Jewels from the Christian World Civilization



Turks and Afghans






MALWA, like Gujarat, became independent of Delhi on the dissolution of that kingdom after the invasion of Timur, at the end of the fourteenth century.

The date of the appointment of Dilavar Khan Ghuri, the Afghan governor, is not precisely known, but he was certainly in Malwa in 1392, and was probably appointed by Firuz Shah of Delhi, who died in 1388. He remained quietly in Malwa while Timur sacked Delhi, and when Mahmud Shah Tughluq, fleeing before the conqueror, sought an asylum and was disappointed by his reception in Gujarat, Dilavar Khan received him as his sovereign, and entertained him with princely hospitality until he was able, in 1401, to return to his capital.

Alp Khan, Dilavar Khan’s son and heir, strongly disapproved of the deference shown to Mahmud, which he considered to be incompatible with the independence of Malwa, and, while the royal guest remained at Dhar, withdrew to Mandu, where he occupied himself in perfecting the defences of that great fortress city.

Dilavar Khan never assumed the style of royalty, though he could maintain no pretence of dependence on Delhi, whose nominal lord was a prisoner in the hands of an ambitious minister, but in 1406 Alp Khan, impatient for his inheritance, removed his father by poison, and ascended the throne under the title of Hushang Shah.

In the following year Muzaffar I of Gujarat invaded Malwa on the pretext of avenging the death of his old friend, defeated Hushang before Dhar, drove him into the citadel, forced him to surrender, and carried him off a prisoner to Gujarat, leaving in Malwa, as governor, his own brother Nusrat Khan.

Nusrat Khan treated Malwa as a conquered country, and his rule was so oppressive and extortionate that the army expelled him, and elected as their ruler Hushang’s cousin, Musa Khan, who, fearing the vengeance of the king of Gujarat, established himself in Mandu, the fortifications of which were now complete. Hushang, on hearing of this usurpation, implored Muzaffar to restore him to his throne, swearing on the Koran that he was guiltless of his father’s death, and Muzaffar, who had his own outraged authority to assert, sent his grandson Ahmad Khan, with an army to restore Hushang.

His orders were executed, and Ahmad Khan, after restoring Hushang at Dhar, then the capital of Malwa, returned to Gujarat, but Musa Khan, who still held Mandu, was not inclined to submit, and most of the nobles of the kingdom, who were at Mandu with him, though they favored Hushang’s cause feared to join him, as their wives and families would be left exposed to Musa’s wrath.

Hushang marched to Mandu, and some combats took place between his troops and those of his cousin, but he had no means of reducing the fortress and marched off, but took possession of the kingdom by establishing military posts in the principal towns. Malik Mughis Khalji, said to have been descended of the elder brother of Jalal-ud-din Firuz Khalji of Delhi, and Malik Khizr, sons of Hushang’s paternal aunts, left Musa Khan and joined Hushang, and Musa, who could not maintain an army without the revenues of the country, which his rival was collecting, was induced by Mughis to vacate Mandu, which was promptly occupied by Hushang.

Hushang’s two abortive invasions of Gujarat, undertaken for the purpose of supporting rebels against Ahmad I, who succeeded his grandfather on the throne of that kingdom in 1411, have already been described in Chapter XIII. He gained neither credit nor advantage from these attacks on a former benefactor, and he estranged his brother-in-law, Nasir Khan of Khandesh, by his tardiness in assisting him when Ahmad attacked him in 1417. Another invasion of the north-eastern districts of Gujarat in 1418 ended in a disgraceful retreat, and Ahmad, exasperated by these unprovoked attacks, in 1419 invaded Malwa, defeated Hushang in a battle fought near Mandu, drove him into that fortress, plundered his country, and retired to Gujarat at the beginning of the rainy season.

In 1422 Hushang undertook a most adventurous enterprise. Believing that elephants were required to make good his military inferiority to his neighbor of Gujarat he resolved to lead a raid into Orissa, and to capture a number of these beasts from the raja. He cannot have understood the nature of the expedition on which he embarked, for he had to traverse the forests of Gondwana, then an unknown country to the Muslims, but his objective was Jajpur, the capital of Orissa, distant more than 700 miles in a straight line from Mandu.

Leaving his cousin Mughis as his regent in Malwa he set out at the head of 1000 horse, carrying with him some horses and merchandise which might enable him to pass as a merchant. He travelled expeditiously, and in due course arrived before Jajpur, though it is difficult to believe that he was no more than a month on the road. At Jajpur the raja, one of the line founded by Chora Ganga of Kalinganagar, sent a message to Hushang, at the spot where he was encamped, and asked him why he did not bring his caravan into the city. Hushang replied that his men were too numerous to find accommodation, and the raja promised to visit his encampment, to inspect his merchandise and to pay, either in cash or elephants, for anything that he might purchase. On the day appointed the raja came forth attended by 500 horse, and Hushang had the stuffs which he had brought with him spread on the ground for his inspection. They were damaged by a shower of rain which fell, and by the hoofs of the horses of the raja’s escort, and the damage supplied the pretended merchants with a pretext for quarrelling with the Hindus, whom they attacked and put to flight, the raja himself being taken prisoner. Hushang then disclosed his identity and informed the raja that he had come to Orissa in search of elephants. The leading men of Jajpur sent an envoy to ask him to formulate his demands, and on learning that he required elephants sent him seventy-five. He then set out for his own country, but carried the raja with him as far as the frontier of the Jajpur state. On his homeward way he learnt that Ahmad I had invaded Malwa and was besieging Mandu, but he found time to capture Kherla and carry of the raja as his prisoner. As he approached Mandu Ahmad withdrew his troops from the trenches in order to oppose his entry, but he contrived to evade his enemy and entered the fortress.

The rest of this campaign has already been described in the preceding chapter. Hushang was again unfortunate, and after his defeat returned to Mandu and, having allowed his army a brief period of repose, marched to Gagraun, and besieged and captured that town. Thence he marched to Gwalior, and had been besieging the fortress for a month when Mubarak Shah of Delhi advanced by way of Bayana to attack him. He raised the siege and marched towards the Chambal, but Mubarak had gained his object by relieving Gwalior, and hostilities were averted by a treaty, under which each king agreed to return to his own capital.

