Firuz Shah Tughlaq

Firoz Shah Tughlaq
Malik Feroz ibn Malik Rajab
Sultan of Delhi
Reign 1351– 20 September 1388
Predecessor Muhammad bin Tughlaq
Successor Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq II
Born 1309
Died 20 September 1388 (aged 79)
Burial Hauz Khas Complex, Delhi
Dynasty Tughlaq Dynasty
Father Malik Rajab
Mother Bibi Nala
Religion Islam

Sultan Firuz Shah Tughlaq (1309 – 20 September 1388) was a Turkic Muslim ruler of the Tughlaq Dynasty, who reigned over the Sultanate of Delhi from 1351 to 1388.[1] He was the son of a Rajput Hindu princess of Dipalpur.[2] His father's name was Rajab (the younger brother of Ghazi Malik) who had the title Sipahsalar. He succeeded his cousin Muhammad bin Tughlaq following the latter's death at Thatta in Sindh where Muhammad bin Tughlaq had gone in pursuit of Taghi the ruler of Gujarat. For the first time in the History of Delhi Sultanate a situation was confronted wherein nobody was ready to accept the reigns of power. With much difficulty the camp followers convinced Firuz to accept the responsibility. Infact Khwaja Jahan, the Wazir of Muhammad bin Tughlaq had placed a small boy on throne claiming him to the son of Muhammad bin Tughlaq[3] who meekly surrendered afterwards. Due to widespread unrest his realm was much smaller than Muhammad's. Tughlaq was forced by rebellions to concede virtual independence to Bengal and other provinces.


We know of Firuz Shah Tughlaq in part through his 32-page autobiography, titled Futuhat-e-firozshahi..[4][5] He was 45 when he became Sultan of Delhi in 1351. He ruled until 1388. At his succession, after the death of Muhammad Tughlaq, he faced many rebellions, including in Bengal, Gujarat and Warangal. Nonetheless he worked to improve the infrastructure of the empire building canals, rest-houses and hospitals, creating and refurbishing reservoirs and digging wells. He founded several cities around Delhi, including Jaunpur, Ferozpur, Hissar, Firuzabad, Fatehabad.[6] Most of Firozabad was destroyed as subsequent rulers dismantled its buildings and reused the spolia as building materials,[7] and the rest was subsumed as New Delhi grew.


Tughlaq was a fervent Muslim, and had Hindu temples destroyed, as well as their books, idols and ceremonial vessels. However, he still drank alcohol, even to excess.[8] He made a number of important concessions to theologians. He tried to ban practices that the orthodox theologians considered un-Islamic, an example being his prohibition of the practice of Muslim women going out to worship at the graves of saints. He persecuted a number of Muslim sects which were considered heretical by the theologians. Tughlaq took to heart the mistakes made during his cousin Muhammad's rule. He decided not to reconquer areas that had broken away, nor to keep further areas from taking their independence. He was indiscriminately benevolent and lenient as a sultan.[9] He decided to keep nobles and the Ulema happy so that they would allow him to rule his kingdom peacefully.

"The southern states had drifted away from the Sultanate and there were rebellions in Gujarat and Sindh", while "Bengal asserted its independence." The Sultan led expeditions to against Bengal in 1353 and 1358. The Sultan captured Cuttack, desecrated the Jagannath Temple, Puri, and forced Raja Gajpati of Jajnagar in Orissa to pay tribute. He laid siege to Kangra Fort and forced Nagarkot to pay tribute, and did the same with Thatta.[6]

Rather than awarding position based on merit, Tughlaq allowed a noble's son to succeed to his father's position and jagir after his death.[10] The same was done in the army, where an old soldier could send his son, son-in-law or even his slave in his place. He increased the salary of the nobles. He stopped all kinds of harsh punishments such as cutting off hands. He also lowered the land taxes that Muhammad had raised. Tughlaq's reign has been described as the greatest age of corruption in medieval India: he once gave a golden tanka to a distraught soldier so that he could bribe the clerk to pass his sub-standard horse.[11]

