Research Article

DOI :10.26650/iutd.1088733   IUP :10.26650/iutd.1088733    Full Text (PDF)

A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469)

Saim Haluk Kortel

The Mālwa Sultanate was established in India as a result of Timur’s invasion of the Delhi Sultanate in 1398. Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I is undoubtedly one of the most important of Sultans of Mālwa, who ruled in two dynasties, namely, Ghurids and Khaljīs. Mahmūdshāh I expanded the borders of his state by successfully engaging in wars with the neighboring states of Gujarāt, Jaunpur, Deccan, Delhī Sultanates and the Rajput states and made Mālwa one of the most powerful states in India. In this article, we examine Mahmūdshāh’s political and military activities.

DOI :10.26650/iutd.1088733   IUP :10.26650/iutd.1088733    Full Text (PDF)

Ortaçağ Hindistanı’nda Bir Türk Hükümdar: Mâlva Sultanı I. Mahmudşah Halacî (1436-1469)

Saim Haluk Kortel

Timur’un 1398’de Delhi Sultanlığı topraklarını istila etmesinin sonucu olarak Hindistan’da kurulan devletlerden biri de Mâlva Sultanlığı’dır. Gūrîler ve Halacîler olmak üzere iki hanedan halinde hüküm süren Mâlva Sultanları’nın en önemlisi hiç kuşkusuz I. Mahmudşah Halacî’dir. Mahmudşah, komşu ülkeler Gucerat, Cavnpur, Dekken, Delhi sultanlıkları ve Racputlar ile başarılı bir şekilde mücadele ederek ülkesinin sınırlarını genişletmiş ve Mâlva’yı Hindistan’ın en güçlü devletlerinden biri yapmıştı. Bu makalede Mahmudşah’ın özellikle siyasi ve askeri faaliyetlerini inceleyeceğiz.


This article explores the life, especially the political and military activities of Mahmūdshāh I, the founder of the Khaljī dynasty, who ruled in the Mālwa region of India during 1436 to 1531.

Mahmūdshāh I is from the Khaladj Turkish tribe, who came to India from Central Asia. He is descended from the same lineage as the Delhi Khaljīs. Malik Mughīth, whose father held high positions, such as commander and vizier in the Mālwa Sultanate, is the sister of Dilāwar Khan Ghūrī, the mother of the founder of the Mālva Sultanate. Because of his intelligence and talent at a young age, Mahmūdshāh attracted the sultan’s attention. Thus, when he was only 16, he was given the title of “khan” by Hūshangshāh, the Sultan of Mālwa (1419). While Hūshangshāh was on his deathbed, he appointed his eldest son Ghaznī Khan as heir to the throne and delegated his responsibility to Mahmūdshāh. In 1436, Ghaznī Khan, who succeeded Hūshangshāh, conspired to have his brother-in-law Mahmūdshāh killed. Mahmūdshāh learned of this conspiracy beforehand and had the sultan poisoned and took control of the administration in Mālwa. He offered his father, Malik Mughīth, the opportunity to become the Sultan of Mālwa. His father, however, declined his offer. Therefore, he took the throne himself (May 1436). Although he faced resistance from the Ghūrid princes and commanders (amīrs and maliks) initially, he asserted his dominance gradually. He appointed some commanders to distant provinces. However, this policy did not yield the expected result. And his rivals started a great revolt in the state. Malik Mughīth was able to suppress this rebellion with much difficulty.

The Gujarat Sultan Ahmadshāh I, who wanted to take advantage of this confusion in Mālwa, entered the Mālwa territory in 1438 to support Mas’ūd Khan. Meanwhile, Omar Khan, the uncle of Mas’ūd Khan, rebelled against the Mahmūdshāh. Mahmūdshāh’s situation became precarious when a large army from Gujarat, under the command of Muhammad Khan, son of the Sultan of Gujarat Ahmadshāh, moved to Chanderi to help Omar Khan. Mahmūdshāh firstly prevented the two sides from uniting, and then defeated and killed Omar Khan and took control of Chanderi. He was relieved when the Sultan of Gujarat returned to his state due to an epidemic that broke out in his army. He ensured that the governor of Narwar, Bahār Khan, was on his side. Mahmūdshāh then started an operation to subdue the Hindu rulers who resisted him in Mālwa and in 1440 ̶ 1442, he compelled the Hindu rulers (mukaddamān) of Kandwa, Kherla, Khirki, Khora, Sarguja, Ratanpur, Raypur accept his superiority. Then, upon the invitation of certain nobels from the Delhi Sultanate, he organized an expedition to the Delhi Sultanate (1442). Although he won the war in Tughluqābād, he quickly retreated when he heard about the news of a rebellion in Mandū (1442).

