The below mentioned article provides a biography on Ala-Ud-Din Khalji of the Khalji Dynasty.
Ala-ud-din whose original name was Ali Gurshasp assumed the title of Abul Muzaffar Sultan Alaud-duniya-va-din Muhammad Shah Khalji. Among the rulers of medieval India, Ala-ud-din occupies an honourable place both as a conqueror and an administrator. Ala-ud-din has not been regarded as great by historians but, certainly, he was very much close to greatness and ranks as the great at least among the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate.
Ala-ud-din was the son of Shihabuddin Masud, brother of Sultan Jalal-ud- din. Nothing is known about his date of birth and early upbringing. It seems that he did not receive much education but was expert in fighting. When Jalal-ud- din became Sultan, he gave Ala-ud-din the title of Amir-i-tuzak and to his younger brother Almas Beg the title of Akhur Beg.
The Sultan also married one of his daughters to Ala-ud-din and another one to Almas Beg. Ala-ud-din participated in the suppression of the revolt of Malik Chhajju and was awarded the governorship of Kara and Manikpur.
There the followers of Malik Chhajju and all those ambitious Khalji nobles who were dissatisfied with the peaceful policy of Jalal-ud-din flocked round him and tempted him to capture the throne of Delhi. It suited the ambitions of Ala-ud-din.
He was not happy with his proud wife and his relations with his mother-in-law were strained. Thus, dissatisfied with his personal life, Ala-ud-din’s talents were engaged in seeking fulfillment in worldly possessions and power. The circumstances also helped him. Sultan Jalal-ud-din was losing his prestige and that encouraged the ambitions of those nobles who were dissatisfied with him. Ala-ud-din became the pivot of their hopes.
In 1292 A.D. Ala-ud-din successfully attacked Bhilsa and was awarded governorship of Avadh. In 1296 A.D., he got enormous booty from Devagiri which further raised his prestige and the number of his followers. It helped him in capturing the throne of Delhi. The same year, he trapped Jalal-ud-din and murdered him. He was helped in this by his brother Almas Beg who duped the Sultan by his sweet words and assured him of the loyalty of Ala-ud-din.
Ala- ud-din declared himself Sultan at Kara-Manikpur. Then he proceeded to Delhi and deposed Ibrahim from the throne. Thus, Ala-ud-din captured the throne of Delhi both by his treachery and determined efforts.
Ala-ud-din had to face many challenges when he became the Sultan. He was unpopular among his subjects as he had treacherously killed his uncle who was his father-in-law and benefector as well. Many Jalali (supporters of Sultan Jalal- ud-din) nobles were also dissatisfied with him.
Arkali Khan, the eldest and capable son of Jalal-ud-din was the independent ruler of Punjab, Multan and Sindh and his brother, the deposed Sultan Ibrahim, his mother Malika-i-Jahan and many Jalali nobles including Ahmad Chap had found shelter with him. They could threaten the power of Ala-ud-din any time.
In Doab and Avadh, the subjects and feudatory chiefs were prepared to revolt at any opportune time. On the north-west frontier, the Khokhars were enemies of the Khaljis while the Mongols were constantly trying to penetrate deeper into India. In distant provinces like Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, nearly independent or semi- independent Hindu or Muslim chiefs were ruling.
There were powerful Rajput rulers in Malwa and Bundelkhand while Rajasthan had become completely independent. Gujarat and the entire South had been free from Muslim influence so far. Besides, there was the necessity to restore the prestige of the Sultan and bring order and peace within the empire by improvement in administration.
Ala-ud-din proved equal to the task. He overcame all difficulties. He destroyed all claimants to the throne, suppressed all conspiring or revolting nobles, brought distant provinces under his hold, established a strong administration, restored order and peace within the boundaries of the empire, saved his empire from foreign invasions, extended its territories, looted and brought under his influence the entire South India and, thus, brought Khalji imperialism and its despotism to its zenith.
Ala-ud-din’s primary necessity was to consolidate his position on the throne. He lavishly distributed wealth among his subjects so that they soon forgot his cruel deed of murdering his uncle and benefactor, Jalal-ud-din. He assigned important posts to his loyal officers and allowed the Jalali nobles to enjoy their previous posts.
However, Arkali Khan, his family and loyal Jalali nobles were at Multan. Ala-ud-din was not secure on the throne till they were alive. Therefore, Ala- ud-din sent a strong army to attack Multan just after a month of his accession to the throne. Arkali Khan surrendered after a month and he along with his followers were taken prisoner. They all were killed afterwards.
The Mongols invaded in 1297 A.D. and again in 1299 A.D. But both the invasions were repulsed. Next, Ala-ud-din punished all those Jalali nobles who had joined him because of temptation of wealth. Many of them were blinded or imprisoned and their wealth was confiscated.