Infrastructure and education

Tughlaq instituted economic policies to increase the material welfare of his people. Many rest houses (sarai), gardens and tombs were built. A number of madrasas were opened to encourage literacy. He set up hospitals for the free treatment of the poor and encouraged physicians in the development of Unani medicine.[12] He provided money for the marriage of girls belonging to poor families. He commissioned many public buildings in Delhi. He built Firoz Shah Palace Complex at Hisar in 1354 CE, over 300 villages and dug five major canals, including the renovation of Prithviraj Chauhan era Western Yamuna Canal, for irrigation bringing more land under cultivation for growing grain and fruit. For day-to-day administration, Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq heavily depended on Malik Maqbul, previously commander of Warangal fort, who was captured and converted to Islam.[13] When Tughlaq was away on a campaign to Sind and Gujarat for six months and no news was available about his whereabouts Maqbul ably protected Delhi.[14] He was the most highly favoured among the significant number of the nobles in Tughlaq's court and retained the trust of the sultan.[15] Sultan Feroze Shah Tughlaq used to call Maqbul as 'brother'. The sultan remarked that Khan-i-Jahan (Malik Maqbul) was the real ruler of Delhi.[16]

Hindu religious works were translated from Sanskrit to Persian. He had a large personal library of manuscripts in Persian, Arabic and other languages. He brought 2 Ashokan Pillars from Topara in Ambala district, and Meerut, carefully wrapped in silk, to Delhi. He re-erected one of them in his palace at Feroz Shah Kotla.

Remains of buildings at Firoz Shah Kotla, Delhi, 1795.

Transfer of capital was the highlight of his reign. When the Qutb Minar struck by lightning in 1368 AD, knocking off its top storey, he replaced them with the existing two floors, faced with red sandstone and white marble. One of his hunting lodges, Shikargah, also known as Kushak Mahal, is situated within the Teen Murti Bhavan complex, Delhi. The nearby Kushak Road is named after it, as is the Tughlaq Road further on.[17][18]


His eldest son, Fath Khan, died in 1376. The Sultan then abdicated in August 1387 and made his other son, Prince Muhammad, king. A slave rebellion forced the Sultan to confer the royal title to his grandson, Tughluq Khan.[6]

Tughlaq's death led to a war of succession coupled with nobles rebelling to set up independent states. His lenient attitude had strengthened the nobles, thus weakening the Sultan's position. His successor Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq II could not control the slaves or the nobles. The army had become weak and the empire had shrunk in size. Ten years after his death, Timur's invasion devastated Delhi.

Coin gallery


  1. Tughlaq Shahi Kings of Delhi: Chart The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 369..
  2. Sarkar, Jadunath (1994) [1984]. A History of Jaipur (Reprinted, revised ed.). Orient Blackswan. p. 37. ISBN 978-8-12500-333-5.
  3. Banerjee, Anil Chandra (1983). A New History Of Medieval India. Delhi: S Chand & Company. pp. 61–62.
  4. Tughlaq, Firoz Shah (1949). Futūḥāt-i Fīrūz Shāhī (Reprinted by Aligarh Muslim University ed.). OCLC 45078860.
  5. See Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad (1974). "The Futuhat-i-Firuz Shahi as a medieval inscription". Proceedings of the Seminar on Medieval Inscriptions (6–8th Feb. 1970). Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh: Centre of Advanced Study, Department of History, Aligarh Muslim University. pp. 28–33. OCLC 3870911. and Nizami, Khaliq Ahmad (1983). On History and Historians of Medieval India. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal,. pp. 205–210. OCLC 10349790.
  6. 1 2 3 Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 97–100. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  7. "West Gate of Firoz Shah Kotla". British Library.
  8. Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers. p. 74. ISBN 978-81-269-0123-4.
  9. Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers. pp. 67–76. ISBN 978-81-269-0123-4.
  10. Jackson, Peter (1999). The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-521-40477-8.
  11. Chaurasia, Radhey Shyam (2002). History of Medieval India: From 1000 A.D. to 1707 A.D. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers. p. 75. ISBN 978-81-269-0123-4.
  12. Tibb Firoz Shahi (1990) by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, Department of History of Medicine and Science, Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi, 79pp
  13. Ahmend, Manazir (1978). Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq, 1351–1388 A.D. Allahabad: Chugh Publications. pp. 46, 95. OCLC 5220076.
  14. Kulke, Hermann; Rothermund, Dietmar (1998). A History of India. Routledge. p. 167. ISBN 0-415-15482-0.
  15. Jackson, Peter (1999). The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 186. ISBN 978-0-521-40477-8.
  16. Chandra, Satish (2007). Medieval India; From Sultanat to the Mughals. Har Anand Publications. p. 122. ISBN 81-241-1064-6.
  17. "Indian cavalry's victorious trysts with India's history". Asian Age. 6 December 2011. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012.
  18. "King's resort in the wild". Hindustan Times. 4 August 2012. Archived from the original on 17 June 2013.

External links

Preceded by
Muhammad bin Tughlaq
Sultan of Delhi
Succeeded by
Ghiyas-ud-Din Tughlaq II
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