Delhi Sultanate: Rulers, Timeline, Dynasties, Delhi Sultanate Notes for UPSC

By Balaji

Updated on: March 19th, 2023

Delhi Sultanate is a period of Muslim rule in India before the Mughals which started in 1206 AD when Qutub-ud-din Aibak ascended the throne after Muhammad Ghori’s death and marked the beginning of the very first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate period known as the Slave dynasty. This empire covered large portions of the Indian subcontinent which was ruled over for 320 years (1206 AD – 1526 AD). The five Delhi Sultanate dynasties are as follows:

  • Slave or Mamluk Dynasty (1206 -1290 AD)
  • Khilji Dynasty (1290 – 1320 AD)
  • Tughlaq Dynasty (1320 – 1414 AD)
  • Sayyid Dynasty (1414 – 1451 AD)
  • Lodi Dynasty (1451 – 1526 AD)

On multiple occasions, the entire mass of India was being ruled under the Sultan, sometimes even stretching out to modern-day Pakistan, Bangladesh, and some parts of southern Nepal. Delhi Sultanate has deeply impacted the country’s culture and geography, covering large swathes of territory in modern-day India. This article shall cover all necessary details about the Delhi Sultanate UPSC from the exam perspective. It is an important Indian history topic and is often enquired about in the UPSC Prelims, Mains and optional papers.

Table of content

  • 1. Delhi Sultanate (more)
  • 2. Delhi Sultanate Rulers (more)
  • 3. Founder of Delhi Sultanate (more)
  • 4. Delhi Sultanate UPSC (more)
  • 5. Delhi Sultanate Timeline (more)
  • 6. First Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate (more)
  • 7. Delhi Sultanate Khilji Dynasty (more)
  • 8. Tughlaq Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate (more)
  • 9. Delhi Sultanate Rulers: Sayyid Dynasty (more)
  • 10. Lodhi Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate (more)
  • 11. Delhi Sultanate UPSC Questions (more)

Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate period started with the invasion of Md. Bin Qasim to capture the area of Sind in 712 AD. Initially, India’s Islamic rule was fragile but changed drastically with the Turkish invasion.

  • Muhammad Ghori was one of the famous names in Sultan’s era. He invaded India seven times to expand its rule over the Indian subcontinent, specifically Delhi.
  • He fought two battles of Tarain. In the first battle, he lost badly to the era’s most powerful Indian ruler, Prithviraj Chauhan.
  • In the second battle, he defeated Prithviraj Chauhan. He fought with approximately one lakh soldiers in that battle which outnumbered the Rajput army.
  • Thus, Muhammad Ghori is responsible for establishing the Delhi Sultanate Empire in India.

After the death of Muhammad Ghori in 1206 AD, Qutubuddin Aibak, with Mangburni in Central Asia and Yalduz in Lahore, started the Slave dynasty, which marked the beginning of the Delhi Sultanate.

Delhi Sultanate Rulers

Direct questions are often asked about the Delhi Sultanate rulers in the UPSC prelims exam. So, it becomes important for aspirants to know the complete timeline of them and a basic profile about each as given in this article. The list of Delhi Sultanate rulers is as follows:

Name of the Dynasty Delhi Sultane Rulers List
Slave or Mamluk Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Aram Shah, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish, Ruknuddin Feruz Shah, Razia Sultana, Muizuddin Bahram, Alauddin Masud, Nasiruddin Mahmud, Ghiyas-ud-din Balban, Muiz ud din Kaiqubad, Kaimur
Khilji Jalal-ud-din Firoz Khilji, Alauddin Khilji, Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah
Tughlaq Ghiyath al-Din (Ghiyasuddin) Tughluq, Muhammad bin Tughluq, Mahmud Ibn Muhammad, Firoz Shah Tughlaq, Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq II, Abu Bakr Shah, Nasir ud din Muhammad Shah III, Ala ud-din Sikandar Shah I, Mahmud Nasir ud din, Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah Tughluq, Nasir ud din Mahmud
Sayyid Khizr Khan, Mubarak Shah, Muhammad Shah, Alam Shah
Lodhi Bahlul/Bahlol Lodi, Sikander Lodi, Ibrahim Lodi

