India – History and Society – for those who wish to think and learn for themselves
Timur the Lame (Tamerlane) (1336 to 1405) was one of the fiercest and most successful emperors ever. Despite being injured at a young age and becoming lame, his strong nature and willingness to be ruthless enable him to defeat rivals, invade neighbouring countries and plunder and conquer distant lands. He took upon the mantle of Genghis Khan building an empire which stretched from Europe to Eastern Asia. His armies took few captives and it is reported that approximately 5% of the then world population was slain by his armies during his lifetime. Paradoxically, he was also a patron of the arts and the city of Samarkhand flourished under him with mosques and monuments that are unparalleled even today. The country of Uzbekistan owes its identity to him.
After defeating his main rivals to the East, Timur decided to visit India. The riches of Delhi beckoned. In 1398, he attacked the Tughlaq Sultanate of Delhi, defeating various forces to the West before arriving at the plains outside Delhi. The battle was fought in Hauz Khas village (now a posh locality in modern South Delhi). He adopted a novel strategy of scaring the elephants of the Delhi army with fire laden camels. The ransacking of Delhi was accompanied by the slaying in thousands of the civilians who opposed his arrival. It is estimated that a 100,000 individuals were killed. Delhi never had a worse week than that suffered at the hands of Timur. Timur left as quickly as he had come, riches in hand.
The Eidgah in Hauz Khas village in South Delhi was built in 1404 by Mallu Khan (the virtual ruler during the reign of Mahmud Tughlaq (1392 to 1412 CE). A plaque at one end of the wall recalls the horrors of the ransacking of Delhi by Timur.
The Eidgah served as a place of Friday congregational prayer for the muslims. It is made of different materials and masonry. It has 13 arches and a place for the muezzin. It has amazingly stood for over 600 years despite the ravages of the growing city. It is now under protection of the Archaelogical Survey of India.
Timur’s connection with India was not to end. About 130 years later, his great great great grandson Babur, the ruler of Kabul, poet and writer came to India to establish the Mughal dynasty.