Categories Medieval India

The Mongol threat to India during Sultanate period

The Mongol problem during Sultanate period

  • Although India was defended in the North and the North-West by a range of mountains, the Himalayas and their extension, the low mountains in the North-West were pierced by passes like Khybar and the Bolan passes which were the traditional points of entry into India.
  • Afghanistan and its neighbouring areas were strategically important for India because they provided a staging centre for any invasion of India. Thus, attack on Afghanistan was the first stage in the Ghaznavid and Ghurian conquest of north India.
Khyber and Bolan Pass


  • For the Delhi Sultans, control over Kabul-Ghazni-Qandahar line flanked by the Hindukush, was important for two reason :
    • stabilizing the ‘scientific frontier‘ and
    • it connected India with the major silk-route passing from China through Central Asia and Persia.
  • But Mongol onslaught compelled the Delhi Sultans to take comfort along the Chenab, while the cis-Sutlej region became the cock-pit of confrontation.
  • Thus, the “Indus remained only the cultural boundary of India” and for all practical purposes the line of control was confined to the west of the Indus only.
  • A viable defence line in the north-west could now be provided either by the Indus, or by the Koh-i-Jud (Salt Ranges) which was on this side of the Indus.
    • In stages, Mongols breached these lines of defence in course of time, and reached upto the river Beas, thereby posing a serious threat to the sultanat of Delhi.
  • After the Ghurian conquest, it might have been expected that Ghur and Ghazni would provide an effective shield against any future invasions of India. But the separation of India from Ghur and Ghazni, and the subsequent conquest of the area by Khwarizm Shah, followed by the Mongols, completely altered the strategic position.

Professor K.A. Nizami has categorised the response of the Sultanate towards, the Mongol challenge into three distinct phases:


  • Iltutmish followed this policy.
  • Mongol threat as early as A.D. 1221 when, after destroying the Khwarizmi empire, Chengiz Khan reached the Indian frontiers.
    • In 1221, Chingez loitered around the Indus for three months, after defeating the Khwarizmi prince, Jalaluddin Mangbarani after pursuing him into India from Samarkand and defeating him at the battle of Indus.
    • Jalaluddin crossed Indus and entered India (cis-Indus region). The prince had formed an alliance with the Khokhars who dominated the tract upto the Salt Ranges.
  • The Mongol commander Bala chased Jalaluddin throughout the Punjab region and attacked outlying towns like Bhera and Multan and had even sacked the outskirts of Lahore.
  • Jalaluddin regrouped and sought an alliance, or even an asylum, with Illtutmish but was turned down saying that the climate was not suitable for him.
  • Minhaj Siraj mentions that Iltutmish led an expedition against Mangbarni but the latter avoided any confrontation and finally left the Indian soil in A.D. 1224.
  • Ata-Malik Juvayni (1226–1283) in his Tarikh-i Jahan Gusha opined what factors compelled Illtutmish to follow the policy of ‘aloofness’:
    • Iltutmish smelt danger from Mangbarni who might “gain an ascendancy over him and involve him in ruin.”
    • Iltutmish was also aware of the weaknesses of the Sultanate.
  • Chengiz Khan is reported to have sent his envoy to Iltutmish’s court.
    • Before departing from the area, Chingez sent envoys to Iltutmish, the sultan at Delhi, that he (Chingez) had given up the project of sending his army to Hindustan and returning to China by way of Gilgit or Assam.
    • It suggests that Chingez had contemplated the invasion of north India, but gave up the idea, either because of Iltutmish’s refusal to help prince Jalaluddin, or because of a rebellion in Turkistan, which needed the attention of Chingez.
  • So long as Chengiz Khan was alive (d. A.D. 1227), Iltutmish did not adopt an expansionist policy in the north-west region.
  • An understanding of non-aggression against each other might have possibly been arrived at.
  • After the death of Chingez, the Mongols were for some time too busy in their internal affairs, and in completing the conquest of Khurasan and Iran, to bother about India.
    • But in 1234, Oktai, who had succeeded Chingez Khan in Turkistan , decided to invade Hind and Kashmir.
    • Iltutmish advanced upto Banyan in the Salt Ranges to counter this threat. On the way, Iltutmish fell ill, and returned to the capital where he died soon afterwards.


