Alauddin Khilji

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Sultan Ala-ud-din Khalji
Sultan of India
Portrait of Sultan 'Ala-ud-Din, Padshah of Delhi.jpg
Sultan Alauddin Khilji
Reign 1290–1316
Coronation 1296, Delhi
Predecessor Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji
Successor Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah
House Khalji dynasty
Born Laknauthi (Bengal)[1]
Died Delhi, India
Burial Delhi, India
Khilji dynasty

Ala-ud-din Khilji (Arabic: علاء الدین الخلجی‎; died 1316), born as Juna Muhammad Khilji,[2] was the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty reigning from 1296 to 1316.[2][3] Of Turkic ethnicity, he is considered the most powerful ruler of the dynasty,[4] He also had his Eunuch consort Malik Kafur hold the reigns of the empire in his last few years.[5]

His attack on Chittor in 1303 CE to capture the queen of Chittor, Rani Padmini, the wife of Rawal Ratan Singh and the subsequent story have been immortalized in the epic poem Padmavat, written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the Awadhi language in the year 1540.[6]

He was a strategist and military commander who commanded forces across the Indian subcontinent. Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji is also noted in history for being one of the few rulers in the world to have repeatedly defended his empire against Mongol invasions. He defeated large Mongol armies and then launched punitive expeditions against them in Central Asia, around modern-day Afghanistan.[7][8][9]

Mongol invasions[edit]

Further information: Mongol invasions of India

Alauddin Khilji successfully defended his realm from the Mongol invasion. He improved the border's fortifications and established garrisons. He defeated the Mongol armies at the battles of Jalandhar (1298), Kili (1299), Amroha (1305) and Ravi (1306).

"During his 20-year-long reign Ala al-Din Khalji conducted a number of campaigns that greatly expanded his authority. [...] Threatened by the Mongol expansion from Central Asia, he successfully repelled several Mongol attacks on northwestern India between 1296 and 1308. [...] The Mongol invasions in 1305 were also defeated, first at Amroha and then on the banks of Ravi River, allowing Ala al-Din to launch punitive expeditions into Mongol-controlled territories in Afghanistan."[7]

North Indian expeditions[edit]

Courts to the east of Quwwat ul-Islam mosque, in Qutb complex added by Khilji in 1300 CE.[10]
Alauddin's Madrasa, Qutb complex, Mehrauli, which also has his tomb to the south.


Alauddin Khilji sent two of his great generals Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan, to Gujarat, which was conquered and annexed. Nusrat Khan started for Gujarat from Delhi on February 24, 1299 AD, Ulugh Khan started from Sindh and joined Nusrat Khan near Chittorgarh. Malik Kafur a slave, was bought for 1000 Dinars. He rose to position of general in the army.


In 1290 Jalaluddin Khilji attacked Ranthambhore but was repulsed. Hamir Dev, a descendant of Prithviraj Chauhan ruled Ranthambor. Seventeen kilometers from Sawaimadhopur stands a fort, encompassing in its stately walls, a glorious history of the Rajputs. Ranathambhor's venerable structure, rapturous beauty and sublime expressiveness seem to be continuously vocalizing the great legends of Hamir Dev, the Indian king, who ruled in the 13th century.

Hamir Dev belonged to the Chauhan dynasty and drew his lineage from Prithviraj Chauhan who enjoys a respectable place in the Indian history. During his 12 years' reign, Hamir Dev fought 17 battles and won 13 of them. He annexed Malwa, Abu and Mandalgarh and thus extended his kingdom to the chagrin of Delhi Sultan, Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji, who had misgivings about Hamir's intentions. Jalaluddin attacked Ranathambhor and had it under siege for several years. However, he had to return to Delhi unsuccessful.

Jalaluddin was assassinated by his nephew Allaluddin Khilji who then crowned himself as the new Sultan of Delhi. Muhammad Shah was instrumental in making this coup successful which earned him a basketful of privileges. Muhammad Shah was even allowed access to the harem as a result of which he soon built up a good rapport with its inmates.

