Ghiyas Ud Din Balban: 9th Sultan Of Slave Dynasty

ghiyas ud din balban

Numerous influential leaders had long been interested in the Delhi Sultanate. Ghiyas ud din Balban was one of the most renowned kings in the history of the Delhi Sultanate, who uplifted the throne. He was the ninth sultan of the Slave Dynasty and was appointed as the regent of the last Shamsi sultan, Nasiruddin Mahmud. He diminished the influence of the nobility and increased the sultan’s prominence. He is remembered for his accomplishments and military campaigns.

In this article, you’ll learn about his early life, his ascension to the throne, the re-organization of the army, the famous battles, and several other significant incidents of his life. Let’s examine and learn about Balban’s past in more detail.

Who Was Ghiyas Ud Din Balban?

Ghiyasuddin Balban, the ninth ruler of the Mamluk dynasty, was the greatest sultan in the history of the Delhi Sultanate. His real name was Baha Ud Din (13th century). He was named regent by the final Shamsi sultan, Nasiruddin Mahmud. He was a maverick, ruthless, and determined ruler who served the city of Delhi. However, what made him such a remarkable man? Read on to find out more about him.

Ghiyasuddin Balban was an Ilbari Turk. He was a mighty Sultan of Delhi who served from 1266 to 1287 CE. His name sounds a lot like Ghiyath al-din Tughluq, who ruled the city only a few years before Ghiyas Ud din Balban. In addition to being a great ruler, he also became a Turkic slave of the Iltutmish and was later released from his bonds. After this, Ghiyas Ud din Balban was educated and made the head of the Chalisa. He also provided facilities to the learned men from Central Asia.

Balban, with an iron fist, reformed the military, and civil lines to earn stability and prosperity of government, even though he had rare military accomplishments. This resulted in granting him the position, beside Sultan Shams-ud-din Iltutmish and Alauddin Khalji, one of the most powerful rulers.

To learn more about Alauddin Khilji read about him as well. Aspirants for the UPSC will find this useful in their preparation.

During his reign, Ghiyas Ud din Balban had to contend with an all-powerful military oligarchy. These people were known as “the Forty” and were the leaders of the sultanate. The rulers of the sultanate had been ruled by this elite group since the death of the Iltutmish. Balban was one of these men who sought to overthrow the Chihilgan and restore the prestige of the crown.

Early life

Ghiyas ud din Balban, one of the most remarkable rulers, was born to a Central Asian Turkic origin noble and in his childhood, he was seized as a slave. Later, Khwaja Jamal ud din Basri bought him from the Mongols. He was further sold by Khwaja to Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish when brought to Delhi. Initially, he was given the task of a water carrier, and later as the Khasdar. Further, he managed to be the most notable of the forty Turkic-origin nobles or the Chalisa.

He was rewarded with military and political responsibilities. He became the amir-i-shikar or hunting lord, during Razia Sultana’s rule. He advanced quickly in the reigns that followed her ouster, eventually rising to the position of Jagir (lord) of Hansi.

Balban was Ala ud din Masud’s vizier from 1246 until 1265. And Nasiruddin Mahmud replaced him as Sultan after Masud’s overthrow. Mahmud wed a Balban’s daughter.

Additionally, Balban appointed his younger brother Kishlu Khan as Lord Chamberlain (Amir-i Hajib). While his cousin Sher Khan is Jagir of Lahore and Bhatinda.

Ascension To Throne

Balban was rewarded with the title of Ulugh khan by Sultan Nasir-ud-din Mahmud. He was also felicitated with the tag of Naib-i-mamlikat or Deputy Sultan. This was obviously because Nasir-ud-din was ineffective and inept and was counting more on him for the surveillance of state affairs. Hence, the actual power slowly passed to Balban’s court. His influence spread over time and put down several internal rebellions. He checked the external aggressions, especially of Mongols.

In the absence of a legitimate heir to the throne, Nasir-ud-din, the Sultan, chose Balban as his successor because he regarded him as crucial.

The news of the death of Nasir-ud-din Mahmud came in 1266. This led to Balban’s succession to the throne.

Reign Of Ghiyas Ud Din Balban

Re-organization Of Army

  1. Balban’s army was majorly comprised of Turkish origins. The army was disorganized and lacking in manpower, and the threat of a Mongol invasion was on the horizon. With this in mind, Ghiyas ud Din Balban decided to re-organize the army and military lines, to ensure it would defend the country.
  2. He appointed Imad-ul-Millk as Minister of War to be the army’s Diwan-i-Ariz (Minister of War). Balban was very particular about the training of his soldiers, and he supervised their training.
  3. The Wazir relinquished control of the minister in charge of the army’s finances. Additionally, the Sultan had complete faith in him.
  4. The Army’s efficiency and military training were exponentially improving. Therefore, Balban repressed internal revolts and exterior aggressions with the support of a large and powerful army.
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Clearance Of Mewatis

  1. After the evening Namaz, there was a check to ensure the closure of the city’s gates because of the Mewatis’ terrible control of Delhi’s outskirts.
  2. According to legend, Balban slew the apostate Mewatis and gave the order to cleanse the trees.
  3. The death toll reached 100,000 after the ruthless killing of people and clearance of the jungles.
  4. He dealt with the bandits in the Doab area with an Iron Hand.

Battle With Bengal

  1. The Bengali kings caused the Delhi administration a lot of trouble.
  2. The local authorities declared their independence. And this happened while Delhi was in a state of anarchy.
  3. The Bengal subedar Tugril Khan disregarded the aged Sultan of Delhi. And he proclaimed his independence in 1279.
  4. An angry Sultan sent out a sizable force, but Tugril Khan wiped them out. Balban sent out a second army, but it was met with the same response.
  5. Balban then sent a bigger force to Bengal. Tugril Khan learned of Balban’s march into Bengal and immediately left the city, seeking safety in the forests.
  6. He was captured, subjected to torture, and killed.
  7. All the followers of Tugril Khan were executed at his location after a large-scale massacre was ordered.
  8. After the rebellion was put down, Sultan went back to Delhi. Later, Bengal’s affairs were given to Balban’s second son, Bugara Khan.

Mongol Invasions

  1. During the Mongol Invasions, the first Sultan of Delhi, Ghiyas ud din Balban, took effective steps to stem the invasions. He was vigilant about the Mongols’ plans and did not leave the capital, Delhi.
  2. Balban made all possible efforts to protect the western frontiers as Lahore was then within Mongol’s hold on the western frontiers and continuous risk of invasion hung on Sind and Multan. Besides all the efforts the Mongols continued plundering raids without concern.
  3. Sultan Balban protected the borders by a line of forts with guards. The frontiers were preserved by the Amirs assigned by Balban, but they proved to be incapable of stopping the Mongols.
  4. Later Balban divided the territory into two and allotted each side to each of his sons, Prince Muhammad Khan and Bugara Khan.
  5. Balban won this war after continuous efforts, but unfortunately, he lost his son Prince Muhammad Khan during this war.
  6. Mongols were defeated away as Balban’s cavalry horses were perfectly adaptable to the Indian climate. The military reign also added to the strength.

Additional Information

  1. Balban was the 1st king to assume this role, and he was fully aware of the requirements and obligations that go along with it. He is regarded as one of India’s cruelest kings.
  2. He introduced to India the Persian court customs of Sijda/Zaminbosi as well as Paibosi.
  3. They would kiss Sultan Paibosi’s feet and bow to the ground to greet Sultan Sijda / Zaminbosi.
  4. He promoted the Iranian Theory of Divine Rights, which holds that the Sultan serves as God’s earthly representation.
  5. He shattered the sway of the “Corp of Forty.”
  6. The fearsome slave band known as the “Chihalagani,” who were actually Iltutmish heirs, had been vanquished by Balban.
  7. He gathered his army to confront the Mongols.


The gloom of losing his favorite son, Prince Muhammad, languished Balban’s health. After becoming aware of his failing health, Balban named Kai Khusrav as his successor. Kai Khusrav was Prince Muhammad’s eldest son.

He passed away in 1287.

In the memory of Balban, a tomb was constructed with a true arch as well as a dome, for the very first time in India. Towards the east of his tomb is a grave of Khan Shahid in a rectangular area. The tomb is in Mehrauli Archaeological Park in the city of Delhi.


The ninth sultan of the Mamluk dynasty in Delhi, Ghiyas ud din Balbin, was a renowned military leader and diplomat who had made several conquests while serving as vizier.

Ghiyas ud din Balban is remembered as one of the most courageous rulers of his time. He pulled the reign with utmost perseverance and chivalry, as he defeated the rebels and faced the troubles. It was Balban’s prowess that tossed the danger of Mongol raids. Balban initiated Navroz, the celebrated Persian festival. The tales of his valor are marked in the history of the Delhi Sultanate in golden words.

Ishwari Prasad describes the greatness of Balban’s rule and statesmanship, in one of her verses. He was one of the most powerful Sultans in the Delhi Sultanate.


Q1. Why Did Balban Not Choose Bughra khan As His Successor?

Prince Muhammad Khan, the elder son of Balban, was to have become his heir, but on March 9, 1285, he was killed fighting the Mongols. Bughra Khan, his other son, preferred to hold onto his position as king of Bengal rather than ascend to the throne. As a result, Balban designated his grandson Kaikhasrau, son of Prince Muhammad, as his apparent heir.

Q2. Who Succeeded BalbanTo Rule The Sultanate?

Balban centered his aspirations for his succession on his eldest son, who passed away before him. His second son, Bughra Khan denied the throne. In a fit of rage, Balban appointed Kaikubad as his heir apparent. Kakubad was Balban’s murdered son’s son. When Balban passed away in 1287, his nobles proposed Qaiqubad for the position of Sultan. Thus, Qaiqubad ruled the Delhi Sultanate after the demise of Ghiyas ud din Balban.

The mausoleum of Sultan Balban, which was constructed between 1287 and 1288, has the earliest authentic Islamic arch.

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