  • Soon after the death of Iltutmish, the former governor of Ghazni, Wafa Malik, who had been ousted by the Mongols, came to India and captured the entire tract comprising the Koh-i-Jud or the Salt Ranges.
  • This invited Mongol attacks. The Mongols ousted Wafa Malik, and brought the entire Koh-i-Jud under their control.
  • There was a prolonged struggle between Wafa Malik (Qarlugh Dynasty), and the Mongols for the control of the Koh-i-Jud and Multan, with the sultans of Delhi intervening whenever possible.
  • By 1246, the Qarlughs had to quit India. But by that time, the Koh-i-Jud had become a Mongol bastion, and a base for their further attacks on India.


  • Shift from Iltutmish’s policy of ‘aloofness’ to ‘appeasement’ was the result of the extension of the sultanate frontier up to Lahore and Multan which exposed the Sultanate directly to the Mongol incursions with no buffer state left between them.
  • Raziya’s discouraging response to anti-Mongol alliance, proposed by Hasan Qarlugh of Bamyan is indicator of her appeasement policy.
  • This policy of non-aggression was due primarily to:
    • The partitioning of the Chengiz’s empire among his sons which weakened their power; and
    • Also on account of the Mongol pre-occupation in West-Asia.
  • Between 1240-66, the Mongols for the first time embarked upon the policy of annexation of India and the golden phase of mutual ‘non-aggression pact’ with Delhi ended. Reason:
    • The main reason was the change in the situation in Central Asia.
    • The Mongol Khan of Transoxiana found it difficult to face the might of the Persian Khanate and, thus, was left with no alternative except to try his luck in India.
  • In 1241, Mongol under Tair Bahadur invaded Lahore and completely destroyed the city.
    • The Turkish governor was ill-prepared to stand a siege, and was further hampered because many of the inhabitants were merchants who regularly traded in the Mongol territories, and were not prepared to aid and help the governor for fear of Mongol reprisals.
    • Also, there was little hope of any help coming from Delhi where there was utter confusion following the death of Razia.
    • Hence, the governor abandoned the city.
    • After capturing the city, the Mongols encountered stiff resistance from the citizens and many Mongols including Tair Bahadur were killed.
    • The Mongols in vengeance killed or enslaved all the citizens of Lahore, and devastated the city. Then they suddenly retreated because the Mongol Qa-an, Ogtai, had died.
    • Although Lahore was reoccupied by Delhi, for the next twenty years Lahore remained in a ruined condition, being sacked on several occasions either by the Mongols or by their Khokhar allies.
  • It was followed by two successive invasions in A.D. 1245-46.
    • Although Balban wanted to adopt a bold policy, and clear the area upto the Koh-i-Jud from the Mongols, along with the Khokhars who were siding with them, little could be done due to the factionalism in the Turkish nobility.
      • Hence, the frontier commanders of Multan and Sindh were left largely to their own devises to cope with the Mongols. In consequence, some of them came to terms with the Mongols, even setting themselves up as independent rulers under Mongol overlordship.
    • In spite of the best efforts of Balban (who became naib) during the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud, the Sultanate frontier during AD. 1244-66 stood at Beas.
    • The Mongols had already decided to conquer China, and to concentrate on the conquest of Iraq, Syria and Egypt, leaving it to local commanders to plunder as much as they could in India, on the basis of their own resources. Thus, the sultans of Delhi were lucky not to face the full brunt of Mongol power.
  • Yet, the appeasement policy continued for some time.
  • In A.D. 1260 Halaku’s envoy to Delhi was well received and this diplomatic gesture was reciprocated by Halaku also.
    • In order to limit the Mongol depredations, Balban adopted both military and diplomatic measures.
    • He, as a naib, sent an envoy to Halaku, the Mongol Il-Khan of Iran, who was the most important figure among the successors of Chingez.
    • Halaku sent a return embassy in 1260 which was given a grand and impressive reception by Balban.
    • Halaku is supposed to have strictly ordered his officers not to invade India. However, this assurance need not be given too much importance because Halaku’s energies, then as earlier, had been devoted to the conquest of Iraq, Syria and Egypt. He had suffered a serious set-back in 1260, being defeated by an Egyptian army.
  • Interestingly, at about the same time, an envoy was received from Barka Khan, one of most powerful group among the Mongols, and which had deep enmity towards Halaku.
    • In this complex situation, Halaku simultaneously sent his intendents (shuhna) to Sindh and the Koh-i-Jud areas, thus claiming over-lordship over them. Thus, the agreement also implied that the Sultans of Delhi would not try to disturb the Mongols in Sindh and in areas west of Lahore.


