• The unity and diversity of India has always posed problems for rulers who considered India to be geographically and culturally one, and tried to bring it under one over -arching political authority. There was a strong sense of regional identity in different parts of India. Such differences were even more marked in the case of India south of the Vindhyas.
  • The Vindhyas demarcated the south from the north, but did not pose an impassable barrier. In fact, religious leaders, sadhus, travellers etc. had always moved between the two regions. After the decline of the Delhi Sultanate, many Sufi saints and persons in search of employment had migrated to the court of the Bahmani rulers. Politically also, the north and south were not isolated. Malwa and Gujarat in the west and Orissa in the east had interacted politically with the south, and vice versa, as we have seen in the context of the Bahmani and Vijayanagar, and was the case with the Rashtrakutas earlier. Hence both North and South were culturally one though with their distinctive characteristics.
  • After triumphing into North India, it was natural for Mughals to advance into south too. While the Mughal conquest of north India was accomplished by Akbar in a brief span of twenty-five years, his efforts to extend Mughal Empire in south and especially the desire to conquer the Deccan took almost a hundred years (1596-1687) that too with very less success eventually. This protracted process needs to be analyzed in the context of the policies and predilections of individual rulers, and necessary interaction between the various political groups and social classes, geographical factors etc.

Deccan up to 1595

Disintegration of Vijaynagara

  • After the disintegration of the powerful Bahmani kingdom towards the end of the fifteenth century, three powerful states, Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda had come into being. These states constantly fought each other as well as Vijayanagar.
    • However, they combined to crush Vijayanagar at the Battle of Bannihatti near Talikota in 1565.
bahmani kingdom disintegration

Mutual Conflicts

  • After this victory, these three states resumed their mutual warfare. Both Ahmednagar and Bijapur claimed Sholapur which was a rich and fertile tract.
  • In 1524, the Ahmednagar ruler, Burhan Nizam Shah, and the Bijapur ruler, Ismail Adil Khan, agreed to form an alliance, and to cement it, it was agreed that the sister of Ismail Adil Shah would be married to Burhan Nizam Shah, and that Sholapur would be given to Ahmednagar in dowry. But after the marriage, Adil Shah refused to hand over Sholapur fort and its fertile sarkars. This led to further hostilities and bad blood between Ahmednagar and Bijapur, the conquest of Sholapur being considered a matter of honour for both.
  • Ahmednagar and Bijapur also had the ambition of conquering Bidar and Berar, the two other independent but small states in the Deccan. Bidar was the remaining portion of the old Bahmani kingdom. The Gujarat rulers actively supported Berar ruler against Ahmednagar, and later also engaged in a war against Ahmednagar.
  • On the other hand, Bijapur and Golconda clashed over the possession of Naldurg (located in Maharashtra). At the same time, both of them tried to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the remaining portions of the Vijayanagar kingdom in the Karnataka.
  • Thus, all the leading Deccan states were expansionist states. The important point to note is that all these elements considered the Mughals to be foreigners. However, their mutual rivalries made it difficult for them to form a lasting united front against an invader from the north i.e. Mughals.

Ethnic Strife and Sectarian Violence

  • Apart from these rivalries, the Deccan states were also distracted by ethnic strife and sectarian violence.
    • As in the Bahmani sultanate, the nobility was divided between foreigners, called afaqis or gharibs, and the Deccanis. The Deccanis, in turn, were divided between the Afghans and the Habshis, the latter being drawn from Abyssinia and the Eritrean coast of Africa.
    • Among the afaqis, many were from Khurasan and Iran where, with the rise of the Safavids to power towards the beginning of the sixteenth century, shiism had become the state religion. Many of the afaqis were, therefore, suspected of leaning towards shiism to which members of the Deccani party were bitterly opposed.
    • Yusuf Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur, made shiism the state doctrine in 1503-4, and, simultaneously ousted the Deccanis from positions of power and influence.
      • When the Deccani party became strong, it restored sunnism and persecuted the afaqis and shiism.
    • Ethnic and sectarian conflict was a feature in Ahmednagar as well. In Golconda the rulers supported shiism right from 1503. However, even Golconda could not completely escape from sectarian strife.

