Delhi Sultanate

Delhi Sultanate

پادشاهی دهلی
Flag of Delhi Sultanate
Delhi Sultanate reached its zenith under the Turko-Indian Tughlaq dynasty.[1]
Delhi Sultanate reached its zenith under the Turko-Indian Tughlaq dynasty.[1]
Common languagesPersian (official),[2] Hindavi (1451 onwards)[3]
Sunni Islam
• 1206–1210
Qutb al-Din Aibak (first)
• 1517–1526
Ibrahim Lodi (last)
LegislatureCorps of Forty
Historical eraMiddle Ages
12 June 1206
20 December 1305
21 April 1526
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Ghurid dynasty
Chandela dynasty
Paramara dynasty
Deva dynasty
Seuna (Yadava) dynasty
Kakatiya dynasty
Musunuri Nayaks
Vaghela dynasty
Yajvapala dynasty
Mughal Empire
Bengal Sultanate
Bahamani Sultanate
Gujarat Sultanate
Malwa Sultanate
Vijaynagar Empire
Today part ofBangladesh

The Delhi Sultanate (Persian: دهلی سلطان‎, Urdu: دہلی سلطنت‎) was an Islamic empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526).[5][6] Five dynasties ruled over the Delhi Sultanate sequentially: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–90), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414),[7] the Sayyid dynasty (1414–51), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). The sultanate is noted for being one of the few powers to repel an attack by the Mongols (from the Chagatai Khanate),[8] caused the decline of Buddhism in East India and Bengal,[9][10] and enthroned one of the few female rulers in Islamic history, Razia Sultana, who reigned from 1236 to 1240.[11]

Qutb al-Din Aibak, a former Turkic Mamluk slave of Muhammad Ghori was the first sultan of Delhi, and his Mamluk dynasty conquered large areas of northern India. Afterwards, the Khalji dynasty was also able to conquer most of central India, but both failed to conquer the whole of the Indian subcontinent. The sultanate reached the peak of its geographical reach during the Tughlaq dynasty, occupying most of the Indian subcontinent.[12] This was followed by decline due to Hindu reconquests, states such as the Vijayanagara Empire and Mewar asserting independence, and new Muslim sultanates such as the Bengal Sultanate breaking off.[13][14]

During and in the Delhi Sultanate, there was a synthesis of Indian civilization with that of Islamic civilization, and the further integration of the Indian subcontinent with a growing world system and wider international networks spanning large parts of Afro-Eurasia, which had a significant impact on Indian culture and society, as well as the wider world.[15] The time of their rule included the earliest forms of Indo-Islamic architecture,[16][17] greater use of mechanical technology,[18] increased growth rates in India's population and economy,[19] and the emergence of the Hindi-Urdu language.[20] The Delhi Sultanate was also responsible for repelling the Mongol Empire's potentially devastating invasions of India in the 13th and 14th centuries.[21] The Delhi Sultanate was also responsible for large-scale destruction and desecration of temples in the Indian subcontinent.[22] In 1526, the Sultanate was conquered and succeeded by the Mughal Empire.


The context behind the rise of the Delhi Sultanate in India was part of a wider trend affecting much of the Asian continent, including the whole of southern and western Asia: the influx of nomadic Turkic peoples from the Central Asian steppes. This can be traced back to the 9th century, when the Islamic Caliphate began fragmenting in the Middle East, where Muslim rulers in rival states began enslaving non-Muslim nomadic Turks from the Central Asian steppes, and raising many of them to become loyal military slaves called Mamluks. Soon, Turks were migrating to Muslim lands and becoming Islamicized. Many of the Turkic Mamluk slaves eventually rose up to become rulers, and conquered large parts of the Muslim world, establishing Mamluk Sultanates from Egypt to Afghanistan, before turning their attention to the Indian subcontinent.[21]

It is also part of a longer trend predating the spread of Islam. Like other settled, agrarian societies in history, those in the Indian subcontinent have been attacked by nomadic tribes throughout its long history. In evaluating the impact of Islam on the subcontinent, one must note that the northwestern subcontinent was a frequent target of tribes raiding from Central Asia in the pre-Islamic era. In that sense, the Muslim intrusions and later Muslim invasions were not dissimilar to those of the earlier invasions during the 1st millennium.[23]

By 962 AD, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in South Asia were under a wave of raids from Muslim armies from Central Asia.[24] Among them was Mahmud of Ghazni, the son of a Turkic Mamluk military slave,[25] who raided and plundered kingdoms in north India from east of the Indus river to west of Yamuna river seventeen times between 997 and 1030.[26] Mahmud of Ghazni raided the treasuries but retracted each time, only extending Islamic rule into western Punjab.[27][28]

The wave of raids on north Indian and western Indian kingdoms by Muslim warlords continued after Mahmud of Ghazni.[29] The raids did not establish or extend permanent boundaries of their Islamic kingdoms. The Ghurid sultan Mu'izz ad-Din Muhammad Ghori, commonly known as Muhammad of Ghor, began a systematic war of expansion into north India in 1173.[30] He sought to carve out a principality for himself by expanding the Islamic world.[26][31] Muhammad of Ghor sought a Sunni Islamic kingdom of his own extending east of the Indus river, and he thus laid the foundation for the Muslim kingdom called the Delhi Sultanate.[26] Some historians chronicle the Delhi Sultanate from 1192 due to the presence and geographical claims of Muhammad Ghori in South Asia by that time.[32]

Ghori was assassinated in 1206, by Ismāʿīlī Shia Muslims in some accounts or by Hindu Khokhars in others.[33] After the assassination, one of Ghori's slaves (or mamluks, Arabic: مملوك), the Turkic Qutb al-Din Aibak, assumed power, becoming the first Sultan of Delhi.[26]