By 1307 CE, the tide of Mongol aggression had been fully checked and almost the entire Northern India had been conquered. There were great military achievements but Sultan Alauddin Khalji was still keen to expand his empire further. Therefore, he directed his attention toward the conquest of Deccan. There must have been both political and economic motives behind the campaigns of Alauddin and his lieutenants in the South. Alauddin followed the policy of nonannexation in the South.

Deccan Policy of Alauddin Khalji

  • After some years in the beginning of the 14th century CE, Alauddin Khalji was free from the fear of Mongol attacks, had conquered the North, brought peace to his empire and possessed a large and strong army. He, then, decided to conquer South India. At that time, there were four prosperous and strong states in the South.
    • In the South-West of Vindhyas was the kingdom of Devagiri which was ruled by the Yadava king Ramchandra Deva and its capital was Devagiri (modern Maharashtra).
    • Towards the South-East was the Kakatiya kingdom of Telangana. It was ruled by Prataprudra Deva II who had his headquarters at Warangal.
    • Towards the South-West of Telangana was the Hoysala kingdom. Its ruler was Vir Ballala III and its capital was Dwarasamudra.
    • In the far south was the Pandya kingdom. Its capital was Madura. At the time of Muslim invasion, the two brothers Sundara Pandya and Vira Pandya were contesting against each other for the throne.
  • Dr. K.S. Lal has opined that the desire for glory and wealth which had always been the source of inspiration for all the conquerors also inspired Alauddin Khalji to attack the states of the Deccan one after another. However, his primary aim was to acquire the wealth of the Deccan by every means. However, the majority of historians have expressed that there were two-fold objectives of Alauddin in attacking the kingdoms of the South.
  • The South was not plundered until now by the Muslim invaders and therefore, possessed enormous wealth.
    • Regarding the Pandya kingdom of the Deccan, Marco Polo wrote thus: “When a king dies nobody dares to take anything out of his treasury and they believe that as our father collected wealth we should collect it the same way. Therefore, the wealth of the state treasury has increased and enormous wealth has accumulated there.”
  • Alauddin Khalji had plundered Devagiri once before he became the Sultan and therefore, had some idea of the accumulated wealth of South India. Therefore, one of his aims was to plunder the wealth of South. His other aim was to compel its rulers to accept his suzerainty and get annual tribute from them which would be a regular source of wealth for him and would also increase his prestige in India.
    • Dr. U.N. Dey has highlighted his second aim. He writes: “Alauddin was following a calculated policy of reducing the kingdoms of the Deccan and the South as tributary states which would accept his suzerainty, pay annual tribute and act in all manners as his subordinates.”
  • Apart from that Alauddin Khalji was a practical statesman. He was aware that it was difficult or rather impossible to keep the South under his direct rule for long. Therefore, he never desired to annex the South within his empire. On the contrary, he tried to keep good relations with those rulers of the South who accepted his suzerainty and agreed to pay annual tribute. Ramachandra Deva and Vir Ballala visited Delhi a number of times and the Sultan treated them well.
    • Dr. S. Roy writes: “What he aspired to in the South was not the annexation of new territory, but huge tribute from the Hindu kings with a mere acknowledgment of his overlordship.”
  • He sent his army to the South many times to achieve this objective. Malik Kafur who was purchased as a slave during the victory of Gujrat served him well in this purpose. The credit of subduing the South actually went to him.
  • The first attack on Telangana in 1303 CE failed miserably. Prataprudra Deva forced the Muslim army which was sent to attack Telangana under Fakhruddin Juna and Malik Chhajju to retreat in disorder. After that Alauddin failed to pay any attention onwards the South for some years.