The raja of Kherla, since he had been made prisoner by Hushang in 1422, had acknowledged him as his overlord and paid him tribute, thus giving offence to his former suzerain, Ahmad Shah Bahmani of the Deccan, who still claimed his allegiance and, in 1428, besieged Kherla, but on Hushang’s marching to its relief retired southwards for three stages, closely followed by Hushang. He then halted to receive Hushang’s attack, which at first succeeded, but his army was attacked, at the moment when victory seemed assured, by Ahmad Shah Bahmani, who had been lying in ambush, and was put to flight. Its rout was so complete that the ladies of Hushang’s harem fell into the hands of the victors, while the army of Malwa fled headlong to Mandu. The scrupulous and pious Ahmad sent his prisoners to their lord under an escort of 500 horse.

Hushang’s campaign against Qadir Khan of Kalpi has been described in Chapter X. Kalpi was captured, but Qadir Khan, whose chief offence against Hushang had been the assumption of the royal title, was reinstated on swearing fealty. Hushang was much annoyed on his homeward march by the quarrels of his four sons, Ghazni Khan, Usman Khan, Fath Khan, and Haibat Khan, graceless and worthless youths.

After his return to Mandu he was engaged in punishing robbers, and when he had completed this task he founded the city of Hoshangabad, on the Narbada. Here he was alarmed by an accident which he took for an omen of death. A ruby fell one day from his jeweled crown, and though his courtiers endeavored to reassure him, an attack of diabetes confirmed his fears. He left Hoshangabad and returned to Mandu, and on his way thither designated his eldest son as his heir. A number of the nobles, to whom Ghazni Khan was obnoxious, supported the pretensions of Usman Khan, who had been imprisoned for having grossly insulted his elder brother, and intrigues were set on foot for his liberation, to which the king would not consent.

Hushang died on July 6, 1435, within a day’s march of Mandu, and Ghazni Khan, who had the powerful support of his cousin Mughis and his son Mahmud Khan, was proclaimed under the title of Muhammad Shah.

He was a confirmed drunkard, and left the administration almost entirely in the hands of Mughis and Mahmud Khan, but displayed a malignant activity in putting to death his three brothers and blinding his nephew and son-in-law, Nizam Khan, and his three young sons. This barbarity alienated Mahmud Khan, who began to scheme to depose the tyrant and to seize the throne for himself. His design was revealed to the king, who made arrangements to have him assassinated, but Mahmud discovered the preparations and to protect himself took precautions so marked that they could not pass unnoticed, and the king took him into his harem and in the presence of his wife, who was Mahmud's sister, conjured him to be faithful to him. Mahmud swore that he harbored no designs against him and begged the king to slay him if he suspected him. The king excused himself for his suspicions, and outward harmony was restored, but mutual distrust remained and increased, and Mahmud, shortly after the interview in the harem, caused his master's death by a dose of poison administered in his wine.

Usurpation of the Khaljis

A faction among the nobles raised to the throne Muhammad’s son Masud Khan, a boy of thirteen years of age, and, believing Mahmud Khan to be yet ignorant of the late king's death, summoned him to the palace in Muhammad Shah's name, and, when he refused to attend, went to his house in a body to arrest him; but he had concealed armed men in the house, and when the nobles entered it they were arrested and imprisoned. Those of their faction who had remained with Masud Khan assembled the royal troops and raised an umbrella over his head, and Mahmud marched on the palace to secure the persons of Masud and his younger brother, Umar Khan. Some fighting occurred between the royal troops and those of Mahmud, and lasted until the evening, when the two boys were so terrified that they persuaded their attendants to allow them to flee from the palace by night. Masud Khan sought the protection of a holy Shaikh, and found his way to Gujarat, and in the morning his supporters, having nothing left to fight for, dispersed, and Mahmud took possession of the royal palace. He offered the crown to his father, Malik Mughis, and then engaged in hostilities against the Hara Rajputs of Haraoti, but he hastened to Mandu, declined the honor, and urged his son to ascend the throne. Mahmud was accordingly proclaimed on May 13, 1436.

There was still much disaffection among the nobles, who resented the usurpation of the throne by one of their number, and Mahmud was obliged, immediately after his accession, to cope with a rebellion which assumed serious dimensions owing to the presence in the rebel ranks of Ahmad Khan, a surviving son of Hushang. The rebellion was crushed, and the leading rebels, including Ahmad Khan, were pardoned and received fiefs, but they rebelled again, and Malik Mughis was employed to crush them. Ahmad Khan, the most formidable of them, was poisoned by a musician at the instigation of Mughis, and operations against the others were in progress when Ahmad I of Gujarat invaded Malwa with the object of placing Masud Khan on his father’s throne. The course of this campaign has been traced in the preceding chapter. Ahmad Shah was compelled to retire to Gujarat, and died, in 1442, before he could fulfill his promise to Masud Khan.

Mahmud Shah’s troubles were not ended by Ahmad Shah’s retreat. Umar Khan, the younger son of Muhammad Shah, had fled from Gujarat to Chitor, whence he had again crossed the frontier of Malwa and was welcomed by the garrison of Chanderi, who acknowledged him as king. He had been slain during Ahmad Shah’s invasion, but the garrison had proclaimed another pretender, Malik Sulaiman, under the title of Shihab-ud-din Shah. Mahmud besieged Chanderi for seven months, during which period the pretender died, and finally carried it by assault, but during the siege Raja Dongar Singh the Tonwar, of Gwalior, had invaded Malwa and laid siege to a town named Shahri-Nau, not now traceable. Mahmud invaded Gwalior, plundered and devastated the country, defeated the Hindus, and drove them into the fortress, which he besieged. Dongar Singh raised the siege of Shahri-Nau and retired into his own dominions, and Mahmud, whose sole object had been the expulsion of the invader, returned to Mandu, where he completed the great mosque founded by Hushang.

