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Ala-ud-Din Khilji (1296-1316 AD)

Ala-ud-Din Khilji (1296-1316 AD)

The history of slaughter goes on and Ali Gurshap Khan (commonly known as Ala-ud-Din Khilji) colored his hands with the blood streaming out of the neck of his guardian, uncle, and father-in-law making it the last echelon to position himself as the next Sultan in1296 AD. The callousness of time and power takes the toll of another skull and leaves for a new journey surrounded by the ambushes, conspiracies, and the claimants to the throne.

When Ala-ud-Din Khilji killed Sultan Jalal-ud-Din Khilji (his father-in-law), Multan was ruled by Arkali Khan, the eldest son of Sultan Jalal-ud-Din. The widow of Sultan Jalal-ud-Din incited Qadar Khan (the younger son of Sultan Jalal-ud-Din) to claim the throne as Rukn-ud-Din Ibrahim. Ala-ud-Din fell upon the news and reached Kilugarhi (Delhi) and blessed his kinship and chiefs with the high offices and jagirs to win their sympathies. The widow of Sultan Jalal-ud-Din requested Arkali Khan to capture Delhi but he did not pay heed to her and Ala-ud-Din Khilji reached Delhi accompanied with 60,000 riders and 60,000 pedestrians. Rukn-ud-Din Ibrahim marhed forward to face him but his army rebelled against him and joined the forces of Ala-ud-Din Khilji at the eleventh hour. Consequently, Rukn-ud-Din Ibrahim had to flee towards Multan.

After occupying the throne, Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji sent Alagh Khan (Almas Baig) to Multan to chastise Rukn-ud-Din Ibrahim who was deserted by his army after Alagh Khan reached Multan.  Rukn-ud-Din and Arkali Khan both bowed before Alagh Khan (Almas Baig) and Multan fell under Ala-ud-Din Khilji. Alagh Khan (Almas Baig) left for Delhi with the two brothers and other chiefs to Delhi but he blinded the both along with Alagh Khan (the son-in-law of Jalal-ud-Din Khilji) and imprisoned them in the fort of Hansi. The widow of Jalal-ud-Din Khilji and Malik Ahmad were arrested in Delhi while two sons of Arkali Khan were murdered and the ground was leveled for Ala-ud-Din whose rule lasted for next twenty years.

The blitzes of Mongols

The lenient policies of Jalal-ud-Din Khilji encouraged the Mongols and they were allowed to reside around or near Delhi called Mughalpura. Though they had embraced Islam but they were proud of their pedigree and the warrior blood running into their veins. As soon as Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji ascended the throne, a Mongol army of 100,000 men headed towards Delhi and were countered by Alagh Khan at Jalandhar Doab and met with failure with a heavy death toll of 12,000 soldiers. They returned under Amir Saldi but could not succeed and Zafar Khan, the general of Jalal-ud-Din arrested 2,000 Mongol men.

In 1298 AD Qatlagh Khawaja attacked India with 300,000 soldiers and reached the bank of the River Jamuna crossing the River Indus. It created a panic in the people of India and they started gathering in Delhi to secure themselves. Qatlagh Khan surrounded Delhi and Sultan sent Alagh Khan and Zafar Khan,his generals to fight against the Mongols though he was advised to reach a truce with the Mongols. Sultan’s army, consisting of 300,000 riders and 2,700 elephants, fought valiantly in the battled of Siri and Sultan appeared as winner by the end of the day. Mongols retreated from the battlefield but they found Zafar Khan chasing them and finding him alone, they killed him leaving Sultan deprived of one of the most heroic and trust worthy generals.

In 1301 AD Mongols led by Amir Targhi appeared with an army of 120,000 soldiers. Finding him unable to fight them due to his exertion in the expedition of Chitor, Sultan decided not to fight them and fortified himself in the fort of Siri. The Mongols could not succeed despite their repeated attacks. Frustrated of their failure to meet and defeat the Sultan, they went back. Some historians report that the Sultan attributed the return of the Mongols without any plunder to the prayer of Nizam-ud-Din Aulia (a famous Sufi saint in Delhi).

Mongols came back in 1304 AD under Ali Baig and Khawaja Tash who reached Amroha and brought about an impending peril for the empire of Sultan. Sultan sent Malik Kafoor and Malik Tughlaq to combat them and overpowered the Mongols arresting their 8,000 warriors who were killed under the verdict of the Sultan. In 1306 AD Amir Kebek invaded India and reached near Multan crossing the River Indus and was met by Malik Tughlaq and the battlefield witnessed the lines of the killed Mongols. The last invader from the Mongols was Iqbalmand who was killed at the hands of Malik Tughlaq

