Easy success in Bihar and in Bengal made Bakhtyar over confident
Easy success in Bihar and in Bengal made Bakhtyar over confident in himself and fanned his lust for further victories. Bakhtyar Khalji's Tibet expedition was the last episode of his adventurous career. It is not known definitely as to what motivated Bakhtyar in leading an hazardous campaign to Tibet, a country which was still unfamiliar to the newly arrived Turks. Of course, Tibet was not a terra-incognita to the people of Bengal. Since ancient days Bengal had cultural and commercial contacts with this land on the other side of the Himalayas. The traders of Bhutan and Tibet used to visit North Bengal and Kamrup with their merchandise. It was from them that Bakhtyar got an idea about the fabulous wealth of Tibet as well as he gathered from them many valuable information about Tibet.
Bakhtyar had only conquered just a portion of Bengal
But it is surprising that instead of conquering the Hindu kingdoms of the plain, Bakhtyar preferred to undertake such a hazardous campaign. As a matter of fact, Bakhtyar had only conquered just a portion of Bengal and his principality was surrounded by a ring of Hind kingdoms like the Mithila Kingdom of North Bihar, the Hindu kingdom of Orissa, the Sena Kingdom of Eastern Bengal and the kamrup kingdom of the North-Eastern frontier tract. For the sake of consolidation and security of his newly founded principality in the midst of alien population, it would have been prudent on his part to subjugate these Hindu principalities before undertaking such an adventurous expedition across the Himalayas. Possibly he was not sure of his success against these Hindu powers. He did not possess troops and other equipments sufficient to capture strong Hindu forts nor was it his policy to provoke any wide-scale commotion in the country which might have forged a common front among the neighboring Hindu princes against the Muslim invaders. Such a combination might have endangered the loosely established Muslim principality of Lakhnauti. Bakhtyar was primarily a soldier of fortune.
The drudgery of day-to day administration could not satisfy his restless adventurous spirit. His Afghan and Turkish followers were growing restless and they were required to be pacified by offering opportunities for plunder. The stories of fabulous wealth of Tibet perhaps inspired him to undertake such a risk Abdul Majed Khan observes, ;'The legend of Gushtasib's buried wealth and '"he strong that he came to Hindus than from China via Kamrupa were perhaps responsible for encouraging him in his projector" as K.R. Qanungo has observed, "was it the pioneer spirit of exploring and opening a short cut to Turkistan" There might be some truth in the statement of Qanungo. Bakhtyar conquered a portion of Bengal with his own initiative without any help from Qutbuddin Aibak. Bakhtyar had with him a handful of Muslim soldiers in the midst of a hostile alien population.
He clearly understood that unless he could raise his strength by impressing into his service quite a sufficient number of war-like people of Turkistan, it would be well nigh impossible for him to consolidate and strengthen his position in Bengal. As it was not possible for him to recruit soldiers from Upper India and to bring them down to this far off province in the face of the ruler of Delhi, he desired to open a short-cut route to Turkistan through Tibet so that he might import Turkish adventurers without raising suspicion in the minds of Delhi's authorities. Minhaj hints at the real purpose of the expedition when he speaks of the trading routes numbering about thirty five that carried a brisk traffic in Tangan horses from 'Karam-baftan' (possibly Kumrikotah in Bhutan) and Tibet to Kamrup and thence to North Bengal. Habibullah says that "Bengal being particularly deficient in horses, Bakhtyar may reasonably have desired to obtain a monopoly of this imported bread."
Bakhtyar's darkest hour of misfortune
It appears that Bakhtyar Khalji had made thorough preparations for this expedition and collected necessary information about the routes leading to Tibet. At that time the region lying between Lakhuauti and the Himalayas was inhabited by three principal mongoloid tribes viz. Koch, Mech and Tharu. Minhaj writes "Among the hills which lie between Tibet and the territory of Lakhnauti, there are three races of people. The one is called Kuch, the second Mich and the third Tihara. They all have Turkish features and speak different languages, something between the language of Hind and that of Tibet." Minhaj further writes that before undertaking the expedition, Bakhtyar sent a few detachments to explore the region and 10 collect useful information. In course of such exploratory raids, one of the chiefs of Mech fell into the hands of Muslim soldiers who was converted to Islam by Bakhtyar Khalji. This man, later known as Ali Mech, agreed to conduct Bakhtyar through the hills. Moreover. Ali Mech won for his new master the loyalty of his tribe "which as we learn, stood well the test of Bakhtyar's darkest hour of misfortune".
Bakhtyar expected assistance from the Rai of Kamrup who more than once had suffered agressions at the hands oi Lakshman-sena. The Kingdom of Kamrup was separated from the Muslim Kingdom of Lakhnauti by the river Tista-karatoya. There is nothing on record as to prove that the Kamrup King joined Bakhtyar in his Tibet expedition or helped him in any way. Besides, the Kamrup King was not powerful enough to resist the advance of the Turkish soldiers. Hence Bakhtyar decided to lead his army through the Kingdom of Kamrup.
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