The disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate started even during the Reigns of Muhammad Tughluq and Firuz Tughluq and the process could not be checked by their incompetent successors. The situation was no better during the reign of the Sayyid and Lodi Rulers and the result was there came into existence a large number of independent dynasties in various parts of the erstwhile Delhi Sultanate.
An attempt is made in this chapter to give some details about those dynasties. However, the Bahmani Kingdom and Vijayanagar Empire have been death with in separate chapters on account of their importance.
The city of Jaunpur was founded by Firuz Tughluq to perpetuate the memory of his cousin and patron, Muhammad Tughluq, also known as Prince Juna Khan. In 1376, when a fresh distribution of the territories was made, Jaunpur and Zafarabad fell to the lot of Malik Bahruz Sultan. After the death of Firuz Tughluq in 1388, there was nothing of importance to record until the rise of Khwaja Jahan to power. The original name of Khwaja Jahan was Malik Sarwar.
He was a eunuch. The litle to Khwaja Jahan was given to him in 1389 and he was given the rank of Wazir. In 1394, Khwaja Jahan received from Muhmud Tughluq the title of Malik-us-Sharq or the Lord of the East. The administration of all Hindustan from Kanauj to Bihar was entrusted to him.
Khwaja Jahan was able to suppress the rebellions in Etawah, Koil and Kanuaj. He was also able to bring under his control Kara, Oudh. Sandila, Dalmau. Bahraich, Bihar and Tirhut. The Rai of Jajnagar and ruler of Lakhnauti acknowledged his authority and sent him the number of elephants which they formerly used to send to Delhi. He took advantage of the confusion caused by the invasion of Timur and declared himself independent and took up the title of Atabak-i-Azam.
When he died in 1399, he was succeeded by his adopted son Malik Qaranfal who took up the title of Mubarak Shah. He was the first to take up the title of the king and struck coins in his own name. The Khutba was also read in his name. It was during his reign that Mallu Iqbal tried to recover Jaunpur but failed. Mubarak Shah died in 1402 and he was succeeded by Ibrahim Shah.
Ibrahim Shah ruled for 34 years from 1402 to 1436. He was a great patron of learning. He established many schools and colleges. The result was that a large number of scholarly works on Islamic theology, law and other subjects were produced.
A large number of beautiful buildings were constructed in the city of Jaunpur. A new style of architecture known as Sharqi style was developed. In this style, the mosques did not have minarets of the usual type and also showed traces of Hindu influence. It was during his reign that Jaunpur got the title of “Shiraz of India”.
During the reign of Ibrahim Shah, the relations between Delhi and Jaunpur became bitter. When Mahmud Tughluq ran away from Delhi to Jaunpur in order to free himself from the tyranny of Mallu Iqbal, he was not treated nicely by Ibrahim Shah.
The result was that Mahmud Shah took forcible possession of the district of Kanauj which was a part of the kingdom of Jaunpur. In 1407, Ibrahim Shah tried to turn out Mahmud Tughluq from Kanauj but failed. Ibrahim Shah also tried to conquer Bengal but failed.
Ibrahim Shah was succeeded by his son Mahmud Shah in 1436. Although he was successful in conquering Chunar, he failed to capture Kalpi. He invaded Delhi but was defeated by Bahlol Lodi. When he died in 1475, he was succeeded by his son Bhikhan. He picked up a quarrel with his nobles and was murdered by them. He was succeeded by his brother Husain Shah.
Husain Shah was the last ruler of the Sharqi dynasty. His character is both perplexing and disappointing. He was a man of ideas. He had a both opportunities and resources for the realisation of his ideas.
He was ever on the point of realising some great scheme of aggrandisement and ever missing his opportunity through carelessness, folly and perhaps physical cowardice. Husain Shah continued fighting against Delhi throughout his life. To begin with, he made peace with Bahlol Lodi.