Founder of Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was founded by Qutub-ud-din Aibak. He was a former slave of Mu’izz ad-Din Muhammad Ghori, also known as Muhammad of Ghor. Because of his ancestry, Aibak’s dynasty is referred to as the Mamluk dynasty. After the Ghurid victory in the Second Battle of Tarain, Muhammad Ghori nominated Aibak to serve as the ruler of his Indian domains.

By capturing and raiding numerous locations within the Gahadavala, Chahamana, Chandela, Chaulukya, and other kingdoms, Aibak increased the Ghurid supremacy in northern India. When Muhammad Ghori passed away in 1206, Aibak and Taj al-Din Yildiz engaged in the battle for control of the Ghurid lands in northwest India. Aibak ruled as the Sultan of Delhi Sultanate from 1206 to 1210, a period of four years.

Delhi Sultanate UPSC

The Delhi Sultanate is an extremely important topic in the History syllabus for UPSC. It covered a huge chunk of medieval history, making it an often enquired-about topic in the Prelims, UPSC Mains, and optional papers. Candidates must be well-versed with the complete history and rulers of Delhi Sultanate along with the timeline of dynasties to score well in the exam.

Delhi Sultanate Timeline

The timeline of the Delhi Sultanate Dynasties is listed in the table below:

S. No. Name of the Dynasty
1 Slave (Ghulam) or Mamluk Dynasty
2 Khilji Dynasty
3 Tughluq Dynasty
4 Sayyid Dynasty
5 Lodi Dynasty

First Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate

The slave dynasty belonged to the Turkish race. This Delhi Sultanate dynasty had the maximum number of Sultans. It reigned the Indian subcontinent from 1206 AD o 1290 AD. The various Sultans and their reign has been listed below:

Delhi Sultanate Ruler Time Period Relation to the Throne
Qutb-ud-din Aibak 1206 AD – 1210 AD – Founder of Slave Dynasty
– Slave of Muhammad Ghori
Aram Shah 1210 AD – 1211 AD Eldest son of Qutb-ud-din Aibak
Shams-ud-din Iltutmish 1211 AD – 1236 AD Son-in-law of Qutb-ud-din Aibak
Ruknuddin Feruz Shah 1236 AD Iltutmish’s son
Razia Sultana 1236 AD – 1240 AD Iltutmish’ daughter
Muizuddin Bahram 1240 AD – 1242 AD Iltutmish’s son
Alauddin Masud 1242 AD – 1246 AD Ruknuddin Feruz Shah’s son
Nasiruddin Mahmud 1246 AD – 1266 AD Razia’s Brother
Ghiyas-ud-din Balban 1266 AD – 1286 AD – Father-in-law of Nashiruddin Mahmud

– Most powerful king of the Mamluk Dynasty

Muiz ud din Kaiqubad 1287 AD – 1290 AD Ghiyasuddin Balban’s Grandson
Kaimur 1290 AD Muiz-ud-din Kaiqubad’s son

The Slave dynasty is the first dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, ruled from 1206 – 1290 AD. It was also named the Mamluk dynasty; where the word Mamluk is Arabic which means “owned/slave”. In fact, there were three other dynasties that were formed during this period. They were,

  1. Qutbi dynasty (1206 – 1211) – Founded by Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
  2. First Ilbari dynasty (1211- 1266) – Founded by Iltumish.
  3. Second Ilbari dynasty (1266 – 1290) – Founded by Balban.

Qutub-ud-din Aibak (1206 – 1210)

After the demise of Muhammad Ghori, Qutubuddin Aibak got his possessions in India in 1192 and declared himself the Sultan. The Slave dynasty is also known as the Mamluk dynasty. In Arabic, Mumluk means enslaved person.

