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The Bahmani Kingdom was founded by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah, widely known as Hasan Gangu in the year 1347. Bahmani Kingdom is known to be the first Muslim Kingdom in the Deccan region of India. They rose as a major power in the south and posed a serious challenge to the existing Vijayanagara Empire. In the final phase of their existence, they split into five minor Kingdoms. In this article, we will discuss all the important things that are necessary to make Bahmani Sultans – Study Notes for UPSC, such as the rise of Bahmani Sultans to power, their administrative machinery, important rulers in the dynasty, art, culture, literature and society during Bahmani sultanate era, important contributions made by Bahmani sultans and finally the fall of the empire.
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Foundation of Bahmani Sultanate
The foundation of the Bahmani Kingdom started with a revolt led by Zafar Khan also known as Hasan Gangu, against Delhi sultanate. The ruler of that period was Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. Hasan Gangu was a governor and commander under Muhammad Bin Tughlaq but revolted against him in 1347. He thus became independent and established the independent Bahmani Kingdom in the Deccan region. This Kingdom continued as a distinct separate state from the Delhi sultanate. Many popular Sufi saints supported and approved of Hasan Gangu’s authority. With the support this gained, he assumed the title of Alauddin Bahman Shah. This marked the beginning of Bahmani Sultans.
Important Rulers among Bahmani Sultans
There were many famous rulers in the Bahmani Sultanate dynasty. To be exact, in total, there were 14 Bahmani Sultans. Some of the most important among them are mentioned below along with their administrative and cultural achievements.
Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah
He is also known as Hasan Gangu as we mentioned above. Let us look into his era’s achievements.
- He is the founder of the Bahmani Sultanate.
- The title he chose during the coronation is Abu’l-Muzaffar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah.
- He is said to be from Afghanistan.
- He made Hasnabad i.e. Gulbarga his capital. It was formerly known as Devagiri.
- He ruled from 1347 to 1357.
- His empire was widespread at extended to present-day Telangana, Andra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. It was said that his empire extended from the Arabian Sea in the west (Bhongir) to the Bay of Bengal in the West (Daulatabad) and covered the whole of the Deccan up to the Krishna River basin. In the south, it stretched to the Waiganga River.
He is the son of former ruler Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah. Let’s read about his achievements.
- He became the second ruler of the Bahmani Sultanate.
- He was a great general and an able administrator.
- He ruled in the period range of 1358-1377.
- He fought and defeated Bukka-1 of Vijayanagaraa.
- He also fought and won against Kapaya Nayakas of the kingdom of Warangal.
It is said that he ruled from 1375 to 1378.
- Under his rule, a new element—the Afaqis, or foreigners, mostly from Iran and Iraq—was added to the ranks of the nobility.
He was a peace-loving and very diplomatic ruler among the major rulers of the Bahmani Sultanate.
- He developed friendly relations with all neighbouring Kingdoms including the Vijayanagaraa Empire.
- He ruled from 1378 to 1397.
- Another major contribution was that he built many public infrastructures such as hospitals, Mosques and madrasas for the betterment of his people.
Feroz Shah Bahmani
He is the most important ruler of the Bahmani Kingdom.
- He ruled from 1397 to 1422.
- His title was Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah.
- He was a scholar in the Quran as well as natural sciences.
- He was also an excellent poet and talented calligraphist.
- He is the founder of the city of Firozabad.
- He inducted Hindus into administration.
- He extended his kingdom by annexing Berar by defeating Kherla’s Gond Raja Narsingh Rai.
- He promoted astronomy and built an observatory in Daulatabad.
- He promoted international trade by sea, especially from the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.
- He won against and also won against Devaraya 1, married his daughter and in this way achieved the doab region of named Bankapur as dowry. But this marriage didn’t bring peace. Conflicts continued to break out in this doab region.
- The alliance switch from Warangal to Vijayanagara brought a power shift in the Deccan region. This time Devaraya defeated Firuz Shah and hence he was forced to abdicate his throne for Ahamed Shah 1, his brother.
He is also known as Wali which means saint due to his association with Sufi saint Gesu Daraz. This Sufi saint was from the Chisti order.
- He ruled from 1422 to 1435.
- He was considered an unkind ruler.
- After a series of defeats, Feroz Shah Bahmani was forced to abdicate his throne in favour of one of his brothers Ahmed Shah.
- The series of battles for the control of the Doab region was continued by him.
- The Russian travelling merchant Nikitin visited India during his reign.
- He transferred the country’s capital from Gulbarga to Bidar.
- He invaded Warangal and defeated and killed the leader. This brought the eastern coast under their control.
- He was also successful in the annexation of most territories of Warangal.
He ascended the throne at the age of 9.
- His regent was Mahmud Gawan when he was an infant.
