Delhi SultanateDelhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate is a gallant exemplar of the grandeur of Medieval India. It contributed a lot to art, culture, and architecture. These Sultans of Delhi ruled for quite a long period of 320 years during which there were achievements in different fields.

Dynasties of Delhi Sultanate

DynastyPeriod of RuleProminent Rulers
Mamluk or Slave Dynasty1206 – 1290Qutubuddin Aibek, Iltutmish, Razia Sultan, Ghiyasuddin Balban
Khilji Dynasty1290 – 1320Alauddin Khilji
Tughlaq Dynasty1321 – 1413Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, Firoz Shah Tughlaq
Sayyid Dynasty1414 – 1450Khizr Khan
Lodhi Dynasty1451 – 1526Ibrahim Lodhi

Tughlaq Dynasty (1320-1412)

The Delhi Sultanate-Tughlaqs were a Muslim family of Turkic origin. The dynasty reached its zenith point between AD 1330 and 1335 when Muhammad Bin Tughlaq led a military campaign. Its rule was marked by torture, cruelty, and rebellions, resulting in the rapid disintegration of the dynasty’s territorial reach after 1335 AD.

Emperor of the Tughlaq DynastyPeriod
Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq1320-24
Muhammad Tughlaq1324-51
Firoz Shah Tughlaq1351-88
Mohammad Khan1388
Ghiyassuddin Tughlaq Shah II1388
Abu Baqr1389-90
Nasiruddin Muhammad1390-94
Humayun1394-95
Nasiruddin Mahmud1395-1412
Delhi Sultanate -Tughlaq

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (1320-1325)

Founder of the Tughlaq dynasty and took the title of Ghazi.
Khusrau Khan, the last king of the Khilji dynasty, was killed by Ghazni Malik, and Ghazni Malik ascended the throne assuming the title Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq.
He died in an accident and his son Jauna (Ulugh Khan) succeeded him under the title Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq.
He had a conflict with Sufi saint Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya.

Achievements of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq

  • Reintroduced the food laws of Ala-ud-Din.
  • Suppressed the rebellions in the distant provinces with a strong hand and resorted to peace and order. Built a strong fort called Tughlaqabad near Delhi
  • Organised a better postal system.
  • 1st Sultan started Irrigation and encouraged agriculture.
  • Amir Khusrau’s famous work “Tughlaq Nama” deals with the rise of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq.

Mohammad Bin Tughlaq (1325-1351)

  • Prince Jauna, the Son of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, ascended the throne in 1325.
  • His reign marks the zenith of the Delhi Sultanate but also saw the beginning of disintegration.
  • He defeated the Mongols. Appointed official on the basis of merit.
  • Advanced secular policies. Applied justice to Ulema.
  • Moroccan traveler Ibn Batuta visited India during his period. Ibn-Batuta was his contemporary of Muhammad Tughlaq and was his envoy to China.
  • He was the only Delhi Sultan who had received a comprehensive literacy, religious and philosophical education.
  • His ideas/decisions were ahead of his time hence he was not successful as a ruler.
  • He built the fort of Adilabad and the city of Jahanpanah.
  • During the reign 3 major kingdoms of South India emerged: Vijayanagar, Bahamani, and Madurai.
    • 1335 — Madurai became independent (Jalaluddin Ahsan Shah)
      1336 — Foundation of Vijayanagar (Harihara & Bukka), Warangal became independent (Kanhaiya)
    • 1341-47 — Revolts of Sada Amirs & Foundation of Bahamani in 1347 (Hasan Gangu)
  • He tried to introduce many administrative reforms. He had five ambitious projects for which he has become particularly debatable. His five projects have led to revolts all around his empire. His last days were spent checking the revolts.
    • Increase in taxation in the Doab by imposing Ghari or House tax and Charahi or Pasture tax. The taxes were also fixed arbitrarily (1326).
    • Created Diwan-i-Kohi or Department of Agriculture to bring more land under cultivation, and extend cultivation by giving loans to cultivators (takkavi loans)–Failed due to corrupt officials.
    • Transfer of capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (1327).
    • Token Currency: He introduced bronze coins which were to have the same value as silver coins. But these coins were forged and greatly lost their value in the market (1328).
    • A Khurasan expedition was proposed, and large troops were mobilized. But the expedition was abandoned at a later stage (1329).
    • Qarachil expedition against the Chinese incursion in Kumaon Hills, Himalayas (1330).
  • He died in Thatta while campaigning in Sindh against Taghi, a Turkish slave.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-1388)