Thus, Ala-ud-din finished all claimants to the throne and those nobles who could prove disloyal to him any time. He, then, appointed his own loyal and capable officers to all important posts. These officers proved their worth and Ala-ud-din owed much of his success to the loyalty and merit of these officers.
Ala-ud-din proved an ambitious and capable ruler. He formed ambitious schemes for administration and extension of the empire. He was so encouraged by his successes and conquests that he assumed the title of Sikandar-i-Sani, had it recited in the Khutba and superscribed it on his coins. He dreamed to conquer the world and even thought of starting a new religion.
However, on the advice of his friend and city-kotwal, Ala-ul-mulk, he gave up these wild schemes and decided to establish an extensive and firm empire in India alone. Ala-ud-din succeeded in conquering larger part of north India and in bringing about almost all rulers of the South under his suzerainty. He, thus, carried Muslim imperialism in India to the extreme.
Further, he carried despotism also to the extreme and established absolute monarchical rule in India. Ala-ud-din succeeded in every field. The only limitation was that his success was limited only up to his lifetime. He failed in establishing an enduring empire of his dynasty.
The Extension of the Empire:
Ala-ud-din was an imperialist. He had assumed the title of Sikandar-i-Sani and dreamed to conquer the world. However, being advised by his friend, Kotwal Ala-ul-mulk, he decided to conquer only India. He succeeded in his attempt. While larger part of north India was annexed to his empire, the rulers of south India were defeated and, except the Pandyas, others were forced to accept his suzerainty and pay him yearly tribute.
(A) North India:
1. Gujarat and Jaisalmer:
Gujarat was a prosperous state with its capital Anhilwara. It was attacked several times by Turkish invaders, sometimes successfully also. But, it was never conquered so far. At that time, Kama (Rai Karan) was the ruler of Gujarat. In the later half of 1298 A.D., Ala-ud-din sent an expedition under Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to Gujarat. On the way, Ulugh Khan conquered Jaisalmer.
The Vaghela king Karna faced them near Ahmedabad but was defeated. His queen Kamala Devi and his treasures fell into the hands of the invaders. However, he along with his daughter, Deval Devi, could escape away and found shelter with Ram Chandra Deva of Devagiri.
The invaders then plundered Gujarat as far as Cambay, destroyed the temple of Somnath and returned to Delhi with immense booty. Kamla Devi, wife of Raja Kama, married Ala-ud-din. At Cambay, Nusrat Khan also purchased a handsome young Hindu slave later on, converted to Islam and named Kafur Hazardinari who afterwards conquered the South for Ala-ud-din.
Ranthambhor was a stronghold of Chauhana-Rajputs. Rana Hamir Deva had extended his influence and provided shelter to Mongol rebels. Ala-ud-din desired to conquer it because of its strategical importance also. He despatched Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to attack Ranthambhor. The fort was besieged but Nusrat Khan was killed in the battle and the invaders were forced to retreat.
Then Ala-ud-din himself besieged the fort. The siege continued for a year. Ultimately in July 1301 A.D., Ala-ud-din succeeded in capturing the fort with the help of Ran Mal, the prime minister of Hamir Deva who had come to his side. All Rajputs were killed while the women performed Jauhar.
Dr K.S. Lal has expressed the opinion that the attack on Warangal in 1303 A.D. was really an attack on Bengal where Shamsuddin had declared himself Sultan. But the expedition failed and Bengal remained independent till 1324 A.D.
Another centre of the power of the Rajputs was Chittor. Its fort was constructed on a high hill and was regarded impregnable. Ala-ud-din attacked Chittor in January 1303 A.D. and besieged the fort. Rana Ratan Singh defended the fort for seven months but, ultimately, in August 1303 A.D. the fort was captured by Ala-ud-din.
According to the Rajput sources Rana Ratan Singh was slain in the battle while Amir Khusrav and Isami state that Rana Ratan Singh surrendered himself to Ala-ud-din. Whatever might be correct but the name of Ratan Singh was heard no more.
His wife Padmini performed Jauhar along with other Rajput women. Ala-ud-din remained at Chittor for some days, massacred nearly 30,000 Rajputs, renamed Chittor as Khizrabad, appointed his eldest son, Khizr Khan as the governor of Chittor and then returned to Delhi.
In 1311 A.D. Khizr Khan was recalled from Chittor and it was handed over to Maladeva, a friendly Rajput chief. But, the Rajputs did not forget their defeat and troubled Maladeva. Hamir Deva, one of the relatives of Rana Ratan Singh tried to recover Chittor from the hands of Maladeva. Maladeva married one of his daughters with him in order to satisfy him. Yet, Hamir Deva did not remain silent. Ultimately, after the death of Maladeva, Hamir Deva captured Chittor from the hands of his son and successor in 1321 A.D.
