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Indian State History




India - Delhi - Qutubuddin Aibak

Qutubuddin Aibak


¤ Laid Down The Foundation of Slave Dynasty

In 1206, when Muhammad was assassinated, Aibak crowned himself Sultan of Delhi thus laying the foundation for the so-called Slave dynasty of Delhi (the founder having once been a slave) or the Delhi Sultanate.

The Delhi Sultanate had a much longer reign in Delhi than any other dynasty that had come before it. In fact it remained in power throughout the period between 1190 and 1526. The state’s boundaries kept shifting, and at different times included Afghanistan and the Deccan, but the central dynasty did not budge till the Mughals arrived. The period saw the settling of the Qutub Minar-Mehrauli area and the building of four of the cities of Delhi: Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahanpanah and Ferozabad. It would be interesting here to know what went on before Siri saw the light of the Delhi sun.
Qutab Minar

¤ Qutubuddin Aibak came Into Power

With Aibak declaring himself king after Muhammad Ghuri’s death, the Sultanate came to be regarded as an Indian state and not as an extension of the Afghan kingdom. This was an important development and, of course, came with complications. To begin with, the Turks in India felt threatened by the Rajputs and with reason too. But strangely enough (or, as some would say, predictably) the threat never materialized.

However the Turks had no such luck with the other clouds looming over their horizons. The tricky thing about declaring independence is that the ruler back home is not quite philosophical about letting go of a part of his empire, however small. Taj-ud-din Yaldoz, king of Ghazni, was ready to fight it out if it took all summer. He made his wish to annex Punjab so apparent that Qutub-ud-din felt compelled to move his capital from Delhi to Lahore, which was closer to Afghanistan.

What made tackling Ghazni easier for Aibak was that Muhammad Ghuri had himself invested viceregal powers and the title of Malik upon him (Aibak). and what made Yaldoz’s job trickier was that the people of Lahore were overwhelmingly pro-Aibak. Taj-ud-din Yaldoz was actually the ex-governor of Kirman (in Afghanistan) and a usurper himself, so in the rise of Aibak he perceived a threat to his own newly-acquired throne. However, by 1208, Qutub-ud-din was so successful in neutralizing Yaldoz that he was able to secure from him the right to rule over not only Hindustan, but also Ghazni. But not for long. Aibak was soon driven out of Ghazni by Yaldoz and had to return to Lahore.


¤ New Capital To Lahore Raised More Troublesome

Moving the capital to Lahore and this constant focus on his northwest frontiers made more trouble for Aibak. Scarcely had he dealt with Ghazni when trouble erupted in Bengal, Bihar and more importantly Delhi. In the end though the group that proved strongest was the strongly clannish Turkish nobility at Delhi. Qutub-ud-din Aibak died in 1210AD of injuries caused by an accident during a Polo match.

Today, many historians seriously doubt whether Aibak was really an independent ruler of Delhi. Ibn Batuta, the much travelled Moor of the 14th century, also does not include the name of Aibak in his list of Muslim sovereigns of India. This view is supported by the fact that Aibak had no coins struck in his name and no Friday khutba (prayers to bless the king) was read in his name. What can be said with much more confidence, however, is that he was a military leader par excellence. He left behind a kingdom secure enough for his successors to breathe easy.


¤ Sudden Death of Qutub-ud-din

Following Qutub-ud-din’s sudden death, the Amirs and Maliks (the Turkish nobles) at Delhi put Aram Shah on the throne as a stopgap arrangement. Just who this Aram Shah was and why was he selected to succeed Aibak remains a mystery. He has been variously portrayed as Aibak’s son, brother, just the convenient man available and many such things, but the truth is not known. What is better known is that Aram Shah was a weak and unpopular king and the people of Delhi flatly refused to accept him as their ruler. Following their excellent example, powerful governors like Nasir-ud-din Qabacha of Multan and Ali Mardan of Bengal also rejected his overlordship. Were the nobles in Delhi attempting to put a puppet king on the throne? Or was this simply a move to make Altamash’s ascendancy to the throne unquestioned?



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