Alauddin Khilji ( or Khalji) belonged to the Khalji dynasty. He was the most powerful ruler of his dynasty and one of the Sultans of Delhi Sultanate. He was the most ambitious ruler among. He had acquired the rulership of Delhi Sultanate after backstabbing his uncle ‘Jalaluddin’ while hugging him.
Alauddin Khilji was born in the year between 1266–1267 (According to the 16th-17th century chronicler Haji-ud-Dabir), as Ali Gurshasp aka Juna Khan Khalji in the Khalji Dynasty in Qalat, Zabul Province, Afghanistan. He was really passionate about ruling over the world and had a desire to become the Second Alexender. He was also titled as the Second Alexender aka Sikander-i-Sani by his community and followers.
Alauddin Khilji was the one ruler who made many reforms in the existing administration and improved the army to prevent any revolt against him. His reforms resulted in a better government, and the government was handled by himself. Some of his reforms included Revenue Reforms (direct taxation and removal of Hindu provincial chiefs), Market Reforms (reduced the prices of goods to maintain a large army at a low salary), Social Reforms (banned alcohol, prostitution, magicians and charlatans) and Military Reforms. Although these reforms were imposed to prevent any sort of protest and rebellion, few of these proved good to maintain a powerful administration. But it worsened the position of Hindus during his rule.
Family, Religion, Wife & Sexuality
Alauddin Khilji was born to Shihabuddin Mas’ud. He belonged to the Turkic Khalji ancestry. He was brought up by his uncle and the founder of Khalji Dynasty Sultan Jalaluddin with his three brothers Almas Beg aka Ulugh Khan, Qutlugh Tigin, and Muhammad after the death of his father. He followed Islam and was a Sunni Muslim.
Alauddin Khilji married his uncle, Jalaluddin’s daughter Malika-i-Jahan. After Jalaluddin became the Sultan of Delhi, his daughter became the princess and was very arrogant towards Alauddin. As Alauddin was not happy with his first marriage, he got married to a woman named Mahru. After he looted Devagiri, he again got married to the princess of Devagiri, Jhatyapali and had a son with her named Shihabuddin Omar who was also the successor of Khalji Dynasty. He also married another Hindu woman Kamaladevi, who was the ex-wife of Karna, the last Vaghela king of Gujarat.
Even though Alauddin Khilji was married to four women, he had developed a deep bond with his slave-turned-military commander, Malik Kafur. Allegedly, Alauddin Khilji was a bisexual, and in the last few years of his life, he fell deeply in love with Malik Kafur.
Ascension as a Ruler
Alauddin Khilji proved himself s a great warrior in front of the Sultan of Delhi, Jalaluddin, who appointed Alauddin as the Amir-i-Tuzuk. Later, to win the trust of Jalaluddin, he managed to suppress a revolt against the Sultan and got the position of the Governor of Kara in 1291, and then the governorship of Awadh. In 1296, he attacked Devagiri and looted the King. He was supposed to bring all the looted treasure to Delhi. Instead, he took it to Kara. It was quite a rebellious move by him; so, the Sultan Jalaluddin himself went to enquire Alauddin, who killed the Sultan by backstabbing him. This automatically made him the next Sultan of Delhi.
After becoming the Sultan of Delhi, he managed to deceive the Mongols and conquered many Hindu kingdoms including ‘Gujarat,’ ‘Chittor,’ ‘Malwa,’ ‘Siwana,’ ‘Jalore,’ etc. During his conquers, his military commander and counsellor, Malik Kafur, proved to be a great help. Malik Kafur was a slave captured during the Gujarat raid.
Alauddin Khilji had become very insecure about his position during the last years of his life. Allegedly, he only trusted Kafur Malik whom he appointed as the Viceroy and had acquired most of the administrative powers. Alauddin Khilji suffered severe illness and followed all the pieces of advice of Malik Kafur including abolishing the Office of Wazir, removing most of the experienced officers from his department, killing his brother-in-law-Alp Khan.