  • He was a cousin of Mohammad-bin-Tughlaq. After his death, the nobles, and the theologians of the court selected Firoz Shah as the next Sultan.
  • Adopted a policy of trying to appease the nobles, army, and theologians and of asserting his authority over only such areas which could be easily administered from the center.
  • Appointed Khan-i-Jahan Maqbal, a Telugu Brahmin as Wazir or prime minister.
  • He extended the principle of heredity to the army & nobility.
  • Made the Iqtadari System hereditary. Trying to appease the nobility, army, and theologians, he introduced the hereditary system in the nobility and Iqtas, the army which led to many cases of abuse.
  • Malik Sarwar was a prominent noble and had been wazir for some time. He asserted independence and assumed the title of Malik-us-Sharq (lord of the east).
  • Malik ruled from Jaunpur, it was called Shiraz of the east. Malik Muhammad Jaisi author of “Padmavat”
  • lived in Jaunpur.
  • To appease theologians, Firoz took the following decisions:
    • The prohibited practice of Muslim women going out to worship.
    • Gave concessions to theologians
    • Made jizya a separate tax. Earlier it was part of land revenue. Only children, women, disabled are exempted.
    • Erased wall paintings in his palace.
  • He constructed and improved several canals.
    • From Mandvi and Sirmour Hills to Hansi in Haryana.
    • From the Sutlej to the Ghaggar. From Ghaggar to Firozabad.
  • Establishment of four new towns, Firozabad, Fatehabad, Jaunpur, and Hissar.
  • Set up new departments:
    • Diwan-i-Khairat – to make provisions for marriages of poor girls.
    • Department for public work.
    • Diwan-i-Bandagan – Department for slaves.
    • He established a hospital in Delhi, Dar-ul-Shifa.
  • Introduced 2 new coins: Adha (50% Jital) and Bitch (23% Jital).
  • He led two unsuccessful expeditions to Bengal. Bengal became free from the control of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • He developed royal factories called karkhanas in which thousands of slaves were employed.
  • Imposed four taxes sanctioned by Islamic kharaj (land tax), khams (1/5 of the looted property during wars), His taxation was based on the Quran which was Kharaj, Zakat, Jizya, and Khams. Kharaj was a land tax that was equal to 1/10 of the produce of the land. Zakat was a 2% tax on property. Jizya was levied on non-muslims, and Khams was 1/5 of the booty captured during the war.
  • Jizya (religious tax on the Hindus), and Zakat (2½per cent of the income of the Muslims which was spent for the welfare of Muslim subjects and their religion).
  • He was the first Sultan to impose Sharb (irrigation tax).
  • He transplanted two Ashokan Pillars to Firozabad.
  • He is the author of Fatuhat-i- Firozshahi.
  • Three important Hindu temples were destroyed.
    • Mahana temple near Delhi.
    • Gohana temple in Haryana.
    • Silahpur temple in Doab area

The Tughlaq dynasty could not survive much after Firoz Shah’s death. The Malwa, Gujarat, and Sharqi (Jaunpur) Kingdoms broke away from the Sultanate.
Timur’s Invasion: (1398-99) Timur, a Turk, invaded India in 1398 during the reign of Muhammad Shah Tughlaq, the last ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty. His army mercilessly sacked and plundered Delhi.
Timur returned to Central Asia, leaving a nominee to rule Punjab which ended the Tughlaq dynasty.

