The Sayyid and Lodi Dynasty


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Prelims: History of India

Mains: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Arts forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Emergence of Sayyid dynasty

  • Khizr Khan defeated Sultan Daulat Khan and occupied Delhi, and founded the Sayyid dynasty in 1414.
  • The author of the Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi, Yahya Sirhindi, claims that the founder of the Sayyid dynasty was a descendant of the prophet.


                Map of Sayyid Dynasty 


Sayyid Dynasty- Rulers and Contributions

Period:  1414-1450 AD 


  • The dynasty derived its name from the Arabic title "Sayyid," which means descendants of the Prophet Muhammad
  • The Sayyids claimed lineage from the Prophet Muhammad, which lent them religious legitimacy and prestige.

Khizr Khan 

(c.1414–21 CE)

  • He was the most competent Sayyid ruler of the dynasty. 
  • He did not assume the title of Sultan but was comfortable with Rayati-Ala. 
  • He was the governor of Multan under Firuz Shah Tughlaq.
  • He was ruling in the name of Timur.
  • He attempted to strengthen the Delhi Sultanate but was unable to accomplish so and died in 1421 CE.

Mubarak Shah (1421-1434)

  • According to some historians, he was the 1st Sultan to appoint Hindu nobles to the court of Delhi.
  • He discontinued his father's nominal allegiance to Timur.

Other rulers 

  • Muhammad Shah (1434-1443)
    • He was a weak ruler, and his reign was marked by instability and unrest. 
    • He is remembered for his patronage of the arts and architecture. He commissioned several mosques and tombs, including his own tomb in the Lodi Gardens.
  • Alam Shah (1443-51)
    • He was the last ruler of the Sayyid dynasty; he was defeated by Bahlol Lodi. 


Image of Tomb of the Muhammad Shah, Delhi.

   Contribution of Sayyid Dynasty to Art, Architecture and Literature:

Despite the challenges they faced during their reign, the Sayyid rulers patronised and fostered cultural and intellectual endeavours. Here are some of their contributions:


Art and Architecture:

  • Indo-Islamic Architecture: The Sayyid dynasty witnessed the development of Indo-Islamic architectural styles. The rulers patronised the construction of mosques, tombs, and other architectural structures. 
    • Tomb Architecture: The Sayyid rulers built impressive tombs for themselves and their family members. The Sayyid dynasty's architectural contribution is the which exhibits a fusion of Islamic and indigenous architectural elements. For example, The tomb of Mubarak Shah Sayyid. It was built by Mubarak Shah Sayyid. The tomb is octagonal in shape and is made of red sandstone. 
  • Decorative Arts: The Sayyid period witnessed advancements in the decorative arts. Intricate calligraphy, stone carving, and ornamental designs adorned various structures and objects, reflecting the artistic sensibilities of the time.


  • Persian Literature: Persian was the court language of the Delhi Sultanate, and the Sayyid rulers continued the tradition of Persian literature patronage. They supported Persian scholars, poets, and writers, resulting in the production of notable literary works in Persian during their reign.
  • Sufi Poetry: The Sayyid period witnessed the flourishing of Sufi poetry. Sufi saints and poets composed mystical and devotional verses in Persian and regional languages, promoting spiritual and moral values.


Emergence of Lodhi Dynasty

The Lodhis were the last governing family of the Sultanate period and the first to be led by the Afghans who ruled over Sirhind during the Sayyids' presence in India. The Lodi dynasty was a Pashtun dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate from 1451 to 1526. It was founded by Bahlul Khan Lodi, who was a Pashtun warlord from the Punjab region of present-day Pakistan. Bahlul Khan Lodi overthrew the Sayyid dynasty in 1451 and established the Lodi dynasty.


               Map of Lodi Dynasty 


Lodhi Dynasty- Rulers and Contributions

Period:  1451-1526 AD 


  • With the help of a few nobles, Bahlol Lodi took charge of the army and became the Sultan. 
  • Under the Lodi dynasty, the Delhi Sultanate experienced both territorial expansion and internal reforms. 

