Rise and Legacy of the Khilji Dynasty: History, Rulers, Conquests, Policies and Cultural Contribution

Dr.Santosh Kumar Sain

The Khalji or Khilji dynasty was the second dynasty of Muslim sultanates in India that ruled the Delhi Sultanate in northern India from 1290 to 1320. It was founded by Jalal-ud-din Khilji, a skilled general who had served under the previous sultans of the Delhi Sultanate.

Rise and Legacy of the Khilji Dynasty: History, Rulers, Conquests, Policies and Cultural Contribution

Khilji dynasty


The Khilji dynasty was known for its administrative and economic reforms as well as patronage of art and culture. One of the most powerful rulers of the Khilji dynasty was Alauddin Khilji, who introduced several measures to centralize state power and regulate the economy. The Khalji dynasty played an important role in shaping the history of northern India, and its legacy is still being studied and appreciated today.

Khilji Dynasty: The Second Reigning Dynasty of Delhi Sultanate

The Khilji Dynasty emerged as the second reigning dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate after overthrowing the Slave Kingdom. Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji founded the dynasty, which lasted for around 30 years (1290-1320) and brought about significant changes during its rule. The most influential ruler of the Khilji Dynasty was Alauddin Khilji, who oversaw several military victories and implemented numerous reforms. This article covers all the essential details related to the Khilji Dynasty, which is an important topic of Medieval History in the UPSC Syllabus.

Khalji Dynasty History: Rise to Power

The Khilji or Khalji Dynasty ascended to power after overthrowing the Slave Dynasty and becoming the second ruling dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate. They were Turko-Afghans who had fled Afghanistan and, along with Muhammad Ghori, established themselves as rulers in India. The Mamluk kingdom of Delhi had the Khaljis as its vassals, and the dynasty was founded by Jalaluddin Khilji, who ruled from 1290 to 1296.

During the Khalji era, the Afghans began to share power with the Turkic nobility who had previously held it exclusively. The dynasty was known for its military might and had a successful reign, including the conquest of South India. It also repeatedly repelled Mongol incursions into India. However, the authority of the Chahalgani, the forty-member council that advised the sultan, was destroyed by the last major Mamluk ruler, Balban, in his battle to retain control over his disobedient Turkish officers.

Khalji Dynasty Founder: Jalal-ud-din Firoz Khilji

Jalal-ud-din Firoz Khilji was the founder and leader of the Khilji Dynasty. He was widely known for his advocacy for peace and opposition to violence, earning him the title "Compassion Jalaluddin". He put an end to Malik Chhajju’s uprising in Kara. He proposed Alauddin Khilji, his son-in-law and Nephew, as the Kara Governor. Jalal-ud-din also successfully attacked and defeated the Mongols who had not yet arrived until Sunam. However, Alauddin later betrayed and murdered him. Despite Firoz Khilji's emphasis on peace and non-violence, his strategy was not well received by the people.

Khalji Dynasty Rulers

The Khilji Dynasty was ruled by several prominent leaders in its brief history. Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji and Qutb-ud-Din were the first and last rulers, respectively, of the dynasty in India. The following are the major kings of the Khalji Dynasty, along with their years of reign.

Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji (1290-1296)

Jalaluddin Firuz Khilji was the founder of the Khilji dynasty and served as its first king. After overthrowing the Slave dynasty, he became the Sultan of Delhi. One of the significant events during his reign was the invasion of Devgiri. Although he advocated for peace, his Turkic nobility disagreed with his strategy. In 1296, his son-in-law Alauddin Khilji assassinated him.

Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316)

Alauddin Khilji was the most powerful ruler of the Khilji Dynasty and went by the names Ali Gurshasp and Sikandar-e-Sani. He was appointed the administrator of Kara by Jalaluddin in 1292. Following the divine doctrine of kingship, he referred to himself as the Khalifa’s deputy. He was the first Muslim emperor to expand his Empire all the way to the southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent.

Alauddin Khilji ordered land measurements and revenue collection based on those measurements, making him the first Delhi Sultan to do so. Additionally, he conducted numerous successful military operations throughout India on the strength of his competent military generals, such as Nusrat Khan, Ulugh Khan, and Malik Kafur. In a subsequent section of this article, the military campaigns are covered. Alauddin effectively defended Delhi twelve times from Mongolian vision. In January 1316, Alauddin Khilji passed away.

Qutb-ud-Din Mubarak Shah Khilji (1316-1320)

Qutb-ud-Din Mubarak Shah Khilji, Alauddin Khilji's son, succeeded him after his death. Unfortunately, his reign was brief, and he was overthrown by Khusro Khan in 1320, marking the end of the Khilji dynasty's rule in India.

