Ghiyath Shah

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Ghiyath Shah
Sultan of Malwa
Sweets 1.jpg
Ghiyath Shah dining (from Nimatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi)
PredecessorMahmud Shah I
SuccessorNasir-ud-Din Shah

Ghiyath Shah, also known as Ghiyas-ud-Din Shah or Ghiyasuddin, was a Sultan of the Malwa Sultanate in the fifteenth century. The son of his predecessor Mahmud Shah I, he reigned from 1469 to 1500. A military leader before his accession, he was known during his reign for his religious devotion and cultural life. During his reign, the Nimatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi was written and illustrated. His court was known for having over 12,000 women, including entertainers and scholars. His exiled son Nasir-ud-Din Shah revolted and took the throne in October 1500. Ghiyasuddin was found dead four months later and is believed to have been poisoned by his son and successor.


The eldest son of Mahmud, Ghiyath served his father as a military leader.[1] He was made Shah at the death of his father in 1469.[2] According to Firishta, shortly after his accession, he held a grand feast at which he announced that after thirty-four years on the field he was yielding his military rule to his son.[3] He was also known as Ghiyas-ud-Din Shah and Ghiyasuddin.[4]

Jahaz Mahal, the palace of Ghiyasuddin

Ghiyasuddin then retired to a life away from the battlefield, constructing the palace of Jahaz Mahal, and created a court that was a place of culture. He was also known as an eccentric lover of art. For example, Nimatnama-i-Nasiruddin-Shahi (Book of Delights)[5] is a cookery book produced between 1495 and 1505 for the sultan that is richly illustrated in a fusion of Persian and pre-Islamic Indian styles. The book contains fifty images, including the sultan, servants, landscapes and buildings as well as food preparation.[6]

He was devoutly religious. He abstained from intoxicating drink and foods forbidden on religious grounds.[7] According to Firishta, he gave instructions to his attendants that he should always be woken at the hour of prayer and that they were known to pull him out of bed while he was asleep.[3] He was a follower of Moinuddin Chishti and is believed to have erected a 23-metre (75 ft) high ceremonial gateway named Buland Darwaza at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah in honour of the scholar.[8]

Towards the end of his life, there was conflict between his eldest son Nasir-ud-Din Shah, who had commanded the army, and his youngest son Ala-ud-Din. Nasir-ud-Din was chased from the capital Mando in 1499, but ultimately triumphed, returning to the palace on 22 October 1500. Nasir-ud-Din then executed his brother, along with his children and the rest of his family, and was formally crowned. Ghiyasuddin was found dead four months later, widely believed to have been poisoned by his son and successor.[9]

Attitude to Women[edit]

There were 12,000 women in Ghiyasuddin's court, including musicians, dancers and wrestlers.[10] Ghiyath was interested in female education and set up a Madrasa in Sarangpur to teach the women of his court. Tutors were engaged to teach the royal princesses and over seventy women were well versed in the Quran.[11] According to historian Ramya Sreenivasan, the king had a roving eye, and is reported to have undertaken the quest for Padmini, not a particular Rajput princess, but the ideal type of woman according to Hindu erotology.[12]


  1. ^ Day, Upendra Nath (1965). Medieval Malwa, A Political and Cultural History, 1401-1562. New Delhi: Munshi Ram Manohar Lal.
  2. ^ Singh, Nagendra Kr; Singh, Nagendra Kumar (2000). International Encyclopaedia of Islamic Dynasties. New Delhi: Anmol Publications. ISBN 978-8126104031.
  3. ^ a b Firishta, Mahomed Kasim (1829). History of the Rise of the Mahometan Power in India, till the year A.D. 1612, Volume IV. Translated by Briggs, John. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. pp. 236–239.
  4. ^ Sharma, Santosh Kumar (2005). Honey and Its Ayurvedic Approach. Jaipur: Publication Scheme. p. 35. ISBN 978-8181820105.
  5. ^ Dalrymple, William (January 2017). "Scents and sensuality". 1843. Economist Group. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  6. ^ Avari, Burjor (2013). Islamic Civilization in South Asia: A history of Muslim power and presence in the Indian subcontinent. London: Routledge. p. 96. ISBN 978-0415580625.
  7. ^ Ghosh, Suresh Chandra (2001). History of Education in India. Delhi: Low Price Publications. p. 81. ISBN 978-8175361935.
  8. ^ Currim, Mumtaz; Michell, George (2004). Dargahs, Abodes of the Saints. Mumbai: Marg Publications. p. 59. ISBN 978-8185026657.
  9. ^ Allan, John Andrew; Dodwell, Henry Herbert (1936). The Cambridge Shorter History of India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 307.
  10. ^ Gupta, Kamala (2003). Women In Hindu Social System (1206-1707 A.D.). New Delhi: Inter India Publications. p. 178. ISBN 978-8121004145.
  11. ^ Iftikhar, Rukhsana (2016). Indian Feminism: Class, Gender & Identity in Medieval Ages. Chennai: Notion Press.
  12. ^ "What history can and can't tell you about Alauddin Khilji and legend of Padmavati". Ghiyath al-din Khilji, according to a Hindu inscription in the Udaipur area, was defeated in battle in 1488 by a Rajput chieftain, Badal-Gora, which incidentally also happened to be the names of the twins, Badal and Gora, the vassals of Ratansen, in the epic Padmaavat".

See also[edit]

Preceded by Sultan of Malwa
Succeeded by