Short notes on ALA-UD-DIN’s Securing of Throne

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As soon as the sultan came to know of Ala-ud-din’s victories, his first reaction was of happiness. But he was advised by his closest nobles that Ala-ud-din’s intentions were not above suspicion.

Moreover, the huge wealth which he had acquired would certainly turn his head. They advised the sultan to march to Chanderi and intercept the prince. Jalal-ud- din, however, rejected their advice and accepted the pleas of his nephew to meet him at Kara where he would hand over all the spoils of war to him.

We need not go into the details of the plot which ultimately resulted in the assassination of Jalal-ud-din and the murder of his closest comrades as soon as they crossed the river at Damhai (modern Dubhai in District Bulandshahr) on 20 July 1296 and seizure of power by Ala-ud-din.

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Deccan money played a very important role in winning over the nobles who deserted the sons of Jalal-ud-din and flocked to the usurper Ts camp. He gave them liberal gifts and conferred titles upon them. Ala-ud-din entered the capital on 20 October 1296 when he was crowned king.

Having thus secured the throne through gold and blood, Ala-ud-din was shrewd enough to realize that the powers of the nobles had to be curbed to prevent them from conspiring against the ruler. Equally important task was to subjugate the independent or semi-independent kingdoms in Rajputana, Gujarat, Bihar, Bengal, and Orissa.

In the south, too, Yadavas had regained control over their lost territories while the great kingdoms of Warangal, Dwarasamudra, and those ruled by Cholas, the Cheras and the Pandyas had hardly heard of any Muslim invader. To add to these, was the Mongol menace on the north­west frontier.

They had been encouraged by their previous campaigns to plan a conquest of India. He took stringent measures against the nobles; they were prohibited from visiting each other; holding convivial parties; contract matrimonial alliances without king’s permission; etc. He also strictly enforced prohibition as it encouraged people to assemble, indulge in loose talks, plan conspiracies and think of revolt.

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Ala-ud-din’s measures seemed to have the desired effect. Barani writes: “from the day that the use of wine was interdicted in the city, conspiracy and rebellion began to diminish and the thought of rebellion left the minds of the people”. To keep the nobles under check, maintain law and order, subjugate and conquer the independent and semi-independent states, check the Mongol menace, Ala- ud-din was obliged to keep a large and effective army.

According to a contemporary historian, Ala-ud-din maintained an army of 4, 75,000 soldiers fully equipped. His revenue reforms, taking over of estates held as inams (remuneration) milk (property), vaqt (gift) was as much due to his desire to increase state resources to meet his urgent needs as to deprive the amirs and jagirdars of the wherewithal to think of raising their head against the king.

Ala-ud-din soon felt he had to look for money outside his territory. The precedent of Devagiri was already before him. He knew there were in the south richer and wealthier kingdoms beyond it. There were two alternatives before him to conquer and annex these kingdoms or to squeeze them of their immense treasures and made them pay tributes regularly to augment the imperial treasury.

He was shrewd enough to understand the futility of the first course which would only lead to the extension of the empire which he might not be able to manage from distant Delhi and suppress their frequent rebellions.

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He opted for the second alternative. Hindus were managing their kingdoms well and economically and could be forced to pay huge amounts in gold and silver. His first target of attack was the kingdom of Gujarat. Karan Singh Baghela was ruling Gujarat when Ala-ud-din sent a large force under Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan to conquer Gujarat.

Karan Singh fled away in panic and Anhilwara was thoroughly plundered by Ulugh Khan’s forces. Besides the treasures, his beautiful queen Kamla Devi fell into the hands of the invaders who sent her to the Sultan Ala-ud-din who was enchanted by her beauty and married her. Meanwhile the other general Nusrat Khan plundered Cambay and it was here that the beautiful slave Kafur was forcibly seized by him from a merchant.

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