The real builder of Muslim Turkish Empire in India was Iltutmish. He laid strong foundation of Delhi sultanate by ruling much of the North India for twenty six years.
Shamsuddin Iltutmish was born in noble family of Turkish Ilbari tribe. After the death of his father, his elder brothers sold him into slavery. After being bought and sold multiple times he was purchased by Qutubuddin Aibek for the exorbitant price of one jital.
Aibek gave good military and Islamic education to Iltutmish. He was hard working, so he quickly rose through the the rank and became amir-i-shikar, an important position in sultanate. He was also good looking so Aibek married his daughter to him. After the marriage he was appointed governor of Gwalior.
In 1206, after the death of Muhammad Ghori, Aibek was freed as a slave. Aibek in turn freed Iltutmish as his slave and gave him the governorship of Bulandshahr.
Iltutmish showed great leadership skills in campaign against the Khokhar tribe of salt range in Punjab and as a reward he was given governorship of most important province of Badaun.
Sultan of Delhi
In 1210, Qutubuddin Aibek died and his son Aram Shah took over the reins of power. Aram shah was incompetent ruler and much of the Turkish nobility hate him. So, six months after Aram Shah became ruler, the Turkish Nobles invited Iltutmish to assume the leadership of infant Turkish kingdom. He asked Aram Shah to abdicate but he refused to abdicate. In 1211, Iltutmish march large army towards Lahore and defeated army loyal to Aram Shah and dethroned him.
Iltutmish moved the capital of sultanate from Lahore to Delhi for better Administration of his empire. he was able to control most former master, Qutubuddin Aibak’s kingdom due victory over Aram Shah and his popularity among nobility. However, his rise to power didn’t go unchallenged.
Nasiruddin Qabacha who was the governor of Unchh and Multan declared himself independent ruler and snatched Lahore from Iltutmish. Ali Mardan Khalji, the governorship of Bihar and Bengal also declared himself independent ruler and stopped sending the tribute to Delhi.
Struggle with Yaldoz
After the death of Muhammad Ghori, his slave Tajuddin Yaldoz who was also the father-in-law of Qutubuddin Aibak, became the Sultan of Ghazni. Yaldoz tried to establish his supremacy over Iltutmish by sending him the royal canopy (chhatr) and robes of honour at the time of his accession. Iltutmish was very astute politician so he avoided doing anything that will insult Yaldoz. Although he allowed Yaldoz to occupy any part of his kingdom.
In 1216, Yaldoz was defeated by Shah of Khwarizm and driven out of Ghazni. He retreated towards Punjab and snatched Lahore from Qabacha. As he was one of the senior most officer of Ghori he laid claim to throne of Delhi.
Iltutmish march his army north and gave crushing defeat at battle of Tarain. Yaldoz was taken prisoner but was soon put to death. Defeat of Yaldoz greatly increased the profile of sultan in eyes of his nobility. Qabacha reoccupied Lahore after the death of Yaldoz.
In 1217, Iltutmish attacked Lahore and snatch it from Qabacha. Qabacha retreated from Lahore and setup his military base in Multan. He moved toward Multan in an effort to annihilate his Qabacha. He caught up with him near Mansura, on the bank of river Chenab. Qabacha survived the battle and withdrew to Sindh.
Ala-ad-Din Muhammad, Shah of Khwarezm was following an expansionist policy and after the conquest of Ghazni, he was the big threat to Iltutmish. So, Iltutmish avoided any further conflict with Qabacha till threat from central Asia was resolved.
In 1220, Chengez Khan(Ghengis Khan) united Mongol tribe and attacked Khwarezm. He completed destroyed army of Shah of Khwarezm and forced Shah to fled to Caspian sea, where he died. His eldest son, Jalaluddin Mankbarni escaped towards Ghazni. Chengez Khan followed Jalaluddin to Afghanistan. Jalaluddin wanted help from Iltutmish to defeat Mongol. Iltutmish refused to give any help to Jalaluddin and raised large army to fight him. Jalaluddin forged alliance with Khokhar tribe of salt range and attacked Qabacha in Sindh. Mongol stopped their pursuit of Jalaluddin as hot and humid weather of northern India didn’t suit them. Iltutmish astute political decision saved himself from both Chengez Khan and Jalaluddin. Qabacha successful defended Sindh from Jalaluddin and by 1224 forced him to leave for his homeland of Khurasan.
