Tarikh-i ‘Alai

Tarikh-i ‘Alai or Khazainu-l Futuh by Amir Khusru
In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 15, pp. 71-97.

  1. Overview

The Tarikh-i ‘Alai, which is also known as the Khazainu-l Futuh, is a short work written in a complex, metaphorical style.  It covers in some detail a relatively short period of time, namely, the period beginning with the ascension of ‘Alâ-ud-dîn to the throne of Delhi in 1296 CE, up to his invasion of Malabar in 1310 CE.

The work was composed by Amir Khusru, who died in 1325 CE, and who not only observed the events described but who may have also participated in some of them.  The work is notable for its frequent use of Hindi words, which is unusual for Persian histories composed at this time.  Manuscripts for this text are rare; one copy is in the library at King’s College, Cambridge.

Sultan ‘Alâ-ud-dîn was the second of the Khiljî Sultans of Delhi.  His uncle and stepfather, Fîrûz Shah, was a high official serving Sultan Muiz-ud-dîn Qaiqabad, the last of the “slave kings” of Delhi.  When the latter was murdered without an heir in 1286 CE, the former was elected sultan, taking the title Sultan Jalâl-ud-dîn.  In 1294 CE his nephew and son-in-law ‘Alâ-ud-dîn gained his permission to lead an expedition against Malwa.  He secretly went much further, invading the Deccan, obtaining tremendous loot.  In 1296 CE, his uncle the Sultan unsuspectingly placed himself in ‘Alâ-ud-dîn’s care.  ‘Alâ-ud-dîn had him beheaded, and then paraded his head around atop a spear.  Following his accession of the throne he engaged in a series of attacks against his neighbors, including those narrated below.  Many of these were carried out by his favorite, Malik Kâfûr.  Overall, he was considered to be an extremely cruel and bloodthirsty ruler; the historian Ziâ-ud-dîn Baranî wrote that “he shed more blood that ever Pharaoh was guilty of.”1  He ruled until his death in 1316 CE, and it was suspected that he was murdered by Malik Kâfûr, who placed ‘Alâ-ud-dîn’s infant son on the throne, and imprisoned, blinded or killed the other members of the royal family.

The first excerpts included herein deal with bloody attacks on Malwa and Chitor, which took place relatively early in his reign.  These were followed by incursions into the Deccan, such as the expedition to Tilang conducted in 1310, in which the Kâkatîya ruler of Warangal, Pratâprudradeva I was besieged in his capital and forced to buy off the reaiders.  These are followed by a lengthy and interesting account of his attack on Malabar in southern India.  This expedition, led by Malik Kâfûr, resulted in their defeat of the Hoysala king, Ballâla III.

  1. Excerpts

1. Conquest of Malwa
2. Conquest of Chitor
3. Conquest of Tilang
4. Conquest of Ma’bar
5. Capture of Madura1.

[p. 80]

Conquest of Malwa

On the southern border of Hindustan, Rai Mahlak Deo, of Malwa, and Koka, his Pardhan, who had under their command a select body of thirty thousand cavalry, and infantry without number, boasting of their large force, had rubbed their eyes with the antimony of pride, and, according to the verse, ‘When fate decrees the sight is blinded,’ had forsaken the path of obedience.  A select army of royal troops was appointed, and suddenly fell on those blind and bewildered men. Victory itself preceded them, and had her eyes fixed upon the road to see when the triumphant army would arrive. Until the dust of the army of Islam arose, the vision of their eyes was closed. The blows of the sword they descended upon them, their heads were cut off and the earth was moistened with Hindu blood.

The accursed Koka, also, was slain, and his head was sent to the Sultan.  His confidential chamberlain, ‘Ainu-l Mulk, was appointed to the Government of Malwa, and directed to expel Mahlak Deo from Mandu, “and to cleanse that old Gabristan from the odour of [p. 81] infidelity.”  A spy showed him a way secretly into the fort, and he advanced upon Mahlak Deo “before even his household gods were aware of it.”  The Rai was slain while attempting to fly.  This event occurred on Thursday, the 5th of Jumada-l awwal, A.H. 7052 (Nov. 1305 A.D.).  ‘Ainu-l Mulk sent a chamberlain to the sultan with a despatch announcing this event.  The sultan returned thanks to God for the victory, and added Mandu to the Government of ‘Ainu-l Mulk.

