Post Tughlaq dynasty’s end, many regional kingdoms rose in medieval India. Read here to learn about the important kingdoms of the period.
After Timur’s invasion in 1398, Delhi’s Sultan Mahmud Tughlaq fled to Gujarat and Malwa region. The sultanate started disintegrating and many regional kingdoms rose to power declaring independence.
The most important of them were:
Sharqi of Jaunpur
The nobles in the doab region were de facto independent and the Sharqis became the overlords.
From 1394 to 1479, the Sharqi Sultans ruled the doab region.
In 1394 Malik Sharawar who was a wazir under the Tughlaq sultans became the first Sharqi sultan.
He was made Lord of the east-Malik-us-Sharq and his successors came to be known as Sharqi Sultans.
Their capital was at Jaunpur, UP also known as ‘Shiraz of the East’ as it became the center of learning and culture.
- Malik Muhammad Jaisi, the author of Padmavat, lived in Jaunpur.
- The Sharqi sultans adorned Jaunpur with beautiful mosques, mausoleums, and gardens.
- Their style of architecture involved the usage of lofty gates and huge arches.
Their rule spanned from Aligarh to Darbhanga, and Nepal to Bundelkhand.
In 1479 the Jaunpur sultanate was reabsorbed into Delhi Sultanate by Bahlol Lodi.
Regional kingdom of Kashmir
A native Shaivism tradition emerged later in the ninth century, under the Karkota Dynasty.
Seven centuries of Hindu dominance, which continued under the Utpala and Lohara kings, ended in the middle of the fourteenth century.
Shah Mir dynasty:
Islam spread in Kashmir in the 13th century, when Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir in 1339.
Sultan Sikandar Shah ruled Kashmir from 1389 to 1413. He persecuted many Hindus and brahmins and promoted forced religious conversions.
From 1420 to 1470, Zainul Abidin (Great Sultan or Bud Shah) sat on the throne of Kashmir.
- He stopped atrocities on non-muslims, abolished Jizyah, and brought back the Hindus who had fled from Kashmir during previous rules.
- He restored the libraries and temples of Hindus.
- His minister of justice and court physician was Sriya Bhatt.
- He married the Hindu princess of Jammu.
- He built Zainą Lanka, the artificial island in Woolar Lake on which his palace and mosque were constructed.
- He encouraged shawl-making and got Kalhana’s Rajatarangini translated to Persian.
- He defeated the Mongol invasion of Ladakh and conquered Baltistan (Tibbat-i-Buzurg).
With the death of the Sultan in 1470 CE, the Shah Mir dynasty also started to decline due to its weak rulers. The last ruler of this dynasty was Habib Shah (1555 CE) who was dethroned by his commander Ghazi Chak who then founded the Chak dynasty.
Chak dynasty (1555-1586):
Muhammad Ghazi Shah Chak established the dynasty in 1555 CE. The Chaks were originally from the Gilgit Hunza region’s Dard region.
The Chak kings thwarted Mughal attempts to capture Kashmir by Babur and Humayun.
Yusuf Shah Chak (about 1579–1586 CE) assumed the throne as the monarch of Kashmir. He was brought to meet with Akbar for discussions but was imprisoned there and died.
His son Yaqub Shah Chak succeeded him as Kashmir’s king after his death. He attempted to oppose the Mughal Army, but Qasim Khan, the army’s commander, was able to overcome him. As a result, Akbar conquered the kingdom of Kashmir (about 1586 CE).
Dynasties of Bengal
Ilyas Shahi dynasty
In 1342 CE, Haji Ilyas Khan, a noble became the ruler of Bengal and laid the foundation of the Ilyas Shah dynasty.
- The capitals of Bengal, Pandua, and Gaur were adorned with huge buildings.
- Bengali developed as a regional language while Persian remained the language of administration.
- The sultans patronized the poet Maladhar Basu, compiler of Sri Krishna Vijaya, and awarded him with the title of Gunaraja Khan and his son was granted the title of Satyaraja Khan.
After Azam Shah died in 1409, the Ilyas Shahi briefly fell weak and a Hindu zamindar under the Ilvas Shahis, Raja Ganesh usurped the throne at Pandua and married Azam Shah’s widow.
A brief spell of Hindu rule was seen in Bengal under Raja Ganesh (1414 to 1415), but his sons adopted Islam and ruled as Muslims.
According to Chinese and Burmese accounts, Bengal was invaded by Ibrahim Shah Sharqi Jaunpur-sultan), but was defeated by Raja Ganesh.
Later, the kingdom was taken over by the Hussain Shahi dynasty which ruled for 44 years.
Hussain Shahi dynasty
Alauddin Hussain Sah (1493-1519) founded the dynasty.
