Tughluq Dynasty (1325-1351 A.D.)

The Tughluq Dynasty lasted for close to a hundred years. It produced two powerful sultans-Muhammad-bin Tughluq and Firoz Shah Tughluq.

Ghyas-ud-din Tughluq

Ghyas-ud-din Tughluq was the first ruler of the dynasty. He was an efficient military commander. He suppressed rebellions and consolidated the Sultanate. He was succeeded by Jauna Khan, who took the title of Muhammad-bin Tughluq.

Muhammad-bin Tughluq (1325-1351 A.D.)

He was a very powerful ruler. Ibn Battuta gives a lot of information on his reign. He tells us that the king was a man of great ideas. He thought up many ambitious schemes and unique experiments. However, he did not implement his ideas properly leading to the failure of most of his experiments.

Shift of Capital In the year 1327 A.D., Muhammad-bin Tughluq decided to shift the capital of the empire from Delhi to Devgiri (Daulatabad). There were two reasons behind it.

  • The king felt that he would be able to control and administer the empire better from Daulatabad, located in the centre of the empire, than from Delhi.
  • The Mongols were a constant threat to Delhi. Daulatabad would never have been threatened by them.

Muhammad-bin Tughluq instructed the entire population of Delhi to leave the city and move to Daulatabad. The people resented the move but had no other option. The king soon realised that it was impossible to keep a close watch on the northern frontiers from Daulatabad. So he ordered a re-shift of the capital.

The failure of the experiment affected the prestige of the empire. The kingdoms of the Deccan saw this as a sign of a weak Sultanate. They began to assert their independence.

Introduction of a Token Currency In the year 1329 A.D., Muhammad-bin Tughluq introduced a token currency. There was a worldwide shortage of silver during this period. So the Sultan decided to issue coins of brass and copper for day-to-day transactions. These coins could be exchanged for silver coins, at any time, from the royal treasury.

While devising and implementing the scheme, the sultan overlooked the most important thing. He failed to check forgery. People started minting coins illegally. The kingdom was flooded with forged brass and copper coins. Currency soon lost its value. Trade suffered as foreign merchants refused to accept the token currency. The sultan had to give silver coins in exchange of forged coins. The treasury thus became empty. The experiment had to be withdrawn.

Qarachil Expedition

To secure the northern frontiers of the Sultanate, Muhammad-bin-Tughluq sent an army to the Kangra region (modern Himachal Pradesh). After annexing this region, the army proceeded towards Tibet but it suffered heavy casualties in this expedition.

Taxation in the Doab

To increase revenue collection, the sultan raised taxes on the peasants of the doab region. The doab was a very fertile area. More taxes would not have affected the peasants in normal times. However, the doab was facing a severe famine during the period. To raise taxes at such a time was a big mistake. Peasants abandoned their land. Many of them revolted. The sultan had to ultimately withdraw his orders.

Khurasan Expedition

In an Effort to expand the empire, Muhammad-bin Tughluq decided to conquer Khurasan. He mobilised a large army and spent a large amount of money to equip it with weapons and other essential war supplies. The soldiers were also given one year’s salary as advance as an incentive. The king, however, hastily abandoned the expedition. The army that was raised for this project was disbanded.

Muhammad-bin Tughluq became very unpopular because of his schemes. He lost the trust of the common people, his nobles and the ulema. Revolts broke out in Bengal, Gujarat, Warangal and other places. Two powerful regional kingdomsVijayanagar and Bahamani – came up in South India and the Deccan respectively. The sultan lost control over the empire. He died in the year 1351 A.D.

Firoz Shah Tughluq (1351-1388 A.D.)

After the death of Muhammad-bin Tughluq, Firoz Shah Tughluq became the sultan. He realised that his predecessor has lost his hold over the empire because he did not have the support of the nobles and the ulema. He, therefore, decided to win them over. He increased the salaries of the nobles and gave bigger jagirs to them. To please the ulema, Firoz Shah Tughluq imposed Islamic laws. Soon, the nobles and the ulema became very powerful and began to influence the policies of the kingdom.

There were many rebellions during the reign of Firoz Shah Tughluq. The governors of Bihar and Bengal revolted against the Sultanate. There were revolts in Mewar and Marwar also. The sultan failed to suppress these revolts.

Firoz, the Reformer As a reformer, however, Firoz Shah Tughluq was very successful. He built many canals, tanks, wells, hospitals and rest houses. He established new towns such as Jaunpur, Firozpur, Firozabad and Hissar-Firoza. He himself was very learned and set up many educational institutions. He also had many Sanskrit texts translated into Persian and Arabic.

The death of Firoz Shah Tughluq led to a war of succession amongst his descendants. Taking advantage of this, many regions became independent. Soon, the Sultanate was reduced to Delhi and its surrounding areas.

Timur’s Invasion (1398 A.D.)

The final blow to the Tughluq empire was the invasion of Timur in the year 1398. Timur was the ruler of Balkh in central Asia. He invaded India and attacked and looted Delhi. He also ordered a massacre in which thousands of people were killed. He went back to central Asia with the loot. There, he beautified his capital, Samarkand with elegant buildings, palaces and mosques.

Before leaving Delhi, Timur appointed Khizr Khan as his deputy in India. Khizr Khan became the first ruler of the Sayyid dynasty.


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