The Episode of Padmini:
The basis of this story is Padmavat written by Malik Muhammad Jaisi in 1540 A.D. Amir Khusrav, a contemporary mentioned the romance of king Sulaiman and queen Sheba in his work, Khazain-ul-Futuh. That indirectly referred and compared Ala-ud-din with king Sulaiman and Padmini with queen Sheba. Jaisi, probably, based his romantic tale Padmavat on it. Afterwards, it became the theme of many ballads of Rajasthan and many historians also accepted this story.
Padmavat described that the main purpose of Ala-ud-din in attacking Chittor was to get possession of Padmini, the beautiful queen of Rana Ratan Singh. When Ala-ud-din failed to capture the fort by force he agreed to retire provided Padmini’s face was shown to him in a mirror. Ratan Singh agreed to it. Padmini’s face was shown to Ala-ud-din in a mirror but when Ratan Singh went to escort Ala-ud-din to his camp he was imprisoned.
The Rajputs, then, resolved to deceive Ala-ud-din. They sent a message to him that they were prepared to surrender Padmini. Then 16,000 armed Rajputs reached Delhi in disguise of women with queen Padmini and asked that the queen be permitted to meet the Rana only once. Ala-ud-din agreed to it. The Rajputs, then in a surprise attack got free the Rana and the queen and fled away to Chittor. Gaura, a Rajput chief checked the pursuing Delhi army in the way while Badal, another brave Rajput chief, succeeded in reaching Chittor along with the Rana and the queen.
Ratan Singh, then attacked Devapal, ruler of Kumbhalgarh who had tried to take possession of Padmini while he was captive of Ala-ud-din. He succeeded in killing Devapal but was injured during the battle and therefore, died afterwards. Padmini, then became sati at the pyre of her husband. Ala-ud-din reached Chittor only afterwards and succeeded in capturing the fort only when the Rana and her queen had thus died.
This story of Padmavat assumed different shapes afterwards. Some writers have said that Ratan Singh was not taken to Delhi but was imprisoned in the camp of Ala-ud-din from where the Rajputs rescued him. Other writers too, thus, have given different versions of the story. Besides, the question had remained unresolved as to whether the story is a historical fact? Historians like Dr Gauri Shankar Ojha, Dr B.P. Saxena and Dr K.S. Lal do not accept the story as a historical fact.
They contend that contemporary historians like Isami, Amir Khusrav and Ibn Batuta have not described this story anywhere. Its only source is Padmavat which was written much later. But, Abul-Fazl, Hazi-ud- Dabir, Ferishta and Nensi accepted this story as truth.
Dr Ishwari Prasad, Dr A.L. Srivastava and Dr S. Roy have expressed that though it is difficult to prove the story as a historical fact, yet ‘it should not be totally rejected off-hand as a myth.’ Viewing the lustful nature of Ala-ud-din for beautiful women, Dr Ishwari Prasad and Dr S. Roy are more inclined towards accepting the story as truth.
Dr A.L. Srivastava also writes- “Most of the romantic details of Jaisi’s Padmavat are imaginary, but the main plot of the story that Padmini was coveted by Ala-ud-din and was shown in a mirror to the lustful Sultan, who had her husband arrested, is most probably based on truth.”
Malwa was plundered by the rulers of Delhi several times and a part of it was already in the hands of the Sultan. But, it was never completely conquered so far by any Sultan of Delhi. The contemporary ruler Mahlak Deva and his commander-in-chief Harnanda (Koka Pradhan) were brave fighters.
Ala-ud-din sent Ain-ul-Mulk, governor of Multan, to attack Malwa. Ain-ul- Mulk defeated and killed Koka Pradhan in a battle and then besieged the fort of Mandu. A traitor among the Rajputs revealed a secret passage to the fort and Ain-ul-Mulk made a surprise attack at night, killed Mahlak Deva and occupied the fort. Afterwards, Ujjain, Dhar and Chanderi were also conquered. Ain-ul-Mulk was, then, appointed governor of Malwa.
Siwana was ruled by the Parmara Rajput ruler Shital Deva who was regarded as a powerful ruler of Rajasthan. Ala-ud-din attacked Siwana in 1308 A.D. The Rajputs offered a brave resistance for some months. Afterwards, with the help of a traitor among the Rajputs, Ala-ud-din blocked the water-way which provided drinking water to the besieged from a nearby lake. Then, Ala-ud-din could force his way in the fort. Shital Deva was killed and the fort was captured. Ala-ud-din handed it over to Kamaluddin Gurg and returned to Delhi.
Jalor was only fifty miles away from Siwana. It was ruled by Raja Kanera Deva. Dr K.S. Lal has described that Kanera Deva had accepted the suzerainty of Ala-ud-din in 1304 A.D. But Dr Dashrath Sharma has not agreed with it.
He contends that Kanera Deva had not accepted the suzerainty of Ala- ud-din but, on the contrary, had attacked Nusrat Khan while he was returning after his campaign of Gujarat and had successfully repulsed a Muslim invasion in 1305 A.D.
