You are on page 1of 14










B.A.LL.B. (Hons.)- I sem

It is a great enthusiasm of satisfaction and a matter of privilege to work on a project of history. I express
my deep gratitude to my teacher Dr. Vandana Singh. She helped me to understand and remember important
details of the project work. I am thankful to the honourable Vice Chancellor, Prof. Gurdeep Singh and the
Dean (Academics), Prof (Dr.) C.M. Jariwala, who provided me all possible resources for the successful
completion of this project. Without their guidelines, the project would not have worked successfully and
effectively. At last but not the least, I am thankful to my parents and friends who encouraged and motivated
me to make the best possible efforts for the completion of this project.


Delhi sultanate before the Khiljis…………………………………………………………………..

Rise of the Khiljis and Capture of Delhi…………………………………………………………..

Reign of Alauddin Khilji: The golden era………………………………………………………….

Mongol invasions……………………………………………………………………………………

Decline of the dynasty………………………………………………………………………………




Delhi’s history begins with the onset of the Delhi Sultanate in the 12th century. Delhi Sultanate collectively
refers to the period of 320 years (from 1206 AD to 1526 AD). This period mainly saw Muslim invasions to
India. These invasions resulted in the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate with Delhi as their capital.
During this period, five dynasties ruled over Delhi, i.e., Slave/Mamluk dynasty, Khilji Dynasty, Tughluq
Dynasty, Sayyid Dynasty and the Lodi Dynasty. This project basically focuses on the Khilji dynasty.

Khilji dynasty was the second Muslim dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1290 to 1320 over a
large area in South Asia. Jalal-ud-din Khilji overthrew Balban's successors and founded the Khilji Dynasty.
He was faced with a tough task ahead, and unfortunately initially he did not enjoy the support of the nobles
or the people of Delhi. However, soon his impeccable character, his generosity and devotion as well as
being a just person, won over his subjects and he was able to settle down in rule. He was succeeded by his
nephew, Ala-ud-din Khilji, under whose reign the empire flourished. His reign was the golden period of the
dynasty. The sultanate was then succeeded by Shahab-ud-din Umar but he was soon removed from the
crown by his brother Qutub-ud-din Mubarak Shah Khilji who proclaimed himself as the new Sultan
himself. He was a weak ruler in comparison to the previous two rulers. After ruling for 4 years, he was
succeeded by Khusrau Khan who was the last ruler of the dynasty. Khusrau Khan was killed by
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in 1320, and this marked the end of Khilji dynasty.

The first muslim invasion in India was by Mohammad Bin Qasim in 712 AD. He conquered Sindh which
became the province of Omayyad Khilafat. Second in line was Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, who led about
17 expeditions to India to enrich himself by taking away the wealth from India. In 1025 he attacked and
raided the most celebrated Hindu temple of Somnath that lies on the coast in the extreme south of
Kathiwar. The temple was destroyed in 1026 AD.

The establishment of the Delhi Sultanate began with the invasion of Mohammad Ghori in India. His entry
is important, because unlike Mahmud, he was not interested in looting India but was looking at it to settle
down and establish a kingdom. He realized that even more fertile land lay east, and he slowly inched into
India. This brought him into conflict with the Indian kings and in 1191 the Rajputs in a rare show of unity,
rallied around Prithviraj Chauhan and defeated Mohammad. He was imprisoned, but Prithviraj released
him and sent him back to Afghanistan. A year later, Mohammad returned with re-enforcements and
defeated Prithviraj. Mohammad became the ruler of Delhi, and went on to conquer other regions in North
India. He appointed a general, Qutab-ud-din-Aibak to look after his possessions in India. The years
between 1193 and 1206 were of great uncertainty and had the Indian kings been more united, they might
have been able to defeat the invaders. However, the opportunity to do so slipped by and the invaders slowly
began consolidating their position. In 1206, Mohammad was assassinated. His general Qutab-ud-din-Aibak
then declared himself independent of the Afghan state and founded what came to be known as the Slave
Dynasty (for its founder was a former slave of Mohammad). This dynasty is the beginning of what came to
be known as the Delhi Sultanate period.

Qutub-ud-din-Aibak was a strong, fair and able king. He is reported to rarely have lost a battle was known
for delivering fair justice to his citizens. He attempted to bring peace and prosperity to his citizens in a
turbulent time. He was a devout Muslim and built several mosques. His rule was very brief lasting just a
few years. He is the person who started the construction of the Qutab Minar in Delhi, which was completed
by his successor. After his death a power struggle broke out and Malik Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, Qutub-ud-
din- Aibak's son-in-law succeeded to the throne.

