Bakhtyar Khalji took necessary measures for defending Bengal
Bakhtyar Khalji took necessary measures for defending his kingdom during his absence. He posted Muhammad Shiran Khalji at Lakhnor (modern Nagar or Rajnagar in Birbhum district) at the head of an army with a view to keep the Hindus South of the Ganges busy as well as to bring the Rarh or South-Western region under permanent subjugation. For the security of the eastern frontier of the Muslim Kingdom. Ali Mardan Khalji was posted at Ghoraghat on the right bank of the river Karatoya. Bakhtyar's another lieutenant Husamuddin Iwaz Khalji was entrusted with the defense of the western frontier with his headquarters at Tanda. The administration of the entire tract from the Rajmahal hills to the lower course of the Kosi river was put in the hands of Husamuddin Iwaz. The river Kosi was the line of demarcation between the Mithila Kingdom of North Bihar and the Muslim principality of Gaur-Lakhnauti. Minhaj writes that in his Tibet expedition Bakhtyar Khalji collected ten thousand soldiers. But according to Ghulam Husain and Badauni, he collected twelve thousand troopers.
At the head of this vast army, Bakhtyar started from Devkot towards the close of the winter of 1206 on his fateful expedition. Reverty has not said anything about the starting point of the expedition. Block Mann says "He seems to have set out from Lakhnauti or Devkot. But there is no reference to Devkot yet which is mentioned as a place when Bakhtyar took shelter after his discomfiture. The seat of his Government was fixed at Devkot and the expedition must have started from there
Bakhtyar's role in the Bengal history
The direction to which the invading army proceeded is not mentioned clearly in the contemporary works. Doubtless, Bakhtyar had communication from the Rai of Kamrup on his way to Tibet. His first object while leaving Devkot with his army was to proceed eastwards and reach Kamrup. The topography of Bakhtyar's Tibet campaign has been critically examined by Bhattasale. The noted scholar says that three principal routes were open to Bakhtyar. The northernmost one starts from Malda reaches Dinajpur via Devkot and passes through Rangpur, Kurigram and Dinhata to Rangamati. The second more southernly route joins the first route at Kurigram after passing through Nisanpur, Buxygunj and Ghoraghat. The Southernmost route bifurcates from the second route at Nisanpur, passes straight east by Kanchan to Sibgunj where it crosses the Karatoya and then it goes north to Govindgunj and Bardhan Kuthi and joins the second route a few miles further north. The Taba-qat-i Nasiri states categorically that Ali Mech led the Muslim army to a city called Bardhan Kot.
But in the opinion of Bhattasali Ali Mech was possibly not with the army at this stage. Anyway, the Muslim army came to Bardhankot. Raverty cites some variants of the name from different manuscripts, one of which is Murdhan or Murdhankot. "If Murddan be the correct name of the place to which the army was led, Nek-Marddan, the famous cattle fair in the Dinajpur district at once suggests itself. The place is directly north of Lakhnauti and on the high road leading to the north. From Nek-Maiddan which is in Malduar state, the road passes north-east by Gobinagor, Calpauni, Lalbazar and Cooch-Behar to Rangamati. Muhammad may have preferred this route to the Southern routes in order to avoid crossing a number of rivers near their mouths where they are the broadest. But the prefix Nek of the name Nek-Marddan is a difficult hard to reconcile. This route, again is undoubtedly more circuitous than the other three and passed through more jungly and less civilized tracts. A man of common sense is more likely to prefer marching through inhabited tracts with plenty of provisions. The Southern routes thus get preference and as a place called Bardhankuthi actually stands on the Southern most route, this has naturally to be preferred above all others." There are contradictory statements in the Tabaqat-i-Nasiri about the joining of Ali Mech with Bakhtyar's army.
In one place Minhaj says that Ali Mech conducted the invading army to Bardhankot in front of which flowed a river three times as big as the Ganges. But in other place, he says that Bakhtyar arrived at the bank of this river where Ali Mech joined him. On this point Bhattasali writes "Muhammad certainly did not require a guide in the territory under his immediate occupation. And the region of Bardhankuthi, if not within the territory of Muhammad, cannot have been far beyond it. Thus, the probability is in favour of Ali joining Muhammad on the bank of the great river." The large river in front of Bur-dhankot which Minhaj calls Bagmati presents some difficulty. It was thrice as broad as the Ganges, Raverty in translation of the Tabaqat recognizes that this description suits only the great Brahmaputra river. Blochmanu is of different opinion. He says, "According to Minhaj, a Urge river flows in front of the town. This can only refer to Karatoya which formed so long the boundary of ancient and Muhommadan Bengal and later, of the Koch and the Koch Hajo dominions." Supporting Raverty's assumption, Battasali identifies the river with Brahamaputra. The broad river actually flowed before Rangamati and not before Bardhankuthi on the eastern bank of the Karatoya. "It is by the northern (right) bank of the Brahamaputra that Muhammad marched towards Kamrup starting from Rangamati and not along the right bank of the Kaiatoya to Darjeeling or Sikkim as Blochmann erroneously supposed."
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