Jalaluddin Khilji (1290-96 A.D.):
The Khiljis were another group of Turks who had settled in the Khilji region of Afghanistan. With the accession of Jalaluddin Khilji on the throne of Delhi, the supremacy of the Turks ended in India. It established the strong position of the Indian Muslims.
Kind by nature, Jalaluddin Firuz, the first Khilji ruler, was lenient in his treatment of the rebels.
When the rebels were brought before him he excused them and treated them with respect. Likewise, he ordered that thugs who were a serious menace to the people and property around Delhi should be taken to far off places and set free. Only in the case of Sidi Maula he showed no clemency.
Jalaluddin ascended the throne at the ripe age of seventy years and the weakness of old age affected his attitudes and activities. In 1290 AD he attacked Ranthambhor. On the way he attacked Jhain. On reaching the fort the sultan realized the futility of attempting to capture the fort.
He withdrew the same day and told his nobles that he did not consider ten such forts worth a single hair of a Muslim. In 1292 AD, Mandawar was captured from the Rajput’s. The same year the Mongols under the command of a grandson of Halaqu, Abdullah attacked Punjab and reached near Sunam. Jalaluddin immediately marched against them and reached the banks of the river Indus.
The sultan succeeded in defeating an advance guard of the Mongols and captured many of their officers. But afraid to face the main force of the Mongols, he tried for peace that was agreed upon by the Mongols. The invaders agreed to withdraw but Ulugh, a descendent of Chenghiz Khan accepted Islam and decided to stay in India.
Jalaluddin’s ambitious nephew, Alauddin who had succeeded Malik Chajju at Kara, began to establish an independent kingdom for himself. In 1292 AD Alauddin had attacked Bhilsa and a part of the booty was sent to the Sultan. As a reward Alauddin got the governorship of Awadh in addition to that of Kara and Manikpur. This increased his desire for power. All those nobles who were dissatisfied with the weak policy of Jalaluddin had gathered round him. Alauddin needed wealth to strengthen his position.
He had heard about the fabulous wealth of Devagiri during the campaign of Bhilsa. Ramchandra Yadav, the ruler of Devagiri had not anticipated an attack from the north. In 1296 AD he proceeded towards the South and passing through Chanderi and Bhilsa he reached Ellichpur, the northernmost outpost of Devagiri. Ramchandra was completely taken unawares.
His son had gone with a large army to a neighbouring kingdom. On his return the two armies of Alauddin and Singhana; Ramachandra’s son met each other. At the site of the approaching Muslim army, the troops of Singhana retreated in confusion.
Alauddin got a huge indemnity. The enormous booty that Alauddin got from Devagiri helped him become the Sultan of Delhi. Jalaluddin was later murdered by a planned action by Alauddin in 1296 AD.
Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316 A.D.):
The reign of Alauddin Khilji (Ali Gurshap as he was known), marks the zenith of the power of the Delhi Sultanate. His reign witnessed the expansion of the Muslim rule in terms of larger territorial conquests. He was unpopular among his subjects, as he had treacherously murdered his uncle.
However he soon won over the nobles by the lavish use of gold. For some time he had to face some rebellions from nobles as well as his relatives. Alauddin dealt with all of them with a severe hand. After consolidating his position and firmly establishing himself at Delhi, Alauddin undertook the first expedition to Gujarat in 1297 A.D.
Possibly he was attracted by the wealth of Gujarat whose flourishing trade had always lured invaders. Alauddin sent an expedition under Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to Gujarat. On the way Ulugh Khan conquered Jaisalmer.
The invaders plundered Gujarat and its capital Anhilwara and went as far as Cambay, destroyed the temple of Somnath and returned to Delhi with immense booty. He also sent an army to Multan soon after his accession.
He faced resistance from the sons of the late Sultan and wanted to subdue them forever. Ulugh Khan and Zafar Khan were entrusted the task of eliminating Akrali Khan at Multan. After his capture, Multan once again came to the control of the Delhi Sultans.
The next to fall was Ranthambor, a stronghold of the Cnuhana Rajputs. Its ruler Rana Hamir Deva, had extended his influence and provided shelter to the Mongol rebels. Alauddin desired to conquer it for its strategic importance too. He sent Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to attack Ranthambor.
The fort was besieged but Nusrat Khan was killed following which the invaders retreated. Alauddin himself captured the fort later in 1301 A. D. with the help of Ran Mai, the Prime Minister of Hamir Deva who had come over to his side.
An expedition against Mewar was organized in 1303 A.D. after the capture of Ranthambor. Another centre of power of the Rajputs was Chittor. Alauddin was successful in capturing the fort. It was renamed Khizrabad after the sultan’s son Khizr Khan. In traditional accounts Rani Padmavati the beautiful wife of Rana Ratan Singh is said to be the main cause of invasion of Mewar.
However territorial expansion seems to have been the most obvious reason. In 1305 A.D., Alauddin sent Ain-ul-Khan to attack Malwa. He defeated the Koka Pradhan, the minister of Rai Mahalak Dev in a battle and captured the fort of Mandu. Later Ujjain, Dhar and Chanderi were also captured.
Malwa was followed by Siwana. The fort was finally besieged in 1309 A.D. after a prolonged struggle. The ruler of Siwana, Rai Shital Dev was killed in action and the fort was put under the charge of Kamaluddin Gurg. In the same year, Jalore ruled by Raja Kanera Deva was attacked. The fort was annexed and its ruler was killed. The conquest of Jalore completed the conquest of Rajputana by Alauddin.
