Not many people in India knew about Alauddin Khilji. However after trailer of Sanjya Leela Bhansali’s Padamavthi, which is now Padmavaat was released, everyone wanted to know the story of the apparently barbaric and maniac king who was shown in the trailer as a total madman. A lot of people still don’t know much about the Turk ruler.
Alauddin Khilji was born Ali Garshasp to Shihabuddin Masud and had 3 brothers. He was born in the year 1266-1267 in Birbhum district in West Bengal. After his parents passed away, Khilji and his brothers were brought up by their uncle and the 1st ruler of the Khilji dynasty, Jalaluddin Khilji. Alauddin married Jalaluddin’s daughter and later on murdered his father in law to take over the throne of the Delhi Sultanate.
At the heights of his power, the Khilji dynasty ruled major parts of Afghanistan till Bihar and from Kashmir till Karnataka. He married 4 times.
He is said to have introduced groundbreaking market, agrarian and military reforms that helped the farmers and peasants of India. He levied no extra cess on the farmers and cut zamindars and landowners out of the loop from the tax system. He directly collected tax from the farmers and that left them free from the hands of zamindars. He also kept a large standing army ranging from hundreds of thousands. He also banned drinking, gambling and drug consumption from the public view in the later years of his life. Although Islam bans alcoholic drinks, drinking was common among the Muslim royals and nobles of the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th century, and Alauddin himself was a heavy drinker. As part of his measures to prevent rebellions, Alauddin imposed prohibition, because he believed that the rampant use of alcoholic drinks enabled people to assemble, lose their senses and think of rebellion.
Alauddin is also said to have banned prostitution, and ordered all existing prostitutes of Delhi to be married. He reportedly classified prostitutes into three grades, and fixed their fees accordingly.
It is also said that Khilji was in fact a bisexual and had a soft corner for Malik Kafur, a slave-kid he brought from the “Bachcha Bazaar” in Gujarat after being mesmerized by his beauty. Kafur was captured by Khalji forces in 1299. Kafur then caught the fancy of Sultan Alauddin. A deep emotional bond developed between the two. During his reign (even before his illness), Alauddin was infatuated with Kafur, distinguished him above all his other friends and helpers, and Kafur held the highest place in his regards.
The former bodyguards of Alauddin disapproved of Kafur’s actions against the family of their deceased master. Led by Mubashshir, Bashir, Saleh, and Munir, these bodyguards decided to kill Kafur. When Kafur became suspicious about a conspiracy against him, he summoned Mubashshir to his room. Mubashshir, who was permitted to carry his arms in the royal quarters since Alauddin’s days, wounded Kafur with his sword. His associates then entered the room, and beheaded Kafur, also killing 2-3 gatekeepers who attempted to protect Kafur.
It is also said that he had a zenana of more than 70,000 males, females and children of which 30,000 women were widows of the men his armies had killed. It is alleged that Rani Padmavati was a beautiful princess from the Singhal Kingdom in Sri Lanka and after Ratan Sen, the ruler of Chittor, heard about her from a talking parrot, he won her hand after an adventurous quest. Khilji also heard about her beauty and planned to capture Chittor and Padmavai in order to make her his royal consort. He also falsely befriended Ratan Sen to capture Padmavati.
After Padmavati committed Jauhar along with other Rajput women, he was haunted by the wails of the women of Chittor for the rest of his life and went mad. It is said he died in January 1316 in Delhi and is buried in the Qutub Complex in Mehrauli, Delhi.