North of India

After eliminating the perils from the invaders from outside, Sultan turned his face to the north of India and invaded Devgari in Decan. He overawed the south and north of India by conquering Chitor, Warinkal, Ajain, Anhalwara, and Dwarsamdar. In 1297 AD Sultan left for Gujrat (the center of sea trade and uncountable riches in the south of India) with Nusrat Khan and Alagh Khan. Gujrat was ruled by Raja Kiran Roy who, finding him too feeble to combat Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji, fled (along with his daughter Deval Devi) to Ram Dev, the ruler of Devgari. His wife Kamla Devi and Malik Kafoor (the eunuch) were arrested by Sultan. Sultan came into a marital bond with Kamla Devi and Malik Kafoor worked wonders on the behalf of Sultan in the battles of north of India and in the wars against Mongols. After the conquest of Gujrat, Nusrat Khan and Alagh Khan looted the uncountable wealth from the traders of Kambhayat but their soldiers had a discrepancy on the question of the fair distribution of the booty. The new Muslim Mongol soldiers gathered under Mohammad Shah and killed Azuddin, the brother of Nusrat Khan. Infuriated on the murder of his brother, Nusrat Khan wreaked vengeance from the rebels who sought shelter under the ruler of Ranthambor.

The conquest of Mewar (1303 AD)

Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji turned to Mewar, the biggest state of Rajputana in 1303 AD. Some people have mentioned the love tale of Sultan Ala-ud-Din who nurtured a deep feeling of love with Rani Padmani of Mewar. He arrested Rana Ratan Singh and asked for Rani Padmani as a ransom. When Rana Ratan Singh was forced to surrender, he sent for Rani to Delhi. This news brought about a fright among the Rajput chiefs and they devised a ploy to release the arrested Raja. They sent a group of soldiers disguised in ladies’ outfit to Delhi and floated a rumor that the ladies from the royal family were on their way to Delhi. Reaching Delhi, they attacked the fort where Raja Ratan was kept as prisoner. They liberated him and rushed back to Mewar. Sultan’s army chased them when he came to know the real story but the disguised soldiers had crossed his boundaries. Sultan assaulted Chitor as revenge and forced the Rajput chiefs to surrender. Finding no escape and the chance of Rajput victory, Rani Padmani along with her companions and other princesses burnt her down out of honor and nobility. When Sultan reached the fort, he could not access but the ashes of Deval Devi. The historians do not confirm this legend and take it merely as a fiction. Amir Khusrau has mentioned it in his verses. Mewar was captured and Sultan renamed it as Khizarabad after his son.

Ranthambor (1303 AD)

Sultan sent Alagh Khan and Nusrat Khan in 1199 AD to occupy Ranthambor but they could not win and Nusrat Khan was killed. Sultan’s army had to confine to the fort of Jhain. Sultan wanted to support them with an extended army but could not do anything because of the internal perils and upheavals. Finally he attacked   Ranthambor in 1303 AD and defeated the Rajputs appointing Alagh Khan the governor of Ranthambor and Jhain.

The conquest of Malwa (1306 AD)

The conquest of   Ranthambor and Mewar encouraged Sultan to step forward and he sent Amin-ul-Mulk, his general to Malwa. Amin-ul-Mulk overwhelmed Roy Rev and Koka, his minister and occupied Malwa. The conquest of Malwa brought the message of the submission of other states of north India and Rajputana.

Deccan expeditions

The successes in the north of India paved the way to the opening of new doors in the southern part of India for Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji. Remembering the uncountable wealth and riches of Kara and Oudh, Sultan thought of invading Devgari on the pretext of not receiving the annual payments pledged by the Raja of Devgari.

Devgari (1306 AD)

The breach of the Raja of Devgari was a blessing in disguise as it leveled the ground for the Sultan who was in intending to bring Deval Devi, the daughter of Raja Kiran (whose wife had been taken into the bond of marriage with Sultan in the expedition of Gujrat). Kamla Devi wanted Deval Devi, her daughter to be brought to the harem of Sultan who launched an expedition to bring Deval Devi. Alif Khan, the ruler of Gujrat and Malik Kafoor (the eunuch exalted to the rank of general by the Sultan) were assigned the task of bringing her. Alif Khan kidnapped Deval Devi when she was out to visit the Ellora caves and brought her to the royal palace of the Sultan who married Deval Devi with his son Khizar Khan. Though Sultan overpowered Devgari but he returned Devgari to Raja out of his veneration and titled him as Roy Raiyan.

Talangana (1309 AD)

An expedition was launched by Sultan to Talangana under Alagh Khan but it could not bring the desired results on account of the death of Alagh Khan. Sultan resent his army headed by Malik Kafoor who drove Raja Paratab Dev ll to submit and received 300 elephants, gold, silver, and thousands of horses as homage. The booty included the statue of Raja Paratab which was made of gold with a chain of gold in its neck. It was taken to the capital loaded on 1,000 camels.

Dwarsamdar (1310 AD)

Elevated with the conquest of Talangana, Malik Kafoor was assigned the task of conquering the south of India as he was lustful for the take-over of the whole of south. Malik Kafoor reached Dwarsamdar (Mysore) and finding an enmity between two big clans, grabbed the occasion and plundered the capital Dwarsamdar. Raja Veer lll was arrested on November 18, 1310 AD and sent to Delhi and all the riches in the temples was seized and sent to the capital.

