The Rihla Book 6

India - Nine Years in Dehli 1333 - 1342

Rihla 6, 1333

Indian Sukhrawardi Derwishes.
Photo Umair Ghani,

Bakar is a fine city intersected by a channel from the river of Sind. In the middle of this canal there is a hospice at which travellers are entertained by their Sufi hosts. Thereafter I travelled from Bakar to the large town of Uja [Uch].

Battuta now traveled north along the left bank, the Indian side of the Indus. He would join the usual caravan route to Delhi in Multan.

Rihla 6, 1333

Cemetery and Mausoleum (restored) of Bibi Jawindi.
Obviously a copy of the mausoleum at Multan.
Photo Shahzad Hussain, Panoramio

The governor of Ujar at the time was the excellent king Sharif Jalal ad-Din al-Kiji, a gallant and generous man. We formed a strong affection for one another, and met later on at the capital, Delhi. When the sultan left for Dawlat Abad and bade me remain in the capital, Jalal ad-Din said to me "You will require a large sum for your expenses and the sultan will be away for a long time, so take my village and use its revenues until I return." I did so and gained about five thousand dinars—may God give him richest recompense ! From Uja I travelled to Multan, the capital of Sind and residence of the principal amir.

Rihla 6 ,1333

Multan, the Mausoleum of the Suhrawardi saint Shaykh Rukn al-Din Abdul Fath
It is said to have been first built by Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq (1320-1325) for himself, yet was later dedicated to the saint by Firuz Shah Tughluq (reg. 1351-1388) at the request of Shaykh Sadr al-Din Muhammad, Shaykh Rukn's adopted son and spiritual successor.
Text and Photo

Border Formalities at Multan
On the road to Multan and ten miles distant from it is the river called Khusraw Abad, a large river that cannot be crossed except by boat. At this point the goods and baggage of all who pass are subjected to a rigorous examination. Their custom at the time of our arrival was to take a quarter of everything brought in by the merchants, and exact a duty of seven dinars for every horse. The idea of having my baggage searched was very disagreeable to me, for there was nothing valuable in it, though it seemed a great deal in the eyes of the people. By the grace of God there arrived on the scene one of the principal officers from the governor of Multan, who gave orders that I should not be subjected to examination or search.

Two months after we reached Multan one of the [local] sultan's household officers and the chief of police arrived to arrange for the journey of the new arrivals [to Delhi]. They came to me together and asked me why I had come to India. I replied that I had come to enter the service of the Khund Alam [" Master of the World "], as sultan Muhammad Tughluq is called in his dominions.

When I had given my answer they called the qadi and notaries and drew up a document witnessing to my undertaking and those of my company who wished to remain in India.

Rihla 6, 1334

Pakistani Lawyers sit on camels as they wait for suspended
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry in Khanewal, 24 June 2007

The first town we reached after leaving Multan was Abuhar [Khanewal], which is the first town in India proper.

Rihla 6, 1334

A Hindu Cremation.

Two days later we reached Ajudahan [Pakpattan], a small town belonging to the pious Shaykh Farid ad-Din. As I returned to the camp after visiting this personage, I saw the people hurrying out, and some of our party along with them. I asked them what was happening and they told me that one of the Hindu infidels had died, that a fire had been kindled to burn him, and his wife had burned herself along with him. After the burning my companions came back and told me that she had embraced the dead man until she herself was consumed with him.
Later on I often saw a Hindu woman, richly dressed, riding on horse-back, followed by both Muslims and infidels and preceded by drums and trumpets; she was accompanied by Brahmans, who are the chiefs of the Hindus. In the sultan's dominions they ask his permission to burn her, which he accords them.
The self-immolation of the wife after her husband's death [Sati] is regarded by them as a commendable deed, but is not compulsory. When a widow burns herself her family acquires a certain prestige by it and gains a reputation for fidelity. A widow who does not burn herself dresses in coarse garments and lives with her own people in misery, despised for her lack of fidelity, but she is not forced to burn herself.
We set out from Ajudahan, and after four days' march reached Sarasati [Sarsuti or Sirsa], a large town with quantities of rice of an excellent sort which is exported to the capital, Delhi. The town produces a large revenue; I was told how much it is, but have forgotten the figure. Thence we travelled to Hansi, an exceedingly fine, well built and populous city, surrounded by a wall. Two days later we came to Maslud Abad, which is ten miles from Delhi, and there we spent three days [waiting for the Sultan's permission to enter Delhi]

