Ala-ud-din Khilji is considered as the greatest ruler of the Khilji dynasty of Delhi. Following Ala-ud-din's death in 1316, his vizier Malik Kafur placed the Sultan's infant son, Shihab-ud-din Omar, on the throne, assuming the role of regent himself. He blinded Ala-ud-din's heir-apparent Khizr Khan and his brother Shadi Khan who were confined in the fort of Gwalior.
Mubarak's Rise to the Throne:
Kafur intended to blind Ala-ud-din's third son, Mubarak, but before he could carry out this nefarious design, he met his death at the hands of Ala-ud-din's paiks (foot-guards). The foot-guards released Mubarak from confinement and appointed him as regent for his brother. Gradually, Mubarak gained support from the maliks and amirs, solidifying his position. Eventually, he overthrew his brother and claimed the throne, assuming the title of Qutb-ud-din (reign: 1316-1320). This event took place on 18 April 1316. Mubarak was only 17 or 18 years old at that time.
Ibn Battuta tells an interesting anecdote about Mubarak: Unlike his brothers, Mubarak had received no attention from his father, Ala-ud-din. While Ala-ud-din gave all of Mubarak's brothers the insignia he gave nothing to Mubarak. One day, Ala-ud-din remarked that he must give Mubarak the same treatment as his brothers. Mubarak replied, "It is God who will give me." Ala-ud-din was alarmed by this answer and feared him.
Shihab-ud-din was blinded and imprisoned in the Gwalior fort. The foot-guards, who had killed Malik Kafur, had become arrogant and were demanding high positions within the court. Mubarak dispersed them into different parts of the country, and executed their leaders, Mubashshir and Bashir.
Even after the fall of Baghdad in 1258, powerful rulers like Ala-ud-din Khilji (r: 1296-1316) continued to inscribe the name of the Khalifa on their coins. Mubarak, for the first time, dropped all reference to the Khalifa in coins and himself assumed the title of Khalifa. He proclaimed Delhi as Dar-ul Khilafat. Mubarak was the first Indian Musalman ruler to introduce square coins.
To gain popularity and win the favor of the people, Mubarak released all prisoners, a staggering number of approximately 17,000, and called back all exiles. He also returned the lands that were confiscated during the previous reign to their rightful owners. Furthermore, Mubarak abolished all forced taxes. In short, the regulations set by his father, Ala-ud-din, were completely disregarded.
Officers of the late Sultan Ala-ud-din remained at their posts. Ghazi Malik Tughlaq successfully kept the Mongols at bay. Mubarak appointed Tughlaq's son, Malik Fakhr-ud-din Jauna, the future Sultan Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, as Amir-i-Akhur, or Master of the Horse.
Similar to his father, Ala-ud-din, Qutb-ud-din Mubarak was also bisexual. A strikingly handsome Baradu slave named Hasan, who was originally a Hindu, became the most influential figure in the kingdom due to the the Sultan's unnatural affection towards him. Bestowing upon him the title of Khusru Khan, Mubarak appointed Hasan as both the commander-in-chief and the vizier of the kingdom. Amir Khusro mentioned that when Hasan was unavailable, his brother Hisam-ud-din would take his place.
Quelling Rebellion in Gujarat
The assassination of the late governor, Alp Khan, by Kafur had sparked a rebellion among the people of Gujarat. During Ala-ud-din's reign Kamal-ud-din Garg, who was sent to quell the rebellion in Gujarat, was slain by the insurgents. Mubarak sent an army led by Ain-ul-Mulk Multani to Gujarat, who routed the insurgents, successfully reclaiming Nahrwala and Gujarat. Mubarak married the daughter of Zafar Khan and appointed him as the governor of Gujarat.
Conquest of Devagiri:
In the second year of his reign, Mubarak led a formidable army to Devagiri, entrusting the role of regent of Delhi to Malik Shahin, entitled Wafa Mulk. Following the death of Ala-ud-din Khilji, Rana Harpaldeva, the son-in-law of the late Raja Ramadeva, had declared his independence at Devagiri. Upon learning of the Sultan's approach, Harpal and Raghu, Ramadeva's minister, fled to the hills. Khusru Khan was sent against them. Harpal Rana was eventually captured and beheaded on the order of Mubarak. Subsequently, Mubarak took control of Devagiri and renamed it Qutbabad, after himself. He then appointed feudatories and revenue collectors to govern the region.