- This was the most significant Bengali language growth period during his reign.
- He offered high posts to Hindus, like wazir, chief physician, chief of the bodyguard, and master of the mint.
- Showed respect to Vaishnavite saint Shri Chaitanya and the period saw growth of Vaishnavism in Bengal.
- He captured Chittagong from the Arakan King and also annexed Tippereh (Tripura).
- He attacked Kamrupa and annexed their capital Kamata (Cooch Bihar) with the help of Ahoms. The Koch dynasty under Biswa Singh eventually took over Kamata in 1515.
Regional kingdom of Assam
The Ahom kingdom was established by Sukaphaa, a Tai prince from Mong Mao (present-day Yunnan province, China) in the 13th century. The kingdom was converted to Hinduism over the centuries, and it became a multi-ethnic culture.
They ruled for about 600 years and no attack on them was successful during this period, hence they largely remained independent.
The Ahoms expanded their territory in the 16th century under Suhunmung (1497-1539).
- The Hinduization of Ahoms is marked by Suhungmung changing his name to Svarga Narayana.
- Bengal Sultan Nusrat Shah attacked Ahoms but was defeated and repulsed.
Vaishnavite reformer Sankardev (born in Nagaon district, Assam) lived during this time (1449-1568). He played an important role in the spread of Vaishnavism in Assam. He and his followers established Sattras (monasteries), where the Sattriya dance form originated.
The regional kingdom of Odisha
During medieval times, the Hindu Gajapati rulers (1435 – 1541 CE) ruled over Kalinga (Odisha), large parts of Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and the eastern and central parts of Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Kapilendra Deva founded the Gajapati dynasty in 1453 CE after the decline of the eastern Ganga dynasty.
They spread their control over Karnataka in the south, which put them at odds with Vijayanagara, the Reddis, and the Bahmani sultans.
However, by the early 16th century, Vijaynagara and Golconda had gained control of substantial areas of the southern empire, and the Gajapati dynasty had even given way to the Bhoi dynasty.
Kingdom of Gujarat
Gujarat was one of the richest provinces of the Delhi Sultanate as it was rich in soil, and handicrafts, and had sea ports for trade.
During Firuz Tughlaq’s reign, Zafar Khan was governor of Gujarat.
After Timur’s invasion, Gujarat and Malwa became de facto independent sultanates.
In 1407, Zafar Khan formally proclaimed the independent Gujarat Sultanate and took up the title Muzaffar Shah, as the official independent ruler of Gujarat. He ruled from Patan as capital.
Ahmed Shah I (1411-1441):
- He was the grandson of Zafar Khan and during his long tenure, he brought the nobility under control, settled the administration, and expanded and consolidated the kingdom.
- He shifted the capital from Patan to the new city of Ahmedabad (its foundation was laid in 1413 CE).
- He defeated Saurashtra and captured the strong fort of Girnar, but later restored it to the Raja, on his promise to pay tribute.
- Attacked the Hindu pilgrimage center of Sidhpur, and destroyed many beautiful temples.
- He also imposed the Jizyah tax on Hindus for the first time in Gujarat.
- Despite these atrocities against Hindus, he appointed rich Hindu merchants like Manik Chand and Motichand, as ministers.
Mahmud Begarha (1459-1511):
- He was the most famous ruler of Gujarat as the kingdom emerged as one of the most powerful states in the country.
- He was called Begarha because he captured two important forts (garhs)- Girnar in Saurashtra (now Junagarh) and Champaner in south Gujarat.
- He renamed Junagarh Mustafabad.
- He captured the fort of Champaner which was important to control Malwa and Khandesh and constructed a new town called Muhammadabad near Champaner.
- Mahmud sacked Dwarka because it harbored pirates who preyed on the pilgrims traveling to Mecca.
- He led an expedition against the Portuguese who were interfering with Gujarat’s trade with the countries of West Asia. (Vasco da Gama arrived in India in 1498).
- 1509: Battle of Diu fought by Mahmud’s Gujarat Navy (led by Admiral Malik Ayyaz), Mamluk Egypt, Zamorin of Calicut, Ottoman Navy, Venice, and Ragusa (Croatia) against the Portuguese Navy. The Portuguese won decisively.
- Portuguese traveler Barbosa has written about the reign of Begarha.
Akbar annexed Gujarat in 1573 CE hence ending the regional kingdom of the western trade route.
Regional Kingdom of Malwa
1392 Dilawar Khan Ghori who belonged to the court of Firoz Shah Tughlaq threw off his allegiance to Delhi and became independent.
- Dilawar shifted the capital from Dhar to Mandu, a place that was highly defensible and which had a great deal of natural beauty.
