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Sultan Ala-ud-din Khilji.
Ala-ud-din Khilji (Urdu/Arabic: علاء الدين الخلجي, real name Ali Gurshap; died 1316) was the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty in Indiamarker. He reigned from 1296 to 1316.

His historic attack on Chittormarker in 1303 AD, after hearing of the beauty of queen of Chittormarker, Rani Padmini, the wife of King Rawal Ratan Singh and the subsequent story has been immortalized in the epic poem Padmavat, written by Malik Muhammad Jayasi in the Awadhi language in the year 1540 .


Ala-ud-din Khalji was the nephew and son in law of Jalal-ud-din. His surname is Khilji in Dari/Farsi and Arabic documents, but the original Pashtu is Ghilzai. The obvious difference in spelling and pronunciation arises in lack of letters between Arabic/Dari and Pashtu. At first, Jalal-ud-din appointed Ala-ud-Din as the governor of Kara near the city of Allahabadmarker. In 1296 Ala-ud-Din killed his uncle. But Malika Jahan, the widow of Jalal-ud-din, put her younger son Rukn-ud-din Khilji on the throne. Ala-ud-din quickly marched on Delhi from Kara. He entered Delhi with his uncle's head on a pike and on October 3, 1296, proclaimed himself the King of Delhi. Arkali Khan, Jalal-ud-din's older son, and Rukn-ud-din were blinded. Malika Jahan was imprisoned.

Very soon he went about despoiling the wealth of nobles, frequently blinding, imprisoning or killing them. In 1297, Alauddin sent an army to plunder Gujaratmarker, under the generalship of Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan. This army looted the temple of Somnathmarker and the Shivalinga was broken into pieces and was being carried back to Delhimarker. Kanhad Dev Songara, the ruler of Jaloremarker in Rajasthanmarker attacked and defeated Ulugh Khan and captured the broken Shivalinga which was washed in the Ganges Rivermarker, and the fragments were established in various temples in Jaloremarker. Muhammad Shah helped Kanhad Dev Songara. Muhammad was a general in Khilji's army. After the war, Muhammad Shah went and stayed with Hammir at Ranthamboremarker. Ulugh Khan apprised Alauddin who ordered him and Nusrat Khan to conquer Ranthamboremarker. In 1299 they started out with 80,000 cavalry and a large infantry to attack Hammir. Hammir's army repulsed the attack and killed Nusrat Khan. Ulugh Khan escaped and reached Delhimarker. Khilji was taken aback by this defeat and wanted revenge. He finally came himself in 1301, and there was a long siege. Hammir was very well prepared. When the fort would not fall after repeated bloody skirmishes, Khilji resorted to diplomacy. Hammir was very suspicious but he heeded to his councilors who told him that the sword is not always the best recourse. Ratipal and Ranmal, who were close confidants of Hammir, were sent to the Khilji camp. Ranmal's father was hung by Hammir for treachery and his property was confiscated. Ranmal earned the trust of Hammir by being brave in battles that Hammir fought but perfidy was in his blood. Khilji bribed these two generals of Hammir's army and consequently Ranthambore fell. After the annexation of Gujaratmarker, he took to the practice of making the innocent families of rebels against the government suffer.

Personal life

Alauddin Khilji was a practicing Muslim. His most beloved soldier was a, Malik Kafur, originally a slave boy from Gujaratmarker who was captured in a raid by Alauddin. Kafur was castrated, converted to Islam, and was taken into Alauddin's service. He was commonly referred as Hazar Dinari Kafur ("Kafur worth thousand Dinars), perhaps alluding to the price at which he was purchased.

Mongol invasions

Duwa Khan

When Kublai Khan died in 1294, the former Mongol Empire was divided into independent Khanates. One such Khanate was the Chagatai Khanate which covered Central Asia and its leader at that time was Duwa Khan. Duwa was active in Afghanistanmarker, and attempted to extend Mongol rule to Indiamarker, but there he was defeated by a formidable foe, General Zafar Khan of the Delhi Sultanate in 1296-1297.The two armies met at Jalandharmarker in 1297. Zafar Khan defeated the Mongols in this first invasion.


