The Tughlaq 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 theTughlaq dynasty

  • Chaos within the Khilji dynasty:  Ala-ud-din nominated his eldest son Khizr Khan, as his successor. However, Malik Kafur himself assumed the authority of the government. But soon, he was assassinated by hostile nobles; after that, there were a series of murders. 
  • End of Khilji dynasty: Ghazi Malik (Turkish noble of the Delhi Sultanate) murdered the incumbent Khilji ruler Khusrau Khan, preventing anyone from the Khilji dynasty from claiming the throne.
  • Beginning of Tughlaq dynasty: Ghazi Malik ascended the throne of Delhi in 1320 as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq. He assumed the title of Sultan and established the Tughlaq dynasty.
  • Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq was succeeded by his son, Muhammad bin Tughlaq, who is considered the most prominent ruler of the dynasty
  • Under the Tughlaqs, the Delhi Sultanate was further consolidated. Many outlying territories were brought under the direct control of the Sultanate.
  • Source of information:  Tarikh (singular) / Tawarikh (plural), meaning  a collection of histories; written in Persian. 


    Image- Major rulers of the Tughlaq Dynasty 


   Map of Tughlaq dynasty 


Tuglaq Dynasty- Rulers and Contributions

Period:  1320-1414 AD 

Capital: Delhi 

  • They expanded Delhi Sultanate rules in deep south India 
  • Unlike Alauddin’s defensive measures, Muhammad Tughluq’s measures were conceived as a part of a military offensive against the Mongols.
  • Among Delhi Sultanates, Tughalq was the longest-ruling dynasty

Ghiyasuddin Tuglaq (1320-1325)

  • Founder of Tughlaq dynasty 
  • He followed a policy of reconciliation with the nobles
  • He was contemporary of Nizamuddin Auliya
  • Title- Ghazi (Slayer of Infidels)
  • Administration:
    • He was experienced warrier- statesman and an able administrator 
    • Administration was based on principles of justice, benevolence and public welfare 
    • Suppressed the followers of Khusrau by confiscating their lands 
  • Conquest:
    • Warangal in 1321 and 1323 
      • Muhammad Tughlaq (a prince) led the early expeditions against Rai Rudra Dev who was defeated after a prolonged conflict and Warangal was annexed under direct control of the Sultanate.
      • Warangal was renamed as Sultanpur 
    • Kakatiya territories annexed 
  • Contribution: 
    • Built Tughlakabad city with fortification to protect from Mongol attacks 
  • Source: TughlaqNama of Amir Khusrau’s provides a rise of Ghiyasuddin Tuglaq 

Mohammad Bin Tuglaq (1325-1351)

  • He was well educated and religious tolerant ruler 
  • Other name: Jauna Khan, Ulugh Khan 
  • Source: TughlaqNama of Amir Khusrau’s provides a rise of Ghiyasuddin Tuglaq; Ibn Battuta's observations of the Tughlaq Dynasty are documented in his travelogue, "Rihla" or "The Travels of Ibn Battuta." 
  • Experiments
    • Transferred the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (Devgiri)
    • Introduced token currency (Copper tankas in place of Silver tankas) 
    • Khorasan Expedition
    • Qarachil expedition (Located between India-China) 
    • Enhancement of land revenue in the Doab 
  • However, Muhammad Tughluq’s administrative measures were a failure.
  • He maintained diplomatic relations with far-off countries like Egypt, China and Iran. 
  • Contribution
    • Built Jahanpanah city (4th City of Delhi) and Fort of Adilabad 
    • Diwan-i-kohi: Created a department for agriculture 
  • Rise of regional dynasty: During his reign Vijayanagar, Bahmani and Madurai kingdom emerged 

Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-1388)

  • Revised the fiscal policy: He thoroughly revised the fiscal policy of his predecessors with objectives of improving revenue and reducing the burden of taxes 
  • Appointed Malik Maqbul as his Prime Minister and given the title Khan-i-johan (He was Brahmin of Warangal- converted to Islam) 
  • Contribution:
    • Repaired Jama Masjid and Qutub Minar 
    • Set up new departments 
      • Diwan-I Khairat
      • Department of Public work
      • Diwan-i-Bandagan 
    • Dar-ul-Shifa: Hospital for poor
    • He revived the Iqtadari system and also made it hereditary.
    • Soldiers in his reign were given land assignments (jagir system), and their recruitment was made hereditary.
    • Built- Firozabad (Firoz Shah Kotla), Hissar and Jaunpur (In the memory of Mohammad Bin Tuglaq)
    • Abolished several taxes introduced by his predecessor 
    • He retained only 4 types of taxes
      • Kharaj 
      • Jizya 
      • Jakat 
      • Khums 
    • Abolished the death sentence 
    • Sharb- Irrigation tax (1st Sultan to impose) on lands which were irrigated by State constructed canals. 
  • Led 2 expeditious to Bengal, but failed 
  • He chose to abide by Shariat and thus pacified the Ulema 
  • Prohibited practice of women going out to worship 