Madora (1311 AD)

Veera Pandia and Sundar Pandia, the two brothers of Madora had a bad blood on power. Veera Pandia deprived Sundar of power who requested Malik Kafoor to infiltrate. Malik Kafoor plundered the city and instituted his rule. The booty he sent to the capital was 312 elephants, 20,000 horses, and gold and diamonds worth100 million tankas. Following Madora, the conquest of Devgari stamped the writ of Ala-ud-Din in the whole of southern India. After the death of Ram Dev (the ruler of Devgari), Shankar Rao Dev (his successor) refused to pay annual homage to Sultan, Malik Kafoor was sent by Sultan to reprimand him. Malik Kafoor arrested the new Raja after a slight resistance.

Rebellions in the age of Ala-ud-Din Khilji

The age of Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji was the age of upheavals. Starting from the ambushed murder of his paternal uncle, father-in-law, and guardian, Ala-ud-Din faced a series of conspiracies and uprisings after every now and then. He could not rely on the nobles and chiefs of his uncle who backed him up as the wheel of time could move otherwise and they could turn into his foes any time. Therefore, he deprived them of their riches, awards, and properties and converted them into hand to mouth lot so that they should engage themselves in earning their livelihood and could not think of plotting against Sultan. He blinded, disarmed, and even killed his rivals who could be a peril for him in the days to come. Despite all these steps, the rebellions could not be fully appeased and Sultan stayed all his life busy in pacifying them.

One of the most dangerous upheavals was of Haji Maula who looted the royal treasure and declared a young man of Iltutmish family as emperor when Sultan was away from Delhi. But his uprising was conciliated by killing all the characters embroiled. Following Haji Maula’s uprising, Umar and Rangu Khan, the governors of Badayun and Oudh respectively and nephews of Sultan Ala-ud-Din stood against Sultan but they were arrested and blinded as penalty of their daring act. Sultan’s paternal nephew Akat Khan (who was accompanying Sultan) rose against him when Sultan was on an expedition in Ranthambor. When Sultan was out for hunting, Akat Khan attacked his uncle to capture the throne and wounded him. Taking him dead, Akat Khan declared his kingdom in the royal tents and even started taking oath from the nobles. When he wanted to enter the tent of Sultan, Malik Kafoor hindered him and demanded the head of the dead Sultan Ala-ud-Din to allow him to go in. meanwhile Sultan, rose up from his wounds, appeared and Akat Khan was beheaded on the spot instead of wearing the crown as the next Sultan.

The rebellions in the age of Sultan Ala-ud-Din were mainly due to these factors:

  1. 1.Negligence in the intelligence department
  2. 2.Permission of alcohol publicly
  3. 3.Frequent encounters of the nobles and knitting plots against the Sultan
  4. 4.An increase in the properties and jagirs of the nobles

Seeing the upheavals snaking up quite frequently in the empire, Sultan decided to take matter of fact steps to coup with the rebels:

  1. 1.Intelligence department was reordered to assure the flow of information even from the far off and remote areas of the empire.
  2. 2.Taking alcohol overtly was strictly forbidden and Sultan himself set an example of breaking the bottles of wine.
  3. 3.Chiefs and nobles were prohibited to intermarry and even interdine as these meetings generally ended up in the intrigues against the Sultan. Ban on these parties and get-togethers triggered the best effect in favor of Sultan
  4. 4.Sultan devised a different way to disarm the nobles by depriving them of their precious possessions. Leaving them as a hand to mouth lot, Sultan closed all the doors opening against him.

Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji’s extended intentions

Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji nurtured a desire to be the Alexander the Great ll but he exceeded his limits and started thinking over claiming the prophet hood. He believed that he was surrounded by the four companions (Zafar Khan, Nusrat Khan, Alif Khan, and Alagh Khan) on the same lines of the four Caliphs of the Holy Prophet (Peace be upon Him). He was checked by his advisor Ala-ul-Mulk who constrained his desire of devising a new religion.   Ala-ul-Mulk also advised him to conquer the rest of India and abstain from the vices to overwhelm the untouched areas.

Last years of Sultan Ala-ud-Din

Being a patient of blood pressure, Sultan started losing his temper frequently and spent his last years in skeptics. He did not trust anyone around him. That was why he imprisoned Khizar Khan and his mother, his son and wife respectively and nominated Shahab-ud-Din, his immature son as his successor. Seeing the inaction and inability of Sultan and his successor, the rebels all over the empire rose against him and started making inroads in his empire. The successor of Shankar Dev, the ruler of Devgari declared his independence whereas the Raja of Chitor ousted the Muslims from his state and the Raja of Gujrat also broke the shackles of slavery. These incidents weakened the Sultan and he passed away on January 2, 1316 AD leaving anarchy behind him. According to some chroniclers, Malik Kafoor poisoned the Sultan to succeed him

About SAIMA ASHRAF

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