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First Turkish Invasion of The Deccan

  • Name of the Battle: The First Turkish Invasion of The Deccan
  • Venue: South India, including the Deccan
  • Year: 1294

The most important event during the reign of Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji, the founder of the Khilji dynasty, was the invasion of Devagiri, capital of the Yadava kingdom in the Deccan. The invasion was carried out by his nephew and son-in-law Alauddin Khilji or Ali Gurshap in 1294. Alauddin Khilji, after murdering Jalaluddin treacherously, ruled vigorously in India for almost 20 years and was successful in becoming the most powerful ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. Being an ambitious person and a brave warrior, he wanted to conquer the entire India. After his massive conquests in the north, from Indus to Bengal and from Himalayas to Vindyas, Alauddin Khilji now turned his interests to conquer the entire South and Southwest India, including the Deccan. He became the first Turkish invader to cross the Satpuras, Vindyas, and Narmada River and conquered the major portion of entire Deccan plateau.

The reasons that led to the invasions

The reasons that led Alauddin conquer the Deccan or the South were both economical and political. His Deccan campaigns and military operations in the south were carried out by his great noteworthy general Malik Kafur. In 1294, when Alauddin conquered Devagiri, he was just a warrior in the kingdom of Jalaluddin. During this first invasion in Devagiri, Alauddin saw the massive wealth and riches in the state treasury of Devagiri. In order to maintain his army and to bribe his opponents in Delhi, he wanted a huge amount of money. Plus, he also had this desire to become a great conqueror by conquering the whole of India. Thus, under the leadership of his general Malik Kafur, several invasions of the south were carried out and Alauddin Khulji could establish his power and prestige in the South.

Aftermath of the Invasions: Winner and Loser

  • 1294, First Invasion of Devagiri: The clear winner was Alauddin Khilji. When in 1294, Khilji conquered Devagiri as a general, the Yadava King Ramachandra had promised to pay money as tax. But, for three successive years, the king did not pay the annual revenue. At that time, there were four popular kingdoms in the south, Devagiri, Hoysala, Telangana, and Pandya kingdom.

  • 1306, Second Invasion of Devagiri: In the year 1306, to punish king Ramachandra for not paying taxes, the second invasion was made to Devagiri. Another reason to attack Devagiri was because Ramachandra gave support and refuge to Rai Karan Dev, the ex-king of Gujrat and his daughter Debal Devi, who Alauddin had married. But, Rai Karan Dev wanted Deval Devi marry Shankar, who was the son of king Ramachandra. Devagiri was attacked from two sides, one by Malik Kafur and other by Alp Khan of Gujarat. Alp Khan defeated Karan Singh and Malik Kafur defeated Ramachandra. They were both captured and sent to Delhi, where both of them acknowledged the sovereignty of Alauddin Khilji.

  • 1308: Alauddin Khilji invaded Kakatiya kingdom by defeating King Pratap Rudra Deva I of Warangal.

  • 1310: Alauddin Khilji invaded Hoisal kingdom of Dwarsamudra by defeating King Vira Ballala III.

  • 1311: He invaded Pandya kingdom of Telengana, by defeating King Maravarman Kulasekhara.

  • 1313: For the third time, he invaded Devagiri, led by Malik Kafur. This time Shankardeva was defeated and killed.

His invasions of the South, one after the other, compelled the rulers of the South accept his supremacy and pay tax regularly.

The larger implications of the battle

It is said that Alauddin's objective for conquering the North was different from his objective of conquering the South of India. In the Northern campaign, his objective was mainly an expansionist policy, in which he wanted to annex the captured states into the Delhi sultanate to form a mighty empire. His objective of conquering South India was, however, mainly economic. He did not want to annex the Southern States into the Sultanate but wanted them to be reduced to Vassalage, so that all kings down South acknowledge the sovereignty of Delhi and pay annual taxes. This was considered a wise, statesman policy. He established garrison forts between river Krishna and Tungabhadra. He also took possession of some of the sea ports such as Chaul, Dabhol, etc. He also reached as far as Rameshwaram, where a mosque was built. The whole of Deccan was brought under his control.

The overall place and significance of the invasions in the Indian history

Alauddin Khilji's invasions of India have great significance in India History. He bought some reforms in his administrative policies, which were of great significances:
  • He was known as a great military leader and one main cause of his military success was that he recruited a large standing army.
  • He took strict preventive measure to prevent rebellion. And as such, no rebellion took place during his reign.
  • He confiscated religious endowments and offered free lands.
  • He nullified all grants made by previous rulers and a price control was introduced covering the entire market.
  • He also rationed the use of grains.
  • According to him, kingship knows no kinship. Any kind of marriage alliances of a political nature was prevented.
  • He fixed the land revenue by measuring the cultivable land, where half of the produce was to be given to the state.
  • House tax and pasture tax were also imposed.
  • Four separate markets were established depending on the commodities for sale. Thus, during his rule, the four markets were: central grain market, manufactured goods market, general items market and market for horses, cattle and slaves.
  • Strict punishment was imposed for cheating.
  • He banned drinking and sale of liquor and intoxicants.
  • He was the first Turkish Sultan of Delhi who did not mingle politics with religion.
  • He was a patron of learning and arts and many great poets like Amir Khusro and Mir Hasan Dehlvi enjoyed his patronage in his courts.

But in the long run, as historians reveal, his administrative methods proved harmful to the dynasty. In 1320, a group of people led by Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq raised a revolt against the Khilji dynasty and put an end to it.

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Last Updated on : December 22, 2014