etc. Delhi, according to Ibn Battutah (a Moroccan traveller who spent eight
years at the court of Muhammad bin Tughluq), was the largest town in the
Islamic East, and Daulatabad could almost rival Delhi in size.
Urban Growth
Rise of Stone Forts on Major Arteries At the heart of each new dynastic
domain, capitals needed serious fortification. Big stone forts arose in rapid
succession on major arteries of mobility, running east-west in the northern
plains and north-south in the peninsula: at Kota (1264), Bijapur (1325),
Vijayanagar (1336), Gulbarga (1347), Jaunpur (1359), Hisar (1361),
Ahmedabad (1413), Jodhpur (1465), Ludhiana (1481), Ahmadnagar (1494),
Udaipur (1500) and Agra (1506). In this context, Delhi began its long career
as an imperial capital, strategically astride routes down the Ganga and into
Malwa and the Deccan.
Development of Forts into New Urban Centres The new dynastic
capitals were often not located in the most fertile agricultural tracts or in old
medieval centres in riverine lowlands, but rather in the uplands, on dry
ground, in strategic sites, along a route of communication and supply. As new
dynastic domains grew richer, forts became fortified cities with palaces, large
open courtyards, gardens, fountains, garrisons, stables, markets, mosques,
temples, shrines and servant quarters. The architectural elaboration of
fortified space became big business; it produced a new kind of urban
landscape. Inside a typical fort, we find palace glamour as well as stables and
barracks; we see a self-contained, armed city, most of whose elements came
from far away. Permanent armies drawing specialist soldiers and supplies
from extensive networks of trade and migration sustained these new urban
centres. No new dynasty of any significance rested on resources from its
capital’s immediate hinterland; and to this extent, they were all imperial,
however small.
Determination of Political Geography by Army Routes Political
geography no longer focused as much as before on agrarian core regions;
rather, it followed the routes of armies. A typical Sultan’s domain consisted
of a series of fortified sites, each with an army that lived on taxes from its
surrounding land. Dynasties expanded        as local fort commanders submitted to