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Delhi - the resilient city


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the-south-asian.com                         December  2000

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Delhi - the resilient city


Delhi 1200 - 1300


The thirteenth century saw the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, which lasted from 1206 to 1526. Delhi came to be ruled by Sultans from the time Mohammad Ghor left one of his slaves in charge of Delhi in late 12th century until 1526 when Babar defeated the last of Lodhis in the battle of Panipat, near Delhi. During this period five dynasties ruled Delhi 
the Slave Dynasty [1206 –1290],
Khiljis [1290 – 1320], 
Tughlaqs [1320 – 1413], 
Sayyids [1414 –1451], 
and Lodhis [1451 – 1526].



  • Many Muslim intellectuals and artists sought refuge in Delhi when Genghis Khan sacked Baghdad in AD 1250.
  • Three Sufi orders emigrated towards Delhi between the 13th and 14th centuries.
  • The Sultans did not interfere with the social and cultural practices of the population - their agenda was economic – not social.
  • There were some conversions to Islam but population generally remained Hindu.
  • They imposed a protection tax on the non-Muslims, later removed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar.
  • Brought in new irrigation methods – introduced the Persian wheel.
  • ‘Unani’ system of medicine brought to India by refugees fleeing Genghis Khan.


1206 - Qutab ud din Aibak proclaimed himself Sultan of Delhi, on Mohammad Ghor’s death.

1211 - Aibak died playing polo and his son-in-law Shams ud din Iltutmish became Sultan of Delhi. He built the mausoleum of Saint Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiyar Kaki and also built Shamsi Talab, the site where the Sultan saw the footprints of the Holy Prophet’s horse Buraq.

1220 – the fourth storey of Qutub Minar completed

1235 – Iltutmish completed work on his tomb within the Qutab Minar complex.

1236 – Iltutmish died. His daughter, Razia Sultana, ruled Delhi for three and a half years.

1265 – Ghiasuddin Balban ascended the throne of Delhi. Ruled for 22 years. Apart from Sanskrit and Hindi, Turki, Arabic and Persian languages introduced.

1287 – Balban died grieving for his son, who was killed fighting the Mongols. Many claimants to the throne.

1290 - Jalauddin Firoze, an old man, of the tribe of Khiljis, came to the throne of Delhi.

1296 - Jalaluddin Firoze Khilji murdered by his nephew Alauddin Khilji who was also his son-in-law.

Alauddin Khilji became Sultan of Delhi.

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