Conquest of Devagiri

  • Alauddin’s extensive economic reforms and maintenance of a large permanent standing army and bureaucracy had increased the demand for gold and silver. Thus, the desire to secure the precious metals from the South, therefore, became a dire necessity to replenish the state exchequer and lubricate the war machine.
  • Devagiri to Alauddin was a gateway to the treasure-trove of the legendary ‘fort thieves’ and the Sultan was keen to possess it by playing the role of Ali Baba. To all these factors were added a couple of plausible excuses, Ramchandra Deva, the ruler of Devagiri had failed to remit the tribute to Alauddin Khalji as per the terms of the agreement made in 1296 CE. It was believed that his son, Shankar Deva, was responsible for this non-payment. Alauddin was not prepared to tolerate the loss of yearly revenue.
  • Besides this, Raja Karan Deva of Gujarat had found shelter with Ramchandra Deva of Devagiri and was made the independent ruler of Baglan region. His daughter Deval Devi was with him. Kamla Devi, now the Malika-i-Jahan of Alauddin Khalji, desired that her only living daughter Deval Devi be brought to Delhi. Alauddin assigned this task to his naib Malik Kafur.
  • Malik Kafur led an attack on Devagiri in 1308 CE with 30,000 soldiers. He was assisted by Ainul Mulk and Alp Khan, the governors of Malwa and Gujrat respectively. Raja Karna Deva was defeated and turned out of Ellichpur. His daughter Deval Devi fell into the hands of Alp Khan’s soldiers. She was taken to Delhi and married to Prince Khizr Khan, the eldest son of Alauddin after a few years.
  • Malik Kafur reached Devagiri and defeated Ramchandra Deva in a battle. Shankar Deva fled away while Ramchandra Deva sued for peace. Kafur got a large booty in elephants and treasures and carried Ramchandra Deva with his to Delhi. Alauddin Khalji accorded him exceptionally generous treatment and gave him the title of Rai Rayan (king of kings). He was allowed to return to his capital and was assigned the principality of Navsari. Ramchandra Deva became a feudatory friend of Alauddin and later on he helped Mailk Kafur in his conquest of the South. Dr. S. Roy writes: “Indeed Devagiri served the base for Khalji militant operations in the Deccan and the Far South.”

Conquest of Telangana

  • Alauddin Khalji had not forgotten the failure and disgrace of his earlier attack on Telangana. He decided to avenge his defeat and sent Malik Kafur to attack Telangana in November 1309 CE. The imperial army under Malik Kafur marched through Devagiri. Ramchandra Deva rendered every type of assistance to it.
  • Malik Kafur then proceeded towards Telangana. He conquered Sirbar on the way and reached the capital city, Warangal in January 1310 CE. The capital was well defended by two round walls, the outer one being that of earth and the inner one that of stone, and also by two moats filled with water between the two walls.
  • However, Prataprudra Deva could not defend himself for long and sued for peace. He accepted the suzerainty of Alauddin, agreed to pay annual tribute and gave 100 elephants, 7000 horses and the immense treasure of gold, silver and jewels of incalculable value; it included the famous diamond Koh-i-Noor, ‘unparalleled in the whole world’.
  • Kafur agreed to the terms and returned to Delhi on June 11, 1310 CE laden with enormous booty.

Conquest of Hoysala Kingdom

  • Flushed with the joy of an easy victory at Warangal, Alauddin Khalji became impatient to spread his imperial sway over the entire South India without much loss of time.
  • In November 1310 CE, Alauddin directed Malik Kafur to attack the far South in. More enthusiastic than his master, Kafur reached Devagiri in February 1311 CE, where he again received all the facilities for his forward march from Ramchandra Deva.
  • Kafur then proceeded towards Dwarasamudra, the capital of Hoysala kingdom. At that time, King Vir Ballala III had gone to attack the Pandya kingdom. Realizing the danger to his capital, Vir Ballala returned at once. Vir Pandya also send him army as well to support him.
  • However, Vir Ballala agreed for peace after some combats. He accepted Alauddin’s suzerainty, agreed to pay annual tribute and gave elephants, horses and all his wealth to Kafur. He personally met Kafur and promised to guide him in his attack on Pandya kingdom.

Conquest of the Pandya Kingdom

  • After the death of Kulashekhar, the Pandya ruler of Madura, there was a fratricidal war between the two Pandya princes Sundara Pandya and Vira Pandya in the far South.
  • Sundara Pandya was defeated by his brother. He fled away and sought help in getting the throne either from Alauddin or Malik Kafur. However, Dr. B.P. Saxena, has denied this fact. He maintains that Kafur struck against both brothers.
  • Kafur proceeded towards Madura, the Pandya capital. Vira Pandya fled away and Kafur thoroughly sacked it. Kafur pursued Vira Pandya to several places but failed to capture him.
  • According to Amir Khusrau, Kafur went as far as Rameshwaram, destroyed its famous temple and raised a mosque in its place in honor of the victory of Islam. However, Isami and Barani are silent about it.
  • In October 1311 CE, Malik Kafur returned to Delhi with enormous booty which he had amassed both from the Pandya and the Hoysala kingdom. Vira Ballala also accompanied him to Delhi where he was kindly received by Alauddin and was allowed to return to his kingdom.

