(Last Updated on : 25/05/2012)
Ala-ud-din Khilji, whose original name was Ali Gurshasp, was the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty. He was one of the most successful rulers of the Delhi Sultanate
. Among the rulers of the medieval India, Ala-ud-din occupies an honourable position both as a conqueror and administrator. He was the greatest ruler of the Khilji dynasty and successfully repelled several invasions from the Mongol Empire. Ala-ud-din was the nephew and son-in-law of Jalal-ud-din. Ala-ud-din was appointed as governor of Kara by his uncle. He killed his uncle and proclaimed himself as King of Delhi
on 3rd October 1296.
Reign of Ala-ud-din Khilji
He ruled for a span of 20 years from the year 1296-1316. He went on to vandalise the wealth of nobles, looting temples and invaded many states. He defeated the nobles and made them completely submissive to the crown. He was ambitious and dreamt of ruling over the whole of Indian empire. Ala-ud-din's talents were engaged in seeking fulfilment in worldly possession and power. In 1292 AD, Ala-ud-din successfully attacked Bhilsa and was awarded the governorship of Awadh. In the year 1296 he got enormous booty from Devagiri which further raise his prestige and the number of his followers. He defeated the ruler of Devagiri and forced them to pay a huge war indemnity. This helped him in capturing the throne of Delhi.
Conquests of Ala-ud-din Khilji
To materialise his dream, Ala -ud -din embarked a career of conquest. His four henchmen were his brother Ulugh Khan, Nusrat Khan, Zafar Khan and his brother-in-law, Alp Khan. Some of his great conquests were Gujarat in 1297 AD, Ranthambhor and Chittor in 1303 A.D. In 1297 AD, Ala -ud -din Khilji set off for conquering Gujarat
. The Raja of Gujarat took shelter in Devagiri where Nusrat Khan and Ulugh Khan pursued them and looted. Here Nusrat Khan purchased a Hindu slave called Malik Kafur who, in due course helped Ala -ud -din Khilji in his future conquests. Ala -ud -din Khilji was the first to sack Chittor, overpowered by a passionate desire to possess the regal beauty, queen Padmini
. Even in the south the Hoysala kingdom and the Telengana kingdom accepted his supremacy and agreed to pay him an annual tribute. Ala -ud -din also occupied Madurai
and expanded Delhi Sultanate up to the peninsula of Deccan. Ala-ud-din Khilji described himself as 'Second Alexandar' on his own coinage.
Policies of Ala-ud-din Khilji
Ala -ud -din was not tolerant towards the Hindus. While conquering different states in the North, Ala -ud -din had looted many Hindu homes. Especially on his way back from Jalandhar
he had sacked and damaged many Hindu temples. Cows were butchered and Hindu women raped. Local Hindus were made to accept Islam
; such atrocities were going on since a long time. As Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan turned back toward Delhi, their armies laden with fabulous loot, a serious revolt broke out in their ranks. The ones who revolted were killed, disfigured and captured. The prisoners retaliated with the help of Muslim soldiers. A large number of Hindu captives were successful in escaping. Even in matters of revenue and taxation, the Hindus had to pay more than the Muslims. While Muslim merchants paid only five percent of the value of their merchandise as tax, Hindu merchants were asked to pay ten percent.
Ala -ud -din was an ambitious ruler but a practical statesman as well. He accepted the limitations of his ambition. He did not annex the territories of the vanquished rulers of the south because he could realise that it was difficult to keep under control the states of the south from such a distant place as Delhi. He could be diplomatic and conspiring at one time and chivalrous at other times. He changed his course of action according to circumstances and that was one of the most important reasons of his success practically in all fields. As an individual, Ala -ud -din was a follower of Islam and respected religious people. Though he himself was illiterate, he was a patron of fine arts and learning. Most of the known scholars of his age were assembled at his court. Amir Khusrau and Amir Hasan of Delhi
were patronised by him. Ala -ud -din also constructed many good buildings including the fort of Siri, palace of one thousand pillars called Hazar Situn and several mosques, tanks and rest houses. His Alai Darwaza
, has been regarded as one of the best specimens of early Turkish architecture.
Ala -ud -din occupies an important position among the rulers of medieval India. He became Sultan at the age of thirty and within a span of fifteen years he became the most powerful rulers of India. The success which Ala -ud -din achieved during his lifetime was unique both regarding the extension of the empire and the administration. Ala -ud -din was a brave soldier, a most capable military commander, a shrewd diplomat, a great conqueror, a successful administrator and a powerful and ambitious Sultan. His primary object was to achieve success and he gained it in practically all fields although his life.