habibullah and Dr A.L. Srivastava have described Sher Khan as a great warrior who had terrorised the Mongols and the Khokhars. But Dr K.A. Nizami does not agree with them.

He contends that Minhaj has not described a single battle which was fought by Sher Khan against the Mongols. Instead he described that Sher Khan had agreed to serve the Mongols. Balban, therefore, desired to shift him from the North-West and assigned him a jagir near Delhi. Sher Khan did not take up his new assignment. Balban, therefore, got him poisoned.

Whichever view might be correct but the fact remains that the invasions of the Mongols did not take place during the early period of Balban’s reign or, perhaps they were repulsed. In 1270 A.D., Balban went to Lahore and ordered the construction of strong forts on the frontier. A chain of strong forts was built up there and strong armies were kept therein.

After some years, the north-west frontier was divided into two parts for the purpose of defence. Multan, Sindh and Lahore were placed in charge of prince Muhammad Khan while the province of Sunam and Samana were handed over to Prince Bughra Khan. Each Prince was supported by an army of eighteen thousand horsemen.

When Bughra Khan was appointed governor of Bengal, then the entire responsibility of defending the frontier fell on the shoulder of Prince Muhammad. The defence measures of Balban proved successful. The Mongols failed to penetrate deeper into India.

In 1279 A.D., the Mongols attacked the territory of the Delhi Sultanate but the combined armies of Prince Muhammad, Prince Bughra Khan and Malik Mubarak Bektar from Delhi defeated them and forced them to withdraw.

In 1285 A.D., the Mongols, under the command of Timur Khan invaded Lahore and Dipalpur. Prince Muhammad challenged them and checked their advance. He, however, was ambushed by the enemy at one time and killed in February 1286 A.D. Yet, the Mongols failed to break the defence measures of Balban and retreated.

Next, Prince Kaiqubad was appointed the warden of the north-western frontier. Kaiqubad was not capable, yet two attacks of the Mongols which took place during his time were repulsed. When Kaiqubad became the Sultan, he appointed Jalal-ud-din Khalji to look after the defences of the North-West. Jalal-ud-din was successful in repulsing some minor attacks of the Mongols.

Thus, the Mongols failed to advance further in the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. However, this was a limited success. Balban also could not dare to extend his influence beyond Lahore. Besides, the Mongol menace profoundly affected the domestic and foreign policy of Balban. He had to keep a strong army in the North-West and at Delhi at an enormous cost and also to abstain himself from pursuing a policy of extension of his empire.

Thus, the attacks of the Mongols during the period of rule of the Mameluk Sultans failed in affecting the fortunes of Delhi Sultanate adversely. It was both because of the successful diplomacy of its early rulers and the strict defence measures of Sultan Balban during the later period.

Yet, another factor was that the power of the Mongols was weakened by the defeat of their leader, Hulagu in Egypt. Besides, during this period, the Mongols limited their activities merely to plunder.

They did not aspire to occupy the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. But, on the other hand, the Mameluk rulers also did not dare to dislodge the Mongols from the north-west. The territory west of the river Beas remained occupied by the Mongols.

The Mongols failed to capture permanently even a part of the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. Their only success was in the north-west region of India and that too mostly remained limited to plunder. Many factors were responsible for the failure of Mongol invasions in India. Chengiz Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire and the ablest chief of the Mongols, did not attack India.

He returned from the banks of the river Indus on his own otherwise he could destroy the Delhi Sultanate with one single powerful stroke. After the death of Chengiz Khan, the Mongols were divided among themselves. The Mongol chiefs in Central Asia revolted against their chiefs in China and carved out independent kingdoms for themselves. It weakened the power of the Mongols.

The attacks of the Mongols in India were not carried out by their great Khans of Mongolia and China but by the Il-Khans of Persia or the Chaghtais of Transoxiana who had less power and resources at their command. Besides, both these ruling dynasties were contending against each other for power which further reduced their strength and did not leave anyone of them capable enough to gain success in a distant place like India.

The Mongols, by then, had lost their mobility and fighting vigour. They had also started bringing their families with them to battlefield as is clear from the imprisonment of a large number of women and children by the victorious armies of the Delhi Sultanate. That must have also adversely affected their fighting strength.

Besides, the fiercest attacks of the Mongols took place in India when there ruled a most capable military commander and organizer of the army at Delhi, viz., Ala-ud-din Khalji. Certainly, Ala-ud-din Khalji and his powerful standing army was responsible for the failure of Mongol invasions against India.

