A Closer Look: Administration and Consolidation under the Khaljis and Tughluqs


The Delhi sultanate was at its peak during the time of the Khalji dynasty and most of the achievements were credited to Allaudin Khalji. He was the most powerful ruler of the Delhi sultanate and he brought the whole Indian subcontinent under his empire. Alauddin Khalji came to the throne in 1296, after killing his father-in-law Jalaluddin Khalji, who was the founder of the Khalji dynasty. After the Khalji dynasty, the Tughluq dynasty came to power in 1320.

The Tughluq dynasty was founded by Ghiyasuddin Tughluq and the expansion of the sultanate was seen during the time of Mohammad Tughluq. Mohammad Tughluq is remembered for his controversial reforms and his hasty nature. Both of these dynasties were stretched far and had a vast area to rule. For ruling such a vast area Khalji/ Khilji brought some reforms in his administration and to consolidate his empire he appointed various governors and nobles. Many of the administrative policies of Khilji were adopted by Tughluqs and with these changes, they were able to rule most of the Indian subcontinent.

Consolidation Under Khalji Dynasty

The first ruler of the Khalji dynasty, Jalaluddin was not able to expand his kingdom due to internal disputes. He had a short reign of 6 years, in which he was indulge in stabilising and legitimizing his rule. Jalaluddin was assassinated by his son-in-law, Alauddin Khalji, who then captured the throne for himself and declared himself the emperor of the Delhi sultanate. Alauddin Khalji took the Delhi sultanate to its peak.

The first expedition of Alauddin was to Gujrat in 1299. This was his first territorial expansion. He plundered the riches and made Alp khan the governor. He then proceeded westward expansion and attacked Malwa in 1305 and captured the fort of Mandu after a hard battle. He captured the whole of western India including, Ranthmbor, Mewar and Chittor. Alauddin expanded his empire to deep south India. Wherever he won he gave his trusted nobles the governorship.

Administration Under the Khalji Dynasty

Khalji rulers made their military commanders the governors and gave them control of their lands. Such lands were known as Iqta and the holders were known as iqtadar or muqti. Iqtadars were obliged to give military support to the king and maintain law and order in their area. Iqtadar collected revenue from their areas as salary.

There were three kinds of taxes. The first was half of the cultivation called kharaj, the second tax was on cattle and the third tax was on horses. There were many administrative changes were done during Alauddin Khalji’s rule.

  • The empire was divided into provinces and under Alauddin Khalji there were 11 provinces.

  • To protect the kingdom from Mongol attack Alauddin formed a large standing army.

  • Alauddin constructed a Garrison town for his soldiers, named Siri.

  • He additionally taxed the Ganga Yamuna doab region for feeding his soldiers.

  • He controlled the prices of commodities in Delhi, the government officials were appointed to look for this, and those who don't sell at the prescribed price were punished.

  • Alauddin became the first emperor to pay his soldiers in cash.

  • Alauddin had controlled the market price in a way that even during the Mongol invasion the prices remained the same.

Consolidation Under Tughluq Dynasty

The authority of the sultanate on Deccan was not permanent, after the death of Alauddin southern provinces revolted and freed themselves. This came to the attention of Ghyisuddin Tughluq, who was the founder of the Tughluq dynasty. Ghiyasuddin could not bring south under the Delhi sultanate during his short time of rule. Mohammad bin Tughluq focused his campaign on the south, after coming to power. he launched many military expeditions and captured a large area of the south. In the south, he expanded to Mabar.

In the east, he captured Bangal, which had declared itself free due to its distance from the Delhi sultanate as it was hard to maintain administration and consolidation from such distance.

Mohammad Tughluq planned many expeditions, far north and northwest. He sent his army to Tibet and had a massive loss, he planned the Qurachi expedition but later changed his plan. Mohammad Tughluq had the biggest territory in the Delhi sultanate and which also became one of the reasons for the fall of the sultanate.

Administration Under Tughluq Dynasty

Tughluq dynasty continued most of the administrative policies of Khalji and maintained the empire. The tradition of iqta was continued and nobles were given the right to collect tax from hi iqta. Tughluqs continued the appointment of bandagan, as governor and military commanders. Bandagan were specially trained slaves, who were only loyal to the king. Mohammad Tughluq took many administrative steps which were highly controversial. At one time Mohammad appointed some gardeners, cooks and wine distillers to high administrative posts. The noles (head/lead) were highly critical of unorthodox practices by the ruler.

  • Mohammad formed a strong standing army to defend its kingdom from Mongol invasion. He defeated the Mongol invasion.

  • He did not construct a new garrison town for the army, instead, he emptied an old city in Delhi and sent all the residents to Daulatabad and stationed his soldiers in Delhi.

  • To feed the army, taxes were increased. This started dissatisfaction among the people. A famine also hit north India at that time.

  • He started token currency which failed miserably because it was made from cheap metal and was easy to copy. People paid taxes in token money and saved the gold.

  • He paid his soldiers in cash.

  • His idea to replace capital and again change it back brought many controversies and started the rebellion in many provinces.


The Delhi sultanate reached its highs during the time of the Khalji and Tughluq dynasties. Khalji ruler Alauddin adopted harsh measures and policies to control his vast empire and he was a keen administrator who sought to stabilise the prices of commodities in Delhi. The policies of expansion and administration of Khalji were adopted by the Tughluq dynasty. The most known ruler of Tughluq was Mohammad Tughluq, who brought many radical changes in administration and did many experiments with his policies. Unfortunately, his policies were not far-sighted and he was a hasty and impatient ruler which later brought his empire to a gradual decline.


Q1. How the defensive policies of Tughluq were different from Khalji?

Ans. Mohammad Tughluq adopted the offensive approach toward the Mongol attack whereas Khalji adopted the defensive measures. Mohammad became the only ruler of the Delhi sultanate to delete the Mongol invasion.

Q2. What were the duties of Muqtis?

Ans. Muqties were obliged to give military support to the emperor and they had to maintain law and order in their iqtas. for their service Muqties were allowed to collect taxes from his iqta.

Q3. Who were Samanta aristocrats?

Ans. Samanta aristocrats were also knowns as chieftains. They were the rich landlords living backcountry and they were brought under the authority of the empire and taxed.

Q4. What is true in the context of administration and consolidation under Khaljis and Tughluqs?

Ans. Even though these dynasties controlled most of the Indian subcontinent but most of the backcountry was still autonomous. The distance became the most challenging factor in controlling all of the provinces and distant provinces like Bengal were difficult to control.

Q5. Why did the Delhi Sultanate focused on the internal frontier?

Ans. The campaign along the internal frontier aimed to consolidate the hinterland and clear the Ganga Yamuna doab region and make the plan cultivable and distribute it among the peasants for cultivation.