Ikhtyiar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji
|Occupation||Military general, ruler|
Ikhtiyār al-Dīn Muḥammad Bakhtiyār Khaljī also known as Muḥammad Bakhtiyar Khalji (Bengali: ইখতিয়ার উদ্দিন মুহম্মদ বখতিয়ার খলজী, Persian: اختيار الدين محمد بن بختيار الخلجي), was the first Muslim conqueror and ruler of the regions of Bengal and Bihar. In Bengal, during his establishment, the Islamic missionaries achieved their greatest success in terms of dawah and number of converts to Islam. Bakhtyiar served as a military general of the Delhi Sultanate's founder Qutb al-Din Aibak. A controversial figure, Bakhtyiar army's invasions and demolitions of the renowned monasteries of Nalanda, Vikramasila and Odantapuri are thought to have declined the practice of Buddhism in East India. His reign in Bengal ushered a long lasting Islamic cosmopolitan era, most notably the wealthy Bengal Sultanate, Mughal Bengal and the modern nation of Bangladesh.
Bakhtiyar Khalji, a member of the Khalaj tribe, a Turkic tribe long settled in what is now southern Afghanistan, was head of the military force that conquered parts of eastern India at the end of the 12th century and at the beginning of the 13th century.
Khalji came from the town of Garmsir in present-day southern Afghanistan. Tradition has it that Khalji's conquest of Bengal at the head of 18 horsemen was foretold. He was of common birth, had long arms extending below his knees, a short physical stature, and an unfavorable countenance. He was first appointed as the Dewan-i-Ard at Ghor. Then he approached India in about the year 1193 and tried to enter in the army of Qutb-al-Din, but was refused rank. Then he went further eastward and took a job under Maklik Hizbar al-Din, then in command of a platoon at Badayun in northern India. After a short period he went to Oudh where Malik Husam al-Din, recognised him for his worth. Husam gave him a landed estate in the south-eastern corner of modern Mirzapur district. Khalji soon established himself there and carried out successful raids into weakly-defended regions to the east.
Khalji's career took a new turn when he subjugated Bihar in 1200. This effort earned him political clout in the court at Delhi. In the same year he took his forces into Bengal. As he came upon the city of Nabadwip, it is said that he advanced so rapidly that only 18 horsemen from his army could keep up. He conquered Nabadwip from the old emperor Lakshmana Sena in 1203. Subsequently, Khalji went on to capture the capital and the principal city, Gaur, and intruded into much of Bengal.
Bakhtiyar Khalji's invasions are believed to have severely damaged the Buddhist establishments at Nalanda, Odantapuri, and Vikramashila. Minhaj-i-Siraj's Tabaqat-i Nasiri suggests that Bakhtiyar Khalji destroyed a Buddhist monastery which the author equates in his description with a city he calls "Bihar", from what the soldiers learn is called a vihara. According to American scholar Hartmut Scharfe, the Tibetan sources suggest that this monastery was the one at Vikramashila; historian André Wink believes that this monastery must have been Odantapuri. According to the early 17th century Buddhist scholar Taranatha, the invaders massacred many monks at Odantapuri, and destroyed Vikramashila. The Tibetan pilgrim Dharmasvamin, who visited the region in the 13th century, states that Vikramashila had been completely razed to the ground by the Turushka (Turkic) invaders, and Nalanda was the residence of a Turushka military commander. Around 80 small viharas remained at Nalanda, but most of them had been damaged by the Turushkas, and had been abandoned: only two were in "serviceable condition".
Ikhtiyar al-Dīn Muḥammad Khalji left the town of Devkot in 1206 to attack Tibet, leaving Ali Mardan Khalji in Ghoraghat Upazila to watch the eastern frontier from his headquarters at Barisal. Khalji forces suffered a disastrous defeat in the hands of Assamese King Prithu in Assam during Tibetan expedition. The entire army of Bakhtiyar Khalji was defeated by Tibetan forces, which forced him to retreat. Khalji then returned to Devkot with about one hundred surviving soldiers. Upon Ikhtiyar Khalji's return while he was lying ill at Devkot, he was assassinated by Ali Mardan.
The Khalji noblemen then appointed Muhammad Shiran Khalji as Bakhtiyar's successor. Loyal troops under Shiran Khalji avenged Ikhtiyar's death, imprisoning Ali Mardan. Eventually Ali Mardan fled to Delhi and provoked the Sultan of Delhi Qutb al-Din Aibak to invade Bengal. Ali Mardan returned with the governor of Oudh, Kayemaz Rumi, and dethroned Shiran. Shiran fled to Dinajpur where he later died. Ghiyas-ud-din Iwaz Khalji became the successor. Ali Mardan escaped and was made Governor of Bengal by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, but was killed in 1212. Ghiyas-ud-din again assumed power and proclaimed his independence.
Al Mahmud, a leading Bangladeshi poet, composed a book of poetry titled Bakhtiyarer Ghora (Horses of Bakhtiyar) in the early 1990s. He depicted Khalji as the praiseworthy hero of Muslim conquest of Bengal. During Bakhtiyar Khalji's reign, Islam gained a large number of converts in India. Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji had the Khutbah read and coins struck in his own name. Mosques, madrasas, and khanqahs arose in the new abode of Islam through Bakhtiyar's patronage, and his example was imitated by his Amirs.
Buddhist sources hold him responsible for the destruction of Nalanda. He burnt the seven story library of Nalanda which consisted of 10 lakh books . And the library burnt continuously for more than 3 months . The thick black soot made black clouds in surrounding hills such was the havoc . 
Hussain argues ... was actually named Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji and not the broadly used Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji
Nalanda, together with the colleges at Vikramasila and Odantapuri, suffered gravely during the conquest of Bihar by the Muslim general Muhammad Bhakhtiyar Khalji between A.D. 1197 and 1206, and many monks were killed or forced to flee.
The Khaljis were a Turkish tribe from southwest Ghur. However, Bakhtiyar was ungainly in appearance...
granting him in jagir two parganas in the south-eastern corner of the modern Mirzāpur district ... having supplanted the petty Gahadvār chiefs of this tract, he began ravaging the open country to the east ... he confined himself to scouring the open country undefended by the field army of any organised State.
Bakhtyār led his army a second time in the direction of Bihar in the year following the sack of the fortified monastery of that name. This year, i.e. 1200 A.D., he was busy consolidating his hold over that province.
Bakhtyār fairly completed his conquest of the Varendra tract with the ... city of Gaur before the year 599 A.H.
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King Lakshman Sen
| Khalji Dynasty of Bengal
Muhammad Shiran Khalji