The list of all the rulers of the Khilji Dynasty, with their respective tenures:

  • Jalaluddin Firuz    1290-1296
  • Alauddin Khilji    1296-1316
  • Shihabuddin Umar    1316
  • Qutbuddin Mubarak    1316-1320

Last ruler of the Khilji dynasty: Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah

After the death of Alauddin Khilji, the Khilji dynasty fell into chaos, with constant infighting and a struggle for succession. Alauddin Khilji's 6-year-old son, Shihabuddin Umar, was placed on the throne by Malik Kafur, who became regent. However, this did not last long as both Shihabuddin Umar and Malik Kafur were killed by the conspiring nobles.

The next Sultan to ascend the throne was Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah, who was also the son of Alauddin Khilji. He appointed Ghazi Malik as the commander of the Punjab army. However, the Khilji Empire collapsed in 1320 when Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah was assassinated by Ghazi Malik, thus ending the Khilji dynasty.

Ala-ud-din Khilji and His Invasions

Ala-ud-din Khilji was a powerful and ambitious ruler who expanded the Khilji Empire through a series of invasions. His conquests were both in the north and the south of India.

Khilji Invasions in the North

Ala-ud-din Khilji’s generals, Ulugh Khan, and Nusrat Khan, subdued Gujarat for him. He then invaded Ranthambore and assassinated Hamir Deva, it's master. He is also celebrated for conquering Malwa, Chittor, Dhar, Mandu, Ujjain, Marwar, Chanderi, and Jalor.

Khilji Invasions in the South

Ala-ud-din Khilji was the first Sultan to invade Southern India, showing his defiance and determination to expand his empire. He dispatched his trusted commander Malik Kafur to battle the southern tyrants. In this manner, the Hoysala monarch Vira Ballala-III, Ramachandra Deva, the Yadava king of Devagiri, and Prataprudra-II of Warangal were defeated. He even boldly constructed a mosque in Rameswaram. Eventually, the Southern Indian kingdoms recognized the power of Alauddin Khilji and gave him financial tribute.

Khilji Dynasty's Market Reforms: Diwan-i-Riyasat

During the reign of the Khilji dynasty, a number of market reforms were implemented to establish a formal market system. To oversee these reforms, a group of officials collectively known as Diwan-i-Riyasat were appointed, with Shahana-i-mandi being one of the officials.

Under these reforms, merchants were required to register with the Shahana-i-mandi office before selling their wares at a fixed price. This helped to regulate the market and ensure that prices were fair for both buyers and sellers.

In addition to market reforms, Alauddin Khilji also undertook significant construction projects during his reign, including the construction of the Fort of Siri and the Palace of a Thousand Pillars, known as Alai Darwaza.

Khilji Dynasty and Domestic Policies

During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, the Divine Right Theory of Kingship was upheld. To quell ongoing uprisings, he implemented four laws. Revenue collection was done only in cash, and illegal markets were strictly prohibited. The price of essential commodities was fixed below the market rate. Drinking, social gatherings, and alcohol consumption were banned, and the spying system was reformed.

Alauddin Khilji also received free property grants and donations made for religious purposes. He introduced the branding of horses and registration of individual warriors to deter crime and maintain law and order. A permanent standing army was established to strengthen the defense of the empire.

To increase revenue, Alauddin Khilji raised the agricultural tax to 50%, and payment was required in the form of rural produce, cash, or grain with no option for installment payments. Non-Muslims were subjected to four types of taxation, namely Jizya (poll tax), Kari (house tax), Chari (field duty), and Kharaj (land tax).

Khilji Dynasty Art and Architecture

Alauddin Khilji, despite being uneducated, was a great patron of architecture and education. He received help from renowned personalities such as Mir Hasan Dehlvi and Amir Khusrau. Alauddin Khilji built the entire city of Siri and a Qutabi mosque in Rameswaram. 

He constructed the Jamiat Khana Mosque adjacent to Nizam-ud-din Auliya’s dargah. The Khilji Dynasty was responsible for creating numerous historical structures and architectural landmarks, including the Alai Darwaja, the Alai Minar, which is twice as tall as the Qutub Minar, the Gateway to Qutub Minar, and Hauz Khas Lake.

Khilji Dynasty Religion

The Khilji dynasty's sultans were adherents of Sunni Islam. Non-Muslims had to pay the Jizya tax and were subjected to persecution. Although Indian Muslims and converts to Islam experienced discrimination, both groups gained prominence during the Khilji Dynasty.

