Deccan Policy of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq

  • Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq’s father Ghiyasuddin had annexed Telangana and a large part of the Malabar Coast (Pandyan Kingdom). Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq made fresh annexations in the South. He conquered a greater part of South India and annexed it to the Delhi Sultanate.
  • The regions of the Deccan which were conquered by the Khaljis had stopped paying tribute
    and were proclaiming independent status.

Siege of Warangal

  • In 1323 CE, the Delhi Sultanate ruler Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq sent an army led by his son Jauna Khan, now entitled Ulugh Khan (later Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq) to the Kakatiya capital Warangal, after the Kakatiya ruler Prataparudra refused to make tribute payments and repudiated his vassalage to the Sultan.
    • Ulugh Khan’s first siege of Warangal proved to be unsuccessful because of a rebellion resulting from a false rumor about Ghiyasuddin’s death in Delhi. The Muslim chroniclers blame a man named Ubaid for this failure, although their accounts vary about the exact cause.
    • According to Isami (1349 CE), Ulugh Khan plundered the Kakatiya territory on his way to Warangal. He besieged the fort of Warangal for six months, but could not breach it. When Ghiyasuddin expressed his annoyance at the siege operations in letters from Delhi, Ulugh Khan consulted his astrologer Ubaid.
    • The astrologer predicted that the fort would fall on a specific day, and offered to be executed if his prediction failed. However, the defenders did not show any sign of submission on that day, and therefore, Ubaid formulated a plan to save himself.
    • He spread a false rumour of the death of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq in Delhi, and that Khalji sympathisers had revolted in Delhi. He also told the soldiers that Ulugh Khan had decided to kill the chief amirs of the Delhi army in Warangal, because he suspected them of being Khalji sympathisers. This created a panic in the camp, and a section of the army rebelled and withdrew from Warangal.
  • According to Ziauddin Barani, at one point, Ulugh Khan was on the verge of victory, and Prataparudra offered to negotiate a truce.
    • However, Ulugh Khan refused the offer, as he was determined to annex Warangal. Meanwhile, the postal system connecting Ulugh Khan’s army to Delhi broke down.
    • Amid this confusion, Ulugh Khan’s associates Ubaid and Shaikhzada of Damascus spread the false rumour. The rest of Barani’s account is similar to that of Isami.
  • According to the Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta, it was Ulugh Khan who asked Ubaid to spread the false rumour, because he wanted to seize the throne of Delhi from his father. He had hoped that the army chiefs would support him after learning about Ghiyasuddin’s death.
    • However, this plan backfired, when the army chiefs rebelled and planned to kill him instead. He managed to escape to Delhi with help from the loyal chief Malik Timur. Once in Delhi, Ulugh Khan falsely accused Ubaid and other amirs of the conspiracy.
    • Ghiyasuddin accepted these allegations and punished the amirs. The genuineness of Ibn Battuta’s account is doubtful, because it contradicts the Indian chronicles, and because he wrote it from memory several years later, after returning to Morocco.
  • Thus, it is accepted that Ulugh Khan’s first attack on Warangal proved to be a failure.Taking advantage of the situation, the Kakatiya army stormed the invaders’ camp, and plundered it. Ulugh Khan had to flee, and the Kakatiya army pursued him till Kotagiri, where Abu Riza rescued him. He ultimately retreated to Devagiri.
  • Prataparudra Deva’s victory made him complacent. He believed that he had achieved a decisive victory, and that the Delhi army would not return to Warangal. He organized a feast to celebrate his victory, and exhausted the fort’s granary. He also allowed his soldiers to take leave from the military service, and return to agriculture and farming.
  • When Ghiyasuddin came to know about the failure of the siege, he severely punished the rebels. He then sent reinforcements to Devagiri, and instructed Ulugh Khan to launch a fresh attack on Warangal. Within four months of his retreat, Ulugh Khan marched to Telangana again, this time capturing enemy forts on the way to Warangal to ensure a regular flow of news from Delhi. The prince captured Bidar. Then, he marched to Bodhan, and captured it after a 3-4 day siege. The defending governor and his companions embraced Islam to save their lives.
  • Subsequently, Ulugh Khan marched to Warangal, where he first besieged and captured the outer mud fort, and then surrounded the inner citadel. The siege lasted for five months. The shortage of provisions in the fort may have compelled Prataparudra Deva to surrender. After he opened the gates of the fort, the invaders ransacked and plundered the houses and destroyed the public buildings. The famous Swayambhudeva Temple was demolished after plundering of its wealth and valuables. He then enslaved many people who would later serve in both Delhi and Warangal for the Sultan and well as his governors and nobles.
  • Ulugh Khan sent Prataparudra Deva and his family members to Delhi, accompanied by a contingent led by his lieutenants Qadir Khan and Khawaja Haji. Prataparudra Deva seems to have committed suicide on the banks of the Narmada River en route to Delhi. The capital city of Warangal was named Sultanpur and annexed to the Delhi Sultanate under direct imperial administration.

Rebellion in Mabar

  • During the reign of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq, there was a serious rebellion in Mabar (modern Coromandal in Tamilnadu) in 1334-35 CE.
    • The Sultan marched to the South to suppress the rebellion. While he was encamped at Bidar, there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in which took a heavy toll of the soldiers. Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq himself was taken ill, and retreated to Devagiri (Daultabad).
    • Rumors spread of the Sultan’s death, and soon the entire South, including Mabar, Dwarsamudra, and Warangal were lost to the Delhi Sultanate.
    • Thus, the purpose of keeping Daultabad as a second capital disappeared. It was around this time, i.e. between 1335-37 CE, that the Sultan permitted the people at Daultabad to return to Delhi.
  • Thus, the Mabar rebellion constitutes a watershed in the history of the Delhi Sultanate. It indicates the decline and slow disintegration of the mighty Turkish Empire of the early medieval India.

Analysis of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq’s Deccan Policy

  • Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq ruled from 1325 to 1351 CE. He was familiar with the problems of the South and in order to deal with them, he ordered for the shifting of capital, but unfortunately, his project failed which affected his powers and prestige adversely. The Sultan was not able to establish his control over the Southern provinces due to long distances and the Hindu rulers of the South made a union of their own in order to defeat the Muslim Sultan.
  • The Amiran-i-Sadah of the South also revolted against the Sultan. Despite his best efforts the Sultan could not achieve success against the rebels of the South. Consequently, confusion and corruption went on increasing in the South. It also affected the realization of taxes adversely and weakened the administration of Delhi Sultanate. Hence, one by one the kingdoms of the South started becoming independent. The most prominent among them were the kingdoms of Vijaynagar and Bahmani. In fact, his Deccan policy proved very harmful and it also gave rise to revolts in the North.
Deccan Policy of Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq

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