  • This distinct change in Delhi Sultan’s policy can be seen from Balban’s reign onwards.
  • By the time Balban ascended the throne in 1266, Halaku had died, thereby ending goodwill between the Mongols and the ruler of Delhi.
    • The situation on the ground had not, however, changed.
    • Although Balban’s cousin, Sher Khan, who was the warden of the marches, holding the iqtas of Lahore, Sunam, Dipalpur etc. acted as a shield against the Mongols.
  • By and large, Balban remained in Delhi and his energies concentrated mainly in keeping away the Mongols, at least from the Beas.
  • Barani mentions, when the two nobles Tamir Khan and Adil Khan suggested the conquest of Malwa and Gujarat and advised him to pursue an expansionist policy Balban replied:
    • When the Mongols have occupied all lands of Islam, devastated Lahore and made it a point to invade our country once in every year….If I move out of the capital the Mongols are sure to avail themselves of the opportunity by sacking Delhi and ravaging the Doab. Making peace and consolidating our power in our own kingdom is far better than invading foreign territories while our own kingdom is insecure.
  • Mongols were able frequently to cross the Beas. At the outset, Balban adopted a forward policy.
    • After clearing the roads in the doab, he marched his army towards Koh-i-Jud.
    • He ravaged the mountainous tract and its neighbouring areas, and captured large number of horses, leading to a sharp decline in the price of horses in Delhi.
    • Balban used both ‘force and diplomacy’ against the Mongols. He took some measures to strengthen his line of defence.
      • Forts at Bhatinda, Sunam and Samana were reinforced to check any Mongol advance beyond Beas.
      • In 1270, he ordered the fort of Lahore to be rebuilt, and appointed architects to rebuild the city.
        • However, soon afterwards, Balban had Sher Khan, whom he suspected of harbouring dreams of independence, to be poisoned.
        • He then entrusted the defence of the frontier tracts to his eldest son, Prince Muhammad.
        • Prince Muhammad:
          • He was an able and energetic prince, and it appears that during the remaining years of Balban’s reign, while the Mongol attacks continued, his defensive arrangements at Multan and Lahore, with the river Beas as the line of military defence, continued to hold.
          • Barani says that the Mongols no longer dared to attack across the Beas, and Mongol forces could not face the forces of Prince Muhammad from Multan, Bughra Khan from Samana, and Malik Barbak Bakatarse from Delhi.
    • Balban succeeded in occupying Multan and Uchh but his forces remained under heavy Mongol pressure in Punjab.
      • Every year Prince Muhammad, Balban’s son, led expeditions against the Mongols.
      • Prince Muhammad died in 1285 outside Multan fighting bravely a surprise attack of Mongols.
        • The death of the prince was a heavy personal blow to Balban who had designated the prince as his successor.
        • But it did not change the ground realities as far as the Mongols were concerned.
  • The last Mongol attack under Balban’s successors was in 1288 when Tamar Khan ravaged the country from Lahore to Multan.
    • But the Mongols retreated as soon as they heard of the arrival of the imperial forces.
  • Thus, upto 1290, the Mongols dominated western Punjab, the effective frontier being the river Beas.
    • They also continually threatened Multan and Sindh.
    • But they did not mount any serious offensive towards Delhi.
    • This enabled the sultanat of Delhi to survive, but only at the cost of the utmost vigilance and military preparedness.
  • Jalaluddin Khalji:
    • A last invasion of India by the Mongol branch settled in Iran took place in 1292 when a Mongol army headed by Abdullah, a grandson of Halaku, invaded India.
    • Jalaluddin Khalji, who had just succeeded to the throne advanced with a large force.
    • After some skirmishes, the Mongols agreed to withdraw without a fight. There was some kind of an agreement between the two.
      • Jalaluddin had a cordial meeting with Abdullah and a party of the Mongols, headed by Ulaghu, another grandson of Halaku, embraced Islam, along with 4000 of his followers.
      • They were allowed to settle down near Delhi along with their families. The Sultan married one of his daughters to Ulaghu.
      • These, and a band of 5000 Mongols who had entered India in 1279 became Muslims. They were called “Nau (Neo) Muslims”.
    • These cordial relations suggest that a tacit agreement had been reached between the two sides not to disturb the status quo, leaving the Mongols in possession of West Punjab.
