Nadar Shah – Sacking of Delhi

22 March 1739 was the horrific day for the people of Delhi.  Persian armies almost killed 30,000 innocent citizens on orders of Tyrant and Persian ruler Nadar Shah. The flashing sword of Nadar Shah swang into the instruction of start the massacre of Delhi people from Rowshan O-Dowleh mosque and tense emotion surfaced over his face which no one his army could dare to break. His sward was the symbol of upcoming terror and horrific death by Persian army in the densely populated area of Delhi. The terror created by Nadar Shah was so grave that it becomes the most painful date in Indian History.

Six hours bloodbath and plundering by Nadar Shah’s army was recorded in Delhi history as black morning for Delhi people. In Tarikh e Hind by Rustam Ali.

Tazkira by Anand Ram Mukihls describe the horror as:-

“Here and there some opposition was offered, but in most places, people were butchered unresistingly. The Persians laid violent hands on everything and everybody. For a long time, streets remained strewn with corpses, as the walks of a garden with dead leaves and flowers. The town was reduced to ashes.”

The killing of 30,000 Man, woman and children were the gut-wrenching horror for people of Delhi but it just started, even after Nadar Shah plundered 90 Million euro taxation from poor and broken people of Delhi. His army divided into 1000 Calvery for each district to collect loot and forced plundering from every district around it.

It has been told that street was full of blood and dead bodies. The area was under the enormous smell of decaying of bodies. Yamuna cold water had become red by the blood of beheaded body at its ghat’s. Many women’s been brutally raped and their private parts were torn apart by swards. Children’s were hanged on swards tip, mutilated and even thrown from buildings. Many families who seem that coming done mass suicide with their families for saving them from tortures of the manic Persian army. Beautiful woman and minor girls were hunted for weeks and raped into the groups of the army. Many were raped and killed over their families dead bodies. Children were forced to watch the rape of their mothers and sisters. Mans eye socket was extracted out after raping his entire family in front of him.  The horror of Nadar Shah was continued up to six hours constantly and plundering up to many weeks.  This barbarian act broked the magical kingdom. While looting and booty gain by Nadar Shah’s which include Koh-I Noor and Dariya I Noor diamond with Mohammad Shah Peacock throne was so huge that he exempted the taxation for the common Persian public for three years.

How Nadar Shah entered Delhi

The Battle of Karnal was the shameful defeat for Mugal King Mohammad Shah. His army simply kneels down in front of Nadar Shah within three hours. His loyal Saddath Khan turned against him. Mohammad Shah, a person of high stature in Mughal kingdom begged for mercy from Tahmasp Qoli Khan (Another name given to Nadar Shah). 

Everything started with a pretext used by Nadar Shah to attack Mughal empire. Previously Nadar shah armies were dealing with mercenaries and looters of Afagn who used to hide in casus belli. Nadar Shah informed Mughal empire about his problem about Afgan mercenaries. And it was assured by Mughal empire that they will resolve the issue. Nizam-Ul-Mulk, the governor of the western front of Mughal empire was incapable of the capturing of Afgan mercenaries and even he wasn’t aware of the numbers of these looters. Mughals emperor was not interested to solve these minor problem of his vast empire which was used as the pretext by Nadar Shah. One fine day, Nadar Shah started his journey for the attack on Mughal empire. He was accompanied by the Gregorian armies as a token of loyalties to them.

On his arrival at Mughal empire, Governer of Kabul and Peshawar raised the army for 20,000 soldiers to create a resistance amongst that movement of Nadar Shah imperial Persian army. They were planning to fight with the Persian army near Kheibar pass.

Nadar Shah with his royal guard

Kheibar pass is the narrow passage which is allowed very naive movement through the pass. The Governor thought they could be pinned down the whole army there and enjoy the gift from Mughals for their actions of defeating Iranian King. However, Nadar Shah was informed by his sepoys about the Kheibar Pass. He planned to trick both governors and used a long distance but very hard route to cross the Kheibar pass. It was 80 km route with the harsh environment. another side, he sent his one troops which include 12,000 light calvaries under the supervision of Nasrollah Qoli. He tactically triked the governors and attack from behind which was hard to tackle. They ruined the governer armies and crossed Peshawar.


On the 16th of November 1739, he entered the Lahore and his governer simultaneously surrender to Nadar Shah in exchange for Money and promise for assigned as Ruler of Lahore under his empire.