The feeble Sayyid, Muhammad Shah, now occupied the throne of Delhi, the affairs of which kingdom were in the utmost confusion, and a faction among the nobles, who admired the energy and enterprise of Mahmud Shah of Malwa, and were, perhaps, affected by the consideration that he was a member of a family which had already ruled India, not without glory, invited him to Delhi, and offered him the throne. In 1440 he marched northwards and encamped before Tughluqabad, within eight miles of the city, but his partisans were either too weak to afford him any assistance or had repented of the advances made to him, for the royal army, commanded nominally by Muhammad Shah’s son Ala-ud-din, and actually by Buhlul Lodi, marched forth to meet him. Mahmud retained one division of his army in reserve, and sent two, under his sons Ghiyas-ud-din and Qadr Khan, against the enemy. The battle, which lasted until nightfall, was indecisive, and Muhammad Shah proposed terms of peace, of which the principal condition was Mahmud’s retirement. The offer was readily accepted, for Mahmud had learnt that during his absence the mob had risen in Mandu, removed the gilded umbrella from the tomb of Hushang, and raised it over the head of a pretender. The nobles of Delhi were, however, deeply disgusted with the meanness of spirit which permitted an invader thus to depart in peace, and when Buhlul Lodi violated the treaty by following the retreating army and taking some plunder the exploit was magnified into a great victory, and honor was satisfied.

War with Kumbha Rana

On reaching Mandu, on May 22, 1441, Mahmud found that the rebellion had been suppressed by his father, and rested for the remainder of the year, but marched in 1442 to punish Kumbha, the Rana of Chitor, for the assistance which he had given to Umar Khan, the son of Muhammad Shah Ghuri. On his way he learnt that Nasir Khan, son of Qadir Khan, governor of Kalpi, had assumed the royal title, styling himself Nasir Shah, and had, moreover, adopted strange heretical opinions, which he was spreading in his small state. He was minded to turn aside and punish him, and actually marched some stages towards Kalpi, but was persuaded by his courtiers to pardon the offender, who had sent an envoy with tribute and expressions of contrition, and to pursue the object with which he had left Mandu.

After entering the Rana’s dominions he captured a fort and destroyed a temple, and advanced to Chitor, the siege of which he was forming when he learnt that the Rana had retired into the hills. He followed him thither, and the Rand returned to Chitor.

While Mahmud was preparing again to form the siege of Chitor his father, Malik Mughis, who had led an expedition against Mandasor, died, and he retreated to Mandasor, followed by the Rana, who, in April, 1443, attacked him, but was defeated, and suffered a second defeat in a night attack which Mahmud made on his camp. The Rana then retired to Chitor and Mahmud, who had decided to postpone until the following year the siege of that fortress, returned to Mandu.

Immediately on his return he received a mission from Mahmud Shah Sharqi of Jaunpur, who complained of the misconduct of Nasir Khan of Kalpi, and sought permission to attack him, which was granted. Mahmud afterwards repented of having acceded to the request of Mahmud Sharqi, and desired him to desist from molesting Nasir Khan, who had fled to Chanderi and sought his assistance. Mahmud Sharqi evaded a decided answer and on January 12, 1445, Mahmud Khalji marched for Chanderi. Thence he marched on Kalpi, avoiding the army of Jaunpur, which was drawn up at Erij to meet him. An indecisive battle was fought near Kalpi, and desultory fighting, in which neither gained any decided advantage, continued for some months, at the end of which period peace was made. Nasir Khan, who promised amendment, was to be restored by degrees to the districts comprising the small state of Kalpi, and Mahmud Khalji returned to Mandu, where he occupied himself in building a hospital.

In October, 1446, he again invaded the Rana’s dominions. He halted at Ranthambhor, removed Bahar Khan from the command of that fortress, appointed Malik Saif-ud-din in his stead, and next halted on the Banas, while his army besieged the Rana in Mandalgarh. The siege was raised on the Rana’s promising to pay tribute for the fortress, and Mahmud marched on Bayana. When he was within two leagues of the fortress the governor, Muhammad Khan, sent to him his younger son, Auhad Khan, with 100 horses and 100,000 tangas as tribute, and Mahmud, having sent complimentary gifts in return, halted until he had ascertained that Muhammad Khan had substituted his name for that of Alam Shah of Delhi in the khutba and had struck coin in his name, and then retired by way of Ranthambhor, near which place he captured a minor fortress, and continued his journey towards Mandu, sending Taj Khan with 8000 horses and twenty-five elephants to besiege Chitor. Before reaching Mandu he collected 125,000 tangas as tribute from the raja of Kota.

Towards the end of 1450 Mahmud, as has been already recorded in the preceding chapter, invaded Gujarat in support of Kanak Das, raja of Champaner, but retired to Mandu without effecting anything or gaining anything beyond an installment of tribute from Kanak Das. His invasion of Gujarat in the following year, which has also been described, ended in a disastrous defeat, which was not retrieved by a raid on Surat, carried out by his son in 1452.

In 1454 he led a punitive expedition against the rebellious Hara Rajputs on his northern frontier, put many of them to the sword, and sent their children into slavery at Mandu. Marching on to Bayana, he collected tribute from the governor, Daud Khan, who had succeeded his father, Muhammad Khan, confirmed him in the government, and composed a long-standing dispute between him and Yusuf Khan of Hindaun. On his return to Mandu he appointed his younger son, Fidai Khan, entitled Sultan Ala-ud-din, to the command of the fortress of Ranthambhor and the government of Haraoli, the district of the Hara Rajputs.

Later in the same year Mahmud invaded the Deccan at the invitation of two rebellious nobles, and laid siege to the fortress of Mahur, but raised the siege and retired when Alauddin Ahmad Shah Bahmani marched to the relief of the fortress.

Reconquest of Ajmer

In 1455 he again attacked the Rana, marching to Chitor and ravaging his dominions. Kumbha attempted to purchase peace by a large indemnity, but as the money sent bore his own name and device it was indignantly returned, and the devastation of the country continued. Mahmud retired to Mandu for the rainy season, but returned, when it was past, to Mandasor, and began the systematic conquest of that region. He occupied a standing camp, and sent his troops in all directions to lay waste the country. While he was thus employed it was suggested to him that it would be a work of merit to recover from the idolaters the city of Ajmer, which contained the holy shrine of Shaikh Muin-ud-din Chishti, and he marched rapidly on the city and invested it. Gajanhar, the Rajput commander, made daily sorties, all of which were unsuccessful, and on the fifth day of the investment ordered a general sortie, which was driven back into the city. The pursuers entered with the pursued, and the city was won after great slaughter in the streets. Mahmud paid his devotions at the shrine, appointed Khvaja Nimatullah, whom he entitled Saif Khan, governor of the city, founded a mosque, and marched to Mandalgarh. Temples were destroyed and the country was devastated in the neighborhood of this fortress, the siege was opened, and the approaches were carried up to the walls. On October 19, 1457, the place was carried by assault, with great slaughter. A remnant of the garrison shut itself up in the citadel, but was compelled by want of water to surrender, and the lives of the men were redeemed by a promise to pay 1,000,000 tangas. The temples in the fortress were overthrown, a mosque was built of their stones, and Mahmud turned again towards Chitor, sending columns in different directions to harass the Rajputs and reduce them to obedience. Bundi was captured by one column, various districts were harried and placed under contributions of tribute by others, and heavy indemnities were exacted from the raja of Kumbhalgarh and the raja of Dungarpur, whose fortresses were too strong to be taken without tedious sieges, to which Mahmud was not disposed to devote his time.

