Khilji Dynasty


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Prelims: History of India 

Mains: Indian culture- Salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Emergence of the Khilji Dynasty

  • As Balban’s (last ruler of slave dynasty) son Kaiqubad was found unfit to rule, his three-year-old son Kaymars was placed on the throne. 
  • As there was no unanimity on the choice of a regent and a council to administer the empire, the contending nobles plotted against each other. 
  • Out of this chaos, a new leader, Malik Jalal-ud-din Khalji, the commander of the army, emerged supreme. 
  • While he ruled the kingdom for some time in the name of Kaiqubad, he soon sent one of his officers to get Kaiqubad murdered, and Jalal-ud-din formally ascended the throne and founded the Khilji Dynasty. 



                                       Map of Khilji Dynasty



Khilji Dynasty

Period:  AD 1290 to 1320

Capital: Delhi

  • Khilji Dynasty was the second dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Khaljis were indeed Turks settled in Afghanistan before the establishment of Turkish rule, and so they were Afghanized Turks.
  • The rise of Khaljis to power ended the monopoly of the nobility of slaves to high offices.

Jalaluddin Khalji (AD 1290–1296)

  • Jalaluddin Khalji laid the foundation of the Khalji dynasty. 
  • He won many battles and marched out against the Mongol hordes, and successfully halted their entry into India (1292 AD).
    • Amir Khusrau wrote Miftah al-Futuh (1291) to commemorate his victories.
  • According to Tabaqat-i Nasiri, the son of Amir Yughrush - probably Jalaluddin, visited Delhi with a Mongol embassy in 1260.
  • He tried to mitigate some of the harsh aspects of Balban’s rule. 
  • He was the first ruler of the Delhi Sultanate to clearly put forward the view that the state should be based on the willing support of the governed and that since the large majority of the people in India were Hindus, the state in India could not be a truly Islamic state.
  • Jalaluddin tried to win the goodwill of the nobility through a policy of tolerance. 
  • He avoided harsh punishments, even to those who revolted against him. 
    • Jalaluddin’s policy was reversed by Alauddin Khalji, who awarded drastic punishments to all those who dared to oppose him.
  • Death: Ala-ud-din, a nephew and son-in-law of Jalaluddin Khalji, who was appointed governor of Kara, invaded Malwa and launched a campaign to raid Devagiri, the capital city of the Yadava kingdom in Deccan. 
    • On his return, he arranged to get Jalaluddin Khalji murdered and captured the throne.

Alauddin Khalji (AD 1296–1316)

  • Alauddin Khalji was appointed as Amir-i-Tuzuk (Master of Ceremonies) by Jalaluddin Khalji.
  • He was also appointed Ariz-i-Mumalik (Minister of War). 
  • Military Campaigns: 
    • Gujarat (1299 AD): Alauddin’s noted generals, Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan, marched against Gujarat. Rai Karan, the ruler of Gujarat, fled, and the temple of Somnath was captured. 
    • Ranthambore (1301): The immediate cause of the attack was that the ruler of Ranthambore, Hamirdeva gave shelter to two rebellious Mongol soldiers and refused to hand them over to the Khalji ruler. 
      • To begin with, the Khalji forces suffered losses. Nusrat Khan even lost his life. 
      • Finally, Alauddin himself had to come on the battlefield. In 1301 AD, the fort fell to Alauddin.
    • Chittor (1303 AD): Alauddin attacked Chittor because he coveted Padmini, the queen of Raja Ratan Singh.
    • This Padmini event is depicted graphically in Jayasi's book Padmavath.
      • According to Amir Khusrau, the Sultan ordered a general massacre of the civil population. 
      • Chittor was renamed Khizrabad after the name of the Sultan’s son Khizr Khan. 
    • Devagiri: Ala-ud-din sent a large army commanded by Malik Kafur in 1307 to capture Devagiri fort. 
    • Warangal: Prataparudradeva, the Kakatiya ruler of Warangal in the Telangana region, was defeated in 1309.
    • Hoysala: In 1310, the Hoysala ruler Vira Ballala III surrendered all his treasures to the Delhi forces.
    • Madurai: Malik Kafur continued his southward journey, plundering and ravaging the temple cities of Chidambaram and Srirangam, as well as the Pandyan capital Madurai. 
      • After Malik Kafur’s invasion, the Pandya kingdom suffered an eclipse, and a Muslim state subordinate to the Delhi Sultan came to be established in Madurai.
      • In 1335, the Muslim Governor of Madurai, Jalal-ud-din Asan Shah, threw off his allegiance to the Delhi kingdom and declared his independence.
  • Amir Khusrau wrote Khazain Ul Futuh (in Persian) records the victories of Alauddin Khilji.
  • Alauddin adopted the title of Sikander-i-Azam and gave Amir Khusrau the title of Tuti-i-Hind (Parrot of India).
  • He decided to curb the powers of the nobles and interference of Ulema in matters of the state. 
  • Alauddin formulated certain regulations and implemented them:
    • Families that had been enjoying free land to support themselves should pay land tax for their holdings. 
    • Reorganized the spy system and took measures to make it more effective. 
    • The use of liquor and intoxicants was prohibited. 
    • The nobles were ordered not to have social gatherings or intermarriages without his permission.
  • Military Reforms: 
    • Alauddin was the first Sultan to establish a large permanent standing army, which he paid for with cash from the royal treasury.
    • He established an innovative Chehra and Dagh System, in which the Chehra (full description of each soldier) and Dagh (Horse branding) were preserved.
  • Market Reforms: Alauddin wanted to maintain a large army; he, therefore, lowered and fixed the price of the commodities of daily use. 
    • To control the prices, Alauddin set up three different markets for different commodities in Delhi: grain market (Mandi), cloth market (Sarai Adl) and the market for horses, slaves, cattle, etc. 
    • To ensure implementation, Alauddin appointed a superintendent (Shahna-i-Mandi) who was assisted by an intelligence officer.
    • Alauddin received daily reports of the market from Barid (intelligence officer) and munhiyans (secret spies).
    • Diwan-i-Riyasat, a separate department, was established under the command of Naib-i-Riyasat. Every merchant was registered with the Market Department.
    • Low prices in the horse market were ensured by putting a stop to the purchase of horses by horse dealers and brokers (dalals) in the Delhi market. 

