Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji

Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji

Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji (Bengali ইখতিয়ার উদ্দিন মুহম্মদ বখতিয়ার খলজী,Persian اختيار الدين محمد بن بختيار الخلجي), also known as "Malik Ghazi Ikhtiyaru 'l-Din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji", a member of the Turko-Mongolian Khiljis of India, who was head of the turkic slave armies that invaded and conquered part of northeastern India.

He was one of the military generals of Qutb-ud-din Aybak. Muhammad Khilji conquered Bihar in 1193. His troops destroyed the famous Buddhist university at Nalanda (in modern Bihar State) in the year 1193. Later, he also brought Bengal’s ruler Lakshman Sen under his authority, and captured his capital in 1205. He is considered to be the first Muslim ruler of Bengal.

Early life

Khalji's background is not fully known but reflects the life of a Turkic slave from Afghanistan. His forefathers once invaded from central Asia either with the Hephtalithes or with the Kök-Turks, modern-day Pakistan and north-west India. During the Persian Samanid rule different Turkic tribes became slaves of Central Asia's Iranic dynasties, including the Ghaznavids. The Ghaznavids, once themselves former slaves of the Persian Samanids and Saffavids, were recruting Turkic nomads as soldiers from Central Asia. By expanding their rule to India and fighting against the remnants of the so-called "Turki-Shahis", once rulers of Kabul, they could stretch their power beyond them and also fight other Turkish tribes that had moved between 500 A.D - 1000 A.D to the Indian Subcontinent . With time they began to spread Islam to India and by making slaves and recruting them as soldiers they began to Islamize and educate them to a certain part, mostly in fighting. Apart from these tribes there were also the Khalji-Turks who were enslaved and later recruited by the Ghaznavids as soldiers. When the father of the Ghaznavids, Mohammad Sebuetgin, a former Turkic slave of the Persian Samanids who were ruling over large parts of Central Asia, including western Pakistan, came to power he brought some of them to Ghazni from western parts of the Punjab where they were living a nomadic existence. By recruiting the Khaljis they were also able to Islamize a lesser number of Turks. When the Persians of Ghor rose against the Ghaznavids, Mohammad Ghauri, also known as Jahanzos (Persian:"worldburner"), destroyed, burned and looted in Ghazni, made the Turks his slaves and became their ruler and at the same time also drove them out of the area of Central Asia known as Khorasan. Some Turkic slave became direct servants of the Ghurids like Qutubuddin Aybak who was known as "Father of Turks" since he had the most power of all of them. Under Aybak, still many Turks were pagans and acted as slaves, mostly as soldiers. In Delhi, Aybak established the Mamluk (Slave) dynasty. Here the history of Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, the Turkic general of Aybak begins. He approached India in about the year 1193 AD. After the death of Aybak he took the control of Aybak's heritage and was managing his fights against the Mongol hordes that came from Central Asia.


Khalji's subjugated Bihar in 1203 CE. This effort earned him political clout in the court at Delhi. It was during this invasion that the ancient Buddhist universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred by Khalji's forces.

But the greatest credit to his record was his conquest of Bengal in the following year which marks the beginning of Muslim rule in this part of the subcontinent. As he came upon the city of Nadia, it is claimed by Muslim poets that he advanced so rapidly that only 18 horsemen from his army could keep up and that once in the city they were mistaken for horsetraders, allowing them to surprise Raja Lakshman Sen in the middle of a meal. The latter fled out the palace's back door in bare feet. The historicity of this dramatic conquest, however, is greatly disputed by modern historians.

Khalji went on to capture the capital Gaur, and conquered other parts of Bengal but, a large part of East and South Bengal remained independent and the descendants of Lakshman Sen continued to rule from Bikrampur. Khilji led a disastrous campaign into Tibet, and died in 1206 CE while on the retreat.


Bengali poet Al Mahmud composed a book of poetry titled "Bakhtiyarer Ghora" meaning Horses of Bakhtiyar in early 1990's depicting Khaljee as the praiseworthy figurehead of conquest of Bengal.


*Sir Jadunath Sarkar, "History of Bengal, II" (Dhaka, 1948)
* History of the Muslims of Bengal - Volume 1A: Muslim Rule in Bengal (600-170/1203-1757), By- Muhammad Mohar Ali, Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, Department of Culture and Publications.
* [http://www.banglapedia.net/HT/B_0068.HTM Bakhtiyar Khalji] , Banglapedia
* [http://banglapedia.org/HT/S_0199.HTM Sena Dynasty] , Banglapedia

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