After this protracted and successful campaign he returned to Mandu, and in 1461 was induced to embark on a disastrous expedition to the Deccan.

Nizam-ul-Mulk Ghuri, who was perhaps related to Mahmud, was a noble at the court of Humayun Shah, known as the Tyrant—the most brutal and depraved of the line of Bahman. He was traduced at his master's court, and the tyrant caused him to be assassinated. His family escaped to Mandu and besought Mahmud to avenge his death, and the invitation was welcomed by Mahmud, who composed a recent quarrel with Adil Khan II of Khandesh and invaded the Deccan. The tyrant Humayun had been removed, and had been succeeded by his infant son, Nizam Shah, who was carried into the field by his nobles. When the two armies met, that of the Deccan gained some slight advantage, but the precipitate action of a slave named Sikandar Khan, who had charge of the person of the child king, decided the fate of the day. He conceived his master’s life to be in danger, carried him from the field, and delivered him to his mother, who was at Firuzabad, in the south of his dominions.

After this victory Mahmud occupied Berar and the northern Deccan, entered Bidar, the capital, and besieged the citadel, but meanwhile the guardians of the young Nizam Shah had sought aid of Mahmud Bigarha of Gujarat, who had arrived on the frontier of the kingdom with 80,000 horses. Mahmud Cavan, one of Nizam’s two ministers, marched by Bir to meet him and assembled a force of 20,000 horses. Mahmud Bigarha placed a similar force at his disposal and Mahmud Khalji found his direct line of retreat barred. He retired hastily by way of eastern Berar, followed by Mahmud Gavan, who cut off his supplies and so harassed him that he abandoned his elephants, after having blinded them, and burnt his heavy baggage. His retreat soon became a rout, and to avoid his pursuers he plunged into the forests of the Melghat, where his army was nearly destroyed. Over 5000 perished of thirst, and the Korkus fell upon the remnant and slaughtered large numbers. Mahmud put the Korku chieftain to death, but his vengeance could not save his army, few of whom returned to Mandu.

He learnt little from this disaster and later in 1462, again invaded the Deccan with 90,000 horses, but the army of the Deccan was drawn up to meet him at Daulatabad, and the sultan of Gujarat once more marched to Nandurbar. On this occasion Mahmud Khalji retired before it was too late, and again traversed the Melghat on his homeward way, but his march was now leisurely, and his troops suffered from nothing more serious than the difficulty of the roads.

In 1465 Mahmud was much gratified by the arrival at Mandu of Sharaf-ul-Mulk, an envoy from al-Mustanjid Billah Yusuf, the puppet Abbasid Caliph of Egypt, who brought for him a robe of honor and a patent of sovereignty. The honor was an empty one, such patents being issued chiefly for the purpose of filling the coffers of the needy pontiffs who were in theory the Commanders of the Faithful, and in practice obsequious courtiers of the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt, but it was highly prized by the lesser sultans in India.

Mahmud recovers Kherla

Nizam-ul-Mulk, an officer of Nizam Shah of the Deccan, now led a large army against the fortress of Kherla. Siraj-ul-Mulk, who held it for Malwa, was helplessly drunk when the enemy arrived before the fortress, but his son attempted to withstand the invader. He was defeated and fled, and Nizam-ul-Mulk occupied Kherla. Mahmud retaliated by sending Maqbul Khan against Ellichpur, the capital of Berar, and though he failed to capture the city he laid waste the fertile district in which it stood and returned to Mandu with much spoil, but in the following year a treaty of peace was concluded with Muhammad III, who had succeeded his brother Nizam on the throne of the Deccan and Mahmud's possession of Kherla was confirmed but the integrity of Berar, with that exception, was maintained.

In the same year Mahmud marched to Kumbhalgarh and besieged Rana Kumbha, who was then in that fortress. Learning that Chitor was denuded of troops, Mahmud ordered his officers to assemble an army, as quietly and unostentatiously as possible, at Khaljipur, hard by Mandasor, in order that a sudden descent might be made on the Rana’s capital, but Kumbha discovered the design and sallied from Kumbhalgarh to attack him. He was defeated, but succeeded in making good his retreat to Chitor, and as the opportunity of surprising the fortress had been lost Mahmud returned to Mandu. While he had been thus engaged Sher Khan, a Turkish officer in his service, had captured Amreli in Kathiawar and slain its raja, Chita.

Muhammad III of the Deccan had broken the treaty of 1466 by tampering with the loyalty of Maqbul Khan, Mahmud’s governor of Kherla, who transferred his allegiance to the southern kingdom and surrendered the fortress to the son of the raja whom Mahmud had imprisoned. Mahmud’s sons, Taj Khan and Ahmad Khan, made a forced march to Kherla, defeated the raja's son, put him to flight, and re-occupied the fortress. The Gonds with whom he took refuge, on hearing that Taj Khan was preparing to attack them, sent the fugitive to him in chains. Mahmud visited Kherla, and marched thence to Sarangpur, where he received Khvaja Kamal-ud-din Astarabadi, an envoy from Timur’s great-grandson, Sultan Abu ­Said, king of Transoxiana, Khurasan, and Balkh. When the envoy departed he was accompanied by Shaikhzada Ala-ud-din, whom Mahmud sent as his envoy to Abu-Said.

In 1468 the landholders of Kachwara raided some of the districts of Malwa, and Mahmud at once marched to punish them. His son Ghiyas-ud-din built, in an incredibly short space of time, a fortress which he named Jalalpur, on the border of Kachwara, which was occupied by a garrison which curbed the predatory tendencies of the rebels.

