• Mahmud came to the throne of Ghazni in AD 997.
  • He started his raids on India in AD 1001 by attacking and killing Jaipala, the king of Punjab in the first Battle of Waidind.
  • The first attack was made against frontier post in 100 and many forts and districts were captured.
  • The sixth expedition (the second Battle of Waihind) was against Anandapala (Hindushahi ruler of Punjab) in AD 1–8.
  • The next expedition in AD 1009 was against Nagarkot in the Kangra hills.
  • Ghazni led 17 expeditions between AD 1001 and AD 1027. He Plundered Thaneshwar, Muthura, Kannauj and Somnath.
  • The temple of Somnath, dedicated to Shiva, was plundered in AD 1026 situated on the seacoast of Kathiawar (Gujarat).
  • Utbi,regarded as a great literary figure at that time, he was Mahmud’s court historian. His Kitab-ul-Uanmi or Tarikh-I-Yamni is a book on Mahmud’s life and times.
  • Firdausi (persian poet), known as the immortal Homer of the East, wrote the Shahanama and Al Beruni a brilliant scholar from Central Asia, wrote Tahqia-i-hind.

Mahmud of Ghazni’s Early Life
Mahmud of Ghazni

On Nov. 2, 971, Yamin ad-Dawlah Abdul-Qasim Mahmud ibn Sabuktegin, better known as Mahmud of Ghazni, was born in the town of Ghazna (now known as Ghazni), in southeast Afghanistan. His father Abu Mansur Sabuktegin was Turkic, a former Mamluk warrior-slave from Ghazni.

When the Samanid dynasty, based in Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan) began to crumble, Sabuktegin seized control of his hometown of Ghazni in 977. He then conquered other major Afghan cities, such as Kandahar. His kingdom formed the core of the Ghaznavid Empire, and he is credited with founding the dynasty.

Not much is known about Mahmud of Ghazni’s childhood. He had two younger brothers; the second one, Ismail, was born to Sabuktegin’s principal wife. The fact that she, unlike Mahmud’s mother, was a free-born woman of noble blood would turn out to be key in the question of succession when Sabuktegin died during a military campaign in 997.

Rise to Power

On his deathbed, Sabuktegin passed over his militarily and diplomatically skilled eldest son Mahmud, 27, in favor of the second son, Ismail. It seems likely that he chose Ismail because he was not descended from slaves on both sides, unlike the elder and younger brothers.

When Mahmud, who was stationed at Nishapur (now in Iran), heard of his brother’s appointment to the throne, he immediately marched east to challenge Ismail’s right to rule. Mahmud overcame his brother’s supporters in 998, seized Ghazni, took the throne for himself, and placed his younger brother under house arrest for the rest of his life. The new sultan would rule until his own death in 1030.

Why Mahmud Ghazni attacked India?

He was attracted to the enormous wealth of India. This made him repeatedly raid India. He also added religious dimension to his invasion of India. He destroyed the temples of Somnath, Kangra, Mathura and Jwalamukhi to earn the nickname of Idol Breaker.

Impact of Ghazni’s attacks on India

Although there is no deep political impact of the Ghanavi’a invasions on India, It exposed the shortcomings of the war strategies of the Rajput kings. It also revealed that there was no political unity in India and it invited more attacks in future.

Death of Ghaznavi

In 1026, the 55-year-old sultan set out to invade the state of Kathiawar, on India’s west (Arabian Sea) coast. His army drove as far south as Somnath, famous for its beautiful temple to the Lord Shiva.

Although Mahmud’s troops successfully captured Somnath, looting and destroying the temple, there was troubling news from Afghanistan. A number of other Turkic tribes had risen up to challenge Ghaznavid rule, including the Seljuk Turks, who had already captured Merv (Turkmenistan) and Nishapur (Iran). These challengers had already begun to nibble away at the edges of the Ghaznavid Empire by the time Mahmud died on April 30, 1030. The sultan was 59 years old.


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