Therefore, Jalor was attacked again in 1311 A.D. According to Rajput sources, the war continued for several years but, ultimately, Jalor was captured by Kamaluddin Gurg. Kaner Deva was killed along with his all relatives except his one brother, Maldeva who pleased Ala-ud-din and got the governorship of Chittor.
The conquest of Jalor completed the conquest of Rajasthan by Ala-ud-din. Bundi, Mandor, Tonk and, probably, Jodhpur also surrendered to Ala-ud-din. Of course, the Rajputs continued to offer resistance to Muslim conquerors at different places, yet the aim of Ala-ud-din was achieved.
All strong forts of Rajasthan were captured by him and that provided safety to the passages towards Gujarat and South India. Dr B.P. Saxena has opined that ‘Ala-ud-din had no planned policy concerning Rajasthan.’ According to him, Ala-ud-din had to fight tough battles in Rajasthan while it brought no economic gains to him. Therefore, he abandoned the policy of conquest there.
However, the opinion of Dr Saxena has not been accepted by the majority of historians. Ala- ud-din was not prepared to accept the existence of any independent state in his neighbourhood. The conquest of Rajasthan was also a part of his policy of aggression.
Besides, he desired to capture safe routes to Gujarat and the Deccan which could be possible only after the conquest of Rajasthan. That is why he himself attacked strong forts like Chittor and Ranthambhor. Thus, the conquest of Rajasthan was the result of a well-planned policy of Ala-ud-din. He got the desired results by his conquests.
(B) South India:
After some years in the beginning of the fourteenth century A.D., Ala-ud- din was free from the fear of Mongol invasion, had subdued the North, brought peace to his empire and possessed a large and strong army. He, then, decided to conquer South India. At that time, there were four prosperous and strong states in the South.
In the south-west of Vindhyas, including Maharashtra, was the kingdom of Devagiri. It was ruled by the Yadava king Ramchandra Deva and its capital was Devagiri. Towards the south-east was the Kakatiya kingdom of Telingana. It was ruled by Prataprudra Deva II and its capital was Warangal.
Towards the south-west of Telingana was the Hoyasala kingdom. Its ruler was Vir Ballala III and its capital was Dwarasamudra. In the far south was the Pandya kingdom. Its capital was Madura. At the time of Muslim invasion the two brothers Sundara Pandya and Vira Pandya were contesting against each other to capture the throne.
Dr K.S. Lal has expressed that ‘the temptation of glory and wealth which had always been the source of inspiration for all the conquerors also inspired Ala-ud-din to attack the states of the Deccan one after another.’ However, attainment of glory was of secondary importance to Ala-ud-din. His primary aim was to capture the wealth of the Deccan by every means.
However, the majority of historians have expressed that the purpose of Ala-ud-din in attacking the kingdoms of the South was two-fold. The South was not plundered so far by Muslim invaders and therefore, possessed enormous wealth.
Regarding the Pandya kingdom of the Deccan, Marco Polo wrote thus:
“When a king dies nobody dares to take anything out of his treasury and they believe that as our father collected wealth we should collect it the same way. Therefore, the wealth of the state-treasury has increased and enormous wealth has accumulated there.”
Ala-ud-din had looted Devagiri once before he became the Sultan and therefore, had some idea of the stored-up wealth of the South. His one aim, therefore, was to loot the wealth of the South. His other aim was to force its rulers to accept his suzerainty and get annual tribute from them which would be a regular source of wealth for him and would also increase his prestige in India.
Dr U.N. Dey has emphasized on his second aim. He writes- “Ala-ud- din was following a calculated policy of reducing the kingdoms of the Deccan and the South as tributary states which would accept his suzerainty, pay annual tribute and act in all manners as his subordinates.” Besides, Ala-ud-din was a practical statesman. He knew that it was difficult or rather impossible to keep the South under his direct rule for long.
Therefore, he never desired to annex the South within his empire. On the contrary, he tried to keep good relations with those rulers of the South who accepted his suzerainty and agreed to pay annual tribute. Ramachandra Deva and Vir Ballala visited Delhi several times and the Sultan treated them with due respect.
Dr S. Roy writes- “What he aspired to in the South was not the annexation of new territory, but huge tribute from the Hindu kings with a mere acknowledgment of his overlordship.”
He sent his army to the South several times to achieve this purpose. Malik Kafur who was purchased as a slave served him well in this purpose. The credit of subduing the South actually went to him.
The first attack on Telingana in 1303 A.D. failed miserably. Prataprudra Deva compelled the Muslim army which was sent to attack Telingana under Fakhruddin Juna and Malik Chhajju to retreat in disorder. After that Ala-ud- din failed to pay any attention towards the South for some years.
