Alauddin Khalji


Alauddin Khalji was the son of Shahab-ud-din Khalji, and nephew and son-in-law of Jalal-ud-din Khalji, the founder of the Khalji rule in South Asia. When Jalal-ud-din ascended the throne, Alauddin was made Amir-i-Tuzk and later on Ariz-i-Mumalik. He was the most important general in the Sultan’s army. In 1292, with Jalal-ud-din’s blessings, he invaded Malwa and captured the town of Bhilsa. He then planned to conquer the South without the knowledge of Jalal-ud-din. He took his campaign to Deogir and Deccan. He captured the area and brought back enormous booty. When Jalal-ud-din heard of his nephew’s success, he came out of Delhi to receive him. When the two of them were embracing each other, Alauddin killed his uncle and declared himself as the Sultan of Delhi in 1296. The picture of Alauddin Khalji that emerged from contemporary literature, i.e. the writings of Burni and Amir Khusraw, is that of a great monarch, the defender of the Muslim people and a brilliant general and administrator.

Alauddin was a great general and had planned on conquering the entire world like Alexander. But due to certain reasons, he did not manage to achieve his goal. However, he showed his capability as a general on many occasions. He collected a big army and enrolled all his soldiers and horses. The soldiers were given handsome salaries during his regime. The Mongol army of around one hundred thousand troops threatened the security of his empire from the north but he managed to deal with the problem and defeated the otherwise undefeatable Mongols. To do so he repaired the old forts and constructed new ones. He was also the first Muslim ruler of the Sub-continent to enter the southern part of India. No other Muslim ruler managed to penetrate the south as deeply as was done in the reign of Alauddin.

Alauddin considered his nobles to be the biggest hurdle in putting the administration of the country on firm footing. To check the rising powers of the nobles, he put many restrictions on them. This kept them occupied with their own problems and thus did not have the time or the means to revolt against him.

To put the economy of the country on the right track, Alauddin introduced land reforms. He withdrew all grants of land that could not be justified on the basis of service rendered to the state. Tax was increased on agricultural produce. He took steps to see that the peasants were justly treated and to reduce the role of middlemen. Alauddin introduced a four-point agenda to control prices of the items of daily use and to make the life of the common man more comfortable. He fixed the prices of all items, guaranteed the continued supply of all commodities, regulated distribution so that the needs of the people were met while stamping out monopoly, and lastly, established an efficient administration to ensure the smooth running of the system. Anybody found going against the system was severely punished. Alauddin died after a long illness on January 5, 1316. During his tenure, Delhi became a center of Muslim culture. Great poets such as Amir Khusraw and Amir Hasan Sijzi flourished during his era.

This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003