Shaista Khan

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Mirza Abu-Talib Shaista Khan
Mughal Subahdar
Shaista Khan in c. 1650
24th & 27th Subahdar of Bengal
1st Governorship30 March 1664 – 1676
PredecessorMir Jumla II
SuccessorFidai Khan II
2nd Governorship1680 – 1688
PredecessorAzam Shah
SuccessorIbrahim Khan II
Subahdar of Khandesh
Governorship1658 – 1669
Subahdar of Deccan
GovernorshipJanuary 1660 –
Born22 November 1600
Delhi, Mughal Empire
Diedc. 1694
(aged 93–94)
Delhi, Mughal Empire
IssueBuzurg Umed Khan[1]
Iran Dukht Rahmat Banu (Bibi Pari)[2]
Aqidat Khan
Jafar Khan
Abu Nasr Khan
Iradat Khan[3]
Mirza Abu-Talib Shaista Khan ibn Abu'l-Hasan Asaf Khan
FatherAsaf Khan IV
MotherDiwanji Begum
ReligionSunni Islam (Hanafi)
OccupationMughal Statesman

Mirza Abu Talib (22 November 1600 – 1694),[4][5] better known as Shaista Khan, was a general and the subahdar of Mughal Bengal. A maternal uncle to the emperor Aurangzeb,[6] he acted as a key figure during his reign. Shaista Khan initially governed the Deccan, where he clashed with the Maratha ruler Shivaji. However, he was most notable for his tenure as the governor of Bengal from 1664 to 1688. Under Shaista Khan's authority, the city of Dhaka and Mughal power in the province attained its greatest heights. His achievements include constructions of notable mosques such as the Sat Gambuj Mosque and masterminding the conquest of Chittagong. Shaista Khan was also responsible for sparking the outbreak of the Anglo-Mughal War with the English East India Company.[7]

Early life[edit]

According to the diary of William Hedges, the first governor of the East India Company in Bengal, the birthday of Shaista Khan was on 22 November.[4]

Khan was of Persian and Afghan origin. His grandfather Mirza Ghiyas Beg and father Abu'l-Hasan Asaf Khan were the wazirs of the Mughal emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, respectively. He also had familial connections with the imperial dynasty, having been a paternal nephew of the empress Nur Jahan and the brother of the empress Mumtaz Mahal. Jahangir awarded the title of Mirza to Shaista Khan in recognition of his family's service and position in the Mughal court.[8]

Khan trained and served with the Mughal army and court, winning multiple promotions and being appointed governor of various provinces. He also developed a reputation as a successful military commander and grew close to his nephew, the prince Aurangzeb, when the duo fought against the kingdom of Golconda.[8]

Confrontation with the Marathas[edit]

After Aurangzeb's accession to the Mughal throne in 1659, he sent Shaista Khan as viceroy of the Deccan with a large army to enforce the treaty the Mughals had signed with the Adilshahi of Bijapur. Through the treaty the Adilshahi had ceded territory that it had previously captured from the Ahmadnagar Sultanate, to the Mughals.[9] However, the territory was also fiercely contested by Maratha ruler, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who had acquired a reputation after his killing of Adilshahi general, Afzal Khan in 1659.[10] In January 1660, Shaista Khan arrived at Aurangabad and quickly advanced, seizing Pune, the centre of Shivajiraje's realm. He also captured the fort of Chakan and Kalyan and north Konkan after heavy fighting with the Marathas.[11]: 243, 259–60  The Maratha were banned from entering the city of Pune and Mughal distance from the locals turned out to be an error.Shaista was responsible to heavily mass destruct pune city and its innocent civilians. On the evening of 5 April 1663, a wedding party had obtained special permission for holding a procession. Shivajiraje and many of his nearly 400 men disguised as the bridegroom's procession members entered Pune. Others entered in small parties dressed as labourers and soldiers of Maratha generals serving under Shaista Khan. After midnight, they raided the Nawab's compound and then entered the palace in an attempt to assassinate him.[12][13]

A 20th century depiction of Shivaji (right) attacking Shaista Khan, as he tries to flee by artist M.V. Dhurandhar

The Marathas broke into the courtyard of the palace and slaughtered the palace guards. According to a tale, the Nawab lost three fingers while running from Shivray while his son was killed in an encounter with the Marathas in the palace courtyard. Several of his wives also perished.[14] Taking advantage of the confusion and darkness, the Marathas escaped the palace and Pune, despite the widespread camping of Mughal forces. Shocked by the sudden and bold attack in the city, Aurangzeb angrily transferred Shaista Khan to Bengal, even refusing to give him audience at the time of transfer as was the custom.[15]

Subahdar of Bengal[edit]

Construction of Saat Masjid is credited to Shaista Khan

On the death of Mir Jumla II in 1663, Shaista Khan was appointed the Subedar of Bengal. As governor, he encouraged trade with Europe, Southeast Asia and other parts of India. He consolidated his power by signing trade agreements with European powers. Despite his powerful position he remained loyal to Aurangzeb, often mediating trade disputes and rivalries. In 1666, Shaista Khan led the campaign to Chittagong and expelled the Portuguese and Magh defender with 300 flotillas.[16] The Mughal forces even forced the Portuguese in Sandwip to relinquish their bases to be used as Mughal naval operation.[16] Later He banned the English East India Company from Bengal in 1686, beginning the Anglo-Mughal War. In 1678, Prince Muhammad Azam Shah was appointed the Subedar of Bengal. In 1680, Shaista Khan was again appointed as the Subedar of Bengal. He served his first term from 1663 to 1678 and his second term from 1680 to 1688.

