The Khaljis (1290–1320)



Jalaluddin Khalji (AD 1290–1296)


Jalaluddin Khalji laid the foundation of the Khalji dynasty.

He ascended the throne at the age of 70 years and ruled only for a short span of six years.

Although Jalaluddin retained the earlier nobility in his administration, but the rise of Khaljis to power ended the monopoly of nobility of slaves to high offices.

He tried to mitigate some of the harsh aspects of Balban’s rule. He was the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate to clearly put forward the view that the state should be based on the willing support of the governed, and that since the large majority of the people in India were Hindus, the state in India could not be a truly Islamic state.

Jalaluddin tried to win the goodwill of the nobility by a policy of tolerance. He avoided harsh punishments, even to those who revolted against him. He not only forgave them but at times even rewarded them to win their support. However many people including his supporters, considered him to be a weak sultan.

Jalaluddin’s policy was reversed by Alauddin Khalji who awarded drastic punishments to all those who dared to oppose him.


Alauddin Khalji (AD 1296–1316)


Alauddin Khalji was Jalaluddin’s ambitious nephew and son-in-law. He had helped his uncle in his struggle for power and was appointed as Amir-i-Tuzuk (Master of Ceremonies).

Alauddin had two victorious expeditions during the reign of Jalaluddin.

After the first expedition of Bhilsa (Vidisa) in AD 1292, he was given the iqta of Awadh, in addition to that of Kara. He was also appointed Arizi-i-Mumalik (Minister of War).

In AD 1294, he led the first Turkish expedition to southern India and plundered Devagiri. The successful expedition proved that Alauddin was an able military commander and efficient organiser.

In July AD 1296, he murdered his uncle and father-in-law Jalaluddin Khalji and crowned himself as the Sultan.

Alauddin decided to revive Balban’s policies of ruthless governance. He decided to curb the powers of the nobles and interference of Ulema in the matters of the state.

He also faced, a few rebellions in succession during the early years of his rule. According to Barani, the author of Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi, Alauddin felt that there were four reasons for these rebellions –

  1. the inefficiency of the spy system,
  2. the general practice of the use of wine,
  3. social intercourse among the nobles and inter marriage between them, and
  4. the excess of wealth in the possession of certain nobles.

In order to prevent the re-occurrence of these rebellions, Alauddin formulated certain regulations and implemented them –

  1. Families that had been enjoying free land to support themselves should pay land tax for their holdings. This curbed the excess of wealth owned by some people.
  2. The Sultan reorganized the spy system and took measure to make it more effective.
  3. The use of liquor and intoxicants was prohibited.
  4. The nobles were ordered not to have social gatherings or inter-marriages without his permission.

Alauddin established a huge permanent, standing army to satisfy his ambition of conquest and to protect the country from Mongol invasion.


Market Regulations Of Alauddin Khalji

Alauddin’s measures to control the markets were one of the most important policy initiative. Since Alauddin wanted to maintain a large army, he therefore, lowered and fixed the price of the commodities of daily use.

To control the prices, Alauddin set up three different markets for different commodities in Delhi. These markets were –

  1. grain market (Mandi),
  2. cloth market (Sarai Adl), and
  3. market for horses, slaves, cattle, etc.

To ensure implementation, Alauddin appointed a superintendent (Shahna-i-Mandi) who was assisted by an intelligence officer. Apart from Shahna-i-Mandi, Alauddin received daily reports of the market from two other independent sources, barid (intelligence officer) and munhiyans (secret spies). Any violation of Sultan’s orders resulted in harsh punishment, including expulsion from the capital, imposition of fine, imprisonment and mutilation.

Control of prices of horses was very important for the Sultan because without the supply of good horses at reasonable price to army, the efficiency of the army could not be ensured. Low price in the horse market were ensured by putting a stop to the purchase of horses by horse dealers and brokers (dalals) in Delhi market.


Expansion Of Delhi Sultanate

Under Alauddin Khalji, the territorial expansion of the Delhi Sultanate, beyond North India, was the most important achievement.


Alauddin first began his territorial conquest with a campaign against Gujarat. Alauddin was motivated by his desire to establish a vast empire and obtain the wealth of Gujarat. The riches of Gujarat were to pay for his future conquests and her sea port was to ensure a regular supply of Arab horses for his army. In AD 1299, an army under two of Alauddin’s noted generals Ulugh Khan and Nusarat Khan marched against Gujarat. Rai Karan the ruler of Gujarat fled, the temple of Somnath was captured. An enormous booty was collected. Even the wealthy Muslim merchants were not spared. Many slaves were captured. Malik Kafur was one among them who later became the trusted commander of the Khalji forces and led the invasions to South India. Gujarat now passed under the control of Delhi.


