Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq Shah was a Turkoman soldier of humble origin who began his career as a lieutenant in the army of the Delhi Sultan, Ala-ud-din Muhammad Khalji (1290-1316 CE). His original name was Ghazi Mallik, probably a nom-de guerre essential to thrive in the army of an ambitious Muslim sultan. He was despatched by Ala-ud-din Khalji to the frontier region of Punjab during the Mongol invasion with an army of 10,000 foot soldiers. Ghazi Mallik managed to secure the frontier region of Sindh, Multan and Uch and based himself in the area of Dipalpur towards the end of Khalji's reign.
He did not venture to the capital during the succession crisis after Alauddin's death in 1316 or even during the new sultan, Qutb-ud-din Mubarak's four year debauched reign as he was secure in his region. However, the crisis caused by Qutb-ud-din's murder by his converted Hindu male slave who was enthroned briefly as Khusro Shah in 1320 CE forced Ghazi Mallik to move to the outskirts of Delhi. Ghazi Mallik easily overwhelmed the 'non-believer' sultan (a Gujarati Hindu slave converted to Islam and not believed to be a true believer by the Turkish nobility) and took over the Sultanate of Delhi as Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq Shah. He ruled Delhi from 1320 till his 'unnatural' death brought about the collapse of a wooden pavilion constructed to welcome him on his return from a long campaign in Bengal.
Ghiyas-ud-din's reign saw the increase in thrust towards punishing and finishing off the Mongol threat on the sultanate's northwestern border. Ghiyas-ud-din also consolidated his hold over Bengal and ventured farther into the south with the help of his son, Jauna Khan (the future Muhammad bin Tughluq) who implemented the successful subjugation of Warangal's last Kakatiya ruler, Prataprudra in 1323.
Numismatically, Ghiyas-ud-din's achievements were modest as his origins as he employed the staid style of his predecessors, the Khalji and their predecessors, the Slave Sultans especially for the major tankas of his reign. Ghiyas-ud-din employed the typical title legends with his religious name, Laqab, Ghiyas-ud-din (literally 'Helper of the Faith') preceded by the title, Al-Sultan with a minor variation, he substituted the usual adjunct title, Al-Azam employed by his predecessors by the title Al-Ghazi (literally 'The Holy Warrior') recalling his nom de guerre, Ghazi Mallik.
Ghiyas-ud-din's taking of this religious title is significant for another reason. He fell afoul with the noted Sufi saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Auliya over more secular matters but which turned both religious in terms of the sultan's acceptance as a pious Muslim as well as political.
It is stated that the differences between Sultan Ghiyas-ud-din and Nizam-ud-din Auliya turned so acrimonious that the latter was advised by his well-wishers at the court to leave the city for his own good as the Sultan planned to turn on him after his return from a campaign in Bengal.
However, the Sufi refused to budge stating 'Hunuz Dilli door ast' meaning "Delhi is still far away (for the sultan)". The saying turned prophetic as the Sultan was killed outside Delhi by the collapse of the wooden pavilion constructed to welcome him!
Ghiyas-ud-din issued his vastly common silver and occasional gold tankas (weighing around 10.8g) with similar titles from several mints viz. known cities like Hazrat Dehli and Qila' Deogir (later known as Daulatabad), some vague locations in the Deccan termed as Mulk-i-Tilang (Telangana country) and some with Islamicate names like Sultanpur (Warangal) and an unknown one termed as Dar al-Islam (probably an epithet for the new city of Tughluqabad founded by him). Interestingly, the mint name is inscribed on the reverse on its margin along with the date in words in the Arabic language.
The coin featured in this post is a silver tanka issued from Hazrat Dehli mint in the Hijri year 724 corresponding to 1324-25 CE the last year of this ruler. The beauty of this specimen is in the complete date and legend in the margin of the reverse (see description on the jpeg).
Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq was succeeded by his son, Jauna Khan who took the title Muhammad bin Tughluq and unleashed a number of different style coins during his 25 year long reign which ended in 1351 CE. Thus, Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq though a founder of a dynasty is not remembered due to the more spectacular and attention-seeking recollection of his successor, Muhammad's reign. However, he was responsible for preserving and continuing the political power of the Dehli Sultanate during a potentially unstable period of the kingdom's history.