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Chapter 2 – House of Khilji – Jelal u din Khilji

Jelal u din13 was seventy years of age when he came to the government.

1288, AH 687

He affected extreme regret at having his high office forced on him, and professed the utmost respect and attachment for the memory of Gheias u din. He over-acted humility so far as to refuse to enter the royal palace on horseback, and to stand at his usual station in the court instead of occupying the throne. But he kept the infant son of the late king in custody, and put him to death as soon as he felt strong enough for such a measure.

Mild government of Jelal u din

If this last atrocity be imputed to him on false grounds, which is not improbable, we should be inclined to acquit him of hypocrisy in all his former professions; for, during the rest of his reign, his lenity to his enemies, both open and secret,

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was carried even to a fault; and he continued to retain the simplicity of his manners, and to associate with his old friends on the same footing of familiarity that he did when a private man. He had frequent parties of those friends, together with men eminent for wit or literature; and, on those occasions, he carried conviviality beyond the limits of the Mahometan law, though never beyond those of sobriety.

He had soon occasion to display his clemency. Malik Jaju, a nephew of Gheias u din, rebelled against him in his government of Karrah, and was joined by all the adherents of the house of Bulbun. They were soon strong enough to march to Delhi, but were defeated by the king’s second son, Arkalli Khan; and all the chiefs, including Malik Jaju, were made prisoners.

The king immediately released them all, and sent Malik Jaju to Multan, where he allowed him a liberal establishment for the rest of his days. He soon after showed equal magnanimity towards a body of chiefs of his own tribe, who were detected in a plot against his life. Unfortunately he did not confine his lenity to personal injuries, but allowed so general an impunity to offenders, that the whole frame of the government became relaxed; governors withheld their tribute, neglected their duty, and abused their power; the roads and highways were infested by robbers, and bands of plunderers and insurgents interrupted the communication between different parts of the kingdom.

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1292, AH 691

He marched, himself, into Wawa, to quell an insurrection of a more general character. He was successful in the main; yet, from his aversion to shed blood, combined with the feebleness of age, he hesitated to attack the principal fortresses of the rebels, and left his suppression of the revolt incomplete. He showed more vigour soon after, on an invasion of the Panjab by a numerous host of Moguls, whom he engaged in person, and totally defeated.

With characteristic moderation, he granted peace to the vanquished enemy, and allowed the wreck of their army to retire unmolested. Three thousand Moguls on this occasion joined his standard, and soon after embraced the Mahometan religion. A place in the suburbs of Delhi, still called Moghulpura, was assigned for their residence.

1293, AH 692

Vigour of Ala u din, the king’s nephew

In the next year he made another march to Malwa, which was as inconclusive as the first. His own weakness, however, began, at this time, to be made up for by the energy of his nephew, Ala u din, governor of Karrah, a man of vigour and ability, quite exempt from all the scruples which sometimes obstructed his uncle’s success. Having obtained permission to act against the insurgents in Bundelcand and the east of Malwa, he not only restrained their turbulence, but took several forts which had before been left to dependent princes, and gained such a booty as enabled him to make considerable additions to his army. The king received the intelligence of his success with great

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satisfaction; and, although his favourite wife endeavoured to put him on his guard against the ambition of Ala u din, he gave him the government of Oud, in addition to that which he before possessed, and allowed him to assemble an army, and to entertain many of the old adherents of the Bulbun family.

Ala u din’s first employment of his force justified his uncle’s confidence, and opened a new aera in the history of India.

Ala u din’s invasion of the Deckan

1294, AH 693

He resolved to attempt the hitherto untried adventure of an invasion of the Deckan; and setting out with 8000 chosen horse from Karrah, made his way through the extensive forests that still fill the space between that place and Berar; threw the princes, whose country he was approaching, off their guard, by pretending to have left his uncle in disgust; and, having thus reached to Elichpur, he turned to the west, and proceeded, by rapid marches, to Deogiri, the main object of his expedition. Deogiri (now Doulatabad) was the capital of Ramdeo, a prince of so great power that the Mahometans look on him as king of the Deckan, and who, in fact, was raja of Maharashtra, or the country of the Marattas.