Khilji Dynasty Decline

After the death of Malik Kafur in 1316, Mubarak Shah, one of Alauddin's older sons, became the Sultan and served as the Khalji dynasty’s last ruler. He immediately reversed all of his father’s reforms, which led to market inflation. During his brief reign, he suppressed some campaigns, including those in Gujarat and Warangal.

Khusrau Khan, a slave who was converted to Islam by Alauddin's troops after being captured during their raid on the Malwa region, was a favorite of Mubarak Shah. Mubarak Shah disliked how Khusrau was used as a catamite. 

Khusrau Khan assassinated Mubarak Shah in 1320 as payback for taking advantage of him. During his three months as king, Khusrau Khan was widely despised by Delhi's Muslim nobility because he was thought to have favored the members of his initial Hindu caste.

Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq (Ghazi Malik) led a group of soldiers to rebel. After suffering losses in the Battles of Saraswati and Lahrawat, Khusrau Khan was ousted. The Khalji family's reign ended at this point in 1320, and the Tughluqs became the new ruling family of the Delhi Sultanate.

Alauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh, Padmavat Story

The story of Alauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh Padmavat is a popular legend in Indian history. It is said to have taken place during the 13th century when Alauddin Khilji was the Sultan of Delhi and Rana Ratan Singh was the Rajput ruler of Chittor.

The Meeting of Alauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh

According to the legend, Alauddin Khilji was fascinated by the beauty of Rani Padmavati, the wife of Rana Ratan Singh. He learned of her beauty through a Brahmin priest who had been invited to Chittor by Ratan Singh. Driven by his desire to possess her, Khilji decided to invade Chittor.

The Siege of Chittor

Alauddin Khilji's army laid siege to Chittor, but Rana Ratan Singh and his army fiercely resisted. However, Khilji was determined to conquer Chittor and laid a condition that he would lift the siege if Rani Padmavati was handed over to him. Rana Ratan Singh refused to give in to his demand, and the siege continued.

The Jauhar of Rani Padmavati

As the siege dragged on, the food and water supplies in Chittor began to run out. Rani Padmavati and the other women in the fort made the decision to perform Jauhar, a ritual of self-immolation. They believed it was better to die than to be captured and dishonored by Khilji's army. Meanwhile, Rana Ratan Singh and his men marched out of the fort to face the enemy in a final battle.

The Aftermath

In the final battle, Rana Ratan Singh was killed, and Khilji's army emerged victorious. However, they were unable to find Rani Padmavati and the other women who had performed Jauhar. The legend states that Khilji was haunted by his desire for Rani Padmavati and the tragic end of the story served as a lesson for him.

The legend of Alauddin Khilji and Rana Ratan Singh Padmavat has been retold in various forms of literature and has become a part of India's cultural heritage. While historians have debated the historical accuracy of the legend, it remains a popular story that has captivated the imagination of many.

Malik Kafur and Alauddin Khilji in Medieval India

Malik Kafur and Alauddin Khilji were two prominent figures in medieval Indian history. Kafur was a military commander and general who served under the rule of Khilji, a powerful and controversial ruler who is often remembered for his military conquests, as well as his ruthless tactics and authoritarian rule.

Kafur was originally a slave who was purchased by Alauddin Khilji. He quickly rose through the ranks due to his military skills and intelligence. Kafur played a key role in several of Alauddin Khilji's military campaigns, including the conquest of Gujarat and expeditions into southern India. He was known for his military cunning and strategic thinking, and he helped Alauddin Khilji establish his rule over a vast empire that extended from modern-day Afghanistan to southern India. However, his influence and power also made him many enemies, and he was eventually assassinated in 1316, shortly after the death of Alauddin Khilji.

Despite his controversial legacy, Alauddin Khilji is often regarded as one of the most important rulers in medieval Indian history, and his influence can still be seen in many aspects of modern Indian culture and society. The military prowess and strategic thinking of Malik Kafur also left a significant impact on the history of medieval India. Together, these two figures played a crucial role in shaping the political and military landscape of medieval India.

Alauddin Khilji's Administrative Policies

Alauddin Khilji was a powerful and controversial ruler who is often remembered for his military conquests, as well as his ruthless tactics and authoritarian rule. However, he was also known for his administrative policies, which had a significant impact on the governance and society of medieval India.

Suppressed Rebellions:

Alauddin Khilji was a man of efficiency and sternness, and he used a heavy hand to put down rebellions and maintain order in his realm. He recognized the importance of having a stable and secure kingdom and took drastic measures to achieve this goal.

Various Laws Enacted:

To avoid problems and maintain control over his subjects, Khilji passed regulations prohibiting the consumption of wine, prohibiting social gatherings among the nobles, and perhaps even prohibiting intermarriage among them without his consent. These laws were aimed at maintaining the social order and preventing unrest among the nobles.