Seven Years in Sultan Tuqluq's Services

Rihla 6 ,1334-41
Delhi During the Sultanates

The 7 historical cities of Dehli
Map from DuMont "Reiseführer, Indien," Cologne1978.

We arrived at the city of Dihii [Delhi], the metropolis of India, a vast and magnificent city, uniting beauty with strength.
The city of Delhi is made up now of four neighbouring and contiguous towns. One of them is Delhi proper, the old city built by the infidels and captured in the year 1188. The second is called Siri, known also as the Abode of the Caliphate. The third is called Tughlaq Abad, after its founder, Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, the father of the sultan of India to whose court we came.
The fourth is called Jahan Panah [Adilabad], and is set apart for the residence of the reigning sultan, Muhammad Tughluq Shah. He was the founder of it, and it was his intention to unite these four towns within a single wall, but after building part of it, he gave up because of the expense required for its construction.

Battuta would spend seven emotional years (1334-1341) in Delhi as quadi and advisor to Sultan Muhammad Tughluq Shah. I have selected a number of episodes from the Rihla to describe his stay there and the personality of the Sultan.
Loaded with honors and riches he left Dehli a rich man, but as he says in the Rihla:

It is the way with riches amassed in India; it is only rarely that anyone gets out of the country with them, and when he does leave it and reaches some other country, God sends upon him some calamity which annihilates all those possessions.

That was what would happen to him too.

Rihla 6 ,1334-41
Hauz Khas Reservoir

The Hauz Khas Reservoir today
Photo sanjayausta ,

Outside Delhi is a large reservoir named after Sultan Lalmish, from which the inhabitants draw their drinking water. It is supplied by rain water, and is about two miles in length by half that breadth.

In the centre there is a great pavilion built of squared stones, two stories high. When the reservoir is filled with water it can be reached only in boats, but when the water is low the people go into it. Inside it is a mosque, and at most times it is occupied by mendicants devoted to the service of God. When the water dries up, they sow sugar canes, cucumbers, green melons and pumpkins there. The melons and pumpkins are very sweet but of small size.

Rihla 6 ,1334-41
Lalakot and the Mosque Qutb al-Din Aibak

Ruins of Qutb Mosque and the Minar.
The center of the 1st City of the Delhi Sultate(1197-1199, 1305)
Photo Navin Bhatt, Panoramio

The cathedral mosque occupies a large area; its walls, roof, and paving are all constructed of white stones, admirably squared and firmly cemented with lead. There is no wood in it at all. It has thirteen domes of stone, its pulpit also is made of stone, and it has four courts.

The site was formerly occupied by an idol temple, and was converted into a mosque on the conquest of the city. In the northern court is the minaret, which has no parallel in the lands of Islam. It is built of red stone, unlike the rest of the edifice, ornamented with sculptures, and of great height. Sultan Qutb al-Din Aibak wished to build one in the western court even larger, but was cut off by death when only a third of it had been completed. This minaret is one of the wonders of the world for size.

Rihla 6 ,1334-1341
Muhammad ibn Tughluq, Sultan of Delhi 1325–1351

Battuta before Sultan Muhammad Ibn Tughluq in Tughluqabad
Photo Beyond the beyond

For a detailed article on Muhammad Tughluq, which confirms Battuta's story, see Wikipedia

The Largess of Sultan Muhammad ibn Tughluq

Sultan Muhammad ibn Tughluq is of all men the fondest of making gifts and of shedding blood. His gate is never without some poor man enriched or some living man executed, and stories are current amongst the people of his generosity and courage and of his cruelty and violence towards criminals. For all that, he is of all men the most humble and the readiest to show equity and justice.

