Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji

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Ikhtyiar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji
The end of Buddhist Monks, A.D. 1193.jpg
SuccessorMuhammad Shiran Khalji
BornGarmsir, Helmand, Afghanistan
Devkot, South Dinajpur, Bengal
Pirpal Dargah, Narayanpur, Gangarampur, South Dinajpur
OccupationMilitary general, ruler

Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muḥammad Bakhtiyār Khaljī,[1] also known as Bakhtiyar Khalji,[2][3] was a Turko-Afghan[4][5] military general who led the Muslim conquests of the eastern Indian regions of Bengal and Bihar and established himself as their ruler.[6][7][8][9]

Khalji's invasions the Indian subcontinent between A.D. 1197 and 1206 led to mass flight and murder of Buddhist monks, and caused grave damage to the traditionally Buddhist institutions of higher learning in Northern India.[10] In Bengal, Khalji's reign was responsible for displacement of Buddhism by Islam.[11][12] His rule is said to have begun the Islamic rule in Bengal, most notably those of Bengal Sultanate and Mughal Bengal.[13]

Bakhtiyar also launched the Tibet campaign, in which he was killed in 1206. He was succeeded by Muhammad Shiran Khalji.

Early life[edit]

Bakhtiyar Khalji was born and raised in Garmsir, Helmand, in present-day southern Afghanistan. He was member of the Khalaj tribe,[14][15][16][17] a tribe of Turkic origin that was going through a process of Pashtunization[18] after being settled in south-eastern Afghanistan for over 200 years, which eventually led to the creation of the Ghilji tribe.[19][20][21][22]

He was head of the military force that conquered parts of eastern India at the end of the 12th century and at the beginning of the 13th century.


Tradition has it that Khalji's conquest of Bengal at the head of 18 horsemen was foretold.[23] He was of common birth,[24] had long arms extending below his knees,[23] a short physical stature, and an unfavorable countenance. He was first appointed as the Dewan-i-Ard at Ghor. Then he approached India in about the year 1193 and tried to enter in the army of Qutb al-Din Aibak, but was refused rank. Then he went further eastward and took a job under Malik Hizbar al-Din, then in command of a platoon at Badayun in northern India.[24] After a short period he went to Oudh where Malik Husam al-Din, recognised him for his worth.[24] Husam gave him a landed estate in the south-eastern corner of modern Mirzapur district. Khalji soon established himself there and carried out successful raids into weakly-defended regions to the east.[25]


Khalji's career took a new turn when he subjugated Bihar in 1200.[26] This effort earned him political clout in the court at Delhi. In the same year he took his forces into Bengal. As he came upon the city of Nabadwip, it is said that he advanced so rapidly that only 18 horsemen from his army could keep up. He conquered Nabadwip from the old emperor Lakshmana Sena in 1203.[27] Subsequently, Khalji went on to capture the capital and the principal city, Gaur,[28] and intruded into much of Bengal.[29]

Bakhtiyar Khalji's invasions are believed to have severely damaged the Buddhist establishments at Odantapuri, and Vikramashila.[10] Minhaj-i-Siraj's Tabaqat-i Nasiri suggests that Bakhtiyar Khalji destroyed a Buddhist monastery[10] which the author equates in his description with a city he calls "Bihar", from what the soldiers learn is called a vihara.[30] According to American scholar Hartmut Scharfe, the Tibetan sources suggest that this monastery was the one at Vikramashila;[10] historian André Wink believes that this monastery must have been Odantapuri.[30] According to the early 17th century Buddhist scholar Taranatha, the invaders massacred many monks at Odantapuri, and destroyed Vikramashila.[30] The Tibetan pilgrim Dharmasvamin, who visited the region in the 13th century, states that Vikramashila had been completely razed to the ground by the Turushka (Turkic) invaders, and Nalanda the world’s first university was completely destroyed along with millions of books[citation needed] which were burnt. It is believed the library at Nalanda University burnt for 3 months.[citation needed]

Death and aftermath[edit]

Ikhtiyar al-Dīn Muḥammad Khalji left the town of Devkot in 1206 to attack Tibet, leaving Ali Mardan Khalji in Ghoraghat Upazila to watch the eastern frontier from his headquarters at Barisal. Khalji's forces suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of Tibetan guerrilla forces at Chumbi Valley during his Tibetan expedition through an unfamiliar mountainous terrain, which forced him to retreat. Khalji then returned to Devkot with about one hundred surviving soldiers. Upon Ikhtiyar Khalji's return while he was lying ill at Devkot, he was assassinated by Ali Mardan.[31][32]

