History Optional Paper- 1 Solution- 2011: Q.5 (a)
Q.5 (a) Assess the contribution of Iltutmish for the expansion and consolidation of the Delhi Sultanate.
Iltutmish is considered as the real founder of the Delhi Sultanate. He made Delhi his seat of governance in preference to Lahore and proved to be a very strong and capable ruler.
Steps taken for the expansion and consolidation
(1) Reconquest of Multan and Sind (1227-28)– After the death of Chengiz Khan, Iltutmish launched an offensive against Nasiruddin Qabacha from two sides- Lahore and Delhi. Multan and Uchh were captured. Iltutmish placed the provinces of Multan and Sind under the charge of two separate governors.
(2) Reconquest of Bihar and Bengal – At the time of Iltutmish’s succession to the throne, Ali Mardan Khan had set up as an independent rule in Bengal with its capital at Lakhnauti. Hasanuddin Iwaz Khalji succeeded him to the throne. The latter assumed the title of Sultan Ghiyasuddin. He also conquered Bihar. Nasiruddin Mahmud, the eldest son of Iltutmish, launched a surprise attack upon Lakhnauti in 1226, and conquered it and Ghiyasuddin was defeated. In 1230-31, in order to bring the region under his effective control, Iltutmish appointed two separate governors, one for Bengal and the other for Bihar.
(3) Conquest of the Punjab – The Khokhars of the Punjab had been a source of trouble to Iltutmish. After a prolonged fight against the Khokhars, which lasted for several months, Iltutmish annexed a part of their territory. Besides Lahore, Iltutmish captured Sialkot, Jalandhar and Nandana. He garrisoned the forts with the Turkish and Afghan soldiers. They were assigned Khokhar villages as jagirs. The conquest of the Punjab and the creation of outposts were aimed at the security of the northwestern frontiers of the sultanate.
(4) Suppression of the Rajputs: Following Qutbuddin Aibak’s death the Rajputs made vigorous attempts to overthrow the authority of the Turks. The Rajput rebellions in different regions of western and central India had resulted in the recovery of a number of their strong holds, which had been occupied by the Turks.
(i) Iltutmish began his major offensive against the Rajputs in 1226, when he first attacked and captured Ranthambhor. After regarrisoning the fort, Iltutmish advanced to Mandu, the capital of the Paramaras, which was recovered and garrisoned. By 1230 the authority of the sultanate was firmly established over Jalor, Ajmer, Bayana, Tahangarh and Sambhar.
(ii) In 1231, Gwalior was besieged by the Turkish armies. The Parihara ruler, Malayavarmadeva put up a gallant fight against the Turkish invader for a year. However, he could not continue the defensive war any longer. He gave up and the Turks soon captured the fort.
(iii) Besides these conquests, Iltutmish sent his armies against Chandelas in 1233 to conquer Kalinjar. The Chandela ruler, Trilokyavarma could not resist the Turkish invaders and left the fort that was plundered. However, the Turks could not achieve much success as they were overwhelmed by the Chandelas and had to withdraw. Iltutmish also sent expeditions towards Bhilsa and Ujjain in 1234-1235. But he did not achieve appreciable success in these regions.
When Iltutmish occupied the throne of Delhi there was every danger of the disintegration of the sultanate. However, it goes to his credit that he not only reasserted his authority but also safeguarded the sultanate from external danger and internal rebellions. Gradually, he regained all the territory, which had one time formed a part of Muhammad Ghori’s empire. He also added some regions towards the south. By bringing the Rajputs under submission he made them realize that the sultanate was a power to be reckoned with.