THE KHALJIS AND THE TUGHLAQS
Jalaluddin Khalji, who had commanded many successful wars, overthrew the incompetent successors of Balban in 1290. The Khaljis’ rise ended the monopoly of high offices by the Turks. Jalalluddin tried to mitigate some harsh aspects of Balban’s rule. He was the first Sultanate ruler to propose that the state should be governed with the willing support of the people, and since the Hindus enjoyed were a majority in India, it could never be truly Islamic.
ALAUDDIN KHALJI (1296-1316)
He assumed the throne by murdering his father-in-law Jalaluddin Khalji. Alauddin adopted very harsh methods to contain the nobles. He won many wars in deep South, helped by Malik Kafur, his favourite general. Alauddin had many achievements, including economic or price reforms, the first and the largest standing army, patronage of arts and culture etc.
Alauddin had to maintain a big standing army due to in Mongol invasions. Since he paid them fully in cash, prices had to be kept low to feed such a large army. Consequently, he regulated the markets, wherein separate officers called shahanas kept a strict watch over prices, fixed for every commodity.
Besides, Alauddin was the first king to say that actual cultivated land should be the basis for land revenue. He introduced the dagh or the branding system for horses.
Alauddin patronized Amir Khusro, a well-known Hindi scholar, credited with the invention of the Khari Boli (which later evolved into Hindi), the sitar and the tabla. He was very secular, as shown by his interest in Hindu mythology. Khusro wrote memorable quawallis, which he had invented. That\'s why the historians call him Tooti-i-Hind (The Parrot of India). Alauddin also built a new capital Siri near Delhi.
In 1320, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq revolted and killed the incompetent successor of Alauddin Khalji. The Tughlaqs produced three competent rulers: Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, Mohammed bin Tughlaq (1324-1351) and Firuz Tughlaq (1351-1388). Although the Tughlaqs ruled Delhi till 1412 yet Timur’s invasion in 1398 marked its end.
The expansion policy of Alauddin peaked under Mohammed Tughlaq. By 1324, the Delhi Sultanate reached upto Madurai. Mohammed Tughlaq is best remembered as one who undertook many bold experiments, and showed a keen interest in agriculture. He was a remarkable ruler and a deeply secular man, with a mind open to new ideas. Unfortunately, he was hasty and impatient. That is why many such experiments failed and he is often dubbed The “Wisest Fool In Indian History” or “The Ill-Starred Genius”.
The most controversial step which he took was the shifting of capital from Delhi to Deogir (Daultabad). On reaching there, he found that sitting in Deogir, he could control the south well but not Delhi. So he decided to return to Delhi after some time. Tughlaq started a token currency, which failed miserably. He had a Court of Thousand Pillars where he used to hold his public court. Ibn –i- Battuta, the Moroccan traveller who visited Delhi in those days, writes in detail about these experiments.
On the positive side, he did much to improve agriculture and set up a separate agriculture department called diwan-i-amir-i-kohi. Agricultural loans called taccavis were started by him. He also built a royal road from Peshawar to Sonargaon. But many such farming innovations failed due to lack of effective people to implement them. Thus, this phase, while marking the zenith of the Delhi Sultanate, also saw the start of its disintegration.
After his accesion, Firuz Tughlaq faced the problem of preventing a break-up of the Delhi Sultanate. He adopted a policy of appeasing the nobles and theologians. His reign was a peaceful one. He stopped the policy of torturing the nobles.
It was during Firuz that the jaziya became a separate tax. Earlier, it was a part of the land revenue. Only women, children, the disabled and the poor indigent were exempted. During his time, important Hindu religious works were translated from Sanskrit into Persian. Many books on music, medicine and mathematics were also translated into Persian during this time.
He had a big department of public works and repaired and dug up a number of canals for irrigation. Besides, he built two new cities - Hissar-Firuza or Hissar and Firuzabad, which exist even today. He also had a separate department of slaves which recruited slaves for employment in royal karkhanas, which stored goods for royal consumption. However, after him, the Sultanate could not stand the internal rebellions and external invasions by Timur in 1398. His invasion showed the dangers of a weak government in Delhi. Timur's attack marked the end of the Delhi sultans' rule.