Sunday, January 20, 2013

Military Conquests of Alauddin Khilji

Alauddin Khilji
The second ruler of the Khilji dynasty of the famed Delhi Sultanate, Alauddin Khilji was a militarist and imperialist to the core. He was very ambitious. In a haste to be the Khilji Sultan, he usurped the throne for himself by killing treacherously his loving uncle and father-in-law Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji, the founder of the Khilji Dynasty.

It is natural for a self-willed and ambitious ruler to embark on the path of annexation of new territories to his kingdom. Alauddin, whose original name was Ali Gurshap, loved to style himself “the Second Alexander” (Sikander-i-Sani) As a matter of fact, with the assumption of power at Delhi begins ‘the imperial phase of the Sultanate’.

Conquest of Gujarat
The kingdom of Gujarat was then ruled by king Karna Dev of the Vaghelas who were feudatories of the Solanki Rajput rulers also called Chalukyas. The Gujarat kingdom was famed for vast fortunes which it acquired from sea-borne trade with Arabs and Persians. In 1299   Alauddin send a military expedition to this kingdom under the joint command of his two ablest generals Ulugh khan and Nusarat Khan, who invaded Anhilwad, the capital of Gujarat. As Karna Dev Vaghela was not ready for sudden attack, he was caught unawares and fled to the Yadava kingdom of Devagiri in Northern Deccan with his daughter Dewal Devi. His chief queen Kamaladevi was taken prisoner by the victorious army. Kamaladevi later became the favourite wife of Alauddin. A large booty was accrued to the Khilji’s coffer by the plunder of the rich port of Cambay. However the prized capture during the Gujarat conquest by Nusarat Khan was Hindu turned Muslim slave Malik Kafur (also known as hazardinari).  Kafur was a eunuch who later on rose to become Alauddin’s most important military general and the malik naib of the Khilji dynasty. He led many successful military expeditions of the Khilji ruler in the coming years.

Expedition to Ranathambhor
After the conquest of the Vaghela kingdom of Gujarat, Alauddin turned his attention to Rajputana, where he conquered Ranathambhor in 1300-1 from Hamir Deva, a descendant of Prithviraj Chauhan, who was defeated in the Second Battle of Panipat by Muhammad Ghori in 1192, resulting in the establishment of Muslim rule in Delhi.  

Chittor Conquest
After the subjugation of Ranathambhor was complete, Alauddin attacked Chittor, the capital of the powerful kingdom of Mewar, in 1303. Mewar was ruled by the Guhilot king Rana Ratan Singh. Various Rajput sources and Padmavat by Malik Muhammad Jayasi say that Alauddin’s invasion of the Rajput kingdom was driven by his infatuation with the Padmini, the beautiful queen of Rana Ratan Singh. However this episode served as the casus belli of the Mewar invasion is in the realm of debate. The opponents of the theory cite example of the legendary royal court poet Amir Khusro of Delhi Sultanate who makes no mention of the story though he himself was the part of Alauddin’ entourage during the latter’s Mewar expedition. Besides, this story is unknown to other contemporary sources. After a long siege of eight months, success attended the Khilji army in the capture of Chittor, which was named Khizrabad, after the name of Alauddin’s eldest son Khizr Khan.

Annexation of Malwa
With the incorporation of Gujarat, Mewar and Ranathambhor into the Delhi Sultanate, Alauddin sent a military expedition for the conquest of Malwa under the generalship of Ain-ul-mulk Multani. Malwa was ruled by Mahlak Dev, who along with his general Harnanda Koka, were killed in the bloody war that took place between the Sultan army and the Malwa forces in 1305. Malwa with its centres of power like Dhara, Mandu and Dhara and Chanderi fell into the hands of the victor and Ain-ul-mulk Multani was appointed governor of the province.

South Indian Conquests
After annexation of North India, Alauddin embarked on a military expedition under the command of Malik Kafur for the subjugation of South India. There were four major kingdoms ruling South India at the time. These were Yadava dynasty of Devagiri, Kakatiya kingdom of Warangal, the Hoyasala dynasty of Dwarasamudra and Pandyas of Madurai. Malik Kafur defeated the Yadava King Ramchandra in 1307. The Kakatiya King Pratap Rudra Deva II in 1309-10 and the Hoyasala King Vira Ballal III in 1311. But Kafur’s invasion of the pandyan kingdom remained inclusive as Vira Pandya and Sundara Padya, the claimants to the Pandyan throne, refused to acknowledge the suzerainty of the Delhi Sultanate. In 1313, after the death of the Yadava ruler Ramchandra, when his son Singhana III declared his independence, Malik Kafur again marched towards Devagiri and annexed it to the Khilji kingdom.


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