It was probably owing to the natural indolence of the Rajputs, and their deeming it dishonourable to attack each other without warning, that the Mussulman invaders so often found them unprepared for defence. Their example seems to have infected the other Hindu chiefs; for, on this occasion, the raja was in all the security of profound

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peace. He had no troops about him; and his wife and son had gone out of the city to a neighbouring temple. In the consternation which ensued, Ramdeo preserved presence of mind sufficient to assemble a body of 3,000 or 4,000 citizens and domestics. With these he made head against the enemy, and afforded some little time for defensive arrangements. He was obliged to give way before long, and retired into the strong hill fort close to the city, into which some provisions had hastily been thrown. The town was taken without resistance, and was given up to pillage. The merchants were tortured to make them disclose the treasures (the first instance mentioned in Mussulman history of this species of barbarity); and forty elephants, with some thousand horses of the raja’s, fell into the hands of the enemy. Meanwhile, the fort was invested; and Ala u din, having given out that his army was only the advanced guard of the king’s, the arrival of which would speedily render all opposition unavailing, the raja became impatient to come to terms, and had actually concluded a treaty very favourable to the invaders, when his son, who had escaped being shut up with his father, returned at the head of an army suddenly assembled, but far exceeding that of the Mussulmans in numbers. Trusting to this superiority, he disregarded the remonstrances of his father, and attacked Ala u din. The result would have gone hard with the invader, if a small body of troops which he had left to observe the

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garrison had not opportunely fallen on the enemy, and, being taken for the expected main army under the king, created a confusion which could not be retrieved. After this victory, Ala u din raised his demands; and as the raja expected reinforcements from his allies, the affair might have been prolonged more than was safe for Ala u din, had not the garrison unexpectedly discovered that, in the hurry of victualling the fort, sacks of salt had been taken by mistake instead of sacks of grain, and consequently that their provisions were already nearly exhausted.

Submission of Deogiri

This discovery made the raja more compliant: he agreed to an immense payment in money and jewels, besides the cession of Elichpur and its dependencies; after which Ala u din drew off through Candesh into Malwa.

Ala u din’s march to Deogiri was about 700 miles, great part of it through the mountains and forests of the Vindya range, which so completely separates Hindostan from the Deckan. The narrow and intricate paths, the want of supplies, and the danger of exposure to the arrows of the mountaineers, made the passage difficult for a small force, and impossible for a large one; while the entry into so great and populous a country as the Deckan with no more than 8000 men, seemed an act of rashness rather than courage.

To have surmounted these dangers, and obviated, by exploring a new route, the increased difficulty of returning by the same, give a high impression of the military talents of Ala u din. The pretext

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he used on his advance, that he was on his way enter the service of the Hindu raja of Rajamandri, shows how much religious distinctions were weakened since the settlement of the Mahometans in India.

Return to Hindostan

This expedition had been undertaken without leave; and as all communication had been cut off while it continued, Jelal u din remained in suspense and anxiety, both as to the fate and the designs of his nephew; and when he heard that he was on his return, loaded with treasures and covered with glory, he felt nothing but delight at the intelligence. The more sagacious of his advisers took a different view of the matter; and, seeing fresh proofs of the daring spirit of Ala u din, as well as of the resources at his disposal, they advised the king to adopt such measures of precaution as, without showing distrust, should prevent his assembling another army when the present should have dispersed to lay up their spoils. The generous temper of the king led him to disregard all these admonitions, and laid him open to the insidious designs of Ala u din, who now affected alarm from the cabals of his enemies, and fear of the king’s displeasure for his unauthorised expedition. He sent his brother, Alaf Khan, as crafty an intriguer as himself, and remarkable for his insinuating address, to deprecate his uncle’s resentment, and induce him to meet Ala u din in such a manner, as, under pretence of affording security to his nephew, should, in fact, leave none to himself. By degrees,

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he was persuaded to move with his army towards Karrah; then to advance with a small escort, and at last to cross the Ganges almost alone.

Assassination of Jelal u din 1295, July 19 AH 695, Ramzan 17

Ala u din fell at his feet, and the affectionate old man was patting him on the cheek, and reproaching him with having distrusted an uncle who had brought him up from his infancy and loved him better than his own sons, when Ala u din made a signal to assassins posted for the purpose, who rushed forward and stabbed the king to the heart. His head was stuck on a spear and carried aloft through the camp and city. Ferishta shows a natural pleasure in relating the calamities which pursued the subordinate actors in this horrid tragedy to their graves; but that retribution affords little satisfaction while we continue to witness the uninterrupted prosperity of the parricide in whom the whole of this detestable act of perfidy had its rise.

As Jelal u din had reigned upwards of seven years, he must have been more than seventy-seven when he was killed.

Singular instance of credulity and injustice

A singular incident occurred in this reign, which shows the credulity of the Asiatics even at a period not remarkable for superstition. A dervise named Sidi Moula, a native of Persia, who had travelled through many countries, and was acquainted with most men of eminence in his day, arrived at Delhi, and instituted a school and an almshouse, where travellers, religious mendicants, and persons of all descriptions, were entertained at his expense. He