Contributions to Art and Architecture:

Siri (Delhi)


  • It was the second of the seven cities of medieval Delhi built around 1303.
  • Siri was prosperous and flourished city containing royal palaces, busy markets and remarkable buildings. 
  • The most famous of all being the Qasr-i-Hazar Satur, the palace of Alauddin containing a large number of pillars.

Alai Minar (Delhi)

  • It lies within the northern boundaries of the Qutub complex
  • It was started by Alauddin Khilji in 1311 C.E. with an ambition to construct a minar double the height of the Qutub Minar.
  • However, the construction was ceased further after the Sultan’s death in 1316 C.E., and only the first storey could be built. 
  • The structure stands as unfinished Alai Minar, a vertical mound of rubble masonry.

Alai Darwaza (Delhi)

  • Architecture: Indo-Persian architecture
  • Finished in red sandstone and marble.
  • It was conceived to be the foremost gateway to the motivated extension of the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
  • It is a cubical structure that stands on a high plinth. 
  • The gateway has a broad bulging dome with a middle knob resting on horse-shoe-shaped arches.
  • The whole gateway, except the dome, is finely carved with geometrical designs and artistic Arabic inscriptions. 

Jamaat-Khana Mosque      (Delhi)   


  • Built by Khizr Khan, son of Sultan Alauddin Khilji.
  • It is the earliest mosque constructed entirely according to the Islamic conceptions. 
  • The mosque lies to the west of the tomb of Saint Nizamuddin Auliya. 
  • The mosque structure has three compartments adjoining one another, each approached by a broad arched entrance in the 6 facades. 
  • The earlier structure is made up of red sandstone, while the later additions made by the Tughlaqs were done with plastered rubble. 
  • The walls are adorned with geometric motifs and Quranic inscriptions. 

Hauz-i-Alai (Delhi)

  • It is a big tank built in 1305 C.E.
  • It was part of Siri (city), closed by masonry walls and covers an area of 70 acres of land. 
  • It was filled with rainwater in the rainy season and served as a great source of water for the inhabitants. 

Madrasa and Tomb of Alauddin Khilji (Delhi)

  • It was built in 1315, and the tomb was located inside the Madrasa.
  • It is constructed in an L-shape around a quadrangular court.
  • It was for the first time in India that a combination of tomb and Madrasa (school) was conceived, drawing inspiration from the Saljuqian traditions of the 11th - 12th century CE.


Decline of the Khilji Dynasty

  • After the death of Alauddin in AD 1316, Malik Kafur sat on the throne for a few days, only to be deposed by Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah
  • During this period, rebellions broke out in Deogir but were harshly suppressed.
  • Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah was soon murdered, and Khusrau ascended the throne. However, he, too, did not last long as some dissatisfied officers, led by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq, defeated and killed him in a battle. 
  • Thus, only four years after the death of Alauddin, the Khalji dynasty came to an end, and power passed into the hands of the Tughlaqs.


Previous Year Questions



Q) Examine critically the agrarian and economic reforms of Alauddin Khalji. How did it strengthen the Sultanate? (2011)





Q)  With reference to Indian history, consider the following statements:

1. The first Mongol invasion of India happened during the reign of Jalal-ud-din Khalji.

2. During the reign of Ala-ud-din Khalji, one Mongol assault marched up to Delhi and besieged the city.

3. Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq temporarily lost portions of the north-west of his kingdom to Mongols.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 only

(c) 1 and 3

(d) 3 only



Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q) How Indo-Persian architecture developed?

When Islamic power was firmly established in India, the Muslim rulers brought with them experienced builders, artisans and craftsmen. These traditions and forms of architecture were brought by Muslim artisans mixed with Indian architectural traditions. This fusion of Islamic architectural elements with the indigenous styles of Hindu architecture gave rise to a novel form of Indian architecture, described popularly as Indo-Persian architecture.


Q) Who were the Mongols?

The term Mongol refers to all Mongolic-speaking nomadic tribes of Central Asia. In the twelfth century, they had established a very large kingdom, which included most of modern-day Russia, China, Korea, south-east Asia, Persia, India, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, under the leadership of Chengiz Khan. Their phenomenal success is attributed to their fast horses and brilliant cavalry tactics, their openness to new technologies, and Chengiz Khan’s skill in manipulative politics.