Muhammad bin Tughluq

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Muhammad bin Tughluq
Fakhr Malik
Delhi tughra.jpg
Sultan of Delhi
Reign 1324–20 March 1351
Predecessor Ghiyasuddin Tughluq
Successor Firuz Shah Tughluq
Died 20 March 1351
Thatta, Delhi Sultanate (present day Sindh, Pakistan)
Burial Tughlaqabad, (present day Delhi, India)
Full name
Muhammad bin Tughluq
House Tughluq dynasty
Religion Islam

Muhammad bin Tughluq (Arabic: محمد بن تغلق‎‎) (also Prince Fakhr Malik, Jauna Khan, Ulugh Khan; died 20 March 1351) was the Sultan of Delhi of Turkic descent through 1324 to 1351. He was the eldest son of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq of the Tughluq dynasty. He was born in Kotla Tolay Khan in Multan. His wife was the daughter of the Raja of Dipalpur.[1] Ghiyas-ud-din sent the young Muhammad to the Deccan to campaign against king Prataparudra of the Kakatiya dynasty whose capital was at Warangal in 1321 and 1323.[2] Muhammad acceded to the Delhi throne upon his father's death in 1325.

He was interested in medicine and was skilled in several languages — Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Sanskrit[3] Ibn Battuta, the famous traveller from Morocco, was a guest at his court.[4] From his accession to the throne in 1325 until his death in 1351, Muhammad contended with 22 rebellions, pursuing his policies consistently and ruthlessly. It is said that he deliberately killed his father Ghiyasudden Tughlaq to ascend the throne of Delhi, although modern historians do not support this theory. From the chronicles of Barani, we came to know that, on his return from a campaign, Ghiyasuddin was watching the parade of the elephants he got as war booty and then the stage along with the Sultan himself, collapsed. It is noteworthy that the salary of the wazir of Muhammed-Bin-Tughlaq was equal to the income of the then Iraq under the Persian Shah. It can be said that he was a capable ruler but his policies were far-sighted and were discordant with the socio-political structure at the time.[3]


Muhammad Bin Tughlaq (Jauna Khan) came to throne after the accidental death of his father Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and remained an unsuccessful sultan till his last breath. He had been a man of controversies and crisis, he faced worst attacks of Mongols, He experimented to shift his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad that was disastrous decision which cost millions of tankas and thousands of lives. Muhammad Bin Tughluq was careless, sometimes insane and sometimes acted like a real hero and leader.


After the death of his father Ghiyasuddin Tughluq, Muhammad bin Tughluq ascended the throne of Tughluq dynasty of Delhi in February, 1325 A.D. Unlike the Khaljis who did not annex stable kingdoms, Tughluq would annex kingdoms around his sultanate. In his reign, he conquered Warangal (in present-day Telangana, India) Mabar and Madurai, (Tamil Nadu, India), and areas up to the modern day southern tip of the Indian state of Karnataka. In the conquered territories, Tughluq created a new set of revenue officials to assess the financial aspects of the area. Their accounts helped the audit in the office of the wazir.[5] However this got him overconfidence he attempted to raid mordern day Kazakhstan. Gathering 250,000 troops he marched on to Kazakhstan. Unfortunately for him this was now a part of 'Renę'(a massive kingdom from mordern day Moscow to Egypt. Allan, the ruler of Renę was then attemptin to supress a rebellion. On hearing that Tughlaq wanted to raid him he flanked the borders with 450,000 men and ordered Delhi to be plundered. Mohammed was forced to retreat with less than 3,000 troops. When he reached Delhi he realized almost all his wealth had been taken away and the city was rubble

Shifting of capital[edit]

In 1327, Tughluq passed an order to shift the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (in present-day Maharashtra) in the Deccan region of south India. The common narrative is that the shifting of the capital would enable Tughlaq to establish control over the fertile land of the Deccan plateau.[6] and that it would make him safe from the Mongol invasions which were mainly aimed at Delhi and regions in north India.[7] Also, it was not always possible to operate an army from Delhi for the occupation of Southern states. Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq himself had spent a number of years while a prince in occupying and guarding the southern states during the reign of his father. Daulatabad was also situated at a central place so the administration of both the north and the south could be possible.[8][unreliable source?]

However, Ibn Battuta has stated the actual reason for Tughlaq's decision to shift the capital. According to him, it was because the citizens of Delhi opposed Tughlaq's totalitarian rule and wrote missives reviling and insulting him.Tughluq had enough of it when he decided to move his capital lock, stock and barrel. There is evidence to support this. Tughluq expressly ordered everyone to move out of Delhi. The order was so complete that when two wretched souls, one blind and the other cripple were found in the streets of Delhi, it was seen as an act of transgression. The cripple was hung from a mangonel and was lucky enough to die. The blind was dragged along to Daulatabad, for a distance of 600 miles. Ibn Battuta stated that "the blind man fell to pieces on the road and all of him that reached Dawlat Abad was his leg."[9]

