How Currency Change by Tughlaq Impacted India in the 14th Century


Muhammad bin Tughlaq was the second ruler of the Tughlaq dynasty. He was the eldest son of Ghiyath al-Din Tughlaq, the founder of Tughlaq dynasty in India. He was known by many names like Prince Fakhr Malik, Jauna Khan, and Ulugh Khan. At a young age, Muhammad was sent to Deccan, to campaign against the king of the Kakatiya dynasty, King Prataparudra whose capital was at Warangal. Muhammad was a great ruler, he had an interest in medicines and could speak several languages like Persian, Arabic, Turkish and Sanskrit. Ibn Battuta who came to Delhi in 1334, has written a biography on the life of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.

Policies Introduced by Tughlaq

Muhammad bin Tughlaq introduced numerous policies under his reign. One of the most popular policies introduced by Tughlaq which is also considered as the reason for the decline of his reign, the currency coin policy. During 14th-century gold and silver coins were used as the common currency, but Tughlaq brought the idea of using brass and copper coins with a states stamp and held the same value as that of gold and silver coin and it could also be exchanged for gold and silver from the treasury.

Historians believe Tughlaq brought this policy to increase his treasury so that he could annex all the inhabited areas of the world for which he would be required to pay the army. It was a great plan but wrongly implemented, being made of brass and silver the new currency was easily forged, which lead to the drainage of the state’s treasury, which finally lead to the decline of Tughlaq dynasty. It’s believed that the use of these coins was seized by 1333, as Ibn Battuta came to Delhi in 1334 and he made no mention of these coins in his journal.

Tughlaq had many other plans too, which were wrongly implemented, it was his plan of shifting his capital from Delhi to Devagiri in Maharashtra (now Daulatabad). Reason for this plan was, saving his capital from constant Mongol raids and the move would stronghold his control over the rich fertile lands of the Deccan and also ensure access to the busy ports on the Gujarat and the Coromandel coast. Although this was too a good plan the fault in his plan was, he ordered the entire population of Delhi to move to Daulatabad instead just shifting his court.

Even with all the convenience for the travelers, many people died on the way. However, no sooner he reached Daulatabad, he realized his capital was far too away for him to protect his northern territories, so he relocated his capital to Delhi, leading death of thousands of people and the relief measures taken, made a huge hole in his treasury.

Tughlaq was a strict Muslim, he used to pray five times a day, he was also a scholar and a genius in the subject of maths, philosophy, medicine, religion, and poetry. Historians have considered him of a hasty nature, he would introduce great policies, but most of them failed on implementation. Ibn Battuta also wrote about his secretive nature, he wouldn’t ask anyone for advice and would depend on his own judgment. Muhammad was also famous for, whenever he received a gift, he would give gifts worth three times its value just to show his stature.


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