In the same year Mahmud marched to Chanderi, and thence sent Sher Khan and Fath Khan to capture the town of Karahra, 160 miles distant from his camp. They invested the place and pushed forward their parallels until they were able to throw lighted combustibles into one quarter of the town. The fire spread, and destroyed 3000 houses, and the town was captured without difficulty, no fewer than 7000 prisoners being taken. Mahmud was informed at Chanderi of the outbreak of the conflagration, and is said to have ridden in one night from that town to Karahra in order to witness the discomfiture of the unbelievers, but this is hardly credible.

In the course of this expedition Mahmud received, on February 20, 1469, Shaikhzada Muhammad Qarmali, Qutb Khan Lodi, and Kapur Chand, son of Kari Singh, raja of Gwalior, who came as envoys from Buhlul Lodi, king of Delhi, to seek his help against Husain Shah of Jaunpur, whose repeated attempts to gain possession of Delhi gave its master no rest and appeared, at this time, to be certain of success. Bayana was held out as the bait, and Mahmud promised, in return for the cession of this district, to supply Buhlul with 6000 horse whenever he might have need of them.

After the dismissal of this mission Mahmud returned to Mandu, exhausted with unceasing warfare. He was now sixty-eight years of age, and during a reign of more than thirty-three years he had preferred the song of the lark to the cheep of the mouse, and to be worn out rather than rusted out. In the course of his return march to his capital he suffered severely from the fierce heat of an Indian summer, and on June 1, 1469, shortly after his arrival at Mandu, he expired.

He was the greatest of the Muslim kings of Malwa, which reached its greatest extent during his reign. His ambition may be measured by his attempts to conquer Delhi, Gujarat, Chitor, and the Deccan, in all of which he failed, but against his failures must be set his signal successes against the Rana Kumbha and many minor Rajput chieftains, his enlargement of the frontiers of his kingdom, and the high estimation in which he was held by his contemporaries. His recognition by the phantom Caliph, worthless though it was, proved, at least, that his fame had reached distant Egypt, and the mission from Sultan Abu-Said conveyed to him the more valuable regard of a king in fact as well as in name. He earned a reputation as a builder, and one of his works was a column of victory at Mandu, erected to commemorate his successes against Rana Kumbha of Chitor. The more famous column of victory at Chitor is said to commemorate victories over Mahmud of Gujarat and Mahmud of Malwa. If this is so it, 'like some tall bully lifts its head and lies'. Mahmud I failed to capture Chitor, but the Rana never gained any important victory over him. The successes of the Gahlots against Malwa were gained by Sangrama Singh, not by Kumbha, against Mahmud II, not Mahmud I.

Mahmud was a good Muslim. He substituted the unpractical and inconvenient lunar calendar, sacred to Islam, for the solar calendar in all public offices, he destroyed temples and idols and slew or enslaved their worshippers, and he was so scrupulous about meats that when he was besieging the citadel of Bidar he harassed the saint Khalilullah Butshikan, son of Shah Nimatullah of Mahan, with questions regarding a supply of lawful vegetables for his table. The saint expressed surprise that one who was engaged in attacking a brother Muslim and slaying his subjects should be so scrupulous in the matter of his food. Mahmud acknowledged, with some embarrassment, the justice of the rebuke, but pleaded that the laws of the faith had never sufficed to curb the ambition of kings.


Mahmud I was succeeded by his eldest son, Ghiyas-ud-din, who took his seat on the throne two days after his father's death. He earned the gratitude of his servants by retaining in their posts all those whom his father had appointed, and displayed a confidence in the loyalty of his near relations rarely found in an eastern king. His next brother, Taj Khan, was confirmed in his fiefs and received the title of Ala-ud-din, and his younger brother, Fidai Khan, was permitted to retain the government of Ranthambhor and other districts. His declaration of policy resembled that of the Roman emperor Augustus. His father, he said, had extended his sway over the whole land of Malwa, and it should be his care to hold what had been acquired, not to molest his neighbors. So averse was he from war that when Buhlul Lodi raided Palampur, near Ranthambhor, he would not take the field himself, but ordered Sher Khan, governor of Chanderi, to obtain satisfaction from the invader, which task was sufficiently well performed, and when, in 1484, he marched from Mandu in response to an appeal from the raja of Champaner, who had sought his aid against Mahmud Begarha, he was suddenly smitten with compunction, and consulted the doctors of the law on the legality of aiding an infidel against a Muslim, and, on their delivering the opinion that such assistance was unlawful, at once returned to Mandu.

At the beginning of his reign he conferred on his eldest son, Abd-ul-Qadir, the title of Nasir-ud-din Sultan, designated him as his heir, and associated him with himself in the business of government.

Ghiyas-ud-din found his own chief amusement in the administration of his harem, which it was his fancy to organize as a kingdom in miniature, complete in itself. Its army consisted of two corps of Amazons, of 500 each, one of African and one of Turkish slave girls, who at public audiences were drawn up on either side of the throne. The harem contained, besides these, 1600 women, who were taught various arts and trades, and organized in departments. Besides the musicians, singers, and dancers usually found in a royal seraglio there were goldsmiths, blacksmiths, shoemakers, weavers, potters, tailors, makers of bows, arrows, and quivers, carpenters, wrestlers, and jugglers, each of whom received fixed wages, their officers, also women, being paid at higher rates, also women who supervised the various crafts and administrative departments. These women were recruited, at great trouble and expense, from all parts of India, but a case in which one of his agents abducted a girl from her parents led him to order the cessation of recruitment in his own dominions. A replica in miniature of the great bazaar in the city was erected within the precincts of the palace, and was filled with the artists, artisans, and craftswomen of the harem. The king himself regulated with meticulous nicety the pay and allowances of all, even to the quantities of grain, fodder and meat allotted to the various animals employed or domesticated within the extensive premises set apart for the harem, decided disputes, and generally wasted in these futile pursuits the time and energy which should have been devoted to the administration of his kingdom.

When not thus employed he devoted himself to the ceremonies of his faith, and to inventing others, to add to the list of those with which the daily life of a devout Muslim is encumbered. He insisted on being aroused every night, shortly after midnight, even if force should be necessary, for the recitation of the voluntary night prayers, and he abstained, not only from all intoxicants, but from all food of the legality of which there was the slightest doubt, and from wearing clothes of materials not sanctioned by the law of Islam.