- Dilawar Khan Ghori died in 1405 CE and was succeeded by his son, Alp Khan who assumed the title ‘Hoshang Shah’.
Malwa sultanate was centered around Rivers Narmada and Tapi and as a buffer between Gujarat, Bahmanis, and Lodi Sultans of Delhi.
Hushang Shah (1406-1435):
- Hushang Shah fought with Muzaffar Shah of Gujarat.
- No restrictions were placed on the construction of temples, under Hushang Shah.
- Hushang Shah extended his patronage to the Jains.
- The Jahaz mahal and Mandu fort are fine examples of architecture of this time.
Mahmud Khalji (1436 – 1469 CE):
- Mahmud Khalji assassinated Mohammad, the son of Hoshang Shah, and ascended to the throne.
- He fought with almost all his neighbors, the Bahmani Sultans, the ruler of Gujarat, the rajas of Gondwana and Orissa, and even the sultan of Delhi.
- He fought with Rana Kumbha of Mewar and both the kingdoms claimed victory. Mahmud Khalji erected a seven-storied column at Mandu and Rana Kumbha raised a tower of victory in Chittor.
During the period 1531-1537 CE, Bahadur Shah controlled the kingdom, though the Mughal emperor Humayun captured it for a brief period in 1535- 36 CE.
In 1537 CE, Qadir Shah who belonged to the previous Khalji dynasty regained control over a part of the erstwhile kingdom.
- But in c.1542 CE, Sher Shah Suri defeated him and captured the kingdom.
- He appointed Shujat Khan as the governor and his son Baz Bahadur declared independence in 1555 CE.
Baz Bahadur (c. 1551- 1561 CE):
- He was the last sultan of Malwa. He was famous for his association with queen Roopmati.
- In 1561 CE, he was defeated by Akbar’s army led by Pir Muhammad Khan and Adham Khan in the battle of Sarangpur. Baz Bahadur fled to Khandesh.
Regional kingdom of Mewar
With the conquest of Ranthambore by Alauddin Khalji, the power of Chauhans in Rajputana came to an end in the 14th century.
In 1335 CE, Rana Hammira (1314 – 1378 CE) established the second Guhila dynasty of Chittor.
- He was the progenitor of the Sisodia clan, a branch of the Guhilot clan, to which every succeeding Maharana of Mewar belonged.
- He was the first ruler who started the use of the title “Rana” and also built the Annapoorna Mata temple in Chittorgarh fort in Rajasthan.
- After the assassination of Rana Hamirra’s grandson, Maharana Mokal, his son Rana Kumbha ascended the throne of Mewar.
Rana Kumbha (1433 – 1468 CE)
- Rana Kumbha made the kingdom of Mewar very powerful. After consolidating his position with great diplomacy and defeating his internal rivals, Kumbha conquered states like Bundi, Kotah, Dungarpur, etc.
- Rana Kumbha gave shelter to a court rival of Mahmud Khalji of Malwa and even attempted to install him on the Malwa throne. In retaliation, Mahmud Khalji gave shelter to and sponsored some court rivals of Rana Kumbha.
- 1448- Rana Kumbha constructed the Vijay Stambha at Chittorgarh, to commemorate his victory over the combined armies of Malwa and Gujarat led by Mahmud Khalji.
- He was murdered by his son, Udai to gain the throne. He was, however, ousted by Maharana Raimal, the younger son of Rana Kumbha. Later, after another unfortunate, long conflict with his brothers, Rana Sanga (son of Raimal) became the ruler of Mewar.
Rana Sanga (c. 1508 – 1528 CE):
- He was the grandson of Rana Kumbha who established his supremacy over almost all Rajput states in Rajasthan.
Mahmud II, the king of Malwa, sought assistance from Bahadur Shah of Gujarat as well as sultan Ibrahim Lodhi of Delhi because he was concerned about the influence of his rival Rajput wazir Medini Rai.
- Medini Rai received assistance from Rana Sanga. Malwa’s army was defeated, along with the supporting forces from Delhi, by Sanga’s army and the Rajput rebels from within Malwa.
- Malwa thus came under Rana’s control militarily. However, even after defeating and imprisoning Mahmud II, Rana Sanga treated him well and restored his realm.
In 1518, Battle of Khatoli, Rana Sangha defeated Ibrahim Lodi when he invaded Mewar.
In1527 CE, Rana fought against Babur in the famous Battle of Khanwa (near Fatehpur Sikri).
In 1528 CE, he again fought Babur at the Battle of Chanderi to help Medini Rai who was attacked by Babur. But he fell sick and died in the camp.
Hence, these regional kingdoms ruled during the medieval time and eventually culminated in blending into a Mughal rule which followed Babur’s arrival.
-Article written by Swathi Satish