Rise of Mahdawism

  • Another factor which led to a new round of sectarian persecution was the rise of Mahdawism during the period.
    • Mahdawi ideas had spread widely in the Deccan. In fact, a group of the Muslims believed that in every epoch, a man from the family of the Prophet will make an appearance and will strengthen the religion, and make justice triumph; such a group of Muslims were known as the ‘Mahdi’.
      • In India, Saiyid Muhammad, who was born at Jaunpur (in Uttar Pradesh), in the first half of the fifteenth century, proclaimed himself as the Mahdi.
      • Saiyid Muhammad traveled throughout the country as well as in the Islamic world, which created great enthusiasm. He established his dairas (circles) in different parts of the country, including the Deccan where his ideas found a fertile soil. However, the orthodox elements were as bitterly opposed to Mahdawaism as to Shiism.
      • The claim of Saiyid Muhammad of being the Mahdi or the redeemer of the age was rejected both by the orthodox sunni and shia divines.
  • The orthodox elements were as bitterly opposed to Mahdawism as to shiism, though there was no love lost between the two. It was in this context that Akbar put forward the concept of Sulh-i-kul. He was afraid that the bitter sectarian rivalries prevailing in the Deccan states would spill over into the Mughal Empire.

Increasing Influence of Marathas

  • Another notable feature was the growing importance of the Marathas in the affairs of the Deccan.
    • Maratha troops were employed as auxiliaries or bargirs (usually called bargis) in the Bahmani Kingdom. The revenue affairs at the local level were in the hands of the Deccani brahmans.
    • Only some of the Maratha families rose in the service of the Bahmani rulers and held jagirs from them such as the Mores, Nimbalkars, Ghatges, etc. Most of them were powerful zamindars or deshmukhs as they were called in the Deccan. However, unlike the Rajputs, they were not established rulers over a recognized kingdom.
    • Secondly, they were not the leaders of clans on whose backing and support they could depend. Hence, many of Maratha sardars were prepared to shift their loyalty according to the prevailing wind.
    • During the middle of the sixteenth century, the rulers of the Deccan states embarked upon a definite policy of winning over the Marathas to their side.
    • The Maratha chief were accorded service and position in the leading states of the Deccan, especially Bijapur and Ahmednagar.
    • Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur who ascended the throne in 1555 was the leading advocate of this policy. It is said that he entertained Maratha auxiliaries (bargis) in his army, and showed great favour to the Marathas in the revenue system. He is supposed to have introduced Marathi in the revenue accounts at all levels. Apart from increasing his favours to old families such as the Bhonsles, the others, such as the Dafles (or Chavans) etc. also rose to prominence in Bijapur as a result of this policy.
    • Maharashtrian brahmans were regularly used for diplomatic negotiations as well. Thus the title of Peshwa was accorded to a brahman, Kanhoji Narsi, by the ruler of Ahmednagar.
    • It will thus be seen that the policy of allying with local landed and military classes was initiated by the Deccani rulers even before such as policy was implemented by the Mughals under Akbar.

Growing Power of Portuguese

  • Akbar was apprehensive because of the growing power of the Portuguese, as they had been interfering the pilgrim traffic (to Mecca), not sparing even the royal ladies.
  • In their territories, Portuguese were practicing the proselytizing activities, which Akbar disliked.
  • They were constantly trying to expand their position on mainland and even tried to lay their hands on Surat which was saved by timely arrival of Mughal army.

Mughal Advance towards Deccan

  • It was logical to expect a Mughal advance towards the Deccan after the consolidation of the empire in north India. The conquest of the Deccan by the Tughlaqs and the improved communications between the north and the south had led to strengthening of the commercial and cultural relations between the two. Hence, after the conquest of Malwa and Gujarat in the sixties and seventies, the Mughals could hardly have kept themselves aloof from the Deccan.

