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Main Sources of Medieval Indian History - UPSC Special

Those sources which give information about past events are called historical sources. Mainly literary sources are used for the study of medieval history. In this article, we have brought you detailed information about medieval literature. Must read the article till the end.

       In the pre-Islamic period, the tradition of writing genealogies developed in the Arabs, which was called ‘Ansab’.

The Arabs introduced a new class of works called ‘Yasma ul-Rizal’, in which brief biographies of various individuals were compiled.

  • ‘Seerat’ is a compilation of the biography of Hazrat Muhammad.
  • The accounts of the wars were compiled in the form of ‘Magaji’.
  • ‘Tabaqat’ deals with general history. In which historical information about different communities has been presented.
  • The words Manakib and Faizal were used for praise.
  • The ‘Shahnama’ composed by Badruddin is a tribute dedicated to Muhammad Tughlaq.
  • Shamse Siraj Afif’s ‘Tarikh-i-Firozshahi’ is the first work to provide moral exhortation.

The main sources of knowledge of medieval history are as follows.

1-  Chachnama (Sindhi: चचनामो), is a text related to the history of Sindh. It describes the history of the Chach dynasty and the Arab conquest of Sindh. This book is also called ‘Fatnama Sindh’ (Sindhi: فتح نامه سند‎) and ‘Tarikh al-Hind Was-Sindh’ (Arabic: تاريخ الهند والسند‎). The Chach dynasty ruled Sindh after the end of the Rai dynasty. It is written in Arabic by an unknown author. It was translated into Persian during the time of Abubakar Kufi Nasiruddin Qubacha. This book states that Khalifa Wahid had sentenced Muhammad bin Qasim to death.

2 – Tahqiq-e-Hind (Kitab-ul-Hind) – It was composed by Alberuni in the Arabic language. Alberuni was a great scholar. While in India, he studied Sanskrit as a subject with great interest and also made a deep study of Hindu philosophy and other scriptures. It describes the condition of India between 1017-1030. Alberuni was born in 973 AD in Khiva (Central Asia). He came to India with Mahmud of Ghazni.

On the basis of this study, he composed a book called ‘Tahkeek-e-Hind’ (Discovery of India).

In this book, the history, character, conduct, traditions, and scientific knowledge of Hindus have been described in detail.

  • Sachau first translated it into the English language under the name ‘Alberuni’s India, An Account of the Religion’.
  • It has been translated into Hindi by Rajinikanth Verma.

3- This book named Taj-ul-Maasir was composed by ‘Sadruddin Muhammad Hasan Nizami’. It is in the Arabic language.

  • It describes the events of the period from 1192 AD to 1228 AD.
  • Hasan Nizami This book describes the life and reign of Qutbuddin Aibak, the first ruler of the slave dynasty, and the early years of Iltutmish’s reign.
  • Historians Elliot and Dawson have translated it into English.

  • According to Nizami, coins named Dirham and Dinar were run by Qutbuddin Aibak.

4-Tabaqat-e-Nasiri (Persian: تباقت ناسري‎) is a history book in the Persian language. The book of Tabaqat-i-Nasiri is composed by ‘Minhajuddin Siraj’ (1193-1254) (Minhajuddin Abu-Umar-bin Sirajuddin al-Jujiyani).

  • In this book, information about Muhammad Ghori’s conquest of India and the early history of the Turkish Sultanate till about 1260 AD is available.
  • Minhaj dedicated this book to his patron Naseeruddin Mahmud.
  • Minhaj was the chief Qazi of Delhi at that time.
  • This book contains history from 1227-1259.
  • Minhaj Nasiruddin was the court poet of Mahmud.

5- The author of Tarikh-e-Firozshahi (Persian language) was Ziauddin Barani. Barani was born in 684 Hijri Samvat during the reign of Balban. This happened in 1285-86 AD. In this, the history of sitting on the throne of Balban has been written from 1265 AD till the sixth year of Firoz Shah. Ziauddin Barani has described the revenue position in great detail in his book.

6-Fatwa-e-Jahandari – Ziauddin Barani is known as the author of this work. Many economic reforms and principles of Alauddin have been written by Barani in this book. Only one handwritten copy of the Fatwa-i-Jahandari is available in the India Office Library. It contains 248 pages. Somewhere in the middle, the pages have been erased. Barani has not written his name anywhere in this book. But “Duagoi Sultani” is the kind word of the Sultan written for the author.

7- The full name of Tarikh-e-Firozshahi-Afiq was ‘Shams-e-Siraj Afiq’. He was a famous scholar writer of the Persian language.

  • Tughlaq Sultan Firoz Shah patronized Afiq.
  • Afiq wrote many books in which only Tarikh-i-Firozshahi is available. He had the patronage of Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq.


 8-Seerat-e-Firozshahi – This is a book written by an unknown author. This book was written during the time of Sultan Firoz Shah.

9- Fatuhat-e-Firozshahi – This is the autobiography of Sultan Firozshah Tughlaq. The charitable work done by Firoz Shah is mentioned in this book.

10- Futuh-us-Salatin- The author of this book is Khwaja Abdullah Malik Isami. The work was completed in 1250 under the patronage of Alauddin Bahmanshah, the founder of the Bahmani kingdom. It describes the history from 999 to 1350.

11- Qamil-ut-Tawarikh – Its author is Sheikh Abdul Hasan (Ibnul Asir). It describes the victory of Muhammad Ghori.