He was a very capable ruler and is regarded as the 'real founder of the Delhi Sultanate'. He made Delhi the
capital in the place of Lahore. He saved Delhi Sultanate from the wrath of Chengiz Khan, the Mongol
leader, by refuing shelter to Khwarizm Shah, whom Chengiz was chasing. He introduced the silver coin
(tanka) and the copper coin (jital). He organised the lqta System and introduced reforms in civil
administration and army, which was now centrally paid and recruited. He set up an official nobality of
slaves known as Chahalgani/Chlisa(group of 40). He completed the construction of Qutub Minar which
was started by Aibeks. He patronised Minhaj-us-Siraj, author of 'Tabaqat-i-Nasiri'. He nominated Raziya,
his daughter, to be the next Sulta, as he felt that none of his sons were capable of running the empire.
However, the nobles of the time were not prepared to have a woman as a ruler, and hence got together and
put up the eldest surviving son, Rukn-ud-din Firuz to the throne. This proved to be a grave mistake as he
had little interest or capability in running the kingdom. His mother Shah Turkhan took advantage of her
son's disinterest in running the empire and seized control. The empire was thrown into disarray and the
credibility of the central government plummeted. The nobles then did an about turn and reinstated Razia as
the Sultan. The young queen still faced opposition from a section of nobles who could not reconcile
themselves to being ruled by a woman. However, Razia was a very capable ruler and was able to overcome
the many difficulties that confronted her. She was tactful and diplomatic and hence was able to overpower
her enemies and was soon able to re- establish the authority of the Sultanate in the country. However, in
1240 AD, Razia became the victim of a conspiracy and was assassinated near Kaithal (Haryana). 1

After Razia, three unsuccessful rulers ascended the throne in succession. Their reign was short and
unfruitful. After them came Ghiyasuddin Balban, who was a great ruler. The empire that Balban inherited
was in a very precarious condition. In the thirty years that had elapsed since the death of Iltutmish, the state
had fallen into chaos due to the incompetence of his successors. The national treasury was almost empty
and the prestige of the central government had fallen considerably. The need of the hour was for a strong
and able king, one who would restore the kingdom to its former glory. Balban proved to be such a king,
and during his tenure he ensured that the Delhi Sultanate would continue to be an important power in India.

Balban was an important Sultan of the sultanate period as he rescued it from one of its weakest positions.
He may not have extended the empire, or made radical improvements in administration, but he made the
important contribution of setting the groundwork for a strong king to take the Sultanate to even higher
standards. His death marked the end of the Slave Dynasty for his successor was weak and was soon
overthrown by Jalal-ud-din Khilji who founded the next dynasty of the Sultanate period, the Khilji dynasty.

(accessed on 25 October 2013)

The Khiljis were one of the sixty-four clans of the Turks. They joined the armies of Mahmud and
Mohammad Ghori in large numbers and won applause from their masters for loyal and efficient service.
When Mohammad Ghori declared himself the sultan of Delhi, Khilji generals were rewarded with being
appointed as the governor of conquered territories under the overall supervision of Qutubuddin Aibek.

Jalaluddin Khilji, the governor of Samana under Kaiqabad, belonged to the unprivileged Muslim masses,
who came to acquire a position of prominence at the court. Some historians describe the accession of
Jalaluddin Khilji as not a mere change of dynasty; but a revolution in the Muslim politics of India. The
assumption of royal power by Jalaluddin was not accepted by many. The leading Turkish Amirs hated the
Khiljis who were supposed to be low-born Afghans. Even the people of Delhi were not happy with this
change. So Jalauddin had to remain in Kilokhri, in the vicinity of Delhi, for a year before he could shift to
Delhi. He entered Delhi when he felt that he had won over the people by his acts of generosity. He
accorded liberal treatments to his opponents and allowed most of them to retain their offices.2

The Sultan was however too mild and weak to be much of a success as a ruler. As was the prevailing trend
of the time, a weak Sultan would always face revolts from within the empire, and Jalal-ud-din was faced
with many of these. His lenient manner unfortunately encouraged rebellions and the throne of Delhi once
again began to diminish in authority. Naturally Jalaluddin was not a ruler who would pursue any type of
conquest and the rare ones that were launched during his time were inevitably unsuccessful. He was
however able to successfully repel a strong Mongol attack. Being a peace loving person the Sultan allowed
many of the invaders to settle down in India, an unwise decision for they would be a source of trouble in
the future. Ironically a peaceful person like Jalaluddin finally suffered a violent death when he was
murdered by his nephew Alauddin in 1296.
He ruled for six years but never considered himself competent enough to occupy the office of the sultan.

