Chapter 16: RISE OF THE DELHI
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.
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
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
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
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
Jalaluddin Khilji was the founder of the
Khilji dynasty. He was lenient and kind. He was murdered
treacherously by son in law Aladdin
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.
He maintained a large standing army. He carried out
their reviews periodically to maintain efficiency.
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.
He ignored the Ulema's and didn’t allow their
interference in administration.
The army could defend against Mongol invasions. The
Mongols invaded 6 times but were defeated and numerous were
To protect against future invasions a warden was
appointed in northwest frontier.
Aladdin Khilji led successful invasions against the
Rajput's and captured many forts. Unfortunately the women had to
commit self immolation to escape.
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
The founder is Ghaiyasuddin Tuglaq. The
next ruler was Muhammad bin Tuglaq who had treacherously killed
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Timor Invasion (1398):
He was attracted by India’s wealth and wanted to
spread Islam in India.
Looted Russia, India up to Delhi to conquer more
He sent his grandson Pir Muhammad to India and
later joined him.
Took a large number of artists with him and Indian
art reached central Asia.
Killed many Hindus and this created resentment
against foreign rulers.
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.
The Lodis were Afghans and their kingdom lasted for
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