  • Qutub-ud-din Aibak founded the Slave/Mamluk dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. He was Mohammad Ghori’s Turkish slave. He became important to Ghori because of his role in the growth of Turkish rule in India, especially after the Battle of Tarain. This caused Muhammad Ghori to appoint him as the governor of all the possessions he got from India.
  • He was also known as Lakh Baksh due to his generosity.
  • He constructed two mosques, namely the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque in Delhi and the Adhai din ka Jhompra mosque at Ajmer.
  • He constructed Qutub Minar.
  • After ruling for four years, he died in 1210 while playing chaugan (polo).
  • His son Aram Shah succeeded the throne in 1210 but was incompetent and removed from the throne.

Aram Shah (1210)

Aram Shah was the son of Aibak, but he was quickly declared incapable as a ruler. Turkish armies opposed him to a great extent making his rule last for eight months only.

Iltutmish (1210 – 1236)

Sultan Itutmish is considered the integrator of the Turkish conquest of Northern India. Iltutmish was from the Ilbari tribe, making his dynasty the Ilbari dynasty. He was sold into slavery by his half-brothers to Aibak, who eventually married his daughter to him. He was appointed as the Iqtadar of Gwalior by Aibek.

It was in 1211 CE when Iltutmish dethroned Aram Shah to become the Sultan and took the name of Shamsuddin. He worked extensively for the consolidation of Turkish rule in India.

  • One major threat that came upon his reign was that of the Mongols in the year 1220, when Chengiz Khan, the Mongols’ leader started his stride towards Central Asia. He conquered the ruler of Khwarizm, Jalal-ud-din Mangabarni who escaped and sought refuge under Iltutmish. By denying him shelter, Iltutmish cleverly saved his reign from the Mongolian onslaught.
  • He formed a group of 40 powerful Turkish nobles, named it Turkan-i-Chahalgani, and introduced a system in which the father’s land would be succeeded by his son. The succession of land would continue as the family progressed.
  • He made Delhi his new capital. He shifted the capital from Lahore.
  • Iltutmish was regarded as a great statesman, cemented when he received Mansur, a letter of recognition sanctioned by the Abbasid Caliph in 1229, making him the legal Indian sovereign ruler.
  • He finished the establishment of Qutub Minar in Delhi, which was the tallest tower in India having a height of 238 ft.
  • He also introduced a new system of coinage in India. The silver tanka weighed 175 grams and became the standard coin in medieval India. It is important to note that the silver tanka became the basis of the modern rupee.
  • He divided the empire into Iqtas, a practice that was brought to India by Ghori. In this system, the nobles and officials were assigned specific land pieces for revenue collection that were made up to be their salary.
  • He put forward the name of his daughter as his successor to rule over Delhi Sultanate. He reigned from 1210 AD to 1236 AD.

Ruknuddin Feruz Shah (1236)

While Iltutmish had named his daughter, Razia Sultan as the next Delhi Sultanate ruler in line, the rulers found it unsettling for a woman to hold the position of Sultan.

  • Ruknuddin was the first son of Iltutmish, who was helped by the nobles to ascend the throne.
  • The governor of Multan revolted against this, causing Ruknuddin Feroz Shah to march to suppress the revolt.
  • This opportunity was used by Raziya, and with the help of the Amirs of Delhi, she was able to seize the throne of the Delhi Sultanate that rightfully belonged to her.

Raziya Sultan (1236 – 1239)

Razia Sultan was the first and last woman to rule Delhi Sultanate. She was the daughter of Iltutmish. She faced opposition when she appointed a non-Turk, Yakut, as cavalry head.

  • The governor of Bhatinda, Altunia, rebelled against Razia Sultan imprisoning her under a conspiracy in which Yakut was murdered.
  • Razia Sultan married Altunia to get out of jail and reclaim the throne but was killed by Muizuddin Bahram Shah, son of Iltutmish. She reigned from 1236 AD to 1240 AD.

