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Delhi Sultanate

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The Delhi Sultanate was a powerful Islamic Empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for more than 320 years, i.e. from 1206 to 1526. Five dynasties ruled over Delhi Sultanate sequentially:

  1. Mamluk Dynasty (1206-1290)
  2. Khalji Dynasty (1290-1320)
  3. Tuglaq Dynasty (1320-1414)
  4. Sayyid Dynasty (1414-1451)
  5. Lodi Dynasty (1451-1526)

It covered a wide swathe of territories in modern India, from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as well as parts of Southern Nepal.

History and Overview

Delhi Sultanate was the empire for around three centuries and the way of short-lived emperors who originated from Turkey and Afghanistan and ruled in Delhi from 1206 to 1526. After 1526, the last emperor of the Delhi Sultanate, Ibrahim Lodi was defeated and was thrown by Mughal emperor Babur in the battle of Panipat and the establishment of the Mughal empire. The ruling period of the Delhi Sultanate is called the “period of cosmopolitanism or intermixing”.

Delhi Sultanate

The period of rule of the Delhi Sultanate is from 1206 to 1526 and this period witnessed many dynasties and various rulers.

Rulers of Delhi Sultanate


Sources of Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate was a Muslim kingdom that ruled over parts of India from the 13th century to the 16th century. The sources of the Delhi Sultanate are mainly divided into two categories: literary sources and archaeological sources.

Literary sources:
The literary resources of the Delhi Sultanate include the works of current historians, chroniclers, and poets who lived throughout the duration of the Sultanate. Some of the most critical literary assets of the Delhi Sultanate encompass:
Tarikh-i-Firoz Shahi through Ziauddin Barani: It is a historic chronicle of the reign of Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq, who dominated from 1351 to 1388. This book is one of the maximum crucial assets of data at the political, social, and financial records of the Delhi Sultanate.

Tarikh-i-Alai by way of Amir Khusro: It is a historic chronicle of the reign of Sultan Alauddin Khilji, who dominated from 1296 to 1316. This e book presents treasured statistics at the political and navy history of the Delhi Sultanate.

Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri by means of Jahangir: It is an autobiographical account of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who ruled from 1605 to 1627.  Although it turned into written after the autumn of the Delhi Sultanate, it provides treasured insights into the political and cultural records of the  location.

Archaeological assets:
The archaeological sources of the Delhi Sultanate encompass the stays of the homes, fortifications, and monuments constructed via the sultans at some stage in their reign. Some of the maximum crucial archaeological resources of the Delhi Sultanate consist of:
Qutub Minar: It is a 73-meter-tall tower located in Delhi, which was constructed by way of Sultan Qutb-ud-din Aibak inside the 12th century. It is one of the maximum famous monuments of the Delhi Sultanate.

Tughlaqabad Fort: It is a big fort built by Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq within the 14th century. It is one in every of the largest forts in India and gives precious records at the army structure of the Delhi Sultanate.

Alai Darwaza: It is a gate constructed with the aid of Sultan Alauddin Khilji in the thirteenth century. It is one of the best examples of Indo-Islamic architecture and affords insights into the inventive and cultural records of the Delhi Sultanate.

Expansion of Delhi Sultanate

The volume of the Delhi Sultanate turned into very constrained inside the early thirteenth century and seldom went beyond fortified areas and the rulers for that reason trusted exchange, tribute, or plunder for their materials. Control of the garrison cities in remote places like Bengal and Sindh changed into very hard. War, rebel, or even terrible climate may want to have an effect on communication.

The authority of the Delhi Sultanate become also challenged via the Mongol invasions from Afghanistan and by means of provincial governors. Consolidation of the Delhi Sultanate took place during the reign of Ghiyasuddin Balban and enlargement typically under Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad Tughluq.

The initial campaigns have been along the internal frontier of the Sultanate, throughout which the forests had been cleared in Ganga-Yamuna doab and hunter-gatherers and pastoralists were expelled from their homes. These lands were passed over to peasants and agriculture become endorsed.

The second form of expansion occurred along the traces of the external frontier of the Sultanate. Expeditions to southern India have been started by Alauddin Khalji and ended with Muhammad Tughlaq. In the campaigns sultanate armies captured elephants, horses, and slaves. By the cease of Muhammad Tughluq’s reign, the armies of the Sultanate had marched throughout a large part of the subcontinent and defeated rival armies, and seized among the towns. They gathered taxes from peasants and distributed justice.