Mohammad Shah who was the ruler of Mughal empire gathered a large force to fight. It was said that almost 3,00,000 army men joined fight with 3,000 canons and 200 War Elephants. The army walking march was 25 Km in length and 3 Km in width, this can give a glimpse of army strength of that time. Due to such heavy force, Mohammad Shah has to stop at Karnal (110 Km away from Delhi) and the camp was settled around Alimardan river. Mohammad Shah was fighting with his two loyal army commander and chief advisor Khan Dowran and Nizam-ul-Mulk. 


Mohammad Shah (The Last King of Mughal Empire)


Saddath Khan was another commander who marched for joining the Mughal army with his own 10,000 soldiers. On other Side, Nadar Shah has divided his main army into three parts. They camped near the village of Kanjpura. Tahmasp Khan Jalayer was supervising the right wing of the army, Morteza Qoli Khan was commanding central wing while Loft Ali Khan & Fathali Khan was in charge of Left-wing. The attack was started by Saddath Khan without consulting to Mohammad Shah. When Mohammad Shah learned about Saddath Khan first attack, he was eager to support him but Nizam Ul Mulk advises him to not retaliate at this point. Tahmasp Khan attack on Saddath Khan with Camel mounted guns (Zamburaks). Nadar Shah instructed a fearsome fire attack against Saddath Khan. On the other side, Mohammad Shah itself started a war with his royal armies after ignoring the advice of his chief advisers. Nadar Shah again tricked the Mughals, he took 10,000 people with him and silently moved towards the forest near alimardan river. After crossing the river, he waited for while an attack on Mughal camp where he killed his chief advisor Khan Dowran.

On other Side Saddath Khan become defenseless and been captured by Murtaza Qoli. Nadar confronted him (Saddhath Khan) and asked him to surrender. He also made alliance with Saddath Khan after releasing him against Mohammad Shah.

Mohammad Shah and Nadar Shah Army formation


Then there was two round meeting with Mohammad Shah in which Mohammad Shah surrenders to Nadar Shah and been captive under his royal army.

Nadar Shah entry and Sacking of Delhi

On 20 March 1739, Nadar Shah army enters Delhi with Mohammad Shah as a captive. They imposed strict military rule and his army sent out for tax collection from local people. He increases sex slaves of Mohammad Shah’s ministers to gain their faith. Saddath Khan assigned to collect taxes for his new master. Nadar Shah ridiculed him for not collecting taxes enough from people and Saddath Khan killed himself within few days of arrival. The new military of Nadar Shah increased the price of goods which become the reason of people agitation.

Rumor of Nadar Shah death by Mohammad Shah spread which give a boost to some civilians who wage a local fight against Persian guards. Nadar Initially declines all agitation.

Rowshan O-Dowleh Mosque in Delhi (Present day)

On Morning of 22nd March 1739, when Nadar was going for Morning Namaz, a gunfire crossed him killing his royal bodyguard. From the same moment, He swung his sword from top of mosque Rowshan O-Dowleh and ordered the massacre of Delhi people. The densely populated cities become the victim of Maniac Nadar. His order took 30,000 life (some estimate it up to 60,000 to 1,00,000) with raping of women, children and beheading of men. most of the captive beheaded near Jamuna river by Persian army. He order of loot which estimated 90 million euro of that time. Nadar returned to Persia in the first week of May 1739, till the time his army continue to tax collection and occasional killing and raping. The massacre was beyond explanation, dead bodies were all over roads and every inch of Delhi was red from blood.



The sacking of Delhi People under Tyrant Nadar Shah


The plunder seized from Delhi was so rich that Nadir stopped taxation in Persia for a period of three years following his return. Nadir Shah’s victory against the crumbling Mughal Empire in the East meant that he could afford to turn to the West and face the Ottomans. The Ottoman Sultan Mahmud I initiated the Ottoman-Persian War (1743-1746), in which Muhammad Shah closely cooperated with the Ottomans until his death in 1748. Nader’s Indian campaign alerted, as a far-off foreign invader, also the British East India Company to the extreme weakness of the Mughal Empire and the possibility of expanding to fill the power vacuum.

Reference : 

Wikipedia- Nadar Shah

Wikipedia – Nadar Shah’s invasion of Mughal empire

Wikipedia – Battle of Karnal 

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