Ramchandra Deva, the ruler of Devagiri had agreed to pay the revenue of the province of Illichpur to Ala-ud-din in 1294 A.D. but failed to remit it consecutively in 1305 A.D. and 1306 A.D. It was believed that his son, Shankar Deva, was responsible for this non-payment. It is also possible that Ramachandra Deva himself was encouraged to disown this responsibility because of the failure of the Muslim attack on Telingana or desired to draw advantage of difficulties of the Sultan arisen because of the Mongol invasions.
Whatever might be the reason but Ala-ud-din was not prepared to tolerate the loss of yearly revenue. Therefore, he sent an army to attack Devagiri in 1307 A.D. under his naib Malik Kafur. Ala-ud-din assigned another task to Kafur.
Raja Karan of Gujarat had found shelter with Ramchandra Deva of Devagiri and was made the independent ruler of Baglan region. His daughter Deval Devi was with him. Kamla Devi, now wife of Ala-ud-din, desired that her only living daughter Deval Devi be brought to Delhi. Ala-ud-din assigned this task to Kafur.
Malik Kafur reached Sultanpur and demanded Deval Devi from Raja Karan which was refused. Kafur left Alp Khan to subdue Karan and himself proceeded to Devagiri. Shankar Deva, son and successor of Ramachandra Deva, now offered help to Karan on condition that Deval Devi would be married to him.
Karan, who had previously rejected the offer, now agreed to it and sent Deval Devi to Devagiri with a military escort. Alp Khan defeated Karan and forced him to flee to Devagiri. Alp Khan pursued him and suddenly found Deval Devi in the way. He captured her and sent her to Delhi where she was married to Khizr Khan, eldest son of Ala-ud-din. Alp Khan himself joined Kafur.
Kafur reached Devagiri and defeated Ramchandra Deva in a battle. Shankar Deva fled away while Ramchandra Deva sued for peace. Kafur got a large booty in elephants and treasures and carried Ramchandra Deva with his family and relations to Delhi. Ala-ud-din received Ramchandra Deva kindly and gave him the title of Rai-i-Rayan.
He was allowed to return to his capital and was also assigned the principality of Navsari. Ramchandra Deva became a feudatory and friend to Ala-ud-din and afterwards helped Kafur in his conquest of the South.
Dr S. Roy writes- “Indeed Devagiri served the base for Khalji military operations in the Deccan and the Far South.”
Ala-ud-din had not forgotten the failure and disgrace of his previous attack on Telingana. He decided to avenge his defeat and sent Malik Kafur to attack Telingana in November 1309 A.D. Malik Kafur reached Devagiri where he got supplies and soldiers from Ramchandra Deva. He then proceeded towards Telingana. He conquered Sirbar in the way and reached the capital city, Warangal in January 1310 A.D.
The capital was well defended by two round walls, the outer one being that of earth and the inner one that of stone, and also by two moats filled with water between the two walls. Yet Prataprudra Deva could not defend himself for long and sued for peace. He accepted the suzerainty of Ala-ud-din, agreed to pay annual tribute and gave one hundred elephants, seven hundred horses and all his accumulated treasure as present.
Kafur agreed for the terms and returned to Delhi with enormous booty. Khafi Khan has written that the world-famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was also presented by Prataprudra Deva to Kafur at this time.
3. The Hoysala Kingdom:
Only a few months had passed after his return from Telingana when Ala-ud-din directed Malik Kafur to attack the far south in November 1310 A.D. In February 1311 A.D., Kafur reached Devagiri where he again received supplies and soldiers from Ramchandra Deva. Kafur then proceeded towards Dwarasamudra, the capital of Hoysala kingdom.
At that time, king Vir Ballala III had gone to attack the Pandya kingdom. Realising the danger to his capital, Vir Ballala returned at once. An army was sent by Vir Pandya as well to support him. However, Vir Ballala agreed for peace after some skirmishes. He accepted the suzerainty of Ala-ud-din, agreed to pay annual tribute and gave elephants, horses and all his wealth to Kafur. He personally met Kafur and promised to guide him in his attack on Pandya kingdom.
4. The Pandya Kingdom:
After the death of their father, the two brothers, Sundara Pandya and Vira Pandya had fought against each other for succession. Sundara Pandya was defeated by his brother. He fled away and sought help in getting the throne either from Ala-ud-din or Malik Kafur. Dr B.P. Saxena, however, has denied this fact. He contends that Kafur struck against both brothers. Kafur proceeded towards Madura, the capital of the Pandya kingdom.
It was abandoned by Vira Pandya and Kafur thoroughly sacked it. Kafur pursued Vira Pandya to several places but failed to capture him. Amir Khusrav has indicated that Kafur went up to Rameshwaram, destroyed its famous temple and raised a mosque in its place. However, Isami and Barani are silent about it.
In October 1311 A.D., Malik Kafur returned to Delhi with enormous booty which he had amassed both from the Pandya and the Hoysala kingdom. Vira Ballala also accompanied him to Delhi where he was kindly received by Ala- ud-din and was allowed to return to his kingdom with respect.