Conquest of Lost Land
In 1227, Chengez Khan died and Iltutmish launched his offensive. His first target was Qabacha. He quickly captured Unchh and Multan and surrounded Qabacha on the bank of Indus River. Qabacha tried to avoid the battle by trying to cross the river but drowned in the river. Qabacha death marked the end of Sindh campaign. Iltutmish placed separate governor in Sindh and Multan to prevent future rebellion.
Governor of Bengal, Ali Mardan, became independent sultan at the time of Iltutmish succession in 1211. Soon Ali Mardan was overthrown by Hasanuddin Iwaz Khalji and assumed title of Sultan Ghiyasuddin. He attacked and conquered Bihar. He also suppressed revolt against him by local Hindu chieftain. In 1225, Iltutmish ordered his army to reoccupy Bihar and Bengal. His army recovered Bihar and prepared to attack Bengal. Sultan Ghiyasuddin pleaded with Iltutmish not to attack Bengal, in return he will accept suzerainty of Delhi. Iltutmish accepted the offer and order his army to return to Delhi. Soon after the return of Iltutmish forces, Sultan Ghiyasuddin regress on his promise and reoccupied Bihar.
In 1226, Iltutmish ordered his eldest son Nasiruddin Mahmud, Governor of Awadh, to attack Bengal. Nasiruddin launched the surprise attack on Lakhnauti, capital of Bengal and captured it. Soon, he defeated sultan Ghiyasuddin in a battle and killed him. Iltutmish appointed his son Nasiruddin as governor of Bihar and Bengal. But after Naseeruddin sudden death in 1231, people revolted against Turkish rule. He himself went to Bengal to suppress the revolt. He crushed the revolt and appointed separate governor for Bihar and Bengal to better manage the region.
War with Rajput
Under Aibek leadership, Turks lost Gwalior, Kalinjar, Benaras and Kannauj to Rajput. Iltutmish wanted to reconquer these region. In 1226, He launched his campaign, his first target was Chauhan of Ranthambore. He quickly defeated them and occupied Ranthambore. Almost immediately after the capture of Ranthambore, he launched attack on Parmars of Mandsaur. After quick defeat of Rajput at Ranthambore and mandsaur, Chauhan ruler of Jalor accepted overlordship of Turks.
Governor of Awadh and son of Iltutmish, Nasiruddin Mahmud launched attack against Rajput kingdom of a Badaun, Benaras and kannauj. He also added territory of Rohilkhand to Sultanate.
Rajput kingdom of Ajmer, Bayana and Sambhar were also conquered by Turks though at high loss of Turkish soldiers.
In 1230, Iltutmish conquered large area of Rajput kingdom of Jodhpur. Next year he attacked Gwalior and was able to capture it after year long siege.
Iltutmish next launched attack on Rajput kingdom of Nagada. Guhilot Rajput Ruler of Nagada Rana Kshetra Singh gave Sultan a crushing defeat. After the defeat, Turks launched attack on Gujarat but was also defeated by its Chalukyas Ruler. Turks also failed to capture Kalinjar. After all these defeat Turks resorted to the campaign if plunder instead of conquest. Turks attacked Malwa and plunder the city of Bhilsa and Ujjain. Turks paid the heavy price for the war against the Rajput, more than one lakh (100,000) Turkish soldiers lost their lives.
In 1235, sultan declared war against Khokhar tribe of Salt range and captured their capital of Baniyan. Khokhar resorted to guerilla war against Turks.
After decade long war to establish his empire, sultan fell ill and died in Delhi in April 1936. He was buried in tomb in Delhi which he built for himself.