Effects of Mongol Invasions:

The invasions of the Mongols affected the domestic and foreign policy of the Sultans of Delhi. Among them, the powerful Sultans like Balban and Ala-ud- din, kept not only powerful armies with them but also attempted to establish a despotic government at the Centre.

It was, certainly, to some extent, because of the threat posed before them by Mongol invasions. Besides, till Mongol menace was there, none of them except Ala-ud-din Khalji could dare to adopt a policy of extending the territory of the Delhi Sultanate. Thus, invasions of the Mongols affected Indian politics to a certain extent indirectly.

Why was Alexander the Great unable to conquer India?

Once Alexander the Great reached the borders of India, he had a plethora of elephants under his command. When it came to vanquishing Porus, who ruled Punjab, Alexander had to face a formidable body of between 85 and 100 war elephants during the Battle of Hydaspes River. Alexander could see that the Kings of the Nanda Empire and Gangaridai could let loose between 3,000 and 6,000 war elephants.

Such strength was much larger than the number which was employed by the Persians and the Greeks, which deterred Alexander's small group of men and successfully halted their grand entrance into India. Alexander involved his infantry and cavalry, ultimately crushing Porus's forces, including elephant corps, at some cost. Alexander deduced that the kingdoms further east were too overpowering, and it wasn't worth the risk.

N. Reyes

A good writer and orator as well.

Alexander the Great was not able to conquer India because of the formidable European army that had already invaded certain parts of India. Alexander the Great had conquered many parts of the Western world and hoping to do the same in India. Alexander the Great was stopped at his point of entry into India by Porus (King Purushottama) when he came in 327 BC.

Records have it that Alexander won the battle and soon after this battle he returned to Greece and ended this ambition of conquering the world. During this battle, some fired and arrow to Alexander, and it pierced through his lungs, but his soldiers carried him from out of the battlefield, and fortunately, he didn&rsquot die. A few years down the line, Alexander the Great died, and his generals shared his Empire among themselves. In summary, Alexander the Great couldn&rsquot invade India due to the European army in India.

B. Denton

Who wants to travel all the world and capture all the moment in his camera.

Alexander the Great was unable to conquer India because he met a formidable military force in the eastern part of India. Alexander, together with his soldiers, were able to defeat king Porus and his armies as they were advancing into Indian borders. This battle was so fierce that Alexander himself sustained so many injuries, and there were so many casualties on his side. However, he was able to defeat king Porus and his soldiers. Alexander couldn't conquer India because he thought he would defeat the Indian empire very easily as he did to the empire of Persia.

But the encounter he had with king Porus hinted him that conquering India wouldn't be a successful mission. Indian empire was so strong, according to history, it had about 200,000 soldiers and 3000 large elephants. Although, Alexander planned to go ahead with the attack, his soldiers resisted him, and they all returned home, but Alexander died on his way home.

O. Bickis

Get immense pleasure in traveling and writing about visiting places.

There are several theories, which historians love to argue over, as to why Alexander the Great did not conquer India. Some of them are way out in the left field and do not deserve to be poked with a stick. There are a few, however, that bear closer scrutiny.

As Alexander marched his army across the known world at the time, the actual layout of the earth had not yet been fully mapped out. There were &ldquoedges&rdquo to the world at the time, which was the amount of land that man had actually visited, and put to paper. These edges were considered to be the &ldquoend of the earth&rdquo and to go farther was to invite death, and the unknown that lay beyond.

At the time, many operated under the assumption that the earth was flat, and one could fall off. While this was beginning to be scientifically tested by great minds, superstition was prevailing. The gods and goddesses, as well as the demons of the underworld, influenced the ancient world immensely.

As Alexander the Great pushed his armies through territory after territory, they would have been met with similar weapons and trappings of war. Much of this changed when they reached the border of India. While the Indian populace was not thought to be as advanced as the Greek world, (to be honest, no one was considered to be as sophisticated as the Greeks by the Greeks), they were met with something that they would not have seen previously. These were elephants. Elephants were used as load bearing animals, as well as to carry men into battle, much as camels, donkeys, and horses were used in many other countries. The Macedonian troops would have encountered camels and donkeys routinely, as caravaners employed them to move heavy loads.

Camels could also go longer distances without water, which made them extremely useful when moving across vast deserts. Elephants, on the other hand, would have been a new animal to many of the Macedonian troops. But, Alexander did not really have the element of surprise when it came to India. There had been some trade with the Macedonians and Indian populace in the past, but there was still an air of mystery when it came to the oriental world. Many thought that India was inhabited by giants. Some of the tribes did have extremely tall inhabitants, with some of the leaders being recorded as being 7 feet tall.

