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Nadir Shah's Invasion of India

Updated on April 25, 2018

Nadir Shah

Nadir Quli (Nadir Shah) was born in 1688 at Khorasan. He was so ambitious from his childhood. Nadir Quli was a member of the Turkoman tribe, which had supplied military power to the Safavid dynasty that is ruling Persia. The Afghans under their leader Mahmud had conquered Kandhar from the Persians and later captured Isfahan, the capital of Persia. Nadir Quli took upon the task of liberating his nation from Afghan domination. He occupied Nishapur in 1727 from Afghans and prefered to work as Commander-in-Chief for Persia which was being ruled by Prince Shah Tahmasp of Safawid dynasty. In 1736 Prince Shah Tahmasp the last ruler of Safawid dynasty died and Nadir Quli became the ruler of the Persia and assumed the title Nadir Shah.

Mughal dynasty was ruling over India at this time. Inefficient administration weakened the defence system in the provinces. North-West Frontier the Province of Mughals (lies on the North-West side of the Mughal dynasty that borders with Persian empire) was neglected of the defence as the administration of Mughals has slowly began to deteriorate after Aurangzeb. During his reign, Aurangzeb administered every province of his dynasty efficiently. A constant and brisk communication of political intelligence had been maintained between the every province and the capital. This was no more continued after him (Aurangzeb), corruption and carelessness was the condition. Helpless condition of the defences of the provinces exposed Gujrat and Malwa to the attacks of Marathas.

Nadir Shah who was greatly ambitious from his childhood sought extension of his dominions. He targeted Kandhar and entered into an agreement with Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah soliciting that Afghan fugitives might not find shelter in Kabul (province of the Mughals) and assurance was given to Nadir Shah. In 1738 Nadir Shah attacked Kandhar and a number of Afghan fugitives took shelter at Kabul, he ordered his military not to pursue them and violate the Mughal territory. In 1737 Nadir Shah sent an imperative emissary towards Delhi to deal with the issue regarding the shelter to Afghan fugitives at Kabul. This emissary was attacked and cutoff at Jalalabad by the Mughal army.

Nadir Shah
Nadir Shah
The Peacock Throne
The Peacock Throne

The conditions in-between the two kingdoms began to deteriorate when the Mughal emperor discontinued the practice of exchange of ambassadors with the Persian Court at the time Nadir ascending the throne, which was an insult. The event of attack of emissary by Mughal army completely spoiled the relations in-between the two kingdoms. However, Nadir Shah's invasion of India are to be found in his ambition on the one hand and the apparent weakness of the Mughal Empire on the other. Greed exited after Nadir Shah heard about the fabulous wealth of India and finally decided to invade India.

Nadir Shah attacked Ghazni in 1738 and captured Kabul too immediately. Nasir Khan, the Mughal governor of Kabul, surrendered without any resistance and later after crossing Indus at Attock Nadir Shah easily defeated the governor of Lahore. Both the governors were treated well and they too have joined Nadir Shah and assisted him in capturing Delhi, the capital of Mughals.

Mughal emperor gathered an army of 80,000 accompanied by Nizam-ul-Mulk, Qamar-ud-Din, Khan-i-Dauran and Saadat Khan (joined them soon after) marched from the capital to check the rapid advance of Nadir Shah. A battle was fought at Karnal on 24 February 1739 which was lasted for only three hours where the weak Mughals were easily defeated. Khan-i-Dauran died in the battlefield while Saadat Khan was taken as prisioner. Nizam-ul-Mulk played the role of peace-maker and an agreement was confirmed according to which Nadir Shah would get 50 lakh of rupees (20 immediately and 30 in equal installments each payable at Lahore, Attock and Kabul provinces respectively).

Saadat Khan the Mughal Nobel played havoc at this time and told Nadir Shah that he could easily secure 20 crore of rupees if he would attack Delhi. One more time greed exited him and Nadir Shah on 20 March 1739 reached Delhi. He tried to collect maximum booty from Delhi and laid all the Nobels and even general population under contribution. Saadat Khan was threatened of corporial punishment if he did not collect for the invader the amount of 20 crore, being helpless he took poison and ended his life.

The booty collected by Nadir Shah amounted to 30 crore in cash beside Jewels, gold and silver. He carried with him the 'Peacock Throne of Shahjahan' which alone costs a crore. Nadir Shah also took along with him 100 elephants, 7000 horses, 10000 camels, 130 writers, 200 smiths, 300 masons and builders and 200 carpenters. The Mughal emperor also gave a Royal Princess in marriage to Nadir Shah's son, Nasir Allah Mirza. Mughal provinces on west of the river Indus including Kashmir and Sind were also surrendered to Nadir Shah.


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    • profile image

      Arun Nigudkar 

      7 years ago

      Nadir Shah had never thought that he would get huge plunder in Delhi,Mathura and Agra. Carrying it away through hills and valleys , and through heights of Himalayas back to Persia, in front of his own soldiers roused ever increasing temptation for many. He had not planned for secret well guarded store rooms for his plundered valuables. With the result, he made himself vulnerable and ultimately was murdered in sleep in 1746.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      8 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh my! That's quite an account of history. Makes me wish I had more background in the history of that part of the world. Some names are familiar, but I need to have a firmer foundation in the geography as well as the history of the areas involved. Your hubs are helping me, though! Thank you!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Fabulous piece of history, very detailed and well constructed giving us a gripping read!!


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