    • However, changes in Mongol domestic politics created a new situation in which the Mongols for the first time posed a serious danger to Delhi.
      • The rise of the Ogtai-Chaghtai branch of the Mongols led to important changes.
        • The Mongol chief, Dawa Khan, set out on a course of conflict with the Mongol Qa-an of Iran.
        • Dawa Khan over-ran Afghanistan. He then extended his sway upto the river Ravi.
  • Alauddin Khilji:
    • The first inkling of a new Mongol policy came in 1297-98 when a Mongol army sent by Dawa Khan crossed not only the river Beas, but the river Sutlej, and the road to Delhi seemed to lay open before them.
      • Alauddin sent a large army under his trusted commander, Ulugh Khan, who met the Mongols near Jullundhar and completely routed them.
      • This was the most convincing victory which an army of the Sultans of Delhi had gained over the Mongols in a straight fight.
      • A similar victory was gained the following year when the Mongols captured Siwistan in lower Sindh. Zafar Khan, another favourite commander of Alaudin, proceeded against the Mongols.
    • These victories seem to have lulled Alauddin to a false sense of security as regard the Mongols. That is why he was caught unprepared when in 1299, Mongols invaded India, headed by Qutlugh Khan (Qutlugh Khwaja), the son of the Mongol ruler, Dawa Khan. This was attempt by Mongol to ravage Delhi for the first time
      • Unlike the previous times, the Mongols did not ravage the countryside or the towns on the way, their objective being to conquer and rule Delhi.
      • Hearing of their approach, Alauddin quickly gathered an army, and took a position outside Siri.
      • The Mongols entrenched themselves at Killi, six miles north of Delhi.
      • Meanwhile, many people from the environs took shelter at Delhi which became extremely crowded, and provisions became dear since the caravans of food from the doab had stopped coming.
      • Alaul Mulk, the kotwal of Delhi, advised Alauddin to play a waiting game, and induce the Mongols to retire peacefully since his army consisted largely of the Hindustani soldiers who had only fought Hindus, and were not used to fighting the Mongols, and were not familiar with their tactics of feigned retreat and ambush.
      • Though Alauddin rejected the kotwal’s advise as being unmanly, and one which would undermine his prestige as a ruler, since Mongols were far away from their homelands and might soon fall short of provisions, Alauddin issued strict instructions to his officers to stand on guard, and not to go out of their lines to attack the Mongols without his orders.
      • However, Zafar Khan, who was itching for a fight, attacked the Mongol contingent facing him.
        • As usual, the Mongols feigned retreat, and when Zafar Khan had gone out several miles pursuing them, an ambush party cut off his retreat, and surrounded him. Zafar Khan who, along with all of his followers, died fighting.
      • Although the Mongols won an initial victory, the firmness of Zafar Khan made Qutlugh Khan realized that he could not break Alauddin’s lines, or capture Delhi.
        • Hence, after skirmishing for two days, he retreated from Delhi and, moving rapidly, recrossed the Indus. Alauddin did not try to pursue him.
    •  Since the first attack, Delhi became a regular target of the Mongols.
    • In 1303, the Mongols advanced on Delhi a second time, under the leadership of Targhi:
      • The Mongols had marched rapidly, meeting little resistance on the way, and expected to surprise Delhi, because they had learnt that Alauddin was away from the capital, on Chittor campaign.
      • The attack was so severe that the Mongols inflicted large-scale destruction and so long as the Mongols besieged Delhi, Alauddin could not enter the city.
      • The capital had been denuded because another army had been sent to Warangal via Bengal, and had come back to the doab badly battered.
      • Moreover, the Mongols had seized all the fords across the Jamuna so that despite royal summons no troops from the doab could reach Delhi.
      • In this situation, Alauddin came out of Siri with all his available forces, and took up a strongly defended position, resting on the river Jamuna on one side, and the old city of Delhi on the other.
      • He further strengthened his position by digging a ditch all round, and putting on its side planks of wood so that, according to Barani, his camp looked like a fort made of wood.
      • The Mongols did not dare to attack this strong position, but hovered around Delhi, creating a great fear among the citizens.