- He ruled the period of 1463-1482.
- Muhammad Shah 3 was known to be a wise man and a great administrator.
- He reformed many fields including the army, administration and revenue.
- He fought and defeated many kingdoms including Konkan, Orissa, Vijayanagara and Sangameshwar.
He ruled from 1463 to 1481.
- He is Iranian by birth and was a merchant who visited India during the Bahmani sultan’s time.
- He was the prime minister of Muhammad Shah-3.
- Gawan was given the title “Malik-ul-Tujjar,” and under his capable leadership, the Kingdom reached its zenith.
- He divided the Kingdom into eight Taraffs.
- Each Taraff is under a Tarafdar.
- Nobility has predetermined duties and income.
- Salary is paid either by allocating a jagir (collection of land revenue) or by cash.
- In each province, a plot of land was designated for the Sultan’s expenses. It is known as khalisa.
- Attempts have been made to measure land and compute the amount of money that cultivators should pay to the state.
- He constructed the renowned Bidar madrasa.
- He defeated the Vijayanagara Empire and also captured the port cities of Dabhol and Goa. This was a huge defeat to the Vijayanagara Empire.
- Gaining control over these port cities expanded the Bahmani Kingdom’s trade to the Persian Gulf.
- He was later executed by the Sultan in 1482.
The Execution of Muhammad Gawan
There were two types of nobles in the Bahmani Kingdom. They are:
- Deccanis (old nobles or natives)
- Afaqis/Gharibs / Pardesis(newcomers or Foreigners)
There was constant rivalry between these two classes of the nobles. Muhammad Gawan belonged to the newcomer category of nobles. His opponents had a strong influence over the sultan. They poisoned the young sultan’s mind against Gawan. He was executed by the order of the Sultan. The infighting among nobles did not end there it continues to be the same.
General Administration in Bahmani Kingdom
Everything in the Bahmani Kingdom has a slight relation with the Delhi Sultanate. And administration procedures are not any different. They adopted the administrative structure of the Delhi Sultanate with negligible alterations. The administration followed the feudal system. Small provinces in the kingdom were governed by governors. The sultan was the state head and had absolute power over all aspects of administration. This is because they believed in the divine right and considered the king as a representative of God on earth. So, his powers had no limits within his kingdom.
- It was King Muhammad Shah 1 who divided his kingdom into four Tarafs namely, Gulbarga, Berar, Bidar and Daulatabad.
- Each of these Tarafs is ruled by a Tarafdar. They had power over the administration and army of that Taraf but were still under the control of the Sultan.
- Sometimes a Tarafdar might be appointed as a minister in the central government under the Sultan.
- When Muhammad Gawan came into power, he allotted certain parts of the land of each Tarafs as the Sultan’s land to contain the power of Tarafdars.
- The land was divided further for administrative convenience, Tarafs were divided into several Sarkars and Sarkars were divided into several Parganas.
- The Parganas were ruled by Kotwals, Desais and Deshmukhs.
- The basic unit of administration is the villages. The villages are ruled by Kulkarni or Patel.
Officers in the Bahmani Administration
A list of the names of designated officers for each department in Bahmani Kingdom is given in the table below.
|Name of the Officer
|Was equivalent to Naib Sultan of Delhi Sultanate.
|Attached to the Vakil.
|Prime Minister; Supervised all other ministries.
|Head of the Finance Department
|Deputy Chief of the Finance Department.
|Head of the Foreign Affairs and Royal Court.
|Head of the Judicial and Charities department.
|Head of the Police Department.
Military Administration in the Bahmani Kingdom
The foundation of the Bahmani Kingdom was the result of a revolt. So, it is not surprising that they had a large standing army. They were also constantly involved in battles with neighboring Kingdoms.
- The sultan was the ultimate commander-in-chief of the army.
- Amir ul Umra is the actual commander of the army.
- The personal bodyguards of the Sultan are called Khas-i-Khul.
- Bahmani Kingdom’s army had many sections like infantry, war elephants, Cavalry and artillery guns.
- The army followed the mansabdari system. In this system, the army officials were assigned Jagirs according to their ranks.
- The forts were managed by officers named Kiledars. They are directly responsible to the central administration.
Revenue Administration in Bahmani Kingdom
In Bahmani Kingdom the land revenue was the main source of government revenue.
- The head of the administration was an officer named Amir-e-Jumla.
- One-third of agricultural produce was determined as a tax to the state.
- Many other taxes were also present in the Kingdom. For example, mines tax, house tax, grassland tax, tobacco tax, employment tax, trade tax etc.
- The tax money was spent to maintain the palaces, army, royal courts and other public welfare activities.
Contributions to Education and Literature by the Bahmani Sultans
Bahmani Sultans made very significant contributions to the sector of education. Some of them are listed below.