All facilities were provided for those who were required to migrate to Daulatabad. It is believed that the general public of Delhi was not in favour of shifting base to Daulatabad. This seems to have annoyed Tughluq, for he ordered all people of Delhi to proceed to Daulatabad with their belongings. Ibn Batuta cites that the force was applied without any leniency. Barani observes: "Without consultation or weighting the pros and cons, he brought run on Delhi which for 170 to 180 years had grown in prosperity and rivaled Baghdad and Cairo. The city with its Sarais and suburbs and villages spread over four or five leagues, all was destroyed (i.e., deserted). Not a cat or a dog was possibly left behind. We have evidence from Battuta's writings that Tughluq himself was much relieved when he saw Delhi empty and utterly deserted. [10]

A broad road was constructed for convenience. Shady trees were planted on both sides of the road; he set up halting stations at an interval of two miles. Provisions for food and water were also made available at the stations. Tughluq established a khanqah at each of the station where at least one sufi saint was stationed. A regular postal service was established between Delhi and Daulatabad. In 1329, his mother also went to Daulatabad, accompanied by the nobles. By around the same year, Tughluq summoned all the slaves, nobles, servants, ulema, sufis to the new capital.[5] The new capital was divided into wards called mohalla with separate quarters for different people like soldiers, poets, judges, nobles. Grants were also given by Tughluq to the immigrants. Even though the citizens migrated, they showed dissent. In the process, many died on the road due to hunger and exhaustion. Moreover, coins minted in Daulatabad in around 1333, showed that Daulatabad was "the second capital".[11]

However, in 1334 there was a rebellion in Mabar. While on his way to suppress the rebellion, there was an outbreak of bubonic plague at Bidar due to which Tughluq himself became ill, and many of his soldiers died. While he retreated back to Daulatabad, Mabar and Dwarsamudra broke away from Tughluq control. This was followed by a revolt in Bengal. Fearing that the sultanate's northern borders were exposed to attacks, in 1335, he decided to shift the capital back to Delhi, allowing the citizens to return to their previous city.[5]

Impact of the Change of Capital[edit]

While most of the Medieval historians, including Barani and Ibn Batuta, tend to have implied that Delhi was entirely emptied (as is famously mentioned by Barani that not a dog or cat was left), it is generally believed that this is just an exaggeration. Such exaggerated accounts simply imply that Delhi suffered a downfall in its stature and trade. Besides, it is believed that only the powerful and nobility suffered hardships, if any. Two Sanskrit inscriptions dated 1327 and 1328 A.D. confirm this view and establish the prosperity of the Hindus of Delhi and its vicinity at that time.[3]

One of them records the foundation of a well by a Brahman of the name of Srindhara at the village of Nadayana, the modern Naraina, near Delhi. The verses of this inscription speak of Muhammad bin Tughluq as "the mighty Saka Lord" and throw light on the favorable conditions in which the Hindu families of Delhi lived.[citation needed]

The second inscription found at the village of Sarbar, five miles from Delhi, also refers to the prosperity of a Hindu family. These inscriptions, read with Barani's remarks about the "misery of the selected people", lead to the inference that Sultan Muhammad's orders for migration applied to the leading Mussulman families only. This is also supported by Barani's references to heavy casualties in these words: "And on all sides of the old infidel land of Deogiri, there sprang up graveyards of the Mussulmans."[citation needed]

There is more to the transfer of capital than what is generally written. It is believed that Tughluq wanted to make Daulatabad an Islamic cultural centre, thereby helping him to have better control over the region, reducing the number of "Hindu" rebellions. His efforts to bring Ulema and Shaikhs from provincial towns and make them settle down in that city give a clue to his true intentions. The view of Muhammad Tughluq was that something like the above had to be done in the Deccan to strengthen the Muslim position in that area.[citation needed]

As regards its remote effects, the Deccan experiment of Muhammad Tughluq was a remarkable success. The boundaries which had separated the North from the South broke down. It is true that the extension of the administrative power of the Delhi Sultanate into the Deccan failed, but so far as the extension of the cultural institutions was concerned, it was successful.[12][unreliable source?]

Failed expeditions[edit]

After the death of Genghis Khan, one line of his descendants, the Chagatai Khanate, ruled over Turkistan and Transoxiana and another branch of Hulagu Khan conquered present day Iran and Iraq. [note 1] However, at the time of Tughluq, both of the dynasties were on the downfall, with conditions in Transoxiana unstable after the death of Tarmashirin.[5][3] He was ambitious of annexing these kingdoms. He invited nobles and leaders from these regions and gave them grants. Partly with their help and partly from his own kingdom, Tughluq raised an army of three million and seven hundred thousand soldiers in 1329. Barani has written that Tughluq took no step to check the ability of the soldiers or the brand of horses. They were paid in one year advance, and after being kept idle for one year, Tughluq found it difficult to pay them. Therefore, he decided to disperse and dissolve the soldiers in 1329.[5]

In 1333, Tughluq led the Qarachil expedition to the Kullu-Kangra region of modern-day Himachal Pradesh in India. Historians like Badauni and Ferishtah wrote that Tughluq originally wanted to cross the Himalayas and invade China. However, he faced local resistance in Himachal. His army was not able to fight in the hills, nearly all his 10,00 soldiers perished and he was forced to retreat.[5]