The second attack on Devagiri. Ramchandra Deva died in 1312 A.D. and his son and successor, Shankara Deva broke up his relations with Delhi. Prataprudra Deva, the ruler of Telingana also requested Ala-ud-din to send his representative to the South to collect the annual tribute. Malika-i-Jahan, wife of Ala-ud-din and her brother Alp Khan were intriguing against Kafur at Delhi and therefore, Kafur himself desired to proceed to Deccan.
Ala-ud-din, therefore, sent Kafur again to attack Devagiri in 1313 A.D. Kafur defeated and killed Shankar Deva in the battle. Devagiri was now annexed to the Delhi Sultanate. In 1315 A.D., Ala-ud-din recalled Kafur to Delhi.
Ala-ud-din’s conquest of the South was neither complete nor permanent. The kingdom of Devagiri and Hoysala certainly remained loyal to him but the attitude of Prataprudra Deva never remained above suspicion while Vira Pandya never accepted his suzerainty. The Hindus in the South were certainly defeated but not completely annihilated and always attempted to free themselves from the yoke of Delhi as was clear from the example of Shankar Deva of Devagiri.
Yet, Ala-ud-din’s policy towards the South succeeded. He succeeded in fulfilling his objects. Ala-ud-din was the first Sultan of Delhi who dared to attack south India and succeeded. All states of the South were humiliated and, except one, all were forced to accept his suzerainty and pay annual tribute to him.
Though the Hindus offered stiff resistance to Muslims at several places, the ultimate success went to the Muslims. It proved that the Muslims were superior to the Hindus in warfare and their leader Malik Kafur was certainly a most capable general.
Yassaf wrote- “This brilliant achievement of Kafur in the Deccan eclipsed the victories of Mahmud of Ghazni in Hindustan.”
Besides, Kafur took enormous booty from the South and, thus, fulfilled another object of Ala-ud-din, that is, capturing the accumulated wealth of South.
Regarding effects of the policy of Ala-ud-din towards the Deccan, it has been expressed that it helped in the growth of Muslim culture there as a large number of people accepted Islam as their religion. The opinion is correct to much extent. But another opinion has also been expressed concerning it. It has also been said that it created a reaction against the Muslims and Islam among the Hindus of the Deccan.
Referring to it, Dr Majumdar writes:
“They (the Hindus), at that time, had no other alternative except to surrender before the mighty power of the invader but resentment was deeply entrenched in their hearts which, finally, found its political expression in the form of establishment of the Vijayanagara empire.”
The causes of the success of Malik Kafur against the Hindu states of the South were similar to the causes of the success of the Turks in the North. There were four powerful states in the South and each of them was fighting against each other for power and glory. There is only one instance of mutual help among them viz., when Vira Pandya sent military help to Vira Ballala.
Otherwise, instead of uniting against a common enemy, they helped him against each other. When Ala-ud-din had attacked Devagiri in 1296 A.D., prince Shankar Deva had gone to fight against the Hoysala kingdom with the major part of the army of Devagiri state; when Kafur attacked the Hoysala kingdom. Vira Ballala had gone to attack the Pandya state; and, when Kafur attacked the Pandya state, he was supported by Sundar Pandya against his brother Vira Pandya.
The same way, Ramachandra Deva of Devagiri supported Kafur against both the Telingana and the Hoysala states and the Hoysala ruler, Vira Ballala helped Kafur against Vira Pandya, ruler of Pandya state. Thus, the states of the South had learnt nothing from the destruction of the Rajput states of north India. They rather repeated the follies of the Rajput rulers of the North. They failed to realise the consequences of the Muslim conquest of India.
They failed to keep a good spy-system, failed to arrange for the proper defence of their frontiers and failed to improve their arms and military tactics. Again, they simply fought defensive battles from inside their forts and left the fate of their kingdom and its people on one decisive battle. Except Vira Pandya, rulers like Ramchandra Deva, Prataprudra Deva and Vira Ballala were taken by surprise by Kafur and they prepared themselves for battle when the enemy had reached at the gates of their capital.
The temptation of wealth and the emotional unity and social equality provided by Islam were also important factors for the success of the Muslims. Besides, the efficient army of Ala-ud-din and the capability of Kafur as a military general were, certainly, responsible for the success of the Muslims. The army which had successfully repulsed the invasions of the Mongols was, certainly, far superior in arms, organisation, experience and military tactics than the armies of rulers of the South.
Commenting on the efficiency of the cavalry of Ala-ud-din’s army, Dr K.S. Lal has remarked:
“The mobility of his cavalry was staggering; it had almost annihilated the distance between Delhi and Devagiri.”
Besides, there is no doubt that Malik Kafur proved the most capable general of his age and the credit of the conquest of the South mostly goes to him.