- Bahmani sultans promoted and supported many centres of learning that helped in the spreading of knowledge. This includes schools, madrassas and libraries.
- Bahmani sultans were patrons of many poets, intellectuals and scholars. Sultans encouraged these people to contribute to the fields of science, art and philosophy.
- The kingdom encouraged a multilingual system. They had inclusive policies that promoted the use of multiple languages. This fostered a linguistically and culturally diverse environment that encouraged interactions and exchange of ideas with other cultures.
- There were many ways of cultural exchange during the time of Bahmani Sultans. The location of the Kingdom was very crucial in this aspect. As it was located at the crossroads of various trade routes, interaction and exchange of ideas with many kinds of people were possible.
- The sultans promoted Persian and Arabic. They were the prominent language of scholarship during that period. It was given great importance in the royal court as well as in educational institutions.
- Many buildings for education were built during that time. It shows the Bahmani Sultan’s interest and commitment to education and learning.
- Science also advanced during this age. Bahmani sultans supported many science disciplines such as astronomy, mathematics and medicine.
- Their efforts in the field of education left a lasting impact on the region that even influenced the Kingdoms that came into being after its fall.
Religion and Culture in the Bahmani Kingdom
Bahmani Sultanate was the first independent Islamic kingdom in South India. It helped the spread of Islam and Indo-Islamic culture in the Deccan region of South India. Bahmani kings also patronised various Sufi saints. Gesu Daraz and Nawa Bandaz were some of the revered Sufi saints patronised by Bahmani Sultans. This introduced Sufism in South India. The spread of languages such as Persia and Dakkhani Urdu in south India can also be considered a contribution of Bahmani sultans. The Bahmani kingdoms had a cosmopolitan social aspect, with residents of several ethnic backgrounds including Iranians, Muslims, Hindus, and Ethiopians.
The Bahamani kingdom experienced a notable influx of Afaqis, or foreign nobles, primarily from Iran, which resulted in a Shia influence.
Architectural Contributions of Bahmani Sultanate
The buildings constructed by the Bahmani Sultans are highly influenced by the Persian architectural style. These buildings were a blend of Indo-Islamic style in many aspects. Most of these buildings were constructed in Gulbarga and Bidar. Gulbarga was the state capital in the initial phase and later the capital was shifted to Bidar. Many architects and artisans were invited from Persia and other surrounding regions for the construction of these architectural marvels. The major monuments in Gulbarga are listed below.
- Jama Masjid
- Gulbarga fort
- Haft Gumbaz
The monuments in Bidar are listed below.
- Madrasa Mahmud Gawan
- Bahmani tombs
- Bidar fort
Besides the monuments listed above, Hasan Gangu also constructed Chand Minar in the city of Daulatabad.
Bidri Art of Bahmani Sultanate
During the Bahmani Sultanate, in the 14th century, the renowned Bidri Art came into being. The south Indian city of Bidar is the source of the metal handicraft known as bidri. Its distinctive pattern is created by inlaid silver on blackened white metal. Persian art influenced this method. Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti is credited with bringing it to India in the shape of cutlery. Recently, this regional art style was awarded a Geographical Indications Tag.
Foreign Traveller Accounts of Bahmani Kingdom
Russian travelling merchant Nikitin visited the Bahmani Kingdom during the rule of Ahmed Shah-1. Trade operations in Bidar have been mentioned by Nikitin. According to him, pepper, silk, horses, and cloth were the primary trading goods. He described Dabul as a business hub. It offered connectivity to ports in Africa in addition to India.
The Decline of Bahmani Sultans
Muhammad Shah 3 was the last strong ruler of the Bahmani Sultanate. After his passing the kingdom became weak and consequently disintegrated into 5 smaller states. The reasons for the fall of the Bahmani Kingdom are stated below.
- Incompetent and weak successors after Muhammad Shah 3.
- There were no correct laws laid by the Bahmani codes when it came to succession. This led to an internal tussle among all the claimants of the throne.
- Loss of money and other resources due to constant battles with Vijayanagara and other neighbouring Kingdoms. The conflict between Vijayanagara and Bahmani Kingdom was over the ownership of Tungabhadra doab region and the same is the reason for the fall of the Bahmani Sultanate.
- The rivalry between the high-ranked nobles and Bahmani sultans increased. Provincial governors acquired significant power by this time and wanted to be independent from the sultan’s rule.
- The infighting between the Afaquis and Deccani nobles led to a tough situation within the country.
- Some of the rulers followed extremely fanatical religious policies and were tyrannical to the Hindu population.
- In the final stages, the sultans were mere puppets that danced to the tune of their Barid Shahi prime ministers who were more influential than the Sultans themselves.