Gujarat Conquest

  • In 1572, the Mughal emperor Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat created a new situation. The conquest of Gujarat was just the beginning of the Mughal conquest of the Deccan. However, Akbar at that time was busy elsewhere and did not pay attention to the Deccan affairs.
  • Following the decline of the Gujarati kingdom, support to Ahmednagar by Gujarat rulers stopped. Ahmednagar and Bijapur came to an agreement whereby Ahmednagar was free to annex Berar, and Bijapur was free to expand south at the expense of Vijayanagara. Golkonda too was interested in extending its territories at the cost of Vijayanagara. Accordingly, Ahmednagar conquered Berar (1573), but Bijapur could not gain at the expense of Vijayanagar, and felt cheated.
  • In 1576, a Mughal army invaded Khandesh, compelled the rulers of Khandesh to submit. However , urgent matters called Akbar elsewhere. For 12 years between 1586 and 1598, Akbar was busy in affairs of North western region.
  • In the meantime situation in Deccan deteriorated.

Reasons for Akbar’s involvement in Deccan Affairs

  • He considered South India as an integrated part of India and wanted sovereignty over whole of the country.
  • Akbar was apprehensive of the mutual strives, sectarian violence and ethnic conflicts in the Deccan states. He feared that bitter sectarian rivalries in Deccan will spill over into Mughal Empire.
  • Growing Portuguese power: Akbar apparently felt that the coordination and pooling of the resources of the Deccani states under Mughal supervision would check, if not eliminate, the Portuguese danger.

Conquest of Berar, Khandesh and Parts of Ahmednagar

Failure of Akbar’s Diplomatic Missions

  • Akbar claimed suzerainty over the entire country. He was therefore keen that like the Rajputs, Deccan states should also acknowledge his suzerainty. However embassies sent by him earlier did not produce any positive results. It was obvious that Deccani states would not accept Mughal suzerainty till the Mughals were in position to exert military pressure on them.
  • In 1591, Akbar sent embassies to all the Deccani states inviting them to accept Mughal suzerainty. None of the states accepted this except Khandesh. Burhan, the ruler of Ahmednagar, was rude to the Mughal envoy and the others only made promises of friendship.

Death of Ruler of Ahmednagar

  • The failure of Akbar’s diplomatic offensive of 1591 postulated a more active intervention in the Deccan. The necessary opportunity was provided to him when factional fighting started among the Nizam Shahi nobles following the death of Burhan.
  • In 1595, Burhan Nizam Shah died and was succeeded by his son, Ibrahim. Ibrahim Nizam Shah renewed the war with Bijapur over Sholapur, but he was defeated and lost his life in the battle. Various contenders to the thronenow arose: Mian Manju, who was the Peshwa and leader of the Deccani party, put forward his own candidate, though he was a mere pretender, not belonging to the Nizam Shahi dynasty.
  • Chand Bibi, sister of Burhan Nizam Shah, who had been married to the Adil Shahi ruler in 1564, supported by the Habshi party favoured the claim of Bahadur, the infant son of the late king, Ibrahim Adil Shah. For many years after her husband’s death in 1580 and when Ibrahim Adil shah was minor, Chand Bibi had looked after the affairs of Bijapur with the help of able advisors. But due to growing factionalism she had gracefully retired to the court of her brother, Burhan Nizam Shah. Afraid that in the confused situation Chand Bibi would rule over the affairs of Ahmednagar with the help of the Habshis, Miyan Manju the leader of the Deccani party, appealed to the Mughals for help. The struggle which now began was really a struggle between Bijapur and the Mughals for the domination of Ahmednagar state.