J.L. Mehta, Advanced Study in the history of medieval India, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, ed. No. 2, vol. 2,

Alauddin Khilji was the nephew of Jalaluddin. Being fatherless, he was brought up by Jalauddin and later
became his son-in-law. He did not receive proper schooling but grew up to be a brilliant warrior, who
unlike his uncle proved to be extremely ambitious, aggressive and selfish by nature. Jalaluddin was
murdered in Kara, and it took Alauddin almost three months to reach Delhi.

He offered high offices to his friends and associates albeit many of the Jalali nobles were confirmed in their
old assignments. He was able to win over the support of the nobles and the people of Delhi by the lavish
distribution of the wealth he had taken from the Deccan. But after sometime, he himself took back all the
gold and silver he had bribed these nobles with, deprived them of honours, blinded some and beheaded
others. He considered the king to be above the law of the land; rather his word was the law.

Alauddin was a Sunni Muslim who professed adherence to the faith and never disputed the injunctions of
the Islamic law. He never felt the necessity of involving the Khalifa’s name to justify and strengthen his
claim to sovereignty. He never regarded the Khalifa or the caliph to be his political superior and the
reference of the caliph in the official records continued only for maintaining the tradition. He sternly
curbed the power of the nobility and the ulema and did not allow them to interfere in the matters of state
policy. He was the first among the sultans of Delhi who separated religion from state politics.

Alauddin was also the first monarch to establish direct relations with the peasants. He did away with the
iqta system, by which a noble was assigned villages in an area in lieu of his pay. Alauddin stipulated that
land revenue should be paid in kind and not cash and the land revenue was raised to half the produce.

Alauddin Khilji did not bring about a radical change in the infrastructure of the mamluk polity. He was an
administrator par excellence. He took personal interests in the administrative affairs, set the guidelines and
executed them with utmost severity. He made the government highly efficient by introducing strong
discipline and a sense of duty among the services. The capable and efficient officers were rewarded and the
incapable ones were weeded out of the system mercilessly. He organised an efficient system of reporting
and espionage to keep himself abreast about all the developments happening in his dominion. Secondly, he
introduced total prohibition in the capital and adjoining territories; gambling was also forbidden. The wine
shops were closed down and the wine merchants and gamblers were turned out of the city and the heavy
taxes being levied on them were abolished. The sultan himself gave up drinking. Thirdly, Alauddin took
strict measures to bring the nobility under his control. The nobles were not allowed to visit each other’s
homes or enter into matrimonial alliances with one another.

The sultan adopted a fiscal policy and introduced important changes in the revenue system of the state.
Alauddin abolished the zamindari system in the crown lands, confiscated the jagirs and estates, stopped the

practice of issuing grants in lieu of state service and abolished the pensions and endowments beyond a few
thousand tankas.3 He issued two regulations to settle the state demand. The first regulation involved the
measurement of cultivable land as a principle for determining land revenue. He was the first Muslim ruler
to do so. The second regulation related to levy on the cattle. A tax for pasturage was levied at a fixed rate
and was demanded for every inhabited house, so that no animal, however wretched could escape the tax.4

Alauddin Khilji issued a number of economic regulations to determine the price of various necessities of
life. He fixed the prices of the goods on production-cost basis. The land revenue from Khalsa villages was
realised in kind. The grain was stored in state granaries and during days of scarcity, sold at tariff rates,
according to the needs of the people. The sultan received daily reports regarding the market rates and the
transactions from three major sources, i.e., the controllers of the market, the barids and the munshis.5 The
prices remained fixed during his reign. The coarse cloth and garment for common use were sold at normal
rates based on the production-cost principle.

Alauddin Khilji based his kingship on military power and force. He did not allow nobles to keep their
armies. He owed almost everything to his efficient army. He paid decent salaries to the soldiers. Payments
were made regularly and their activities were also supervised. Spies were kept in every unit of the army
and they were required to submit daily reports to the sultan regarding the conduct of military officers.

Alauddin Khilji was a born fighter, brilliant general, successful administrator and a far-sighted statesman.
He transformed the kingdom of Delhi into a mighty India Empire by his sheer force of character and
military skill. His economic reforms involving the fixation of prices, control of market, rationing of
consumers’ goods, were certain unique contributions, envisaged by him far ahead of times. He established
peace and order in his dominions and provided the much needed security to his subjects. He oppressed
high-ups but provided great relief to the common man; during his reign, the prices of the goods were low,
the food stuffs and the other necessities of life were available easily and in abundance. Hoarding, black-
marketing, cheating by the business community and exploitation of the middlemen was heard of no more.
The roads were safe to travel and the rule of law in every nook and corner of the sultanate.

