The following points highlight the top eight achievements of Sultan Iltutmish. They are: 1. Organisation of the group of forty slaves, viz. Turkan-i-Chihalgani 2. Defeat of Yildiz 3. The Impending Mongol Invasion 4. The Defeat of Qabacha 5. The Conquest of Bengal 6. Fight against Hindu Chiefs 7. Investiture from the Caliph 8. Death of Iltutmish.
Achievement # 1. Organisation of the Group of Forty Slaves, viz. Turkan-i-Chihalgani:
When Iltutmish ascended the throne, he was opposed by certain Qutbi (nobles of Qutb-ud-din Aibak) and Muizzi (nobles of Muhammad of Ghur) nobles. He suppressed their revolt. But, he always remained doubtful of their loyalty. Therefore, he created his own group of nobles from among his loyal and capable slaves which was called Turkan-i-Chihalgani.
All those nobles were purchased by him as slaves. They were given respectable assignments and, thus, their cooperation was sought in administration. All these nobles depended on Iltutmish because they were there because of him only. Those nobles always remained loyal to him. Thus, Iltutmish no more remained dependent on Qutbi and Muizzi nobles.
Achievement # 2. Defeat of Yildiz:
Iltutmish behaved most diplomatically with Yildiz. When he ascended the throne, Yildiz sent him a chatra (canopy) and a durbash (baton). Iltutmish accepted them and, thus, pretended to recognize his suzerainty. In fact, he bided his time, avoided conflict with him and consolidated his position as far as Banaras.
Besides, he occupied Sursuti, Kuhram and Bhatinda in the west. In 1215 A.D., Yildiz was driven out of Ghazni by Khwarizm Shah. He came to Lahore and occupied the territories of Punjab upto Thaneswar. While Yildiz still claimed overlordship over Iltutmish and asked him to send military help, Iltutmish marched against him to settle his score finally with him.
Between 1215-16 A.D. Iltutmish defeated Yildiz in an open battle at Tarain and imprisoned him. He was first sent to Badaun and afterwards killed. Iltutmish’s gain was two-fold. One was that he had killed the most dangerous rival to his power and, the other, that it led to the final break with Ghazni. Hence onwards, the Sultanate of Delhi became an independent state in fact if not legally so far.
Achievement # 3. The Impending Mongol Invasion:
Iltutmish had hardly consolidated his position in Punjab when his infant kingdom was threatened by a possible invasion of the Mongols. Issuing from the uplands of Tartary, the Mongols, under their great leader Temujin popularly known as Cenghiz Khan, occupied the Khwarizm empire, forced the Emperor to flee for safety to the Caspian coast and his heir-apparent Jalal-ud-din Mangbarni to Panjab.
Jalal-ud-din married the daughter of Rai Khokhar Sankin, the Khokhar chief and occupied the upper Sindh Sagar, the territory of the Ravi and the Chenab regions, the fort of Pasraur in the Sialkot district and then advanced up to Lahore.
The Mongols were hotly pursuing the fleeing prince but stopped at the banks of the river Indus to watch his activities. Jalal-ud-din asked for shelter from Iltutmish. So far the career of Cenghiz Khan had been of undisrupted success. No country could save itself from his attack. Iltutmish had neither the desire nor the power to face such a powerful foe.
He refused to provide shelter to Jalal-ud-din much against the rules of hospitality. But, it was wise on his part. It saved him from the wrath of Cenghiz Khan who returned after leaving the task of capturing Jalal-ud-din to his officers. Iltutmish was determined to check Jalal-ud-din from proceeding further and got ready for military action when he tried further aggression in Punjab.
Jalal-ud-din too realised the futility of fighting against Iltutmish and, therefore, withdrew towards lower Sindh. Thereafter, he concentrated his power against Qabacha and the Mongols. He defeated Qabacha near Uch and weakened his power. But, ultimately, he returned to Persia in 1224 A.D. Iltutmish watched with satisfaction the departure of Jalal-ud-din. He had saved his kingdom from the Mongol invasion and also from ill-effects of the politics of Central Asia.
Achievement # 4. The Defeat of Qabacha:
Jalal-ud-din’s activities had weakened the power of Qabacha who was now left only with Multan and Sindh. Iltutmish took advantage of it and easily occupied Bhatinda, Kuhram, Sarsuti and then Lahore.
He now decided to finish the power of Qabacha for once and all and simultaneously planned attacks on Multan and Sindh Qabacha fled to the fort of Bhakkar on the lower Indus and offered to negotiate. Iltutmish asked for an unconditional surrender and when refused attacked the fort. Qabacha felt desperate, threw himself into the river Indus and was drowned. Both Multan and Uch were occupied by Iltutmish. Thus, another strong enemy of the Delhi Sultanate was finished by Iltutmish.