Thus, Ala-ud-din succeeded in establishing a vast empire in India. Towards the north-west it extended up to the river Indus and after 1306 A.D. even Kabul and Ghazni came under his sphere of influence; and, towards the east, it extended up to Avadh. Orissa and, probably, Bengal and Bihar were not included within his empire.
Kashmir was also not included within his empire but, from Punjab in the north to the Vindhyas in the south all territory formed part of his empire. In the South, except the Pandya ruler Vira Pandya, all rulers had accepted his suzerainty. Thus, Ala-ud-din had not conquered the whole of India, yet his empire was certainly more extensive as compared to all other previous Turkish rulers of Delhi.
The North-West Frontier and the Invasions of the Mongols:
The Mongols threatened the security of India from towards the north-west during the entire reign of Ala-ud-din except some last years. Of course, the Mongols had divided and, thereby, weakened themselves after the death of their great leader Cenghiz Khan, yet they were a great power in Asia even at that time. Ghazni and Kabul formed their powerful bases to attack India and they had advanced as far as Sindh and Punjab.
During the reign of Ala-ud-din their attacks were more fierce as compared to previous ones. Besides, they had a different object now. Previously, they had attacked India primarily to gain booty and extend their sphere of influence. But, now they attacked India either to extend their empire or to take revenge of their defeat and disgrace. Therefore, they threatened not only the security of Punjab but even that of Delhi and Ganga-Yamuna Doab.
The Khokhars and the Afghan tribes also used to join them because of the temptation of booty and, at times, dissatisfied nobles of the Delhi Sultanate also used to help them to gain advantages for themselves. However, there was one saving grace for Ala-ud-din.
From among the different branches of the Mongols, India was attacked either by the Il-khans of Persia or by the Chaghtais of Transoxiana at that time. But these two ruling dynasties of the Mongols contended against each other for the expansion of their empires not only in Central Asia but also in India and therefore, failed to unite their strength.
The first Mongol invasion took place in 1297-98 A.D. only a short time after Ala-ud-din’s accession on the throne. Dava Khan, ruler of Transoxiana sent an army of one lakh Mongols under the command of Kadar. They entered Punjab and started plundering the nearby places of Lahore.
Ala-ud-din sent an army under Jafar Khan and Ulugh Khan which defeated the Mongols near Jullundhar with great slaughter. While nearly 20,000 Mongols were killed in the battle, many Mongol officers were taken prisoners who were killed afterwards and their captured women and children were sent to Delhi as slaves.
In 1299 A.D., the Mongols attacked again under the command of Saldi, brother of Dava Khan, and captured Sivistan (Sehwan). Ala-ud-din sent Zafar Khan against the Mongols who recaptured Sivistan and imprisoned a large number of Mongols of both sexes including Saldi and his brother.
This surprising victory of Zafar Khan provoked the jealousy both of the Sultan and his brother Ulugh Khan whose success in Multan and Gujarat was eclipsed by the achievements of Zafar Khan. The Sultan even desired to kill Zafar Khan. But another and more fierce Mongol invasion saved Zafar Khan for the time being.
Towards the close of 1299 A.D., Dava Khan sent a strong army of 2,00,000 horses under the command of his son, Qutlugh Khwaja to avenge the disgrace and death of Saldi. This time the Mongols did not mean plunder but conquest. They avoided fighting in the way till they reached the neighbourhood of Delhi.
At that time, Ala-ud-din rose equal to the occasion and gave proof of being a determined Sultan and courageous commander. The Mongols had come with firm determination to fight against Ala-ud-din. Therefore, Ala-ud-din decided to give them a battle even against the counsel of his friend, Ala-ul-mulk who advised him to wait and avoid the risk of an open battle.
He assembled all his high officers of the army and said:
“How could he hold the sovereignty of Delhi if he shuddered to encounter the invaders? What would his contemporaries and those adversaries who had marched two thousand kos to fight him say, when he hid himself behind a camel’s back? And what verdict posterity would pronounce on him? How could he dare to show his face to anybody, or even enter the royal harem if he was guilty of cowardice and endeavoured to repel the Mongols with diplomacy and negotiations? . . . Come what may, I am bent upon marching tomorrow to the plain of Kili where I propose joining in the battle with Qutlugh Khwaja.”
Ala-ud-din, therefore, reached the plain of Kili with his army. Zafar Khan was impatient for the battle. He had even challenged Qutlugh Khwaja for a duel. As soon as he received the orders to prepare for attacking the left wing of the Mongols, he attacked without waiting for further orders. Dilar Khan, his son also made a furious attack on the Mongols.
Zafar Khan broke up the left flank of the Mongols who fell back and were hotly pursued by Zafar Khan for 18 kos. But when he returned with his one thousand horsemen, he was ambushed by the Mongols ten times more than his number. He fought valiantly till he fell dead along with his last man.
Neither Ala-ud- din nor Ulugh Khan went to help Zafar Khan during the course of the battle. Of course, Zafar Khan was killed but the Mongols had tested the strength of the army of Ala-ud-din. They decided to retreat, withdrew 30 kos back from Delhi during the night and then returned to their country.