The Mongols attacked again under the command of Saldi and captured the fort of Siri. Zafar Khan holding the honour of being one of the few undefeated military commanders in history had no problem crushing this army, recaptured the fort and brought 2,000 Mongols prisoners before Sultan Alauddin Khilji. It was one of the worst defeats for the Mongols. Legend has it that Zafar Khan created such great terror in the minds of the Mongols that whenever their horses refused to drink water, the Mongols would ask them if they had seen Zafar Khan. The first invasion of the Mongols was an abysmal failure with Zafar Khan almost grinding them into the dust. The Mongols thereafter repeatedly invaded northern Indiamarker. On at least two occasions, they came in strength. The second time around, they took Delhimarker but could not keep their hold on the Sultanate.

Qutlugh Khwaja

But in 1299, the Mongols came back. It says much for the tenacious Mongol spirit that they were back so soon and in such strength that they took over the fort of Siri, just beyond Delhi, which Ala-ud-Din Khilji had built. This time they came under a leader who was a legend in his own right, Qutlugh Khwaja, the feared Central Asian warrior and son of Duwa Khan now commanding a force of 200,000 Mongols. Ala-ud-Din Khilji realized that the Mongols meant business. If Qutlugh Khwaja had come himself it meant war, not for gold but for the kingdom itself.

The situation was serious enough for the usually individualistic Sultan Ala-ud-Din Khilji to be forced into taking advice from others. Ala-ud-Din Khilji was urged to sue for peace by his advisors as Qutlugh was virtually wiping his feet at the doorsteps of Delhi. However Ala-ud-Din Khilji did not become the Sultan via cautious diplomacy. He rejected their advice and said,

Ignoring their advice the young sultan attacked the Mongols. The advance guard of the army was led by Zafar Khan himself. He defeated the Mongols again and went off in hot pursuit of them as they withdrew. However, the wily Qutlugh tricked Zafar into a position where he was first surrounded and then killed by the Mongols. Ala-ud-Din Khilji took this loss calmly. Zafar Khan had been entirely too popular for his comfort anyway. However, the death of the general did not improve matters for the Mongols. In face of Ala-ud-Din Khilji‘s continued offensives, they had to retreat to the unconquerable heights from where they had come.


The Mongols took, what was for them, a long time to rally from this setback. They attacked at the worst time possible for Ala-ud-Din Khilji, when he was busy laying siege to Chittormarker. This time the Mongols traveled light. An army of 12,000 under Targhi’s leadership trickled into India like a shadow and moved to Delhi at a pace that was astonishing even by Mongol standards. Such was the swiftness of the attack that many governors could not send their troops to Delhi in time.

Ala-ud-Din Khilji was forced to duck into Siri and stay put for about two months. The Mongols stomped through and pillaged not only the surrounding areas, but Delhimarker itself. However they could not get into Siri. Although minor skirmishes were fought, a decisive win eluded both parties. This deadlock dragged on for more than a couple of months. In the end when Ala-ud-Din Khilji was fervently hoping for a miracle to help him, his prayers were answered.

The Mongols were a nomadic restless lot, and Targhi was more impatient than most of them. When Ala-ud-Din Khilji dug in his heels and stayed put in his seemingly impregnable fortress for months, Targhi lost interest in the whole affair, washed his hands of it and ordered his army to withdraw.

Barani, the contemporary historian at that time, attributed this marvel to the prayers of the Sufi mystic Shaikh Nizamuddin Auliya. Ala-ud-Din Khilji’s defenses were so strong and enduring that the whole situation had really become quite an impasse. He wisely realized that the Mongols could not hold out forever and had to go home to Central Asia some time. That was where the Mongol power was concentrated and they could not afford to be away for too long.

