Delhi Sultans

Learning Goals:

Large part of the subcontinent remained outside the control of the Delhi Sultans since it was difficult to control distant provinces of Bengal from Delhi and soon after annexing the southern part of India, the entire region became independent. The forested areas of Gangetic plains were untouched by them. These areas were ruled by the local chieftains. Even if the rulers like Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad Tughluq exerted control over these areas, it was for a short duration only.

The Mongols

The north-eastern part of Iran, Transoxiana was invaded by the Mongols in the year 1219. Soon after, they attacked the Delhi Sultanate. During the reign of Alauddin Khalji and the early reigning period of Muhammad Tughluq, there was an increase in the attack of the Delhi Sultanate. Consequently, they had to mobilize a large standing army in Delhi which posed a huge administrative challenge.

ParticularsAlauddin KhaljiMuhammad Tughluq
Period of attackTwice in 1299/1300 and 1302-1303. He raised a long standing armyIn the early years of his reign. He defeated the Mongols. He raised a long standing army. He was confident about the strength of his army and his resources to plan an attack on Transoxiana.
How they dealt with itHe constructed a new garrison town named Siri for his soldiers.Soldiers garrisoned in the oldest of the four cities of Delhi named Dehli-I Kuhna after emptying it of its residents. The residents were sent to the new capital of Daulatabad in the south.
FoodSoldiers were fed using the produce collected as tax from lands between the Ganga and Yamuna. Tax was fixed at 50 per cent of the peasant’s yield.Produce from the same area was collected as tax for feeding the army. Additional taxes were also levied to meet the expenses of maintaining such a large number of soldiers. This coincided with famine in the area.
MoneyHe paid the soldiers in cash rather than iqtas. He controlled the prices of goods in Delhi to prevent the merchants from inflating them due to the dependence of the soldiers on them for supplies.He also paid the soldiers in cash. He used a ‘token’ currency made out of cheap metals. But these coins were not trusted by the people of the fourteenth century. It could be counterfeited easily and also people saved their gold and silver coins and paid their taxes using token currency.
AdministrationHe had a successful administration and gained praise from chroniclers for cheap prices and efficient supplies of goods in the market. He withstood the threat of Mongol invasions.His administrative methods were a failure. His campaign into Kashmir was a disaster after which he decided not to invade Transoxiana and disbanded his large army.

Though Tughluq was considered to be a failure in administration he was the first Delhi Sultan in the history of the Sultanate to plan an attack on the Mongols. His approach was offensive rather than defensive; unlike the approach of Khalji.

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