The Khalji noblemen then appointed Muhammad Shiran Khalji as Bakhtiyar's successor. Loyal troops under Shiran Khalji avenged Ikhtiyar's death, imprisoning Ali Mardan. Eventually Ali Mardan fled to Delhi and provoked the Sultan of Delhi Qutb al-Din Aibak to invade Bengal. Ali Mardan returned with the governor of Oudh, Kayemaz Rumi, and dethroned Shiran. Shiran fled to Dinajpur where he later died.[33] Ghiyas-ud-din Iwaz Khalji became the successor. Ali Mardan escaped and was made Governor of Bengal by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, but was killed in 1212. Ghiyas-ud-din again assumed power and proclaimed his independence.[34]


Al Mahmud, a leading Bangladeshi poet, composed a book of poetry titled Bakhtiyarer Ghora (Horses of Bakhtiyar) in the early 1990s.[35] He depicted Khalji as the praiseworthy hero of Muslim conquest of Bengal. During Bakhtiyar Khalji's reign, Islam gained a large number of converts in India.[11] Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji had the Khutbah read and coins struck in his own name. Mosques, madrasas, and khanqahs arose in the new abode of Islam through Bakhtiyar's patronage, and his example was imitated by his Amirs.[36][37]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muḥammad Bakhtiyār Khiljī | Muslim general". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 9 September 2018.
  2. ^ Faruqui, Munis D. (2005). "Review of The Bengal Sultanate: Politics, Economy and Coins (AD 1205-1576)". The Sixteenth Century Journal. 36 (1): 246–248. doi:10.2307/20477310. ISSN 0361-0160. JSTOR 20477310. Hussain argues ... was actually named Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji and not the broadly used Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji
  3. ^ Hussain, Syed Ejaz (2003). The Bengal Sultanate: Politics, Economy and Coins (AD 1205-1576). New Delhi: Manohar. p. 27. ISBN 9788173044823.
  4. ^ Know Your State West Bengal. Arihant Experts. 2019. p. 15. Turk-Afghan Rule: Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji's invasion to Bengal marked the advent of Turk-Afghan rule in Bengal.
  5. ^ Chandra, Satish (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526). p. 226. Although the Afghans formed a large group in the army of the Delhi Sultanat, only few Afghan nobles had been accorded important positions . That is why Bakhtiyar Khalji who was part - Afghan had to seek his fortune in Bihar and Bengal .
  6. ^ Majumdar, Dr. R.C., History of Mediaeval Bengal, Page 1, First published 1973, Reprint 2006, Tulshi Prakashani, Kolkata, ISBN 81-89118-06-4.
  7. ^ Mehta, Jaswant Lal (1979). Advanced Study in the History of Medieval India. p. 81. ISBN 9788120706170.
  8. ^ Thakur, Amrendra Kumar (1992). India and the Afghans: A study of a neglected region, 1370-1576 A.D. p. 148. ISBN 9788185078687.
  9. ^ Ahmed, Salahuddin (2004). Bangladesh: Past and Present. p. 59. ISBN 9788176484695.
  10. ^ a b c d Hartmut Scharfe (2002). Handbook of Oriental Studies. BRILL. p. 150. ISBN 90-04-12556-6. Nalanda, together with the colleges at Vikramasila and Odantapuri, suffered gravely during the conquest of Bihar by the Muslim general Muhammad Bhakhtiyar Khalji between A.D. 1197 and 1206, and many monks were killed or forced to flee.
  11. ^ a b Arnold, Sir Thomas Walker (1896). The Preaching of Islam: A History of the Propagation of the Muslim Faith. Archibald Constable and Co. pp. 227–228.
  12. ^ Hindu-Muslim Relations in Bengal, 1905-1947: Study in Cultural Confrontation, Page 11, Nachiketa Publications, 1974, Hossainur Rahman
  13. ^ Eaton, Richard Maxwell (1996). The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. University of California Press. pp. 28–34. ISBN 9780520205079.
  14. ^ Minhāju-s Sirāj (1881). Tabaḳāt-i-nāsiri: a general history of the Muhammadan dynastics of Asia, including Hindustān, from A.H. 194 (810 A.D.) to A.H. 658 (1260 A.D.) and the irruption of the infidel Mughals into Islām. Bibliotheca Indica #78. 1. Translated by Henry George Raverty. Calcutta, India: Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal (printed by Gilbert & Rivington). p. 548.
  15. ^ the Khiljī tribe had long been settled in what is now Afghanistan ... Khalji Dynasty. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica. 23 August 2010.
  16. ^ Satish Chandra (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526) - Part One. Har-Anand. p. 41. ISBN 978-81-241-1064-5. The Khaljis were a Turkish tribe from southwest Ghur. However, Bakhtiyar was ungainly in appearance...
  17. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. (1973) [First published 1948]. The History of Bengal. II. Patna: Academica Asiatica. pp. 3, 8. OCLC 924890.
