The Ahmadnagar Sultanate was a late medieval Indian kingdom, located in the northwestern Deccan, between the sultanates of Gujarat and Bijapur. Malik Ahmad, the Bahmani governor of Junnar after defeating the Bahmani army led by general Jahangir Khan on 28 May 1490 declared independence and established the Nizam Shahi dynasty rule over the sultanate of Ahmednagar. Initially his capital was in the town of Junnar with its fort, later renamed Shivneri. In 1494, the foundation was laid for the new capital Ahmadnagar. In 1636 Aurangzeb, then Mugal viceroy of Deccan finally annexed the sultanate to the Mughal empire.
Malik Ahmad was the son of Nizam-ul-Mulk Malik Hasan Bahri. After the death of his father, he assumed the appellation of his father and from this the dynasty found by him is known as the Nizam Shahi dynasty. He founded the new capital Ahmadnagar on the bank of the river Sina. After several attempts, he secured the great fortress of Daulatabad in 1499.
Art and Architecture
Under the reigns of successive rulers of the dynasty, architecture and art flourished in the kingdom. The earliest extant school of painting in the Deccan sultanates is from Ahmadnagar. Several palaces, such as the Farah Bakhsh Bagh, the Hasht Bihisht Bagh, Lakkad Mahal were built, as were tombs, mosques and other buildings. Many forts of the Deccan, such as the fort of Junnar (later renamed Shivneri), Paranda, Ausa, Dharur, Lohogad, etc. were greatly improved under their reign.
Reigns of the successors of Malik Ahmad
After the death of Malik Ahmad in 1510, his son Burhan, a boy of seven was, installed in his place. In the initial days of his reign, the control of the kingdom was in the hands of Mukammal Khan, an Ahmadnagar official and his son. Burhan Shah I died in Ahmadnagar in 1553. He left six sons, of whom Hussain succeeded him. After the death of Hussain Shah I in 1565, his minor son Murtaza ascended the throne. During his minority, his mother Khanzada Humayun Sultana better known in history as Chand Sultana or Chand Bibi ruled as a regent for several years. Murtaza Shah annexed Berar in 1572. On his death in 1588, his son Miran Hussain ascended the throne. But his reign could last only a little more than ten months as he was poisoned to death. Ismail, a cousin of Miran Hussain was raised to the throne, but the actual power was in the hands of Jamal Khan, the leader of the Deccani/Habshi group in the court. Jamal Khan was killed in the battle of Rohankhed in 1591 and soon Ismail Shah was also captured and confined by his father Burhan, who ascended the throne as Burhan Shah. But Chand Bibi fought him.Winning the kingdom, Chand Bibi ascended the throne . After the death of Chand Bibi in July, 1600 Ahmadnagar was conquered by the Mughals and Bahadur Shah was imprisoned.
Malik Ambar and the demise of the sultanate
Although, Ahmadnagar city and its adjoining areas were occupied by the Mughals, an extensive part of the kingdom still remained in possession of the influential officials of the Nizam Shahi dynasty. Malik Ambar and other Ahmadnagar officials defied the Mughals and declared Murtaza Shah II as sultan in 1600 at a new capital Paranda. Malik Ambar became prime minister and Vakil-us-Saltanat of Ahmadnagar. Later, the capital was shifted first to Junnar and then to a new city Khadki (later Aurangabad). After the death of Malik Ambar in May 1626, his son Fath Khan surrendered to the Mughals in 1633 and handed over the young Nizam Shahi ruler Hussain Shah, who was sent as a prisoner to the fort of Gwalior. But soon, Shahaji with the assistance of Bijapur, placed an infant scion of the Nizam Shahi dynasty, Murtaza on the throne and he became the regent. In 1636 Aurangzeb, then Mughal viceroy of Deccan finally annexed the sultanate to the Mughal empire after defeating Shahaji.
Revenue System of Malik Ambar
The revenue system introduced by Malik Ambar was based on the revenue system introduced in Northern India and some parts of Gujarat and Khandesh subahs by Raja Todarmal. Lands were classified as good or bad according to their fertility and he took a number of years to ascertain accurately the average yield of lands. He abolished the revenue farming. At first, revenue was fixed as two-fifths of the actual produce in kind, but later the cultivators were allowed to pay in cash equivalent to approximately one-third of the yield. Although an average rent was fixed for each plot of land but actual collections depended on the conditions of crops and they varied from year to year.
List of Rulers
The following is the list of the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmadnagar:
- Ahmad Nizam Shah I 1490 – 1510
- Burhan Nizam Shah I 1510 – 1553
- Hussain Nizam Shah I 1553 – 1565
- Murtaza Nizam Shah I 1565 – 1588
- Miran Hussain Nizam Shah II 1588 – 1589
- Isma'il Nizam Shah 1589 – 1591
- Burhan Nizam Shah II 1591 – 1595
- Ibrahim Nizam Shah 1595 – 1596
- Ahmad Nizam Shah II 1596
- Bahadur Nizam Shah 1596 – 1600
- Murtaza Nizam Shah II 1600 – 1610
- Burhan Nizam Shah III 1610 – 1631
- Hussain Nizam Shah III 1631 – 1633
- Murtaza Nizam Shah III 1633 – 1636.
- Mughal historians and Emperors never referred to them as Nizam Shahs but rather as Nizam-ul-Mulk, since they were not recognized as equals.
- Michell, George & Mark Zebrowski. Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates (The New Cambridge History of India Vol. I:7), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999, ISBN 0-521-56321-6, p.274.
- Sohoni, Pushkar. "Change and Memory in Farah Bagh, Ahmadnagar" in Journal of Deccan Studies, v. 5 no. 2 (Jul-Dec 2007), pp. 59-77.
- Sohoni, Pushkar. "Architecture of the Nizam Shahs" in Helen Philon (ed.), Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan, 14th - 19th centuries (Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2010).
- Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2007). The Mughul Empire, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-407-1,pp.415–45
- Shyam, Radhe (2008). Kingdom of Ahmadnagar, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-2651-5
- Sohoni, Pushkar (2010). "Local Idioms and Global Designs: Architecture of the Nizam Shahs" (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania).
- Chopra, R.M. (2012), The Rise, Growth And Decline in Indo-Persian Literature, Iran Culture House, New Delhi, Chapter on "Persian Literature in Ahmadnagar Sultanate".