Alexander the Great joined forces with a few of the Indian Kings but was unable to take another by surprise. No amount of feints and surprise movements could budge King Porus. Alexander was finally forced to make the first move, leaving King Porus on the defense. Many historians have debated aspects of the battle for years, as there seems to have been miscommunications going on, and orders being confused as to their meaning. While Alexander was initially able to bring part of India into the Macedonian fold, after his death, it quickly fell back into Indian hands, cutting the Greeks out of India once more.

Alexander's Invasion

Regarded as one of the greatest conquerors of all times, Alexander the Great was the King of Macedonia. He had an ambition to conquer the entire world. After conquering Persia, his forces moved towards the Indian sub-continent. It is estimated that Alexander lived from 356 B.C to 323 B.C. Though Alexander's invasion affected only the North Western parts of India, the event marks an important landmark in the history of India. Here is a brief write up on India's invasion by Alexander.

India was not unknown to the Greeks before the invasion by Alexander. Many Indian territories were ruled by the Persians who gained revenue from here in the form of gold. Herodotus, the Greek historian was aware of the riches that India had since he knew about the revenue collected by the Persian Empire. Roughly around 326 B.C Alexander decided to enter India from the northern frontiers. He crossed the Indus River and met King Ambi in Taxila. The king bowed down to the supremacy of Alexander and did not show any resistance.

His greatest battle was with King Porus, who was considered to be a very powerful Indian ruler during that time. The army of Greeks and Porus clashed during a fierce thunderstorm near River Hydaspes. Porus put up strong resistance against the Greeks. It was so fierce and violent that even Alexander was impressed by chivalry and power of Porus. It was during this battle that the faithful horse of Alexander got injured and died. Alexander named a city Buckephalia after the name of the horse Bucephalus. Ultimately Porus was defeated and was captured. But Alexander was impressed with the heroic Porus and decided to let him go and return his kingdom.

Alexander wanted to cross the Ganges River next but his army and deputies advised him otherwise. They told him to leave India since it was not easy to cross the river Ganges. Moreover, they had heard that the Nandas at the other side of Ganges were very powerful and possessed elephants and a gigantic army of soldiers. Thus, it would become difficult to defeat them. The Greeks were also becoming homesick and wanted to return. Halfheartedly, Alexander had to return due to the increasing pressures on him. Thus, the army of Alexander arranged and built ships in order to reach the ocean and take the oceanic route westwards to Greece. Half of the army came on the ships and the rest traveled along the coast.

Alexander the Great conquers India What are the effects of a Hellenic India

So lets say that Alexander lives longer. He does not have to conquer India on the first try, but eventually he does, replacing the Mauryan dynasty as the would be conqueror of India.

Eventually of course, Alexander dies and even if he left a viable heir I doubt that heir would have been able to hold an empire stretching from India to the Mediterranean, though I don't care if he does.

What I'm interested in is what are the effects of a Hellenic Empire in charge of India. This empire can be run by an actual descendant of Alexander, or it can be run by one of his generals in a carve up similar to what happened OTL following Alexander's death.

Can Buddhism and Jainism make a bigger splash in the West?
What would the effects of Greek political and religious ideas have on India?

Im just curious to the effects.

9 Fanged Hummingbird



Any possibility that the Seleucids might make a successful attempt at conquering lands beyond the Indus? Maybe if they had a more secure basis in the Near East (weaker Ptolemies perhaps), they might be able to shift focus east with some success. This could be combined with the erasure or marginalization of Chandragupta Maurya somehow to give the Seleucids a good chance against Magadha.

I'd be interested to know if this is at all plausible. Certainly there's no way the Seleucids could establish overlordship over all India like the Mauryans, but what about just replacing Magadha as the most influential player on the subcontinent, if only for a short time?


St. Just

To be able to conquer such a large area in such a short amount of time, you'd need to butterfly away Sandrakottos and this Magadha person. If the is assassinated along with any possible successors (preferably after they originally consolidates power, so that the old structures of the conquered lands are gone), than India is thrown into chaos. Alexander would also need a less tired army- he should play multiple sides against each other and invade late in his reign (this presumes he lives much longer).

In the chaos, Alexander would become a stabilizing force, and India would be conquered, piecemeal or otherwise. Have the son that will rule India marry a local (perhaps the daughter of Sandrakottos) to gain political legitimacy.. Of course, Hellenic India later on would have to be ruled by a cadet dynasty- it is too large to be ruled from anywhere other than India (at least, before the British came along).