Resistance by Chand Bibi

  • Akbar had already geared himself to invade the Deccan. Prince Murad (Jahangir) was then appointed governor of Gujarat to prepare for the expedition. Hence, he was fully ready when he received the invitation of Miyan Manju. The campaign was led by Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan. Raja Ali, the ruler of Khandesh, also joined. Due to internal differences among the Ahmednagar nobles (Nizam shahi nobles), the Mughals faced no opposition till they reached the capital, Ahmednagar.
  • Miyan Manju felt sorry that he had invited the Mughals, and decided to join hands with Chand Bibi to resist them. Chand Bibi also appealed to Bijapur and Golconda for help. The arrival of a Bijapuri force of seven thousand enabled Chand Bibi to offer a valiant defence. After a close siege of four months, Chand Bibi was forced to an agreement whereby Berar was ceded to the Mughals. The infant, Bahadur Nizam Shah, was acknowledged as the ruler under her Regency, and Mughal suzerainty was accepted. This was in 1596. Mughals accepted this compromise partly because of the presence of a strong Bijapur-Golconda force at the frontier.

Second siege of Ahmednagar

  • Neither side was satisfied with this agreement. The Mughals were keen to get Balaghat which had been a bone of contention between Gujarat and Ahmednagar. Dissensions among the Nizam Shahi nobles also continued: one group opposed the handing over of Berar to the Mughals, while another group led by the Wakil and Peshwa, Muhammad Khan, opened negotiations with the Mughals.
  • Chand Bibi sent urgent messages to the rulers of Bijapur and Golconda to send reinforcements for her help. The rulers of Bijapur and Golconda responded, because they felt that Berar would give the Mughals a permanent foothold in the Deccan which could be enlarged upon at any time. Hence, a combined force of Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmednagar entered Berar in strength. In a hard fought battle in 1597 at Sonipat, the Mughals defeated a Deccani force three times their number.
  • The Bijapuri and Golconda forces now withdrew, leaving Chand Bibi alone to face the situation. Although Chand Bibi was in favour of observing the treaty of 1596, she could not stop harassing attacks on the Mughals in Berar by her nobles. This resulted in a second Mughal siege of Ahmednagar.
  • In the absence of help from any quarter, Chand Bibi decided to surrender the fort, and opened negotiations with the Mughals, demanding grant of a mansab and a jagir in Ahmednagar to Bahadur as a subordinate ruler, with herself remaining his guardian. She was, however, accused of treachery by the faction hostile to her, and was murdered. Thus ended the life of one of the most romantic figures in Deccani politics.
  • The Mughals now assaulted and captured Ahmednagar. The boy king, Bahadur, was sent to the fortress of Gwalior. Ahmednagar fort and the areas adjacent to it were surrendered to the Mughals. Balaghat including Daultabad which had been claimed by the Mughals earlier was also added to the empire, and a Mughal garrison was stationed at Ahmednagar. This was in 1600.
  • The fall of Ahmednagar fort did not resolve Akbar’s problems in the Deccan. The Mughals were hardly in a position to go beyond Ahmednagar fort and its surrounding areas, or to try and seize the remaining territories of the state. Shah Ali, an old man of eighty, who was a son of Murtaza Nizam Shah, had been living in Bijapur for some time along with his son, Ali, under the protection of the Bijapur ruler. In 1595, at Parenda, a number of Nizam Shahi nobles had raised shah ali to the throne of Ahmednagar under the title Murtaza Shah II. With the removal of Bahadur from the scene, the ground was cleared for Murtaza II who already enjoyed the support of Bijapur, of being accepted as the legitimate successor to the Nizam Shahi throne by all sections.

