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

Delhi Sultanate Dynasties Period 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

Mamluk Dynasty (1206-1290)

The Mamluk dynasty was founded in Northern India by Qutb-ud-Din-Aibak, a Turkic Mamluk slave general of the Ghurid Empire from Central Asia. The Mamluk dynasty ruled from 1206 to 1290; it was the first of five unrelated dynasties to rule as the Delhi Sultanate until 1526.
Qutub-ud-din Aibak Founded the Slave dynasty. It is also known as Mamluk Dynasty.
Aibak is considered the real founder of Muslim rule in India.

Delhi Sultanate-Mamluk
Delhi Sultanate- Mamluk Dynasty

Qutbuddin Aibak (1206 – 1210)

  • Most trusted slave of Muhammed Ghori.
  • He became independent after Ghuri’s death and began his rule in 1206 A.D
  • Founded the First independent Turkish Kingdom in India & assumed the title ‘Sultan’.
  • He Made Lahore the capital.
  • He is known as ‘lakh Baksh’ or giver of lakhs as he gave a lot of liberal donations.
  • Aibak issued coins in gold, silver, billon, and copper. He discarded carving the name of the Abbasid caliph on it.
  • He was granted the title, Lakh Bakhsh, and Kuran Khan.
  • He constructed the Quwat-ul-Islam mosque in Delhi and Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra at Ajmer (on a Sanskrit school).
  • He also started the construction of Qutub Minar in honor of Sufi saint Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakthiyar Kaki.
  • He patronized Fakhar-ud-Din author of Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi & Hasan Nizami who wrote Tajul-Ma’asir, the first official history of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Died in 1210 while playing Chaughan (Polo).

Aram Shah (1210)

  • Considered the most incapable ruler. Thus Iltutmish (son-in-law of Aibak) was invited to Delhi à He then disposed of Aram Shah and became Sultan.

Iltutmish (1210 – 1236)

  • The real consolidator of Turkish conquests. He belonged to the Ilbari tribe hence named “Ilbari” dynasty.
  • Aibak had appointed him as iqtadar of Gwalior.
  • Iltmush defeated Quabacha, who had declared himself the independent ruler of Multan & seized Lahore & parts of Punjab.
  • He shifted his capital from Lahore to Delhi.
  • He saved the Delhi Sultanate from the invasion of the Mongol, Chengiz Khan (not giving shelter to Jalaluddin Mangbarni).
  • Introduced Arabic coinage into India, Tanka of silver and Jittal of copper.
  • He organized the Iqta System – land grants to soldiers and nobility whose head was known as Vali or Mukta.
  • He set up the Chahalgani System – a nobility of 40 members (“The Forty” (Turkan-i-chahalgani).
  • Completed the construction of Qutub Minar which was started by Aibak.
  • Patronized Minas-us Siraj (writer) author of Minaj-us- siraj.
  • He nominated Raziya as his successor. Thus, he initiated hereditary succession to Delhi Sultanate.

Razia Sultan (1236-40)

  • 1st and only female Muslim ruler of medieval India. She owned the title UMDAT UL MISWA.
  • Discarded female apparel and purdah, adopted male attire, went hunting, and let army thud aroused resentment among Turkish nobles.
  • She was not acceptable to Muslim theologians and nobles.
  • 1240 – serious rebellion broke out in Sirhind under Altuniya (governor). Raziya with Yaqut marched to suppress, but Yaqut was murdered and Razia imprisoned. In meantime, Bahram (another son of Iltutmish) was pitted to the throne by Turkish nobles.
  • She appointed an Abyssinian – Jalaluddin Yakut as Amir-i-Akhur.
  • Later Raziya while returning back to Delhi was killed on the way.
  • In 1246, Bulban succeeded in putting Nasiruddin Mahmud, a younger son of Iltutmish as Sultan & served as his Naib (next powerful post to Sultan).
  • In 1266 Nasiruddin Mahmud died & Balban become Sultan.

An Era of Weak Rulers (1240-1266)

After the death of Raziya, weak rulers ascended the throne, who was supported by the Nobles. Bahram Shah, Alauddin Masud shah, and Nasiruddin Muhammad were the successors.

Balban (1266-1287)

  • Also known as Ulugh khan. He was one of the main architects of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • A strong and centralized government was established
  • He acted as a champion of Turkish Nobility.
  • He broke the strength of Chahalgani to restore the powers of the Monarchy.
  • He established Diwan-i-arz, a military department towards a strong army.
  • He embraced a policy of blood and iron to restore law and order.
  • He insisted on the ceremony of Sijada and Paibos. Introduced Persian festival Nawrouz
  • According to him, the Sultan was God’s shadow on earth (Zil-i-Ilahi) and the recipient of divine grace (Nibyabati-Khudai).
  • Madhavacharya of the Dwaita Philosophy got help from Balban.
  • Balban’s Tomb is situated in Delhi. It was constructed by Balban himself.
  • Called himself “Nasir-amir-ul-momin” (Caliph’s right-hand man).

Administration in Mamluk Dynasty

  • Separated “Diwan-i-wizarat” (Finance Department) from the Diwan-i-Arz (Military Department).
  • Administered justice with extreme impartiality.
  • He followed the policy of blood & iron.
  • Excluded non-Turks from the administration.
  • Indian Muslims —> are not given important posts.
  • Appointed spies to monitor the activities of the nobles.
  • Introduced “sijada” (prostration) and “paibos” (kissing Sultan’s feet) to prove his superiority over the nobles.

