Military Reforms of Alauddin Khilji – Essay

The reign of Alauddin Khalji is considered significant due to his military reforms. Barani has written in this context, “Kingship is maintained by two pillars—first is administration and second is conquest. Both pillars are supported by the army. Kingship is the army and the army Kingship.”

Prior to Alauddin there was no permanent army at the centre and the Sultans had to depend on the armies of the governors and Jagirdars. Alauddin removed this severe defect. He maintained a powerful army at the centre so that the revolts could be crushed at the outset and the Mongo’ invasion could, be repulsed effectively.

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As the provincial governors and officers deceived the centre regarding recruitment and training of the soldiers. Alauddin organ­ized his army under the following categories.

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1. Bodyguards were appointed by the Sultan himself and they remained under his direct control.

2. Permanent soldiers were also recruited by the Sultan and they remarried in the capital under his direct control.

3. The army of the provincial governors which could be called by the Sultan at the time of need.


4. Newly recruited soldiers who joined the army due to their greed for booty. They were generally Muslims and recruited at the time of war.

Alauddin realized, the need of a powerful army and he endea­voured to remove the defects in the old military system. He was the first Muslim ruler who introduced significant reforms to improve the standard of army and to make it powerful, disciplined and well- organized.

The Sultan enhanced the number of his soldiers. Ferishta also remarks, “He raised an army of 4,75,000. The army consisted chiefly of cavalry, infantry and elephants, but the chief strength of the army lay in cavalry.”

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He paid special attention to the recruitment of the soldiers and only those were employed who had skill in the handling of arms. Horses and arms were supplied to the soldiers and cash salaries were paidjo them from the royal treasury. The soldier who had one horse (Yakaspa) was given; 234 Tankas per year while a soldier who maintained Two horses (Do aspa) was paid 78 tankas more in addition to 234 tankas.

Besides cavalry,” elephants were also used in the war. Swords, bows, arrows, maces, battle-axes and daggers were the signi­ficant weapons which were used at the time of war. The use of catapults (stone throwing machines’) was also in vogue.

Alauddin knew it well that the provincial governors and Jagir­dars did not maintain the requisite army nor they kept the required horses. At the time of war when the Sultan demanded, they recruited untrained soldiers and sent them to the Sultan along with some regular soldiers instead of going to the battlefield themselves; such casual and untrained soldiers weakened the royal army.

Alauddin wanted to eliminate these weak points. He introduced Huliya (descriptive roll) of each soldier and Dag (branding of horses). It was done to check the forgery of the nobles or soldiers. Occasionally, the inspection of the armies was made and the arms of the soldiers were checked to avoid all discrepancies.

The north-west frontier of India always caused worry. Balban had taken some steps to strengthen the frontier and got some forts constructed there. He had also provided” some Chawkies on the frontiers and kept powerful Afghan soldiers there. Alauddin repaired these forts. He constructed some new forts at Kampil, Patiali and Bhojpur. He also kept troops in the forts with ample food grains and other provisions so that at the time of need they could fight against the enemy with confidence. Taking into consideration the constant invasions of Mongols he got the forts of Delhi and Siri strengthened further. Alauddin’s defensive measures were so effective that the Mongols could not achieve success against him and ultimately, being frightened, they gave up the idea to invade India.

Although Alauddin Khalji could not achieve an easy victory against Ranthambhor, Warangal and Mongols in the beginning of his reign, yet after making reforms in his military system, he attained victory against north and south India. He also achieved success against Mongols. Peace and order was restored in the Sultanate as a result of the organization of a powerful army.

No doubt, the military reforms of Alauddin proved fruitful but there was no originality in them. He merely followed the policy of Balban, executing it in his own way, and thereby achieving success.


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