Conquest of Khandesh

  • A little earlier, in 1600, Akbar had advanced into Malwa and then into Khandesh to study the situation on the spot. In Khandesh he learnt that the new ruler of Khandesh, Bahadur, had not shown due respect to Prince Daniyal when he had passed through the territory on his way to Ahmednagar. Worse, though summoned repeatedly, he did not appear before Akbar. However, the main factor in Akbar’s taking action against Bahadur was his desire to secure the fort of Asirgarh in Khandesh which was reputed to be the strongest fort in the Deccan. He was also keen to annex Khandesh, with its capital Burhanpur which was a point of entry into the Deccan. After a tight siege, and when pestilence had broken out in the fort, the ruler came out and surrendered (1601). He was pensioned off and sent to the Gwalior fort. Khandesh was incorporated into the Mughal Empire.
Conquest of Khandesh

Agreement with Murtaza II

  • Amid confused fighting, Khan-i-Khanan, who was the Mughal commander in the Deccan, offered a compromise to Malik Ambar who had emerged as the chief man of Murtaza II. He offered to Murtaza II the sarkars of Ausa, Dharwar and parts of Bir on a promise of loyalty. Ambar, after suffering two successive defeats at the hands of the Khan-i-Khanan, finally agreed. “Some territories” were left to him, but these were not specified. According to the Deccani historian, Ferishta the two sides “marked out their respective future boundaries.” This was in 1601.
  • Thus, although the capital, Ahmednagar, and Balaghat fell to Mughals, the Nizam Shahi ruler continued to rule over the remaining portions of the kingdom, and was recognised by the Mughals.

Attempt to befriend Bijapur

  • The conquest of Asirgarh and annexation of Khandesh, the ceding of Berar and Balaghat, and Mughal control over Ahmednagar fort and its surrounding areas were substantial achievements. However, the Mughals were still far from the realization of their objective of their over-lordship being accepted by all the rulers of the Deccan. After the fall of Asirgarh, Akbar again sent envoys to the rulers of Bijapur, Golconda and Bidar to persuade them to make binding treaties of obedience. None of the rulers agreed to do so.
  • Akbar’s hope of befriending Bijapur, the most powerful and influential kingdom in the Deccan, could not be realized. The marriage of the Adil Shahi princess, daughter of Bijapur ruler, with Daniyal took place only in 1604, and shortly after it, Daniyal died due to excessive drinking.
  • Akbar too, died shortly afterwards. Hence, the position in the Deccan remained nebulous, and had to be tackled anew by his successor, Jahangir.

Rise of Malik

  • After the fall of Ahmednagar fort and capture of Bahadur Nizam Shah by the Mughals, the state of Ahmednagar would have disintegrated and different parts of it would have, in all probability, been swallowed up by the neighbouring states but for the rise of a remarkable man, Malik Ambar.

Help of Marathas and Bijapur

  • Malik Ambar was an Abyssinian (born in Ethiopia). When the Mughals invaded Ahmednagar, Ambar at first went to Bijapur to try his luck there. But he soon returned and joined himself in the powerful Habshi (Abyssinian) party, which was opposed to Chand Bibi.
  • Malik Ambar rose in the service of Changez khan, one the famous and influential nobles of Murtaza Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar.
  • After the fall of Ahmednagar, Malik Ambar with the implied support of the ruler of Bijapur, set him up as Murtaza Nizam shah II, with himself as the Peshwa (a title which had been common in Ahmednagar those days).
  • Malik Ambar gathered around him a large band of Maratha troopers (or bargis). The Marathas were adept in rapid movements, and in plundering and cutting off the supplies of the enemy troops. Mughals were not used to this guerilla warfare.
  • With the help of Marathas, Ambar made it difficult for Mughals to consolidate their position in Berar, Ahmednagar and Balaghat.
  • Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana was the Mughal commander in the Deccan; he was a shrewd and wily politician and an intelligent soldier. In 1601, he (Abdul Rahim) inflicted a crushing defeat on Ambar at a place called Nander (in Telangana). However, the war ended with a friendship agreement between Abdul Rahim and Ambar.