Bahram Shah (1240 – 1242)

There were a lot of quick successions after Iltutmish’s death.

  • Bahram Shah’s reign saw a continued struggle for power between the nobles and the Sultan.
  • Initially, Bahram Shah got the support of Turkish nobles. However, later the reign became disarranged, and during this disruption period, Bahram Shah’s army killed him.

Alauddin Masud Shah (1242 – 1246)

Following the death of Bahram Shah, Alauddin Masud Shah (nephew of Razia Sultan and son of Ruknuddin Feroz Shah), was selected as the next Delhi Sultanate ruler. But he was succeeded by Nasiruddin Mahmud due to his incapabilities and incompetency to run the administration.

Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246 – 1265)

Nasiruddin was Iltutmish’s grandson. He had a claim to the throne, but he was young and inexperienced.

  • Balban Khan, a member of Chahalgani (the Forty), helped him ascend to the throne.
  • The daughter of Balban was married to Nasirruddin and hence, the supreme power resided with Balban, who was powerful and organized in the stately administration/ however, he faced several rivals in the royal court.
  • Nasirruddin Mahmud died in the year 1265. Some said that Balban poisoned him and conquered the throne.

Balban (1266 – 1286)

Nasiruddin, the younger son of Iltutmish, had his reign from 1246-1265 AD, but as he was interested in philosophy, he was inefficient at the ruling. Balban proclaimed the throne in 1265 after killing all members of the Iltutmish family.

  • Balban was experienced as a regent, which made him understand the Sultanate’s problems well. He recognized the real threat to be the nobles called Forty’. He removed the Chahalgani as it became very powerful after the death of Razia Sultan.
  • He separated Diwan-i-arz (military department) from Diwan-i-wazart (finance department). He reorganized the army.
  • He declared himself as Zil-i-Ilahi, which literally translates to the shadow of God’. Owing to the fact that the Sultanate went through rulers in such quick succession, it was for Balban to grow the monarchy’s power. He introduced strict court discipline with new customs like prostration (sajida) and kissing the Sultan’s feet (paibos).
  • He upheld Persian literature and gave up wine to highlight that nobles were not equal to him.
  • He implemented the policy of Blood and Iron and started the famous festival of Navroz.
  • He reigned from 1265 AD to 1287 AD.

Kaiqubad (1287 – 1290)

He was Balban’s grandson. Nobles made him the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. His son Kaimur replaced him very early.

  • In 1290, the Ariz-e-Mumalik (the minister of war) of Kaimur named Feroz murdered him and captured the throne.
  • He assumed the title of Jalal-ud-din Khalji and formed the Khalji dynasty.

Delhi Sultanate Khilji Dynasty

The Khilji dynasty also belonged to the Turkish race. It was in power for the shortest period, i.e., 1290 AD to 1316 AD. The sultans under this dynasty have been listed in the table below:

Delhi Sultanate Rulers Period Events
Jalal-ud-din Firoz Khilji 1290-1296 Founder of the Khilji (Khalji) Dynasty
Alauddin Khilji 1296-1316 Nephew of Jalal-ud-din
Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah 1316-1320 Alauddin Khilji’s son

Jalal-ud-din Khalji (c. 1290 – 1296 CE)

He was the founder of the Khalji dynasty. When came to power, he was already 70 years old. He was a seasoned warrior who had been the warden of the marches in the northwest under Balban’s reign. He had fought many successful battles against the Mongols.

  • The Khaljis were of Turkish-Afghan descent. Unlike the rulers before them, they did not execute or dismiss the Turkish officials. However, the rise of Khaljis marked the end of the Turkish monopoly.
  • He was a pacifist to a great extent and tried to soften some of the harsher aspects of Balban’s rule.
  • He was the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate who was secular to a great extent and denied India to be an Islamic state as the majority of the population was Hindu. To him, a state should be based on the generous support of its people.
  • He adopted the policy of tolerance and avoided harsh punishments. However, his reign came to an end when he was murdered by his nephew and son-in-law Alauddin Khilji.