However, the hostility started once again between Delhi and Jaunpur. Husain Shah was defeated by Bahlol Lodi and forced to take Shelter in Bihar. Jaunpur was annexed to Delhi. Bahlol placed his son Barbak Shah on the throne of Jaunpur. From his retreat in Bihar, Husain Shah continued to give trouble to the rulers of Delhi.
It was in the time of Sikandar Lodi that Jaunpur was permanently annexed to the Sultanate of Delhi. Husain Shah died in 1500 A.D. and with his death the Sharqi dynasty came to an end.
The greatest and most enduring achievement of the Sharqi dynasty was architecture. In this respect the Sharqis “stand supreme in the period before the Mughal Empire.” The Atala Masjid which was completed in 1408 has been described in these words by Lane-Pool: “Its characteristic feature, a lofty inner gateway of simple grandeur, recalling the propylon of Egyptian temples, supplied the place of a minaret and concealed from the quadrangle the too dominating outline of the great dome which covered the house of prayer.
The graceful two-storied colonnades, five aisles deep, round the spacious quadrangle, broken by minor domes and gateways, the fine ashlar masonry of its plain buttressed exterior, the exquisite and rich, yet river intricate, floral ornament surrounding its doors and prayer-niche, its geometrical trellis screens and panelled ceilings, are typical of a pure style of Saracenic art, with scarcely a trace of Indian influence. Even in such a land of precious stones of architecture, the Atala Masjid remains a gem of the first water.”
The history of Malwa is undoubtedly connected with that of Gujarat, Khandesh, Mewar and the Deccan. It was successively ruled by two Muslim dynasties. The Ghuri Dynsaty ruled from 1401 to 1436 A.D. and the Khalji Dyansty from 1436 to 1531 A.D. when it was absored into Gujarat.
Its capital was Dhar until it was shifted to Mandu by Hushang. Mandu was built at a commanding eminence. It had a wall covering an area of 25 miles. It was famous for its Jama Masjid, Hindola Mahal, Jahaz Mahal, tomb of Hushang and places of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati.
Malwa was annexed by Ala-ud-Din Khalji in 1305 A.D. and it continued to be ruled by Muslim chiefs under the authority of Delhi until it became independent. Dilawar Khan Ghuri had been appointed Governor of Malwa probably in the time of Firuz Tughluq.
He made himself practically independent in 1401 although he did not formally give up his allegiance to Delhi and also did not assume the style of royalty.
In 1406, Dilawar Khan was succeeded by his son Alp Khan who took up the title of Hushang Shah. The new ruler possessed a restless spirit. He took pleasure in enterprises and wars in 1422; he left his capital for Orissa in the guise of a merchant and made a surprise attack on the Raja of that state.
He agreed to withdraw after getting 75 elephants. On the way, he captured Kherla and took away its Raja as a prisoner. He fought against the rulers of Delhi, Jaunpur and Gujarat. He had also to fight against Ahmad Shah, the Bahmani ruler, as the Raja of Kherla was a vassal of the Bahmani ruler. Most of his campaigns resulted in defeats and disaster for him.
When Hushang Shah died in July 1435, he was succeeded by his son Ghazni Khan and the latter took up the title of Muhammad Shah. The new ruler ignored completely the affairs of the state and consequently the throne was captured in May 1436 by his minister Mahmud Khan. Thus a new Khalji dynasty came into existence.
Sultan Mahmud Khalji was the founder of the Khalji Dynasty in Malwa. He was a brave warrior. He fought against Ahmad Shah I of Gujarat, Muhammad Shah of Delhi, Muhammad Shah 111 of the Bahmani kingdom and Rana Kumbha of Mewar, in 1440 A.D., his ambition led him to march toward Delhi with a view to become the ruler of Delhi in place of Bahlol Lodi.