      • There was an acute shortage of both fuel and corn in the city, the caravans from the doab having stopped coming.
      • However, the Mongols were not the same as the earlier Mongols, and their discipline seems to have become much more lax, because they came to the tanks outside Delhi, drank wine there, and sold cheap corn to the citizens, thus relieving the acute food shortage.
      • After two months of this futile exercise, the Mongols retreated once again, without a fight.
    • In 1305, the Mongols made a third and final desperate attempt at the conquest of Hindustan.
      • Crossing the Indus, Mongol army marched rapidly across the Punjab, and after burning the towns at the foothills of the Siwaliks, crossed into the doab, by-passing Delhi.
      • However, Alauddin, whose army was much stronger than before, sent an army of 30,000 under a Hindu noble, Malik Nayak who, according to the poet Amir Khusrau, had been governor of Samana and Sunam earlier.
        • A number of Muslim officers were placed under his command. This shows how far the social base of the Turkish sultanat had broadened since the days of Balban.
        • Malik Nayak met the Mongols somewhere near Amroha (north-west part of modern UP), and inflicted a crushing defeat upon them. This victory finally destroyed in India the aura of Mongol invincibility.
    • Constant Mongol attacks pressed Alauddin awoke from his sleep of neglect and to think of a permanent solution.
      • A protecting wall around Delhi was built for the first time.
      • All the old forts on the route of the Mongols repaired. Strong military contingents were posted at Samana and Dipalpur.
      • He took steps to reorganise the internal administration, and to recruit a large army.
      • As a result, the Mongols, were repulsed in 1306 and 1308. According to Barani, whenever the Mongols attacked Delhi or the neighbouring regions, they were defeated.
    • Another reason for the Mongol reversal was the death of Dawa Khan in 1306, followed by civil war in the Mongol Khanate.
      • It weakened the Mongols greatly, and they ceased to remain a power to reckon with.
    • The areas devastated by the Mongols were gradually brought under the plough once again.
      • Lahore and Dipalpur became impassable barriers for the Mongols.
      • The commander of the area, Tughlaq Shah or Ghazi Malik, launched a series of attacks on the Mongol-held areas in West Punjab upto the river Indus, and were successful.
      • According to Barani, the Mongols did not dare to cross the river Indus.
    • Thus, Alauddin not only defended Delhi and the doab from the threat of the Mongols but created the conditions whereby the northwest frontier of India could be pushed back from the river Beas and Lahore to the river Indus.
    • These were significant achievements. However, the threat to India could not be said to have disappeared as long as the Mongols dominated Afghanistan and the neighbouring areas. Thus, after the death of Alauddin, the Mongol threat to India revived.
  • In 1320, Dalucha Khan entered the Kashmir valley and devastated it.
    • All the men were killed, and the women and children sold.
    • All houses were burnt.
    • Fortunately, the Mongol invaders perished in a snow blizzard while retreating from Kashmir eight months later.
  • Ghiyasuddin Tughluq:
    • Shortly after Ghiyasuddin‘s accession to the throne (1320), two Mongol armies reached Sunam and Samana, and marched upto Meerut.
    • They were defeated with great slaughter.
  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq:
    • The last significant Mongol invasion was under the leadership of Tarmashirin during the reign of Sultan Muhammad Tughluq.
    • In 1326-27, the new Mongol Khan, Tarmashirin, again invaded India.
      • Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq marched against Tarmashirin, and pushed him back across the Indus and Indus which remained the frontier with the Mongols.
    • The boldest effort to counter the Mongol threat to India was made by Muhammad bin Tughlaq, who shortly after his accession, recruited an army of 375,000 men for what was called the Khurasan expedition.
    • One effect of any such campaign meant the conquest of Kabul, Ghazni and the neighbouring areas—areas which we have described as staging theatres for the invasion and conquest of India.
    • Muhammad bin Tughlaq’s enterprise failed, like many of his other projects, even at the planning stage.
    • However, he was one of the few Turkish sultans of India who seems to have possessed a strategic insight regarding the north-west frontier of India. It was the neglect of these factors which led to Timur’s invasion of India in 1399.

