|I do maps and stuff, but mainly maps. My primary cartographic interest is historical - both factual and counterfactual.|
This is a historical map.
I was sick and tired of not being able to find a high-resolution map of the Indian sub-continent prior to Babur’s invasion showing the Timurid domains as well as the various state entities. So, I went ahead and made my own. I spent a lot of time researching this piece as well as adjusting the colour scheme, but in the end, I’m quite happy with both - although I could have wished for a more detailed demarcation of the territories controlled by Babur, but such is life when you’re making maps related to late medieval/ early modern India and Central Asia.
Before the Tiger’s Leap
In 1525, Northern India was embroiled in a bitter struggle for supremacy between the Afghan Lodi Dynasty enthroned in Delhi and a confederacy of Hindu Rajput states under the leadership of the grizzled Rana Sanga of Mewar. It is into this conflict that Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muhammad (called Barbur, meaning The Tiger) the prince of Fergana and Cisoxiana (present day Afghanistan) one year later directed his compact host of Turkic and Mongol warriors. Babur himself was the scion of a prestigious Mongol dynasty, tracing his lineage back to the world conquerors Tamerlane and Genghis Khan which embedded him with a sense of a right as well as a duty to rule - by conquest if necessary. However, his grandiose dreams of restoring the Timurid Empire were unraveled by the loss of his beloved Samarkand to the Uzbeks. A prince without a throne whose destined place in life seemed denied him, Babur instead turned his eyes south beyond the Hindu Kush; to the Indian subcontinent and the lush riches of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Forays into the Punjab had already been undertaken and the city of Lahore subjugated in 1524 before the Timurid prince crossed the Khyber Pass like the Ghorid and Ghaznavid conquerors before him and went on to make his own destiny in the field at Panipat.
Babur’s eventual victory over the Lodis and Rajputs created the framework for the growth and blossoming of the Mughal Empire (Mughal essentially meaning Mongol), which in time would supplant almost all other states on the sub-continent and mature into an unrivalled martial and cultural powerhouse under the stewardship of Babur’s magnificent grandson Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar.
Joppen, Charles (London, 1931): A Historical Atlas of India. Longmans, Green, and Co. (Basemap can be found here)
Habib, Irfan (New York, 1982): An Atlas of the Mughal Empire. Oxford University Press.
Jackson, Peter (Cambridge, 1999): The Delhi Sultanate - A Political and Military History. Cambridge University Press.
Richards, John F. (Cambridge, 1993): The New Cambridge History of India - The Mughal Empire. Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (Chicago, 1978): A Historical Atlas of South Asia. Chicago University Press.
Thackson, Wheeler M. (New York, 1996): The Baburnama: Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor. Oxford University Press.