The Tughluq Dynasty
A former governor of Punjab, Ghias-ud-Din Tughluq (r. 1320–25) reasserted the power of the sultanate in Delhi, the Deccan, and Bengal, which had ebbed while Al-ud-Din focused on his southern conquests.
A bold general and able administrator, he reversed some of Ala-ud-Din’s unpopular policies, granting iqtadars—local administrators who raised land revenues and maintained troops for the sultanate—greater control over their lands and lower tribute payments. His short reign ended when he died in the collapse of a poorly built pavilion.
Muhammad ibn Tughluq (r. 1325–51), Ghias-ud-Din’s son, was similar to Ala-ud-Din in his ruthlessness and ambition, but unthink-ing in his application of those traits. He reimposed the unpopular local governance policies of Ala-ud-Din that his father had reversed. To exercise greater control over the Deccan, he moved the capital from Delhi to Deogir, renaming it Daulatabad, and ordered all inhabitants to move from Delhi to the new capital. Many died during the trip south. Ibn Tughluq also planned to have all the inhabitants of Multan move south. When the governor refused, Ibn Tughluq came to the city and demanded that all its citizens be put to death. The inhabitants were later pardoned after the intercession of Shah Rukn-e-Alam (1251–1335), an inﬂuential cleric whose mausoleum is today one of Multan’s most famed ediﬁces. In 1347 Ibn Tughluq restored Delhi as the sultanate’s capital and allowed people to return to the city.
Who Founded the Tughlaq Dynasty
Ibn Tughluq’s attempt to introduce a new copper and brass currency was a failure. He raised a large army, intending to mount a campaign against Khorasan, under the rule of Persian-allied Muslim rulers, and Tibet in the north, possibly to gain gold and horses, as rebellions were reducing the kingdom’s income. However, he was unable to follow through on his plans. The natural disaster added to his people’s misery. A drought during the years 1335–42, one of the worst in the subcontinent’s history, caused widespread famine and led to a revolt, despite Ibn Tughluq’s efforts to provide relief.
Where his father and grandfather had been content to leave local rulers in place and collect tribute, Ibn Tughluq tried to institute direct governance, a policy that provoked rebellions. Hindu rajas created an alliance to resist the Delhi rule. By 1344 tribute payments in the Deccan were off 90 percent. An independent sultanate in the south, the Bahmani Sultanate, was formed in 1347 by Muslims who remained in the Deccan after Ibn Tughluq restored Delhi as the empire’s capital. That same year Gujarat and Kathiawar revolted, uprisings that Ibn Tughluq success-fully suppressed.
In 1349 the Sammas, a group of Muslim chiefs, seized power from the Sumras. Both the Sumras and Sammas are thought to have originally been Hindu Rajputs. Though they were now Muslims, they kept pre-Islamic names. Sammas territory encompassed Sind and parts of Baluchistan and Punjab, and its capital was Thatta. Ibn Tughluq set off for the capital where the Sammas had given a rebel chief sanctuary. But during the expedition, Ibn Tughluq took ill near Thatta and died in 1351.
With Ibn Tughluq’s death, no suitable descendant of Alauddin existed to take the throne. A group of nobles and religious leaders invited Firuz Tughluq (r. 1351–88), a cousin of Ibn Tughluq, to take the throne. He accepted the appointment, and one of his ﬁrst acts was to withdraw the army from Sind. Firuz became known for his concern for his subjects and their welfare. Taxes were lowered and the empire’s infrastructure repaired and expanded. Sind was now basically independent, though in a display of fealty rulers sent a prince to the Delhi court as a resident. In the decade after Firuz’s death at age 80 in 1388, eight different Tughluq kings ruled the sultanate, which had seen its hold over the territories loosen during the Firuz reign. Mahmud Nasir-ud-Din Tughluq (r. 1395–98) was the last of the Tughluq sultans. During his reign, the Gakkar chief Shaikha created an independent state in Punjab and for a time extended his territory to include Lahore. Nasir-ud-Din’s rule ended when he was temporarily driven from Delhi by a new invader from Central Asia: Timur Lenk.