Relations between the states of Mālwa and Gujarat had been tense since the Mālwa Sultan Hūshangshāh Ghūrī was imprisoned by Muzaffarshāh, the Sultan of Gujarat, during 1406 ̶ 1407. In the first years of Mahmūdshāh’s reign, Ahmadshāh I tried to occupy Mālwa for a while, but they became friends when Mahmūdshāh consolidated his position. Muhammadshāh succeeded to the throne of Gujarat after the death of Ahmadshāh I. Muhammadshāh’s weak character gave Mahmūdshāh the opportunity he had been waiting for to invade Gujarat. Heading directly to Ahmadabad, the center of Gujarat, Mahmūdshāh first saved the Raja of Champaner from Muhammadshāh’s pressure and established good ties with the Raja, creating a buffer zone on the Gujarat border. Then Mahmūdshāh, marching into Gujarat with a large army, captured Sultanpūr, and plundered Nandurbar, Broach, Vadodara. However, he was defeated in the war with the Gujarat army in Kaparbanj (1451). Despite this, Mahmūdshāh continued to raid Gujarat, until the Gujarat Sultan Ahmadshāh II offered peace. Thus, a sense of lasting peace was established with the Sultanate of Gujarat after a long struggle (1452). Meanwhile, there was disagreement with the Jaunpur (Sharqī) Sultanate over the issue of who should have control over the lands of the sultanate. Mahmūdshāh managed to take Rath, Mahoba, Erach as well as rescued Kālpī from the Sharqī Sultanate. In 1457, he attacked the lands of the Bahmanids to expand towards the Deccan. However, when faced with a strong defense, he realized that he could not succeed and decided to withdraw. Eight years later, he entered the Deccan again and defeated the Bahmanī army. However, this time, he had to return after the Gujarat Sultan Mahmūd Begerha lent his support to the Bahmanids. Although Mahmūdshāh, who attacked the Deccan lands again in 1461, briefly had control over the city of Daulatābād, the Gujarat army that came to help the Bahmanids forced him to retreat again. As a result, peace was signed between the two sultanates on the condition that Elichpur was made the border (January 1467).

Mawar ruler Rana Kumbha seized control of the Hadoti region in 1433, taking advantage of the conflict between the Mālwa Sultanate and the Gujarat Sultanate. Rana Kumbha also supported the revolt of Omar Khan against Mahmūdshāh when he ascended the throne. However, at the beginning of 1441, the situation changed in favor of Mahmūdshāh. The asylum of Khem Karan, brother of Kumbha, in the Mālwa Sultanate came up with an excuse for Mahmūdshāh to invade Mawar. He first campaigned against Hadoti and took the region from Rana Kumbha (1442). However, he could not capture Chittorgarh, his main target, despite a long siege. In 1444, he conquered Gagron. Although he could not take Gwalior in his campaigns between 1446 and 1448, he conquered Hadoti. The rulers of Ranthambore, Bayana, Hindaun recognized Mahmūdshāh’s rule. He conquered Ajmer at the request of the Muslim population in 1455. After a long siege, he took the fort of Mandalgarh, something he had long desired to seize (October 20, 1457). Later that year, he made punitive campaigns against Kilwara, Dilwara, Chappan as well as the Gujarat Sultan Qutb al-Din II. Together with Ahmadshāh, he besieged Chittorgarh, which was in the hands of Rana Kumbha. Although Chittorgarh could not be taken, Kumbha, who was defeated at the battle in front, agreed to pay an annual tax. 

In 1466, Mahmūdshāh became the first Mālwa Sultan to receive a robe of honor and diploma (manshūr) from the Abbasid Caliph in Cairo in recognition of being an independent sultan. With Mahmūdshāh’s reputation as a powerful ruler spreading outside India, the Timurid ruler Abū Saīd sent envoys to Mahmūdshāh (1467). The rulers of Mecca and Jeddah often mistreated envoys, pilgrims, merchants (1468). Mahmūdshāh brought this situation to the notice of the Mamlūk Sultan and thus played a crucial role in rectifying the situation.

Mahmūdshāh Khaljī, who spent most of his 33-year reign on the battlefields, fell ill on May 31, 1469 during a campaign against the Raja of Kichiwara. Mahmūdshāh, who considered himself to be a forward-thinking ruler, was accused of being oppressive in his understanding of religion, as he converted several Hindu temples into mosques during his conquests with the Hindu rajas. However, some sources report that he generally did not interfere with the beliefs of non-Muslims and also appointed Hindu officials at higher ranks in his administration. Along with the castles he built in many parts of Mālwa, he also had a palace and a mosque built in Mandū. Mahmūdshāh built hospitals and madrasahs and always encouraged scholars and merchants. It is rumored that he was particularly meticulous about the protection of his crop fields during his expeditions 

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Kortel, S.H. (2022). A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469). Turkish Journal of History, 0(77), 53-105.


Kortel S H. A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469). Turkish Journal of History. 2022;0(77):53-105.


Kortel, S.H. A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469). Turkish Journal of History, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 77, p. 53-105, 2022.

Chicago: Author-Date Style

Kortel, Saim Haluk,. 2022. “A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469).” Turkish Journal of History 0, no. 77: 53-105.

Chicago: Humanities Style

Kortel, Saim Haluk,. A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469).” Turkish Journal of History 0, no. 77 (Jul. 2024): 53-105.

Harvard: Australian Style

Kortel, SH 2022, 'A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469)', Turkish Journal of History, vol. 0, no. 77, pp. 53-105, viewed 21 Jul. 2024,

Harvard: Author-Date Style

Kortel, S.H. (2022) ‘A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469)’, Turkish Journal of History, 0(77), pp. 53-105. (21 Jul. 2024).


Kortel, Saim Haluk,. A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469).” Turkish Journal of History, vol. 0, no. 77, 2022, pp. 53-105. [Database Container],


Kortel SH. A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469). Turkish Journal of History [Internet]. 21 Jul. 2024 [cited 21 Jul. 2024];0(77):53-105. Available from: doi: 10.26650/iutd.1088733


Kortel, SaimHaluk. A Turkish King in Medieval India: Sultan of Mālwa Mahmūdshāh Khaljī I (1436–1469)”. Turkish Journal of History 0/77 (Jul. 2024): 53-105.


Published Online20.07.2022


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