2.Conquest of Chitor

On Monday, the 8th Jumada-s sani, A.H. 702, the loud drums proclaimed the royal march from Delhi, undertaken with a view to the capture of Chitor.  The author accompanied the expedition.  The fort was taken on Monday, the 11lth of Muharram, A.H. 703 (August, 1303 A.D.).  The Rai fled, but afterwards surrendered himself, and was secured against lightning of the scimitar. The Hindus say that lightning falls wherever there is a brazen vessel, and the face of the Rai had become as yellow as one, through the effect of fear.

After ordering a massacre of thirty thousand Hindus, he bestowed the Government of Chitor upon his son, Khizr Khan, and named the place Khizrabad. He bestowed on him a red canopy, a robe embroidered with gold, and two standards – one  green, and the other black – and  threw upon him rubies and emeralds. He then returned towards Delhi.  “Praise be to God that he so ordered the massacre of all the chiefs of Hind out of the pale of Islam, by his infidel-smiling sword, that if in this time it should by chance happen that a schismatic should claim his right, the pure Sunnis would swear in the name of this Khalifa of God, that heterodoxy has no rights.”

3.Conquest of Tilang (excerpt)

[p. 88]

On Sunday, the 13th, a day dedicated to the sun, the attack was renewed, and cries of “huzza huzz and “khuzza khuzz,” the acclamation of the triumph of holy Warriors arose.  They took fire with them, and threw it into the places of retreat of the Gabrs, who worshipped fire.  By Wednesday, the whole of the outer wall was in possession of the Musulmans.  They then saw the inner fortress, which was built of stone.  You might have said it was the fort of Nai, in which the air is as much lost as in a reed.  When the army reached the inner ditch, they swam across it, and commenced a vigorous attack on one of the stone bastions, which so alarmed Rai Laddar Deo that he offered terms of capitulation.  He despatched confidential messengers to offer an annual payment of tribute: and sent a golden image of himself, with a golden chain round Its neck, In acknowledgment of his submission. “When the messengers of the Rai came before the red canopy, which is the honored harbinger of victory and triumph, they rubbed their yellow faces on the earth till the ground itself acquired their colour, and they drew out their tongues in eloquent Hindui more cutting than a Hindi sword, and they delivered the message of the Rai.

The idol-breaking Malik comprehended the gilding of the Hindus, and paid no regard to their glozing speech and would not look towards that golden image, but he (“a part of the second Alexander”) ordered his officers to take the gold that was brought and suspend operations against the fort.  He demanded, in reply everything that [p. 89] the Rai’s country produced from vegetables, mines, and animals. On this condition the fort-taking Malik stretched forth his right hand, and placed his sword in his scabbard, and struck his open hand, by way of admonition, so forcibly on the backs of the basiths that he made them bend under the blow.  They hastened to the fort, trembling like quick-silver.  The Rai was engaged all night in accumulating his treasures and wealth, and next morning his officers returned with elephants, treasures, and horses, before the red canopy, which is the dawn of the eastern sun; and the Malik, having summoned all the chiefs of the army, sat down in a place which was found in front of the exalted throne, and every other officer found a place in the assembly according to his rank. The common people and servants assembled in a crowd.  He then sent for the basiths of the Rai, and directed them to place their faces on the ground before the canopy, the shadow of God; and the elephants were placed in front of that assembly, to be exhibited for presentation.

The Malik took the entire wealth of the Rai which was brought, and threatened a general massacre, if it should be found that the Rai had reserved anything for himself.  An engagement was then entered into that the Rai should send jizya annually to Dehli. The Malik left Arangal on the l6th of Shawwal (March, 1310 A.D.) with all his booty, and a thousand camels groaned under the weight of the treasure.  He arrived at Dehli on the 11th of Muharram, A.H. 710, and on Tuesday, the 24th, in an assembly of all the chiefs and nobles on the terrace of Nasiru-d din, the plunder was presented, and the Malik duly honoured.


