Turkish Invasion of India

Read this article to learn about the the Turkish invasion of India.

After Tarain, Muizuddin returned to Ghazni leaving the affairs of India in the hands of his trusted slave Qutubuddin Aibak. During his governorship Aibak had to face a serious rebellion in Rajasthan that was suppressed.

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Thereafter Aibak attacked Anhilwara in Gujarat in 1197 A.D. and defeated Bhima II.

He also conquered Badaun, Benares and Chandawar and consolidated the conquest at Kannauj.

One of the most important conquests of Aibak was that of Bundelkhand. Aibak attacked in 1203 A.D. the fort of Kalinjar that was regarded impregnable. Aibak was successful in ousting the Chandellas and occupying the region. He also occupied Mahoba and Khajuraho.

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The conquest of Bengal and Bihar was not attempted either by Muhammad Ghori or Aibak but by a petty noble named Bakhtiar Khilji. He began his career as an ordinary soldier and received some villages as jagirs from his master at Oudh. Here Khilji gathered a small force of followers and started raiding the nearby territories of Bihar. He began expanding his area and gradually conquered Nalanda and Vikramshila as well.

Making careful preparations Bakhtiar Khilji marched with an army towards Nadia, the capital of Sena kings of Bengal. Lakshman Sena felt that the Turks had made a surprise attack and fled out of fear. He plundered the city and later established his capital at Lakhnauti in North Bengal. Lakshman Sena and his successors continued to rule south Bengal from Sonargaon. Bakhtiar Khilji tried to conquer Tibet but his expedition failed miserably. Later his own army men murdered him.

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The rulers who ruled Delhi between the period 1206-90 A.D. are popularly known as Slave dynasty. But neither of them belonged to one dynasty. Qutubuddin Aibak was the founder of the Qutubi dynasty, lltutmish that of Shamsi dynasty and Balban of Balbani dynasty. They were also called the llbafi Turks or the Mameluk Sultans of Delhi.

Qutubuddin Aibak (1206-1210 A.D.):

The death of Muhammad Ghori in 1206 A.D. created a tussle for supremacy among his three important generals, Tajuddin Yalduz, Nasiruddin Qabacha and Qutub-ud-din Aibak. Tajuddin held the area from Afghanistan to upper Sindh, Nasiruddin Qabacha who held Uchch, Multan and Qutub-ud-din Aibak became the governor of the Indian provinces of Muhammad.

He functioned as an independent ruler. Qutubuddin not only helped Muhammad in all his Indian campaigns but also consolidated and extended his conquests in his absence. Qutubuddin Aibak received manumission from Sultan Ghiasuddin Mahmud of Ghur, nephew of Muhammad Ghori who conferred the title of Sultan to Aibak (1206).

In his brief reign of four years (1206-10 A.D.), he moved his capital to Lahore in order to frustrate Yalduz’s ambition of annexing Punjab. He strengthened his position by matrimonial alliances with influential rival Turkish chiefs. He married the daughter of Yalduz. Next he married his sister to Nasiruddin Qabacha of Sindh and married his own daughter to lltutmish. He earned the title of Lakh Baksh (giver of lakhs).

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He built the Quwwat-ul-lslam Mosque at Delhi and another at Ajmer called Adhai Din Ka Jhopra. He also laid the foundation of the so called one of the seven cities of medieval Delhi by constructing Quila-i-Rai Pithaura.

He started building the Qutub Minarat Delhi in 1199 A.D., after the name of the sufi saint Khwaja Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki, but could not complete it as he died in 1210 A.D. at Lahore playing Chaugan (Polo). Aram Shah his immediate successor was probably not his son. He was later killed by lltutmish.

Shamsuddin lltutmish (1210-36 A.D.):

Qutubuddin was succeeded by his son-in-law lltutmish. At the time of Aibak’s death, he was the governor of Badaun. He is considered as the real founder of the Delhi Sultanate, and made Delhi the seat of governance in preference to Lahore.

His accession was opposed by the Turkish nobles. Ali Mardan Khan had declared himself independent in Bengal and Bihar, while Qabacha, a fellow slave of Aibak had declared himself independent ruler of Multan and seized parts of Lahore and Punjab.

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The Rajput rulers of Jalore, Ranthambore Gwaliorand Ajmer became independent and Turkish power was thrown out of the doab. At the same time Delhi Sultanate was threatened by the Mongols from the northwest. They appeared under Chenghiz Khan in pursuit of Jalal-ud-din, a prince of Khwarizm.

He was refused asylum by lltutmish and thus saved the Turkish Empire from the wrath of the Mongol warlord. He was also able to subdue the rebellion in Bengal and do away with other rivals one by one. He won back Gwalior, Bayana, Ajmer and Nagore.

He also sent expeditions against Ranthambor and Jalore to reassert his sovereignty. He attacked and occupied Mandor in 1226 A.D. the capital of Paramaras. In 1234-35 A.D. lltutmish attacked Malwa and plundered Bhilsa and Ujjain.

In 1229 the Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad sent a robe of honour and patent of investiture legitimising his kingship as Sultan-i-Asam. This contribution of lltutmish to the monetary system of the sultanat was very great.

It was he who introduced the silver Tanka and the copper Jital – the two basic coins of the Sultanat period.