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lived on rice alone, and had neither wife nor slaves of either sex; yet his expenses were such as would have exceeded the means of the wealthiest nobleman. Besides his profuse dispensation of charity, he entertained the great men with splendour at his house, and did not hesitate to bestow sums of two or three thousand pieces of gold to relieve noble families in distress. Although he held some peculiar opinions, and among others never attended public worship, yet his piety remained unquestioned; and even among the suspicions to which his conduct gave birth, the cry of heresy was never raised against him. The first surmise regarding him was that he possessed the philosopher’s stone; the next took a more dangerous form, and represented him as aiming at the crown; and this at last appeared in the definite shape of an accusation that he had prepared assassins to make away with the king, and had 10,000 of his votaries ready to profit by the confusion. The mysterious nature of the danger seems to have frightened the king out of his natural moderation. On the accusation of an alleged accomplice he apprehended Sidi Moula, and his most considerable associate; and, being unable to convict them on the evidence of one suspected witness, he ordered a large fire to be made on a plain before the town, to allow them to prove their innocence by an ordeal which they probably had appealed to. When the time came, the ministers raised their voices against the proceeding as equally opposed to Mahometan law and

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to natural reason; and the king giving way to their remonstrances, ordered the accused persons to be kept in confinement. As they were leading them away to prison, some Calenders (a sort of religious mendicants), countenanced, if not instigated, by the king, fell on Sidi Moula, and put him to death in the royal presence. With his last breath he protested his innocence, and denounced the curse that impended over his oppressor. Jelal u din was greatly troubled at the moment: a dark whirlwind which happened just then to arise increased the general horror; and the death of the king’s eldest son, which took place soon after, together with a failure of the rains and a famine which followed, as well as the awful termination of the monarch’s own life, and the exclusion of his immediate family from the throne, were ascribed to the Divine vengeance for this act of impiety and injustice.

Ala u din

1295, AH 695

When the accounts of the late king’s death reached Delhi, his widow made a feeble attempt to set up her own son, an infant, in his place: on the approach of Ala u din she fled to Multan, where the only other surviving son of Jelal u din was governor; but the whole family were inveigled from this asylum by means of a fallacious promise, when the two princes were put to death and the queen imprisoned.

Ala u din studiously endeavoured to recover the

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goodwill of his people, by his just exercise of the power he had obtained by so many atrocities. He was liberal in bestowing wealth and honours, and was profuse in gifts as well as in shows and magnificence: but as in the midst of his course of conciliation he could not refrain from acts of rapacity, and never repressed his arbitrary temper, he was only partially successful in his attempts to gain popularity; and although his reign was long and glorious, he was always disturbed by conspiracies and rebellions, and disquieted by suspicions even of his own family and of those most trusted by him.

1297, AH 697

Expedition to Guzerat

His first great undertaking was an expedition to Guzerat. Shahab u din’s garrison had long been withdrawn, and the raja had recovered his independence. The present conquest was final. Alif Khan, the king’s brother, and his vizir, Nusrat Khan, who were at the head of the army, almost immediately took possession of the province; the raja flying to Baglana, the nearest part of the Deckan.

A harsh attempt to compel the troops to give up their plunder, while on their return towards Delhi, brought on a dangerous mutiny, in which the vizir’s brother and the king’s nephew lost their lives. It was at last quelled, and many of the mutineers were killed; the survivors took refuge with the raja of Rintambor. Their families, including the women and children, were massacred by the king’s order. The fugitives themselves,

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who appear to have been Mogul converts (always the chief actors in scenes of turbulence in those days), were put to death when Rintambor was taken14.

Mogul incursions

During the preceding year an incursion of the Moguls into the Panjab had been repulsed with loss; and another, equally unsuccessful, took place about this time. It was followed up by a more serious invasion, apparently designed for conquest as well as plunder15. The commander was Kutlugh

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Serious invasion by the Moguls

Khan, whom Ferishta describes as the son of Daud Khan, king of Transoxiana. He marched straight to Delhi, the Indian army which had been sent to oppose him retreating as he advanced, and the whole population of the surrounding country flying to the capital.

So great was the crowd of fugitives that all communication through the streets was interrupted; the provisions were almost immediately consumed, and in a few days famine was added to the miseries and terrors of the inhabitants.

Ala u din was forced in these circumstances to give up his intention of declining an action. He moved out at the head of all the troops he could collect; and Ferishta alleges that the number of men assembled on both sides exceeded all that ever appeared in one place in India up to the time when he wrote.

Their defeat at Delhi

This most important contest was gained by Ala u din, almost entirely from the skill displayed by Zafar Khan, who was before the most distinguished of his generals. But the great services of that

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gallant chief had already rendered him an object of jealousy to Ala u din, and no less to Alif Khan, who purposely left him unsupported during the pursuit; and the Moguls, perceiving his reduced numbers, turned upon him and cut him to pieces, with his detachment, after a resistance worthy of his former exploits.

