Army as the basis of strength:

Ala-ud-Din’s position was threatened on the one hand by the revolts of the nobles and Rajput’s and on the other hand by the Mongols who occasionally invaded the frontier of India in the north-west.

Moreover, he desired to extend his empire. All these needed a well-equipped army.

As observed by Dr. P. Saran,

“The problem of maintaining the huge army in a good state of equipment and efficiency with limited resources of the kingdom was the sole motive which prompted control of prices of all necessities of life so as to make them cheap enough for the soldiery to maintain themselves on the low salaries which they were to be paid according to the decision of the Sultan.”

Grandpoohbah's Blog: August 2013

image source:,_escaping_Chinggis_Khan_and_his_army.jpg


It may be remembered that Ala-ud-Din based his kingship on his military power. He was fully aware that he had usurped power by force and the same could be maintained only by force and this force was his military force. Ala-ud-Din owed everything to his efficient military.

Strength of the army:

It is not possible to give the exact strength of his army. Ferishta informs us that Ala-ud-Din maintained 4, 75,000 cavalry men. (Horse riders). The strength of the infantry must have exceeded the cavalry. War elephants also constituted an important part of the army. Among other weapons like swords, bows and arrows, stone-throwing machines were also used in battles.

Main features of the reforms in the army:

1. For the first time army was paid in cash.


2. Three grades of soldiers, were fixed. A foot soldier was paid 156 ‘tankas’ (silver rupees) a year. The soldier with one horse was paid, 234 ‘tankas’ and with two horses 312 ‘tankas’ i.e. 78 ‘tankas’ more. In this salary, the soldier had to look after his horse/horses and other things. It is observed that the amount paid to a soldier was not a small sum for the first decade of the 14th century. During the reign of Sher Shah it was 230 ‘tankas’ i.e. 4 ‘tankas’ less. During Akbar’s time in the 16th century, it was 240 ‘tankas’ i.e. more by four ‘tankas’ only.

3. The ‘Ariz-i-Mamlik’ (Army Minister) himself recruited the soldiers of the army.

4. Ala-ud-Din was the first Sultan to keep a standing army at the centre. He did not depend upon the feudal chiefs for the supply of the soldiers.

5. Ala-ud-Din, instituted the practice of recording the ‘hulia’ (description) of individual soldier and ‘dagging’ (branding of horses). This helped to stop corrupt practices like giving inflated figures of the soldiers and horses.


6. Army was given suitable training.

7. Army was properly equipped.

8. A periodical inspection was made and horses and arms of the soldiers were thoroughly examined.

9. Old forts were repaired and new forts were constructed.

10. Soldiers were permanently kept in these forts and suitable arrangements were made for the regular supply of arms to them.

11. Grains and fodder always remained stored in the forts.

12. Well-trained and loyal commanders were appointed in the army organisation.

13. Ala-ud-Din kept spies in every unit of the army. They submitted regular reports to him about the movements of the military officers.

14. Ala-ud-Din controlled the price of the essential commodities which enabled the soldiers to make a good living within their salaries.