The regions of Bundi, Mandor, Tonk and probably Jodhpur also surrendered to Alauddin. By the end of the first decade of Aluddin’s rule the frontiers of the Delhi Sultanate had expanded to cover whole of north, west and central India.
The Mongols, however, continued their inroads into Punjab in 1297 A.D. but were repulsed by Zafar Khan. Between 1308 and 1312 A.D., Alauddin began the southward expansion of his empire. The prosperous state of Devagiri was ruled by the king, Ramachandra Deva. Alauddin invaded Devagiri in 1306- 07 A.D. The immediate cause for this was unduly long delay in sending the annual tribute. He sent an army to attack Devagiri under Malik Kafur.
His careful handling of the affair of Devagiri enhanced Sultan’s confidence in him and he was entrusted the responsibility of making further inroads into southern India. Acquisition of wealth rather than territorial expansion seems to have been the real motive of the Sultan. Kafur was able to defeat Ramachandra easily and in return captured a huge booty. Later Ramachandra became a feudatory of Alauddin.
In 1309 A.D. the Kakatiya kingdom was attacked. Its ruler Prataparudradeva accepted the suzerainty of Delhi and surrendered vast treasures. In 1310 A.D., the Muslims attacked the Hoysala kingdom. Its ruler Vira Ballala III surrendered all his treasures. Gradually Kafur subdued the Pandyas as well of Madurai. None of these territories were annexed by Alauddin directly but the flow of wealth was ensured from these regions.
Alauddin was an ambitious and capable ruler He was so overwhelmed by his success at conquests that he dubbed himself as the ‘Second Alexander’. He assumed the title of Sikandar-i- Sani. He dreamt to conquer the world and even thought of starting a new religion. After consolidating his position, he started the task of administering the empire with an iron hand.
He established a strict system of administration. As a continuation of Balban’s policy of kingship, Alauddin too strengthened the position of the Sultan through some tough measures. After deliberate thinking he came to the conclusion that there were four reasons of rebellion: Sultan’s disregard to the state’s affairs; drinking of wine; closeness among the nobles through get together and; over affluence of the subjects.
To start with, Alauddin struck at the power of the nobles and took four important measures, (a) He forbade the nobles to visit each other. Their private meetings were banned and there could be no marriage alliances between them without the permission of the Sultan, (b) Prohibition of drinking parties, (c) Strict vigilance through an efficient espionage system and (d) Confiscation of all lands given to the chiefs and in religious endowments.
As per the decision, all grants of land and pensions were revoked and all lands that were held by people as gifts, pensions, endowments from the state were confiscated. He organized an efficient spy system to report all-important occurrences to the Sultan. The system worked so successfully that even the high officers of the Sultan feared talking aloud in public.
The third ordinance prohibited the sale and use of wine and other intoxicating drugs at Delhi. The fourth measure prohibited all social gatherings and inter-marriages without the permission of the Sultan. The nobles remained terrorized till the last days of his reign and no further revolt occurred during Alauddin’s lifetime.
Alauddin carried strong revenue reforms as well. He was the first monarch who insisted that in the doab, land revenue would be assessed on the basis of measurement of the land under cultivation. All lands given as assignments were reclaimed as Khalisa lands (crown lands). The size of these Khalisa lands whose income were directly collected for the Sultan’s own treasury expanded quite considerably under Alauddin Khilji.
Land tax was raised to fifty percent of the produce and other taxes were also collected with great harshness. Alauddin soon attacked the privileged position of hereditary revenue officers like khuts, chaudhuris and muquaddams. Alauddin abolished their privileges and snatched away their right to collect revenue. They were asked to pay equally as the other taxpayers.
The maintenance of a huge army by Alauddin was one of the special attributes of his rule. To avoid any kind of fake registration he devised the muster roll for identifying the soldiers personally called Chehra. Similarly to ensure the best kinds of horses by the soldiers the horses were branded (Dagh) and the troops were reviewed regularly.
He personally recruited the army and paid it in cash. Alauddin’s aim was to maintain a large standing army at a minimum cost. So, he devised the market control policy. Through this policy he sought to fix the cost of all commodities from food grains and other articles. The market control department was called Diwan-i-Riyasat and the chief officer Shahana-i- Mandi.
Severe punishments were given to those who violated these measures. This market regulation was applicable to Delhi and its neighbouring regions. His measures were effective only during his lifetime. In the long run they affected trade and commerce adversely.
Alauddin was the first Muslim ruler who disregarded the position of the ulema (guardians of Islam). He refuted the suzerainty of the Caliph and did not allow any power independent of the state to guide his policies. He also gave patronage to many artists and learned men. Amir Khusrau flourished in his court.
He built the Alai Darwaza beside the Jamat Khana Masjid at the Dargah of Nizam-ud-din Auliya, the Siri Fort, the second city of Delhi, and the Hazar Sutun (the palace of thousand pillars). He also built the magnificent tank, Hauz-i-Khas or Hauz-i-Alai.
On the death of Alauddin Khilji, his general Malik Kafur set aside the claims of the heir apparent Khizr Khan and crowned the infant son of the late Sultan, Umar. Soon after another son of the Sultan murdered Kafur and ascended the throne as Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah Khilji (1316-20 A.D.). He was in turn murdered by Ghazi Malik who ascended the throne as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq in 1320 A.D.