The Bahmani sultanate was an Islamic kingdom in the Deccan region rivaling the Vijayanagara empire. Read here to know more about the sultanate.
The Bahmani sultanate and the Vijayanagara empire were perpetually at war until the breakdown of the sultanate into five successor states.
Bahmani Kingdom (1347-1457)
The Bahmani Kingdom was established by Hasan Gangu or Alauddin Bahman Shah (Alauddin Hasan) in 1347 CE. He was earlier the governor of Deccan under the Tughlaqs.
He was an Afghan named Hasan who was in the service of a Brahman named Gangu, Hence the name Hasan Gangu originated.
The capital of the Bahmani sultanate was Gulbarga and they ruled over the entire northern Deccan region for more than 150 years.
The Bahmani and Vijayanagara kingdoms were engaged in Territorial contests over three regions for a number of years:
- The Tungabhadra doab was the fertile region between Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers (Earlier the Western Chalukyas and Cholas fought over it, earlier. And later Yadavas and Hoysalas)
- The Krishna-Godavari delta for its ports controlled foreign trade.
- Marathwada as the Konkan coast was fertile and the port of Goa was the source of import of horses from Iran/Iraq.
In 1367, Bukka Raya I of Vijayanagara sacked the Mudkal fortress in the Tungabhadra doab. As revenge for this, the then Bahmani sultan, Mohammad Shah-I crossed the river and marched into Vijayanagara territories for the first time.
- This was the first battle in India on records where both sides used artillery.
- Long-drawn war with no result made them agree to a treaty to restore the old position of sharing the Tungabhadra doab.
- It was agreed that since both kingdoms would remain neighbors for a long period of time, they’ll avoid cruelty in war henceforth.
- In future wars, helpless and unarmed civilians were not to be slaughtered. This accord made warfare in southern India less inhumane.
The Bahmani sultanate entered into a treaty with Warangal as well.
- The Bahmani boundary was fixed at Golconda and did not encroach into Warangal territories.
- This treaty lasted for 50 years and stopped the advance of Vijayanagara as well.
Firuz shah Bahmani (1397-1422)
He was well-read in religious sciences and wanted to make the Deccan the cultural center of India.
When the Delhi sultanate declined, the learned people migrated to the Deccan making it the center of learning.
- He inducted many Hindus into his administration.
- Built an astronomical observatory at Daulatabad.
- Founded Firozabad, a few kilometers south of Gulbarga.
- Ports of Chaul and Dabhol attracted trading ships from the Persian Gulf and Red Sea trading in horses and luxury goods came in from the Arab world.
He extended the kingdom and annexed Berar by defeating Gond Raja Narsingh Rai of Kherla.
He defeated Deva Raya I of Vijayanagara and married his daughter and received Bankapur in the doab as dowry.
- But the marriage did not guarantee peace and conflict broke out over the Krishna-Godavari delta.
The switching of the alliance from Warangal to Vijayanagara shifted the balance of power in Deccan.
This time Firuz Shah was defeated by Deva Raya and he had to abdicate his throne for his brother Ahmad Shah I.
Ahmad Shah I Wali (1422-1436)
He was called “Wali”(saint) because of his association with the famous Sufi Gesu Daraz (of the Chisti order).
- He continued the struggle for domination of the eastern seaboard of southern India (Krishna Godavari delta region).
- He annexed Warangal and killed the ruler as revenge, thus eastern coast came under their control.
- He shifted the capital to Bidar and campaigned towards Malwa, Gondwana, and Konkan.
Mohammad Shah III (1463-1482)
His administration was carried by his Prime minister, Mahmud Gawan, who was an able statesman.
- Gawan was granted the title “Malik-ul-Tujjar ” and the Kingdom was at its peak under his able guidance.
- He guided successful war campaigns against Vijaynagar and Orissa and reached inner Vijaynagar territories up to Kanchi.
- Overran the west coast ports-Dabhol and Goa- expanded maritime trade with Iran, Iraq, etc.
Gawan brought out administrative reforms to increase central control.
- Divided the kingdom into 8 provinces (tarafs).
- Each Taraf was under a Tarafdar.
- The salaries and responsibilities of nobles were fixed.
- Salary is paid in cash or by assigning a jagir (collection of land revenue).
- In every province, a tract of land was set apart for expenses the Sultan named khalisa.
- Efforts were made to measure land and calculate the amount of revenue to be paid by cultivators to the state.
- He built the famous madrasa of Bidar.
The Nobles of the sultanate were divided into:
- Deccanis (old nobles)
- Afaqis/gharibs (new comers)
Mahmud Gawan was a newcomer and his opponents poisoned the mind of the young Sultan- Mahmud Gawan was executed in 1482.
After his death, more infighting continued.
Mahmood Shah Bahmani II, the final legitimate monarch of the Bahmani people, succeeded his father Muhammad Shah III. The final Bahmani Sultans were puppet kings under the Barid Shahi Prime Ministers.
Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire defeated the last remnant of Bahmani power after which the Bahmani Sultanate collapsed.
After 1518, the sultanate broke up into five states, collectively known as Deccan sultanates:
- Adil Shahi of Bijapur (1490)
- Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar (1490)
- Imad Shahi of Berar (1490)
- Qutb Shahi of Golconda (1518)
- Barid Shahi of Bidar (1528)
All these sultanates were annexed by the Mughals by 1687 after many conflicts.
Art, culture, and architecture of Bahmani sultanate
The Bahmani Sultans supported the Persian language, culture, and literature and some members of the Bahmani dynasty learned Persian and contributed to its literature in that language because.
Many singers and dancers were captured from the Carnatic and converted to Islam.
The craftwork from Bidar was famous for its inlay work on copper and silver, which was called Bidri.
The Deccan Sultanates later adopted the Persianate Indo-Islamic architectural style that was created during this time.
Major architectural contributions of the Bahamani sultanate include the forts in Gulbarga, Haft Gumbaz, and Jama Masjid, as well as Bidar Fort and Madrasa Mahmud Gawan in Bidar.
-Article written by Swathi Satish