Bahmani Sultanate

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Bahmani Sultanate
Coinage of Bahmani ruler Ala al-Din Ahmad Shah II (1435-1457) of Deccan
Coinage of Bahmani ruler Ala al-Din Ahmad Shah II (1435-1457)
Bahmani Sultanate, 1470 CE.[1]
Bahmani Sultanate, 1470 CE.[1]
Common languagesPersian (official) [2]
Deccani Urdu
Sunni Islam[3][4]
• 1347–1358
Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah
• 1525–1527
Kalim-Allah Shah
Historical eraLate Medieval
• Established
3 August 1347
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Delhi Sultanate
Musunuri Nayaks
Vijayanagara Empire
Deccan sultanates
Today part ofIndia

The Bahmani Sultanate was a Persianate[5][2] Indo-Muslim empire located in the Deccan region.[6][7] It was the first independent Muslim kingdom of the Deccan,[8] and was known for its perpetual wars with its rival Vijayanagara, which would outlast the Sultanate.[9]

The Sultanate was founded in 1347 by Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah. It later split into five successor states that were collectively known as the Deccan sultanates.


Nothing is definitely known about the ethnic origin of Hasan Gangu, the founder of the dynasty. The historian Ferishta believed a legend that Zafar Khan had earlier been a servant of a Brahmin astrologer at Delhi named Gangu (hence the name Hasan Gangu),[10][11][12] and says that he was from northern India.[13] Historians have not found any corroboration for the legend.[14][15] Barani, who was the court chronicler of Sultan Firuz Shah, and thus was a contemporary of Hassan, always conjoins his name with Gangu.[16] Another legend traces the ancestry of Bahmanids to the mythological Persian hero Bahman Shah, which seems implausible. According to Ferishta, "As the name Gangu (Brahman) became a part of the name of Sultan Ala-ud-Din Hasan, he has been called Bahmani but poets and historians, who wanted to flatter him having got hold of an argument have shown the matter in a different garb". The claim to his descent to a half-mythical hero was an attempt to mark him out for the honour of royalty by later poets and historians, but it was not Hasan Gangu himself who claimed descent from the mytholocal hero.[17] According to a third version, Bahman is a corrupted persianized form of Brahman,[18] a Hindu varna, and Hasan Gangu was born a Hindu.[19][20]


Barani states that Hasan Gangu was "born in very humble circumstances. For the first thirty years of his life he was nothing more than a field laborer."[21] He was made a commander of a hundred horsemen by the Sultan who was pleased with his honesty. This sudden rise in the military and socio-economic ladder was common in this era of Muslim India.[22]

Zafar Khan was one of the inhabitants of Dehli who were forced to migrate to the Deccan, with the purpose of building a large Muslim urban centre in Daulatabad.[23] Although the transfer was successful in spreading northern culture to the south, the Muslim nobles had long resented the Sultan for his cruelty in forcing the Muslim population to migrate to his new city of Daulatabad.[24] Zafar Khan was a man of ambition and looked forward to adventure. He had long hoped to employ his body of horsemen in the Deccan region for slaying and plundering Hindus, as the Deccan was seen as the place of bounty in Muslim imagination at the time.[25] He was rewarded with an Iqta for taking part in the conquest of Kampili.[26] He made various raids against neighboring Hindus until he could gain influence and wealth and became a powerful military chief.[27]


