Women of Tughlaq Dynasty: Khudawandzada

Khudawandzada, the daughter of Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din Tughlaq, had a strong desire to see her son Dawar Malik ascend to the throne after her brother Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. As Muhammad Bin Tughlaq had no male heirs, Khudawandzada believed that Dawar Malik was the rightful heir to the throne. However, the nobles placed the reins of government in the hands of Muhammad's cousin, Firoz.

When the news of Firoz Shah's enthronement reached Khudawandzada Begum, she was outraged and sent a message to the nobles, stating that it was unjust to prefer Firoz over her son. She reminded them that she was the daughter of Sultan Tughlaq and the sister of Sultan Muhammad, and therefore, her son was the rightful heir to the throne. It is said that she used indecorous language to express her displeasure.


The nobles were furious upon receiving Khudawandzada's message and sent Malik Saifu-d din Khoju, a renowned amir, to speak with her. Malik Saif-ud-din addressed her in a polite manner and explained that her son was not fit to govern and that choosing him instead of Firoz Shah would result in dire consequences. He also informed her that they were being pursued by the Mongols and that to alleviate their troubles, she needed to align with their decision. In return, they promised to secure the post of Naib Barbak for her son from Sultan Firoz.

Khudawandzada was left speechless by Malik Saif-ud-din's words. The accession of Firoz Shah took place on 23 March 1351. Eventually, Firoz Shah made his way to the harem where he humbly threw himself at her feet. She embraced him and placed upon his head the family crown, a priceless treasure that had belonged to her father and brother.

From that day on, Firoz Shah would visit Khudawandzada every Friday to pay his respects. The two would sit together on a royal carpet, while Khusru Malik, Khudawandzada's husband, would stand, and Dawar Malik would sit behind her. After their conversations, the Begum would offer Firoz Shah a betel leaf, and the Sultan would depart.

However, the story takes a dark turn. Khudawandzada and Khusru Malik hatched a treacherous plot to murder Firoz Shah in the very palace where he visited them on Fridays.

Plot to Murder Firoz Shah:

Within that palace there was a spacious room with two chambers. Khusru Malik had hidden armed assassins within these chambers. He instructed them to pounce on the Sultan and sever his head from his body the moment Khudawandzada signaled to them. The ungrateful Khusru Malik had also concealed a few armed men behind the wooden gates of the apartment, so as to ensure that if the Sultan managed to escape, these assassins would put an end to his life.

On Friday, Firoz Shah made his customary visit and sat with Khudawandzada on the carpet. Dawar Malik, Khudawandzada's son from her first husband Qazi Sadr-ud-din Ari, was reluctant to participate in this treachery. He occupied the seat behind Khudawandzada and signaled to Firoz Shah to leave as soon as possible. Firoz Shah understood the hint and promptly stood up to depart. However, Khudawandzada insisted that he wait until the pan was served. Firoz Shah made excuses, saying that his son, Fateh Khan, was sick and that he must leave immediately.

Firoz Shah managed to escape the palace unharmed. The assassins in hiding were unaware of what had passed. Once outside, Firoz Shah summoned all the maliks and amirs. They surrounded the apartments of Khudawandzada and Khusru Malik, arrested them, and brought out the ironclad assassins to the presence of Firoz Shah. The assassins replied that they were aware of the Sultan's entry into the apartment, but not known of his departure.

Fate of Khudawandzada:

Despite Khudawandzada's actions, Firoz Shah chose not to punish her severely due to his respect for Sultan Muhammad Tughlaq and his relations. He ordered the retirement and seclusion of Khudawandzada and provided her with a generous allowance. All of her wealth and possessions were confiscated and taken over by the state. Khusru Malik was exiled, and Dawar Malik was directed to present himself before the Sultan on the first of every month, dressed in a cloak and slippers.