1299, AH 699

About a year after this deliverance, Ala u din dispatched an army, under his brother and the vizir, to reduce the hill fort of Rintambor16. They took a place called Jhayin, not far from Rintambor, and proceeded to lay siege to that fortress. In the commencement of the operations the vizir was killed by a stone from an engine; and the garrison, making a sally, compelled the besiegers to fall back on Jhayin, and wait for reinforcements from Delhi.

Designs of the king’s nephew

Ala u din, on this, determined to prosecute the siege in person, and had made some progress on his march, when he had nearly fallen a victim to a crime of which he had himself set the example. His nephew, Prince Soliman, who held one of the highest offices in the state, reflecting on the resemblance between his own situation and that from which the present king had risen to the throne, was led to think that a similar attempt on his part might be attended with equal success.

He attempts to assassinate the king

A favourable opportunity soon presented itself, when

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the king was hunting at a distance from the camp, and was left with only two or three attendants, in consequence of the occupations of the chase. At this moment, Soliman approached him with some of the newly converted Moguls; and before he had any suspicion of their purpose, they discharged their arrows at him with such effect that he fell senseless on the ground. Soliman, conceiving that his object was accomplished, galloped directly to the camp, announced the king’s death, and his own accession, and directed himself to be formally proclaimed. While he was seated on his throne, and receiving the homage of the great officers, Ala u din came gradually to himself; and, after his wounds were bound up, determined to proceed to join his brother at Jhayin. He was dissuaded from this by one of his officers, who advised him not to give his nephew time to establish his authority, but to show himself to the army, whose fidelity he had no reason to distrust. Ala u din saw the wisdom of his advice, and mounting his horse, wounded as he was, he proceeded towards the camp. He met some foraging parties on his way, by which his retinue was increased to about 500 horse. With this escort he presented himself on an eminence, in full view of the camp, and displayed the white umbrella, which was then the sign of sovereignty.

His failure and death

He was no sooner perceived than the whole army flocked to join him; and the usurper, finding himself left almost alone, mounted his horse, and sought for safety in a precipitate flight. He was

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overtaken, and his head brought to the king, who put the other conspirators to death.

Other disturbances quelled

The king then proceeded to join his brother, and soon after resumed the siege of Rintambor. But his utmost efforts were insufficient to take the place; and, before long, he received intelligence of the revolt of two of his other nephews, at Badayun. He did not think it necessary to move himself on this occasion: he suppressed the rebellion by means of his officers; and when his nephews were sent to him, he first put out their eyes, and afterwards ordered them to be beheaded.

The ill success of these rebellions did not prevent the occurrence of another of a still more extraordinary character. Haji Moula, a young slave of one of the principal families in Delhi, took advantage of some discontent against the chief magistrate of police to collect a mob and put him to death, under pretence of an order from the king; and having thus got a body of infuriated followers, he proceeded to take possession of the city, to release the prisoners, distribute the royal arms and treasures among his adherents, and to set up a prince of the royal family for king. The decided conduct of a local officer prevented the ill effects of this explosion. He contrived to introduce a body of troops into the capital, killed Haji Moula, dispersed his rabble, and put his new king to death.

Many executions followed by the king’s order; and, amongst others, the whole family of Haji

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Moula’s former master, men, women, and children, were slaughtered, without a charge against them.

At length, Rintambor fell after a siege of more than a year. The raja, with his family, and the garrison, were put to the sword.

1300, AH 700 1303, AH 703

Capture of Chitor

In the year 1303, Ala u din went, in person, against Chitor, a celebrated hill fort in Mewar, and the principal seat of the Rajput tribe of Sesodia. He took the fort, made the raja prisoner, and left the eldest of his own sons as governor. Next year the raja escaped, and made himself so formidable, that Ala u din found it prudent to make over the fort to another Rajput prince, named Maldeo, who, by Ferishta’s account, was a nephew of the raja, but who is represented by the Rajputs as a person of another family. Maldeo remained tributary to Delhi until near the end of Ala u din’s reign, when he was expelled by Hamir, a son of the former raja17.

Unsuccessful invasions of the Moguls

Ala u din was recalled from these conquests by a new Mogul invasion and another attack on Delhi. His force was so much weakened by detachments, that when he arrived at the capital he was unable to meet the enemy in the field, and obliged to in-trench his camp.

The Moguls, who, probably, were not prepared for protracted operations, withdrew without a

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battle; and their retreat was ascribed, by the piety of the age, to a panic sent among them on the prayer of Nizam u din Oulia, a celebrated saint then alive.

1304–5, AH 704–5

In the next two years there were three Mogul inroads, one of which penetrated, by the north of the Panjab, into Rohilcand.

On all those occasions the prisoners were sent to Delhi, where the chiefs were trampled to death by elephants, and the men butchered in cold blood18.

Discontinuance of their incursions

These were the last Mogul invasions for many years.