Barani, Tarikh, p. 179
Barani, Tarikh, p. 182
Regulation 7
Invasion of the Mongols during the reign of Alauddin Khilji is an important event in the history of
medieval India. There were several invasions of the Mongols but the Sultan was successful in suppressing
them all. The Mongols threatened the security of India towards the north-west during the entire reign of
Alauddin Khilji. Thereafter the Mongols had divided and thereby weakened themselves after the death of
their great leader Chenghiz Khan, yet they were a power in Asia even at that time. Ghazni and Kabul
formed powerful bases to attack India. During the reign of Alauddin their attacks were fiercer as compared
to previous ones. Previously, they had attacked India primarily for booty and to extend their sphere of
influence. But, now they invaded India either to extend their empire or to take revenge of their defeat and
disgrace. Therefore they threatened not only the valley of Punjab but even that of Delhi and Ganga-

The first Mongol invasion took place in 1297-98 A.D. Dava Khan of Transoxiana sent an army of one lakh
Mongols under the command of Kadar. They entered Punjab and started plundering nearby places of
Lahore. Alauddin sent an army under Ulugh Khan which defeated the Mongols. While nearly twenty
thousand Mongols were killed in the battle, many Mongol officers were taken prisoners who were killed
afterwards and their captured women and children were taken to Delhi as slaves. In 1299 A.D., the
Mongols attacked again under the command of Saldi, brother of Dava Khan, and captured Sivistan
(Sehwan). Alauddin sent Zafar Khan against the Mongols who recaptured Sivistan and imprisoned a large
number of Mongols. This surprising victory of Zafar Khan invoked the jealousy both of the Sultan and his
brother Ulugh Khan and the success in Multan and Gujarat was eclipsed by the achievement of Zafar Khan.
The Sultan even desired to kill Zafar Khan.6

Towards the close of 1299 A.D., Dava Khan sent a strong army under the command of his son to avenge
the disgrace and death of Saldi. This time the Mongol did not mean to plunder but conquest. They avoided
fighting till they reached the neighbourhood of Delhi. At that time, Alauddin raised equal to the occasion
and gave proof of being a courageous commander. The Mongols had firm determination to fight against
Alauddin. Therefore, Alauddin decided to give them a battle even against the counsel of Ala-ul-mulk who
advised him to wait and avoid the risk of a battle. He assembled all his high officers of the army and
attacked the left wing of the Mongols. Zafar Khan was killed in the combat but the Mongols had tested the
strength of the army of Ala-ud-din. They had to withdraw thirty kilometres back from Delhi and then
returned to their country.

Fourth Mongol invasion took place only after a few months of Alauddin’s return from Chittor in 1303 A.D.
The Mongols number under the command of Targhi, moved cautiously so that provincial governors could

6 (accessed on 27 October 2013)
10 | P a g e
not get time to reach to help the Sultan. Besides, a large part of the army of the Sultan had left for
Telengana campaign and the army left at Delhi was insufficient and weak after its tough battle at Chittor.
Therefore, Alauddin was not in a position to face the Mongols. He retired to the fort of Siri and took up
defensive position. Mongols plundered the environs of Delhi and besieged the fort for months. But they
failed to capture the fort and withdrew. Alauddin made Siri his capital, strengthened its fortification
repaired the fort of Delhi and those in the north-west, constructed a few new ones there, kept standing
armies in them, kept permanent army for the defence of the north-west and appointed a separate governor
for the same.

The Mongols attacked again in 1305 A.D. under the command of Tartaq. Targi also joined them in the
way. The strong Mongols could reach up to Amroha where it met the army of the Sultan under the
command of Malik Kafur. The royal army completely defeated the Mongols on December 1305 A.D. Targi
had died earlier in a battle and Ali Beg and Tartaq were taken captives. They were brought to Delhi where
they were killed.

In 1306 A.D., the Mongols attacked again to take revenge of Ali Beg and Tartaq. One of their strong force,
under the command of Kubak, reached the banks of the Ravi River while other one, under the command of
Iqbalmand reached to Nagaur. Alauddin had again sent Ghazi Malik and Malik Kafur to repulse the
invaders. They first met Kubak and defeated and imprisoned him. Fifty thousand of Mongols were
imprisoned and brought to Delhi where males were trampled under the feet of elephants and a tower of
skulls was constructed in front of the Badaon Gate while the women and children were sold as slaves.

