The Delhi Sultanate is a term used to cover five short-lived, Delhi based kingdoms or sultanates, of Turkic origin in medieval India. The sultanates ruled from Delhi between 1206 and 1526, when the last was replaced by the Mughal dynasty. The five dynasties were the Mamluk dynasty (1206 90); the Khilji dynasty (1290 1320); the Tughlaq dynasty (1320 1414); the Sayyid dynasty (1414 51); and the Lodi dynasty (1451 1526).
Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a former slave (Mamluk) of Muhammad of Ghor, was the first sultan of Delhi and his dynasty managed to conquer large areas of northern India. Afterwards the Khalji dynasty was also able to conquer most of central India, but both failed to unite the Indian subcontinent. The sultanate are also noted for being one of the few states to repeatedly defeat the Mongol Empire.
The Sultanate ushered in a period of Indian cultural renaissance. The resulting "Indo-Muslim" fusion of cultures left lasting syncretic monuments in architecture, music, literature, religion and clothing. It is surmised that the Urdu language (literally meaning "horde" or "camp" in various Turkic dialects) was born during this period as a result of the intermingling of the local speakers of Sanskritic Prakrits with immigrants speaking Persian, Turkic and Arabic under the Muslim rulers. The Delhi Sultanate is the only Indo-Islamic empire to have enthroned one of the few female rulers in India, Razia Sultana (1236 1240). In 1526 the Delhi Sultanate was absorbed by the emerging Mughal Empire.
Muhammad of Ghor (d. 1206), based in Afghanistan, had extended his state southwards at the expense of the Ghaznavids as far as Lahore and much of Rajasthan and the Punjab and appointed Qutub-ud-din Aibak as governor of this part of his realm. A slave of Cuman-Kipchak origin, he proclaimed independence after the death of his patron and ruled from Delhi. His line is therefore known as the Slave (Mamluk) Dynasty on account of his origin. Aibak began the construction of Qutub Minar, which was completed by Iltutmish, his successor and son-in-law. Aibak's legitimate successor was his son Aramshah, but the nobles preferred Iltutmish, the Subedar of Badaun. Iltutmish was followed by Razia Sultana, his daughter, who was a good administrator and the first female ruler in the Muslim world. She was endowed with all qualities befitting a King, but she was not born of the right sex, and in the estimation of men all her virtues were worthless. Her rumored relationship with a Sidi adviser, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, as he continued to rise in rank, forced her nobles to revolt against her. After Yaqut was killed and Razia imprisoned, she later wedded Altunia (the governor of Bhatinda), but she was killed by her nobles after 3 and half years. Balban succeeded her and ruled until 1286 CE. A great Sultan, he was a Sufi devotee and highly regarded their Saints; many a Sufi mystic settled in his sultanate, though only one of them rose to full ascendancy over him. Faced with revolts by conquered territories and rival families in the turmoil for succession after his death, the Mamluk dynasty came to an end in 1290.
The Khilji dynasty were the second Muslim dynasty to rule the Delhi Sultanate. Led by their powerful ruler, Alauddin, they are noted in history for repeatedly defeating the warring Mongols.
The Tughlaq dynasty lasted for close to a hundred years. During this period, many parts of India, such as the states in southern India became independent. It produced two powerful Sultans, Muhammad-Bin Tughlaq and Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq (1320 1325), an efficient military commander, was the first ruler of the dynasty. He was succeeded by Jauna Khan, who took the title of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. A very powerful ruler, he shifted his capital in 1326 from Delhi to Devgiri (now known as Daulatabad). During the Qarachil expedition, he lost control over the empire and died in 1351. He was succeeded by Firoz shah Tughlaq (1351 1388) who was very successful as a reformer.
The Sayyid dynasty ruled Delhi Sultanate in India from 1414 to 1451. They succeeded the Tughlaq dynasty and ruled the Sultanate until they were displaced by the Lodi dynasty.
The Lodi Dynasty was a Pashtun dynasty that was the last Delhi Sultanate. The dynasty founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi ruled from 1451 to 1526. The last ruler of this dynasty, Ibrahim Lodi was defeated and killed by Babur in the first Battle of Panipat on April 20, 1526.
A coin of Muhammad bin Tughlaq In the first half of the 14th century, the Sultanate introduced a monetary economy in the provinces (sarkars) and districts (parganas) that had been established and founded a network of market centers, through which the traditional village economies were both exploited and stimulated to be drawn into the wider culture. State revenues remained based on a successful agriculture, which induced Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325 51) to have village wells dug, to offer seed to the peasants, and to encourage cash crops like sugarcane.
Mongol invasion and the fall of the Sultanate
Perhaps the greatest contribution of the Sultanate was its temporary success in insulating the subcontinent from the potential devastation of the Mongol invasion from Central Asia in the thirteenth century. However, the invasion of Timur in 1398 significantly weakened the Delhi Sultanate. It revived briefly under the Lodis before it was conquered by the Mughal emperor Babur in 1526.
Qutub ud Din Aibak]] in Anarkali, Lahore, Pakistan.
The last Lodi ruler, Ibrahim Lodi, was greatly disliked by his court and subjects. Upon the death of his father Sikander Lodi, he quashed a brief rebellion led by some of his nobles who wanted his younger brother Jalal Khan to be the Sultan. After seizing the throne, by having Jalal Khan murdered, he never really did succeed in pacifying his nobles. Subsequently Daulat Khan, the governor of Punjab and Alam Khan, his uncle, sent an invitation to Babur, the ruler of Kabul to invade Delhi.
By way of superior generalship, vast experience in warfare, effective strategy and appropriate use of artillery, Babur won the first Battle of Panipat (April 1526), in which Ibrahim Lodi was killed on the battlefield. Babur subsequently occupied Agra and Delhi and the new Mughal dynasty was to rule Delhi until 1857.
Map of Delhi Sultanate.
Qutb-ud-din Aibak (1206 1210), appointed Naib us Sultanat by Muhammad of Ghor, first Muslim Sultan of India, ruled with Delhi as capital
Aram Shah (1210 1211).
Shams ud din Iltutmish (1211 1236), son-in-law of Qut-bud-din Aybak.
Rukn ud din Firuz (1236), son of Iltutmish.
Raziyyat-ud-din Sultana (1236 1240), daughter of Iltutmish.
Muiz ud din Bahram (1240 1242), son of Iltutmish.
Ala ud din Masud (1242 1246), son of Ruk-nud-din.
Nasir ud din Mahmud (1246 1266), son of Iltutmish.
Ghiyas ud din Balban (1266 1286), ex-slave, son-in-law of Sultan Nasir ud din Mahmud.
Muiz ud din Qaiqabad (1286 1290), grandson of Balban and Nasir-ud-din.
Delhi Sultanate under Tughluq dynasty.
Khizr Khan 1414 - 1421
- Mubarak Shah 1421 - 1434
- Muhammad Shah 1434 - 1445
- Alam Shah 1445 - 1451
Delhi Sultanate during Babur's invasion.
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