The fourth Mongol invasion took place only after some months of Ala-ud- din’s return from Chittor in 1303 A.D. The Mongols numbering nearly 1,20,000 horsemen under the command of Targhi, moved so swiftly that provincial governors could not get time to reach Delhi to help the Sultan.
Besides, a large part of the army of the Sultan had left for Telingana campaign and the army left at Delhi was insufficient and weak after its tough battle at Chittor. Therefore, Ala-ud-din was not in a position to face the Mongols in an open battle. He retired to the fort of Siri and took up defensive position. The Mongols plundered the environs of Delhi and besieged the fort for two months. But, as they were ignorant of the art of seige-warfare, they failed to capture the fort and withdrew.
The invasion of Targhi awakened Ala-ud-din to the necessity of frontier defence. He made Siri his capital, strengthened its fortifications, repaired the fort of Delhi and those in the north-west, constructed some new ones there, kept standing armies in them, kept a separate and permanent army for the defence of the north-west and appointed a separate governor for the same and increased the number and efficiency of his army.
In 1305 A.D., the Mongols attacked again under the command of Ali Beg and Tartaq. Targi also joined them in the way. The strong army of 50,000 Mongols could reach up to Amroha where it met the army of the Sultan under the command of Malik Kafur and Ghazi Malik. The royal army completely defeated the Mongols on 30 December 1305 A.D. Targi had died earlier in a battle and now Ali Beg and Tartaq were taken captives. They were brought to Delhi where they were killed.
In 1306 A.D., the Mongols attacked again to take revenge of the defeat of Ali Beg and Tartaq. One of their strong force, under the command of Kubak, reached the banks of the river Ravi while another one, under the command of lqbalmand and Tai-Bu, reached up to Nagaur. Ala-ud-din had again sent Ghazi Malik and Malik Kafur to repulse the invaders. They first met Kubak at the banks of the Ravi. They defeated and imprisoned him. They then marched to Nagaur and defeated the Mongols so crushingly that they fled away.
However, 50,000 of them were imprisoned and brought to Delhi where the males were trampled under the feet of elephants and a tower of their skulls was constructed in front of the Badaun Gate while their women and children were sold as slaves.
According to Ziya-ud-din Barani, the Mongols attacked India under the command of Kank, lqbalmand and one some other leader also at different times. Therefore, according to him, the Mongol invasions took place even after 1306 A.D. But Isami and Khusrav regarded the invasion of 1306 A.D. as their last invasion. Dr K.S. Lal and Dr S. Roy have agreed with Barani while Dr A.L. Srivastava has expressed the view that the last Mongol invasion took place in 1307-8 A.D.
Thus, most fierce invasions of the Mongols took place during the reign of Ala-ud-din. Yet, he succeeded in defeating the Mongols all the times. Therefore, the Mongols did not dare to attack India during last years of his reign.
According to Barani and Ferishta, Ghazi Malik Tughluq, the governor of north-west frontier, even attacked Kabul, Ghazni and Kandhar and plundered the territories of the Mongols there. This aggressive policy of Ghazi Malik broke up the capacity of the Mongols to invade India.
Last Days and Death of Ala-Ud-Din:
Ala-ud-din passed his last days in misery and disappointment. His growing age had sapped up his physical and mental energy. He had sent all his capable nobles to distant places because he could rely on none while he himself was not able to manage the affairs even of his family.
His queen, Malika-i-Jahan and the eldest son, Khizr Khan neglected him and engaged themselves in physical pleasures. The queen also conspired to break up the power of Malik Kafur with the help of her brother, Alp Khan. In 1312 A.D., Khizr Khan was married to one of the daughters of Alp Khan and, after the departure of Kafur to the South in 1312 A.D., another daughter of Alp Khan was married to prince Shadi Khan, the second son of Malika-i-Jahan.
When Ala-ud-din found himself ill and seriously neglected by his family members, he called back Kafur from the South in 1315 A.D. Kafur, in his own turn, tried to take advantage of the breaking health of the Sultan and attempted to capture the throne for himself. He convinced the Sultan that Khizr Khan, Malika-i-Jahan and Alp Khan were trying to kill him.
He then killed Alp Khan, imprisoned both Malika-i-Jahan and Khizr Khan and virtually assumed all powers of the state. But this resulted into several revolts. The army of Alp Khan revolted in Gujarat and defeated that army of the Sultan which was sent to suppress it under the command of Kamaluddin Gurg.
The same way, Haminir Deva challenged the authority of Maldeva at Chittor and Harpala Deva, son-in-law of late Ramchandra Deva, turned out the Muslim governor from Devagiri. Thus, Ala-ud-din’s authority was challenged from different quarters while he himself lay helpless in the bed. He died under such conditions on 5 January 1316 A.D.