Battuta relates numerous tales to illustrate this pronoucement. Many of them are historically documented; see the above Wikipedia article.
As to his own experiences: He had borrowed a large amount of money from the merchants in order to furnish himself with a respectable entourage of slaves, camels, horses and personal possesisons. When the merchants wanted to return, they pressed him for money. After a complicated back-and-forth with the sultan's wazir (who dmanded a bribe) an angered Muhammad ibn Tughluq simply shelled out what the merchants were asking for saying: "I know he is a qadi and has seen to his business with them."

Afterwards the sultan used to summon us to eat in his presence and would enquire how we fared and address us most affably. He assigned us pensions, giving me twelve thousand dinars a year, and added two villages to the three he had already commanded for me.

Tuqhlug's forceful Evacuation of Delhi

One of the gravest charges against the sultan is that of compelling the inhabitants of Delhi to leave the town. The reason for this was that they used to write missives reviling and insulting him, seal them and throw them into the audience hall at night. When the sultan found them full of insults and abuse, he decided to lay Delhi in ruins, and having bought from all the inhabitants their houses and dwellings and paid them the price of them, he commanded them to move to Dawlat Abad [Daulatabad in the Deccan, where he had founded a new city].

They refused, and his herald was sent to proclaim that no person should remain in the city after three nights. The majority complied with the order, but some of them hid in the houses. The sultan ordered a search to be made for any persons remaining in the town, and they found two men in the streets, one a cripple and the other blind. They were brought before him and he gave orders that the cripple should be flung from a mangonel and the blind man dragged from Delhi to Dawlatabad, a distance of forty days' journey.
When the sultan did this, every person left the town, abandoning furniture and possessions, and the city remained utterly deserted.
Afterwards he wrote to the inhabitants of the other cities commanding them to move to Delhi to repopulate it. The result was only to ruin their cities and leave Delhi still unpopulated, because of its immensity.
This was the state in which we found it on our arrival, empty and unpopulated, save for a few inhabitants.

Rihla 6 ,1334-41
Daulatabad, Tughuq's South Indian capital

The ruins of Tughluq's Daulatabad

To have better control over the newly captured southern parts of his Empire, in the early part of his reign Tughluq moved the capital from Delhi to Devagiri, 700 miles south in the Deccan, renaming Devagiri Daulatabad. Instead of moving just his government offices there, he forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi to the new capital. The plan failed due to inadequate water supplies in Daulatabad; after only two years, the capital had to be shifted back again to Delhi. (Wikipedia)

Rihla 6 ,1334-41
Battuta made Qadi of the Malakite Rites

One day the Sultan sent the wazir and the governor of Sind to us to say, "The Master of the World says ' Whoever amongst you is capable of undertaking the function of wazir or secretary or commander or judge or professor or shaykh, I shall appoint to that office."

Everyone was silent at first, for they wanted to gain riches and return to their countries. After some of the others had spoken the wazir said to me in Arabic "What do you say ?" I replied "Wazirships and secretaryships are not my business, but as to qadis and shaykhs, that is my occupation, and the occupation of my fathers before me." The sultan was pleased with what I had said, and I was summoned to the palace to do homage on appointment as qadi of the Malikite rite at Delhi.