Achievement # 5. The Conquest of Bengal:
Ali Mardan had declared himself independent after the death of Qutb-ud-din Aibak and, therefore, the province of Bengal was lost by the Delhi Sultanate. Even when he was murdered by Khalji nobles and Husam-ud-din Ewaz became ruler, it was no advantage to Iltutmish. Husam-ud- din kept Bengal independent, assumed the title of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din, occupied Bihar and exacted tribute from the neighbouring kingdoms of Jajnagar, Tirhut and Kamarupa.
Iltutmish, being busy in the north-west, could not pay attention towards the affairs in Bengal. But as soon as he felt secure in the northwest, he proceeded towards Bengal. Ghiyas-ud-din accepted his suzerainty without fighting and gave him presents. Iltutmish came back after appointing Malik Jani as governor of Bihar. But as soon as Iltutmish turned back, Ghiyas-ud-din reasserted independence and turned out Malik Jani from Bihar.
Iltutmish asked his son Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, governor of Avadh, to punish Ghiyas-ud-din. Nasir-ud-din captured Lakhnauti in 1226 A.D. and killed Ghiyas-ud-din. But he died in 1229 A.D. which again resulted in a successful revolt under Malik Ikhtiyar-ud-din Balka Khalji who asserted independence. The same year, Iltutmish himself marched to Bengal and killed Balka Khalji. Bengal and Bihar again became part of the Delhi Sultanate and remained so till the death of Iltutmish.
Achievement # 6. Fight against Hindu Chiefs:
The Hindu chiefs in Rajputana and Uttar Pradesh had succeeded in recovering some places from the Turks during the period of rule of Aibak. When Iltutmish ascended the throne they pursued a more aggressive policy and many of them became independent.
The Chandelas recovered Kalinjar and Ajaigarh; the Pratiharas occupied Gwalior, Narwar and Jhansi; the Chauhanas under Govindaraja turned out the Turks from Ranthambhor and occupied Jodhpur and its nearby places; the Chauhanas of Jalor recovered most of the territories of the south-west Rajputana; and the Bhatti-Rajputs occupied Ajmer and its nearby places.
Many other places also witnessed successful revolts of the Rajputs. In Uttar Pradesh, the Hindus revolted and asserted independence at Badaun, Kannauj, Banaras, Katehar, Bareilly and Farukhabad. Iltutmish could not ignore these losses. He was determined at least to recover those places which were once conquered by the Turks. Therefore, he adopted an aggressive policy against the Hindu chiefs.
Ranthambhor was attacked and occupied in 1226 A.D., Mandor, the capital of the Parmaras, was also recovered; in 1228-29 A.D. Udai Singh, the ruler of Jalor was forced into submission; and, then Bayana, Thangir, Ajmer, Nagaur and nearby places were conquered. Gwalior was attacked in 1231 A.D. and occupied after a year of resistance.
Malik Nusratuddin Taisi, the governor of Gwalior was then asked to attack Kalinjar. He succeeded in plundering Kalinjar in 1233-34 A.D. but had to retreat because of the fierce resistance of the people. Iltutmish attacked Nagada and Gujarat also in turn but the Guhilots and the Chalukyas defeated him respectively.
In 1234-35 A.D. Iltutmish attacked Malwa and plundered Bhilsa and Ujjain but failed to occupy any territory. In Uttar Pradesh, Iltutmish succeeded in recovering Badaun, Kannauj, Banaras, Katehar and Baheraich. The territories of Avadh too were brought under control though the local tribes continued to resist till the death of their brave leader Bartu or Pirthu. The success of Iltutmish against the Rajputs was not complete.
The Guhilots and the Chalukyas had defeated him; one of his officers was defeated by the Rajputs of Bundi; the attack on Malwa remained only a plunder; the Chauhanas continued their resistance even after the occupation of Bayana and Thanagarh and the Chandelas continued to rule the territories up to Jhansi even after the loss of Gwalior. Yet, Iltutmish succeeded in recovering most of the lost territories of the Turkish empire. He, certainly, could not subdue the power of the Rajputs yet broke their aggressive strength. Besides, he established a firm administration in these recovered territories.
Achievement # 7. Investiture from the Caliph:
Iltutmish requested the Khalifa (Caliph) of Baghdad to grant him the title of Sultan. The request was accepted and emissaries from the Khalifa reached Delhi with a deed of investiture for Iltutmish in 1229 A.D. This gave Iltutmish legal claim over the Delhi Sultanate. It also helped him in making his rule hereditary which secured the succession of his children on the throne.
Achievement # 8. Death of Iltutmish:
In 1236 A.D., Iltutmish marched towards Baniyan which was ruled by Saifuddin Hasan Qarligh, an officer of Jalal-ud-din Mangbarni. Saifuddin had occupied the territories between Ghazni and the river Indus. Iltutmish fell ill during the campaign and returned to Delhi. There he died on 30 April 1236 A.D.