‘Alā’-ud-Dīn Muhammad Khaljī Conquers Gujarat Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn, sultan of Delhi, began the Muslim advance southward by invading Gujarat.

Summary of Event

From the earliest recorded history, the Gujarat region of northwestern India, which constitutes the hinterlands of both shores of the Gulf of Cambay, saw the convergence of maritime trade-routes from southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, the Coromandel and Malabar coasts, the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea, and the east African littoral. Gujarat was therefore the scene of a continuous interchange of goods, people, and ideas. [kw]ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī Conquers Gujarat (1299) [kw]Khaljī Conquers Gujarat, ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad (1299) [kw]Gujarat, ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī Conquers (1299) Gujarat, conquest of (1299) ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī Delhi sultanate India;1299: ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī Conquers Gujarat[2590] Expansion and land acquisition;1299: ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī Conquers Gujarat[2590] Wars, uprisings, and civil unrest;1299: ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī Conquers Gujarat[2590] ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī

Muslim Arab and Persian traders and seafarers, as well as Ismālī missionaries and itinerant Sufis, had long frequented the ports of Gujarat. The first Muslim military incursion into the region, however, came when Maḥmūd of Ghazna Maḥmūd of Ghazna (r. 997-1030), the well-known smasher of idols and desecrator of temples, launched a devastating raid across Gujarat in 1024, his goal being the temple of Śiva at Somnath on the coast of Kathiawar. Maḥmūd returned to Ghazna with riches that made his exploit celebrated throughout the Muslim world. India;Muslim invasions of The temple itself had been destroyed, its devotees slaughtered, and its immense wealth shorn. Although it was rebuilt during the ensuing century and a half, it was only a matter of time before it attracted another predatory Muslim ghazi (holy warrior), claiming to wage jihad (holy war) against the Hindu idolaters.

The next person to turn his attention to Gujarat was Muՙizz-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Muՙizz-ud-Dīn Muḥammad of Ghūr (r. 1173-1206), the architect of the first Muslim state in northern India. Although his aim was to emulate Maḥmūd of Ghazna, he may also have been seeking a route to central India that would bypass the Rājput states of Rajasthan and Malwa. In 1178, he reached as far south as Anhilwara (modern Patan), where he was soundly defeated by the forces of Bhimdeva II Bhimdeva II of the Solaṅki Solaṅkis[Solankis] Dynasty of Gujarat, and thereafter avoided Gujarat for the next two decades. However, in 1197, a Ghūrid Ghūrids[Ghurids] army again advanced on Anhilwara, commanded by Muՙizz-ud-Dīn Muḥammad’s favorite slave-commander and first sultan of Delhi, Quṭ al-Dīn Aybak Quṭ al-Dīn Aybak (r. 1206-1210), who captured the Solaṅki capital and seized an immense treasure. Once he had withdrawn, however, Solaṅki rule was restored, and for another century, there were no further Muslim incursions.

In 1299, Gujarat was exposed to a much more intensive assault. In 1296, the throne of Delhi was seized by Sultan ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn Muḥammad Khaljī, who had murdered the previous sultan, his uncle, Jalāl-ud-Dīn Fīrūz Khaljī Jalāl-ud-Dīn Fīrūz Khaljī (r. 1290-1296), the first ruler of the Khaljī Dynasty Khaljī Dynasty[Khalji Dynasty] (1290-1320). As a usurper and a parricide, Sultan ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn, facing numerous conspiracies and almost annual Mongol invasions of Punjab, needed a spectacular military triumph to consolidate his position. Thus, in 1299, he sent his younger brother, Ulugh Khan Ulugh Khan , and a trusted henchman, Nusrat Khan Nusrat Khan , jointly to invade Gujarat, which had been unmolested by Muslim raiders for more than a century and was celebrated for its fabulous wealth.





In February, 1299, the army set off, and because it chose a little-known route to avoid conflict with adjacent Rājput Rājputs[Rajputs] rulers, the local Rājput forces in Gujarat were taken by surprise, and the victorious invaders moved against Anhilwara. Rāja Karṇadeva II Rāja Karṇadeva II panicked, abandoned his capital, and fled to Devagiri (Deogir, later Daulatabad, India) in the Deccan. With comparatively little effort, the Khaljīs acquired the immense treasures accumulated by the Solaṅki Dynasty. In addition to precious metals, horses, elephants, and slaves, they captured Rāja Karṇadeva’s women, including his rani (queen), Kamala Devi.

Having sacked Anhilwara, the army then (June, 1299) headed for the coast at Somnath Somnath, Battle of (1299) , where, after fierce resistance, town and temple were penetrated amid a great slaughter and the acquisition of much booty, satisfying for believers in the ideological imperative of holy war (jihad). The objectives of the campaign, plunder and piety, were now achieved, and the army split up to lay waste the countryside in a more leisurely fashion. Ulugh Khan remained to ravage the Kathiawar peninsula, and Nusrat Khan made his way to the port of Cambay, where he levied heavy impositions on the merchant community, Hindu and Muslim alike. Here, too, he acquired his most significant prize.