Alauddin Khalji (1296 – 1316)

Alauddin Khalji is known as the Alexander of India (Sikander-i-Sani). Alauddin Khilji was the first emperor to have a permanent army and paid the soldiers in cash. He constructed the entrance gate of Qutub Minar, known as Alai Darwaja, Mahal Hazrat Satoon, Hauz Khas, and Siri fort. He collected tax in cash.

  • Alauddin Khalji was the nephew and son-in-law of Jalal-ud-din Khalji. During the reign of Jalaluddin Khalji in the Delhi Sultanate, he was appointed as the Arizi-i-Mumalik (minister of war) and the Amir-i-Tuzuk (Master of ceremonies).
  • His policy was similar to Balban’s way of governance, contrary to Jalaluddin’s tolerance policy. He identified a few problems in the system that caused rebellions (according to him), like the increased wealth of the nobles, intermarriage among noble families, an inefficient spy system, and consumption of liquor.
  • Therefore, he passed four laws:
    • The public sale of liquor and drugs was prohibited.
    • The intelligence system (spy) was reorganized more efficiently, and nobles were under their direct purview. Any secret activities by them were immediately reported to the Sultan.
    • Confiscation of the property of the nobles.
    • Social gatherings and festivities without the permission of the Sultan were not allowed.
    • It is because of such stringent rules that his reign was rebellion-free.

Military Campaigns of Alauddin Khalji

Alauddin was skilled at warfare and had experience as well. He understood the importance of having a strong army and how it was key to a stable reign.

For this reason, he maintained a permanent standing army. He had been successful in stopping Mongolian invasions several times. The northwestern frontier was fortified, and Ghazi Malik (Ghayasuddin Tughlaq) was appointed as the Warden of Marches to protect the frontier.

Some of his famous conquests have been listed down below for your reference:

  • Conquest of Gujarat: Alauddin Khalji sent two generals, Nusrat Khan and Ulugh Khan, with his army to win Gujarat in 1299. King Rai Karan and his daughter were able to escape while the queen was caught and sent to Delhi. Another person, Malik Kafur, a eunuch was also sent to Delhi. He later became the military commander.
  • Conquest of Rajputana: After capturing Gujarat, Alauddin’s attention turned toward the Rajput kingdoms.
  • Ranthambore: Considered the strongest fort in Rajasthan, Khalji had a tough time initially. However, in 1301, the fort fell to Alauddin. The Rajput women of the palace committed Jauhar, an act of self-immolation.
  • Chittor: Chittor, another powerful state of Rajputana, fell to Khalji in 1303. According to folklore and some scholars, Alauddin’s prime motivation behind attacking Chittor was the coveted beauty of Queen Padmini, the wife of Raja Ratan Singh. Despite having fought bravely, Raja Ratan was defeated. The Rajput women of the palace, including Rani Padmini, performed Jauhar. This episode has been mentioned in the book Padmavat written by Jayasi.
  • Malwa and others: Under the able leadership of Ain-ul-Mulk, the Khalji army captured Malwa in 1305. Ujjain, Mandu, Chanderi and Dhar were also annexed. After the annexation of Jalore in 1311, Alauddin Khalji became the master of north India after having captured large parts of the Rajputana.
  • Conquest of Deccan and the far South: The conquest of Deccan and the far South was the greatest achievement of Alauddin. Yadavas of Devagiri, Kakatiyas of Warangal, Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra and the Pandyas of Madurai ruled this region. Malik Kafur was sent to lead the invasions for Alauddin. When he was successful, he made Malik Kafur Naib Malik of the empire to honour him.
  • Despite his illiteracy, Khalji patronized many poets like Amir Hasan and Amir Khusrau. He also built the famous gateway known as Alai Darwaza. He constructed a new capital at Siri. Alauddin took up the title of Sikander-i-Azam and called Amir Khusrau the title of Tuti-i-Hind.

