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Bahmani Sultanate

Bahmani Sultanate


Bahmani Sultanate, 1470 CE
Capital Gulbarga (1347–1425)
Bidar (1425–1527)
Religion Shia Islam[1]
Sunni Islam[2]
Government Monarchy
 •  1347–1358 Aladdin Hassan Bahman Shah(Allauddin Bahman Shah
 •  1525–1527 Kalim-Allah Shah
Historical era Late Medieval
 •  Established 3 August 1347
 •  Disestablished 1527

The Bahmani Sultanate (also called the Bahmanid Empire or Bahmani Kingdom) was a Muslim state of the Deccan in South India and one of the great medieval Indian kingdoms.[3] Bahmanid Sultanate was the first independent Islamic Kingdom in South India.[4]

The empire was Turkic[5] and founded by Ala-ud-Din Hassan Bahman Shah who had revolted against the Delhi Sultanate of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.[6] Nazir uddin Ismail Shah who had revolted against the Delhi Sultanate stepped down on that day in favour of Zafar Khan who ascended the throne with the title of Alauddin Bahman Shah. His revolt was successful, and he established an independent state on the Deccan within the Delhi Sultanate's southern provinces. The Bahmani capital was Ahsanabad (Gulbarga) between 1347 and 1425 when it was moved to Muhammadabad (Bidar). The Bahmani contested the control of the Deccan with the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire to the south. The sultanate reached the peak of its power during the vizierate (1466–1481) of Mahmud Gawan. The south Indian Emperor Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire defeated the last remnant of Bahmani Sultanate power after which the Bahmani Sultanate collapsed.[7] After 1518 the sultanate broke up into five states: Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar, Qutubshahi of Golconda (Hydrabad), Baridshahi of Bidar, Imadshahi of Berar, Adilshahi of Bijapur. They are collectively known as the "Deccan Sultanates"


  • History 1
  • Culture 2
  • List of Bahmani Shahs 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


After the Sultan, Muhammad Tughlaq left Daulatabad, Maharashtra, the city was conquered by Zafar Khan in 1345. Independence from Delhi was immediately declared and Khan established a sultanate of his own. Zafar Khan, a Turkish or Afghan officer of unknown descent, had earlier participated in a mutiny of troops in Gujarat. Zafar Khan's name was Hasan. He probably did not feel too safe in Daulatabad, so he shifted his capital two years later to Gulbarga (Karnataka). This town is located in a fertile basin Zafar Khan, also known as Bahman Shah, became the founder of an important dynasty which ruled the Deccan for nearly two centuries. He had to fight various remnants of Muhammad Tughlaq’s troops, as well as the Hindu rulers of Orissa and Warangal who had also expanded their spheres of influence as soon as Muhammad had left the Deccan. The rajas of Vijayanagar had established their empire almost at the same time as Bahman Shah had founded his sultanate; they now emerged as his most formidable enemies. Bahman Shah’s successor, Muhammad Shah (1358–73), killed about half a million people in his incessant campaigns until he and his adversaries came to some agreement to spare prisoners-of-war as well as the civilian population. Despite their many wars, Sultan Muhammad Shah and his successors could not expand the sultanate very much: they just about managed to maintain the status quo. Around 1400 the rulers of Vijayanagar, in good old Rajamandala style, even established an alliance with the Bahmani sultans’ northern neighbours – the sultans of Gujarat and Malwa – so as to check his expansionist policy. But in 1425 the Bahmani sultan subjugated Warangal and thus reached the east coast. However, only a few years later the new Suryavamsha dynasty of Orissa challenged the sultanate and contributed to its downfall.

In the fifteenth century the capital of the Bahmani sultanate was moved from Gulbarga to Bidar. The new capital, Bidar, was at a much higher level (about 3,000 feet) than Gulbarga and had a better climate in the rainy season, but it was also nearly 100 miles further to the northeast and thus much closer to Warangal. Bidar soon was as impressive a capital as Gulbarga had been. Afanasy Nikitin, a Russian traveller who spent four years in the sultanate from 1470 to 1474, left us a report which is one of the most important European accounts of life in medieval India. He highlighted the great contrast between the enormous wealth of the nobility and the grinding poverty of the rural population.

The most important personality of this Bidar period of the Bahmani sultanate was Mahmud Gawan, who served several sultans as prime minister and general from 1461 to 1481. He reconquered Goa, which had been captured by the rulers of Vijayanagar. The sultanate then extended from coast to coast. Gawan also introduced remarkable administrative reforms and controlled many districts directly. State finance was thus very much improved. But his competent organisation ended with his execution, ordered by the sultan as the result of a court intrigue. After realising his mistake the sultan drank himself to death within the year, thus marking the beginning of the end of the Bahmani sultanate.

Mahmud Gawan Madrasa was built by Mahmud Gawan, the Vizier of the Bahmani Sultanate as the center of learning in the Deccan.

After Gawan’s death the various factions at the sultan’s court started a struggle for power that was to end only with the dynasty itself: indigenous Muslim courtiers and generals were ranged against the ‘aliens’ – Arabs, Turks and Persians. The last sultan, Mahmud Shah (1482–1518) no longer had any authority and presided over the dissolution of his realm. Sri Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar defeated the last remnant of Bahmani power.[8] The governors of the four most important provinces declared their independence from the Bahmani ruler one after another: Bijapur (1489), Ahmadnagar (1490), Berar (1490), Bidar (1492) and Golconda (1512).[6] Although the Bahmani sultans lived on in Bidar until 1527, they were mere puppets in the hands of the real rulers of Bidar, the Barid Shahis, who used them so as to put pressure on the other usurpers of Bahmani rule.