Loss of Territories by Mughals

  • In October 1605, Akbar died. After his death, there were differences among the Mughal commanders in Deccan regions; this situation gave an opportunity to Ambar and hence he unleashed an aggressive campaign to expel the Mughals from Berar, Balaghat, and Ahmednagar.
  • Ambar’s campaign was actively supported by Ibrahim Adil Shah (the ruler of Bijapur). Adil Shah considered it essential because he thought that the Nizam Shahi state should continue as a buffer between Bijapur and the Mughals.
  • Adil Shah gave Ambar the powerful fort of Qandhar in Telangana for the residence of his family and stowing treasures, provisions, etc. Further, Adil Shah also sent 10,000 horsemen to support Ambar.
  • In 1609, the treaty was cemented by a marriage alliance between the daughters of one of the leading Ethiopian nobles of Bijapur with Malik Ambar’s son.
  • With support of Bijapur and Marathas, Ambar forced Khan-i-Khanan to retreat to Burhanpur. Thus, by 1610, most of the territories (in south) won by Akbar were lost.
  • Although Jahangir sent prince Parvez to the Deccan with a large army, he could not meet the challenge posed by Malik Ambar. Even Ahmednagar was lost, and Parvez had to conclude a disgraceful peace with Ambar.
  • In 1611, Jahangir sent two armies, one commanded by Khan-i-Jahan Lodi and including Raja Man Singh, and the other by Abdullah Khan. These armies were to attack from two sides, and converge on Daulatabad. However, mutual wrangling and lack of coordination led to their failure.

Mughals and Marathas Against Ambar

  • Mughals could not achieve anything in Deccan until there was Ambar with support of Marathas and other Deccan rulers. However, with time Ambar got arrogant and alienated his allies.
  • Khan-i-Khanan, reappointed Mughal viceroy of Deccan, took advantage of the situation and won over few habshis and Marathas to his side. Jahangir himself was well aware of the value of the Marathas. With the help of the Maratha sardars, the Khan-i-Khanan inflicted a crushing defeat on the combined forces of Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda in 1616. The Mughals occupied the new Nizam Shahi capital, Khirki, and burnt all its buildings before they left. This defeat shook the Deccani alliance against the Mughals.
  • To complete Khan-i-Khanan’s victory, in 1617 Jahangir sent a grand army under his son, prince Khurram (later Shah Jahan), and himself moved to Mandu to support the prince. Faced with this threat, Ambar had no option but to submit. All the territory of Balaghat recently seized by Ambar were restored to the Mughals. The key of Ahmednagar fort was also delivered.

Non-Expansionist Policy of Jahangir

  • It is significant that in the treaty with Ambar, Jahangir did not try to enlarge the conquests made by Akbar in the Deccan. This was not due to any military weakness on the part of Jahangir, as has been sometimes imagined, but due to deliberate policy.
  • Apparently, Jahangir did not want to extend Mughal commitments in the Deccan, or become too deeply embroiled in its affairs. Moreover, he was still hopeful that his moderation would enable the Deccani states to settle down, and live in peace with the Mughals.
  • As a part of his policy, Jahangir tried to win over Bijapur to his side, and sent a gracious farman to Adil Shah, calling him ‘son’ (farzand).

Failed Efforts of Malik Ambar to Recapture Power

  • Despite these reverses, Ambar continued to lead the Deccani resistance against the Mughals, and reconquered large portions of Ahmednagar and Berar.
  • In 1621, Prince Shah Jahan was deputed to lead the Mughal campaign. The combined Deccani forces again suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the Mughals. Ambar had to restore all the Mughal territories, and more of territories adjoining Ahmednagar. The Deccani states had to pay an indemnity of rupees fifty lakhs. The credit for these victories was given to Prince Shah Jahan.
  • The two defeats of the combined Deccani forces, coming one after the other, shattered the united front of the Deccani powers against the Mughals. The old rivalries between the Deccani states now came to the surface. There had been an old standing rivalry between Ahmednagar and Bijapur over Sholapur and Bidar. The Adil Shah had not only kept Sholapur while helping Ambar, but had occupied the pargana of Shirwal while handing over Qandahar to Ambar. In 1619, the Adil Shah had invaded and captured the kingdom of Bidar.
  • Ambar conducted a series of campaigns against Bijapur for the recovery of Sholapur which was a bone of contention among two states.

