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India - Delhi - Altamash

Altamash


¤ Altamash - One of The Most Significant Kings of Slave Dynasty

Altamash Tomb
Eight months after Aram Shah took the reins of Delhi his unhappy nobles requested Malik Shams-ud-din Altamash, Aibak’s son-in-law, to takeover. and thus was crowned one of the most important kings of the Slave dynasty. Altamash was a shrewd and intelligent man. He quickly realized that, if anything was to be saved of the Turkish possessions in India, he would have to strengthen the Sultanate and prevent the Turkish nobles from breaking away and carving out independent domains for themselves.

So, the first thing he did was to crush the highhanded Qutbi and Muizzi Maliks and the governors of Multan and Bengal. Then he turned to Yaldoz who was still a major threat. Not only did Altamash pulverize the forces of Yaldoz, he also had the man captured and sentenced to death. Next he turned his attention to the Rajputs, who were beginning to throw their weight about after the death of Aibak. The Chandellas had taken back Ajaigarh and Kalinjar, the Pratiharas had reoccupied Gwalior, Narwar and Jhansi, the Chauhans of Ranthambhore had won back Jodhpur, the Jalor Chauhans had moved in on large areas of south-western Rajasthan and the Jadon Bhattis had established their sovereignty with Alwar as their capital.



¤ His Endeavor With Rajputs

As soon as Altamash had freed himself from his other distractions he decided to deal with the Rajputs. But it was not easy. The Rajputs put up fierce resistance, especially in Jalor and Ajmer. Altamash’s army was completely unsuccessful against the Chandellas. Eventually the king had to lead an attack himself but they still suffered heavy losses.

Stung by this failure, Altamash again sent a large expedition to Malwa in 1234-35. This expedition was much more successful but it has been suggested that it was more a lesson-teaching exercise than any serious attempt to hold Malwa. This is probably true as Altamash did not attempt to garrison Ujjain and Bhilsa after plundering them. The region he succeeded in holding was the fertile Doab area with Badaun, Kanauj, Banaras and Rohilakhand.


¤ Encountering With Chingez Khan

But the greatest test for Altamash was still to come. In the year 1221AD, a certain Central Asian Mongol called Chingez Khan came and camped along the Indus. Chingez had been travelling almost non-stop, overrunning Western and Central Asia with astounding speed. Legends of his great courage, ruthlessness and perspicuous leadership must of course travelled to India by then.

Mercifully, though, Chingez had not come to invade India. He had come chasing Jala-ud-din Manabarni, the last Shah of Khwarizm of Khiva, with the intention of assigning him to death. This of course made perfect military sense. Meanwhile, Jalal-ud-din reached the boundaries of the Sultanate and had sent a frantic SOS to Delhi.

Altamash realized that he needed to watch his step here. Any move on his part to help the Shah would lead to a confrontation with Chingez. But then he couldn’t afford to antagonize the Shah either, since he had considerable forces of his own. So Altamash sent Jalal-ud-din an extremely courteous letter saying that he, Altamash, would have been more than happy to give him, the Shah, shelter but very much feared that the harsh Indian summer would not suit His Excellency, so he begged to be excused of the honor of being his host. It is not known if Jalal-ud-din ever got back to Altamash. What is known is that Jalal-ud-din tied up with the Khokars to plunder Multan, Sindh and northern Gujrat. After that he went away to Persia with the Mongols hot on his trail.


¤ The Death of Altamash

When Altamash died on April 29, 1236, he had just returned from yet another of those military campaigns that dotted his restless life – this one in the Doab. The tomb of Altamash still stands in the complex of Qutub Minar, started by Aibak, which incidentally he found time to get completed.

By all accounts and assessments Altamash’s reign was a remarkable success. It was under him that Lahore finally sank out of the political scene and Delhi became the unquestioned capital. and not only politically - it was also becoming a great centre for culture and learning with many great scholars like Minhaj-us-Siraj, Hasan Nizami and Muhammad Aufi based here. Altamash was also the first Muslim ruler to lay down a basic administrative system to rule his scattered territories, complete with proper revenue and finance departments, district (iqta) divisions, local police systems and the works. It was not an ideal system but it worked, and quite well too.



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