Alauddin Khilji, earlier known as Juna Khan Khilji, was one of the most powerful Sultan of Delhi Sultanates. He belonged to the Khilji Dynasty. He captured the throne in 1296 A.D. He became famous as an organizer of real purposeful kingdom.
Early life and accession: Alauddin Khilji was the nephew of Sultan Jalal-ud-din Khilji. His uncle was very affectionate to him. During the reign of Sultan Jalal-ud-din Khilji, he was appointed as appointed governor of Kara (in Allahabad district). He was also to lead an expedition into Malwa.
But, Alauddin exceeded his authority and proceeded towards the Deccan. He plundered Berar and Khandesh and captured Ellichpur. He collected immense booty and returned to Kara. After some time, he killed his uncle and became the next Sultan of Delhi.
Early Mongol attacks: Ala-ud-din had to face Mongol attack from the time he assumed the power of the Sultanate. From the year 1296 A.D. to 1308 A.D. every year Mongals invaded Delhi. The Mongols attacked Delhi repeatedly. The existence of Sultan Shahi became endangered. But Alauddin checked all the attacks with courage and determination. At the same time, he made the security of the northwest frontier strong and firm.
Expansion of the kingdom: From the time of Alauddin Khilji, Muslim imperialism in India began. Soon after his establishment on the throne he embarked upon a career of conquests. He carried out these expeditions in Northern India as well as Southern India. His military expedition to North India ranged from 1297 A.D. to 1305 A.D. He invaded South India from 1306 A.D. to 1312 A.D. The nature and purpose of his invasions to North and South India were different. He conquered the North Indian kingdoms and took them into the direct fold of Sultan Shahi rule. But by conquering South Indian kingdoms, he plundered rich wealth. He also compelled the ruler of conquered kingdoms to pay yearly tax. Alauddin was happy with that.
Conquests of North India: The Sultan had motive of political control as well as economic purpose behind the invasion of Northern India. He first sent his army to Gujarat. Then his army attacked Ranthambhor and captured it. Rana Hamirdeva died in the battle. Then Ala-ud-din proceeded against Mewar (1303 A.D.). After long battle Chittor fort came under his control. Then he captured Malab, Marwar, Jaloree, Chanderi, etc.
Conquests of South India: Before assuming throne Alaundin Khilji once invaded Devagiri. According to the pact the king of Devagiri was to pay money as tax. But he failed to pay. Alauddin attacked Devagiri again. After that he invaded Kakatiya kingdom (1308 A.D.), Hoisal kingdom (1310 A.D.) and Pandya kingdom (1311 A.D.) of Telengana one after another. He invaded Devagiri for lie third time and compelled them to accept his supremacy and pay tax regularly.
Administration: Alauddin took steps to make administration rigid and sound along with conquering of kingdom. He banned the meddling of Ulemas and other religious leaders in the administration. He declared that the Sultan’s will is the law. To curb the audacious relatives and aristocrats he took few very important steps. For example:
- He banned drinking of alcohol in open in his kingdom.
- He made it compulsory to take Sultan’s permission before establishing relationship amongst aristocrats.
- He ordered the confiscation of endowments and free grants of land made by the state.
- To help him in administration he appointed few very agile and competent staffs. He invested powers to collect taxes, maintain law and order and to maintain army, to officers known as Iktadar or Makti, in remote areas. The lands thus estimated were known as `Ikta’.
- To check corruption in the army he introduced dag (mark a horse) and chehra (the physical descriptions of army men).
Economic Reforms: Ala-ud-din’s aim of revenue system was to fund the royal treasury and to save poor villagers from the hands of middle earners. Probably he was the first king to make survey of land to determine land revenue. Khut, Mukaddam, Chowdhury, etc. were made powerless and taxes began to be collected directly from the subjects. Other than land revenue, he introduced tax for cattle grazing, taxes for buildings, etc. The rate of revenue was 50% of the crops produced.
Market control policy: The most extraordinary economic reform of Alauddin was his market control or price control policy. Alauddin not only fixed prices, but also ensured their regular supply by prohibiting thin hoarding. Starting from clothing, food grains to cattle even slaves, he imposed price control upon everything. For that he established few markets in and around Delhi, as for food grain, clothing, medicine, fruits, sugar etc. Prices of all the items were fixed by the administration. Any businessman, if found taking higher prices or cheating the buyer by giving material in less weight had been dealt with firmly.
Extent of his empire: The historic account of wars and conquests indicates the limits of the Alauddin’s empire. On the north-western side, both Punjab and Sindh were under his control and the Indus formed the boundary of his vast empire. Most of the regions over Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Malwa, and Rajputana were under his authority. In the south, the state of Narbada were held by tributary vassal chiefs.
The conquests of Alauddin Khilji were very successful and he called himself a second Alexander.
Last days: Last life of Alauddin was very painful and tragic. Taking the opportunity of his inability his commander Malik Kafur assumed the entire power. He became hopeless and sick and died in the year 1316 A.D.
Estimate of Alauddin Khilji: Most historians praised Alauddin as great ruler and reformer. Still his work lacked permanence, as it was based on naked force and not on the goodwill of the people.
End of Khilji Rule: Within four years of Alauddin’s death, the rule of the Khiljis came to an end. Ala-ud-din’s younger son Shahabuddin was dethroned by his third son Mubarak Shah, who ruled from 1316 to 1320 A.D. He again was killed by a conspiracy by Nasir-ud-din (1320); finally he was dethroned and killed in a battle by one Ghazi Malik, the governor of Punjab.