Slave or Mamluk Dynasty

The Slave Dynasty ruled from 1206-1290 and was called the Mamluk dynasty. It was named the “Mamluk” dynasty because the word Mamluk is an Arabic word that means “slave/owned. Important rulers of the Slave Dynasty are as follows:

Qutb-ud din Aibak1206-1210He was the founder of the Mamluk Dynasty and a slave of Muhammad Ghori.
Aram Shah1210-1211Eldest son of Qutb-ud-din Aibak
Shams-ud-din Iltutmish1211-1236Son-in-law of Qutb-ud-din Aibak
Ruknuddin Feruz Shah1236Son of Iltutmish
Razia Sultana1236-1240Daughter of Iltutmish and Granddaughter of Qutb-ud- din Aibak
Muizuddin Bahram1240-1242Son of Iltutmish
Alauddin Masud1242-1246Son of Ruknuddin Feruz Shah
Nasiruddin Mahmud1246-1266Razia’s Brother who died in 1229
Ghiyas-ud-din Balban1266-1286Father-in-law of Nashiruddin Mahmud and the most powerful ruler of the Slave Dynasty
Muiz ud din Kaiqubad1287-1290Grandson of Ghiyasuddin Balban
Kaimur1290Son of Muiz-ud-din Kaiqubad

Three dynasties were established in this period:

  1. Qutbi Dynasty ( 1206-1211)- The founder was Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
  2. First Ilbari Dynasty (1211-1266)- The founder was Iltutmish.
  3. Second Ilbari Dynasty (1266-1290)- The founder was Balban.
  4. Qutub-ud-din Aibak (1206-1210 CE)

Qutub-ud-din Aibak was the founder of the slave dynasty. He played important role in the expansion of the Turkish Sultanate in India after the Battle of Tarain. Muhammad Ghori made him governor of the possessions of India and he raise a standing army and hold over north India. He defeated Yaldauz and severed all connections with Ghazni and thus founded the slave dynasty as well as the Sultanate of Delhi.

Slave dynasty

Iltutmish (1210-1236 CE)

In 1211 CE, Iltutmish dethroned Aram Shah and became Sultan with the name Shamsuddin. He is regarded as a real consolidator of Turkish rule in India. He defeated Yaldauz in the battle of Tarain and also drove away Qabacha from Punjab. His diplomatic policy toward the Mongols helped him to save his empire from the wrath of Chengis Khan.

Iltutmish brought Bengal and Bihar back to Delhi Sultanate and suppressed the Rajput revolts and recovered Ranthambore by 1231 he established control over Bayana, Mandore, Jalore, and Gwalior. He was a great statesman and received Mansur.

Various administrations in Delhi were Rajput Dynasty, early Turkish ruler, Khalji line, Tughlaq tradition, Sayyid tradition, and Lodi tradition. Significant verifiable sources are engravings and composition, coins given by various rulers, abstract sources, and sultanate craftsmanship and engineering. The Khalji and Tughlaq rulers named military authorities as legislative leaders of regions. These grounds were called iqta and their holders were called iqtadar or muqti.

The creators who composed the chronicles were learned men like secretaries, directors, artists, and subjects. The extension of the Sultanate occurred in two stages as below mentioned:

  • Stage One: The main arrangement of missions was pointed toward solidifying the hinterlands of the post towns. Backwoods were cleared and trackers and pastoralists were driven away from their living space. Lands were given to workers for development.
  • Stage Two: In the subsequent stage, the armed forces walked toward the south and caught immense regions. Muhammad Tughlaq’s armed forces caught huge quantities of elephants, ponies, and slaves.

Balban ( 1266-1286)

Balban thought and portrayed the Sultan as God’s shadow on earth and enhanced the power of the monarchy. Rigorous court discipline and new customs like prostration and kissing the sultan’s feet were introduced by him. He introduced the Persian festival of Nauroz and stood forward as the champion of Turkish nobility.

He was determined to break the power of “The Forty” and spared only the loyal nobles. He had to deal with both internal and external problems. Mongols were looking for the opportunity to attack and Indian rulers were ready to revolt and distant governors wanted to gain independence. To control these situations, he had to adopt a stern policy and organised a strong central army to deal with the same. A separate department, Diwan-e-arz and reorganized the army.

Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320)

Jalal-ud-din Firoz Khilji1290-1296Founder of the Khilji dynasty and son of Qaim Khan
Alauddin Khilji1296-1316Jalal-ud-din Firoz Khilji’s nephew and most powerful ruler of the Khilji Period
Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Shah1316-1320Son of Alauddin Khilji

Jalal-ud-din Khalji (1290-1296)

Jalal-ud-din Khalji is the founder of the Khalji dynasty. He was around 70 years old when he assumed power. He fought many successful battles against the Mongols during Balban’s reign. Khalji’s had a mixed Turkish-Afghan descent. He put out the view that the state should be based on the willing support of the governed and since the majority of Indians were Hindus, the state of India could not be an Islamic state.