Bahlol Lodhi  (1451-1488)

  • He laid the foundation of the Lodi dynasty, whose rulers were Afghans. 
  • To gain the help and support of Afghan nobles, he publicly declared that he considered himself one of the Afghan peers and not the king.
  • He successfully suppressed the revolts in Mewat and Doab. In AD 1476, he defeated the Sultan of Jaunpur and annexed it to Delhi Sultanate
  • He also brought the ruler of Kalpi and Dholpur under the suzerainty of Delhi.
  • He annexed the Sharqui dynasty and introduced Bahlol copper coins.

Sikandar Lodhi (1489-1517)

  • He was the most powerful and dignified of the three Lodhi monarchs.
  • He showed little tolerance towards the non-muslims. 
  • He re-imposed Jizya on non-muslims
  • Unlike his predecessor, Sikandar Lodi believed in the superior position of the Sultan vis-a-vis the nobles.
  • In 1504 CE, he founded Agra and authored Persian songs under the pen name 'Gulrakhi.'
  • He was an excellent administrator. Roads were built, and irrigation systems were installed for the benefit of the peasants.
  • He introduced a new measurement yardstick, the Gazz-i- Sikandari, and a system of auditing accounts. 

Ibrahim Lodhi (1517-26)

  • After the death of Sikandar Lodi in AD 1517, his nobles helped Ibrahim Lodi to become Sultan. 
  • His reign proved a period of revolts.
  • Bihar declared its independence. 
  • Daulat Khan, the governor of Punjab, also rebelled. Sultan’s behaviour caused much dissatisfaction. 
  • Daulat Khan sent an invitation to Babur at Kabul to invade India. Babur defeated Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in AD 1526 in the First battle at Panipat.


Image of Bara Gumbad in Lodhi Gardens in Delhi, India. 


Image of Rajon ki Baoli step well was built by Sikandar Lodi in 1516.

Contribution of the Lodi Dynasty to Art, Architecture and Literature:

The Lodi dynasty, who ruled over the Delhi Sultanate in India from 1451 to 1526, made notable contributions to art, architecture, and literature during their reign. However, the Lodhi phase is the last phase in the Indo-Persian Architecture. 


Art and Architecture:

  • Lodi Style Architecture: The Lodi dynasty developed a distinct architectural style known as the "Lodi style" or "Pathan style." This style combined elements of the pre-existing Indo-Islamic architecture with influences from Central Asia and Persia. It emphasised simplicity with the use of sturdy materials like stone and brick.
  • Double domes: During their rule, they introduced a new form of Islamic architecture that featured double domes. Double domes are built of two layers, with the inner layer providing a ceiling to the interior of the building and the outer layer crowning the building. This technique enabled the ceiling inside to be placed lower and in better relation to the interior space it covers. Example- the tomb of Sikandar Lodi, which is located in Lodhi Gardens in Delhi.
  • Lodi Garden: 
    • It spans an area of 90 acres. The park is named after the Lodi dynasty, which ruled over the Delhi Sultanate from 1451 to 1526. 
    • It is believed that the gardens were originally commissioned by Sultan Sikander Lodi in the late 15th century. 
    • It is home to several architectural structures from the Sayyid and Lodi dynasties. The most prominent structures include the tomb of Sikander Lodi, the tomb of Muhammad Shah Sayyid, and the Sheesh Gumbad (Glass Dome)
  • Tombs and Mausoleums: The Lodi rulers are particularly known for constructing elaborate tombs and mausoleums for themselves and their nobles. 
    • These structures were often built in large enclosed gardens or complexes. 
    • The tomb of Sikandar Lodi in Delhi and the tomb of Ibrahim Lodi in Panipat are significant examples of Lodi architecture.
  • Blend of Architectural Influences: The Lodi architecture exhibited a blend of Indian, Persian, and Islamic architectural elements. It incorporated features such as domes, arches, and intricate stone carvings, showcasing the cultural syncretism of the period.

