Chapter 16: RISE OF THE DELHI SULTANATE

Introduction 

The Arab invasions led to the establishment of the Delhi sultanate. This flourished for about three centuries. The Delhi sultanate consisted of: Aibak (Slave), Khilji, Tuglaq, Sayyids and the Lodis.


Slave dynasty:


Qutubuddin Aibak was a slave of Mahmud Ghuri who made him the governor of Indian provinces. His military capital was Delhi. He established his dominance over the Northern India. He established Turkish rule in India.


After Ghuri's death he declared himself as the sultan and cut all ties with Ghuri's Empire. His capital now shifted to Lahore. He started construction of Qutub Minar in memory of Saint Qutubuddin Bhaktiyar. He didn’t issue any coins in his name. He was succeeded by his son Iltutmish. He died while playing polo.


Iltutmish: he was sold as a slave to Qutubuddin Aibak. He defeated Aibak's son and claimed the throne. He shifted his capital to Delhi. Initial years of his kingdom were spent in securing his throne. The Mongol king Chengiz khan invaded Khwarizam and the ruler fled to India. But Iltutmish denied him asylum. Hence he saved India from the wrath of the Mongol king.


Iltutmish marched against Bengal and Bihar. He annexed Sind and Punjab. His Malwa campaign was however unsuccessful.


He was acknowledged as the legal sovereign of India. He was a patron of literature and received many scholars. He introduced Arab coinage in India. The silver tanka was minted by him. He nominated his daughter Razia as the successor.


Razia: she was nominated by Iltutmish but her nobles refused to accept this and gave the throne to a male. The governor of Multan revolted and Razia used this opportunity to capture the throne.

Razia would hold the court with her face unveiled, she would also go hunting and lead the army. This angered the Turkish nobles.


Altunia the governor of bhatinda revolted Razia went to suppress the revolt personally. The nobles put Iltutmish's son on the throne. Altunia had captured Razia but she won him over and married him. Together they marched to Delhi but were defeated.


Balban: Balban successfully restored the son of Iltutmish to the throne after Razia died. He was the Sultan's noble. He also married his daughter. When the sultan died Balban acceded to the throne.

Balban knew that the threat to his power were the powerful nobles of the court. He then succeeded in eliminating those who challenged him and kept a few loyal ones alive. He focused more on restoration of law and order than expanding his kingdom. Robbers were persecuted and killed. He also established a separate military department.


Amir Khusrau, Parrot of India, famous poet during Balban's time.

The Mongol invasion forced him to send his son but the prince was killed. This dealt a moral blow to Balban. He died soon after. Balban enhanced the power of the sultanate but due to weak successor the slave dynasty ended and the Khilji dynasty began.


Khilji dynasty:


Jalaluddin Khilji was the founder of the Khilji dynasty. He was lenient and kind. He was murdered treacherously by son in law Aladdin Khilji.


Aladdin Khilji: Aladdin Khilji was an able commander with political insight. He knew that rebellion would be possible because of the powerful nobles, their inter marriage and consumption of intoxicants. He made regulations to prevent these. Thus his reign was free from rebellion.


Reforms:

1.   He maintained a large standing army. He carried out their reviews periodically to maintain efficiency.

2.      Markets were established and regulated. The prices of essential commodities were controlled.

3.  He also reformed the land revenue system. Land was measured and tax imposed. Even zamindar's couldn’t escape from taxation. This system was continued even by Sher shah and Akbar.

4.      He ignored the Ulema's and didn’t allow their interference in administration.


Military achievements:

1.   The army could defend against Mongol invasions. The Mongols invaded 6 times but were defeated and numerous were killed.

2.      To protect against future invasions a warden was appointed in northwest frontier.

3.   Aladdin Khilji led successful invasions against the Rajput's and captured many forts. Unfortunately the women had to commit self immolation to escape.

4.      He also was the first to invade South India. His Empire reached till Madurai. All powerful kings of south India were defeated by him.



Architecture of the Khilji dynasty was built using red sandstones everywhere. The Khilji successors were weak and the dynasty ended and was succeeded by the Tuglaq. 


Tuglaq Dynasty:


The founder is Ghaiyasuddin Tuglaq. The next ruler was Muhammad bin Tuglaq who had treacherously killed his father. 


Muhammad bin Tuglaq: 


His novel ideas and experiments were far ahead of time but ended in failures. He was tolerant in religious matters. He maintained diplomatic relations with foreign with Egypt, china. He was the only Delhi sultan who received a political education. 


Reforms: 


1.  Shifting of the capital from Delhi to Devgiri. He renamed Devgiri to Daulatabad. He forced people to cover the 1500 km distance in summer. Many died in this journey but after 2 years he changed his decision and moved capital back to Devgiri.


2. He introduced copper coins instead of silver tanka. But goldsmiths started minting this currency on large scale. The value fell and it wasn’t accepted in the markets. He announced exchange of copper coins with silver but this made the treasury empty.


3. Due to the above measures the need for revenue increased. Tuglaq increased taxation in the doab region. This led to revolts as the famine was going on at that time.


4. His next experiment was agriculture loans for farmers to buy seeds. He even created a separate department for this and built a model farm.


5. He had to face many rebellions by provincial governors. The rebels founded independent kingdoms like vijaynagar and bahamani kingdoms.


6. First sultan to raise an army for offensive against the Mongols. 


Firoz Tuglaq:


He was chosen by the nobles to lead the sultanate. He focused on reasserting the authority over north India instead of focusing on Deccan and south India. He couldn’t conquer Bengal but subdued rebellion in Orissa, nagarkot and Sind. 


Reforms: 


1.      He followed advice of Ulema's in administration. He allowed them hereditary succession on titles. He also ran the kingdom as per Islamic laws and imposed Jiziya on non Muslims.


2. He was a patron of constructions and architecture. He built 300 towns, canals for irrigation. He also repaired old monuments like mosques and Minar's.


3. He was intolerant in religious matters and discriminated against shies, Sufi's and Hindus.  

 His successors had to face rebellion of the nobles. They also had to deal with Timur's invasion. The invasion dealt a deadly blow to the Tuqlaq's and ended their dynasty.


Timor Invasion (1398):

     

1.      He was attracted by India’s wealth and wanted to spread Islam in India.


      2.      Looted Russia, India up to Delhi to conquer more lands.


      3.      He sent his grandson Pir Muhammad to India and later joined him.


      4.      Took a large number of artists with him and Indian art reached central Asia.


5.      Killed many Hindus and this created resentment against foreign rulers.

Sayyid's Dynasty:


Timor appointed Khisir Khan as the Governor of Multan. But the king had to face rebellion from nobles. Finally Bahdol Lodi was handed over the kingdom by the king and he retired to Badaun.


Lodi dynasty:


The Lodis were Afghans and their kingdom lasted for 75 years.


Bahdol Lodi [Founder] was followed by his son Sikandar Shah. Sikandar Shah was a great and powerful sultan. He improved the sultanate by military conquest against Rajputs, Bihar. He also founded the city of Agra. Even though he was an able commander he was a bigot. He killed many Hindu kings and ruined many temples.


He was followed by Ibrahim Lodi. Ibrahim Lodi was ignorant. He used to constantly insult his nobles. Due to his attitude the governor of Punjab Daulat Khan Lodi invited Babur to invade India. Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the first battle of Panipat in 1526.


Concept of double dome was introduced by Lodi's.


This was the end of the Delhi sultanate and the beginning of the Mughal Empire. The Turkish rulers brought to India the Dome, Arch, Lofty towers, vault and use of mortar and concrete.