Alauddin Khilji died on 4 January 1316 which was suspected as a conspiracy of Malik Kafur and other officers of the Sultanate. Kafur buried Alauddin’s body (brought from Siri Place) in Alauddin’s mausoleum, which was already built for Alauddin before his death.
- Alauddin served his uncle Jalaluddin as Amir-i-Tuzuk (equivalent to Master of Ceremonies) and Almas Beg as Akhur-beg (equivalent to Master of the Horse).
- His marriage with his first wife Malika-i-Jahan was not successful; as his first wife’s father Jalaluddin had become the Sultan, and eventually, she became the princess, resulting in a change in her behaviour. She became more dominant towards Alauddin. She even attacked his second wife, Mahru due to jealousy.
- Malik Chajju, the Governor of Kara, considered Jalaluddin an ineffective ruler and had started a revolt against him. Alauddin played the significant role in suppressing this rebellion, and hence, was appointed the new Governor of Kara by Jalaluddin.
- Jalaluddin’s wife was entirely against Alauddin and had warned the Sultan about his intentions.
- Malik Chajju instigated Alauddin against Jalaluddin, and it made him set a conspiracy against Jalaluddin to dethrone him.
- Alauddin raided many neighbouring Hindu Kingdoms and looted the treasures. He surrendered this looted treasure to Jalaluddin which helped him to earn Sultan’s trust.
- He brought the treasure looted in the Devagiri raid to Kara instead of surrendering it to Jalaluddin. Jalaluddin decided to go to meet Alauddin and with a small army of 1000 soldiers.
- Jalaluddin reached Kara on 20 July 1296 to meet Alauddin. While embracing the Sultan, he stabbed in his back and declared himself the next Sultan of Delhi. But he was annunciated as the Sultan of Delhi on 21 October 1296 when he reached Delhi.
- According to chronicler Ziauddin Barani, the first ruling year of Alauddin was the happiest year for the people of Delhi.
- During his period as the Sultan of Delhi, he expanded his region by attacking his neighbouring kingdoms which included, Gujarat, Mewar, Jalore, Malwa, Madurai, etc.
- Alauddin defeated the Mongols everytime they tried to attack Delhi. He beat them in the war of Jalandhar (1298), Kili (1299), Amroha (1305), and Ravi (1306). He treated the Mongols with brutal punishments like killing children in front of their mothers.
- When he conquered Ranthambore, he faced three unsuccessful revolts against him, which he suppressed each time. To prevent any future rebellions, he imposed an intelligence surveillance system and made his rules more strict.
- According to some old stories, Alauddin invaded Chittoor to capture the queen of Rawal Ratan Singh/Ratnasimha’s (the King of Chittoor) Padmavati. However, there are no such facts found in modern history.
- Due to lack of prepared army and strategy, Alauddin had to take shelter at the under-construction Siri Fort to escape from Mongols another invasion of Delhi around August 1303.
- To avoid any future attacks by the Malika-i-Jahan, he implanted more army and tightened the security on the route Mongols used to enter his boundaries and did a few economic reforms to maintain his army properly.
- Alauddin was the first Muslim King who invaded Southern India with the help of his most loyal servant Malik Kafur.
- He set up the most well-managed administration in Delhi by paying his officers well; also, he appointed different officers at different positions to handle his government himself.
- Alaudin fixed the prices of the commodities according to the real value, which made people survive efficiently at a low salary.
- The taxation system set by him proved to be very effective and was followed till until the nineteenth century.
- According to chronicler Ziauddin Barani, Alauddin also had the intentions to originate a new religion.
- Allegedly, Alauddin was bi-sexual, and in the last years of his life, he shared a special bond with his most loyal officer Malik Kafur who he had captured as a slave during the Gujarat invasion.
- In 2017, Ranveer Singh played the role of Alauddin Khalji in Sanjay Leela Bhansali‘s Hindi film ‘Padmavat.’