Folly of Ghiyas-ud-din

His folly and profusion were practiced upon by rogues and impostors, whose fraudulent tricks needed but to be connected in some way with professions of religion to receive unmerited rewards. A beggar from Delhi picked up a handful of wheat from a heap lying in the courtyard of the palace and carried it into the royal presence. When asked the meaning of his action he explained that he was one who had committed to memory the whole of the Koran, which he had recited over each single grain of the wheat in his hand, which he now offered to the king. Honors and favors were showered upon him.

Another rogue brought to the king the hoof of an ass, which he asserted to be a hoof of the ass on which our Lord had entered Jerusalem. He received 50,000 tangas and was, of course, followed by three other rogues, each bearing the hoof of an ass, of which he told the same story and for which he received the same reward. As though this were not enough, a fifth appeared, with a fifth hoof, and the king commanded that he likewise should receive 50,000 tangas. The courtiers protested against this folly, and asked their master whether he believed that the Messiah's ass had five legs. “Let him have the reward”, replied the crowned fool, “perhaps he is telling the truth and one of the others made a mistake”.

At such a court as this beggars of all classes of course abounded, and the taxes wrung from a thrifty and industrious people were squandered on rogues, vagabonds and idlers.

Ghiyas-ud-din’s declining years were embittered by a violent quarrel between his two sons, Abd-ul-Qadir Nasir-ud-din and Shujaat Khan Ala-ud-din, whose mother, Rani Khurshid, daughter of the raja of Baglana, favored the cause of the younger. The miserable king, whose naturally feeble intellect was now impaired by old age, was incapable of composing the strife, and vacillated between his heir and his wife's favorite. Murders were committed on either side, and both appealed to arms. Nasir-ud-din marched out of the capital and assembled an army, and both his father and his mother attempted to persuade him to return, the former that the prince might resume the government of the kingdom, which had latterly fallen entirely into his hands, and the latter that she might find an opportunity of putting him to death. Nasir-ud-din’s first attempt to storm the capital was unsuccessful, but the greater part of the nobles and the army was on his side, and he was eventually admitted by the Balapur gate. He seized his mother and brother, imprisoned the one and put the other to death, and on October 22, 1500, ascended the throne with the consent of his father. He caused those of the nobles who had opposed him to be put to death and designated his second son, Miyan Manjhla, as his heir, conferring on him the title of Shihab-ud-din.

Many of the nobles in the provinces, including Sher Khan, the powerful governor of Chanderi, and Muqbil Khan, governor of Mandasor, declined to believe that the new king had ascended the throne with his father's consent, and took up arms against him. After one unsuccessful attempt to crush this rebellion, and another attempt, equally unsuccessful, to conciliate the rebels, he took the field against them, and assembled his army at Nalcha, leaving his son Shihab-ud-din in charge of the capital. At Dhar he received news of the death of his father, on February 28, 1501, from poison, administered, as it was generally believed, by his orders. He encountered the rebels at Sarangpur and utterly defeated them. Sher Khan fled to Chanderi, and thence to Erij and Bhander, and Nasir-ud-din occupied Chanderi, but discovered that a faction in the town had invited Sher Khan to return and promised him their active support. He sent a force against the rebel, who was advancing on Chanderi and who was defeated and so severely wounded that he died in the course of his retreat. The king marched as far as the spot where the body had been buried, exhumed it, and carried it back to Chanderi, where it was exposed on a gallows. He then appointed Bihjat Khan governor of Chanderi and returned to Mandu, when by deep drinking he aggravated the natural ferocity of his disposition and by his violent and irascible temper alienated his nobles.

In 1503 he led a marauding expedition into the dominions of the Rana, and later in the year sent a force to the aid of Daud Khan of Khandesh, whose dominions had been invaded by Ahmad Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar.

In 1510 Shihab-ud-din, his son and heir apparent, rose in rebellion, and was joined by most of the nobles in the provinces and many in the capital, who were disgusted by the king's tyranny. Nasir-ud-din marched against him and met him, with greatly inferior numbers, at Dhar. Shihab-ud-din, encouraged by his numerical superiority, attacked his father, but was defeated and fled to Chanderi, and, when he was pursued thither, to Sipri. His father followed him, and having vainly attempted to persuade him to return to his allegiance set out for Mandu, but died on his way thither.

Mahmud II. AH 917 to AH 921 (AD 1511-1516)

Of the manner of his death there are two accounts. According to one he contracted a fever and insisted on bathing in cold water, which so aggravated his illness that it terminated fatally. According to the other he gave expression to his suspicions of many of his nobles, whom he believed to have been secretly in correspondence with Shihab-ud-din, and uttered menaces, until they became so apprehensive that they poisoned him. Immediately after his death they unanimously raised to the throne, on May 2, 1511, his son Ala-ud-din Mahmud II, who was in the camp, and sent Nasir-ud-din’s body to Mandu for burial.

Shihab-ud-din, on hearing of his father’s death, returned to Malwa and marched on Mandu, but Mahmud II outstripped him and arrived there first, and when Shihab-ud-din reached the city the gates were shut in his face. After attempting, without success, to persuade the governor of the city, Muhafiz Khan, to admit him, he retired to the fortress of Asir, in Khandesh.

Mahmud II confirmed in his post his father’s minister, a Hindu named Basant Rai, but the Muslim nobles so resented his tenure of this high place that they murdered him. The intrigues of Muhafiz Khan, governor of Mandu, drove Iqbal Khan and Mukhtass Khan, two of the leading nobles, into rebellion and they fled to the Narbada and sent Nusrat Khan, the former’s son to Asir, to summon Shihab-ud-din to the throne of Malwa. The prince was so overjoyed that he set out at once, riding hard, in the great heat, to join his adherents, but he succumbed, and on July 29, 1511, died on the road. The rebels sent his body to Mandu for burial, proclaimed his son king under the title of Hushang II, and marched into the central districts of Malwa. A force was sent against them and defeated them, and Hushang took refuge in Sehore, but the leaders convinced the king that they were loyal at heart, and had rebelled only in consequence of the intrigues of Muhafiz Khan. This officer had already angered the king by proposing that he should put to death his eldest brother, Sahib Khan, and the quarrel became so acute that Muhafiz Khan attacked the king in his palace. He was defeated and driven off, and avenged himself by proclaiming Sahib Khan king under the title of Muhammad II. Mahmud II escaped from Mandu and withdrew to Ujjain, where he was joined by Iqbal Khan, Mukhtass Khan, and Dastur Khan. Sahib Khan advanced to Nalcha, and Mahmud retired to Dipalpur, where most of the nobles, whose wives and families were in Mandu, deserted him. He asked Bihjat Khan, governor of Chanderi, to give him an asylum in that fortress, but Bihjat Khan replied that he was the servant of the king who held Mandu. Mahmud knew not where to turn, and remained irresolute for some days, until he bethought himself of Medni Rai the Purbiya, a Rajput of eastern Hindustan, who held the military government of a small district in Malwa and was noted for his valor. He responded to the king's call, and came to his aid, and his accession induced Bihjat Khan of Chanderi to change his attitude, so that he sent his son Shiddat Khan to the king with offers of service.