The Khiljis (1290- 1320)

Khalji nobles headed by Jalaldduin overthrew the incompetent successors of Balban in 1290 & Est. Khalji dynasty.
This event is called the ‘Dynastic Revolution’ of 1290.

Delhi Sultanate-Mamluk and Khilji Dynasties

Jalauddin Khalji (1290-1296 CE)

  • 1st sultan of the Delhi Sultanate had a benevolent attitude toward Hindus.
  • He stated State should be based on the willing support of the governed and as the majority of the population was Hindu, the state cannot become truly Islamic.
  • Adopted the policy of tolerance and tried to win the goodwill of the nobility.
  • He killed a Sufi saint Sidi Maula.
  • Was murdered by his son-in-law Alauddin Khalji in 1296 and usurped the throne.

Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316 CE)

  • Was appointed as Amir-i-Tuzuk (Master of Ceremonies) and Ariz-i-Mumalik (Minister of Law) by Jalauddin Khalji.
  • Jalauddin’s policy of tolerance was reversed by Alauddin Khalji; who awarded harsh punishment and opposed him.
  • To keep a hold on nobles –He prohibited holding festivals, and marriage without his permission of him, banned wines & intoxicants to avoid social gatherings, and reorganized spy services (Barids).
  • He was the first sultan who separated religion from politics. He proclaimed “Kingship knows no kinship”.
  • Barani wrote book ‘Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi.
  • Patronized poets like Amir Khusrau and Mir Hasan Dehlv.
  • Though Aladuddin was illiterate, he adopted the title of Sikander-i-Azam and gave Amir Khusrau the title of Tuti-i-Hind (Parrot of India). He is considered the father of the Urdu language and the inventor of Sitar. Laila Majnu and Tughlaq Nama are the famous works of Amir Khusru.
  • He defeated the Mongols in the battles of Jalandhar (1298), Kili (1299), Amroha (1305), and Ravi (1306).
  • Malik Kafur was his slave–general. he led a series of expeditions in the southern part of India, against the Yadavas (1308), Kakatiyas (1310), Hoysalas (1311), etc.
  • Amir Khusrau’s Khazain-ul-Futuh speaks about Alauddin’s conquests.
  • He followed an imperialist and annexation policy. He annexed Gujarat, Ranthambore, Malwa, Mewar, etc.
  • In 1303, Allauddin defeated Raja Ratan Singh of Chittor, including Rani Padmini and other Rajput women, performed Jauhar (self-immolation) which is written in the book “Padmavathby Jayasi.
  • He died of Dropsy.

Mubarak Khan (1316 – 1320)

He declared himself Khalifa.

Khusrau Khan (1320)

Ghazi Malik deposed Khusrau Khan in a rebellion.

Architecture During Alauddin Khalji

  • He constructed the Alai Fort and Alai Darwaza – the entrance of Qutub Minar. Alai Darwaza in the Qutub Complex is the first instance of a real arch and real dome. It was built in 1311 A.D.
  • He built the city of Siri, the second of the seven cities of Delhi, near Qutub Minar.
  • Hazar Sutun, a palace with a thousand pillars was built by him.
  • In 1296, Alauddin constructed the Hauz-i-Alai.
  • Alauddin built the Siri Fort & camped in Siri during the Mongol invasion in 1303.
  • He built the Qasr-i-Hazar Situn palace at the Siri fort.
  • Alauddin constructed the Alai Darwaza – the entrance gate to Qutub Minar.

Military Reforms During Alauddin Khalji

1st sultan to have a large permanent standing army & paid in cash from the royal treasury.
Innovated: Chehra and Dagh system.

  • Chehra – detailed description of each soldier
  • Dagh– Branding of the horse.

Land Revenue administration

  • Revenue was half of the produce & was based on land under cultivation.
  • The first ruler to fix land revenue in cash. It enabled him to pay his soldiers in cash.
  • 1st Delhi Sultan to order for measurement of land before fixing land revenue.
  • Biswa was the standard unit of measurement. Imposed one-fifth of the produce and along with it house tax (Grahi) and pasture tax (Chari).
  • Abolished Kismat-i-Khuti (Headman’s cess). Confiscated religious endowments and free lands (Inam and Wakt).
  • Mukadam & khuts had to pay taxes.
  • He created the post of Mustakraj to collect revenue.
  • He brought the area surrounding Delhi directly under the state for revenue purposes. Thus, the Iqta system was not applied there.
  • Alauddin abolished the Zamindari System and imposed a tax on cattle.
  • He was the first Muslim ruler of Delhi to introduce the measurement of land for tax assessment.

Market Reforms of Alauddin Khalji

  • Fixed cost of all commodities. For this purpose, he set up 4 separate markets:
    1. for Grains
    2. for cloth, Sugar, dried fruits & oils
    3. for horses, slaves & cattle
    4. for miscellaneous commodities.
  • Each market was under the control of a high officer à “Shahna-i-Mandi”.
  • He also appointed Naib-I-Riyasat & Diwan-I-Riyasat to keep a check on these markets.
  • He also received daily reports of markets from Barids (intelligence officers) and munhiyans (secret spies).
  • Not clear whether these reforms were applied to only Delhi or also to other towns.
  • Reasons for Market Reforms:
    • To enjoy the support of citizens
    • To sustain a large army with low salaries.
  • Market regulations of Allauddin came to end after his death.
Delhi Sultanate-Khilji Dynasty


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