Tughlaq Dynasty

Ruin of Tughlaq fort

The Tughlaq dynasty was one of the dynasties ruling India collectively referred to as the Delhi Sultanate. Most historians mark the years of Tughlaq dynasty from 1321 to 1414. The Tughluq family was a Muslim clan that originated in Turkey. A number of alliances with Turks, Afghans, and other Asian Muslims characterized most of the Tughluq rule.

In 1320 the last ruler of the Khilji dynasty, Nasir-ud-Din Khusro, confronted the governor of Punjab, Ghazi Malik, in a battle near Delhi. Khusro, a Hindu who had converted to Islam, began a purge of Muslim military officers while appointing Hindus in their place.

This created a great deal of unrest throughout India. Ghazi Malik and his forces were victorious in the battle and he proclaimed himself king of Delhi. Malik followed with an attempt to locate a rightful successor to the Khalji dynasty.

A successor could not be found and sentiment grew for Malik to follow Khusro. Soon after, Ghazi Malik changed his name to Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq. Ghazi Malik’s ascension to power was the beginning of the Tughlaq dynasty.

Upon taking power, Tughluq commenced a policy of exterminating the former allies of Khusro. In addition, Tughluq introduced a series of administrative reforms in order to restore order throughout the kingdom.

In 1325 Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq viewed a parade of elephants captured during the conquest of Bengal while sitting in a specially constructed pavilion. The elephants caused the viewing pavilion to collapse, causing the death of both Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughluq and his son, Prince Mahmud Khan.

Ghiyasud-Din-Tughlaq's Tomb
Ghiyasud-Din-Tughlaq's Tomb

Some experts suggest that the incident was not an accident, but a plot to end Ghiyas-ud-Din’s regime. Another son of Ghiyas-ud-Din, Muhammad bin Tughluq, followed as ruler. Muhammad introduced a number of experimental reforms.

Most notably Muhammad transferred the capital and all government officials, army, servants, and a number of citizens from Delhi to Daulatbad. In addition Muhammad allowed the production of copper coinage, which, ultimately, led to severe devaluation of local currencies.

Muhammad bin Tughluq’s reign included a number of internal revolts as well as incursions from Mongol invaders. The most significant development during Muhammad’s rule was the 1328 invasion by Mongols. In 1350 Muhammad died and was followed by his cousin Firuz Tughlaq.

Firuz Tughlaq assumed the role of sultan in 1351. Militarily, his reign resulted in a loss of territory while his financial policies brought economic successes. Firuz supported a number of improvements in the infrastructure—including irrigation and construction projects. In 1351 the Hindu region of the south regained its independence.

Upon Firuz’s death, the Tughlaq dynasty began to disintegrate even more. Ghias-ud-din Tughlaq II reigned from 1388 until his murder in 1389 and was followed by Abu Baker. Abu Baker fell to the youngest son of Firuz Tughlaq, Naser-ud-din Muhammad, who ruled from 1390 to 1394. Humayun followed for one year.

In 1395 the last of the Tughlaq dynasty, Mahmud Nasir-ud-din, grabbed power until 1413. Timurlane’s (Tamurlane’s) invasion of the subcontinent from Central Asia ultimately brought a final chapter to the Tughlaq monarchy, which had been slowly disintegrating from within.