He adopted a policy of tolerance and avoided cases of harsh punishments. During his reign, Alauddin invaded Devagiri and accumulated huge wealth and in 1296 he was treacherously murdered by his father-in-law near Kara.

Alauddin Khalji (1296-1316)

He was the nephew and son-in-law of Jalal-ud-din Khalji. He was appointed as Amir-i-Tuzuk and Arizi-i-Mumalik. He followed Balban’s policy instead of Jalaluddin’s policy of tolerance. He passed four important laws:

  1. The sale of liquor and drugs publically was banned.
  2. The intelligence system was reorganized and all secret activities of nobles were reported to Sultan immediately.
  3. He confiscated the property of nobles.
  4. Social gatherings and festivities without the permission of the Sultan were not permitted.

Alauddin Khalji Campaign to South

Military Campaigns of Alauddin Khalji

  • A huge permanent standing army was maintained by him and sent his army six times against the Mongols.
  • Conquest of Gujarat was possible as Alauddin sent an army under two of his generals, Nusrat Khan and Ulugh Khan to capture Gujarat in 1299.
  • After the capture of Gujarat, Alauddin’s attention turned to Rajputana:
  • Ranthambore- One of the strongest forts in Rajasthan. In 1301, the fort fell to Alauddin and the Rajput women committed Jauhar.
  • Chittor- It was another powerful state and in 1301, Alauddin stormed the Chittor fort.
  • In 1305, under the leadership of Ain-ul-Mulk, the Khalji army captured Malwa. Ujjain, Mandu, Chanderi, and Dhar were also annexed.
  • One of the greatest achievements of Alauddin was the conquest of the Deccan and far south. This region was ruled by different important dynasties like the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiyas of Warangal, the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra, and the Pandyas of Madurai. Malik Kafur attacked Devagiri and the ruler Rai Ramchandra surrendered and was given the district of Gujarat. According to Amir Khusrau, Malik Kafur reached as far as Rameshwaram, built a mosque, and returned to Delhi with huge wealth.

Administration of Alauddin Khalji

  1. Military Reforms- He maintained a large permanent standing army and paid them in cash from the royal treasury. He recruited around 4,75,000 cavalrymen according to some historians. He introduced a system of dagh and prepared Yuliya.
  2. Market Reforms- Alauddin established 4 separate markets in Delhi, one for grain, another for cloth, dried fruits, butter, and oil; a third for horses, cattle, and slaves; and a fourth one for miscellaneous commodities. Each market was under a high officer called Shahna-i-Mandi. A separate department called the Diwan-i-Riyasat was created under an officer called Naib-i-Riyasat. No hoarding was permissible and even during famines, the same price was maintained.
  3. Land Revenue Administration- He was one of the first sultan of Delhi who ordered the measurement of Land and it was collected in cash, which helped Sultan to pay soldiers in cash. This system provided a base for future reforms of Sher Shah and Akbar.

Tughluq Dynasty(1320-1414)

Ghiyath-al-Din Tughluq1320-1325 
Muhammad Bin Tughluq1325-1351Also called as Muhammad Shah II
Mahmud Ibn Muhammad1351 (March) 
Firoz Shah Tughlaq1351-1388Cousin of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq
Ghiyas-ud- Din Tughluq II1388-1389 
Abu Bakr Shah1389-1390 
Nasir ud Din Muhammad Shah I1390-1393 
Ala ud-din Sikandar Shah I1393 
Mahmud Nasir ud din1393-1399Also known as Sultan Mahmud II
Nasir-ud-din Nusrat Shah Tughluq1394-1399Grandson of Firuz Shah Tughlaq
Nasir ud din Mahmud1399-1412Son of Mahmud Nasir-ud-din

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq/ Ghazi Malik (1320-1325)

He was the founder of the Tughlaq dynasty and laid the foundation of Tughlaqabad near Delhi. He sends his son Jauna Khan against Warangal and Madurai. It is believed Jauna Khan treacherously killed his father and ascended the throne with the title Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1325.

