Malik Kafur

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The last act of Malik Naib Kafur, A.D. 1316

Malik Kafur (died 1316), was a prominent general of Alauddin Khilji. He led three campaigns in Southern India from 1294 to 1316 AD, and set the stage for the consequent arrival of the Madurai Sultanate.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Malik Kafur was an eunuch slave who became a general in the army of Alauddin Khilji, ruler of the Delhi sultanate from 1296 to 1316 A.D. He was originally seized by Alauddin’s army after the army conquered the city of Khambhat. It is theorized Alauddin Khilji fell in love with the effeminate beauty of Malik Kafur, castrated and converted him to Islam.[3] Kafur was also called "Thousand Dinar Kafur", probably the amount paid by sultan for his possession. The sultan had homosexual relation with Kafur.[4] However, this does not to be confused with Malik Dinar, another Indian slave general who served under Malik Kafur and sent by Kafur to suppress rebellion in Gujarat and whose daughter married the third Khilji sultan, Qutb ud din Mubarak Shah.[5][6][7] He was then castrated and made to follow Islam, changing his name to Kafur. Kafur quickly came to play an important role in the Khilji dynasty, and was consequently made a Military General, earning the title "Naib"—an honorific title for a military commander. Ziauddin Barani, a Muslim historian of the time notes.[8]

In 1294, Kafur led the Sultan's army through the Mountain range, attacking the capital city of the Yadava kingdom of Devagiri, which was ruled by Ramdeva. The king's son Sankardeva was slain in the battle.[9] In 1305 Kafur defeated the Mongols at the Battle of Amroha.

Later between 1309 and 1311 Malik Kafur has led two successful campaigns in South India. The first was against Warangal and the second against DwaraSamudra(Halebidu). Kafur defeated the Kakatiya dynasty, winning an indemnity, and making the the Kakatiya a vassal of the Sultanate. [10] The booty from Warangal included the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond.[11] During the course of the attack he laid siege on the famous Hoyasaleshwara temple in Halebidu.

Kafur had made a third attempt in the South, where he tried to enter the Deep South, when he rode against Madurai and Malabar. This resulted in complete defeat at the hands of Vikrama Pandya, who was the younger brother of Emperor Maravarman Kulasekara Pandyan I, and Kafur had to return empty-handed.[12][13] Kafur was made malik naib, the senior commander of the army, after its southern campaigns.[14]

In 1318 Malik Kafur killed the last king of Yadava, Raja Harapal.[15]


After the death of Khilji in 1316, he blinded the heir apparent, Khizr Khan, and made another son the king. Malik was then assassinated by Khilji's bodyguards.[16][17]


For the first time in the recorded history of India, did any part of South India come under Delhi's rule, and this was after Malik Kafur's expeditions against the Deccan. Kafur's campaigns paved the way for the establishment of Delhi and Muslim rule over some parts of the Andhra and Karnataka areas, bringing foundation of the short-lived Madurai Sultanate.[18]


  1. ^ Keay, J. India, 2001, p. 257, Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-3797-0
  2. ^ The history of India, By John McLeod, p. 36
  3. ^ The history of India, By John McLeod, pg. 36
  4. ^ Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History, Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai, Palgrave, 2001, p. 132; ISBN 0312293240
  5. ^ Peter Jackson (2003). The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History. Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 0521543290. 
  6. ^ Iqtidar Alam Khan (2008). Historical Dictionary of Medieval India. Scarecrow Press. p. 59. ISBN 0810864010. 
  7. ^ Satish Chandra Misra (1982). The Rise of Muslim Power in Gujarat: A History of Gujarat from 1298 to 1442. Universitas Michigan. p. 90. . The very same title was bestowed to one of greatest Khilji military general who repelled the Chagatai Khanate repeated invasions into India, Malik Hizbaruddin Zafar Khan
  8. ^
  9. ^ Decisive Battles India Lost (326 BC to 1803 AD); Jaywant Jogleka;, 2006; ISBN=1847283020, 9781847283023
  10. ^ Studies in Islamic History and Civilizaion, David Ayalon, BRILL, 1986, p. 271; ISBN 965-264-014-X
  11. ^ A History of India, Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, Edition: 3, Routledge, 1998, p. 160; ISBN 0-415-15482-0
  12. ^ A Comprehensive History of India: Comprehensive history of medieval India by B.N. Puri, M.N. Das p.42
  13. ^ A military history of medieval India by Gurcharn Singh Sandhu p.236
  14. ^ *Khilji's Commander:
  15. ^ Famous Monuments of India; Anu Sharma ; Pinnacle Technology, 2011; ISBN=1618205455, 9781618205452
  16. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 88. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  17. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K. S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 217. 
  18. ^ Nilakanta Sastri, p. 213