After Firoz Shah TughlaqTime periodAchievements
Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq II1388–1389The son of Fateh Khan and grandson of Firoz Shah Tughlaq.
Abu Bakr Shah1389–1390The son of Zafar Khan and grandson of Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq.
Nasir ud din Muhammad Shah III1390–1393Muhammad Shah was the son of Sultan Feroze Shah Tughluq.
Ala ud-din Sikandar Shah I1393Ala ud-din Sikandar Shah, born Humayun Khan, was the son of Sultan Muhammad Shah Tughluq.
Mahmud Nasir ud din1393–1394Also called as Sultan Mahmud II
Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah Tughluq1394–1399Grandson of Firuz Shah Tughlaq
Nasir ud din Mahmud1399–1412Son of Mahmud Nasir-ud- din

Nasiruddin Muhammad (1390-1398)

  • He was the last ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty.
  • Taimur’s invasion (1398) during his reign weakened the sultanate.
  • When Timur entered Delhi there was no opposition. He withdrew from India in 1399.
  • Delhi sultanate disintegrated towards the beginning of the 15th century and no independent states were set up. E.g. Malwa and Gujarat etc.
  • The Tughlaq empire came to end in 1412.

Sayyid Dynasty (1414 – 1450)

The Sayyid dynasty was the fourth dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, with four rulers ruling from 1414 to 1451. Founded by Khizr Khan, the Tughlaq and Timurid governor of Multan, they succeeded the Tughlaq dynasty until they were displaced by the Lodi dynasty.

EmperorPeriod
Khizr Khan1414-21
Mubarak Shah1421-33
Muhammad Shah1421-43
Alauddin Alam Shah1443-51

Saiyyad ruled Delhi for the shortest period (only 37 years) among the Delhi Sultans.

Khizr Khan (1414-1421)

  • Before his departure from India, Timur appointed Khizr Khan as Governor of Multan.
  • He captured Delhi and founded the Sayyid dynasty in 1414.
  • They ruled over Delhi and surrounding districts.

Mubarak Shah (1421-1434)

  • He succeeded Khizr on the throne after his successful expeditions against Mewatis, Katehars, and the Gangetic Doab area.
  • He was killed by the nobles in his own court.

Muhammad Shah (1434-1443)

  • The nobles put Muhammad Shah on the throne but could not survive the in-fighting among the nobles in the court.
  • He was authorized to rule a meager area of around 30 miles, and the rest of the Sultanate was ruled by the nobles.

Alam Shah (1443-1451)

  • The last Sayyid king descended in favor of Bahlol Lodhi and he retired. Thus began the Lodhi dynasty, which was confined to Delhi and a few surrounding areas.
  • Bahlol Lodi invited Alauddin Alam Shah to get his throne back but he refused politely. He continued to live in Badaun till his death in A.D. 1476. He said to Bahlol, “Since my father called you his son and I have no anxiety for the provision of my few wants, I am content with one Pargana of Badaun and am giving up the empire to you.”

The Lodhi Dynasty (1451-1526 AD)

The Lodi dynasty was an Afghan dynasty, or Turco-Afghan, the dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1451 to 1526. It was the fifth and final dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate and was founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi when he replaced the Sayyid dynasty.

Bahlol Lodhi (1451-88)

  • Bahlol Lodhi was one of the Afghan sardars who established himself in Punjab after the invasion of Timur
  • He founded the Lodhi dynasty. He founded the rule of the Lodhi dynasty by usurping the throne from the last of the Sayyid rulers.
  • He was a strong and brave ruler. He tried to restore the glory of Delhi by conquering territories around Delhi after the continuous war for 26 years. He succeeded in extending his authority over Jaunpur, Etawah, Mewar, Sambhal, Gwalior, etc.
  • He was a kind and generous ruler. He was always prepared to help his subjects. 5. Though he was illiterate, he extended his patronage to art and learning. He died in 1488.

Sikandar Lodhi (1489-1517)

  • Sikandar Lodhi was the son of Bahlol Lodhi who conquered Bihar and Western Bengal.
  • He shifted his capital from Delhi to Agra, a city founded by him.
  • He was a contemporary of Mahmud Begarha of Gujrat and Rana Sanga of Mewar.
  • Sikandar was a fanatical Muslim and he broke the sacred images of the Jwalamukhi Temple at Naga Kot and ordered the temples of Mathura to be destroyed.
  • He took a keen interest in the development of agriculture. He introduced the Gaz-i-Sikandari (Sikandar’s yard) of 32 digits for measuring cultivated fields.
  • Sikandar was orthodox and a bigot king. he reimposed the Jizya on Hindus.
  • He was a staunch Sunni and a Muslim fanatic. He lacked religious tolerance. In the name of religion, he perpetuated untold cruelties on the Hindus.
  • He was a poet of repute, composed under the pen name of Gulruk.