Before the establishment of his kingdom, he was Governor of Deccan and a commander on behalf of Tughlaq's. On 3 August 1347, the elderly Nazir Uddin Ismail Shah (Ismail Mukh) who had revolted against the Delhi Sultanate, voluntarily stepped down in favour of Bahman Shah, a native of Delhi.[29] His revolt was successful, and he established an independent state on the Deccan within the Delhi Sultanate's southern provinces with its headquarters at Hasanabad (Gulbarga) and all his coins were minted at Hasanabad.[30][31] The majority of the Bahmanid army that conquered the Deccan consisted of Urdu-speaking Indian Muslims.[32][33] With the support of the influential Chishti Sufi Shaikhs, he was crowned "Alauddin Bahman Shah Sultan – Founder of the Bahmani Dynasty".[34] They bestowed upon him a robe allegedly worn by the Prophet. The extension of the Sufi's notion of spiritual sovereignty lent legitimacy to the planting of the Sultanate's political authority, where the land, people, and produce of the Deccan were merited state protection, no longer available for plunder with impunity. These Sufis legitimized the transplantation of Indo-Muslim rulership from one region in South Asia to another, converting the land of the Bahmanids into being recognized as Dar ul-Islam, while it was previously considered Dar ul-Harb.[35]

Farman of Feroz Shah Bahmani

Alauddin was succeeded by his son Mohammed Shah I.[36] His conflicts with the Vijayangar empire were singularly savage wars, as according to the historian Ferishta, "the population of the Carnatic was so reduced that it did not recover for several ages."[37]

Ghiyasuddin succeeded his father Muhammad II at the age of seventeen, but was blinded and imprisoned by a Turkic slave called Taghalchin,[38][39] who had held a grudge on the Sultan for the latter's refusal to appoint him as a governor. He had lured the Sultan into putting himself in the former's power, using the beauty of his daughter, who was accomplished in music and arts, and had introduced her to the Sultan at a feast.[40][41] He was succeeded by Shamsuddin, who was a puppet king under Taghalchin. Firuz and Ahmed, the sons of the fourth sultan Daud, marched to Gulbarga to avenge Ghiyasuddin. Firuz declared himself the sultan, and defeated Taghalchin's forces. Taghalchin was killed and Shamsuddin was blinded.[42]

Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah became the sultan in 1397.[43] Firuz Shah fought against the Vijayanagara Empire on many occasions and the rivalry between the two dynasties continued unabated throughout his reign, with victories in 1398 and 1406, but a defeat in 1419. One of his victories resulted in his marriage to Deva Raya's daughter. In his reign, Sufis such as Gesudaraz, a Chishti saint who had immigrated from Dehli to Daulatabad, were prominent in court and daily life.[44] He was the first author to write in the Dakhni dialect of Urdu.[45]

Firuz Shah was succeeded by his younger brother Ahmad Shah I Wali. Bidar was made capital of the sultanate in 1429.[46] Ahmad Shah's reign was marked with relentless military campaigns and expansionism. He imposed destruction and slaughter on Vijayanagar and finally captured Warangal.[47]

Mahmud Gawan Madrasa was built by Mahmud Gawan, the Wazir of the Bahmani Sultanate as the centre of religious as well as secular education.[48]

Alauddin Ahmad II succeeded his father to the throne in 1436.[49] He ordered the construction of the Chand Minar. For the first half century after the establishment of the Bahmanids, the original colonists and their sons had administered the empire quite independent of either the non-Muslim Hindus, or the Muslim foreign immigrants. However, the later Bahmani Sultans began to recruit foreigners from overseas, whether because of depletion among the ranks of the original settlers, or the feelings of dependency upon the Persian courtly model, or both.[50] This resulted in factional strife that first became acute in the reign of Alauddin Ahmad II.[51] In 1446, the powerful Dakhani nobles persuaded the Sultan that the Persians were responsible for the failure of the Konkan invasion.[52] The Sultan condoned a terrible massacre of Persian Shi'a Sayyids by the Sunni Dakhani nobles and their Sunni Abyssinian slaves.[53] A few survivors escaped the massacre dressed in women's clothing and convinced the Sultan of their innocence.[54] Ashamed of his own folly, the Sultan punished the Dakhani leaders who were responsible for the massacre, putting them to death or throwing them in prison, and reduced their families to beggary.[55]