Targhi had to go back with the consolation that he was leaving behind a much disturbed and thoughtful Ala-ud-Din Khilji, The seriousness of the Qutlugh Khwaja and Targhi led Mongol invasions which had left Siri panting for breath, forced Ala-ud-Din Khilji to take stock of the situation. A defensive measure like hiding in Siri till the Mongol storm blew over must have gashed his proud spirit. He had the forts along the border strengthened and equipped with larger garrisons. New, more effective fortifications were built along this area. A whole new army, with its own special governor, was created whose portfolio was managing and guarding the border areas.

Ali Beg et Tartaq

A few months later the Mongols under the leadership of Ali Beg and Tartaq, suddenly appeared in the Punjab and the neighborhood of Amrohamarker. The Mongols plundered the Punjab and burnt everything to cinders along the way.

But this time Ala-ud-Din Khilji was ready for them. He sent a strong army led by two of his toughest generals Ghazi Malik and the famous Malik Kafur after them. They surprised theMongols on their way back to Central Asia with their plunder. The two generals pooled in their immense talents and defeated the Mongols. The Mongol generals were captured and brought back to Siri, along with other prisoners. Ala-ud-Din Khilji had the generals trampled to death by elephants while the other prisoners were put to death and their heads hung from the walls of the fort.Qasim


Even after the gory treatment meted out to their last expedition, the Mongols came in again in 1306. They crossed the Indusmarker near Multanmarker and were moving towards the Himalayasmarker, when Ghazi Malik (who was by then the governor of the Punjab) intercepted them. About 50,000 Mongols were made prisoners including Kubak, their leader. Ala-ud-Din Khilji put them all to death and sold their wives and children as slaves.

Iqbalmand Khan

The last Mongol invasion took place in 1307-1308 under Iqbalmand. He had just about managed to cross the Indus when Ala-ud-Din Khilji’s armies overtook them and put them all to the sword.

After 1308, the Mongols did not attack Indiamarker again. There were a number of reasons for this. Principal among these was that during their earlier descent from the mountains into the Indus plains, the Mongols became aware of their handicap in an environment of higher temperatures, humidity and their lack of dexterity in riding horses at the speeds they were comfortable at in higher & drier areas. To a lesser extent, of course that Ala-ud-Din Khilji, by repeated ruthlessness, finally managed to drive home the point that he would deal firmly and mercilessly with invaders into his territory. This was one of the greatest achievements of Ala-ud-Din Khilji. He was an original thinker and brilliant as a strategist. If the Mongols had still been serious about an Indianmarker empire, they could have kept sending armies to India. It is to Ala-ud-din’s credit that he drove the idea of an Indian empire from the heads of the Mongols.

But he did not stop there, Ala-ud-Din Khilji had to be sure that the Mongols would never come back .T he only way to do that was to attack them, he sent plundering armies under the veteran general Ghazi Malik to Kandaharmarker, Ghaznimarker and Kabulmarker. The Mongols were already so much in awe of him that they did not even bother to defend their own territories against him. These offensives effectively crippled the Mongol line of control leading to Indiamarker until the arrival of Timur Lane.

North Indian expeditions


Gujarat was the most powerful and fertile kingdom of all the kingdoms in northern India.Karnadev II of the Baghela dynasty was the king of Gujarat.Alauddin Khilji two of his great generals Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan.Nusrat Khan starterd forGujarat from Delhi on February 24 1299.Ulugh Khan started from Sindh and joined Nusrat Khan near Chitor.The army cross Vanasa river and captured the Ravosa fort.Karnadev was defeated and fled to the kingdom of Devagiri and Gujarat was captured by Alauddin Khilji.


Alauddin Khilji once again sent two of his celebrated generals Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to Ranathamvor. Hamirdev of the Chauhan dynasty was the king of Ranathamvor. In a valiant counter attack from the Rajputs Nusrat Khan was killed and Ulugh Khan retreated to Delhi. Alauddin Khilji then himself led the expedition to Ranathamvor. After one year of siege the Muslims were able to occupy Ranathamvor due to the treachery of the Rajput general Ranamal. Ironically, later Ranamal was killed by Alauddin Khilji.