Since Pratapa Rudra Deva, the Raja of Warangal, had not sent his tribute for several years, Mubarak sent Khusru Khan over there. Khusru Khan laid siege to the fort and forced the Raja to seek peace and pay annual tribute.
The road that connected Delhi and Devagiri underwent a remarkable transformation, becoming a scenic route adorned with beautiful willow and other trees. To ensure the comfort and convenience of travelers, three well-equipped rest stations were constructed at every mile along this road. Battuta notes that this road maintains its picturesque charm all the way to Telangana and Ma'bar.
After appointing Yaklakhi as the governor, Mubarak returned to Delhi. At Ghati-Sakun, Asad-ud-din Yaghrish Khan, a cousin of Ala-ud-din Khilji, devised a treacherous plan to assassinate Mubarak and seize the throne for himself. However, one of the conspirators betrayed the plot to Mubarak. The executions of Asad-ud-din and his associates did not satisfy Mubarak, who determined to punish the entire family of Yaghrish Khan. Twenty-nine children, descended from Yaghrish Khan, who were not old enough to come out of their houses, were seized and killed in cold blood.
Assassination of Khizr Khan:
According to Ibn Battuta, when Mubarak set out for Devagiri, some nobles conspired to rebel against him and to place his ten-year-old nephew, the son of his brother Khizr Khan, on the throne. As soon as Mubarak learned of this, he eliminated the threat by executing his own nephew.
On reaching Jhain, he dispatched assassins to Gwalior and put to death the blind princes Khizr Khan, Shadi Khan and Shihab-ud-din. Dewal Devi, Khizr Khan's wife, was seized and brought to Mubarak's harem.
After reaching Delhi, Mubarak undertook the completion of Qasr-i-Nau, the new palace which his father Ala-ud-din had started. He also built a magnificent Jami Masjid and an impressive minaret.
Sometime after Mubarak's return to Delhi, he executed Zafar Khan, the governor of Gujarat, and Shahin Wafa Mulk, without any valid reason. Gujarat was then conferred on Hisam-ud-din.
Although Mubarak had become popular due to his initial works, he gradually succumbed to the allure of wine, revelry, and lust, losing his virtuous qualities.
Mubarak would often appear in public dressed in women's attire. He frequently accompanied low women to dance at the houses of the nobility. He gathered around him prostitutes and jesters who would sit on the terrace of the Hazar Sutun palace, hurling insults and abuses at esteemed nobles.
Rebellions of Hisam-ud-din and Yaklakhi:
Yaklakhi, the governor of Devagiri, revolted. Mubarak sent a substantial force under Khusru Khan to Devagiri, resulting in Yaklakhi's capture. The Sultan ordered the severing of Yaklakhi's ears and nose. Yaklakhi was later on appointed as the governor of Samana. Ain-ul-Mulk Multani was appointed to govern Devagiri.
Around the same time, Hisam-ud-din, in alliance with his relations, incited a rebellion in Gujarat. However, the amirs of Gujarat seized him and sent him to Delhi. Mubarak merely slapped Hisam-ud-din and appointed him as his personal attendant. The government of Gujarat was then entrusted to Wahid-ud-din Quraishi.
The Tragic Fate of Qutb-ud-din Mubarak:
Mubarak favoured musicians greatly. Amir Khusro was one of the first to gain his favour. Khusro composed Nuh sipihr (Nine Heavens), also known as Sultan Namah, a masnavi eulogising Mubarak.
Mubarak's infatuation with Hasan Baradu (Khusru Khan) in fact exceeded that of Ala-ud-din for Malik Kafur, which ultimately led to Mubarak's downfall. In July 1320, after ruling for just over four years, Mubarak met his tragic end at the hands of his beloved.
Though Mubarak was a pleasure-loving king, his reign was free from any serious rebellions and Mongol invasions. With the death of Mubarak Shah, the Khilji dynasty came to an end.