Expedition to the Deckan

Though Ala u din’s continual occupation since his accession had, in some measure, withdrawn his attention from the Deckan, he had not forgotten the scene of his early exploits. At the time of his own expedition to Chitor (1303, AH 703), he sent an army through Bengal, to attack Warangol, the capital of Telingana, situated to the south of the river Godaveri; and he now prepared a great force, for the purpose of reducing the raja of Deogiri, who had, of late, withheld his tribute. Malik Cafur, who commanded this army, was a eunuch, and had been the slave of a merchant at Cambay, from whom he was taken, by force, during the conquest of Guzerat. Having come into the king’s possession, he so completely won his master’s affections that he rose to the highest offices, and excited the utmost disgust

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among the nobles by his rapid promotion from so base an origin.

1306, AH 706

He now proceeded through Malwa, and by Sultanpur in Candesh, to Deogiri. Before he commenced the siege, he overran the greater part of the Maratta country; and so impressed Ram Deo with the impossibility of resistance, that he came out of his fortress, and agreed to accompany Cafur to Delhi. He was there received with favour, returned loaded with honours, and from that time forward remained faithful to the Mussulmans.

Story of the Princess Dewal Devi

A circumstance occurred during this expedition which deserves to be mentioned. Alp Khan, governor of Guzerat (who must be distinguished from Alif Khan, the king’s brother), had been directed to march to Deogiri, to cooperate with Cafur. His road lay through Baglana, where the fugitive raja of Guzerat had taken refuge, as has been related. This raja’s wife, Caula Devi, had been taken prisoner during his flight, and having been carried to Ala u din’s harem, had gained a great share of his favour by her beauty and talents. On hearing of the intended march of these forces, she entreated that means might be. taken to recover her daughter by the raja, who still remained with the exile prince. Alp Khan was enjoined to attend to this object, and endeavoured, by the offer of favourable terms, to prevail on the raja to give up his daughter. The raja rejected his overtures, and Alp Khan marched against him. The princess, whose name was Dewal Devi, had long been sued for by the

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son of Ram Deo, the raja of Deogiri; but her father, considering a Maratta, however high in station, as an unworthy match for the daughter of a Rajput, had rejected all his offers. In the present extremity, however, he gave a reluctant consent, and the princess was sent off, with an escort, to Deogiri. Immediately after her departure, Alp Khan succeeded in defeating and dispersing the raja’s army. His victory afforded him little satisfaction, when he found that the princess had escaped him; and knowing the influence of Caula Devi, and the impetuous temper of the king, he gave up his whole attention to the means of accomplishing an object which they had both so much at heart. His utmost efforts were not attended with success; and he had arrived within a march of Deogiri without hearing any tidings of the princess, when a party who had gone from his camp to see the caves of Ellora happened, by mere chance, to fall in with her escort; and being under the necessity of fighting in self-defence, they dispersed the escort, and captured the princess, before they were aware of the importance of their acquisition. Alp Khan, delighted with his prize, immediately marched with her to Delhi. Her beauty made such an impression on the king’s eldest son, Khizr Khan, that he soon after married her; and their loves are the subject of a celebrated Persian poem, by Amir Khusru.

This incident is remarkable, as showing the intermixture which had already taken place between

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the Hindus and Mahometans; and also as leading to the first mention of the caves of Ellora, which have been compared, as works of labour, to the pyramids of Egypt, and which, in reality, far surpass them as specimens of art.

During this expedition of Cafur, the king, in person, reduced Jhalor and Sewana, places in Marwar, to the north of Guzerat.

1309, AH 709 Failure of an expedition to Telingana

After the return of Cafur, according to Ferishta, Ala u din received accounts of the failure of his expedition to Warangol. He had been induced to send it by an unexplored route from Bengal, in consequence of the solicitation of the raja of Orissa, who had become jealous of the extension of his neighbour’s power19. It is not recorded how it failed, or how the contest was so long protracted. Cafur was sent to retrieve the disaster. He marched by Deogiri, ravaged the north of Telingana, gained a great victory in the field, took the strong fort of Warangol after a siege of some months, and compelled the raja to pay a large contribution and submit to permanent tribute.

1310, AH 710 Conquest of Carnata,

Next year Cafur was again sent to the Deckan, against the Belal raja of Carnata20. He marched by Deogiri, crossed the Godaveri, at Peitan, and penetrated, after a great battle, to Dwara Samudra, the capital, which he took; and, having made the

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raja prisoner, put an end to the dynasty of Belal21.

and of Maaber, up to Cape Comorin

He does not appear to have invaded the western part of the Belal possessions; but he reduced the whole of their eastern territory, including Maaber on the sea-coast, as far south as Rameshwar, or Adam’s Bridge, opposite Ceylon. He there built a mosque, which was still standing when Ferishta wrote22.

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Massacre of Mogul converts

1311, AH 711

After this expedition, Cafur returned, with vast treasures, to Delhi23.