Mahmud, thus reinforced, marched to meet his brother, who advanced from Mandu. The armies met in the evening, and while they were encamped for the night Afzal Khan deserted the prince, taking half of the army with him to Mahmud's camp, and Muhammad fled without fighting. Mahmud at once marched on Mandu, being joined on the way by the remnant of Shihdb-ud-din’s supporters from Sehore, and on November 28 found his brother, who had assembled a number of troops, barring his way to the capital. Muhammad was defeated, and fled into the fortress, and Mahmud, after an ineffectual attempt to induce him to submit, opened the siege of the place. On January 6, 1512, he was admitted into the fortress by some of his partisans, and Muhammad and Muhafiz Khan fled, with such jewels and treasure as they could collect and carry with them, and threw themselves on the protection of Muzaffar II of Gujarat, who was then encamped at Baroda. The course of Muhammad’s subsequent wanderings has been traced in the preceding chapter. He found a home, for a time, in Berar, under the protection of Ala-ud-din Imad Shah.

Mahmud was now established at Mandu, and soon had occasion to repent of having summoned the Purbiya Rajputs to his aid. Medni Rai assumed the office of minister, dismissed from their posts all the old nobles of the kingdom, in whose places he appointed men of his own faith and race, and induced the king to sanction the assassination of Afzal Khan and Iqbal Khan, whom he accused of entering into correspondence with Muhammad. The Muslim nobles viewed with mingled disgust and apprehension the supremacy of the idolaters in the state, and Sikandar Khan, governor of Satwas and one of the most important of the great fief-holders, raised the standard of revolt. Bihjat Khan of Chanderi excused himself from obeying his sovereign's command to march against the rebel, and Mansur Khan of Bhilsa, who obeyed the royal summons, was so ill supported that he abandoned the attempt to crush the rebellion, and joined Bihjat Khan at Chanderi. Medni Rai reduced Sikandar Khan to obedience, and by confirming him in his fiefs induced him to renew his allegiance to Mahmud.

Bihjat Khan of Chanderi was still contumacious, and when Mahmud marched in person to Agar sent letters to Sahib Khan, or Muhammad Shah, in Berar, and to Sikandar Shah Lodi of Delhi, begging the former to join him and receive the crown of Malwa, and seeking the assistance of the latter against a king who was dominated by infidels.

Predominance of the Rajputs

While Mahmud was awaiting the return of a mission which he had sent to Bihjat Khan for the purpose of recalling him to his obedience, he was perturbed by the news of a revolt in his capital, and of the invasion of his kingdom by Muzaffar II of Gujarat, but the revolt was immediately suppressed and Muzaffar was recalled to Gujarat by domestic disturbances. No sooner had Mahmud been reassured by this news than he learnt that Sikandar Khan was again in rebellion, and had defeated and slain a loyal officer who had endeavored to reduce him to obedience. At the same time he learned that his brother had reached Chanderi and had been proclaimed king by Bihjat Khan and Mansur Khan. He retired to Bhilsa and remained for some time in that neighborhood. His inaction encouraged the rebels to send a force to Sarangpur, but the governor of that district defeated them, and the news that a contingent sent to their help by Sikandar Shah Lodi had retired restored Mahmud's spirits, and disheartened, in a corresponding degree, his enemies. An attempt of Muhafiz Khan to return to Mandu was defeated, and the rebels were ready to come to terms. The king was no less weary of the conflict, which, as he now understood, was being prolonged only in the interest of the Purbiya Rajputs, and ceded to his brother the districts of Raisen, Bhilsa, and Dhamoni, besides remitting to him a substantial sum for his immediate needs. The retention of the money by Bihjat Khan excited the apprehensions of Muhammad, who believed that he was about to be betrayed to his brother, and fled to the protection of Sikandar Shah Lodi, thus enabling his host to make an unqualified submission to Mahmud, who, on December 18, 1513, was received at Chanderi by Bihjat Khan, who endeavored, without success, to free him from his subservience to Medni Rai.

Early in 1514 the king returned to Mandu, where he fell entirely under the influence of the Rajput minister, and at his instigation put many of the old Muslim nobles of the kingdom to death. The rest left the court, and even menial servants were dismissed, until the king was entirely in their power. He made an effort to free himself by dismissing Medni Rai, but the minister refused to accept his dismissal, and the Rajputs were restrained from violence only by prudential considerations, and promised in future to abstain from what was their greatest offence in the eyes of Muslims—the keeping of Muslim women as concubines. One of their leaders, Salibahan, refused to make this promise, and the offence thus continued. Mahmud then attempted to remove Medni Rai and Salibahan by assassination, and succeeded in the case of the latter, but the former was only wounded, and the Rajputs attacked the king's small bodyguard of Muslims, but were defeated, chiefly owing to their fear of provoking the intervention of Muzaffar II of Gujarat by proceeding to extremities.

In 1517 Mahmud lost patience with his Hindu masters, and, leaving Mandu on the pretext of hunting, eluded his Rajput escort and fled to the frontier of Gujarat, where he sought aid of Muzaffar II, whose ready response to the appeal, and the capture of Mandu, the terrible massacre of the Rajputs, and Mahmud’s restoration to his throne have already been described in the preceding chapter.

The Rajputs had not all been in Mandu when it was taken by Muzaffar, and Medni Rai bad established himself in the northern and eastern districts of the kingdom : his officers held Chanderi and Gagraun, and his brother, Silahdi, Raisen, Bhilsa, and Sarangpur.

Mahmud recalled all his old Muslim nobles and their troops, and by the advice of Asaf Khan of Gujarat, who had been left, with 10,000 horses, by Muzaffar II to assist him against his enemies, marched first to Gagraun, which was held by Hemkaran for Medni Rai.