 Image of Tughlaqabad Fort  


 Image of Firoz Shah Kotla


Image of Tughlaqabad— The Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam

Contribution of Tughlaq Dynasty to Art and Architecture:

  • The Tughlaq dynasty made significant contributions to art and architecture during their rule in India. 
  • Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq contributed a lot to the development of the Indo-Persian style of architecture 
  • Tughalqs built huge palace-foresters complexes in the Tughlakabad 
  • Ragadarpan, Indian classical work on music, was translated into Persian at the initiative of Firoz Shah. 

   Indo-Islamic Architecture:

They incorporated elements from various architectural styles, such as Persian, Central Asian, and Indian, to create distinctive structures.

  • The Tughlaqabad Fort:
    • It is located in Delhi. Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq constructed it. The fort features massive stone walls, bastions, and gateways, showcasing the military architectural prowess of the Tughlaq rulers.
    • Firoz Shah: Two Ashokan pillars were brought from Meerut and Topara in Ambala to beautify the capital city. 
  • Firoz Shah Kotla:
    • It is located in present-day Delhi and was built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq.
    • The complex comprises several structures, including a mosque, a palace, and a pillar known as Ashokan Pillar. 
  • Jahanpanah:
    • It means "Refuge of the World. It was a planned city founded by Muhammad bin Tughlaq
    • The city served as the fourth city of Delhi during the Tughlaq era. 
    • Though the planned city didn't flourish for long, it featured significant architectural elements such as the Bijai Mandal, a pyramidal structure that served as Muhammad bin Tughlaq's observatory.
  • Tomb Architecture:
    • The Tughlaq dynasty left a mark in tomb architecture by constructing magnificent tombs for the rulers and nobles. 
    • The tomb of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq marks a new trend in the evolution of Indo-Persian town architecture. It features an imposing structure with intricate details, showcasing the architectural style of the era.
  • Influence on Later Architectural Styles:
    • The architectural innovations and styles introduced by the Tughlaq dynasty had a lasting impact on later periods of Indian architecture. 
    • The Tughlaq architectural features can be seen in subsequent dynasties, such as the Lodis and the Mughals, who built upon and further refined the Indo-Islamic architectural traditions.


  • The Tughlaq Dynasty witnessed the growth and development of Persian and Arabic literature. Renowned scholars and poets were invited to the royal court, leading to the creation of literary masterpieces.
  • Sanskrit language received due recognition; patronage was given to Sanskrit poets. Translated several Sanskrit works into the Persian language.  
  • They supported the growth of literature, poetry, and calligraphy. Prominent scholars and poets, such as Amir Khusrau and Ibn Battuta, found favour in the Tughlaq courts. 
  • This patronage fostered a vibrant intellectual and artistic environment during their rule.
    • For example, Firoz Shah patronage following significant scholars:
      • Ziauddin Barani- Tughlaq Namah (a history of the Tughlaq dynasty)
      • Shams-i-Siraj Afif - Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi (a history of the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq)


The administration of the Tughlaq dynasty was centralised and hierarchical. The sultan was the supreme authority, and a council of ministers assisted him. 

The Tughlaqs' administration was efficient and effective, and it helped consolidate the Delhi Sultanate's power. However, the dynasty's centralised and hierarchical system also made it vulnerable to revolts and rebellions.

  • Centralised and hierarchical system: The Tughlaq administration was centralised and hierarchical, with the sultan at the top of the system. The Sultan was assisted by a council of ministers responsible for overseeing the different government departments.
  • Iqta system: 
    • Shamsa ud-din Iltutmish, the second sultan of the Delhi Sultanate, is credited with introducing the Iqta system in India.
    • The Iqta system was a land revenue system that granted the right to collect revenue from a specific area of land to a military officer or noble in exchange for military service or other duties to the Sultan.
    • The Iqta system was introduced in the 13th century and was used by the Delhi Sultanate until the 16th century.
    • The Iqta system was a significant development in the history of the Delhi Sultanate and helped to create a strong military force and to provide the Sultan with a reliable source of revenue.
  • Efficient and effective: The Tughlaq administration was efficient and effective, and it helped to consolidate the power of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Vulnerable to revolts and rebellions: The Tughlaqs' centralised and hierarchical system also made it vulnerable to revolts and rebellions.


Society and Religion 



  • Social Structure: The society during the Tughlaq Dynasty was characterised by a hierarchical structure. The ruling elite, including the sultan and nobles, held significant power and wealth. The middle class comprised merchants, traders, and professionals, while the majority of the population consisted of farmers, artisans, and labourers.
  • Cultural Synthesis: This phase synthesised Indian and Islamic cultures. While Islam was the dominant religion of the ruling elite, the majority of the population practised Hinduism. 



