Medieval India: Summary Notes

A. is for History. A1: Rajasthan History, A2: India History.

Medieval India: AD 750 onwards

Eighth to 10th Century (Age of three empires in North India)

  • Pala –East
  • Pratihara – West and Upper Gangetic Valley
  • Rashtrakuta – Deccan-  lasted the longest

For a long time, Kanauj was considered the symbol of political unity of India (like Delhi was later)

  • Founder: Gopala
  • Gopala – Dharmapala – Devpala
  • Dhramapala
    • defeated by Rashtrakuta ruler Dhruva
    • revived Nalanda Univ
    • founded Vikramsila Univ
    • Buddhism developed
  • relations with Tibet and SE Asia


  • Founder: Bhoja
  • Bhoja – Mahendrapala I – Mahipala
  • Bhoja (aka Adivaraha)
    • Capital at Kanauj
  • Mahipala
    • Sankrit poet and dramatist Rajashekhar lived at his court
  • Hostility with Arab and Sindh


  • Founder: Dantidurga
  • Dantidurga – – Govinda III – Amoghvarsha (Jain) – – Indra III – Vallabhraja – Krishna III
  • Capital: Malkhed near Sholapur
  • Amoghvarsha
    • Wrote the first Kannada book on Poetics
    • Capital: Manyakhet
  • Indra III – most powerful ruler of his time
  • Krishna I built Shiva temple at Ellora
  • Apbhransha poet: Svayambhu
  • Princess Chandrobalabbe (daughter of Amoghavarsha) administered Raichur

Chola Empire (9th-12th Century)

  • Founder: Vijayalaya (feudatory of Pallavas)
  • Greatest rulers: Rajaraja – Rajendra I
  • Capital: Tanjaur
  • Built temples: Brihadeshwara temple (Shiva): 1010 AD – Rajaraja
  • Rajendra I
    • Gangaikondachola
    • Capital: Gangaikondacholapuram (near Kaveri mouth)
    • Naval expedition against Sri Vijaya empire (Malay peninsula)
  • Fought constantly with Chalukyas of Kalyani
  • Dravida style of architecture developed (garbhagriha – vimana – mandap)
  • Chalukyan style: Hoysalesvara temple (shiva)
  • Sculpture: Gomteshwara at Sravana Belgola
  • Tirumurai – aka fifth Veda are the collection of writings of Alvar and Nayanar saints
  • Age of Kamban – (late 11th– early 12th century) – golden period of Tamil Nadu
  • Kamban lived at court of Chola king. Wrote Ramayana.
  • Kannada: Pampa, Ponna, Ranna – three gems of Kannada poetry
  • Naniah – began telugu version of Mahabharata. Completed by Tikkanna.

Trade with west declined but with South-East Asia and China increased.
Feudalism grew


  • Declined
  • Became indistinguishable from Hinduism
  • Because of rise of Mahayana Buddhism
  • Palas were patrons but after them it declined


  • Chalukyas of Gujarat & Paramaras of Malwa patronised.
  • Dilwara temples built by Chalukyas
    • Use of marbles. Has 5 temples.
  • Ganga rulers of Karnataka
    • Gomteshwar statue built during this time

Bhakti Movement

  • Led by Nayanars and Alvar saints in the South
  • Originated in Tamil Nadu
  • Major saints: Ravidas, Surdas etc

Lingayat Movement

  • Aka Vir Shaiva movement
  • Founder: Basava and Channabasava
    • Lived at the court of Kalachuri kings of Karnatak
  • Worshippers of Shiva
  • Established after bitter disputes with Jains

Foreign Invasions

Mahmud of Ghazni

  • Hindushahi ruler Jayapala invaded Ghazni with help the son of a former Ghazni governor. He was however defeated.
  • In retaliation, Mahmud Ghazni (998-1030 AD) made 17 raids on India
  • 1001 AD: Mahmud defeated Jayapala and took him prisoner but released. He committed suicide.
  • 1008-09: Battle between Mahmud and Anandpala (Jayapala’s son). Anandapala defeated.
  • Reason for subsequent raids: to get funds to continue his struggle in Central Asia
  • Important raids
    • 1018: Kanauj
    • 1025: Somnath
  • Seljuk empire came into being after Mahmud.


