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Establishment of the Delhi Sultanate (1206-1525)

Founded by Qutub-ud-Din Aibak in 1206, the Delhi sultanate was a Muslim empire in north India from 1206 to 1525. This article discusses how did Aibak, the slave general found the Delhi Sultanate? 


Mu’izz ad-Din Muhammad Ghori, also known as Muhammad of Ghor was the Sultan of the Ghurid Empire from 1173 to 1202. He added territories in India to his empire from 1202 to 1206 with the help of his loyal slave lieutenant Qutbuddin Aibak.

When the Sultan was returning back to Ghazni he appointed Aibak, his most trusted slave general the In-charge of territories in India.  While the Sultan was on his way back to Ghazni, he was assassinated on March 15, 1206, at Dhamiak near Sohawa city in Jhelum district. 

There are different opinions over who killed Muhammad of Ghore. However, one major assumption is that the Ismailis of Multan were behind his murder whom the sultan had murdered in wholesale. The Ismailis ruled Multan and surrounding areas. Their rule was destroyed by Muhammad of Ghore while he led the invasion into India.  

After the assassination of Muhammad of Ghore, the slave generals divided the regions of the empire in India among themselves. Qutubuddin Aibak became ruler of Delhi in 1206, establishing the Sultanate of Delhi. Nasir-ud-Din Qabacha became the ruler of Multan in 1210. Similarly, Tajuddin Yildoz assumed the role of the ruler of Ghazni whereas Ikhtiar ud Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji became ruler in parts of Bengal.

Founding of Delhi Sultanate

At the time of the murder of Muhammad of Ghore, Kutub-ud-din Aiak was in charge of Delhi and surrounding areas. As the slave generals claimed sovereignty over regions they ruled under Muhammad of Ghore, Aibak also declared himself as the Sultan of Delhi in 1206. The establishment of the Delhi Sultanate in 1206 marked the start of the Mamluk/Slave Dynasty.  

Mamluk is a Turkic word that means slave. Kutub-ud-din Aibak was a slave general of Muhammad of Ghore. Therefore the dynasty that ruled the Delhi Sultanate originating from Kutub-ud-din Aibak is called Mamluk Dynasty.  

The Mamluk Dynasty ruled from 1206 to 1290 in India. Earlier, Aibak ruled India from 1192 to 1206 as part of the Ghurid dynasty. During this period he led invasions into the Gangetic heartland of India and established control over many areas.

Unlike the Mughal empire, the Sultanate was ruled by five different dynasties sequentially. The sultanate covered vast territory in modern-day Indo-Pakistan including some parts of Nepal in its southern part.   

Dynasties that ruled the Sultanate

Following are the five different dynasties that reigned the sultanate sequentially: 

1. The Mamluk dynasty (1206–1290)

2. The Khalji dynasty (1290–1320)

3. The Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414)

4.  The Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451) 

5. Lodi dynasty (1451–1526).

End of the Delhi Sultanate

The Delhi Sultanate came to an end in the hands of Zaheer-ud-din Babur, a Timurid general after more than 300 years since its establishment. Babur inflicted a crushing defeat on the forces of the last Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodhi, at the battlefield of Panipat. 

During the battle, Babur’s troops killed Sultan Ibrahim resulting in a historic victory which in turn led to the foundation of the Mughal empire in India. So finally after 320 years since its establishment, the great Sultanate came to its end.  One of the reasons for Babur’s attack into India was the invitation from the disgruntled immediate family members of Sultan Ibrahim. 

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