On 2nd of October 1341, the sultan left Delhi for Ma'bar [Coromandel] to fight with a rebel in that district. I was all prepared to accompany him, but was commanded to remain in Delhi. The sultan also commanded that I should take charge of the mausoleum of Sultan Qutb ad-Din.
He then sent for us to bid us farewell, and asked me if I had any requests. I took out a piece of paper, but he said to me " Speak with your tongue." Amongst other things I said " What shall I do about the mausoleum of Sultan Qutb ad-Din ? I have given appointments in connection with it to four hundred and sixty persons, and the income from its endowment does not cover their salaries and food." He said to the wazir "Fifty thousand " and then added "You must have an anticipatory crop." This means, "Give him a hundred thousand maunds of wheat and rice to be expended during this year, until the crops produced by the endowments come in." I also asked that my house might be repaired. When I had been granted my requests, he said "Regulate your expenses according to what I have given you, as God has said [in the Koran] Keep not thy hand bound to thy neck, neither open it to fuller extent and again Eat and drink, and be not prodigal". I desired to kiss his foot, but he prevented me and held back my head with his hand, so I kissed that and retired.

I returned to the capital and busied myself with repairing my house; on this I spent four thousand dinars, of which I received from the treasury six hundred and paid the rest myself. I also built a mosque opposite my house, and occupied myself with the dispositions for the mausoleum of Sultan Qutb ad-Din.
The sultan had fixed the daily issue of food there at twelve maunds of flour and a like quantity of meat. I saw that this amount was too small, and that the produce which the sultan had put at my disposal was plentiful. Consequently I dispensed every day thirty-five maunds of flour and thirty-five of meat, together with proportionate quantities of sugar, candy, ghee and betel, not only to the salaried employees but also to visitors and travellers.

The famine at that time was severe, but the population were relieved by this food, and the news of it spread far and wide. The "King" Sahib, having gone to join the sultan at Dawlat Abad, was asked by him for news [in Delhi] and he answered "If there were in Delhi two such men as so-and-so there would be no complaints of famine."

Rihla 6 ,1334 - 1341
The Cave of Kamal ad-Din

Among the learned and pious inhabitants of Delhi was the devout and humble imam Kamal ad-Din, called "The Cave Man" from the cave in which he lived outside the city.

The location of the cave is not know, but Tim Mackintosh-Smith in his "Tangerine in Delhi" thinks he has found it.

For a while [1341] I attached myself to him, withdrawing from the world and giving all that I possessed to the poor and needy. I stayed with him for some time, and I used to see him fast for ten and twenty days on end and remain standing most of the night. I continued with him until the sultan sent for me, and once again I became entangled in the world —may God give me a good ending!

Rihla 6, 1341
Tughluqabad-Adilabad the 3rd Delhi City of the Sultanate (1321-51)

The ruins of Mohammad ibn Tughluq's Palace in Delhi-Tughluqabad-Adilabad
which Battuta visited
Photo Rohit Mahajan, Panoramio

In 1341 I fell into disfavour with the Sultan because I had visited the disgraced shaykh Shihab ad-Din outside Delhi. He had thoughts of punishing me and gave orders that four of his slaves should remain constantly beside me in the audience-hall.
When this action is taken with anyone, it rarely happens that he escapes. I fasted five days on end, reading the Koran from cover to cover each day, and tasting nothing but water. After five days I broke my fast and then continued to fast for another four days on end, and was set free after the shaykh's unnatural death. Praise, be to God.

At the end of second Jumada 742 [early December 1341] I withdrew from the sultan's service and attached myself to the learned and pious imam Kamal ad-Din " The Cave Man," in the hills.

The sultan was in Sind at the time, and at hearing of my retreat from the world summoned me. I entered his presence dressed as a mendicant, and he spoke to me very kindly, desiring me to return to his service. I refused and asked him for permission to travel to Mecca, which he granted.

Forty days later the sultan sent me saddled horses, slave girls and boys, robes and a sum of money, so I put on the robes and went to him. I had a tunic of blue cotton which I wore during my retreat, and as I put it off and dressed in the sultan's robes I upbraided myself. Ever after when I looked at that tunic I felt a light within me, and it remained in my possession until the infidels despoiled me of it on the sea.

When I presented myself before the sultan, he showed me greater favour than ever before, and said to me "I have sent for you to go as my ambassador to the Emperor of China, for I know your love of travel." He then provided me with everything I required and appointed certain other persons to accompany me, as I shall relate presently.