History Optional Paper-1 Solution: 2015 [Q.5 (d)]

Q.5 (d) What measures did Balban adopt to combat the Mongol menance?


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 pf 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.
(a) Attack on Lahore
(b) In 1279, Mongol attacked and defeated ny Muhammed, Bugra Khan and Mubarak bakhtiyar.
(c) 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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