He issued coins and had Khutba read in his name. He gave a governing class or an official nobility to the Sultanate called Chahalganior the “forty”. He introduced the Iqta system. The iqtadars retained a part of the revenue from the iqta rendering military service to the Sultan. Large iqtadars were put in-charge of maintaining law and order in their iqta, in addition to sending troops to the Sultan in times of need.

He died in 1236 A.D. He completed Qutab Minar of Delhi, lltutmish had nominated his daughter Razia as the successor on his death-bed. However, nobles elected Rukn-ud-din Firuz as the ruler. But his reign proved short lived. He engaged himself in sensual pleasures while his mother Shah Turkan created dissatisfaction among the nobility.

It resulted in revolts. At the capital, Razia took advantage of Firuz’s absence. She succeeded in getting the support of the people of Delhi and de­clared herself the Sultana of Delhi in the absence of Firuz. The accession and deposition of Firuz proved one point that the provincial governors proved the actual middlemen who could make and unmake the kings.

Sultana Raziya (1236-40 A.D.):

Once Razia ascended the throne, she cast off the seclusion of the harem and wore male attire, administered justice in open court and personally led armies against rebellious chiefs. Jalal-ud-din Yakut, an Abyssinan slave became her favourite, which was not liked by the other nobles. Her bold and independent ways were not liked by the Chahlgani Razia tried to concentrate power in her own hands and succeeded.

Her primary aim was to make the Turkish slave nobles subservient to the throne. They planned to oust her from the throne. The first to revolt against her was Ikhtiyar-ud-din Altuniya, the governor of Sirhind. On her way to Delhi she was killed by one of the nobles.

After Razia’s fall two weak rulers Bahram (1240-42 A.D.) and Alauddin Masud (1242-46 A.D.) followed in quick succession. Their brief and inglorious reign was marked by the invasion of the Mongols. In 1246 A.D. Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, another son of lltutmish ascended the throne. Nasiruddin placed all power into the hands of his Prime Minister Balban. Balban married off his daughter to Sultan and was made Naib-i-Mamlakat, with the title of Ulugh Khan (Great khan).

On one occasion Balban was removed from office for a brief period at the instigation of Imaduddin Raihan, an Indian Muslim. Minhaj- us-Sirsj dedicated his book Tabaqat-i-Nasiri to Nasiruddin. The accounts of Ibn Batuta and Isami hold Balban guilty of poisoning Nasiruddin in 1266 AD.

Balban (1246-86 A.D.):

After Nasiruddin Mahmud, Balban ascended the throne. Balban’s original name was Baha-ud-Din. With his accession begun the Balbani dynasty, an era of strong centralized government. He realized the need to strengthen the authority of the Sultan and wanted to curtail the power of Chahalgani. Balban in his attempt to curtail the power of the nobility increased the power and prestige of the Sultan.

It was an age when power was exclusive to the persons born in noble houses Hence Balban tried to strengthen his claim to the throne by declaring that he was the descendant of the legendary Iranian king Afrasiyab. Likewise Balban stood as the champion of the Turkish nobility.

Balban built up an aura around the throne and associated it with certain traits. He refused to entertain persons outside Turkish descent. It naturally meant the exclusion of Indian Muslims from all the position of god on earth.

He modelled his court in that of Persian manners and introduced Persian etiquette like paibos (prostration,) and sijda (Kissing of the monarch’s feet). He maintained a dignified reserve and did not allow anyone to indulge in frivolity in his presence. He introduces the Persian Nauroz ceremony in the court.

While claiming to act as a champion of the Turkish nobility, Balban was not prepared to share power with anyone. He did not hesitate to poison his cousin Sher Khan to achieve his objective. The main instrument of Balban’s despotism was his army.

The credit of organizing a separate department of army (Diwan-i-Arz) goes to Balban. He reformed the financial side of the military administration and pensioned off those soldiers and troopers who were no longer fit for service.

The strong centralized army that he built was to deal with both internal and external disturbances and mainly to tackle the Mongol menace. Balban also appointed spies in every department. The Barids or spies appointed were to watch the activities of his governors, military and civil officers and that of his own son.

Balban administered justice with extreme impartiality. Not even the highest in the land were to be spared if they transgressed his authority. Balban did not undertake any fresh conquest largely because of the Mongol menace. He instead, concentrated on consolidating the territory already in possession. He suppressed the revolts in the doab and Oudh and tracked down recalcitrant elements in the region of Rohilkhand in Katehar.

In Bengal Tughrij Khan revolted in 1279 A.D. and declared himself independent. This rebellion was easily suppressed. The region of Delhi had been rendered unsafe with the operation of robbers and dacoits to the extent that communication with the eastern areas became difficult. The Mewatis had become bold enough to plunder people on the

Balban had to face another invasion of the Mongols in 1285 A.D. He sent his eldest son Muhammad to repel the attack but lost him during the encounter. He could no longer recover from this tragedy and died in 1286 A.D. His greatest contribution was heightening of the dignity of the Sultan and of strengthening the army. He was also a patron of men of letters and shewed special favour to the poet Amir Khusrau.

On the death of Balban, his grandson Kaiqubad succeeded him. The affairs of the state fell in disorder Jalal-ud-din Khilji, placed himself at the head of a powerful faction and routed the Turkish amirs. Eventually Kaiqubad was murdered and Jalal-ud-din placed himself on the throne. Thus the rule of the llbari Turks came to an end in 1290 A.D.

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