Administration of Alauddin Khalji

Khalji was skilled at running his administration during the Delhi Sultanate time period smoothly, he ushered in many reforms to keep a stronghold over such a vast empire.

Military Reforms

  • A large permanent standing army was maintained, which was paid in cash.
  • According to a historian named Ferishta, Khalji recruited 4,75,000 cavalrymen. He also introduced the system of dagh that was used for the branding of horses and prepared huliya, which was a descriptive list of soldiers. Astrict review of the army every now and then for the most efficiency.

Market Reforms

  • Four separate markets in Delhi were established, mandi (for grain); another one which sold cloth, sugar, dried fruits, oil and butter; a third one for horses, cattle and slaves and the fourth market for miscellaneous commodities.
  • Shahna-i-Mandi was the head who presided over each of these markets. The supply of grain was maintained by government storehouses. Regulations were in place for fixing the prices of all commodities.
  • Diwan-i-Riyasat was created, headed by an officer called Naib-i-Riyasat. Every merchant was registered here.
  • Munhiyans, secret spies appointed by Khalji, were responsible for sending reports to the Sultan detailing the functioning of these markets.
  • He also often sent slave boys to buy various commodities to check the prices. Anyone violating the orders received severe punishment.
  • Hoarding wasn’t permissible. Even during famines, the prices of the commodities remained the same.

Land Revenue Administration

  • He was the first sultan of Delhi who had the land measured. The state officer would measure the land and then accordingly, fix the land revenue.
  • The land revenue was accumulated in cash. This allowed the Sultan to pay the soldiers in cash as well.
  • His land revenue reforms would provide the foundation for the reforms under Sher Shah and Akbar in the future.

Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah (1316 – 1320)

After the death of Alauddin Khalji in 1316, Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah, his son, ascended to the throne of the Delhi Sultanate.

  • He quickly abolished all of the strict regulations by his father in a bid to make the rule a little less harsh.
  • However, he was not the gifted administrator that his father was. While the kingdom struggled, he was murdered by Nasiruddin Khusaru Shah in 1320, who took up the throne.
  • His reign came to an end as abruptly as it had started.
  • He took up the title of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and continued to ascend the throne of Delhi. He was the only ruler of the Delhi Sultanate who had been a Hindu convert.

Tughlaq Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate

The Tughlaq dynasty belonged to the Turkish race. The Tughlaq dynasty ruled over the longest period (1320-1414 AD) and conquered most areas. Owing to their Qaraunah Turk origin, the dynasty was also called Qaraunah Turks. The famous rulers of Delhi Sultanate under this dynasty are listed in the table below:

Rulers Period Events
Ghiyath al-Din (Ghiyasuddin) Tughluq 1320 – 1325 AD
Muhammad bin Tughluq 1325 – 1351 AD Also called Muhammad Shah II
Mahmud Ibn Muhammad 1351 (March)
Firoz Shah Tughlaq 1351 – 1388 AD Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s cousin
Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq II 1388 – 1389 AD
Abu Bakr Shah 1389 – 1390 AD
Nasir ud din Muhammad Shah III 1390 – 1393 AD
Ala ud-din Sikandar Shah I 1393 AD
Mahmud Nasir ud din 1393 – 1394 AD Also known as Sultan Mahmud II
Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah Tughluq 1394 – 1399 AD Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s grandson
Nasir ud din Mahmud 1399 – 1412 AD Mahmud Nasir-ud- din’s

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq/Ghazi Malik (c. 1320 – 1325 CE)

  • Ghazi Malik founded this Delhi Sultanate dynasty. He introduced the postal and batai systems, which means sharing crops, making the city of Tughlaqabad his capital.
  • He died in 1325. An elephant thrashed him after falling from a pavilion. He was in power from 1320 AD to 1325 AD. Ibn Batuta said that the son of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq Jauna Khan arranged sabotage to kill him.