Any possibility that the Seleucids might make a successful attempt at conquering lands beyond the Indus? Maybe if they had a more secure basis in the Near East (weaker Ptolemies perhaps), they might be able to shift focus east with some success. This could be combined with the erasure or marginalization of Chandragupta Maurya somehow to give the Seleucids a good chance against Magadha.

I'd be interested to know if this is at all plausible. Certainly there's no way the Seleucids could establish overlordship over all India like the Mauryans, but what about just replacing Magadha as the most influential player on the subcontinent, if only for a short time?

World history-Why did'nt Alexander the great invade India further than river Indus?

Why did'nt Alexander,the great invade India further tha river Indus?

Alexander,the great is known not only in Greek history but also in world history.After assuming the throne of Macedonia he united the Greek states,conquered the Persian empire,defeated the warlords of Afganistan and reached the banks of river Indus.Which important event took place over there?What was the ancient name of river Indus?


The main reason was mutiny by his soldiers against going further.
After facing Porus in a fierce battle, the Greek soldiers were heavily wounded and they lost their courage. Also they were afraid of crossing the great Ganga river and face the enemy waiting for them at the other side of the bank comprising of about three lakh soldiers. They were already surprised at the bravery of a Indian king with only twenty thousand infantry and there was no way they wanted to meet another three lakh.

Important incident may be battle with Porus
Ancient name/Indian name of Indus- Sindhu

Mastermind guru Chanakya made a plan of Kutniti, he sent Chandragupt and some Indian soldiers into Alexander's army. As where the Great Alexander invades and captures the states he also includes local soldiers in his army, so after defeating King Porus, some indian soldier became the part of his army.
Chandragupt entered in his army as an Indian soldier, the main purpose was to induce Indian soldier to fight against Greece army and he had done his job successfully. Here Chanakya was playing his game with Callisthenis(writer for Alexander). Chanakya made him threatened by doing some tantra mantra and told him that your god is not happy with your brutal job they want you to go back.
Seleucus the chief commander of Alexander's army was aware that some thing going wrong in Indian troop.
So from one side Seleucus was warning Alexander about Indian revolt and from other side Callisthenis was suggesting him to go back.
Finally Chandragupta and his troop decided to do revolution under the order of Chanakya and all this things made Alexander weak and also at that time he was physically weak so finally he decided to go back. And when he was coming back at Multan(In Pakistan) he got injured with poisonous multani arrow, from instant first aid of his personal doctor he got well but after a month in Babylon he finally left the world.

So there are the main reasons :

1. Chanakya's kutniti
2. Chandragupta's revolution in Greece army
3. Bad health of Alexander itself

Though I'm not sure but "Darya-e Sindh" may be the ancient name of river Indus.

His army was exhausted in body and spirit denied to go farther in the tropical rain. So though he was eager to proceed further but left the idea.

i) Alexander was physically ill then.

ii) The Greek army was against further bloodshed as they were tired both physically and mentally after so many battles they had to face.

iii)king Puru showed a great resistance which might frightened Alexander of some united resistance from the other bank of Indus.

iv)At Magadha, Dhanananda,the last emperor of Nanda dynasty built a large army to face foreign evaders. Alexander perhaps came to know it.

v)chandragupta and Chanakya played political game to make the Greek sidelined in the establishment of Mourya dynesty.

In 326 BC, Alexander III of Macedon, known more familiarly as Alexander the Great, having conquered the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, the largest empire within the ken of the Greeks of the time, turned his attention to the next great conquest, that of the fabled but little known land of India. What exotic people and riches awaited the greatest conqueror of ancient times? With only one way to find out, Alexander once more mounted his armies and stepped forward to the Indian sub-continent, transiting the famous Khyber Pass.

Digging Deeper

Alexander the Great was the premier conqueror of his day, a shrewd politician and military genius that invariably won battle after battle, and in fact usually also won the peace that followed with diplomatic tact to meld the conquered people into his empire, sharing Greek and Macedonian ways with the conquered people and adopting some of the defeated people’s culture. While his armies may have started to grow weary of battle and perhaps had developed a desire to enjoy the spoils of conquest, Alexander had an insatiable appetite for conquest, turning his attention to the East and the fabled land of India.

The far eastern reaches of the Achaemenid Empire included Gandhara, a Persian satrapy located in the area of what is now Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent. As Alexander had defeated the Achaemenids, moving into Gandhara presented no particular problem. The next region in Alexander’s sights was the Punjab, the region that today consists of Eastern Pakistan and the Northern part of India. It was there in May of 326 BC that Alexander won a great victory over King Porus of the Paurava Kingdom at what is known as The Battle of the Hydaspes.