12- Tarikh-e-Sindh or Tarikh-e-Masoomi – It was composed by Mir Muhammad Masoom. It has a history from the conquest of India by the Arabs to the Mughal Emperor Akbar. It is mainly dependent on Chachnama.

13- Tarikh-e-Masoodi – This book was composed by Abul Fazl Muhammad bin Hussain-al-Baihaqi. Behaki was a royal scribe of Mahmud Ghazni. Another book of his is Tarikh-i-Subuktagin. Lenpool has given it the title of Eastern Sripapias.

14- Tarikh-e-Yamini- The author of this book is Utbi. The history of Subaktagin and Mahmud Ghaznabi up to 1020 is described in this book.

15- Tarikh-e-Mubarakshahi– It was composed by Yahiya-bin-Sirhindi under the patronage of Mubarak Shah (Sayyid dynasty).

16- Rehla– This book was composed by Ibn Battuta (Sheikh Fatah Abu Abdullah). He was an African (Moroccan) traveler. It is written in the Arabic language. Muhammad Tughlaq appointed him as Qazi of Delhi. He came to India in 1333 and stayed in India for 14 years.

17- Malfuzaat-e-Taimuri – This is the autobiography of Amir Taimur written in the Turkish language. Abu Talib Hussaini first translated this book into Persian.

18- Zafarnama- This book was written by Saraf-Ud-din-Ali Yazid under the patronage of Amir Timur’s son.

19- Waqia-e-Mushtaki and Tarikh-e-Mushtaki – both these texts were composed by Sheikh Rizakullah.

20- Tarikh-e-Salatin-e-Afghan– This is the composition of Ahmad Yadgar. It has a history from Bahlol Lodi to Hemu.

21- Mukhjan-e-Afghani- Niyamat Ullah composed this book in 1612 AD. It belongs to the Lodi dynasty.

22- Adabul-Harb-Shuja’at- Its author is Fakh-Mudabbir. It is dedicated to Iltutmish.

23- Inshaye Mahru – This book is a compilation of the letters of Ainul-Mulk, the governor of Multan in the Tughlaq period.

24- Riyazul Insha – Compilation of letters of Bahamani Sultanate Bajir Mahmud Gawan.

25- Tarikh-e-Rashidi – a book written by Mirza Haider. history of Kashmir.

26- Riyaz-e-Salatin- Its author is Ghulam Hussain Salim. History of Bengal.

27- Tarikh-e-Gujarat – composed by Mir Abu Turbawali.

28- Books of Amir Khusro– This is famous by the name of Tuti-e-Hind. Abul Hasan Yaminuddin Amir Khusrau (1253–1325) was a prominent poet, poet, singer, and musician who lived near Delhi around the 14th century.

He was born in 1253 AD at Patiali in the Etah district of Uttar Pradesh. Khusro’s mother Balbane was the daughter of the war minister Imadutul Mulk and an Indian Muslim woman. Khusro’s father died at the age of seven. As a teenager, he started writing poetry and by the time he was 20, he became famous as a poet. Amir Khusro had seen the rule of 8 Sultans of Delhi. He was a disciple of the famous Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya.

  • Nizamuddin Auliya gave Khusrau the title of Turkallah.
  • He was the first Muslim poet who used Hindi words. He is considered the inventor of Khari Boli.

Books of Amir Khusro


His first work on historical subjects is “Kiran-us-Saaden” which he wrote in 1289 AD. It describes the meeting of Bughra Khan and his son Kaiqubad. It contains interesting details about Delhi, its buildings, the royal court, and the social life of the nobles and officials. Through this composition, he also expressed his hatred toward the Mongols.


He composed Mifta-ul-Fatuh in 1291 AD. In this work, he has considered the military campaigns of Jalaluddin Khilji, the rebellion of Malik Chhajju and its suppression, the Sultan’s ascension to Ranthambore, and the victories of other places.


The Khazain-ul-Futuh, also known as the Tarikh-i-Alai, contains a flattering account of the first 15 years of Alauddin Khilji’s reign. Although this work is basically literary, it has its own importance because the contemporary description of Alauddin Khilji is found in this book.

In this, he has written about the conquest of Gujarat, Chittor, Malwa, and Warangal by Alauddin Khilji. In it, we get an eye-witness account of Malik Kafur’s Deccan campaigns, which are famous for their geographical and military details. It has a very good depiction of India along with a description of Alauddin’s buildings and administrative reforms. But considering the reign of Alauddin Khilji, his vision has not been critical.


Another work of Amir Khusro’s “Aashika” deals with the love story of Devlarani, daughter of Rajkaran of Gujarat, and Khizrkhan, son of Alauddin. It deals with the conquests of Alauddin in Gujarat and Alva. Along with this, he has also described the topography of different regions. In it, he also talks about his own imprisonment by the Mongols.

Noah Sipir

Another book where Hindustan and its people are well portrayed is Nuh Sipihar. There is a very beautiful description of Mubarak Khilji in this. Along with the victories of Mubarakshah’s buildings, he has considered topics like climate, vegetables, fruits, language, and philosophy of life. In this, a very lively depiction of the then-social situation is seen.


Tughlaqnama is the last historical Masnavi of Khusro. It depicts the victory of Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq against Khusrowshah. The whole story has been presented in a religious color. In this, Ghiyasuddin is the symbol of true elements and he is shown fighting with Amir Khusro Shah with false elements.

A strong aspect of Amir Khusrau is that he has given many dates and the chronology given by him is far more reliable than that of Barani. His writings also throw a lot of light on contemporary social conditions and this is an area that was not given much attention by other historians of the time. 

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