It seems to have been about this time that Ala u din at once discharged the whole of the Mogul converts from his service. Though habitually turbulent, they seem to have given no immediate occasion for this violent and imprudent measure. Being now driven to despair, some of them entered on a plot to assassinate the king; and on its being detected, the king ordered the whole of them (amounting, according to Ferishta, to 15,000) to be massacred, and their families to be sold for slaves.

Ram Deo had died before, or during, Cafur’s last expedition; and his son, who succeeded him, was already suspected of disaffection. He now withheld his tribute; and some disturbances having likewise taken place in Carnata, Cafur once more set out to quell them.

1312, AH 712

Taking of Deogiri, and conquest of Maharashtra

He put the raja of Deogiri to death, and carried his arms over all Maharashtra and Carnata, compelling those princes who still retained their territories to pay tribute; and, after

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accomplishing all the objects of his expedition, he returned again to Delhi.

Intrigues and influence of Cafur

Ala u din’s constitution had by this time yielded to a long course of intemperance. His ill health made him more suspicious and irritable than ever; and, like most people who distrust the bulk of mankind, he was the dupe of one artful individual. This was Cafur, the extent of whose abilities was equalled by the depravity of his principles. The use he made of his influence was to destroy all who he thought might rival him in favour, and afterwards to irritate the king against his sons, and the queen their mother, who might otherwise have found means to reconcile him to his children. Cafur first encouraged him in the notion that he was slighted and neglected by them in his illness, and at last infused suspicions that they were plotting against his life. Ala u din, notwithstanding his unfeeling nature, seems to have had some affection for his offspring; so that it was not till near his end that Cafur prevailed on him, by innumerable artifices, to commit the two eldest princes and the queen to prison. At the same time Cafur procured an order to make away with Alp Khan, whose power he dreaded, and thus to remove the only remaining obstacle to his seizing on the government on his master’s death.

Meanwhile the king’s blind subjection to his favourite, and the increased tyranny of his administration, excited general discontent. The nobles of the court were disgusted. Guzerat broke into

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Revolt of Guzerat Recovery of Chitor by the Rajputs

open rebellion. It was at this time that Chitor was recovered by rana Hamir; and Harpal, the son-in-law of Ramdeo, raised an extensive insurrection in the Deckan, and expelled many Mahometan garrisons.

Death of Ala u din 1316, December 19, AH 716, Shawal 6

The paroxysms of rage produced by a succession of these tidings increased the king’s sufferings, and soon brought him to the brink of the grave. His end is said to have been accelerated by poison, administered by Cafur.

His character

So great is the effect of vigour in a despotism, that although Ala u din was ignorant and capricious, as well as cruel and tyrannical, yet his foreign conquests were among the greatest ever made in India, and his internal administration, in spite of many absurd and oppressive measures, was, on the whole, equally successful. Quiet and security prevailed throughout the provinces; wealth increased, and showed itself in public and private buildings, and in other forms of luxury and improvement. Ala u din was so absolutely illiterate, that he began to learn to read after he had been for some time on the throne; yet so arrogant, that his most experienced ministers durst not venture to contradict him, and the best informed men about his court were careful to keep down their knowledge to the level of his acquirements. Nor did this presumption wear off with his youth: it increased in his latter days to such a pitch, that every word he uttered was considered as irrevocable. In the commencement of his career of prosperity, he entertained

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thoughts of setting up for a prophet, and founding a new religion; and when he had laid aside that fancy, he assumed the title of “The Second Alexander,” and publicly discussed a project of universal conquest.

His internal policy

Some curious features are preserved of his policy, and that of his age.

At the time when he had been so often threatened by conspiracies, he called his counsellors together to consider the causes and the remedy. They traced his danger to three principal sources: – convivial meetings, where men opened their secret thoughts to each other; connections between great nobles, especially by intermarriages; and, above all, the unequal distribution of property, and the accumulation of wealth by governors of provinces. The king concurred in these opinions: he forbade the use of wine, and prohibited all private meetings and political discussions among the nobles of his court, till, at length, no man could entertain his friends without a written order from the vizir. No marriage among the nobility was allowed without a licence from the crown. Farmers were limited to a certain quantity of land, and a certain number of cattle and servants. Graziers, in like manner, were restricted as to the number of their flocks and herds. Official emoluments were reduced; the land tax was increased, and more rigorously exacted; and, at last, the king became so rapacious, that the private property both of Mussulmans and Hindus was confiscated

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without a cause, so that men were almost reduced to a level over all the empire24.