Collapse of the empire[edit]

Tughluq died in 1351 on his way to Thatta, Sindh in order to intervene in a war between members of the Gujjar tribe. He had lived to see his empire fall apart. It was during his reign that Turkish empire of Delhi collapsed by two fold resistance. One was from Rana Hammeer Singh Sisodia of Mewar and other from Harihara and Bukka of South India. All these three warriors were able to inflict humiliating defeats on the Sultanate army and crush the empire. While Rana Hammeera liberated the strategic Rajaputana, Harihara and Bukka established a new empire called Vijayanagar that revived the prosperity of Sangam era in South India. Several other south Indian rulers like Prolaya Vema Reddy of the Reddy dynasty, Musunuri Kaapaaneedu, etc. also contributed to the downfall of the Delhi sultanate. To add to Tughluq's woes, his own generals rebelled against him. The Bahmani kingdom was founded in the Deccan.[13]


Forced token currency coin

Historian Ishwari Prasad writes that different coins of different shapes and sizes were produced by his mints which lacked the artistic perfection of design and finish. In 1330, after his failed expedition to Deogiri, he issued token currency; that is coins of brass and copper were minted whose value was equal to that of gold and silver coins. Historian Ziauddin Barani felt that this step was taken by Tughluq as he wanted to annex all the inhabited areas of the world for which a treasury was required to pay the army. Barani had also written that the sultan's treasury had been exhausted by his action of giving rewards and gifts in gold. This experiment failed, because, as said by Barani, "the house of every Hindu became a mint". During his time, most of the Hindu citizens were goldsmiths and hence they knew how to make coins. In the rural areas, officials like the muqaddams paid the revenue in brass and copper coins and also used the same coins to purchase arms and horses.[14] As a result, the value of coins decreased and, as said by Satish Chandra, the coins became "as worthless as stones". This also disrupted the trade and commerce. The token currency had inscriptions marking the use of new coins instead of the royal seal and so the citizens could not distinguish between the official and the forged coins. Records show that the use of token currency has stopped in 1333 as Ibn Batuta who came to Delhi in 1334 and wrote a journal made no mention of this currency.[15]


Tughluq was a strict Muslim, maintaining his five prayers during a day, used to fast in Ramadan. Courtesans had hailed Tughluq as a "man of knowledge" and had interest in subjects like philosophy, medicine, mathematics, religion, Persian and Urdu/Hindustani poetry. Stanley Lane-Poole states in his "Medieval India", "He was perfect in the humanities of his day, a keen student of Persian poetry.........a master of style, supremely eloquent in an age of rhetoric, a philosopher trained in Logic and Greek metaphysics, with whom scholars feared to argue, a mathematician and lover of science.[3] Barani has written that Tughluq wanted the traditions of the nubuwwah to be followed in his kingdom.[16] Even though he did not believe in mysticism, Chandra states that he respected the Sufi saints, which is evident from the fact of his building of the mausoleum of the saint Nizamuddin Auliya at Nizamuddin Dargah.[additional citation needed] Critics has called him hasty in nature, owing to most of his experiments getting failed because lack of preparation. Ibn Batuta has also written that he depended on his own judgement and rarely took advice from others and has also criticised him for his giving of excessive gifts and "harsh punishments".[17]

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ The term Khurasan refers to a historical area in Central Asia which included the mentioned regions.


  1. ^ Douie, James M. (1916) The Panjab North-West Frontier Province and Kashmir Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England, page 171, OCLC 222226951
  2. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 91–97. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Lane-Poole, Stanley (2007). Medieval India (Under Mohammadan Rule A.D 712-1764). Lahore, Pakistan: Sang-e-Meel Publications. pp. 123–126. ISBN 969-35-2052-1. 
  4. ^ Canetti, Elias (1984). Crowds and Power. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-51820-3. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Chandra, Satish (1997). Medieval India: From Sultanate to the Mughals. New Delhi, India: Har-Anand Publications. pp. 101–102. ISBN 978-8124105221. 
  6. ^ Ahmed, p. 79.
  7. ^ Ahmed, p. 80.
  8. ^ "Biography of Muhammad-Bin-Tughluq (1325-1351)". History Discussion - Discuss Anything About History. 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  9. ^ Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, H.A.R. Gibb, Low Price Publications, 1999 reprint,first published 1929|pg 204-205
  10. ^ Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, H.A.R. Gibb, Low Price Publications, 1999 reprint,first published 1929|pg 204-205
  11. ^ Chandra, p. 101.
  12. ^ Sen, Pragati. "Transfer of Capital to Daulatabad by Muhammad Bin Tughluq". Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  13. ^ Verma, D. C. History of Bijapur (New Delhi: Kumar Brothers, 1974) p. 1
  14. ^ Chandra, p. 104.
  15. ^ Chandra, p. 105.
  16. ^ Chandra, p. 98.
  17. ^ Chandra, p. 99.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq
Sultan of Delhi
Succeeded by
Firuz Shah Tughluq