[p. 90]

The Conquest of Ma’bar

The tongue of the sword of the Khalifa of the time, which is the tongue of the flame of Islam, has imparted light to the entire darkness of Hindustan by the illumination of its guidance; and on one side an iron wall of royal swords has been raised before the infidel Magog-like Tatars, so that all the God-deserted tribe drew their feet within their skirts amongst the hills of Ghazni, and even their advance-arrows had not strength enough to reach into Sind.  On the other side so, much dust arose from the battered temple of Somnat that even the sea was not able to lay it, and on the right hand and on the left hand the army has conquered from sea to sea, and several capitals of the gods of the Hindus, in which Satanism has prevailed since the time of the Jinns, have been demolished. All these impurities of infidelity have been cleansed by the Sultan’s destruction of idol-temples, beginning with his first holy expedition against Deogir, so that the flames of the light of the law illumine all these unholy countries, and places for the criers to prayer are exalted on high, and prayers are read in mosques. God be praised!

But the country of Ma’bar, which is so distant from the city of Dehli that a man travelling with all expedition could only reach it after a journey of twelve months, there the arrow of any holy warrior had not yet reached; but this world-conquering king determined to carry his [p. 91] army to that distant country, and spread the light of the Muhammadan religion there.  Malik Naib Barbak was appointed to command the army for this expedition, and a royal canopy was sent with him. The Malik represented that on the coast of Ma’bar were five hundred elephants, larger than those which had been presented to the Sultan from Arangal, and that when he was engaged in the conquest of that place he had thought of possessing himself of them, and that now, as the wise determination of the king had combined the extirpation of idolaters with this object, he was more than ever rejoiced to enter on this grand enterprise.

The army left Dehli on the 24th of Jumada-l akhir, A.H. 710 (Nov. 1310 A.D.) and after marching by the bank of the Jun (Jumna) halted at Tankal for fourteen days.  While on the bank of the river at that place, the Diwan of the ‘Ariz-i Mamalik took a muster of the army.  Twenty and one days the royal soldiers, like swift grey-hounds, made lengthened marches, while they were making the road short, until they arrived at Kanhun; from that, in seventeen more days, they arrived at Gurganw.  During these seventeen days the Ghats were passed, and great heights, and depths were seen amongst the hills, where even the elephants became nearly invisible.  And three large rivers had to be crossed, which occasioned the greatest fears in their passage.  Two of them were equal to one another, but neither of them equalled the Nerbadda.

After crossing those rivers, hills, and many depths, the Rai of Tilang sent twenty-three powerful elephants, for the royal service.  For the space of twenty days the victorious army remained at that place, for the purpose of sending on the elephants, and they took a muster of the men present and absent, until the whole number was counted.  And, according to the command of the king, they suspended swords from the standard poles, in order that the inhabitants of Ma’bar might be aware that the day of resurrection had arrived amongst them; and that [p. 92] all the burnt3 Hindus would be despatched by .the sword to their brothers in hell, so that fire, the improper object of their worship, might mete out proper punishment to them.

The sea-resembling army moved swiftly, like a hurricane, to Ghurganw.4  Everywhere the accursed tree, that produced no religion, was found and torn up by the roots, and the people who were destroyed were like trunks, carried along in the torrent of the Jihun, or like straw tossed up and down in a whirlwind, and carried forward.  When they reached the Tawi (Tapti), they saw a river like the sea.  The army crossed it by a ford quicker than the hurricane they resembled, and afterwards employed itself in cutting down jungles and destroying gardens.

On Thursday, the 13th of Ramazan, the royal canopy cast its shadow on Deogir, which under the aid of heaven had been protected by the angels, and there the army determined to make all preparations for extirpating Billal Deo and other Deos (demons).  The Rai Rayan, Ram Deo, who had heard safety to Satan proclaimed by the dreadful Muhammadan tymbals, considered himself safe under the protection secured to him; and, true to his allegiance, forwarded with all his heart the preparations necessary for the equipment of the army sent by the Court, so as to render it available for the extermination of rebels and the destruction of the Bir and Dhur Samundar.5  The city was adorned in honour of the occasion, and food and clothes plentifully supplied to the Musulmans.