Among other measures of Ala u din’s, one was for fixing rates for the prices of all articles. This plan originated in a wish to reduce the pay of the troops, which the king thought would be unjust unless the expense of living was lowered likewise. Accordingly, prices were fixed for grain, cattle, horses, &c., and for all other commodities, which were classed for the purpose25. Everything was included except labour. Public granaries were constructed; importation was encouraged; exportation forbidden; money was advanced to merchants to enable them to import goods. Wholesale purchases were not allowed; hours were fixed for opening and shutting shops; and the whole was rendered effective by public reports to the king, and the employment of spies and informers to detect breaches of the regulation.

A dearth which ensued soon after occasioned a relaxation in enforcing the rules about grain; and the others, though not rescinded till the next reign, were probably in a great measure neglected after the king had cooled on his scheme.

One of Ala u din’s maxims was, that “religion

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had no connection with civil government, but was only the business, or rather amusement, of private life;” and another, that “the will of a wise prince was better than the opinions of variable bodies of men.”

Ala u din had reigned upwards of twenty years.

Mobarik Khilji

On the death of Ala u din, Cafur produced a pretended will of that prince, appointing his youngest son, an infant, to be his successor, under the guardianship of Cafur.

Having thus gained possession of the government, Cafur put out the eyes of the king’s two eldest sons, and not long after sent assassins to murder the third son, Mobarik. The assassins, however, were won over and induced to spare him; and before Cafur had time to take further measures, he was himself assassinated by the royal guard, headed by their commander and his lieutenant.

Mobarik was immediately raised to the government.

1317, March 22 AH 717, Moharrem 7

He did not assume the title of king for two months, at the end of which time he deprived his infant brother of sight, and sent him to a hill fort for life.

He next put to death the two officers who had placed him on the throne, and broke up the guard. He raised several of his slaves to high rank and office, and made one of them, a converted Hindu, to whom he gave the title of Khusru Khan, his

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vizir; so that his first acts gave an earnest of the bloody and licentious reign that was to follow.

These misdeeds were not entirely unmixed with good actions; he set free all prisoners, to the number of 17,000; a sweeping measure, which could only have been commendable after a reign like the preceding. He restored the lands confiscated by Ala u din, removed his oppressive taxes, and abolished his restrictions on trade and property.

His military proceedings in the early part of his reign were not less meritorious.

1318, AH 718

He sent an army to reduce Guzerat, and marched, himself, to the Deckan, where he took Harpal prisoner, and inhumanly ordered him to be flayed alive. Having completely restored tranquillity, he returned to Delhi, and gave himself up to a course of the most degrading and odious debauchery. One of his amusements was to accompany a troop of actresses in a female habit, and to dance along with them at the houses of the nobility. He was in a constant state of intoxication; and his chief delight appeared to be to display his worst vices to the public. It is not surprising that under such a prince there should be a continual succession of conspiracies and rebellions; each of which was followed by tortures and executions, and each gave rise to fresh suspicions, and additional acts of tyranny.

Conquest of Malabar

During his expedition to the Deckan, he sent his favourite Khusru to conquer Malabar, which he effected in the course of a year, and brought a great treasure to Delhi. The whole administration

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of the government was then confided to him, and every man’s life and fortune was at his mercy.

1319, AH 719 Influence of Khusru, and ascendancy of a Hindu party at court

He put some of the nobility to death, and struck such a terror into the rest, that they thought themselves fortunate in being allowed to quit the court, and leave the king to the machinations of his favourite. The opportunity was not lost on Khusru, who surrounded the king with his creatures, and filled the capital with Hindu troops of his own cast, until at length, when his plot was matured, he perpetrated the murder of his infatuated master, and at once assumed the vacant throne.

1321, March 24 AH 721, Rabi ul awal

Murder of Mobarik, and extirpation of his family

He put to death all the survivors of the family of Ala u din, and transferred Dewal Devi to his own seraglio. His other measures were in the same spirit. But, notwithstanding his infamous character and his manifold crimes, he did not fail to obtain adherents, and to strengthen his party. He not only brought his own low creatures into power, but endeavoured to gain over the established nobles, by investing them with some of the highest offices. Among this number was Juna Khan, the son of Ghazi Khan Toghlak, governor of the Panjab, whose reputation and influence made it of the utmost consequence to conciliate him. In this Khusru failed. Juna Khan fled from court, and Ghazi Khan went into open rebellion; and, marching to Delhi with the veteran troops of the frontier, he gained a victory over the dissolute and ill-commanded bands opposed to him,

1321, August 22 AH 721, Rejeb 30

and put an end to the reign and life of the usurper, to the universal joy of the people.

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On entering Delhi, Ghazi Khan made a declaration that his only object was to deliver the country from oppression, and that he was willing to place any of the royal line on the throne. No member of the Khilji family was found to have survived, and Toghlak was himself proclaimed under the title of Gheias u din.


13. For the origin of the Khiljis, see Book V Chapter II, note near the end of the chapter. Though Turks by descent, they had been so long settled among the Afghans that they had almost become identified with that people: but they probably mixed more with other nations, or at least with their Turki brethren, and would be more civilised than the generality of Afghan mountaineers.