  • Major states
    • Gahadavalas – Kanauj
    • Paramara – Malwa [Ujjain. Dhara]
    • Chauhans – Ajmer
    • Kalachuris – Jabalpur
    • Chandella – Bundelkhand
    • Chalukya – Gujarat
    • Tomars – Delhi
  • Nagara architecture of temples
  • Vastupala : Chalukyan minister built Jain Temples at Mt Abu
  • Ujjain and Dhara: Sanskrit learning
  • Hemachandra: Jain scholar wrote in Sanskrit and Apabhramsha
  • Revival of Sanskrit: used by higher classes again

Mohammad of Ghori

  • Shahabuddin Muhammad (aka Muizzuddin Muhammad)
  • 1191: First battle of Tarain – Ghazni defeated
  • 1192: Second battle of Tarain – Prithviraj defeated.
  • Mohammad left: appointed Qutub-i-din Aibek
  • 1194: Battle of Chandawar: Muhammad Ghori vs Jaichandra of Kanauj. Jaichander lost.
  • Battles of Tarain and Chandawar laid the foundations of the Turkish rule in India.
  • Bakhtiyar Khilji: Muhammad’s Governor of Bengal


Delhi Sultanate (1206-1527)

Slave Dyansty

  • After death of Muhammad Ghori
    • Yalduz succeeded him at Ghori
    • Qutubbdin Aibek succeeded him at Ghazni (1206-1210)
  • Qutubbdin Aibak
    • died after falling from his horse while playing polo
    • two slaves: Iltutmish (son-in-law) and Qubacha
  • Iltutmish (1210-36)
    • Real consolidator of Turkish conquests in India
    • Aibak’s slave Qubacha declared independence of Multan
    • Ousted Qubacha from Multan and Uchch
  • Razia (1236-39)
    • Defeated her wazir Nizam ul Mulk Junaidi
    • Salve: Yakut Khan
  • Balban (1265-86)
    • Aka Ulugh Khan
    • Father in law of the sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud (1246-1266)
    • Authoritarian and despot.
    • Administered justice with impartiality
    • Started sijada and paibos (prostration and kissing monarch’s feet)
    • Bughra Khan was his son who preferred to rule over Bengal

Khalji Dyansty (1290-1320)

  • Jalaluddin Khalji (1290-96)
    • Mitigated the harsh aspects of Balban’s rule
    • Said that state should be based on the support of the ruled. Hence cannot be an Islamic state.
  • Alauddin Khilji (1296-1316)
    • Revered the liberal policies of Jalaluddin towards Hindus
    • Malik Kafur – general, led campaigns in South India
    • Conquered Gujarat, Rajasthan and Deccan
    • Amir Khusrau was his contemporary
  • Alauddin carried out numerous market reforms
    • Fixed the prices of all commodities
    • Setup three markets in Delhi: for foodgrains, costly cloth, horses
    • Each market controlled by an officer called shahna
    • Revenue from Doab region to be paid directly to the state
    • First sultan to pay soldiers in cash
  • Military reforms of Alauddin
    • Regular muster of the armed forces
    • Branding of horses (dagh)
    • Descriptive role of soldiers

Tughlaq Dynasty (1320 – 1412)

  • Mohammad Bin T (1324-51)
    • Secular
    • Giasuddin T died after the wooden platform broke
    • Transfer of capital: Delhi to Deogir (Daulatabad)
    • Token currency
    • Khurasan project – to invade Af-Iran
    • Qarachil expedition – Kumaon hills to counter Chinese incursion
    • Famine – he left Delhi and lived in a camp called Swargadwari on banks of Ganges near Kanauj
    • Diwan-i-amir-ikohi department <agriculture?>
    • Rebellions during the later part
    • Built road from Peshawar to Sonargaon and also to Daulatabad
  • Firuz Tughlaq (1351-88) <longest ruling Delhi sultan>
    • MBT’s rule had left the army and nobles discontented
    • FT adopted policies to appease them
    • Offices and iqta were made hereditary
    • Period of peace
    • Extended the principle of heredity to army as well
    • Imposed jizyah: first ruler to do so
    • Took steps to translate Hindu religious works to Persian
    • Humanitarian measures
    • Set up Public Works department. Canals
    • Built towns: Hissar and Firuzabad
    • Set up a separate department of slaves.
  • After Firuz’s death, the empire shrunk to just Delhi (a popular wit reference)
  • 1398: Timur’s invasion