Battle of Bhaturi (1624)

  • According to Bijapur historians, Ambar assumed an arrogant attitude and forgot the past favours to him by his benefactor, Ibrahim Adil Shah. He had also alienated many Nizam Shahi nobles by his authoritarian ways, and his harsh treatment of Murtaza Nizam Shah II. Hence, a showdown between Ahmednagar and Bijapur appeared imminent, and both sides bid for an alliance with the Mughals.
  • After careful consideration, Jahangir decided in favour of Bijapur. Perhaps he felt that an alliance with a restless, ambitious person like Ambar would unnecessarily draw the Mughals into the internal politics of the Deccan states. Also, for the stabilization of the Mughal position in the Deccan, it was necessary to isolate Malik Ambar. In accordance with the agreement, the Adil Shah sent a force of 5000 troop under one of his ministers, Mulla Muhammad Lari, for service with the Mughal governor at Burhanpur.
  • While these developments were taking place, Ambar invaded Golconda and forced the ruler to pay arrears of two year’s tribute. He also concluded a defensive-offensive alliance with Golconda. Safe from that quarter, he surprised and routed a Bijapur army at Bidar, and then advanced plundering upto Bijapur. The Adil Shah was forced to take shelter in the fort, and sent urgent summons to Muhammad Lari at Burhanpur. Mahabat Khan, the Mughal governor, deputed Lashkar Khan and a strong Mughal force to accompany Muhammad Lari to Bijapur. Ambar surprised the combined forces at Bhaturi near Ahmednagar (1624).
  • The victory at Bhaturi over the combined Adil Shahi Mughal forces raised the prestige of Malik Ambar to its pinnacle. Since the Mughals were pre-occupied with dealing with Shah Jahan’s rebellion, no Mughal response was forthcoming. After his victory, Ambar besieged Ahmednagar, but finding it too well defended, he again turned to Bijapur, burning and plundering Nauraspur, the new city built in its neighbourhood by Ibrahim Adil Shah.
  • He also recaptured Sholapur. After 1622, when the Deccan was in turmoil due to the rebellion of prince Khurram against Jahangir, Malik Ambar was able to recapture once again many of the old territories which has been ceded to the Mughals. He over-ran the Mughal territories in the Balaghat, and besieged Burhanpur. Jahangir’s attempt of consolidation in Deccan was, thus, frustrated.
  • Jahangir decided to patch up with his most competent but rebellious son, Shah Jahan. However, around this time Malik Ambar died (1626). But the bitter fruits of his legacy had to be reaped by his successors.

Assessment of Malik Ambar

  • According to a contemporary Mughal historian, Muhammad Khan, “in warfare, command, in sound judgement”, and in “administration, he (Ambar) had no rival or equal”.
  • However, there may be differences of opinion about Ambar’s overall role. To most writers, he was the valiant champion of Deccani independence against the Mughals. According to Satish Chandra, in his article on the Deccan Policy of the Mughals, the valiant fighter for Deccani independence and the upholder of the rights of the Nizam Shahi Dynasty can, with equal justice, be looked upon as a gifted man who utilized a complex political situation to push himself forward. Above all, his refusal to accept and honour the settlement of 1600 led to continuous wars which ultimately led to the extinction of the kingdom he had wished to preserve.
  • Perhaps, Ambar ’s main contribution was to provide training to the Maratha armies and to instill in them a sense of selfconfidence so that they could successfully defy even the might of the Mughal Empire. Not much is known about the administrative system of Malik Ambar. He is popularly credited with introducing Todar Mai ’s system of land revenue. Malik Ambar got the land of the kingdom measured and settled the rates of revenue payment, the boundaries of the different villages, and (fixed) the measures of cavars and bighas. Since then Malik Ambar ’s settlement continues in that territory.
  • Thus, Malik Ambar introduced the zabti system instead of the earlier system of giving land on contract (ijara).
  • According to some documents, the land was measured by chains, and there was a progressive tax on lands newly brought under cultivation, the full rate being paid only in the fifth year .
  • Malik Ambar paid close personal attention to the problems of the local deshmukhs and others connected with the cultivation of land. By these means he tried to enforce local law and order, and expand cultivation.