Chimna was one of Allaudin's begums, but Allaudin never gave her as much attention as other begums of the harem received from him. He had inadvertently managed to antagonize her. To make things worse Chimna Begum saw a valiant soldier in Muhammad Shah and was extremely impressed by his courage and boldness. Soon the vindictive begum and the ambitious Muhammad Shah started a conspiracy to slay Allaudin. Their objective was to see Muhammad Shah as Sultan and the begum as queen. The conspiratorial plans somehow leaked out. Allaudin was enraged as he came to know of Muhammad Shah's intentions. To escape the fury of Allaudin, Muhammad Shah had to flee from Delhi along with his brother. He sought asylum in many nearby kingdom but no one was ready to stand up to the wrath of Allaudin.

Muhammad Shah approached Hamir Dev. The brave Rajput was moved by his humble pleading and misery and agreed to him shelter. Allaudin's ire was roused when he came to know of it. He immediately attacked the fort of Ranathambhor. The armies of Allaudin and Hamir Dev met in a battle on the banks of river Banas. The Rajputs had the initial victory. However, because of the personal feud between the Prime Minister and the Senapati (General-in-charge of the army) Hamir Dev's army got disorganized. The Senapati of the army was Gurdan Saini.[1] The Prime Minister succeeded in getting the Senapati killed. Meanwhile, Allaudin reorganized his forces and made a renewed attack on the fort. Some unscrupulous officers of Hamir Dev, with Bhoj Dev as their leader, colluded with Allaudin and started giving him secret information about the fort. The war continued. The strong walls of the fort were strategically so situated that it was not possible to blow them down with gunpower, for the debris so created had already killed numerous soldiers of the Sultan in their futile attempt to break into the fort. At last Allaudin sent a message to Hamir Dev saying that in case he was ready to hand over Muhammad Shah to him, he would go back to Delhi. Hamir Dev was too self-respecting to make such an ignominious compromise. He sent back the messenger with the reply that when the Rajputs promised to protect someone, they even gave their lives for his safety. Muhammad Shah saw the hopelessness of the situation and conselled Hamir Dev to hand him over to Allaudin rather than fight such a long drawn-out war and suffer such an enormous loss of lives and resources. Allaudin's army was immense. He put a complete siege on the Ranathambhor fort. Bhoj Dev and his informers kept on supplying him information on the food of water situation inside the fort. The ill-fated war bended with the Sultan's legions emerging victorious. The female members of the Rajput kingdom committed jauhar and gave up lives on the pyres. Hamir Dev, along with his Rajput bravehearts decided to perform shaka that is the fight unto death.

After the victory, Allaudin entered the fort. Wounded Muhammad Shah was brought to him.

"What is your last desire?" asked Allaudin. "To kill you and place Hamir's son on the throne of Ranathambhor", replied Muhammad Shah. Then he took out his dagger and committed suicide.

Allaudin, now, turned to Bhoj Dev and his other informers. Their faces were keen with eagerness to receive the long awaited reward from the Sultan. On the contrary, Allaudin roared, "Shave of the heads of these traitors. They have not been loyal to their own king".

Within minutes, the heads of all his accomplices rolled on the ground. Allaudin's laughter reverberated against the walls of the fort. After Khilji the fort once again passed on to the Rajput rulers.


Sultan Alau'd Din put to Flight; Women of Ranthambhor commit Jauhar; Rajput painting from 1825

Mewar was the most powerful kingdom of all the kingdoms of northwest India. On 28 January 1303 Alauddin Khilji started for Mewar According to legend Alauddin heard of the unparalleled beauty of Rani Padmini, wife of Ratan Singh. He went to Chittor with an intention to siege the fort and went in by saying that he wanted to see the Rani. This of course was an act of shame for a Hindu king, but Ratan Singh gave in. He persuaded his wife to let the sultan see her. She gave her consent and allowed Alauddin see her reflection in a mirror. While all this was going on his men secretly surveyed the inside of the fort. On seeing the beauty of the queen Alauddin was determined to get her for his harem. On his return to Delhi he got Ratan Singh in accompanying him. he used this opportunity and kidnapped him. The Songara Chauhan generals Gora & Badal decided to beat the Sultan at his own game and sent back a word that Padmini would be given to Ala-ud-din the next morning. On the following day at the crack of dawn, one hundred and fifty palanquins (covered cases in which royal ladies were carried in medieval times) left the fort and made their way towards Ala-ud-din's camps The palanquins stopped before the tent where king Ratan Singh was being held prisoner. Seeing that the palanquins had come from Chittor; and thinking that they had brought along with them his queen, King Ratan Singh was mortified. But to his surprise from the palanquins came out, not his queen and her women servants but fully armed soldiers, who quickly freed Ratan Singh and galloped away towards Chittor on horses grabbed from Ala-ud-din's stables. Gora fought bravely during the skirmish and laid down his life while Badal was able to take the Rana safely to the fort.

