Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji
Ikhtiyar al-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, also known as Malik Ghazi Ikhtiyar 'l-Din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji or Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji or simply Bakhtiyar Khilji (died 1206), was a Turkic military general of Qutb al-Din Aibak.
Bakhtiyar Khilji, a member of the Khilji 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.
Khilji came from the town of Garmsir in present-day southern Afghanistan. Tradition has it that Khilji'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. Khilji soon consolidated his position by recruiting some fiercely Muslim soldiers under his domain and carried out successful raids into neighbouring regions.
A certain reference in literature suggests that in 1193, the ancient college-city of Nalanda and the university of Vikramshila were burned by Bakhtiyar Khilji.
Khilji's career took a new turn when he subjugated Bihar in 1203. 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 Lakshman Sen in 1203. Subsequently, Khilji went on to capture the capital and the principal city, Gaur, and intruded into much of Bengal.
Death and aftermath
Ikhtiyar Khilji left the town of Devkot in 1206 to attack Tibet, leaving Ali Mardan Khilji in Ghoraghat Upazila to watch the eastern frontier from his headquarters at Barisal. Khilji forces suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of Tibetan forces during Tibetan expedition and returned to Devkot with about one hundred surviving soldiers. Upon Ikhtiyar Khilji's return to India, while he was lying ill at Devkot, he was assassinated by Ali Mardan.
Loyal troops under Muhammad Shiran Khilji avenged Ikhtiyar's death, imprisoning Ali Mardan. Ghiyas-ud-din Iwaz Khilji became the successor. Ali Mardan escaped and was made Governor of Bengal by Qutb-ud-din Aibak, but was killed in 1210. 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 Khilji as the praiseworthy hero of Muslim conquest of Bengal. During Bakhtiyar Khilji's reign, Islam gained a large number of converts in India. Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khilji 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.