14. The emperor Baber, who, though a Turk, was himself descended by the mother’s side from Mogul ancestors, gives the following account of the Moguls in his service:– “The horde of Moguls have uniformly been the authors of every kind of mischief and devastation: down to the present time they have five times rebelled against me.” (Erskine’s Baber, p. 69.)

15. At least eleven of these invasions are mentioned by Ferishta, not one of which is noticed by De Guignes, D’Herbelot, or Price, in their accounts of the Mogul transactions; and although there is a long list in D’Ohson (vol. iv. p. 559.), yet they are all given on the authority of Ferishta. It is not improbable that the cruel ravages by which they were marked may have led the Indian historians to overrate the importance of the ordinary incursions; but, in some instances, especially in the present one, the silence of the European writers may perhaps be ascribed to the imperfect information they possess respecting Mogul affairs in the east of Persia and in Transoxiana. The commander of the last expedition is called Choldi Khan by Ferishta; and Touldai Khan was one of the officers of Ghazal Khan, then king of Persia. (Price, vol. ii. p. 605.) The most conspicuous general of the same monarch was Kutlugh Shah, who was at Herat in this year, 1297 (Price, vol. ii. p. 616., and De Guignes, vol. iii. p. 270.), and might possibly have led an expedition to India, though circumstances make it improbable. Opposed to this coincidence of names, which would lead us to suppose these invasions to have been made by the Moguls of Persia, is the positive assertion of Ferishta, that they and all the subsequent inroads originated in Daud Khan, king of Transoxiana, who, by his account, was the father of Kutlugh Khan. Mild Khan is evidently the Doizi or Davat Khan mentioned by De Guignes (vol. iii. p. 311., and note) as king of Transoxiana; and Kutlugh is so common a Mogul name, that two persons may very probably have borne it at the same time. There does not, therefore, seem to be any ground for doubting Ferishta’s account.

16. It does not appear when this place was lost. It was besieged by insurgents, and defended by the king of Delhi’s troops, in 1259.

17. The descendant of this family is now rana of Oudipur, the chief of the Rajput princes.

18. Ferishta says 9,000 on one occasion.

19. Wilson’s Introduction to the Mackenzie Catalogue, p. cxxxii. For an account of the principality of Warangol, see book iv. chap. 2.

20. See book iv. chap. 2.

21. Wilson’s Introduction to the Mackenzie Collection, p. cxiii. Dwara Samudra was situated in the heart of Carnata, about 100 miles north-west of Seringapatam, where its ruins still remain. (Buchanan’s Journey, vol. iii. p. 391.)

22. Briggs’s Ferishta, vol. i. p. 373. Maaber (the place of crossing over) has very generally been supposed to be Malabar, as well from the resemblance of the names as from the position of the latter country in reference to Arabia; but there is no doubt that the appellation really applies to the tract on the opposite coast, extending north from Rameshwar. (See Marsden’s Marco Polo, p. 626. note.) That Maaber in this sense was included in the Belal kingdom, appears from Professor Wilson’s Introduction to the Mackenzie Collection, vol. i. p. cxi. It remained united to Delhi for twenty or thirty years, till near the middle of the fourteenth century; about which time Ibn Batuta crossed from Ceylon to Maaber, and found it in the possession of a Mahometan family, who had shortly before acquired it, in consequence of the revolt of Jelal u din Hasan, a sherif or seiad, who had been a subject of Mohammed Toghlak. The revolt of Seiad Hasan in Maaber against Mohammed Toghlak is also mentioned by Ferishta. (Briggs, vol. i. p. 423.) It is not probable that Cafur conquered the western territory of the Belals; because it appears from Wilks’s Mysore that the remains of that family retired to Tonur near Seringapatam; and Ibn Batuta found Malabar (which he visited on his way to, and on his return from, Maaber) in the hands of Hindu princes, except Honawar, which was held by a Mussulman under the sovereignty of a Hindi:. The Mussulman religion had been introduced in that quarter from Arabia, some centuries before Ala u din’s invasion of the Deckan; and it did not become the dominant one until the conquest of Malabar by Heider Ali.

23. Ferishta states that, at this time, there was no silver coinage in the Carnatic; and Colonel Briggs observes that the same was true, to a certain extent, till very lately: the common coin was the pagoda, and there was a small coin called a gold fanam, as low in value as a sixpence.

24. It is difficult to reconcile this statement, the last words of which are Ferishta’s, with the same author’s glowing account of the general prosperity; but it is probable the unfavourable picture only applies to the last years of the reign.

25. Tables of the prices are given in Ferishta, and would be interesting if the value of the coins could be better ascertained.

This collection transcribed by Chris Gage
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