Muhammad Bin Tughlaq/ Jauna Khan (1325-1351)

He introduced many reforms, which are mentioned in brief below:

  1. Transfer of Capital- He wanted to shift his capital from Delhi to Devagiri so he can control the South well. He moved his people forcefully to Devagiri, which was renamed Daulatabad. After a span of 2 years, the sultan abandoned Daulatabad and shited back to Delhi due to water scarcity in Daulatabad.
  2. Token Currency- In 1329, he introduced token currency made of copper to replace gold and silver coins, based on the Chinese example. Tokens were easy to forge which led to heavy losses. Later he repealed his verdict.
  3. Taxation in Doab- Above two failed reforms led to the loss of money in huge quantities. To improve the financial condition, he increased land revenue for farmers on the doab of the Yamuna and Ganga rivers. A severe famine struck the region at the time and which made people revolt, which was later succeeded by him.
  4. Agricultural Reforms- Takkavi loans were given to the farmers to buy seeds and extend cultivation. A separate department for agriculture was set up called Diwan-i-amir Kohi.

He was the only Delhi Sultan who had received a comprehensive literary, philosophical, and religious education. He was tolerant about religious matters and maintained diplomatic relationships with Egypt, China, and Iran. Ibn Batuta visited India during this time. During the later period of his reign, rebellions were faced by his nobles and provincial governors.

Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351-1388)

After the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq in 1351, Firoz Shah Tughlaq was chosen as Sultan by nobles.

Military Campaigns

He focused on strengthening his position over north India instead of focusing on the South and Deccan. He led two expeditions to Bengal, which were unsuccessful and as a result, Bengal became free from Sultanate control. Firoz Shah also attacked Jajnagar and collected booty from temples and also marched to Nagarkot, and also towards Thatta.

Administrative Reforms

Ulemas played important role in his administration. The Iqta system was revived and was made hereditary. He levied taxes as per the teaching of Islam and Jizya was imposed on non-muslims. He showed intolerance towards Shia Muslims and Sufis. He imposed an irrigation tax and built a number of irrigation canals and wells. The longest canal was about 200 km in length from Sutlej to Hansi.

Royal factories called Karkhanas in which thousands of slaves were employed were developed. New towns were built during his reign, the famous one being Firozabad. Diwan-i-Khairat, a new department was established to support orphans and widows. Scholars like Barani and Isami were patronized and he himself wrote Futuhat-e-Firozshahi.

Following years after the death of Firoz Shah Tughlaq, the Delhi Sultanate disintegrated and many provinces like Gujarat and Malwa declared independence and the Mongol invasion further aggravated the situation. He withdrew from India in 1399 and his invasion gave a death blow to Tughlaq.

Sayyid Dynasty(1414-1451)

Khizr Khan1414-1421
Mubarak Shah1421-1433
Muhammad Shah1434-1445
Alam Shah1445-1451

Khizr Khan(1414-1421)

Before Timur left India, appointed Khizr Khan as governor of Multan and captured Delhi, and founded the Sayyid dynasty in 1414. He is considered to be one of the important rulers of the Sayyid Dynasty.

Muhammad Shah(1434-1443)

Muhammad Shah succeeded Mubarak Shah was busy acting against his conspirators and gradually lost control of his nobles. He was succeeded by his son Alam Shah.

Lodi Dynasty(1451-1526)

RulersPeriodImportant Points
Bahlul Lodi1451-1489Founder of the Lodi Dynasty
Sikander Lodi1489-1517Most prominent ruler of the Lodi Dynasty
Ibrahim Lodi1517-1526Defeated by Babur in the First Battle of Panipat and thus ended Delhi Sultanate.

They were the last ruling dynasty of the sultanate period and the first to be headed by Afghans, who ruled over Sirhind when Sayyid ruled India.

Bahlul Lodi( 1451-1489)

He was the founder of the Lodhi dynasty and in 1476 he defeated the sultan of Jaunpur and annexed it to Delhi Sultanate. He also annexed the Sharqui dynasty and introduced copper coins.

Sikander Lodi(1489-1517)

He was the greatest of the Lodi. He brought the whole of Bihar under his sway and many Rajput chiefs were also defeated and attacked Bengal and forced its ruler to conclude a treaty with him and extended the kingdom from Punjab to Bihar.

He built many roads and many irrigation facilities were provided for the peasants. He introduced Gazz-i-Sikandari, a new measurement yardstick. He was intolerant towards non-muslims and many temples were destroyed and Jizya was reintroduced. In 1504, he founded Agra and wrote Persian verses as well.

Ibrahim Lodhi(1517-1526)

Sikander Lodhi was succeeded by Ibrahim Lodhi. He had an arrogant personality and insulted his nobles in court and the ones who revolted were put to death. Displeased by the attitude of Ibrahim Lodi, Daulat Khan Lodhi invited Babur to invade India and the First Battle of Panipat occurred in 1526.