Construction projects[edit]

Shaista Khan encouraged the construction of modern townships and public works in Dhaka, leading to a massive urban and economic expansion. He was a patron of the arts and encouraged the construction of majestic monuments across the province, including mosques, mausoleums and palaces that represented the finest in Indo-Sarcenic and Mughal architecture. Khan greatly expanded Lalbagh Fort, Chowk Bazaar Mosque, Saat Masjid and Choto Katra. He also supervised the construction of the mausoleum for his daughter Bibi Pari.

Conquest of Chittagong[edit]

Conquest of Chittagong
DateNovember 1665 – 27 January 1666[17]
Result Mughal victory[17]
Annexation of Chittagong into Bengal

Bengal Subah
Netherlands Netherlands

Portuguese India Portugal
Commanders and leaders
Shaista Khan
Nawab wali beg khan
Mazlis Khan
Buzurg Umed Khan
Ibn Hussain
Farhad Khan
Sanda Thudhamma
9,600 troops[18]
300 warships[18]
Portugal 40 warships[17]
estimate; 1100+ troops
217 warships
378+ small boats
Casualties and losses
light[17] several ships sunk
135 ships captured[17]

Upon his arrival in Bengal, Shaista Khan was faced with putting down the Arakanese pirates. He began by rebuilding the Mughal navy, increasing its Bengal fleet to 300 battle-ready ships within a year.[19] He made diplomatic efforts to gain the support of the Dutch East India Company as well as Portugal, With the direct support of the Dutch army, Shaista Khan led the Mughals in an attack on the Arakanese-held Sandwip under the command of Ibn Husain, which lay in Arakanese control.[20] The previous Siege of Hooghly by Shaishta Khan were considered by Saugata Bhaduri, professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University, as an attempt by the empire to threaten the Portuguese settlers in Bengal to assist them in conquest of Chittagong.[21]

Mughal forces succeeded in capturing the island in November 1665.[19]

Shaista Khan gained a considerable advantage when a conflict erupted between the Arakanese and the Portuguese. The Portuguese, led by Captain Moor, set fire to Arakanese fleets and fled to Bhulua where Thanadar Farhad Khan gave them refuge. Farhad then sent them off to Shaista. By promptly offering protection and support, Shaista secured the aid of the Portuguese against the Arakanese.[19]

Shaista Khan in later days

In December 1665, Shaista Khan launched a major military campaign against Chittagong, which was the mainstay of the Arakanese kingdom. The imperial fleet consisted of 288 vessels of their own and about 40 vessels of the Firingis (Portuguese) as auxiliaries. Ibn Hussain, Shaista Khan's admiral, was asked to lead the navy, while the subahdar himself took up the responsibility of supplying provisions for the campaign. He also ordered Farhad Khan and Mir Murtaza to take the land route. The overall command was given to Buzurg Ummed Khan, a son of Shaista Khan.[11]: 230  The Mughals and the Portuguese held sway in the following naval battle. The conquered territory to the western bank of Kashyapnadi (Kaladan river) was placed under direct imperial administration. The name of Chittagong was changed to Islamabad and it became the headquarters of a Mughal faujdar.[11]: 230  Khan also re-asserted Mughal control over Cooch Behar and Kamarupa.

Upon his victory against the Arakanese, he ordered the release of thousands of Bengali peasants being held captive by the Arakanese forces.

Personal life[edit]

According to Shaista Khan's vasiat-nama (a document registered before his death) that he had seven sons and five daughters.[22][23]