On hearing that his designs had been frustrated, the Sultan was furious and ordered his army to storm Chittor. But hard as they tried the Sultans army could not break into the fort. Then Ala-ud-din decided to lay siege to the fort. The siege was a long drawn one and gradually supplies within the fort were depleted. Finally King Ratan Singh gave orders that the Rajputs would open the gates and fight to finish with the besieging troops. On hearing of this decision, Padmini decided that with their men-folk going into the unequal struggle with the Sultan's army in which they were sure to perish, the women of Chittor had either to commit the divine suicide called as Jauhar or face dishonour at the hands of the victorious enemy.

The choice was in favour of suicide through Jauhar. A huge pyre was lit and followed by their queen, all the women of Chittor jumped into the flames and deceived Alauddin's army waiting outside. With their womenfolk dead, the men of Chittor had nothing to live for. They decided to perform Saka. Each soldier got dressed in kesariya robes and turbans. They charged out of the fort and fought on furiously with the vastly Powerful array of the Sultan, till all of them perished. After this Pyrrhic victory the Sultan's troops entered the fort only to be confronted with ashes and burnt bones of the women.


Alauddin Khalji's conquest of Mewar, Ranathambor and Gujarat stuck fear in the mind of the remaining Indian Kingdoms of northern India. But Mahlak Dev refused to give in to Alauddin Khalji so easily. He gathered 20,000 horsemen and 90,000 infantry to confront Alauddin's army. Harnanda Koka was the general of his army. On the other hand Ain-ul-Mulk Multani, Alauddin's general and future governor of Multan was on the head of a 160,000 Muslim army. After a bloody war Harnana Koka was killed and his forces retreated. Malwa along with Mandu,Dhara and Chanderi fell to Alauddin Khalji. Ain-ul-Mulk Multani was appointed the governor of Malwa.


Alauddin Khilji invaded Marwar in 1308. Satal Dev was the king of Marwar and the owner of the famous Siwana fort. Alauddin Khilji sent Malik Kamaluddin as the general of his army. After a fierce battle the Marwari army was defeated. Satal Dev was captured and was executed.


Alauddin Khilji invaded Jalore next. The first expedition was a failure, Khilji's army was defeated by Kanhad Dev Songara. Alauddin Khilji then sent Malik Kamaluddin. The Hindu forces were defeated this time by Malik Kamaluddin's forces. The book "Kahnad-dev Prabhand", written by Padmnabh, tells more about this king.

Expeditions in southern India[edit]

Tomb of Alauddin Khilji, Qutb complex, Delhi.

Devagiri (Deogir) and Baglana[edit]

In 1306–07, Alauddin Khalji completed two campaigns. The first was against Rai Karan who after his expulsion from Gujrat, had been holding Baglana. Though his wife Kamaladevi had become the chief begum of Alauddin, Devala Devi was also with King Karan in Baglan. An expedition was launched to dethrone Karan and to bring Devala Devi to Delhi. It was successful and Devala Devi was sent to Delhi where she joined her mother and eventually was married to Khijir Khan - eldest son of Alauddin. The second expedition under his slave general Malik Kafur was against Deogir, under King Ramachandra, an ally of Rai Karan. Ramchandra was defeated, and Rai Ramachandra was restored to his dominions with the title "Rai Rayan" by Delhi. He was also given the Gujrat and one of his daughters, called Jatyapali, was married to Alauddin Khalji. This alliance was to prove to be of great value to Alauddin in his further aggrandizement in Deccan.

But, after the death of Rai Ramachandra in 1315, his sons threw off the yoke of Delhi. Malik Kafur quickly came and crushed the rebellion and assumed direct administration of the area.