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq/Jauna Khan (c. 1325 – 1351 CE)

  • He is considered as most enlightened of all sultans.
  • He was an interesting historical character who introduced many reforms that were very ambitious and brave for the time. Some of them have been listed below;
    • Transfer of Capital – He shifted his capital from Delhi to Devagiri to better control the south of India. He moved the entire population forcibly to the new capital, Devagiri. The capital was renamed Daulatabad. However, within two years, he abandoned Daulatabad to shift back to Delhi as there was water scarcity in the capital of Daulatabad. The distance between the two cities was more than 1500 kilometers, and many people died during the journey.
    • Token Currency – In 1329, Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq came up with a token currency that replaced gold and silver coins with copper coins. This model was based on the Chinese example of Kublai Khan, who issued paper currency in China. However, this scheme failed as only a few people exchanged gold/silver coins for copper. The copper currency was also easy to forge, which induced heavy losses to the treasury. This made Tughlaq repeal the earlier verdict, and the currency returned back to gold and silver, which emptied the treasury.
    • Taxation in Doab – Due to the failures of copper currency and the shift to Daulatabad, there were huge losses incurred by the royal treasury. To combat this, Muhammad bin Tughlaq upped the land revenue induced on the farmers of the doab land, present between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna. When a severe famine came upon the region, the farmers revolted. Harsh steps were taken by Muhammad bin Tughlaq to crush the revolt.
    • Agricultural Reforms – A plan to distribute takkavi loans (loans for cultivation) among the farmers for the purchase of seeds and extension of cultivation was set out. Diwan-i-amir-Kohi was set up, as a division to handle agriculture. The state built a model farm that sprawled an area of 64 square miles. This step was further continued by Firoz Tughlaq.
  • He was a well-read ruler and was religiously tolerant.
  • His reign ended in 1351 when he dies from his worsening health condition. According to Barani, Muhammad bin Tughlaq was a paradoxical mixture of opposites. However, his death marked the beginning of the Delhi Sultanate Tughlaq Dynasty’s decline.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq (c. 1351 – 1388 CE)

Firoz Shah Tughlaq was chosen as the next Delhi Sultanate ruler by the nobles after the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

  • He successfully annexed regions in the south and Deccan India. During his campaign to Nagarkot, he took 1300 Sanskrit manuscripts from the Jwalamukhi temple library, which Arizuddin Khan later translated into the Persian language.
  • He took the advice of the ulemas for his administration. To please the nobles, he allowed hereditary succession to their properties. This revived the Iqta system, which was now made hereditary.
  • The taxes were levied as per Islamic teachings. Jizya was collected from non-Muslims. There were 28 items that had a special tax levied on them. These were discarded as they went against the laws of Islam.
  • There was intolerance towards Shia Muslims and Sufis. Since he regarded Hindus as second-grade citizens, he served to be the precursor of Sikander Lodi and Aurangzeb.
  • He was the first sultan to impose an irrigation tax. He built several canals.
  • There were around 1200 fruit gardens in and around Delhi under his reign that generated a lot of revenue. There were also karkhanas (workshops) that were run by slave manpower.
  • Firoz was also popular for patronizing scholars like Barani, who composed Tarikh-i-Firoz Shah, and Fatawa-i-Jahandari. He also patronized Khwaja Abdul Malik Islami, who composed the Futah-us- Sulatin. He himself wrote the book, Futuhat-e-Firozshahi.

When Firoz Shah Tughlaq died in 1388, the power struggle began again. This caused the Delhi Sultanate to break into many provinces. The invasion of Timur, a Mongol leader of Central Asia and the head of Chagatai Turks, in 1398 resulted in further losses. He left India in 1399 after which the Tughlaq dynasty crumbled.