Khilji had a network of spies who kept him informed about his subjects' actions. This allowed him to maintain control and prevent any potential threats to his power.


To fund his military campaigns and maintain a strong army, Khilji imposed high levies on his subjects. The wealthiest were charged higher taxes, while the poor were exempt from paying taxes. This helped him maintain a steady revenue stream and fund his military campaigns.


Khilji recognized the importance of having a well-trained army and invested heavily in it. He set a price for each item and tried to make things available at low prices to save money on military expenditures. This helped him maintain a strong and efficient army.

Fountainhead of the Administrative System:

Khilji was the apex of the administrative hierarchy in his kingdom. He refused to enable the Ulemas to establish administrative norms and instead relied on his own judgment and policies. This allowed him to maintain complete control over the administrative system and ensure that his policies were implemented without interference.


Alauddin Khilji's administrative policies were characterized by a strong focus on maintaining order and control over his subjects. While his tactics were controversial and often ruthless, they helped him establish a stable and secure kingdom that lasted for many years after his death.

Alauddin Khilji Tomb

Alauddin Khilji, the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty in India, is believed to have been buried in a tomb in the Qutub Complex in Delhi. The tomb is located near the Qutub Minar, one of the most famous historical landmarks in Delhi.

The Alauddin Khilji tomb is a simple, rectangular structure made of grey quartzite. It is surrounded by a stone wall and has an arched entrance on the east side. Inside, the tomb chamber has a cenotaph in the center and two graves on either side.

The tomb is believed to have been built in the early 14th century during Alauddin Khilji's reign, but it is unclear whether it was built by him or by his successor. Over the years, the tomb has undergone several renovations and restorations.

Alauddin Khilji Tomb

Today, the tomb is open to visitors and is a popular tourist attraction. It is a fine example of medieval Islamic architecture in India and is worth visiting for its historical significance and architectural beauty.


Q-Who founded the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: Jalaluddin Khilji founded the Khilji dynasty in 1290 AD.

Q-What was the period of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The Khilji dynasty ruled over Delhi Sultanate from 1290 AD to 1320 AD.

Q-Who was the most famous ruler of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: Alauddin Khilji is considered the most famous ruler of the Khilji dynasty.

Q-What was the religion of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The Khilji dynasty rulers were Muslim.

Q-Where was the capital of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The capital of the Khilji dynasty was Delhi.

Q-What was the language spoken by the Khilji dynasty rulers?
Answer: The language spoken by the Khilji dynasty rulers was Persian.

Q-Who was Malik Kafur in the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: Malik Kafur was a prominent general and advisor to Alauddin Khilji.

Q-What was the major achievement of Alauddin Khilji?
Answer: Alauddin Khilji's major achievement was his military conquests and expansion of the Delhi Sultanate.

Q-What was the currency system during the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The currency system during the Khilji dynasty was based on silver and copper coins.

Q-Did the Khilji dynasty maintain friendly relations with other rulers?
Answer: The Khilji dynasty maintained friendly relations with some rulers, while they had hostile relations with others.

Q-What was the impact of the Khilji dynasty on the Indian subcontinent?
Answer: The Khilji dynasty had a significant impact on the Indian subcontinent by introducing new administrative and economic policies.

Q-Who succeeded Alauddin Khilji as the ruler of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: Alauddin Khilji was succeeded by his son, Qutbuddin Mubarak Shah.

Q-What was the economic policy of the Khilji dynasty?

Answer: The economic policy of the Khilji dynasty was focused on strengthening the economy by increasing revenue through taxes and trade.

Q-What was the social policy of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The social policy of the Khilji dynasty was focused on maintaining the social order and preventing rebellion through laws and regulations.

Q-Did the Khilji dynasty have a strong army?
Answer: Yes, the Khilji dynasty had a strong and efficient army that helped them expand their territory.

Q-What was the cultural impact of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The Khilji dynasty had a significant impact on Indian culture by promoting Persian literature and art.

Q-Did the Khilji dynasty face any major challenges during their rule?
Answer: Yes, the Khilji dynasty faced major challenges such as rebellion, invasions, and political instability.

Q-What was the architectural legacy of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The Khilji dynasty contributed to the architectural heritage of India by constructing monuments such as the Alai Darwaza and the Qutub Minar.

Q-What was the legacy of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The legacy of the Khilji dynasty includes their military conquests, administrative policies, and cultural contributions.

Q-Who was the last ruler of the Khilji dynasty?
Answer: The last ruler of the Khilji dynasty was Khusro Khan, who was overthrown by Ghazi Malik in 1320 AD.

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