Ibrahim Lodhi (1517-26)

  • He was the last king of the Lodhi dynasty and the last Sultan of Delhi.
  • He was the son of Sikandar Lodhi.
  • The Afghan nobility were brave and freedom-loving people, but it was because of its fissiparous and individualistic tendencies that the Afghan monarchy was weakened. Moreover, Ibrahim Lodhi asserted the absolute power of the Sultan.
  • At last Daulat Khan Lodhi, the governor of Punjab invited Babur to overthrow Ibrahim Lodhi; Babur accepted the offer and inflicted a crushing defeat on Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat in 1526.
  • No Sultan of India except Sultan Ibrahim had been killed on the battlefield.
  • This marked the end of the Lodi Dynasty and the rise of the Mughal Empire in India Under the Delhi Sultanate.

Delhi Sultanate -Sayyid and Lodhi Dynasties

Important Central Departments of Delhi Sultanate

DepartmentFunction
Diwan-i-Risalat (Foreign Minister)Department of Appeals
Diwan-i-ArizMilitary Department
Diwan-i-BandaganDepartment of Slaves
Diwan-i-Qaza-i-MamalikDepartment of Justice
Diwan-i-IsthiaqDepartment of Pensions
Diwan-i-MustakhrajDepartment of Arrears
Diwan-i-KhairatDepartment of Charity
Diwan-i-KohiDepartment of Agriculture
Diwan-i-InshaDepartment of Correspondence

 Important Central Officials of Delhi Sultanate

PostRole
WazirThe Chief Minister of the State in Charge of revenue and finances, controlled by other departments
Ariz-i-MamlikHead of Military department
QaziLegal Officer (dispensed civil law based on Muslim law Shariat)
Wakil-i-darController of the royal households
Barid-i-mumalikHead of the state news agency
Amir-i-majlisOfficer-in-charge of royal feasts, conference,s and festivals
Majlis-i-amCouncil of friends and officers consulted on important affairs of the state
Dahir-i-mumalikHead of the royal correspondence
Sadr-us-sudurDealt with religious matters and endowments
Sadr-i-jahanOfficers in charge of the religious and charitable endowment
Amir-i-dadPublic prosecutors
Naib wazirDeputy Minister
Mushrif-i-mumalikAccountant General

Division of Administration of Delhi Sultanate

Administrative UnitHead
Iqta i.e. ProvinceMuqti or Wali
Shiq i.e. DistrictShiqdar
Paragana i.e. TalukaChaudhary and Amil
Gram i.e. VillageMuqaddam, Khut

Books and Authors of Delhi Sultanate

AuthorsBooks
AlberuniTahkik-i-hind
AlberuniQanun-i-Masudi
AlberuniJawahar-fil-Jawahir
Minhaj-us-SirajTabaqat-i-Nasari
Amir KhusrauLaila Majnu, Qiran-us-Saadin
Amir KhusrauKhazain-ul-Futuh, Nuh-Siphir
Amir KhusrauTughlaqnama, Khamsah
Zia-ud-din-BaraniFatwa-i-Jahandari
Zia-ud-din-BaraniTarikh-i-Firoz Shahi
Firoz ShahFatwa-i-Firoz Shahi
FirozabadiQamas
Hasan NizamiTaj-ul-Maathir
Abu BakrChach Namah
FakhruddinTarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi
Ibn BattutaKitab-ul-Rehla
Shams-i-Shiraj AfifTarikh-i-Firoz Shahi

Causes of Decline of Delhi Sultanate

  • Deposited and military type of government which did not have the confidence of the people
  • Degeneration of Delhi Sultans, like the wild projects of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, and the incompetence of Firoz Tughlaq
  • War of succession as there was no fixed law of it
  • Greed and incompetence of nobles
  • Defective military organisation
  • The vast geographical extent of the empire and poor means of communication
  • Financial instability
  • The number of slaves increased to 1,80,000 at the time of Firoz Tughlaq which was a burden on the treasury
  • Invasion of Timur

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