Rajasthan : After the annexation of Gujarat, Alauddin turned his attention towards Rajasthan. Ranthambore was the first target. Ranthambore was reputed to be the strongest fort of Rajasthan and had earlier defied Jalaluddin Khalji. The capture of Ranthambore was necessary to break the power and morale of the Rajputs. The immediate cause of attack was that the ruler of Ranthambore Hamirdeva gave shelter to two rebellious Mongol soldiers and refused to hand over them to the Khalji ruler. Hence an offensive was launched against Ranthambore. To begin with the Khalji forces suffered losses. Nusrat Khan even lost his life. Finally Alauddin himself had to come on the battle filed. In AD 1301, the fort fell to Alauddin.

Chittor : In AD 1303, Alauddin besieged Chittor, another powerful state of Rajputana. According to some scholars, Alauddin attacked Chittor because he coveted Padmini, the beautiful queen of Raja Ratan Singh. However many scholars do not agree with this legend as this is first mentioned by Jaisi in his Padmavat more than two hundred years later. According to Amir Khusrau, the Sultan ordered a general massacre of the civil population. Chittor was renamed Khizrabad after the name of Sultan’s son Khizr Khan. Alauddin however returned back quickly to Delhi as Mongol army was advancing towards Delhi.

Malwa – Ujjain : In AD 1305, Khalji army under Ain-ul-Mulk captured Malwa. Other states such as Ujjain, Mandu, Dhar and Chanderi were also captured.

Siwana : After the conquest of Malwa, Alauddin sent Malik Kafur to the South and himself attacked Siwana. The ruler of Siwana Raja Shital Deva defended the fort bravely but was ultimately defeated.

Jalor : In AD 1311, another Rajput kingdom Jalor was also captured.


Thus by AD 1311, Alauddin had completed the conquest of large parts of Rajputana and became the master of North India.


Deccan And South India

The imperialist ambitions of Alauddin were not satisfied with the conquest of the north. He was determined to conquer south as well. The wealth of the southern kingdoms attracted him. The expeditions to the south were sent under Malik Kafur, a trusted commander of Alauddin who held the office of the Naib.

In AD 1306–07, Alauddin planned fresh campaign in Deccan.

  1. His first target was Rai Karan (the earlier rule of Gujarat), who had now occupied Baglana, and defeated him.
  2. The second expedition was against Rai Ramachandra, the ruler of Deogir who had earlier promised to pay tribute to Sultan but did not pay.
    • Ramachandra surrendered after little resistance to Malik Kafur and was treated honourably. He was kept a guest at Alauddin’s court and was given a gift of one lakh tankas and the title of Rai Rayan. He was also given a district of Gujarat and one of his daughters was married to Alauddin.
    • Alauddin showed generosity towards Ramachandra because he wanted to have Ramachandra as an ally for campaigns in the South.

After AD 1309 Malik Kafur was despatched to launch campaign in South India.

  1. The first expedition was against Pratab Rudradeva of Warangal in the Telengana area. This siege lasted for many months and came to an end when Rai agreed to part with his treasures and pay tribute to Sultan.
  2. The second campaign was against Dwar Samudra and Ma’bar (modern Karnataka and Tamil Nadu).
    • The ruler of Dwar Samudra, Vir Ballala III realized that defeating Malik Kafur would not be an easy task, hence he agreed to pay tribute to Sultan without any resistance.
    • In the case of Ma’bar (Pandya Kingdom) a direct decisive battle could not take place. However, Kafur plundered as much as he could including a number of wealthy temples such as that of Chidambaram. According to Amir Khusrau, Kafur returned with 512 elephants, 7000 horses, and 500 mans of precious stone.
    • The Sultan honoured Malik Kafur by appointing him Naib Malik of the empire. Alauddin’s forces under Malik Kafur continued to maintain a control over the Deccan kingdoms.


End Of Khalji Dynasty

Following the death of Alauddin in AD 1316, the Delhi Sultanate was plunged into confusion.

  • Malik Kafur sat on the throne for a few days, only to be deposed by Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah.
  • During this period, rebellions broke out in Deogir but were harshly suppressed.
  • Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah was soon murdered and Khusrau ascended the throne. However he too did not last long as some dissatisfied officers, led by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, defeated and killed him in a battle.

Thus only four years after the death of Alauddin, the Khalji dynasty came to end and power passed into the hands of the Tughlaqs.



Bibliography : NIOS – Medieval India

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