[p. 93]

Dalwi, a Hindu, who had been sent on to hold the gates of access to the Bir and Dhur Samundar, was directed by the Rai Rayan to attend on the Musulma:n camp and he was anxious to see the conquest of the whole of Dhur Samundar by the fortunate devotees of the Ka ‘ba of religion.  The Muhammadan army remained for three days, and on the 17th departed, from the Imanabad Deogir to the Kharababad of Paras Deo Dalvi,6 in five stages, in which three large rivers were crossed, Sini, Godavari, and Binhur,7 and other frightful rivers; and after five days arrived at Bandri, in the country (ikta’) of Paras Deo Dalvi, who was obedient to his exalted Majesty, and desired that, by the force of the arms of the victorious Muhammadan soldiers, Bir Dhul and Bir Pandya8 might be reduced, together with the seas which encircle them, into one cup.9

Here he stayed to make inquiries respecting the countries in advance, when he was informed that the two Rais of Ma’bar, the eldest named Bir Pandya, the youngest Sundar Pandya, who had up to that time continued on [p. 94] friendly terms, had advanced against each other with hostile intentions, and that Billal Deo, the Rai of Dhur Samundar, on learning this fact, had marched for the purpose of sacking their two empty cities, and plundering the merchants; but that, on hearing of the advance of the Muhammadan army, he had returned to his own country.

On Sunday, the 23rd, after holding a council of hi chief officers, he took a select body of cavalry with him, and pressed on against Billal Deo, and on the 5th of Shawwal reached the fort of Dhur Samund,10 after difficult march of twelve days over the hills and valley: and through thorny forests.

The fire-worshipping Rai, when he learnt that his idol temple was likely to be converted into a mosque, despatched Kisu Mal to ascertain the strength and circumstances of the Musulmans, and he returned with such alarming accounts that the Rai next morning despached Balak Deo Naik to the royal canopy to represent that “your slave Billal Deo is ready to swear allegiance to the mighty emperor, like Laddar Deo and Ram Deo, and whatever the Sulaiman of the time may order, I am ready to obey. If you desire horses like demons, and elephants like afrits, and valuables like those of Deogir, they are all present.  If you wish to destroy the four walls of this fort, they are, as they stand, no obstacle to your advance.  The fort is the fort of the king; take it.” The commander replied that he was sent with the object of converting him to Muhammadanism, or of making him a Zimmi.. and subject to pay tax, or of slaying him, if neither of these terms were assented to.  When the Rai received this reply, he said he was ready to give up all he possessed, except his sacred thread.

[p. 95]

On Friday, the 6th of Shawwal, the Rai sent Balak Deo Naik, Narain Deo, and Jit Mal, with some other basiths, to bow before the royal canopy, and they were accompanied by six elephants.  Next day some horses followed.  On Sunday, Billal Deo, the sun-worshipper, seeing the splendour of the sword of Islam over his head, bowing down his head, descended from his fortress, and came before the shadow of the shadow of God; and, trembling and heartless, prostrated himself on the earth, and rubbed the forehead of subjection on the ground.

He then returned to fetch his treasures, and was engaged all night in taking them out, and next day brought them before the royal canopy, and made them over to the king’s treasurer.

The commander remained twelve days in that city, which is four month’s distance from Dehli, and sent the captured elephants and horses to that capital.

On Wednesday, the 18th of Shawwal, the Malik beat his drums, and loaded his camels for his expedition to Ma’bar, and after five days arrived at the mountains whicll divide Ma’bar from Dhur Samundar.  In this range there are two passes – one Sarmali, and the other Tabar.  After traversing the passes, they arrived at night on the banks of the river Kanobari, and bivouacked on the sands.  Thence they departed for Birdhul, and committed massacre and devastation all round it.  The Rai Bir showed an intent of flying for security to his islands in the ocean, but as he was not able to attempt this, his attendants counselled him to fly by land.  With a small amount of treasure and property, he deserted the city, and fled to Kandur, and even there he dare not remain, but again fled to the jungles.

Thither the Malik pursued the yellow-faced Bir,11 and at Kandur was joined by some Musulmans who had been subjects of the Hindus, now no longer able to offer them protection.  They were half Hindus, and not strict [p. 96] in their religious observances, but as they could repeat the kalima, the Malik of Islam spared their lives.  Though they were worthy of death, yet, as they were Musulmans, they were pardoned.