Literature and Language:

  • Development of the Hindi Language: It witnessed the development and promotion of the Hindi language, which became an important literary medium during this period. 
  • Poetry and Sufi Literature: The Lodi era saw the emergence of notable poets and Sufi scholars who produced significant literary works.
  • Patronage of Scholars: The Lodi rulers patronised scholars and intellectuals, providing them with support and encouragement.



  • Centralised Rule: Both dynasties aimed to establish and maintain centralised authority over the Delhi Sultanate. They focused on consolidating power, maintaining law and order, and ensuring efficient governance.
  • Provincial Administration: The empire was divided into provinces, which were governed by appointed administrators known as governors or wazirs. These administrators were responsible for collecting revenue, maintaining local administration, and upholding the authority of the Sultan.
  • Military Reforms: They made efforts to strengthen and reorganise the military. They maintained standing armies and introduced reforms in the recruitment, training, and organisation of their forces to protect the empire from external threats.



  • Agriculture: The majority of the population was engaged in agricultural activities, and the rulers implemented policies to support agricultural productivity and revenue collection from land taxes.
  • Trade and Commerce: Trade and commerce flourished during this period. The empire, with Delhi as its capital, served as a major centre for trade and economic activities. Trade routes connected various regions, facilitating the exchange of goods and ideas.
  • Revenue System: The rulers relied on a revenue system based on land taxation. They introduced reforms to improve revenue administration, regulate taxation, and ensure effective collection to support the empire's financial needs.


Society and Religion

  • The earlier dynasties had been largely Muslim, while the Sayyid and Lodi dynasties were more tolerant of other religions. This tolerance led to a number of different religions and cultures coexisting in India.
  • This period also witnessed the rise of the Sufi and Bhakti movement.
  • Religion harmony: The empire was a diverse religious landscape with significant Hindu and other religious communities coexisting and contributing to the cultural fabric of society.


Decline of Sayyid and Lodhi Dynasties 

The Sayyid and Lodi dynasties were a period of transition for the Delhi Sultanate. The earlier dynasties had been founded by Turks, while the Sayyid and Lodi dynasties were founded by Afghans.


Decline of Sayyid Dynasty

  • All of the Sayyid rulers tried to control rebellious regions like Katehar, Badaun, Etawah, Patiali, Gwalior, Kampil, Nagaur and Mewat, but they failed due to the conspiracy of the nobles.
  • In 1445 AD, Alam Shah ascended the throne and became the Sultan. He proved a totally incompetent Sultan. 
  • Alam Shah’s Wazir Hamid Khan invited Bahlol Lodi to take charge of the army, and after realising that it would be difficult to continue as Sultan, Alam Shah left for Badaun.


Decline of Lodhi Dynasty:

  • The reign of Ibrahim Lodi proved a period of revolts. His own brother Jalal Khan rebelled;  Sultan Ibrahim Lodi got him murdered. 
  • Bihar declared its independence. Daulat Khan, the governor of Punjab, also rebelled. The Sultan's behaviour caused much dissatisfaction. 
  • The rebellion's Daulat Khan sent an invitation to Babur at Kabul to invade India. Babur defeated Sultan Ibrahim Lodi in AD 1526 in the battle at Panipat.





Previous Year Questions (PYQs)



Q) With reference to Indian history, which of the following were known as "Kulah-Daran"?

(a) Arab merchants

(b) Qalandars

(c) Persian calligraphists

(d) Sayyids


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q) Who were the most important rulers of the Lodi and Sayyid dynasties?

The most important rulers of the Lodi dynasty were Bahlul Lodi, Sikandar Lodi, and Ibrahim Lodi.


Q) How did the Sayyid Dynasty come to an end?

The Sayyid Dynasty came to an end when Bahlul Khan Lodi, a governor under the dynasty, rebelled.