Mewar was the most powerful kingdom of all the Rajput kingdoms and never had been conquered by the Muslims. On 28 January 1303 Alauddin Khilji started for Mewar. First Alauddin Khilji captured the city of Chitor and besieged the Chitor fort. Rana Ratan Singh fought valiantly with his Rajput army. The Rajputs were able to hold their fort for seven months. But, due to the long siege, there grew a severe shortage of food, drinking water and other rations. Consequently, the Rajputs surrendered. Alauddin Khilji appointed Khidr Khan as the governor of Chitor. But Khidr Khan was forced to retreat due to repeated counter attacks of the Rajputs. Alauddin Khilji then appointed Maldec, a Rajput, as the governor of Chitor. But Mewar was able to regain her independence immediately after the death of Alauddin Khilji.


Alauddin Khilji's conquest of Mewar, Ranathamvor and Gujarat stroke terror in the mind of the remaining Rajput Kingdoms. But Mahlak Dev refused to give in to Alauddin Khilji so easily. He gathered 20,000 horsemen and 90,000 infantry to confront Alauddin's army. Harnanda Koka was the general of his army. On the other hand Ain-ul-Mulk Multani was on the head of a 160,000 Muslim army. After a bloody war Harnana Koka was killed by treachery and the Rajput forces retreated. The Muslims were decimated but due to larger numbers were able to prevail. Malwa along with Mandu,Dhara and Chanderi came in the hand of Alauddin Khilji. Ain-ul-Mulk Multani was appointed the governor of Malwa. It was in year 1294 A.D. when he acquired koh-i-noor[172087] from malwa and brought it to Delhi.


Alauddin Khilji invaded Marwar in 1308. Satal Dev was the king of Marwar and the owner of the famous Siwana fort. Alauddin Khilji sent Malik Kamaluddin as the general of his army. After a fierce battle the Marwari army was defeated. Satal dev was captured and was executed.


Alauddin Khilji invaded Jalor in. The first expedition was a failure. Alauddin Khilji then sent Malik Kamaluddin. After a hard fought battle the Rajput army was defeated and Jalor was occupied by the Muslims.

Expeditions in southern India


Alauddin Khilji invaded Devagiri once when he was the crown prince. Alauddin Khilji once again invaded Devagiri in 1306. The invincible Malik Kafur was on the spearhead of the army. He was accompanied with Khwaja Haji. The governors of Malwa and Gujarat was ordered to help Malik Kafur. The huge army conquered Devagiri almost without a battle. Alauddin Khilji appointed Raja Ramchandra the governor of Devagiri. He was given the title "Rai Rayan" (king of kings).


After conquering Devagiri Alauddin Khilji invaded Warangal with Malik Kafur as the General of the Muslim army. Ramchandra helped Malik Kafur in this battle. After a fierce battle Malik Kafur was able to occupy the Warangal fort.King Prataprudradev of the Kakatiya dynasty signed a treaty with Alauddin Khilji. Alauddin Khilji got the famous Kohinoor diamond from Warangal.


After conquering Devagiri and Warngal Alauddin Khilji sent Malik Kafur against king Vir Vallal of the Hoysala dynasty. Vir Vallal surrendered without a fight. Malik Kafur returned to Delhi with immense booty.


Alauddin died in January 1316, of edema. It is believed that his lieutenant Malik Naib hastened his death. His tomb and madarsa dedicated to him, exists at the back of Qutb complexmarker, Mehraulimarker, in Delhimarker


  1. Encyclopedia Britannica - Khalji Dynasty
  2. Sultan Alauddin Khilji The Muntakhabu-’rūkh by Al-Badāoni (16th century historian), Packard Humanities Institute.
  3. Padmavat The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 430.
  4. Qutub Minar Govt. of India website.
  5. A New History of India by Stanley A. Wolpert, page 114. ISBN 0-19-516678-7
  6. Same-Sex Love in India: Readings from Literature and History by Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai, page 113. ISBN 0-312-29324-0
  7. Qutb Complex: Ala al Din Khalji Madrasa

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