  18. ^ Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of medieval India: from 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 28. ISBN 81-269-0123-3. Retrieved 23 August 2010. The Khiljis were a Turkish tribe but having been long domiciled in Afghanistan, and adopted Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court
  19. ^ Pierre Oberling (15 December 2010). "ḴALAJ i. TRIBE". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved 4 July 2020. Indeed, it seems very likely that [the Khalaj] formed the core of the Pashto-speaking Ghilji tribe, the name [Ghilji] being derived from Khalaj.
  20. ^ Ashirbadi Lal Srivastava (1966). The History of India, 1000 A.D.-1707 A.D. (Second ed.). Shiva Lal Agarwala. p. 98. OCLC 575452554:"His ancestors, after having migrated from Turkistan, had lived for over 200 years in the Helmand valley and Lamghan, parts of Afghanistan called Garmasir or the hot region, and had adopted Afghan manners and customs. They were, therefore, wrongly looked upon as Afghans by the Turkish nobles in India as they had intermarried with local Afghans and adopted their customs and manners. They were looked down as non Turks by Turks."CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  21. ^ Abraham Eraly (2015). The Age of Wrath: A History of the Delhi Sultanate. Penguin Books. p. 126. ISBN 978-93-5118-658-8:"The prejudice of Turks was however misplaced in this case, for Khaljis were actually ethnic Turks. But they had settled in Afghanistan long before the Turkish rule was established there, and had over the centuries adopted Afghan customs and practices, intermarried with the local people, and were therefore looked down on as non-Turks by pure-bred Turks."CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  22. ^ Radhey Shyam Chaurasia (2002). History of medieval India: from 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. Atlantic. p. 28. ISBN 81-269-0123-3:"The Khaljis were a Turkish tribe but having been long domiciled in Afghanistan, had adopted some Afghan habits and customs. They were treated as Afghans in Delhi Court. They were regarded as barbarians. The Turkish nobles had opposed the ascent of Jalal-ud-din to the throne of Delhi."CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  23. ^ a b (Minhāju-s Sirāj 1881:556–557)
  24. ^ a b c (Minhāju-s Sirāj 1881:549)
  25. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. (1973) [First published 1948]. The History of Bengal. II. Patna: Academica Asiatica. pp. 2–3. OCLC 924890. granting him in jagir two parganas in the south-eastern corner of the modern Mirzāpur district ... having supplanted the petty Gahadvār chiefs of this tract, he began ravaging the open country to the east ... he confined himself to scouring the open country undefended by the field army of any organised State.
  26. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. (1973) [First published 1948]. The History of Bengal. II. Patna: Academica Asiatica. p. 3. OCLC 924890. Bakhtyār led his army a second time in the direction of Bihar in the year following the sack of the fortified monastery of that name. This year, i.e. 1200 A.D., he was busy consolidating his hold over that province.
  27. ^ "District Website of Nadia". Government of West Bengal.Retrieved: 11 January 2014
  28. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. (1973) [First published 1948]. The History of Bengal. II. Patna: Academica Asiatica. p. 8. OCLC 924890. Bakhtyār fairly completed his conquest of the Varendra tract with the ... city of Gaur before the year 599 A.H.
  29. ^ Sen, Amulyachandra (1954). Rajagriha and Nalanda. Institute of Indology. 4. Calcutta: Calcutta Institute of Indology, Indian Publicity Society. p. 52. OCLC 28533779.
  30. ^ a b c André Wink (2002). Al-Hind: The Slave Kings and the Islamic conquest, 11th-13th centuries. BRILL. pp. 146–148. ISBN 0-391-04174-6.
  31. ^ Nitish K. Sengupta (1 January 2011). Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib. Penguin Books India. pp. 63–64. ISBN 978-0-14-341678-4.
  32. ^ William John Gill; Henry Yule (2010). The River of Golden Sand: The Narrative of a Journey Through China and Eastern Tibet to Burmah. Cambridge University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-108-01953-8.
  33. ^ Khilji Malik
  34. ^ Chandra, Satish (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206–1526) – Part One. Har-Anand Publications. pp. 41–43. ISBN 9788124110645.
  35. ^ "Al Mahmud". Truly Bangladesh. Retrieved 22 January 2014.
  36. ^ Ichimura, Shōhei (2001). Buddhist Critical Spirituality: Prajñā and Śūnyatā. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 65 (note 87). ISBN 978-81-208-1798-2.
  37. ^ Sen, Gertrude Emerson (1964). The Story of Early Indian Civilization. Orient Longmans. OCLC 610346317.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Sena dynasty
King Lakshman Sen
Khalji Dynasty of Bengal
Succeeded by
Muhammad Shiran Khalji