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
Born Laknauthi (Bengal)[1]
Died Delhi, India
Burial Delhi, India
House Khalji dynasty
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 Khilgi/Ghilzai 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 immortalised 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]

Military Campaigns[edit]

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.
Alauddin's Madrasa, Qutb complex, Mehrauli, which also has his tomb to the south.


In 1296, Jalaluddin was assassinated by his nephew Allaluddin Khilji, who won over the nobles by bribing them and then crowned himself as the new Sultan of Delhi.[10] Muhammad Shah was instrumental in making this coup successful and was rewarded for doing so. Allowed access to the harem, he struck up a friendship with Chimna, a disaffect begum of Allaudin's. The pair conspired to kill Allaudin and have themselves as sultan and queen. Allaudin discovered the plot and Shah fled from Delhi along with his brother.[citation needed]

Shah obtained asylum from Hamir Dev, the Rajput ruler of Ranathambor, which then caused Dev to be a focus of Allaudin's ire. The fort of Ranathambhor was attacked and the armies of Allaudin and Dev fought a battle on the banks of river Banas, which the Rajput forces won. However, Dev's army became disorganised due to a personal feud involving the Senapati (General-in-charge of the army), Gurdan Saini, who was eventually killed by his opponent, the prime minister.[who?] Allaudin reorganised his forces and made a renewed attack on the fort, being supplied with information about the state of the besieged forts supplies of food and water by unhappy officers from Dev's army. The fort structure was such that Allaudin was unable to breach it, so he offered to return to Delhi if Dev would hand Muhammad Shah over to him. Dev thought that breaking his promise to Shah would be dishonourable but Shah persuaded him that it was better than continuing the gruelling siege, given the immense resources of Allaudin's army. Thus, Allaudin got his way.[citation needed]


Alauddin Khilji sent two of his great general brothers Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan, to Gujarat, which was conquered and annexed. The temple of Somnath was sacked. The wife of the king, Kamala Devi, was captured and later married the Sultan.[11] 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.[citation needed]


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

On 28 January 1303 Alauddin started for Mewar, a powerful kingdom of north-west India. According to legend, Alauddin heard of the unparalleled beauty of Rani Padmini, wife of Ratan Singh.[11] 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 Alauddin'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 Alauddin 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 Jauhar (suicide) or face dishonour at the hands of the victorious enemy.[citation needed]

Jauhar was preferred. A huge pyre was lit and, followed by their queen, 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, until all of them perished. After his victory, the sultan's troops entered the fort and were confronted with the ashes and burnt bones of the women.[citation needed]


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.[11] 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, her daughter Devala Devi was 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.


In 1303, the first attempt by Alauddin to conquer Warangal ended in a disaster as the army of the Kakatiya dynasty defeated him. The Kakatiya king, Prataparudra II, raised a well-equipped army and Alauddin's army, which was led by Malik-ud-din and Jhaju.[12][13]

Six years later, Malik Kafur invaded Warangal for the second time. Kafur was able to occupy the Warangal fort with 100.000 soldiers[14]), and forced Prataparudra to pay an indemnity and annual tribute.[11] Among the treasures ceded by Prataparudra was the Koh-i-Noor diamond, once the largest known diamond in the world.This siege has been recorded by Amir Khusrow[15]

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

After conquering Devagiri and Warangal, Alauddin Khilji sent Malik Kafur (1311) against king Vira Ballala III of the Hoyasala Kingdom of Halebidu. Veera Ballala was surprised and forced to pay an indemnity and become a vassal.[11]

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.[16][17]

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.

Accounts of the massacre of newly converted 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 and 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.[18][19]

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 centralise power in his hands and to support a large military.[20]

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 reduced 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.[21]

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."[22]

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.[23]

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.[24] 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].

Tax system[edit]

The tax system introduced during the Khalji dynasty had a long term influence on Indian taxation system and state administration,

Alauddin Khalji's taxation system was probably the one institution from his reign that lasted the longest, surviving indeed into the nineteenth or even the twentieth century. From now on, the land tax (kharaj or mal) became the principal form in which the peasant's surplus was expropriated by the ruling class.

— The Cambridge Economic History of India: c.1200-c.1750, [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 [Khilgi/Ghilzai] 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 Afghan 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 but Aryan was more powerful than him BOTH AMIR KHUSRAU and MIR HASAN DEHLVI enjoyed his patronage. Jūnā Khan reigned for 20 years.  line feed character in |quote= at position 525 (help)
  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. ^ Jackson, Peter (2003). The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History (Reprinted ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-52154-329-3. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 84. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  12. ^ Ancient Indian History and Civilization by Sailendra Nath Sen p.418
  13. ^ The Political Economy of Craft Production: Crafting Empire in South India by Carla M. Sinopoli p.76
  14. ^ Texas 2001, p. 153.
  15. ^ Puri & Das 2003, p. 41.
  16. ^ A Comprehensive History of India: Comprehensive history of medieval India by B.N. Puri, M.N. Das p.42
  17. ^ A military history of medieval India by Gurcharn Singh Sandhu p.236
  18. ^ 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
  19. ^ The Life and Works of Sultan Alauddin Khalji- By Ghulam Sarwar Khan Niazi
  20. ^ Chandra, pp 76-79
  21. ^ Chandra, pp 76-77
  22. ^ Chandra, pp 78-80
  23. ^ Chandra, p 80
  24. ^ Chandra, pp 81-22
  25. ^ Tapan Raychaudhuri, Irfan Habib and Dharma Kumar (1982), The Cambridge Economic History of India: c.1200-c.1750, Cambridge University Press, pp. 62-63, ISBN 978-0-521-22692-9
  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