He purchased from an Arab merchant a Hindu eunuch named Kāfūr Kāfūr for a thousand dinars. Of startling beauty, Kāfūr was presented to the sultan, with whom he became so great a favorite that he rose to become malik naib (in effect, the sultan’s deputy). Appointed commander of the army, he led the advance into the Deccan in 1306-1307, reaching Madura in the far south. Toward the end of the sultan’s life, however, Kāfūr plotted the downfall of ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn’s family, and although his rivals procured his assassination (1316), by then he had undermined the foundations of Khaljī rule.

The two army commanders, Ulugh Khan and Nusrat Khan, now headed for Delhi, where they handed over an immense booty to the sultan. Strangely, they had done nothing to consolidate their conquests: They left no garrison behind, and they appointed no provincial governor. After a while, Rāja Karṇadeva quietly slipped back into Gujarat and resumed his former authority. At this point, fact and fiction merge. According to the poet-historian Amir Khusrau Amir Khusrau , Karṇadeva’s former queen, Kamala Devi Kamala Devi , now in ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn’s harem, urged the sultan to demand that Karṇadeva send his daughter, Deval Devi Deval Devi (Rājput queen) , to be the wife of the sultan’s heir-apparent, Khizr Khan. Karṇadeva, interpreting the dispatch of his daughter as acknowledgment of Delhi’s suzerainty over Gujarat, prepared to resist. ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn, getting wind of this, sent an expeditionary force into Gujarat in 1304-1305, which reached Anhilwara before Karṇadeva was aware of its presence. Karṇadeva was forced to flee precipitately, and because his former host in Devagiri was apprehensive of incurring the sultan’s wrath, he sought sanctuary in Warangal, where his death passed unrecorded by the chroniclers.

This time the Khaljī troops remained in Anhilwara for a month, but they did not sack the city. Rather, their commander received orders from Delhi to appoint a temporary governor, and to return to Delhi with Karṇadeva’s children, especially Deval Devi. Subsequently, in 1305-1306, ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn ordered his brother-in-law and staunch supporter, Alp Arslan, to take up the governorship of Gujarat and form a permanent administration. For virtually a decade, this able official laid the foundations of Gujarat’s prosperity under Muslim rule. As far as was possible, he hammered out a modus vivendi with the resentful Rājput elite, he assuaged the apprehensions of the Arab and other coastal trading-communities who had suffered from Nusrat Khan’s depredations, and he even managed to earn the goodwill of the influential Jain community. Until it was demolished during the last decade of the eighteenth century, the fine Adina mosque in Anhilwara was the standing monument to his proconsulship. Alp Arslan Alp Arslan (Gujarat governor) left Gujarat in the autumn of 1315 for Delhi, where he was promptly assassinated by Malik Kāfūr. For the remainder of the fourteenth century, Gujarat was governed from Delhi with indifferent success, and during much of the reign of Muḥammad ibn Tughluq Muḥammad ibn Tughluq (r. 1325-1351), it was in revolt. Finally, a governor,afār Khan, sent to rule the province in 1391, declared himself sultan as Muẓaffar Shah Muẓaffar Shah (sultan of Gujarat) in 1407.


The historical sources for the Khaljī conquests of Gujarat conflict. On the Muslim side, there are the Persian histories of Amir Khusrau,iyā՚-ud-Dī Baranī, Isami, and others, which glorify the conquest in the name of religion. On the Hindu side, there are the Rājput bardic epics, such as the Kānhaḍade Prabandha (fifteenth century; Kānhaḍada prabandha: India’s Greatest Patriotic Saga of Medieval Times, 1991) by Padmanābha, which describe the heroic resistance of the Rājputs to the incursions of ՙAlā՚-ud-Dīn’s forces. Written mainly in Old Gujarati (also termed Old Rajasthani) and sometimes in Sanskrit, these are today regarded as glowing statements of national resistance. The basic facts related in these sources differ, and so does their interpretation. Particularly problematic are the divergent traditions regarding the Rājput queens, Kamala Devi and Deval Devi.

Two broad consequences flowed from the Khaljī invasion of Gujarat. First, Gujarat in Muslim hands became a bridgehead through which central and southern India acquired a Muslim presence and eventually independent regional sultanates. Second, the establishment of Muslim rule in Gujarat during the fourteenth century paved the way for a magnificent florescence of syncretistic Indo-Islamic culture, especially in the arts, under the rule of the independent sultans of Gujarat (1391-1583).

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Padmanābha. Kānhaḍada Prabandha: India’s Greatest Patriotic Saga of Medieval Times. Translated by V. S. Bhatnagar. New Delhi: Aditya Prakashan, 1991. A translation of the Rājput epic.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Commissariat, M. S. A History of Gujarat. 2 vols. Bombay: Longman, Green, 1938. Authoritative account of the sultanate period.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Forbes, A. Kinloch. Ras Mala: Or, Hindu Annals of the Province of Goozerat. 2 vols. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1924. Collection of important bardic traditions.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Jackson, Peter. The Delhi Sultanate. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1999. The best general history of the period.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Misra, S. C. The Rise of the Muslim Power in Gujarat. Delhi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1982. A thorough discussion of resources relating to Kamala Devi and Deval Devi.

Categories: History