  • Islam as State Religion: The ruling elite, including the sultans, were Muslims, and Islamic principles and laws influenced the administration. Mosques and madrasas (Islamic educational institutions) were established, promoting the spread of Islam.
  • Religious Tolerance: Despite Islam being the state religion, the Tughlaq Dynasty displayed a degree of religious tolerance. Hindus and other religious communities were allowed to practise their faith.
  • Sufism: Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, gained prominence during the Tughlaq Dynasty. Many Sufi saints and orders, such as the Chishti and Suhrawardi, emerged during this period.
  • Hindu-Muslim Interactions: Cultural exchanges, trade relationships, and intermarriages between Hindus and Muslims contributed to a syncretic cultural milieu.



  • Agrarian Economy: Agriculture formed the backbone of the economy during the Tughlaq Dynasty. Most of the population was engaged in agricultural activities, and revenue from agricultural land was the state's primary income source.
  • Land Revenue Reforms: Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq introduced several land revenue reforms to increase state revenue and streamline taxation. 
  • Trade and Commerce: Delhi Emerged as a major commercial centre, attracting merchants and traders from different regions. The Sultans established markets and trade networks, fostering economic growth and encouraging regional and international trade.
  • Coinage and Currency: Sultan Muhammad bin Tughlaq's ill-fated attempt to introduce token currency resulted in confusion and economic turmoil.



               Image of copper coins

  • Infrastructure Projects: The Tughlaq sultans initiated several ambitious infrastructure projects aimed at improving transportation and connectivity. They also undertook ambitious infrastructure projects, including the construction of canals, dams, and reservoirs for irrigation purposes.
  • Impact of Political Instability: The Tughlaq Dynasty witnessed political instability and frequent revolts, which had a negative impact on the economy. 
    • For example, The sultans' policies, such as the forced shifting of the capital from Delhi to Daulatabad, led to disruptions in trade, agriculture, and overall economic stability disruptions.
  • Decline in Economic Prosperity: The impact of political instability, unsuccessful policies, and social unrest contributed to economic stagnation and decline during latter rulers.


Decline of Tughlaq Dynasty 

It was challenging to control distant provinces like Bengal from Delhi, and soon after annexing southern India, the entire region became independent.

  • The political control of Delhi gradually weakened during the rule of Firuz’s successors. 
  • The last Sultan was Nasrudin Muhammad. During his reign, northern India fell victim to the fury of Amir Timur (Turkish). The invasion of Timur in AD 1398 left the sultanate desolate. 
  • By the end of Tughlaq rule (AD 1412), the Sultanate was confined to a small territory in north India. 
  • A number of regions proclaimed independent status. 
    • In the east, Bengal and Orissa enjoyed complete autonomy. 
    • In eastern UP and large parts of Bihar, a new independent kingdom of Sharqis emerged. 
    • In the Deccan and South Vijaynagar empires and Bahmani kingdom became political powers. 
    • Independent nobles occupied large parts of Punjab. Gujarat and Malwa became fully independent. 

Rajput states in Rajasthan no longer treated Delhi Sultans as their overlords.


Previous Year Questions (PYQs)



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



Q)  Consider the following statements:

1. It was during the reign of Iltutmish that Chengiz Khan reached the Indus in pursuit Khwarezm prince.

2. It was during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq Taimur occupied Multan crossed the Indus.

3. It was during the reign of Deva Raya II of the Vijayanagara Empire that Vasco da Gama reached the coast of Kerala.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 1 and 2

(c) 3 only

(d) 2 and 3 



Q)  Consider the following statements:

1. In the revenue administration of Delhi Sultanate, the in-charge of revenue collection was known as ‘Amil’.

2. The Iqta system of Sultans of Delhi was an ancient indigenous institution.

3. The office of ‘Mir Bakshi’ came into existence during the reign of Khalji Sultans of Delhi.

Which of the statements given above is correct?

(a) 1 only 

(b) 1 and 2 only 

(c) 3 only 

(d) 1, 2 and 3


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Q)  What is the Jizya tax? 

Jizya is a tax levied and collected per head by Islamic states on non-Muslim subjects living in their land. In India, Qutb-ud-din Aibak imposed jizya on non-Muslims for the first time. Jizya was abolished by the Mughal ruler Akbar in the 16th century but was re-introduced by Aurangzeb in the 17th century.


Q)  Which was the oldest among the seven cities of Delhi?

The oldest among the seven cities of Delhi is Lal Kot, also known as Qila Rai Pithora. The Tomara Rajputs founded it in the 11th century. Lal Kot served as the capital of the Tomara dynasty and was the earliest known city established on or near the site of present-day Delhi.