Muhammad bin Tughlaq and his ambitious projects

The Khilji dynasty came to an end when Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, the Governor of Dipalpur, became the Sultan of Delhi. He was succeeded by his son Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

Muhammad bin Tughlaq

Muhammad bin Tughlaq was one of the most remarkable rulers of his age. He was a great scholar and a lover of Persian literature, music, fine arts, and calligraphy. He is known for some of his schemes and policies which failed disastrously over a period of time.

Ambitious Projects of Muhammad bin Tughlaq

Transfer of Capital

The most controversial step which Muhammad bin Tughlaq undertook soon after his accession was the so-called Transfer of Capital from Delhi to Daulatabad. 

Reasons behind the Transfer of Capital

  • Daulatabad was centrally located and was equidistant from Delhi and other important places.
  • Because Delhi was within the reach of the Mongols, Daulatabad appeared to be at a safe distance from the possible Mongol attacks in the future.

It is said that he ordered most people of Delhi to shift to Daulatabad. There was resentment among the people as they did not want to shift from Delhi.

Consequences of the Transfer of the Capital

  • Because the 1,500 km journey was arduous, many people died on the way, and the survivors were not able to adjust to the new conditions.
  • Without the king, Delhi now became prone to Mongol attacks. Later, Muhammad bin Tughlaq shifted his capital back to Delhi.

Token Currency

  • Muhammad bin Tughlaq is criticized for his failed experiment with the token currency. The scarcity of silver and the abundance of copper and bronze prompted the Sultan to issue copper coins bearing the same value as that of silver coins.
  • However, the new copper coins bearing the same value as the silver coins did not have any complicated designs and they could be easily forged.
  • People started minting coins in their houses. The forged copper coins flooded the markets. The situation became worse when the traders and merchants refused to accept these coins. The economy came to a standstill.
  • Realizing his folly, Muhammad bin Tughlaq issued genuine silver coins in place of the copper coins. This further drained the royal treasury.

Taxation in Doab

  • Doab is a fertile alluvial tract lying between Rivers Ganga and Yamuna. Muhammad Tughlaq increased the taxes in the Doab region as he was in need of money for raising a large army.
  • Unfortunately, the increase in taxes coincided with a severe famine in the region. The tax collectors however showed no signs of mercy and ruthlessly collected taxes.
  • Unable to pay the taxes, peasants abandoned their lands and fled to forests.
  • When the plight of peasants reached Muhammad Tughlaq, he ordered several relief measures. He opened free kitchens and distributed free grains. However, these measures came too late and agriculture greatly suffered in the region. Thus, his scheme of taxation in Doab failed.

Proposed Khurasan Expedition

The Sultan had a vision of universal conquest. He decided to conquest Khursan and Iraq and mobilized a huge army for the purpose. He was encouraged to do so by Khurasani nobles who had taken shelter in his court. Moreover, there was instability in Khurasan on account of the unpopular rule of Abu Said.

Quarachil expedition

This expedition was launched in Kumaon Hills in the Himalayas allegedly counter Chinese incursions. It also appears that the expedition was directed against some refractory tribes in the Kumaon Garhwal region to bring them under Delhi Sultanate. The first attack was a success, but the invaders suffered terribly when the rainy season set in.

His five projects had led to revolts all around his empire. His last days were spent checking the revolts (altogether 36 revolts in 25 years).

Also, Read Administration of Delhi Sultanate

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