Bijapur proved to be the most expansive of the successor states and annexed Bidar. Ahmadnagar and Golconda retained their independence and finally joined hands with Bijapur in the great struggle against Vijayanagar. Ahmadnagar annexed Berar before losing to Mughals. Embroiled in incessant fighting on the Deccan, Bijapur lost Goa to the Portuguese in 1510 and was unable to regain this port, even though attempts at capturing it were made up to 1570. The armies of Vijayanagar were a match for the armies of Bijapur. However, when all the Deccan sultanates pooled their resources, Vijayanagar suffered a crucial defeat in 1565. Subsequently the Deccan sultanates succumbed to the Great Mughals: Ahmadnagar, being the northernmost, was annexed first; Bijapur and Golconda survived for some time, but were finally vanquished by Aurangzeb in 1686–7.

The Deccan sultanates owed their origin to the withdrawal of the sultanate of Delhi from southern India and they were finally eliminated by the Great Mughals who had wiped out the sultanate of Delhi some time earlier. The role which these Deccan sultanates played in Indian history has been the subject of great debate. Early European historians, as well as later Hindu scholars, have highlighted the destructive role of these sultanates which were literally established on the ruins of flourishing Hindu kingdoms. Muslim historians, by contrast, have drawn attention to the cultural achievements of the sultanates in art and architecture – indeed, Anastasy Nikitin’s report praised Bijapur as the most magnificent city of India.


Great Mosque in Gulbarga Fort

The Bahmani dynasty believed that they descended from Bahman, the legendary king of Iran. The Bahamani Sultans were patrons of the Persian language, culture and literature, and some members of the dynasty became well-versed in that language and composed its literature in that language.[4]

These sultanates certainly contributed to the further development of India’s regional cultures. Some of these sultanates made important contributions to the development of the regional languages. The sultans of Bijapur recognised Marathi as a language in which business could be transacted. The sweeping conquest of India by Islamic rulers, epitomized by the far-flung military campaigns of the Delhi sultans, was thus in direct contrast with the regional aspect of the above-mentioned ventures. The coexistence of Islamic rule with Hindu rule in this period added a further dimension to this regionalisation.

List of Bahmani Shahs

Titular Name Personal Name Reign
Independence from Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah
علاء الدین حسن بہمن شاہ
Hasan Gangu
حسن گنگو
1347–1358 CE
Muhammad Shah Bahmani I
محمد شاہ بہمنی
1358–1375 CE
Ala-ud-Din Mujahid Shah
علاء الدین مجاہد شاہ
Mujahid Shah Bahmani
مجاہد شاہ بہمنی
1375–1378 CE
Dawood Shah Bahmani
داود شاہ بہمنی
1378 CE
Mahmood Shah Bahmani I
محمود شاہ بہمنی
1378–1397 CE
Ghiyath-ud-din Shah Bahmani
عیاث الدین شاہ بہمنی
1397 CE
Shams-ud-din Shah Bahmani
شمس الدین شاہ بہمنی
Puppet King Under Lachin Khan Turk
1397 CE
Taj-ud-Din Feroze Shah
تاج الدین فیروز شاہ
Feroze Khan
فیروز خان
1397–1422 CE
Ahmed Shah Wali Bahmani
احمد شاہ ولی بہمنی
1422–1436 CE
Ala-ud-Din Ahmed Shah
علاء الدین احمد شاہ
Ala-ud-Din Ahmed Shah Bahmani
علاء الدین احمد شاہ بہمنی
1436–1458 CE
Ala-ud-Din Humayun Shah
علاء الدین ھمایوں شاہ
Humayun Shah Zalim Bahmani
ھمایوں شاہ ظالم بہمنی
1458–1461 CE
Nizam Shah Bahmani
نظام شاہ بہمنی
1461–1463 CE
Muhammad Shah Lashkari
محمد شاہ لشکری
Muhammad Shah Bahmani II
محمد شاہ بہمنی دوئم
1463–1482 CE
Vira Shah
ویرا شاہ
Mahmood Shah Bahmani II
محمود شاہ بہمنی دوئم
1482–1518 CE
Ahmed Shah Bahmani II
احمد شاہ بہمنی دوئم
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
1518–1521 CE
Ala-ud-Din Shah
علاء الدین شاہ
Ala-ud-Din Shah Bahmani II
علاء الدین شاہ بہمنی دوئم
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
1521–1522 CE
Waliullah Shah Bahmani
ولی اللہ شاہ بہمنی
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
1522–1525 CE
Kaleemullah Shah Bahmani
کلیم اللہ شاہ بہمنی
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
1525–1527 CE
Dissolution of the Sultanate into 5 Kingdoms namely; Bidar Sultanate; Ahmednagar Sultanate; Bijapur Sultanate; Golconda Sultanate and Berar Sultanate.

See also


  1. ^ Burjor Avari, Islamic Civilization in South Asia: A History of Muslim Power and Presence in the Indian subcontinent, (Routledge, 2013), 91.
  2. ^ Farooqui Salma Ahmed, A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: From Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century, (Dorling Kindersley Pvt. Ltd., 2011), 170.
  3. ^ "The Five Kingdoms of the Bahmani Sultanate". Retrieved 2007-01-05. 
  4. ^ a b Ansari, N.H. "Bahmanid Dynasty" Encyclopaedia Iranica
  5. ^ Cathal J. Nolan (2006). The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000-1650: An Encyclopedia of Global ..., Volym 1. p. 437. 
  6. ^ a b Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 106–108,117.  
  7. ^ A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives, by Richard M. Eaton p.88
  8. ^ A Social History of the Deccan, 1300-1761: Eight Indian Lives by Richard M. Eaton p.88

External links

  • Chronology of Deccan rulers
  • Hameed Akhtar Siddiqui, "History of Bahmanis of Deccan, a Gulbarga Saltanate of India"
  • Library of Congress – A Country Study: India

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