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Indian State History




India - Delhi - Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq

Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq


After the Khaljis, the next dynasty to ascend to the throne of Delhi were the Tughlaqs, or the Qaraunah Turks, who must have been the most assiduous builders of all time, since at least three different kings of the dynasty built a city each in Delhi – Tughlaqabad, Jahanpanah and Ferozabad.


¤ A Dramatic Tale of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq Being Crowned

Ghiyas-ud-din-TughlaqUnder the influence of the enigmatic Malik Kafur, Ala-ud-din had disinherited his sons Khizr and Shadi Khan and then nominated his minor son Shihab-ud-din Umar as the heir and Malik Kafur as his regent. When Ala-ud-din died, Umar was hardly six years old and Malik Kafur of course seized advantage. He had Khizr Khan and Shadi Khan blinded and set his men after Mubarak Khan, Ala-ud-din’s third-born. Had the old sultan been alive, his heart would have warmed up to Mubarak Khan who managed to buy off Malik Kafur’s agents and made them double-cross him.

After Mubarak Khan had Malik killed, he announced himself the regent of the hapless Shihab-ud-din Umar. Not two months were out before Mubarak dethroned the kid and had him blinded (of all beastly things!). Unfortunately Mubarak did not live up to the promise he showed early on. He went soft. In his quest to win friends and influence people he went too far and gave too much.


¤ Spending Time With Merrymakers Leads To Down Fall

Zia-ud-din Barani tells us that during the rule of Mubarak Khan, the omnipotent and omnipresent dread of the state receded considerably. On top of this, the king was indiscreet and careless. His idea of warming up with the nobles was drinking and making merry with them, something which his illustrious predecessors like Ala-ud-din and Balban would have never even dreamt of.

Word went round that the king was a pushover and naturally everyone who could take advantage of the situation did so. There were rebellions all round. Conspiracies, confusion and corruption became the order of the day. Then Mubarak Shah fell in love with Khusro Shah, an attendant of sorts, and things just got worse. Merrymakers and jesters soon began to occupy more of the king’s time than courtiers. In the end the king was disposed of by his own lover, who then occupied the throne. Meanwhile in Punjab, Ghazi Malik, that seasoned old campaigner of Ala-ud-din, thought that enough was enough. He marched to Delhi, defeated Khusro Shah in battle and took over the throne, putting an end to this turbulent period.


¤ Ghazi Malik- A Sensible Clear-Headed Emperor

king. He stripped his court of all frippery and frivolity and made it more austere than it had ever been except perhaps at the time of Balban. He restored all land that had been taken away by Ala-ud-din Khalji but only after he had made secret inquiries into the claims and all unlawful grants had been filtered out. He tried to recover the treasure squandered by Khusro Shah and succeeded in some measure. Barani tells us that the king believed that people should ‘be taxed so that they are not blinded with wealth and so become discontented and rebellious; nor, on the other hand, be so reduced to poverty and destitution as to be unable to pursue their daily bread.’

Under Ghazi the judicial, police and postal arrangements improved out of all knowledge and became very efficient. Despite the fact that he was forever busy with war campaigns, he actually found time to think out social welfare schemes.


¤ Ghazi's Defeat

Yet Ghazi Malik’s biggest defeat was to come not at the hands of some great conqueror, but at those of a mystic - the great and popular Sufi dervish Shaikh Nizam-ud-din Auliya. Throughout his reign Ghazi Malik remained at loggerheads with the Shaikh and although he repeatedly tried to curb the saint’s power and hold over people, nothing came of it. In fact many believed at that time that it only helped bring about Ghazi’s untimely demise.

There are lots of stories about Auliya and Ghazi’s war of words. One of their earliest skirmishes occurred when Ghazi - better known as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq - was building the capital city of Tuqhlaqabad, which is now about 5km east of Delhi. As it happened, the Auliya was building his baoli (step well) at the same time. The workers of the sultan offered to help the saint. When Ghazi came to know of this, he put a stop to it instantly and told the workers to stick to what they were being paid for. Miffed at this, the dervish predicted that the sultan’s fort would be either populated by nomads or abandoned. Curiously this actually came to pass. Ghiyas-ud-din was killed by his own son Muhammad Tughlaq (which incidentally had also been predicted by Auliya, who was rather fond of Muhammad) after only five years of occupying the fort. Muhammad abandoned Tughlaqabad, preferring the old city of Delhi to it. For a long time thereafter Ghazi’s city remained the hangout for nomads and it now stands in ruins.



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