Expansion of Delhi Sultanate

Under Alauddin Khalji the territorial expansion of the Delhi Sultanate, beyond North India, was the most important achievement. Alauddin first began his territorial conquest with a campaign against Gujarat.

Alauddin was motivated by his desire to establish a vast empire and obtain the wealth of Gujarat. The riches of Gujarat were to pay for his future conquests and her sea port was to ensure a regular supply of Arab horses for his army.

In AD 1299, an army under two of Alauddin’s noted generals Ulugh Khan and Nusarat Khan marched against Gujarat. Rai Karan the ruler of Gujarat fled, the temple of Somnath was captured. An enormous booty was collected.

Even the wealthy Muslim merchants were not spared. Many slaves were captured. Malik Kafur was one among them who later became the trusted commander of the Khalji forces and led the invasions to South India. Gujarat now passed under the control of Delhi.

After the annexation of Gujarat, Alauddin turned his attention towards Rajasthan. Ranthambore was the first target. Ranthambore was reputed to be the strongest fort of Rajasthan and had earlier defied Jalaluddin Khalji. The capture of Ranthambore was necessary to break the power and morale of the Rajputs.

The immediate cause of attack was that the ruler of Ranthambore Hamirdeva gave shelter to two rebellious Mongol soldiers and refused to hand over them to the Khalji ruler. Hence an offensive was launched against Ranthambore. To begin with the Khalji forces suffered losses. Nusrat Khan even lost his life. Finally Alauddin himself had to come on the battle filed. In AD 1301, the fort fell to Alauddin.

In AD 1303, Alauddin besieged Chittor, another powerful state of Rajputana. According to some scholars, Alauddin attacked Chittor because he coveted Padmini, the beautiful queen of Raja Ratan Singh. However many scholars do not agree with this legend as this is first mentioned by Jaisi in his Padmavat more than two hundred years later.

According to Amir Khusrau, the Sultan ordered a general massacre of the civil population. Chittor was renamed Khizrabad after the name of Sultan’s son Khizr Khan. Alauddin however returned back quickly to Delhi as Mongol army was advancing towards Delhi.

In AD 1305, Khalji army under Ain-ul-Mulk captured Malwa. Other states such as Ujjain, Mandu, Dhar and Chanderi were also captured. After the conquest of Malwa, Alauddin sent Malik Kafur to the South and himself attacked Siwana. The ruler of Siwana Raja Shital Deva defended the fort bravely but was ultimately defeated.

In AD 1311, another Rajput kingdom Jalor was also captured. Thus, by AD 1311, Alauddin had completed the conquest of large parts of Rajputana and became the master of North India.