- The final nail in the coffin was the defeat of the last Bahmani sultan by King Krishnadevarayar of Vijayanagara.
Kalimulla was the last Bahmani Sultanate ruler.
The War and Peace with the Vijayanagara Empire
The Mudkal stronghold located in the Tungabhadra doab was stormed by Bukka Raya I of Vijayanagara in 1367. In retaliation, Mohammad Shah I, the Bahmani sultan of the time, crossed the river and entered Vijayanagara territory for the first time.
- This was the first-ever recorded combat in India where artillery was utilized by both sides.
- They accepted a treaty to return to the previous situation of sharing the Tungabhadra doab after a long-running dispute that had no results.
- It was decided that both kingdoms would refrain from using violence in battle going forward because they would be neighbours for a very long time.
- Civilians who were defenceless and unarmed were not to be killed in future conflicts. This agreement lessened the brutality of combat in southern India.
The War and Peace with Warangal
Warangal and the Bahmani sultanate also signed a treaty.
- The line between Bahmani and Warangal territories was established at Golconda and did not extend beyond it.
- This treaty, which lasted for fifty years, also prevented Vijayanagara from advancing.
The Five Splinter States of Bahmani Sultanate
As we said above, the Bahmani Kingdom split into 5 states after its fall. They are listed below.
Bijapur was founded in 1490 by Yusuf Adil Shah of the Adil Shahi dynasty. It was later annexed by Aurangzeb and added to the Mughal Empire in 1686. They also constructed the Golgumbas of Bijapur. Golgumbas was called the whispering gallery because when someone whispers from a side of the structure it is echoed to the other end. It is also the second-largest dome in the world.
Ahmednagar was founded by Malik Ahmed of the Nizam Shahi dynasty. Later annexed and added to the Mughal Empire in 1637 by Shajahan.
Bera was founded by Imad Shah who belonged to the Imad Shahi dynasty. It was ten later annexed by Ahmednagar in 1574.
Golconda was founded by Quili Qutab Shah of the Qutab Shahi dynasty in the year 1512. It was later annexed by Aurangzeb in the year 1687. The Golconda Fort was also built by them. The city of Hyderabad was built by Muhammad Quili Qutab Shah. Formerly the city was known as Bhagyanagara.
Bidar was founded in 1526 by Ali Amir Barid of the Barid Shahi dynasty. It was later annexed by Bijapur in 1618-19.
In addition to these, the considerably weaker Khandesh Sultanate also had its autonomous existence for a while. Akbar finally incorporated it within the Mughal dominion.
Current Affair on Bahmani Sultans
You may have seen the name of this dynasty in newspapers recently. It is because the Kalaburagi district officials were recently ordered by the Karnataka High Court to clear encroachments from the old Bahmani Sultan Fort located within the city.
In conclusion, we can say that the Bahmani Sultanate acted as a bridge between North and south India in various aspects. They ruled the Deccan region for around 200 years. The Bahmani Sultanate was a Persianized Muslim state in the Deccan region of south India.
Bahmani Sultans – Study Notes for UPSC FAQs
Who was the founder of the Bahmani Kingdom?
The founder of the Bahmani Kingdom is Hasan Gangu. He took the title Alauddin Bahman Shah.
What was the reason for the constant conflict between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Bahmani Kingdom?
The Vijayanagara Empire and the Bahmani Kingdom were in a constant state of war throughout their existence. The reasons for this are:
- Over the ownership of Tungabhadra doab which is a fertile region between the Tungabhadra and Krishna rivers.
- The control over Krishna- Godavari Delta as its ports controlled the foreign trade.
- Over the ownership of the fertile Marathwada on the Konkan coast.
- The control over the Goa port it was the major source of import of high-quality horses from Iraq and Iran.
Who was the regent of Muhamad Shah 3?
Muhammad Gawan was the regent and later the prime minister of Muhamad Shah 3.
Which city was the capital of the Bahmani Sultanate?
Gulbarga and later Bidar was made the capital of the Bahmani Kingdom.
How was the Bahmani kingdom founded?
The Khaljis and Tughlaqs overthrew the Yadavas and Kakatiyas, establishing several Muslim governorships in the area. In the process of creating a complex administrative structure for the Deccan, Mohamed Bin Tughalaq named Sada Amir/Amiran-i-sada, or the chief of a hundred villages. They carried out revenue and military duties. But when his reign came to an end, several uprisings occurred in the Deccan region, and he then began the policy of putting an end to them. The Amirs then staged an even more violent uprising in anger at the suppression attempts. As a result, Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah (Jafar Khan) founded the Bahmani Kingdom in 1347.
Who was the last sultan of the Bahmani Kingdom?
The last of Bahmani Sultans was Sultan Khalimullah Shah. He was sultan just in name as he was completely under the influence of prime ministers and nobles.