The eldest sons of Humayun Shah, Nizam-Ud-Din Ahmad III and Muhammad Shah III Lashkari ascended the throne successively, while they were young boys. The vizier Mahmud Gawan ruled as regent during this period, until Muhammad Shah reached age. Mahmud Gawan is known for setting up the Mahmud Gawan Madrasa, a center of religious as well as secular education.[48] Gawan was considered a great statesman, and a poet of repute. Mahmud Gawan was caught in a struggle between a rivalry between two groups of nobles, the Dakhanis and the Afaqis. The Dakhanis made the ruling indigenous Muslim elite of the Bahmanid dynasty, being descendants of Sunni immigrants from Northern India, while the Afaqis were foreign newcomers from the west such as Gawan, who were mostly Shi'is.[56][57] The Dakhanis believed that the privileges, patronage and positions of power in the Sultanate should have been reserved solely for them, based on their ethnic origin and their sense of pride of having launched the Bahmanid empire.[58][59] The divisions included sectarian religious divisions where the Afaqis were looked upon heretics by the Sunnis as the former were Shi'as,[60] while Eaton cites a linguistic divide where the Dakhanis spoke Dakhni while the Afaqis favored the Persian language.[61] Although Mahmud Gawan was a foreigner, he attempted to reconcile the factions and strengthen the Sultanate by allotting offices to the Dakhanis. Nonetheless, Mahmud Gawan found it difficult to win their confidence; the party strife could not be stopped and his opponents eventually managed to poison the ears of the Sultan.[62] Mahmud Gawan was executed by Muhammad Shah III, an act that the latter regretted until he died in 1482.[63] Upon his death, Nizam-ul-Mulk Bahri, the father of the founder of the Nizam Shahi dynasty became the regent of the king.[64]

Later rulers and decline[edit]

Muhammad Shah II was succeeded by his son Mahmood Shah Bahmani II, the last Bahmani ruler to have real power.[65] In 1501, Mahmud Shah Bahmani united his amirs and wazirs in an agreement to wage annual Jihad against Vijayanagar. The expeditions were financially ruinous.[66]

The independent Nizam Shahi Sultanate was founded by the son of the regent of Muhammad Shah II, Nizam-ul-Mulk Bahri

The last Bahmani Sultans were puppet monarchs under their Barid Shahi Prime Ministers, who were de facto rulers. After 1518 the sultanate broke up into five states: Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar, Qutb Shahi of Golconda (Hyderabad), Barid Shahi of Bidar, Imad Shahi of Berar, Adil Shahi of Bijapur. They are collectively known as the "Deccan Sultanates".[67]

The south Indian Emperor Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire defeated the last remnant of Bahmani Sultanate power after which the Bahmani Sultanate collapsed.[68]


Modern scholars like Sherwani, Eaton have based their accounts of the Bahmani dynasty mainly upon the medieval chronicles of Firishta, and Syed Ali Tabatabai. Other contemporary works were Sivatatva Chintamani and Guru Charitra. Athanasius Nikitin traveled this kingdom. He contrasts the huge "wealth of the nobility with the wretchedness of the peasantry and the frugality of the Hindus".[69]


The Bahmani 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.[8]

Bahmani Tombs in Bidar district

The dynasty derived its Indo-Muslim and Persianate culture from Northern India and the Middle East, and used Urdu/Dakhani and Persian literature to differentiate from its overwhelmingly non-Muslim subjects.[70]

The first sultan, Alauddin Bahman Shah is noted to have captured 1,000 singing and dancing girls from Hindu temples after he battled the northern Carnatic chieftains. The later Bahmanis also enslaved civilian women and children in wars; many of them were converted to Islam in captivity.[71][72] The craftspersons of Bidar were so famed for their inlay work on copper and silver that it came to be known as Bidri.[73] Firuz Shah, having a passion for languages, married a large number of Indians, Iranians and Arabs, in order to practise speaking their own languages with them. In addition he was known for speaking several Indian languages.[74]


The Persianate Indo-Islamic style of architecture developed during this period was later adopted by the Deccan Sultanates as well.