However, he withdrew on account of the opposition of Bahlol and the dangers of troubles at home. His war with the Rana of Mewar was indecisive. Both sides claimed victory. While the Rana of Mewar built the tower of victory at Chittor, Mahmud Khalji erected a seven storeyed column at Mandu to commemorate his triumph. Mahmud Khalji was undoubtedly the ablest of the Muslim rulers of Malwa.
He extended the limits of his kingdom up to the Satpura range in the south, the frontier of Gujarat in the west, Bundelkhand in the east and Mewar and Harauti in the north. His fame spread even beyond India. His position was recognised even by the Khalifa of Egypt.
He received a mission from Sultan Abu said. He was a just and active administrator. According to Ferishta, “Sultan Mahmud was polite, brave, just and learned and during his reign, his subjects, Mohammadans as well as Hindus, were happy and maintained a friendly intercourse with each other.
Scarcely a year passed that he did not take the field, so that his tent became his home and his resting place the field of battle. His leisure hours were devoted to hearing the histories and memoirs of the courts of the different kings of earth read.” Mahmud Khalji died in 1469 at Mandu at the age of 68 after a reign of about 34 years.
About Sultan Mahmud, Dr. Upendranath Day observes: “Mahmud was the greatest of all the Sultans of Malwa. By his hard work he strengthened the kingdom of Malwa and extended it on all sides. Mahmud was polite, brave, just and learned. He valued learning above all things. His leisure hours were devoted to hearing the readings from the histories and memoirs of the courts of different kings. He had acquired intimate knowledge of human nature, a subject to which he devoted much attention.
“Mahmud was endowed with a cool temper and in spite of heavy administrative duties and responsibilities, he never lost his temper. He was kind-hearted and generous and his bounty was such that none returned empty-handed from his door.
Mahmud was just and under him all people lived in safety and comfort. By his strong administration, he kept his subjects free from the hands of the oppressors. In kingship he was like Jamshid, in justice like Naushirwan and in generosity like Hatim.
“Mahmud was a good rider and a brave soldier and his whole life was practically spent in the battlefield; there was hardly a year when Mahmud was not engaged in fighting. By his hard work and diplomacy, Mahmud not only carried Malwa to the peak of her glory but actually paved the way for peace and plenty which characterised the reign of his son and successor.
If Mahmud had usurped the throne from the Ghuries, he fully justified his usurpation by his administration of the country and certainly proved the maxim that the “crown belongs to him who deserves it.”
Mahmud Khalji was succeeded by his son Ghiyas-ud-Din. He had 15,000 women in his harem. He loved peace. Like a true Muslim, he was very particular about his daily prayers. There were quarrels between his two sons and he was poisoned by one of them in 1500 A.D.
Ghiyas-ud-Din was succeeded by his son Abdul Qudir Nasir-ud-Din. He ruled for 10 years and died in 1510. He was succeeded by Mahmud II (1510-1531). In order to get rid of the influence of the Muslim nobles, Mahmud II appointed Medni Rai, the powerful Rajput chief of Chanderi, as his minister.
Medni Rai appointed Hindus to all offices of trust and responsibility. This was too much for the Muslim nobles and they were able to remove Medni Rai with the help of Sultan Muzaffar Khan II of Gujarat.
However Medni Rai was able to defeat Mahmud II with the help of Rana Sanga of Chittor. Mahmud II was captured by the Rajputs but was restoried to his kingdom by them. Mahmud II invaded the territories of Ratan Singh, successor of Rana Sanga. The result was that Ratan Singh also invaded Malwa.
Mahmud II also gave shelter to Chand Khan, the younger brother of the ruler of Gujarat and a rival to the throne of Gujarat. The result was that Bahadur Shah of Gujarat captured Mandu in 1531 and thereby ended the independence of Malwa. After some time, it was occupied by Humayun.
In about 1535, Mallu Khan became independent in Malwa and took up the title of Kadar Shah. However, he deposed in 1542 by Sher Shah. Malwa was finally conqured by the Mughals from Baz Bahadur in 1561-62 A.D.