In his late years, Shaista Khan left Dhaka and returned to Delhi. His legacy was the expansion of Dhaka into a regional centre of trade, politics and culture; a thriving and prosperous city from a small township. It is said that he made currency of Bangladesh 'Taka' so strong that eight 'mon' (around 295 kilogram) processed rice or 'chaal' could be bought with one taka.[24] The Shaista Khan Mosque is a massive standing monument to Shaista Khan, built on his palace grounds. Incorporating unique elements of Bengali and Mughal architecture, it is a major tourist attraction and a valued historical monument protected by the Government of Bangladesh today.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hossain, AKM Yakub & Haque, AKM Khademul (2012). "Buzurg Umed Khan". In Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 1 March 2024.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Hossain, AKM Yakub & Chowdhury, AM (2012). "Bibi Pari". In Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 1 March 2024.{{cite encyclopedia}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Abdul Karim (2012). "Iranians, The". In Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  4. ^ a b Hedges, Sir William (1887). The Diary of William Hedges, Esq. (afterwards Sir William Hedges), During His Agency in Bengal: As Well as on His Voyage Out and Return Overland (1681-1697). Hakluyt Society. pp. 43–51.
  5. ^ Sir Jadunath Sarkar, History of Aurangzib: Mainly Based on Persian Sources, Volume 5 (1974), p. 283
  6. ^ Samaren Roy (May 2005). Calcutta: Society and Change 1690–1990. iUniverse. pp. 52–. ISBN 978-0-595-34230-3. Retrieved 25 February 2012.
  7. ^ Hasan, Farhat (1991). "Conflict and Cooperation in Anglo-Mughal Trade Relations during the Reign of Aurangzeb". Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient. 34 (4): 351–360. doi:10.1163/156852091X00058. JSTOR 3632456.
  8. ^ a b Abdul Karim (2012). "Shaista Khan". In Sirajul Islam; Miah, Sajahan; Khanam, Mahfuza; Ahmed, Sabbir (eds.). Banglapedia: the National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Online ed.). Dhaka, Bangladesh: Banglapedia Trust, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. ISBN 984-32-0576-6. OCLC 52727562. OL 30677644M. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  9. ^ Stewart Gordon (1 February 2007). The Marathas 1600-1818. Cambridge University Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-521-03316-9.
  10. ^ Sardesai 1946, G.S. (1946). New history of the Marathas. Vol. I: ShivajiRaje and his line (1600-1701). Bombay: Phoenix Publications. pp. 142–144.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ a b c Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra; Pusalker, A. D.; Majumdar, A. K., eds. (2007) [First published 1974]. The History and Culture of the Indian People. Vol. VII: The Mughal Empire. Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
  12. ^ Sardesai 1946, G.S. (1946). New history of the Marathas. Vol. I: Shivaji and his line (1600-1701). Bombay: Phoenix Publications. pp. 142–144.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Jasper, Daniel (2006). "Celebrating a Region through Historical Commemoration". In Vora, Rajendra; Feldhaus, Anne (eds.). Region, Culture, and Politics in India. Manohar. p. 239. ISBN 978-81-7304-664-3.
  14. ^ Truschke, Audrey (2017). Aurungzeb The man and the myth. Penguin Books. ISBN 978-0-143-44271-4.
  15. ^ Chandra, Satish. (2007). History of medieval India : 800-1700. Hyderabad, India: Orient Longman. ISBN 978-81-250-3226-7. OCLC 191849214.
  16. ^ a b Lal Mehta, Jaswant · (2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707-1813 (Hardcover). New Dawn Press, Incorporated. p. 330. ISBN 9781932705546. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  17. ^ a b c d e ড. মুহম্মদ আব্দুল করিম. বাংলাদেশের ইতিহাস. মগ বিতাড়ন ও চট্টগ্রাম জয়. ২৬৯–২৭০.
  18. ^ a b Trudy, Ring; M. Salkin, Robert; La Boda, Sharon; Edited by Trudy Ring (1996). International dictionary of historic places. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. ISBN 1-884964-04-4. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Sarkar, Jadunath, ed. (1973) [First published 1948]. The History of Bengal. Vol. II: Muslim Period, 1200–1757. Patna: Academica Asiatica. p. 379. OCLC 924890. It was Shāista Khan's task to put an end to this terror [the Arakan pirates] ... The Bengal flotilla (nawwāra) had been wofully depleted ... Shāista Khan's energy and persistence overcame every obstacle. A new navy was created, manned and equipped in a little over a year ... In a short time 300 vessels were ... ready in war-trim ... The island of Sondip ... [was] captured ... (November 1665.) A still more important gain was the seduction of the Feringis of Chātgāon from the side of the Arakanese ... A feud had just then broken out between the Magh ruler of Chātgāon and the local Portuguese ... Shāista Khan gave their chief captain a bounty ... and their other leaders were all enlisted in the Mughal service.
  20. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath (1948). The History of Bengal. Vol. II. Dhaka University. p. 379. The first step in the campaign was the conquest of the island of Sondip— only six hours' sail from Chatgaon (Chittagong). Dilawwar, a run-away captain of the Mughal navy, who had established himself as king here, was defeated and captured by an expedition from Dacca under admiral Ibn Husain (November 1665).
  21. ^ Saugata Bhaduri (30 December 2021). Polycoloniality European Transactions with Bengal from the 13th to the 19th Century (ebook). Cambridge University Press. p. 195. ISBN 9789389812565. Retrieved 13 December 2023. Portuguese in Bengal rather than to make them an enemy of the Mughal Empire. The Mughal emperors probably understood well that the Portuguese settlers could prove useful in the wresting of Chittagong ...
  22. ^ Dani, Ahmad Hasan (1 January 2009). Dhaka Record of its Changing Fortunes (3rd ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. p. 71. ISBN 9789843304445.
  23. ^ "Shaista Khan - Banglapedia". Retrieved 7 December 2023. He ruled Bengal with vigour, and in his administration he was assisted by his half a dozen gifted and able sons, each of whom held the charge of faujdar in one or more than one sarkar, so that one family ruled all divisions of Bengal, and ruled effectively.
  24. ^ ZAHEDY, SHAMIM. "Rice price scam in Bangladesh". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  25. ^ "Shaista Khan Mosque - Banglapedia". Retrieved 4 December 2023.