Land revenue was the major source of income when it comes to administration. The peasants had to pay one-third of their produce as land revenue and sometimes even half of the produce. Agriculture was the main occupation for the bulk of people and peasants produced a large variety of food crops, cash crops, fruits, vegetables, and spices. Crop rotation, double cropping, etc, as well as artificial water lifting devices, were used for the purpose. The Persian wheel was the most advanced water-lifting device of the period.

The process of urbanization also gained momentum at the time. The construction of roads and their maintenance facilitated smooth transport and communication and royal roads were well maintained. Sarais or rest houses on highways were maintained. Also, the cotton textile and silk industry flourished. Paper-making technology was evolved and introduced during the Delhi sultanate. Craft production was organized in villages as well as qazbas. Karkhanas were the royal establishments. Commercial links with contemporary central Asia, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe, etc were present.

Literature ad Language

Persian has become the official language of the Delhi Sultanate and the development of Persian literature entered a new era with Amir Khusrau. Ziauddin Barani made an important contribution in form of Tarikh-I-Firzoshahi and Fatawa-i-Jahandari are important. Minhaj-us-Siraj wrote Tabaqat-i-Nasari. Many works were also translated into Persian like Tuti Nama by Zia Nakshabi and a new language of Urdu emerged in the 14th century. The growth of regional languages like Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, and Telugu were also important developments.


New architectural bureaucracy had been added in India during medieval instances. There become the emergence of Indo-Islamic architecture, arches and domes had been the brand new architectural additions. The use of lime mortar in production altered the building strategies. The development of true arch changed into an important function of architectural fashion.

They transformed temples and different systems into mosques. The Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque close to Qutub Minar in Delhi was built with the materials utilized in making the temples. With the appearance of artisans from West Asia the dome and arch display precision. The tomb of Balban was adorned with a true arch and Alai Darwaza changed into built with the aid of Alauddin Khalji as a gateway to Quwwatul Islam Mosque.

Tughlaqs delivered innovative capabilities in structure like batter or sloping walls and the use of stone rubble because the principal constructing material. A new kind of arch was called the 4-targeted arch and there was the emergence of the pointed dome and there has been the advent of the octagonal plan of the tomb constructing.

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq introduced Tughlaqabad to Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughlaq introduced Jahanpanha to Delhi and Firoz Shah Tughlaq delivered Ferozabad to Delhi. A few huge landmarks had been developed. They are

Qutub Minar: In 1192, the primary ruler and furthermore the lead consultant, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, had started the improvement of the Qutub Minar. It is the tallest Minar evolved in India with 238 feet of degree. The dividers of Qutub Minar had been deliberate with refrains from the Quran and flower themes of India. It become designed completely fabricated from marble and also purple sandstone. Iltutmish, the replacement of Qutb-ud-din Aibak, had completed the development. It is the number one constructing image of India.
Alai Darwaja: Another high-quality development tested in Class 7 History Chapter 3 notes of the Delhi Sultanates for the duration of the 13th 100 years. It became labored continuously ruler of Delhi, Ala-ud-din Khalji, in 1311 CE. The Qutub Minar is situated at the southern side of the  Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque. It is the primary actual arch in Quite a while. In the center between the Qutub Minar and Alai Darwaza, the burial area of Sultan Balban.
    Lodi Gardens and Tomb of Mohammad Shah: In the fourteenth hundred years, the rulers had been Sayyid and Lodi. They fabricated Lodi Gardens and the Tomb of Mohammad Shah, mirroring the Islamic pointed curves in the octagonal fundamental chamber. The development of the rooftop has a few likenesses with Mughal engineering.

FAQs on Delhi Sultanate

What are the 5 Delhi Sultanate?

The 5 Delhi Sultanates include:

The Mamluk Dynasty, The Khalji Dynasty, The Tughlaq Dynasty, The Sayyid Dynasty, and The Lodi Dynasty.

Who is founder of Delhi Sultanate?

The founder of Delhi Sultanate is Qutub-ud-din-Aibak.

Who was the most powerful sultan of Delhi Sultanate?

Alauddin Khilji is the most powerful sultan of Delhi Sultanate.

What was the language of administration under the Delhi Sultan’s?

Persian was the language of administration under Delhi Sultans. Tarikh and Tawarikh sources of information on Delhi Sultans.

Who was the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate?

Ibrahim Lodhi was the last ruler of Delhi Sultanate. He was defeated by Babur in the battle of Panipat in 1526.

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Last Updated : 11 Dec, 2023
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