Karrapa disaster : Aimal Khan Mohmand defeats Mughals [1674]

In 1672 a general Pashtun uprising broke out against the Mughals. After suffering several reverses, Emperor Aurangzeb sent Shujaat Khan, who had recently made the name for himself by quelling Satnami rising in Punjab, with abundant war material and artillery to punish the Pashtuns (14th November 1673). Jaswant Singh was to cooperate with him. Shujaat Khan was a man of humble origin who had risen to high rank and the emperor’s favour by his success by quelling the Satnami rising. Shujaat Khan came to Peshawar in February 1674 A.D to restore the imperial prestige, and after a short stay at Peshawar, moved to Gandab valley (in the present-day Mohmand Agency) on 21st February 1674, ignoring the advice of Jaswant Singh of staying in Peshawar for some more time.  Shujaat Khan climbed the saddle (kotal) of the Karapa Pass to push on to Kabul (Karrapa pass lies north-east of Kabul River while the Khyber Pass lies south-west of it). At Gandab, Aimal Khan, the supreme leader of the great Pashtun uprising, was preparing for attack on imperial armies. Aimal Khan had set up as king of the hillmen and struck coins in his own name.

That night there was a heavy fall of rain; and everyone in the Indian camp was brought to death’s door by the extreme cold and wet. The Afghans from the heights on the two sides began to harass the Mughal army. Pashtuns occupied the top of the pass and blocked the path. The night was so dark that the planets missed their way in the wide plain of the sky, and therefore all men were frightened and troubled —- unable either to advance or retreat. Shujaat Khan, proud of his bravery, began to fight with bows and muskets. The Pashtuns led by Aimal Khan Mohmand showered stones, arrows and bullets. But what the imperialists discharged missed the mark, while the missiles of the Pashtuns took effect. The Imperialist, perplexed and shaken, retreated to a safer position for the rest of the night. But many of them were be-numbered to death in the pass and many others paralyzed by the cold. At dawn the Pashtuns charged the Mughal army from all sides. Shujaat Khan sought and found a soldier’s death in the front rank. Thousands of Shujaat Khan’s soldiers fell on the battlefield.

Maharaja Jaswant Singh sent five hundreds Rajputs to rescue the Shujaat Khan’s army. But his force was also defeated by Aimal Khan, and Jaswant Singh fled from the field along with two hundreds Rajputs.

Khushal Khan Khattak wrote about Aimal Khan’s bravery as under;-

“And then Jaswant Singh and Shujaat Khan,
Of whom Aimal Khan plucked up the roots at Gandab.
The sixth was over Mukarram khan and Shamsher Khan,
Both of whom, at Khapash, Aimal scattered to the winds.

This disaster convinced Aurangzeb that a supreme effort had to be made to restore imperial prestige and decided to go there in person.  On 26th June 1674, he came to Hasan Abdal to direct the war.


An oil on canvas of two Afghan blue soldiers on the North west Frontier, one horseman with henna beard, turban, spear and round shield with three bolts, on a white horse with woven saddle with red and blue tassles, the horse being led by a soldier with his back to the viewer, with a musket over his shoulder, set against a mountainous sunset with low clouds, signed and dated lower left W. Fane 1879, in a gilt composition frame




1- History of Aurangzib, Vol-III, pp-235-236
2- Khafi Khan, Muntakhib-ul-lubab, Vol-III, p-143
3-  Mathir-i-Alamgiri, p-81
4- Fatuhat-i-Alamgiri, pp-108-


Leave a comment