Last Mongol invasion took place in 1307-8 A.D. Thus, most fierce invasions of the Mongols took place
during reign of Ala-ud-din Khilji. Yet, he succeeded in defeating the Mongols. Therefore, the Mongols did
not dare to attack India during last years of his reign. The aggressive policies of the Sultan and his able
commanders broke up the capacity of the Mongols to invade India.

The repeated mongol onslaughts terrified the Indians who were constrained to look towards the Sultan for
protection of their life and property and he emerged as a saviour of his people.

11 | P a g e
Allauddin died of fever in 1316 AD. After his death Malik Kafur tried to become the sultan of Delhi, but
he was killed in this attempt. Mubarak Shah and Khusru Shah succeeded him. Khusru Shah was killed by
Ghazi Malik, who was the governor of Dipalpur. He succeeded the throne of Delhi under the title of
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in 1320.

In his later days Allauddin had to face many troubles. Malik Kafur influenced all his actions. He met with
his death in the year 1316 AD. An infant son of the Sultan was placed on the throne and he acted as the
regent. Malik Kafur imprisoned, blinded and killed other members of the royal family. But Malik Kafur
was murdered, and Mubarak Khan the third son of Alauddin Khilji became the regent. He then imprisoned
Sahib uddin and ascended the throne as Qutb-ud-din Mubarak in the year 1316 AD. The rule of Qutb-ud-
din Mubarak was an utter failure owing to his liberal administration and luxurious life style. Above all he
was under the influence of youth called Hassan who later was called Khusru Khan. The misdoings of Qutb-
ud-din Mubarak led to his death at the hands of Khusru Khan. The death of Mubarak sealed the fate of the
Khilji dynasty. Khusru who came to the throne after Qutbuddin Mubarak was not favoured by the Turkish
nobles. He was killed by a Qaraunak Turk noble, Ghazi Malik Tughluq. This paved the way for the
foundation of a new dynasty called the Tughluq dynasty.7

7 (accessed on 25 October 2013)
12 | P a g e
The first muslim invasion in India was by Mohammad Bin Qasim in 712 AD. He conquered Sindh which
became the province of Omayyad Khilafat. Mohammad Ghori’s slave Qutub-ud-din Aibek established the
slave dynasty. His initial two successors were strong but the ones following them were weak. Even the last
ruler of this dynasty, Balban, was a very capable one. He ruled the empire well even after the bad
performance of his predecessors.

Killing Balban came up Jalaluddin Khilji, who was the founder of the Khilji dynasty. He was a very mild
and generous ruler. The Sultan was too mild and weak to be much of a success as a ruler. As was the
prevailing trend of the time, a weak Sultan would always face revolts from within the empire, and Jalal-ud-
din was faced with many of these. Naturally Jalaluddin was not a ruler who would pursue any type of
conquest and the rare ones that were launched during his time were inevitably unsuccessful.

After him came his nephew and son-in-law, Alauddin Khilji. Being fatherless, he was taken care of by
Jalaluddin from his very childhood. He was an excellent militant and a very able general. He was an
administrator par excellence. All his reforms were for the betterment of the common people and the

The Mongols were continuously invading India from the time of Jalaluddin Khilji but the intensity and the
frequency increased with the accession of Alauddin on the throne of Delhi. Every time they invaded India,
be it for conquest or anything, they were defeated by the able army of Alauddin Khilji.

The successors of Alauddin Khilji were quite weak and inefficient. The incapability and inefficience led to
the decline of the dynasty and the establishment of a new dynasty, the Tuglaq dynasty.

13 | P a g e

 Kumar, Sunil, The emergence of the Delhi Sultanate, Permanent Black, Ranikhet, 2008
 Habib, Mohammad, Khaliq Ahmad, A Comprehensive history of India, People’s publishing house,
New Delhi, 1970
 Mehta, J.L., Advanced study in the history of medieval India, Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, ed.
No. 2, vol. 2, 1997
 Chandra, Satish, History of Medieval India, Orient BlackSwan Private limited, New Delhi, 2007
 Bhushan, Bharat, Medieval India, Maxford Books, New Delhi, 2008
 Mahajan, V.D., S. Chand and Company ltd., New Delhi, 1991
 Murthy, H.V. Sreenivasa, History of India (Part-1), Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 1993



14 | P a g e