Delhi Sultanate Rulers: Sayyid Dynasty

The Sayyid Dynasty was relatively smaller and ruled over Delhi in quick succession. The names of the Delhi Sultanate rulers during this period have been listed in the table below:

Rulers Period
Khizr Khan 1414-1421
Mubarak Shah 1421-1433
Muhammad Shah 1434-1445
Alam Shah 1445-1451
  • The Sayyids were of the Arabic race and followed Prophet Mohammad. Khizr Khan was the founder of the Sayyid dynasty.
  • Sayyid dynasty reigned from 1414 AD to 1450 AD.
  • The three successors of Khzir Khan were incapable of ruling. They were Muhammad Shah, Mubarak Shah, and Allam Shah.
  • Allam Shah was the last ruler. His P.M. Hamid Khan invited Bahlol Lodhi to attack the Sultan, marking the end of the dynasty in 1451 AD.

Lodhi Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate

It is the first Afghan dynasty in the Delhi Sultanate time period. Bahlol Lodhi was the founder of the dynasty. He reigned from AD 1451-1489. The names of the rulers have been listed in the table below;

Rulers Period Important points
Bahlul/Bahlol Lodi 1451-1489 Founder of the Lodi Dynasty
Sikander Lodi 1489-1517 The most prominent ruler of the Lodi Dynasty who also founded Agra city
Ibrahim Lodi 1517-1526 Defeated by Babur in the First Battle of Panipat (in 1526) and thus ended the Delhi Sultanate

The Lodhis/Lodis was the last ruling dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate period.

Bahlol Lodhi (1451 – 1489)

  • He founded the Lodhi dynasty.
  • In 1476, he annexed several regions and the Sharqui dynasty.
  • He also introduced copper coins.
  • When he died in 1489, he was succeeded by his son, Sikander Lodhi.

Sikander Lodhi (1489 – 1517)

After Bahlol Lodhi, Sikandar Lodhi, his son, became the Sultan. Nizam Khan was his real name. He also took up a penname of Gulrukhi.

  • Considerably the greatest of the three Lodhi sovereigns, he annexed Bihar while defeating many Rajput chiefs.
  • Sikandar Lodhi founded Agra in 1504 and made it his capital.
  • Sikandar Lodhi encouraged agricultural practices, so he introduced a system for measuring land known as Gaz-i-Sikandar.
  • He was a good administrator; he built roads and provided many irrigation facilities for the peasantry’s benefit.
  • However, he was also a bigot and was intolerant of other religions. He tortured the great Indian poet Kabirdas. He also reimposed Jizya on non-Muslims.
  • Sikandar Lodhi ruled from AD 1489 to 1517.

Ibrahim Lodhi (1517 – 1526)

Ibrahim Lodhi succeeded Sikandar Lodhi and was in power from 1517 to 1526 AD.

  • Ibrahim Lodhi wasn’t efficient like his father, Sikandar Lodhi, which created internal differences in the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Daulat Khan Lodhi, governor of Punjab, Mahmud Lodhi, his brother, and Rana Sangha, a Rajput, invited Babur to invade India in 1523.
  • Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat.

Hence, Ibrahim Lodhi was the last Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate. After ruling for over 320 years, Delhi Sultanate ended and started the great era of the Mughals.

Delhi Sultanate UPSC Questions

Delhi Sultanate is a common topic of inquiry in the UPSC Exam. Candidates must prepare this topic and commit the factual information to their memories. Practice these questions to test your knowledge.

Question: Who fount the Battle of Chanderi?

  1. Babur and Ibrahim Lodi
  2. Babur and Medini Rai
  3. Babur and Afghans
  4. Babur and Rana Sanga

Answer: 2

Question: The dispensation of Justice was regarded as a very important function of any ruler under the Delhi Sultanate. Who among the following rulers introduced harsh punishments against the religious classes (Ulama) while dispensing justice?

  1. Ghiyasuddin Balban
  2. Ala-ud-Din Khiiji
  3. Muhammad Tughlaq
  4. Bahlol Lodi

Answer: 3

Other Important UPSC Notes
National Population Policy 2000 7th Schedule of Indian Constitution
Schedules of Indian Constitution Government of India Act 1935
Wholesale Price Index National Development Council in India
Article 21 of Indian Constitution Ramappa Temple UNESCO
History of Medieval India Electoral Reforms in India
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