Thus, the Mongol threat to India lasted for almost a hundred years, gaining in intensity till it reached a climax during the reign of Alauddin Khalji.

The Mongol incursions led to the virtual loss of western Punjab beyond Lahore to the Mongol during the second half of the 13th century, thereby creating a serious threat to Delhi and the doab, as in the time of the Ghaznavids.

  • However, unlike the Rajput rulers of the time, the sultans of Delhi organized their resources, and carried out a far-reaching restructuration of their economy to meet the Mongol threat.
  • However, they failed in the task of building a viable line of defence based on Afghanistan in order to stem such future incursions. This task was undertaken later on by the Mughals.

Still Delhi Sultans succeeded in tackling the Mongol problem and succeeded in keeping their kingdom intact.

  • It shows the strength of the Sultanate.
  • Besides, the Mongol destruction of Central and West-Asia resulted in large-scale migration of scholars, mystics, artisans and others to Delhi, which transformed it into a great town of Islamic culture-area.

Q. What measures did Balban adopt to combat the Mongol menace? 


  • The north-west frontier of India was unsafe. The fear of Mongol invasion was a standing menace to the stability of Delhi Sultanate.
  • The Mongol threat was a major preoccupation of Balban Their constant attacks had created a sense of insecurity among the public, so Balban took many steps against Mongols.
  • Balban adopted both military and diplomatic measures.

Following steps were taken by Balban to combat the Mongol menace:

(1) Diplomatic steps by Balban

  • Balban, as a naib, sent an envoy to Halaku, the Mongol Il-Khan of Iran, who, apart from the Ogtai-Chaghtai branch which dominated Turkistan and Transoxiana, was the most important figure among the successors of Chingez.
  • Halaku sent a return embassy in 1260 which was given a grand and impressive reception by Balban.
  • By the time Balban ascended the throne in 1266, Halaku had died, thereby ending goodwill between the Mongols and the ruler of Delhi.

(2) Building powerful army

  • Balban laid great emphasis on maintaining a large efficient army so that he could face, apart from other problems, Mongols’ invasion successfully.

(3) No territorial expansion

  • Despite a large and efficient army which was kept in a state of readiness by constant exercises, Balban did not try to expand the territories of the Delhi sultanat, or raid the neighbouring kings of Malwa or Gujarat because of danger of Mongols’ raid.He kept a vigil eyes on North West frontier.

(4) Construction of Forts

  • In order to strengthen the north-west frontier Balban got constructed a series of forts on it like Forts of Bhatinda, Sarsa, Bhate, Abohar.

(5) Appointment of powerful chiefs

  • Balban appointed powerful Afghan soldiers for the safety of his frontier.Sher Khan a cousin of Balban, was appointed in charge of the north-western frontier. He checked the Mongol invaders with efficiency and valour and terrified them.
  • The post of the warden of marches was given to Muhammad (Balban’s Son) after the death of Sher Khan in 1270 A.D. The provinces of Lahore.
  • Multan and Uchh were also kept under his supervision while Bughra Khan was made in charge of Sunam, Samana and Dipalpur.
  • Muhammad was a competent general. He held under his control a chain of forts at all strategic places. He had lost life in 1286 AD while fighting Mongols who had attacked Punjab.

(6) Securing the Capital

  • Balban did not leave unsafe the capital also. He gave up the policy of expansion.
  • However, the Mongols plundered Punjab and crossed the river Sutlan but they were compelled to retreat by the joint army of Muhammad and Bughra Khan.

(7) Focus on internal Security

  • Balban focused on internal security through heavy hand and formed powerful spy system so that he could face any external challenges without worrying much about internal rebellion.


  • There were three major invasions of Mongol during Balban era.
    • Attack on Lahore
    • In 1279, Mongol attacked and defeated ny Muhammed, Bugra Khan and Mubarak bakhtiyar.
    • Attack on Punjab in 1285 under Taimur Khan — Defeated by Muhammad — Muhammad died fighting bravely.
  • Balban did manage to contain the Mongols at the Multan-Dipalpur-Sunam line along the river Beas.
  • But he was not able to push back the Mongols from the tract beyond Lahore, although he was faced only with second rank Mongol commanders, the attention of the Mongol rulers being concentrated on Iran, Iraq, Syria etc.
  • Thus, it can be argued that there was no real threat to Delhi from the Mongols. However, Balban obviously could not take any chances.

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