The Politics of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq

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4 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

Words: 612|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Dec 12, 2018

One of the most controversial steps taken by Muhammad bin Tughlaq early in his reign was his so-called transfer of capital to Deogiri which was renamed Daultabad, and the alleged orders of the sultan ordering a mass transfer of the people from Delhi to the new capital. The motive of the step taken by the sultan has been set out by Barani himself, viz. that it was central to all parts of the empire. As we have seen, during the reign of Ghiyasuddin and the early years of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the direct rule of Delhi had been extended to cover almost the entire south. Since the days of Alauddin, Deogiri had been the virtual base of operations in the Deccan. Muhammad bin Tughlaq had spent a number of years in the south, both as a prince and as a ruler, campaigning, and was familiar with Deogiri which had apleasant climate, being surrounded by hills. He wanted to have a second capital in the south so that he could control it more easily. The decision to make Deogiri a second capital was apparently taken in 1327 when Muhammad bin Tughlaq passed Deogiri after his journey to the Karnataka to suppress the rebellion of his cousin, Gurshasp.

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In preparation for the new step, he planted trees on both sides of the road and at a distance of every two miles set up halting stations. Provision was made for food and drink being available for the travellers at the station. Land was allotted from the income of which the staff working there could draw their salaries. At each station, a sufi saint was stationed, and a khanqah (hospice for the saint) built. It is clear that no mass exodus of the population at Delhi was ordered. However, it seems that a good deal of pressure was exerted upon the people to migrate, the royal orderlies even inspecting their houses for the purpose. Those travelling to Daultabad were divided into caravans for purposes of convenience. The journey was long, and undertaken during the hot months, so that many people died on the way. Full preparations had been made for welcoming those who reached Daultabad.

Meanwhile, Delhi was not deserted. Coins struck at Delhi, two Sanskrit inscriptions in baolis (sunken wells with steps) built by some wealthy Hindus in the environs of Delhi at this time prove it. But many of the houses had been shut up, and the bad characters in the city started looting them. Hence, Muhammad bin Tughlaq invited sufis, learned men and others living in neighbouring cities to move to Delhi. In 1334, when Ibn Battutah visited Delhi, it was fully settled. Nor was there any question of the capital being shifted from Delhi. Rather, Daultabad became a second capital, as coins struck at Daultabad testify. However, the Sultan’s ambitious project soon struck a reef.

In 1334-35, there was a serious rebellion in Mabar (modern Coromandal in Tamilnadu). The sultan marched to the south to suppress the rebellion. While he was at Bidar, there was an outbreak of bubonic plague in which many of his soldiers perished. Muhammad Tughlaq himself was taken ill, and retreated to Daultabad. Rumors spread of the sultan’s death, and soon the entire south, including Mabar, Dwar-Samudra (Karnataka), and Warangal (Telingana) were lost to the Delhi sultanat. Thus the raison d’etre of keeping Daultabad as a second capital disappeared. It was around this time, i.e. between 1335-37, that the Sultan permitted the people at Daultabad to return to Delhi.

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Thus, the exodus to Daultabad proved to be a costly failure, and brought misery to many people. However, its effects were felt largely by the upper classes, not by the people of Delhi.

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The politics of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“The politics of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
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