Sultans of Madura

The Sultanate of Madurai, officially known as the Ma’bar Sultanate by contemporaries, was established by Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan. The kingdom lasted for only 48 years where it saw 8 reigning Sultans. Jalaluddin was appointed viceroy of Madurai province by the Delhi Sultan, Muhammad bin Tughluq. Khan declared independence from Delhi in 1335 CE to rule as Sultan from his new capital of Madurai. His successors ruled till 1378 CE when the last Sultan, Allauddin Sikandar Shah was defeated by the neighbouring Vijayanagara king, Kumara Kampana, in battle.

In early 14th Century CE, South India was subjected to repeated invasions led by the Delhi Sultanate. There were three separate invasions in a span of 15 years. The first was led by Malik Kafur, under orders from the Sultan Alauddin Khilji, in 1311 CE where he sacked the city of Madurai. The second invasion of Madurai was led by Khusrau Khan and the third, by Ulugh Khan; both under Ghiyasuddin Tughluq. Malik Kafur and Khusrau Khan were content with only plundering the region. Ulugh Khan, however, annexed the province to the territories of the Delhi Sultanate and named it Ma’bar.

In 1325 CE, Ulugh Khan ascended the throne of the Delhi Sultanate and assumed the name, Muhammad bin Tughluq. His plans to invade Khorasan and Persia diminished his treasury and it led him to issue token currency in his kingdom. This move saw an increase in counterfeiting currency further worsening the already collapsing economy of the state. Being unable to pay his army, his soldiers stationed in provinces away from Delhi started revolting. Bengal revolted first followed by Ma’bar.

Jalaluddin Ahsan Khan, the governor of Ma’bar, set up the Sultanate of Madurai by declaring independence from the Delhi Sultanate under Muhammad bin Tughluq. The exact year in which the short-lived Sultanate came into existence is not confirmed. While numismatic evidence points to 1335 CE, Ferishta, the contemporary historian, mentions 1340 CE as the year in which the Ma’bar Sultanate was founded.

Territories under the Ma’bar Sultanate included Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Cuddalore and Villupuram districts in Tamil Nadu. The short rule of 48 years saw the Madurai Sultans first ruling as feudatories of the Delhi Sultanate, and later, as independent rulers. The Sultanate was captured by the rising Vijayanagara Empire in 1378 CE, thereby ending the rule of the Ma’bar Sultans.

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