Medni Rai was himself with Rana Sangrama, and, on hearing that Mahmud had opened the siege of Gagraun, implored the Rana to save a town which contained all that was most precious to him. Sangrama responded to the appeal, and marched with a large army towards Gagraun, and Mahmud, on hearing of his advance, abandoned the siege and marched with great rapidity to meet him. His army encamped within fourteen miles of Sangrama, who, having ascertained that it was exhausted by its long march attacked it at once. On his approach the Muslims took the field in small bodies, each division falling in as soon as it could arm and mount. The whole army was thus cut to pieces in detail and utterly defeated. Mahmud himself was wounded and was captured, fighting valiantly, for he lacked not physical courage, and carried before Sangrama, who received him with the chivalrous courtesy which the Rajput knows how to show to a defeated foe, but compelled him to surrender all his crown jewels.

Malwa annexed to Gujarat

The Rana was now in a position to annex Malwa, but prudently refrained from a measure which would have raised against him every Muslim ruler in India, and, making a virtue of necessity, supplied Mahmud with an escort which conducted him back to Mandu and replaced him on his throne.

Asaf Khan’s contingent of 10,000 cavalry fought in this battle, and shared the disaster which befell the army of Malwa, and for this reason Sangrama’s success is always represented in Hindu annals as a victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat.

Mahmud’s authority now extended only to the neighborhood of his capital. The northern and eastern districts of the kingdoms remained, as already mentioned, in the hands of the Purbiya Rajputs, and Satwas and the southern districts in those of Sikandar Khan. A victory over Silahdi reduced him temporarily to obedience, but its effect was fleeting.

A few years later Mahmud behaved with incomprehensible folly and ingratitude. When Bahadur Shah, in July, 1526, ascended the throne of Gujarat, his younger brother, Chand Khan, fled to Mandu, and Mahmud not only received him, but encouraged him to hope for assistance in ousting his brother from his kingdom. Three years later, having heard of the death of Rana Sangrama, he raided the territories of Chitor and provoked Sangrama’s successor, Ratan Singh, who invaded Malwa and advanced as far as Sarangpur and Ujjain, to reprisals. He reaped the fruits of his ingratitude towards the king of Gujarat as described in the preceding chapter. On March 17, 1531, Mandu was captured by Bahadur Shah, and the Khalji dynasty was extinguished. Bahadur’s operations in Malwa during the next two years, his defeat by Humayun, and the latter's capture of Mama in 1535 have been described in the account of his reign. Humayun lingered in Malwa until August, 1535, when he would have been better employed elsewhere, and was suddenly roused to activity by the rebellion of his brother Askari. After his departure Mallu Khan, formerly an officer of the Khalji kings, who had been permitted to retain the fief of Sarangpur and had received the title of Qadir Khan, reduced to obedience other fief-holders in Malwa, from Bhilsa to the Narbada, and, having established himself at Mandu, assumed the title of Qadir Shah. When Sher Khan, hard pressed by Humayun in Bengal, demanded in language too peremptory for the occasion, assistance from Qadir Shah, the latter returned an insolent reply, which was not forgotten, and Sher Shah, now king of Delhi, invaded Malwa in 1542. Qadir, who was not strong enough to oppose him, made his submission to him at Sarangpur, and was well received and appointed to the government of Bengal instead of that of Malwa, but shortly afterwards, being apprehensive of Sher Shah's intentions towards him, fled from his camp. The king imprisoned Sikandar Khan of Satwas, lest he should follow Qadir’s example, and retired from Malwa, leaving behind him as viceroy Haji Khan, with Shujaat Khan as governor of Satwas.

Nasir Khan of Satwas attacked the new governor with the object of seizing his person and holding him as a hostage for his father, Sikandar Khan, but was defeated, though Shujaat Khan was severely wounded in the battle. He had not recovered from his wounds when he was summoned by Haji Khan to assist him against Qadir Shah, who, having assembled an army in Banswara, was marching to attack him. Shujaat Khan responded to the appeal, and Qadir was defeated, and fled to Gujarat. The credit of the victory rested with Shujaat Khan, and Haji Khan was recalled and Shujaat Khan was appointed to succeed him as viceroy of Malwa.

Puran Mal, the son of Silahdi, still retained possession of the fortress and district of Raisen, and had recently, after occupying the town of Chanderi, massacred most of its inhabitants, and collected in his harem 2000 women, Muslims as well as Hindus. In 1543 Sher Shah marched from Agra against him and besieged him in Raisen. He was induced by delusive promises to surrender, and Sher Shah, when he had him in his power, attacked him and his followers with his elephants. The Rajputs performed the rite of jauhar, and, fighting bravely, were trampled to death.

Shujaat Khan was on bad terms with Islam Shah, Sher Shah’s son and successor, and in 1547 an Afghan, whom he had punished with mutilation for drunkenness and disorderly conduct, attempted, with the king's implied approval, to assassinate him. He was wounded, and so resented his master’s behavior that he fled from his camp at Gwalior.

Islam Shah treated him as a rebel, and invaded Malwa, but the viceroy would not fight against his king, and withdrew into Banswara. Islam Shah was called to Lahore by the rebellion of the Niyazis, and at the instance of his favorite, Daulat Khan Ajyara, who was Shujaat Khan’s adopted son, pardoned and reinstated the recalcitrant viceroy.

When Humayun recovered his throne in 1555 Shujaat Khan abstained from acknowledging him, and demeaned himself in all respects as an independent sovereign. Later in the same year he died, and was succeeded by his son Miyan Bayazid, known as Baz Bahadur, whose pretensions were opposed by his father’s adopted son, Daulat Khan Ajyura. Baz Bahadur, having lulled his rival's suspicions by assenting to an arrangement by which Malwa was partitioned, seized him and put him to death, and assumed the royal title. He then expelled his own younger brother, Malik Mustafa, from Raisen, and captured Kelwara from the Miyana Afghans. His next exploit was an expedition against the famous Rani Durgavati, queen of the Gonds of Garha-Katanga, who defeated him and drove him back into his own country, where he forgot his disgrace in the arms of his famous mistress, Rupmati. He sank into the condition of a mere voluptuary, and when Malwa was invaded, in 1561, by the officers of the emperor Akbar, he was driven from his kingdom, which became a province of the Mughul empire.