The Gulbarga Fort, Haft Gumbaz, and Jama Masjid in Gulbarga, Bidar Fort and Madrasa Mahmud Gawan[48] in Bidar, are the major architectural contributions.

The later rulers are buried in an elaborate tomb complex, known as the Bahmani Tombs.[75] The exterior of one of the tombs is decorated with coloured tiles. Arabic, Persian and Urdu inscriptions are inscribed inside the tombs.[75][76]

The Bahmani rulers made some beautiful tombs and mosques in Bidar and Gulbarga. They also built many forts at Daulatabad, Golconda and Raichur. The architecture was highly influenced by Persian architecture. They invited architects from Persia, Turkey and Arabia. Some of the magnificent structures built by the Bahmanis were the Jami Masjid at Gulbarga, Chandand Minar and the Mahmud Gawan Madrasa at Bidar.

List of Bahmani Shahs[edit]

Dakhani Horseman
Titular Name Personal Name Reign
Independence from Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad bin Tughlaq.
Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah
علاء الدین حسن بہمن شاہ
Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah I
حسن گنگو
3 August 1347 – 11 February 1358
Mohammad Shah I
محمد شاہ بہمنی
11 February 1358 – 21 April 1375
Ala-ud-Din Mujahid Shah
علاء الدین مجاہد شاہ
Mujahid Shah 21 April 1375 – 16 April 1378
Dawood Shah
داود شاہ بہمنی
16 April 1378 – 22 May 1378
Mohammad Shah II
محمود شاہ بہمنی
21 May 1378 – 20 April 1397
Ghiyath-ad-din Shah
عیاث الدین شاہ بہمنی
20 April 1397 – 14 June 1397
Shams-ad-din Shah
شمس الدین شاہ بہمنی
Puppet King Under Lachin Khan Turk
14 June 1397 – 15 November 1397
Taj-ud-Din Feroze Shah
تاج الدین فیروز شاہ
Feroze Shah
فیروز خان
24 November 1397 – 1 October 1422
Ahmed Shah Wali Bahmani
احمد شاہ ولی بہمنی
1 October 1422 – 17 April 1436
Ala-ud-Din Ahmed Shah
علاء الدین احمد شاہ
Ala-ud-Din Ahmed Shah Bahmani
علاء الدین احمد شاہ بہمنی
17 April 1436 – 6 May 1458
Ala-ud-Din Humayun Shah
علاء الدین ھمایوں شاہ
Humayun Shah Zalim Bahmani
ھمایوں شاہ ظالم بہمنی
7 May 1458 – 4 September 1461
Nizam Shah Bahmani
نظام شاہ بہمنی
4 September 1461 – 30 July 1463
Muhammad Shah Lashkari
محمد شاہ لشکری
Muhammad Shah Bahmani III
محمد شاہ بہمنی دوئم
30 July 1463 – 26 March 1482
Vira Shah
ویرا شاہ
Mahmood Shah Bahmani II
محمود شاہ بہمنی دوئم
Puppet King Under Nizam-ul-Mulk Bahri
26 March 1482 – 27 December 1518
Ahmed Shah Bahmani II
احمد شاہ بہمنی دوئم
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
27 December 1518 – 15 December 1520
Ala-ud-Din Shah
علاء الدین شاہ
Ala-ud-Din Shah Bahmani II
علاء الدین شاہ بہمنی دوئم
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
28 December 1520 – 5 March 1523
Waliullah Shah Bahmani
ولی اللہ شاہ بہمنی
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
5 March 1522 – 1526
Kaleemullah Shah Bahmani
کلیم اللہ شاہ بہمنی
Puppet King Under Amir Barid I
Dissolution of the Sultanate into 5 Kingdoms namely; Bidar Sultanate; Ahmednagar Sultanate; Bijapur Sultanate; Golconda Sultanate and Berar Sultanate.

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]