The second attack on Devagiri

  • Ramchandra Deva died in 1312 CE and was succeeded by his eldest son Shankara Deva. He stopped the payment of annual tribute to Delhi and tended to behave as an independent ruler. Prataprudra Deva, the ruler of Telangana also requested Alauddin to send his representative to the South to collect the annual tribute.
  • Malika-i-Jahan, wife of Alauddin and her brother Alp Khan were intriguing against Malik Kafur at Delhi and therefore, Kafur himself desired to proceed to Deccan. Consequently, Alauddin sent Kafur again to attack Devagiri in 1313 CE. Kafur defeated and killed Shankar Deva in the battle. Devagiri was now annexed to the Delhi Sultanate. Alauddin recalled Kafur to Delhi in 1315 CE.
  • Alauddin’s Southern conquest was neither complete nor permanent. The kingdom of Devagiri and Hoysala certainly remained loyal to him but the attitude of Prataprudra Deva never remained above suspicion while Vira Pandya never accepted his suzerainty. The Hindus in the South were certainly defeated but not completely routed and always tried to free themselves from the yoke of Delhi.
  • Yet, Alauddin’s policy towards the South succeeded. He succeeded in fulfilling his objectives. Alauddin was the first Sultan of Delhi who dared to attack South India and succeeded. All states of the South were humbled and except one, all were compelled to accept his suzerainty and pay annual tribute to him. Though the Hindus offered stiff resistance to Muslims at several places, the Muslims were ultimately successful.
  • Yassaf wrote: “This brilliant achievement of Kafur in the Deccan eclipsed the victories of Mahmud of Ghazni in Hindustan.”
  • Besides Kafur took enormous booty from the South and, thus, fulfilled Alauddin’s objective of accumulating wealth of South.
Deccan Policy of Alauddin Khalji: Khalji territory at its maximum extent (dark green) and territory of the Khalji tributaries (light green)
Khalji territory at its maximum extent (dark green) and territory of the Khalji tributaries (light green)

Nature of Alauddin Khalji’s Deccan Policy

  • Alauddin Khalji’s Deccan policy proved to be very successful. His imperialism had two facets. In Northern India, he resorted to the annexation of territories and establishment of direct civil administration. On the other hand, he thoroughly exploited the South for procuring its fabulous wealth and was contended by the acceptance of suzerainty of the Hindu rulers.
  • He, thus, avoided responsibility for the direct civil administration of the distant territories, nor did he come into clash with the people in general, who were left to deal with their own regional rulers, good or bad.
  • In those days, the means of communication and transport were very poor; therefore, outright annexation of the far-flung lands might have created untold difficulties for the imperial government or led to rebellions or disaffection among the people at large.
  • Alauddin Khalji saved himself from all these dangers. For the purpose of receiving regular tribute and maintaining his hold over the local rulers, he treated them with courtesy and generosity.
  • Ramachandra Deva was so completely won over that he became his loyal agent in the Deccan and helped him in his further conquest of the South. The Sultan similarly won the confidence of Vir Ballala III by showering gifts and honors on him.

Effects of Alauddin Khalji’s Deccan Policy

  • Regarding effects of Alauddin Khalji’s Deccan policy, it has been expressed that it aided the growth of Muslim culture there as a large number of people accepted Islam as their religion. The opinion is correct to much extent. But another opinion has also been forwarded concerning it. It has also been said that it created a reaction against the Muslims and Islam among the Hindus of the Deccan.
  • Referring to it, Dr. R.C Majumdar writes: “They (the Hindus), at that time, had no other alternative except to surrender before the mighty power of the invader but resentment was deeply entrenched in their hearts which, finally, found its political expression in the form of establishment of the Vijayanagara empire.”