The first invasion of Alauddin ended in a disaster as the army of the Kakatiya dynasty was able to defeat the army of the Delhi Sultanate in 1303.[11] King Prataparudra of the Kakatiya Dynasty raised a well-equipped army and crushed the army of the Delhi Sultanate which was led by Malik-ud-din and Jhaju in 1303 CE.[12] 6 years later Malik Kafur invaded Warangal for the second time with a larger army (1309) with help of Rai Ramchandra. It was only after a fierce battle Malik Kafur was able to occupy the Warangal fort and he was able to force the ruler of Warangal to sue for peace, to surrender all their treasures, and to promise an annual tribute. King Prataparudradev of the Kakatiya dynasty signed a treaty with Delhi.

Alauddin Khilji got the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond, once the largest known diamond in the world, from Warangal. It was seized by the East India Company and became part of the British Crown Jewels when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877.

Dwar Samudra (Halebeedu), Mabar and Madurai[edit]

After conquering Devagiri and Warangal, Alauddin Khilji sent Malik Kafur (1311) against king Veera Ballala of the Hoyasala dynasty ruling Dwar Samudra (Halebeedu). Veera Ballala surrendered without a fight and Kafur was able to force the ruler of Dwar Samudra to sue for peace, to surrender all their treasures, and to promise an annual tribute.

But, in the case of Mabar, even this formal agreement was not forthcoming. Malik Kafur was defeated by the Tamil ruler Vikrama Pandya who was the younger brother of Emperor Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I of the Pandyan Dynasty.[13][14] However, Malik Kafur returned to Delhi with untold booty, such as those from Chidambaram, without being able to defeat the Tamil armies.

But, within a decade after the death of Alaudin Khalji several south Indian rulers like Prolaya Vema Reddy of the Reddy dynasty, Musunuri Kaapaaneedu and Hakka and Bukka of the Vijayanagara Empire liberated whole south India from the Delhi Sultanate. Additionally the Bahmani Sultanate also gained its independence in the Deccan in the 14th century.

Massacre of New Muslims[edit]

Mongols from central Asia tried to invade Delhi during the reign of Alauddin many times. Some of these Mongol people also settled near Delhi and accepted Islam. They were called "New Muslims". However, their financial condition was not good. Ala ud-din Khilji suspected them of being involved in a conspiracy against him and of being a threat to his power. He ordered to kill them all in a single day. In 1298, between 15,000 to 30,000 people near Delhi, who had recently converted to Islam, were slaughtered in a single day, due to fears of an uprising. Their women and children were made slaves.[15][16]

Political and administrative changes[edit]

Alauddin Khilji's administrative and political reforms were based on his conception of fear and control as the basis of good government as well as his military ambitions. The bulk of the measures were designed to centralize power in his hands and to support a large military.[17]

Control over nobility[edit]

On his accession to the throne Ala ud din khilji had to face a number of revolts by nobles including one by his own nephew, Aqat Khan. Alauddin's response was to increase his level of control over the nobility. He reduce the economic wherewithal of nobels to launch rebellions by confiscating their wealth and removing them from their bases of power. Even charitable lands administered by nobles were confiscated. Severe punishments were given for disloyalty. Even wives and children of soldiers rebelling for greater war spoils were imprisoned. An efficient spy network was set up that reached into the private households of nobles. Marriage alliance made between noble families had to be approved by the king.[18]

Agrarian reforms[edit]

The area between Lahore and Dipalpur in the Punjab and Kara (near Allahabad) were removed from the purview of nobles and brought under the direct control of the crown - khalisa. Tax was assessed at half of the output payable in cash. No additional taxes were levied on agriculture. The direct relationship between the cultivator and the state disrupted the power of local landowners that traditionally had power of collecting taxes and parcelling out land within their ares. These landowners had grown prosperous based on their ability to force their share of taxes onto smaller landholders. Under Alauddin, these landowners were forced to pay their own taxes and prevented from passing on that cost to others. The cut landowners made from collecting tax revenue for the state was also abolished. While the cultivators were free from the demands of the landowners, the high taxes imposed by the state meant they had "barely enough for carrying on his cultivation and his food requirements."[19]

To enforce the new system, a strong and efficient revenue administration system was set up. A large number of accountants, collectors, and agents were hired to administer the system. These officials were well-paid but were subject to severe punishment if found to be taking bribes. Account books were audited and even small discrepancies were punished. The effect was both large landowners and small-scale cultivators were fearful of missing out on paying their assessed taxes.[20]

Market reforms and price control[edit]

Ala ud din Khilji's military ambitions required a standing and strong army, especially after the Mongol siege of Delhi. Maintaining a large army at regular salaries, however, would be severe drain on the treasury. A system of price controls reduced the salary amount that needed to be paid. Three separate markets were set up in Delhi. The first one for food grains, the second for cloth and items such as ghee, oil and sugar. The third market was horses, cattle, and slaves. Regulations were laid out for the operations of these markets.[21] He took various steps to control the prices. He exercised supervisions over the market. He fixed the prices of all the commodities from top to bottom. Market officers called shahna were appointed to keep a check on the prices. The defaulters were heavily punished. Land revenue was fixed and the grain was stored in government granaries. These market regulations and stability of prices were the wonders of his age. The soldiers and the civil population were greatly benefitted from these measures due to the low prices of the essential goods[citation needed].

Unique Incidents[edit]

The success after success made Alauddin Khilji cherish the widest desires and impossible goals.

  • He tried to imitate Hazarat Muhammad and establish a new religion and ordered the Muslims to take his name in the Namaz.
  • He dreamt of becoming second Alexander to subdue the earth, and ordered to engrave his name as “Second Alexander” in his coins.[22][23][24][25]



Alauddin died in January 1316, of oedema. It is believed that his lieutenant Malik Naib hastened his death. His tomb and madrasa dedicated to him, exists at the back of Qutb complex, Mehrauli, in Delhi [26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Khalji Dynasty". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2010-08-23. this dynasty, like the previous Slave dynasty, was of Turkic origin, though the Khiljī tribe had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan ... With the title of ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn Khaljī,He was the first Turkish Sultan of Delhi who separated religion from politics. He proclaimed- "KINGSHIP KNOWS NO KINSHIP." He was the first sultan to have permanent army-paid soldiers in cash,imported horses,detailed description of each soldier(CHEHRA) and each horse (DAGH) wqas kept. BOTH AMIR KHUSRAU and MIR HASAN DEHLVI enjoyed his patronage. Jūnā Khan reigned for 20 years. 
  3. ^ Sultan Alauddin Khilji The Muntakhabu-’rūkh by Al-Badāoni (16th century historian), Packard Humanities Institute
  4. ^ History & Civics 7 (Col. Ed.) By Consulting Editors - Behula Khan, Subhadra Sen Gupta & Monisha Mukundan, SJ Mitchell, p36.
  5. ^ "From kidnapped, castrated boys to men with deformed genitals, eunuchs get legal acceptance in India". Retrieved 2015-02-07. Ziauddin Barani, a commentator on Alauddin’s reign, said in reference to the last years of the Sultan’s life, “In those four or five years when the Sultan was losing his memory and his senses, he had fallen deeply and madly in love with the Malik Naib. He had entrusted the responsibility of the government and the control of the servants to this useless, ungrateful, ingratiate, sodomite”. 
  6. ^ Padmavat The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 430.
  7. ^ a b Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World: A Historical Encyclopedia: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 62. ISBN 1-5988-4337-0. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  8. ^ The state at war in South Asia By Pradeep Barua, pg. 29
  9. ^ "How the Mohammedan Armies Invaded India". 
  10. ^ Sajnani, Manohar (2001). Encyclopaedia of Tourism Resources in India. Gyan Publishing House. p. 70. ISBN 81-7835-014-9. 
  11. ^ The Political Economy of Craft Production: Crafting Empire in South India by Carla M. Sinopoli p.76
  12. ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra Nath Sen p.418
  13. ^ A Comprehensive History of India: Comprehensive history of medieval India by B.N. Puri, M.N. Das p.42
  14. ^ A military history of medieval India by Gurcharn Singh Sandhu p.236
  15. ^ Vincent A Smith, The Oxford History of India: From the Earliest Times to the End of 1911, p. 217, at Google Books, Chapter 2, pp 231-235, Oxford University Press
  16. ^ The Life and Works of Sultan Alauddin Khalji- By Ghulam Sarwar Khan Niazi
  17. ^ Chandra, pp 76-79
  18. ^ Chandra, pp 76-77
  19. ^ Chandra, pp 78-80
  20. ^ Chandra, p 80
  21. ^ Chandra, pp 81-22
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Social Science
  26. ^ Qutb Complex: Ala al Din Khalji Madrasa


External links[edit]

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Jalal ud din Firuz Khilji
Sultan of Delhi
(Khilji dynasty)

Succeeded by
Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah