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Tughlaq Dynasty

  • The Tughlaq dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Turkic origin which ruled in medieval India. Its reign began in 1320 and in ended in 1413.
  • The dynasty expanded its territory by a military campaign led by Muhammad bin Tughlaq and reached its peak between 1330 and 1335. The rule was marked with cruelty, torture and rebellions, leading to the quick disintegration of the dynasty after 1335.


  • Before 1320 Khilji dynasty was ruling India. Khusro Khan, its last ruler, was an Indian born Hindu who had converted to Islam and then served India as the general of its army. To expand the Sultanate, and plunder non-Muslim kingdoms in India, Khusro Khan, together with Malik Kafur, led many military campaigns on behalf of Alauddin Khilji.
  • After Alauddin Khilji's death in 1316, a series of assassinations followed and after killing Mubarak Khilji, son of Alauddin Khilji, Khusro Khan assumed power in 1320. However, he did not have the support of the Afghan and Persian nobles and aristocrats. The Muslim aristocracy invited Ghazi Malik, to lead a coup and remove Khusro Khan. In 1320, Ghazi Malik killed Khusro Khan and assumed power.


Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq

  • After assuming power, Ghazi Malik renamed himself as Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq. He was of Turko-Indian origin, with a Hindu mother and a Turkic father.
  • Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq rewarded all those who had helped him come to power and rendered him a service. He punished those who had rendered service to his predecessor, Khusro Khan. He lowered the tax rate on Muslims, but raised the taxes on Hindus.
  • He built a city six kilometers east of Delhi and called it Tughlaqabad.
  • He sent his eldest son Muhammad bin Tughlaq, to Deogir in 1321to plunder the Hindu kingdoms of Telangana and Arangal. He failed in his first attempt. Four months later, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq sent large army for his son. This time Muhammad bin Tughlaq succeeded. Arangal fell and was renamed to Sultanpur.
  • Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq was invited by the Muslim aristocracy in Bengal to attack Shamsuddin Firoz Shah, which he did and succeeded. When he was returning from Bengal to Delhi, Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq's eldest son Muhammad bin Tughlaq connived with Muslim preacher Nizamuddin Auliya and killed him.

Muhammad bin Tughlaq

  • Delhi Sultanate temporarily expanded to most of the Indian subcontinent during Muhammad bin Tughlaq's rule. He attacked and captured Tirhut, Sunarganw, Chittagong, Lakhnauti, Mabar, Dhur-samundar, Kampila, Tilang, Mahratta, Gujarat and Malwa. It was difficult to retain the extended empire, and rebellions all over Indian subcontinent became usual.
  • He raised taxes to such high levels that people refused to pay. In addition to land taxes, dhimmis were ordered to pay crop taxes. These sharply higher taxes compelled farmers to quit farming and escape into jungles. Famines followed and many became robber clans. The Sultan responded with bitterness by resorting to mass punishments, torture and arrests.
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq founded a new city, Jahanpannah that connected older Delhi with Siri. Later, he moved the capital of his Sultanate from Delhi to Daulatabad. The shifting of capital did not succeed because Daulatabad was arid and didn’t have sufficient drinking water. The capital was again shifted to Delhi.
  • In 1327 revolts against Muhammad bin Tughlaq started and over time the Sultanate shrunk particularly after 1335. As a direct response to attacks from the Delhi Sultanate the Vijayanagara Empire was created in southern India. His own nephew revolted in Malwa, who was attacked, caught and flayed alive in 1338. The southern parts led by Hindu kings and the eastern regions under local Muslim governors declared independence from Delhi Sultanate in 1339. Muhammad bin Tughlaq could not stop the shrinking kingdom. By 1347, Bahmanid Sultanate declared independence and became competing Muslim kingdom in Deccan region of South Asia.
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq was an intellectual, with wide knowledge of poetry, Fiqah, Quran and other fields. He was extremely suspicious of his ministers, severe with his opponents and took decisions which caused economic turmoil. For instance, after his costly campaigns to extend Islamic empire, the state treasury spent all precious metal coins. Therefore he minted coins from base metals with face value of silver coins - a decision which failed since people minted fake coins from base metal. People produced fake copper coins to pay the taxes imposed on them. The economic blunders of Muhammad bin Tughlaq led to a collapsed economy, and nearly a decade long famine.
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq planned an attack on China, Iraq and Khurasan. For Khurasan attack more than 300,000 horses were gathered near Delhi, for a year and spies claiming to be from Khurasan were rewarded for information on how to attack. However, before the attack on Persian lands in the second year of preparations, the soldiers refused to remain in his service without pay. For the attack on China, Muhammad bin Tughlaq sent about 100,000 soldiers, over the Himalayas. But, Hindus blocked the passes through the Himalayas and closed the passage for retreat. All of about 100,000 soldiers died because of severe weather and no way to retreat.
  • During his reign, state revenues reached at lowest level. To pay for state expenses, Muhammad bin Tughlaq increased taxes sharply. His staff was not paid except during times of war. He paid his district officials, governors, ministers, court advisors, judges, army and others in his service by allowing them to keep a portion from taxes and transfer rest to his treasury. Those who didn’t pay taxes were executed. Muhammad bin Tughlaq died in March 1351.
  • At the time of Muhammad bin Tughlaq's death, the Delhi Sultanate had shrunk to central India.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq

  • After the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, Mahmud bin Muhammad, ruled for a period of less than a month. After that, Muhammad bin Tughlaq's 45 year old nephew Firoz Shah Tughlaq assumed the throne. He ruled for 37 years. His father, Sipah Rajab fell in love with a Hindu princess, Naila. Initially Naila refused to marry him. Then Sipah Rajab sent in an army and demanded one year taxes in advance as well as a threat of capture of all property of her family and Dipalpur people. People were unable to meet the demand. After learning about ransom demands against her family and people, Naila offered herself in sacrifice. Naila’s proposal was accepted. Naila and Sipah Rajab were married and Firoz Shah was their first son.
  • In 1359, Firoz Shah Tughlaq made an attempt to regain the old kingdom boundary by fighting against Bengal for 11 months. But, Bengal didn’t fall, and remained outside of Delhi Sultanate. Due to incompetent leadership in the army, Firoz Shah Tughlaq was weakened militarily.
  • Firoz Shah was an educated sultan and left a memoir. In it he wrote that he banned torture which was in practice in Delhi Sultanate. He also wrote that he didn’t tolerate attempts by different sects from proselytizing people into their faith, nor he tolerated Hindus trying to reconstruct their temples after his armies had demolished those temples. Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s reign was marked by decline in extreme types of torture, eliminating favours to select segments of society, but an increased persecution and intolerance of targeted groups.
  • Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s reign was more merciful than that of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. When Firoz Shah came to power, India was facing frequent famines, abandoned villages and towns and a collapsed economy. He undertook a number of infrastructure projects which included mosques and other Islamic buildings, religious schools, bridges and irrigation canals connecting Yamuna-Ghaggar and Yamuna-Sutlej rivers. Firoz Shah Tughlaq patronised Indo-Islamic architecture, including the installation of ancient Hindu and Buddhist pillars near mosques. After his death in 1388, the Tughlaq dynasty's power continued to weaken, and incapable leaders came to the throne. Death of Firoz Shah commenced disintegration of kingdom. During the years before his death, bloody fighting among his descendants had already started.