Causes of Success of Malik Kafur in the South

  • The causes of the success of Malik Kafur against the Southern Hindu states were similar to the causes of the success of the Turks in the North India.
  • At that time there were four powerful states in the South and each of them was fighting against each other for power and glory. There is only one instance of mutual help among them viz., when Vira Pandya sent military help to Vira Ballala. Instead of uniting against a common enemy, they helped him against each other.
  • When Alauddin had attacked Devagiri in 1296 CE, prince Shankar Deva had gone to fight against the Hoysala kingdom with the major part of the army of Devagiri state; when Kafur attacked the Hoysala kingdom, Vira Ballala had gone to attack the Pandya state, and, when Kafur attacked the Pandya state, he was supported by Sundar Pandya against his brother Vira Pandya.
  • Similarly, Ramachandra Deva of Devagiri supported Kafur against both the Telangana and the Hoysala states and the Hoysala ruler, Vira Ballala helped Kafur against Vira Pandya, ruler of Pandya state.
  • Thus, the Southern states had learnt nothing from the destruction of the Rajput states of North India. They rather repeated the follies of the Rajput rulers of the North. They failed to realize the consequences of the Muslim conquest of India. They failed to keep a good spy-system, failed to organize proper defense of the frontiers, and failed to improve their arms and military tactics.
  • They simply fought defensive battles from inside their forts and left the fate of their kingdom and its people on one decisive battle. Except Vira Pandya, rulers such as Ramchandra Deva, Prataprudra Deva and Vira Ballala were taken by surprise by Kafur and they prepared themselves for battle when the enemy had reached at the gates of their capital.
  • The lure of wealth and the emotional unity and social equality provided by Islam were also significant factors for the success of the Muslims. Apart from this, Alauddin Khalji’s efficient army and the capability of Malik Kafur as a military commander were certainly, responsible for the success of the Muslims.
  • Undoubtedly, the army which had successfully repulsed the invasions of the Mongols was very much superior in arms, organization, experience and military tactics than the armies of rulers of the South.
  • Expressing his views on Alauddin Khalji’s army, Dr. K.S. Lal has remarked: “The mobility of his cavalry was staggering; it had almost annihilated the distance between Delhi and Devagiri.” Besides, Malik Kafur proved to be the most capable general of his age and the credit for the conquest of the South mostly goes to him.
Khalji Sultanate Map


  • After Alauddin Khalji had conquered the North India andwas free from the fear of Mongol attacks, he decided to conquer South India.
  • Devagiri, Telangana, Hoysala and Pandya were the four prosperous and powerful state of the South.
  • Alauddin’s primary aim was to acquire the wealth of South India.
  • The first attack of Alauddin on Telangana in 1303 CE failed miserably.
  • Alauddin Khalji sent his able general Malik Kafur to attack Devagiri in 1308 CE who defeated its ruler Ramchandra Deva.
  • In November 1309 CE, Alauddin sent Malik Kafur to attack Telangana which at that time was ruled by Prataprudra Deva. Kafur was successful and returned to Delhi with enormous booty.
  • In 1311 CE, Malik Kafur was sent by Alauddin Khalji to attack the Hoysala kingdom ruled by Vir Ballala III who was defeated by Kafur.
  • Malik Kafur also conquered the Pandyan Kingdom. He again attacked Devagiri in 1313CE as its ruler Shankara Deva refused to pay the annual tribute to Delhi and declared himself independent.Kafur defeated Shankara Deva and annexed Devagiri to Delhi Sultanate.
  • Alauddin Khalji was the first Sultan of Delhi who dared to attack South India and succeeded.
  • Alauddin Khalji thoroughly exploited the South for procuring its fabulous wealth and was contended by the acceptance of suzerainty of the Hindu rulers.
  • He did not annex the conquered kingdoms of the South as he thought that administration of far-flung areas would be unmanageable due poor means of transportation and communication in those days.
  • Ala-ud-din’s Deccan policy never led to a permanent subservience of the Deccan Kingdoms.
  • Some scholars believe that Alauddin’s Deccan Policy aided the growth of Muslim culture there as a large number of people accepted Islam as their religion. However, it has also been said that it created a reaction against the Muslims and Islam among the Hindus of the Deccan.
  • The causes of the success of Malik Kafur against the Southern Hindu states were similar to the causes of the success of the Turks in the North India.


  • Amir: Commander, the third highest official grade.
  • Amiran-i-Sadah: Administrative heads of hundred villages.
  • Booty: Things that are taken by thieves or captured by soldiers in a war.
  • Naib: Deputy or representative authority

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments