The Life of Iltutmish, the Sultan of Delhi

iltutmish of slave dynasty

Iltutmish was the third ruler of the Delhi Sultanate. Born to a slave, he rose to power and became the ruler of Delhi.

Since Iltutmish was the 1st Muslim sultan to establish Delhi as an imperial capital, he was regarded as the genuine founder of the Delhi Sultanate. He was also the Khalifa’s first recognition of an Indian Sultan. He successfully defended Delhi’s throne from Yeldoz, Qubacha raids, and Mongol invasions. He strengthened his dominance over them by destroying the northern Rajput forces. He produced coinage in his honor, made Delhi a splendid capital, and made his dominion hereditary. He built a lot of mosques in Delhi and was a patron of the arts and architecture.

In order to aid readers to prepare for the UPSC exam, this article will study Iltutmish, an important Mamluk Dynasty monarch.

Iltutmish – Facts For UPSC

  1. The father of Iltutmish was a Turkish nobleman from the Ilbari tribe.
  2. Ultimately, Qutubuddin Aibek bought him for an incredible sum. Thus he owned Iltutmish as a slave
  3. During the early years of his struggle, Iltutmish obtained an excellent education and gained a thorough understanding of the Islamic world.
  4. Because of this, he advanced within a decade to become his master’s son-in-law and amir-e-shikar.
  5. He soon assumed the position of governor over the iqtas of Baran (Bulandshahar) and Gwalior.
  6. The inherited genetic monarchy of Aram Shah was opposed by Delhi’s Turkish nobles since he was an ineffective and despised monarch.
  7. Iltutmish of Badaun was invited to take over as Sultan in his place.
  8. In 1211 Iltutmish deposed Aram Shah despite his refusal to cede power.
  9. From Lahore to Delhi, he relocated his capital.
  10. A Muslim ruler Iltutmish disregarded the Indus River Valley throughout the first phase of the year 1220 while it was being fought over by the Khwarazm rulers, the Mongols, and Qabacha.
  11. After the Khwarazmian and the Mongol threat abated, Qabacha established dominance over the region. Although Iltutmish conquered his territory in 1228–1229.

Ascension To The Throne

Qutb al-Din Aibak unexpectedly passed away in Lahore at a sporting event in 1210. The local nobles then elected Aram Shah their next Sultan to avoid civil turmoil in the realm.

However, the nobility in other regions of the Sultanate disagreed with this choice. They put forth Iltutmish as a substitute due to the following reasons:

  1. Aibak had referred to him as a son, and
  2. Due to his illustrious military career.

He was given the opportunity to take the crown by these nobles, who were commanded by the military judge (Amir-i Dad) Ali-yi Ismail.

When Iltutmish arrived in Delhi, he assumed authority. Afterward, he defeated the army of the weak ruler, Aram Shah. Despite some nobles’ attempts to overthrow him, Iltutmish conquered them and executed many of them.

Achievements And Growth Of Kingdom

Victory Over Yildiz

  1. The Ghurid emperor’s legitimate heir, Yildiz, presided over the Ghurid capital of Ghazni. He was a former slave.
  2. Yildiz proclaimed to Iltutmish that he was Mu’izz ad-Din legitimate’s heir.
  3. Consequently, held rights to the erstwhile Ghurid lands in India.
  4. Iltutmish promised to haggle if neither of the two men brought warriors to the meeting
  5. Yildiz declined the offer, which led to a fight at Tarain on January 25, 1216, in which Iltutmish triumphed.
  6. Later, Yildiz was killed in Iltutmish’s fortress of Badaun.
  7. Iltutmish’s victory in this battle strengthened the independence of the Delhi Sultanate.

Victory Over Qabacha

  1. Another significant danger to Iltutmish power was Qabacha.
  2. However, Yeldoz and Mangabarni’s simultaneous attacks had diminished his strength.
  3. Iltutmish planned to make an exclusive attack on Qabacha in order to take advantage of his circumstance.
  4. He sent out two troops:
    • one troop is sent from Delhi to triumph Uch. and
    • another troop went from Lahore to assault Multan.
  5. Qabacha took a hideaway in the palace of Bhakkar as the Delhi Army was blockading it during the conquest of Uch.
  6. Ultimately, he drowned himself in the River Indus since he had run out of options.
  7. Consequently, Sind and Multan were included in the Delhi Sultanate’s realm.

Saved India From The Invasion By Mongol

Even though Punjab was a part of his domain, Iltutmish prudently avoided the area when Genghis Khan conquered it in an effort to find Jalal-ad-Din. Even more shrewdly, he forbade Jalal ad-Din from seeking refuge in India. Iltutmish made sure Chengez Khan wouldn’t have any motive to be angry by executing this.

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After defeating the Shah of Khwarazm, the prominent Mongol invader Chengez Khan stood triumphant on the western side of the river Indus with 50,000 warriors. This fight, which took place close to the city of Kalabagh in Punjab, resulted in the total destruction of Jalal-ad-Din’s army.

How did Iltumish prevent the invasion of the Mongols in India?

When Chenghiz Khan, the commander of the Mongols, pursued the Shah of Iran beyond India’s frontiers, a new threat emerged. The Shah fled in the direction of India in the quest for safety. India was spared from the prospect of the Mongol assault when Iltutmish graciously declined to give him shelter.

Invasion Of Bengal And Bihar

  1. Bengal province was governed by the Delhi Sultan under the rule of Qutb-ud-din Aibak.
  2. Bengal, ultimately, proclaimed its freedom upon Aibak’s passing.
  3. Contrarily, Iltutmish had no time for Bengal because of his commitments to the western frontier regions.
  4. By that time, the monarch of Bengal was Sultan Ghiyasuddin.
  5. Without a struggle, Sultan Ghiyasuddin bowed out, recognized Delhi’s supremacy, and consented to pay the yearly payment.
  6. Ghiyasuddin, however, soon staged another uprising and proclaimed Bengal to be independent.
  7. Another expedition was sent by Iltutmish, who assassinated Sultan Ghiyasuddin and appointed Nasiruddin Mahmud as Bengal’s ruler.
  8. Immediately after Nasiruddin left, Malik Balka Khalji started a new uprising in Bengal.
  9. Bengal was captured by the Delhi Empire in 1230 AD after Malik Balkha Khalji was personally assassinated by Iltutmish there.

Additional Iltutmish Victories

  1. Following the demise of Aibak, other states, including Ajmer, Thangir, Ranthambore, Bayana, Mander Kalinjar, Jalor, and Gwalior announced their independence.
  2. He withstood both the Rajputs and Mongol invaders while defending his dominion.
  3. He halted Genghis Khan’s assault in 1221.
  4. Benaras and Kanauj were retaken in the year 1231.
  5. In the year1239, he added Ujjain and Malwa to his dominion.
  6. He established dominion over all of North India till the Narmada River.
  7. The Turkish dominion in India thus grew under Iltutmish to the same extent as it had under Aibak.

Iltutmish Reign: Art, Architecture, And Literature 

  1. As a lover of the arts and architecture, Shams-ud-din Iltutmish constructed various mosques, water systems, and public facilities in Delhi.
  2. He completed the Qutb Minar, that Aibak had started.
  3. He finished building the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque.
  4. At Mahrauli in Delhi, the Hauz-i-Shamshi is accredited to Iltutmish.
  5. Under the Lodi dynasty, in the 16th century, a castle known as the Jahaz Mahal was constructed on the eastern border of the same pond as a shelter or inn for pilgrims.
  6. He also constructed the madrasa (school) that encircles the Hauz-i-Shamsi pond, located south of Qutub Minar.
  7. For Sufi saints, he built a number of khanqah (monasteries) and dargah (graveyards).
  8. He built the Emperor Ghari burial mausoleum in 1231 in honor of his late eldest son Nasiruddin, who had passed away two years previously. This is the 1st Islamic Musoleum ever structured.
  9. He was an advocate of Minaj-us-siraj, the writer of Tabaqat-i-nasiri.

To read more about the Art And Architecture Of Delhi Sultanate, visit the linked article.


  1. For the kingdom, he established the necessary administrative machinery.
  2. He issued the copper jital and the silver tanka, the two official Sultanate currencies.
  3. He established the Iqta system and implemented changes to the civil administration and troops, which were now centrally funded and recruited.
  4. He was the 1st Turkish ruler to mint only genuine Arabian coins.
  5. To keep an eye out for spies, Iltumish formed the Turkhan-i-Chahalgani team of 40 devoted lords.

Death of Iltutmish

  1. Iltutmish fell ill in 1235 AD due to the ongoing military actions.
  2. He became unwell following his most recent mission against Bayana and was taken right away to Delhi for medical attention.
  3. However, he was unable to recover from his condition, and in 1236 he passed away.
  4. In Mehrauli’s Qutub complex, he was buried.
  5. Since he didn’t think his sons were up to the job when he passed away in 1236, his daughter Razia Sultan assumed over as ruler.
  6. With his passing, the nation lost a great leader, and the Delhi Sultanate’s illustrious twenty-five-year reign came to an end.


In northern India, Sultan Iltutmish of the Slave Dynasty established the absolute rule of the Turks. The only difference between him and Aibek’s military dictatorship was that all power was vested within his palms. He crumbled the authority of his opponents in Multan and Ghazni, who were external rivals.

Razia Sultana inherited the seat of government after his father’s death and took over as the Delhi Sultanate’s new monarch.

The Caliph of Baghdad acknowledged him as the emperor of India.


In His Search For The Runaway Khwarezm Prince, Chengiz Khan Reached The Indus During Whose Rule?

During the reign of Sultan Iltumish, Chenghiz Khan advance the Indus in finding Khwarezm.

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