Early Life

Fakhruddin Muhammad Jauna Khan, the eldest son of Ghiasuddin Tughluq, ascended the throne at Tughluqabad without any opposition.

Muhammad bin Tughluq was the most highly educated of all the preceding sultans of Delhi

Being the son of a ‘warden of the marches’, Muhammad bin Tughluq had received excellent military training and he started his career as a soldier.

Soon Sultan Mubarak Shah Khalji promoted him to ‘master of the horse’. Khusrau Shah confirmed him in the assignment. However  he deserted the latter and joined hands with his father in bringing about the fall of Khusrau Shah.

As crown prince, with the exalted title of Ulugh Khan, he led the imperial forces to Telingana and, in the second attempt, not only humbled its ruler but also annexed the kingdom of Warrangal to the sultanate.

Muhammad bin Tughluq was a man of high moral character and led an austere life like his illustrious father.

Emperor Muhammad bin Tughluq

Muhammad bin Tughluq’s reign synchronises with the reappearance of Mongols on the Indian borders.

The Chaghatai ruler of Transoxiana, Alauddin Tarmashirin invaded Sind in the beginning of his reign. Soon Sultan made prompt arrangements for the defence of the kingdom. The Mongols were defeated and repulsed.

The sultan moved upto Lahore and despatched the royal forces to liberate the frontier region from the hands of the Mongols.

Early Revolts

Bahauddin Gurshasp, governor of Sagar, raised a standard of revolt in 1326-27. Royal army defeated Gurshasp in an encounter and took shelter with the Hindu rai of Kampila.

The Imperial forces conquered the fort of Kampila after two months’ siege. Royal forces killed the Rai and captured Gurshasp. The sultHe was brought in chains to the Sultan who ordered him to be flayed alive.

 The viceroy of Multan Kishlu Khan raised banner of revolt. The Sultan rushed back to Delhi and marched upon Multan at the head of a vast army. Kishlu Khan was defeated and killed in an action fought near Abohar.

The successful handling of all these rebellions enhanced the prestige of the sultan and strengthened the hold of the imperial government over the distant provinces.

Transfer of the Capital (1326-27)

Feudal chieftains and governors from south India tempted defy the imperial authority. 

Territory under Tughlaq dynasty of Delhi Sultanate
Territory under Tughlaq dynasty of Delhi Sultanate

The Muhammad bin Tughluq transfered his capital from Delhi to Devagiri, renamed Daulatabad. 

Inspite of the liberal patronage many of them did not feel at home in the South. Nobles emotional and sentimental attachment with Delhi could not be cut off. 

Later Muhammad bin Tughluq realized this bitter truth only after he had shifted to Daulatabad.

Within two or three years, Muhammad bin Tughluq realised his folly and brought back the imperial court to Delhi without any fanfare. Delhi had already become the hub of political and socio-cultural activities of the sultanate once again.

Coin Reform

Soon after accession, he made sweeping reforms in the system of coinage. In 1330 a.d. Muhammad bin Tughluq made the bronze coins as the legal tender. He put bronze coin at par with the silver coins.

The people began to forge the coins on an extensive scale. They turned their utensils into coins and with these they paid their tribute (taxes).

The Sultan became poor and people grew rich due to copper coins.

Later, after two years the sultan ordered for the withdrawal of token currency. 

The Proposed Khurasan Expedition (1332-33)

Muhammad bin Tughluq was not content with his vast Indian possessions. He had the visions of universal conquest. Khurasan was the first to catch his fancy.

The Sultan made a special-recruitment of 3,70,000 armed personnel for the proposed conquest of Khurasan.

The Khurasan expedition did not materialise and the army could not be put to use. The maintenance and equipment caused a heavy drainage of wealth for a whole year.

The Qarachil Expedition (1333-34)

The Muhammad bin Tughluq sent the imperial army against some independent Rajput states in the  Kumaun-Garhwal region.

These hilly tracts usually served as a place of refuge for the rebels against the government of Delhi. Soon the Imperial Army seized the lands and treasures of the hostile chieftains and then climbed up the heights.

Soon ice-cold winds and rains devastated the whole army in Tibet, followed by the outbreak of plague. Later a panic stricken army turned back toward plain. The local defeated kings revolted killed most of the army. As a result, the whole of the army was destroyed.

Rebellions Against the Rule of Muhammad bin Tughluq (1335-51)

In 1335 the Sultan initiated a new policy of assigning the governorship of the iqtas to those nobles who promised to pay the maximum annual tribute to the centre.

The Muhammad bin Tughluq gave nobles freedom to manage the internal affairs of their provinces. This policy struck at the very roots of the solidarity of the state.

Soon the ambitious nobles got such assignments by holding out promises to pay the exorbitant amounts to the imperial government. They subsequently failed to collect from their subjects.

Later they were afraid of the Sultan’s wrath for having broken the contract. So, Nobles revolted out of desperation.

The provincial governors and the feudal chieftains resorted to revolts in quick succession. The Sultan faced as many as sixteen rebellions till his death in 1351.

Loss of Territory 

Soon, Saiyyid Hasan, the governor of Malabar, raised his standard of revolt. A contingent of the royal army sent to recover Malabar changed sides and ‘remained there’. It enraged the Sultan who personally led the imperial army to the south to deal with the situation.

After the outbreak of plague in the army at Bidar (Telengana) took a heavy toll of life and compelled the Sultan to retrace his steps to Daulatabad. 

The near destruction of the imperial army in 1335-36 by the cruel hands of fate, incapacitated it for any major action for about a decade.

Soon, it encouraged the provincial governors to defy the authority of Muhammad bin Tughluq who had become thoroughly unpopular amongst his subjects throughout the country.

Revolt in Deccan

Soon, the newly appointed governor of Malwa killed as many as 89 deccan nobles through treachery, at the bidding of the sultan. It led to the general conflagration among the Turkish bureaucracy of Malwa, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Later the Sultan mobilized the royal army and marched upon the disaffected provinces. However Daulatabad had fallen into the hands of the rebels before his arrival.

Soon the Sultan defeated the rebels and recovered the outer fort of Daulatabad. However, the besieged rebels heroically defended the inner fort while their fellow brethren acquired control over the important towns of Maharashtra and Telengana.  

Revolt in Gujarat

While the conquest of Daulatabad was half-way through, the Sultan received intelligence about the outbreak of a fresh uprising in Gujarat. 

The Sultan left the half-conquered Maharashtra in the hands of dispirited and demoralized officers and himself made a dash towards Gujarat with the bulk of the royal army.

This enabled the rebels of Maharashtra and Telingana to extirpate the royal pockets of resistance in the south and lay the foundation of the Bahmani kingdom.

Later Hasan Gangu ascended the throne at Daulatabad in August 1347 with the title of sultan Alauddin Bahman Shah. It sounded the death knell of the imperial sway of the sultanate of Delhi over the southern peninsula.

Death of Sultan

Meanwhile, Muhammad bin Tughluq was engaged in a deadly conflict with Taghi in Gujarat. Taghi suffered defeats in a number of encounters and retreated towards Sind; he took shelter with the Jam of Thatta.

He stayed there for over two years, restored law and order. The Sultan wants to settle his score with Taghi. So, he marched his royal army on Sind. On the way to Thatta, he was suddenly taken ill and died a broken-hearted man on March 20, 1351.

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