Fought at the Jhelum River, a river known to the Macedonians and Greeks as the Hydaspes, Alexander wielded a force of about 40,000 infantrymen supported by as many as 7000 cavalry, a force that included Asian allies. In opposition fighting for King Porus was a similar sized force, though an army that included as many as 1000 charioteers and up to 200 war elephants among its ranks. Despite the obvious danger of engaging such a formidable foe, Alexander had no choice but to fight Porus for he could ill afford to bypass such a powerful foe left to threaten his flanks. The battle would prove a daunting challenge to Alexander, who used his military genius to good effect, crossing the monsoon swollen river in order to outflank his opponent, a risky though unexpected maneuver that gave Alexander a tactical advantage. Prior to the crossing, Porus carefully monitored the position of the invading army as Alexander moved his troops up and down the river, searching for a fordable crossing. Alexander managed to make his crossing with a degree of secrecy while leaving a major component of his forces behind to perform an enveloping attack once his initial force was engaged. Other components of Alexander’s army would make other crossings to support the attack.

Amphibious attacks are often called the most difficult of assaults, and river crossings are likewise among those attacks fraught with the danger of being overwhelmed during the crossing. Alexander managed the concepts of secrecy and surprise masterfully and used the tactics of filling animal skins with hay to provide flotation for his men and animals. He also ordered his galleys and other boats to be cut in half or in threes in order to provide smaller, stealthier craft to perform his river crossing.

The battle unfolded with Porus atop one of his largest war elephants, located with the other heavily armed and armored pachyderms at the center of his formation. Alexander eschewed attacking the strong front of the Indian formation, electing to attack the flanks to eliminate the enemy cavalry first. As the battle raged the war elephants took a heavy toll on Alexander’s infantry, stomping his phalanxes and goring men with steel encased tusks. Although hard fought with perhaps 1000 of Alexander’s men killed, the army of King Porus lost about 20,000 killed and captured.

Alexander admired the courage and valor of Porus in the battle, and sent an emissary to entreat the King to surrender. Porus hurled his spear at the messenger, but instead of enraging Alexander, Alexander found the act of defiance to be inspiring. Finally, Porus agreed to surrender and Alexander met him in a famous face to face meeting of great warriors. In recognition of the bravery of King Porus, Alexander spared his life and set up his former enemy as the proxy monarch of the new Macedonian acquisition. A late arriving force of Indian soldiers, including a contingent of 70 war elephants became part of the booty taken by Alexander.

Alexander led his army to the boundaries of the next empire on his path to North-central India, the Nanda Empire, but here his weary men demurred, longing for a respite from the constant fighting and travel further and further from their homes. Although short of what we may call a mutiny, the unrest among his soldiers prevailed upon Alexander to stop at the river Hyphasis (now called the Beas River) and agree to return to the West. Prior to marching Westward, Alexander, ever the cautious and deliberate military mind, ensured that his Southern border along the Indus River was secure by defeating miscellaneous tribes and towns along the way. In 326 BC, his advance into India was now over, and so was the conquering career of Alexander the Great, the greatest conqueror of his day and perhaps the best military mind in all of history. Alexander died of a fever under mysterious circumstances in Babylon in 323, the cause of death still debated among scholars.

The invasion of India by Alexander and his eclectic armies was highly successful and had resulted in the defeat of a great and powerful enemy, though it had stopped short of the endless advance envisioned by the eternal warrior, Alexander the Great. Was it even possible for Alexander to prevail against the enormous armies that lay before him in India? While such speculation is exactly that, just speculation, the task of encountering vast numbers of Indian soldiers would have taken an extreme toll on Alexander’s core of Macedonian and Greek soldiers and quite possibly led to his eventual defeat. Or not! Who knows?

Question for students (and subscribers): What if Alexander managed to motivate his men to march on when they mutinied? What if he had lived longer and returned to India to renew his campaigns there? In either scenario, could he have conquered all of India? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

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The featured image in this article, a painting of Alexander and Porus by Charles Le Brun (1619–1690), is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author’s life plus 100 years or fewer.

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About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.

Watch the video: ΠΡΟΕΙΔΟΠΟΙΗΣΗ ΣΟΚ ΒΑΡΔΗ ΒΑΡΔΙΝΟΓΙΑΝΝΗ! Τους έπιασε κρύος ιδρώτας στο Μέγαρο Μαξίμου. Αμφισβητεί..