After returning to Birdhul, he again pursued the Raja to Kandur, and took one hundred and eight elephants, one of which was laden with jewels.  The Rai again escaped him, and he ordered a general massacre at Kandur. It was then ascertained that he had fled to Jalkota, an old city of the ancestors of Bir.  There the Malik closely pursued him, but he had again escaped to the jungles, which the Malik found himself unable to penetrate, and he therefore returned to Kanaur, where he searched for more elephants.  Here he heard that in Brahmastpuri there was a golden idol, round which many elephants were stabled.  The Malik started on a night expedition against this place, and in the morning seized no less man two hundred and fifty elephants.  He then determined on razing the beautiful temple to the ground, –You might say that it was the Paradise of Shaddad, which, after being lost, those hellites had found, and that it was the golden Lanka of Ram.  The roof was covered with rubies and emeralds,-in short, it was the holy place of the Hindus, which the Malik dug up from its foundations with the greatest care, and the heads of the Brahmans and idolaters danced from their necks and fell to me ground at their feet, and blood flowed in torrents.  The stone idols called Ling Mahadeo, which had been a long time established at that place, quibus, mulieres infidelium pudenda sua affricant,12 these, up to this time, the kick of the horse of Islam had not attempted to break.  The Musulmans destroyed all the lings, and [p. 97] Deo Narain fell down, and the other gods who had fixed their seats there raised their feet, and jumped so high that at, one leap they reached the fort of Lanka, and in that affright the lings themselves would have fled had they had any legs to stand on.  Much gold and valuable jewels fell into the hands of the Musulmans, who returned to the royal canopy, after executing their holy project on the 13th of Zi-l ka’da, 710 H. (April, 1311 A.D.).  They destroyed all the temples at Birdhul, and placed the plunder in the public treasury.

5.Capture of Southern Mathra (Madura)

After five days, the royal canopy moved from Birdhul on Thursday. the 17th of Zi-l ka’da, and arrived at Kham, and five days afterwards they arrived at the city Mathra (Madura), the dwelling-place of the brother of the Rai Sundar Pandya.  They found the city empty, for the Rai had fled with the Ranis, but had left two or three elephants in the temple of Jagnar (jagganath).  The elephants were captured and the temple burnt.

When the Malik came to take a muster of his captured elephants they extended over a length of three parasangs, and amounted to five hundred and twelve, besides live thousand horses, Arabian and Syrian, and five hundred mans of jewels of every description-diamonds, pearls, emeralds, and rubies.

Return to Delhi

On Sunday, the 4th of Zi-l hijja, 710 H. Malik Kafur, accompanied by his army, returned towards Dehli with all the plunder and arrived in safety on Monday, the 4th of Jumada-s Sani, 711 H.  Sultan ‘Alau-d din held a public darbar in front of the Golden Palace, and all the nobles arid chiefs stood on the right and on the left, according to their rank.  Malik Naib Kafur Hazar-dinari, with the officers who had accompanied him, were presented to the Sultan, before whom the rich booty was exhibited.  The Sultan was much gratified, loaded the warriors with honour, and the darbar was dissolved.


  1. Cited in Vincent A. Smith,The Oxford History of India(Oxford 1919), p. 245.
  2. Sic: either the date is wrong or the event is taken out of chronological order.  Firishta places it is 704 H.
  3. sokhta,literally “burnt,” but also signifying consumed by trouble.
  4. Here spelt with anhin the first syllable.
  5. Dwara-samudra was the capital of the Bellala rajas, and Vira Narasinha was the name of the prince who was overthrown in this invasion.  See Wilson’sMackenzie Collection, Int., p. cxiii.; Buchanan’sMysore iii., pp. 391, 474; Thomas Prinsep’s Useful Tables, p. 267.
  6. Dalwi is perhaps meant for an inhabitant of Tuluva, the modern Canara.
  7. No doubt the present Sina and Bhima, but the position of the Godavari is transposed.
  8. This should signify Bir (Vira) the Raja of Dwarasamudra and Vira the Raja of Pandya; but there was evidently a confusion in the mind of the writer as to persons and Places, as seen in this passage.  In another place he says “the fort which is called Bir and Dhur Samundar.”  Wassaf calls the Pandya raja “Tira Pandi,” and makes a pun on this name, calling him “tira-bakht,” showing that he did not know the real name.
  9. There is great punning here about wells (bir) and bu.ckets (dalvi), which is impossible to render into English so as to make it comprehensible.
  10. The author spells it bothsamundarand samund – here he makes it rhyme with kund an tund; in another place he puns upon samundar as the name of a salamander.
  11. The Rai is here frequently called Bir.
  12. Allusive to a practice, which it is unnecessary to particularize more closely, which is said to be still much observed among the Khattris, and which Hindus in general repudiate, attributing at the same time to the Saraogis.