Sayyid Dyansty (1414-1451)

Lodi Dynasty (1451-1526)

  • Bahlol Lodi – Sikandar Lodi – Ibrahim Lodi


  • Harihara and Bukka – 1336
  • Italian traveller Nicolo Conti visited Vijayanagar in 1420
  • After this dynasty ended, Krishna Deva Raya founded the Tuvalu dynasty
  • 1565: Battle of Talikota (at Banihatta) aka Battle of Rakshasa Tangadi
    • Vijayanagar vs Deccan Sultans
    • Ended the Vijayanagar empire.


  • Alauddin Hasan – 1347 (aka Hasan Gangu)
  • Bahmani ruler Firuz Shah married the daughter of Vijaynagar king Deva Rai I
  • Firuz Shah Bahmani
    • Wanted to make Deccan a cultural centre
    • Inducted Hindus on a large scale
    • Built an observatory near Daulatabad
  • Mahmud Gawan was an important prime minister


  • Ahmed Shah
    • Imposed jizyah
  • Mahmud Begarha

Mughals – Babur & Humayun

  • Ibrahim Lodi succeeded Sikandar Lodi in 1517
  • Daulat Khan Lodi and Rana Sanga invited Babur to displace Ibrahim Lodi in India
  • 1526: Battle of Panipat
  • Gunpowder was used in this battle
  • 1527: Battle of Khanwa between Rana Sanga and Babur
  • Humayun succeeded Babur in 1530
  • He built a new city at Delhi: Dinpanah
  • Built Purana Qila
  • 1539: Battle of Chausa – Sher Shah def Humayun
  • 1540: Battle of Kanauj – Sher Shah def Humayun
  • 1555: Humayun recovered Delhi
  • Died after falling from the first floor of his library

Sher Shah

  • 1540: defeated Humayun at Kanauj
  • 1544: Sher Shah vs Rajputs at the battle of Samel
  • Abbas Khan Sarwani – historian of Sher Shah
  • GT Road from Indus to Sonargaon in Bengal
  • Built a road from Agra to Jodhpur and Chittor; from Lahore to Multan
  • Built sarais
  • Dictum of Shaikh Nazami: “If a merchant should die in your country it is a perfidy to lay hands on his property”. Local village headmen and zamindars were made responsible for any loss that the merchant suffered on the roads.
  • Currency reforms; weights and measures
  • Chehra and dagh system
  • Tomb at Sasaram
  • Malik Md Jaisi during his time
  • Jizyah continued to be implemented.
  • Sher Shah was succeeded by his son Islam Shah in 1545



  • Born at Amarkot in 1542
  • 1556: Second Battle of Panipat – vs Hemu
  • Zabti system of land revenue assessment aka Todar Mal’s bandobast
  • Other land revenue systems: dahsala, batai, ghalla-bakhshi, nasaq
  • Land
    • Polaj – in cultivation every year
    • Parati (fallow) – uncultivated polaj
    • Chachar – fallow for two to three years
    • Banjar – fallow for more than three years
  • Mansabdari system – 1577
  • 1576: Battle of Haldighati with Rana Pratap
  • Birbal was killed in a battle with Afghans

Jahangir (1605-27)

  • Clash between Sikhs and Mughals began with the imprisonment and death of Guru Arjun by Jahangir on a charge of helping rebel prince, Khusrau


  • Issued Zawabit: secular decrees
  • Discontinued the Parsi festival Nauroz
  • Discontinued Jharokha Darshan
  • Reimposed Jizyah in 1679; suspended it in 1705


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