Mughal Suzerainty

Reign of Shahjahan

  • Shah Jahan ascended the throne in 1627. Having commanded two expeditions to the Deccan as a prince and spent a considerable period in the Deccan during his rebellion against his father, Shah Jahan had a great deal of experience and personal knowledge of the Deccan and its politics.
  • Shah Jahan’s first concern as a ruler was to recover the territories in the Deccan which had been lost to the Nizam Shahi ruler.
  • He deputed the old and experienced noble, Khan-iJahan Lodi. However, Khan-i-Jahan Lodi failed in the enterprise, and was recalled to the court.
  • Shortly afterwards, he rebelled, feeling that he no longer enjoyed the favours he enjoyed under Jahangir.
  • He joined the Nizam Shah who deputed him to expel the Mughals from the remaining portions of Berar and Balaghat.

Change in Mughal Policy

  • Giving asylum to a leading Mughal noble in this manner was a challenge which Shah Jahan could not ignore. It was clear that even after Malik Ambar’s death, his policy of refusing to recognise the Mughal position in Berar and Balaghat was being continued in by the Nizam Shahi ruler.
  • Shah Jahan, therefore, came to the conclusion that there could be no peace for the Mughals in the Deccan as long as Ahmednagar continued as an independent state.
  • This was a major departure from the policy which had been followed by Akbar and Jahangir .
  • However, Shah Jahan was not keen to extend Mughal territories in the Deccan beyond what was absolutely necessary.

Efforts to Capture Ahmednagar

  • Shah Jahan tried to make an alliance with Bijapur ruler offering to cede to him roughly one-third of the Ahmednagar state if he would cooperate with the Mughals in the projected campaign against Ahmednagar. This was a shrewd move on the part of Shah Jahan, aimed at isolating Ahmednagar diplomatically and militarily. He also sent feelers to the various Maratha sardars to join Mughal service.
  • The Adil Shah was also smarting at the humiliation of the burning of Nauraspur and the annexation of Sholapur by Malik Ambar. He, therefore, accepted Shah Jahan’s proposal, and posted an army at the Nizam Shahi border to cooperate with the Mughals.
  • Around this time, Jadhav Rao, a prominent Maratha noble who had defected to the side of the Mughals during the reign of Jahangir but had gone back to the service of the Nizam Shah, was treacherously murdered on a charge of conspiring with the Mughals. As a result, Shahji Bhonsle, who was his son-in-law (and the father of Shivaji), defected to the Mughal side along with his relations and was given a jagir.
  • A number of other prominent Maratha sardars also joined Shah Jahan at this time.
  • In 1629, Shah Jahan deputed two armies against Ahmednagar, one to operate in the west in the Balaghat region, and the other in the east to operate in the Telangana region.
  • The Emperor himself moved to Burhanpur to coordinate their movements. Under relentless pressure, large parts of the Ahmednagar state were brought under Mughal occupation. Parenda, one of the last outposts of the kingdom, was besieged.

Agreement between Bijapur and Ahmednagar

  • On the siege of Prenda, The Nizam Shah now sent a piteous appeal to the Adil Shah, stating that most of the kingdom was under Mughal occupation, and if Parenda fell it would mean the end of the Nizam Shahi dynasty, after which, he warned, would come the turn of Bijapur.
  • A strong group at the Bijapur court had been uneasy at the steady Mughal advance in Ahmednagar. The Mughals, on their part, had refused to hand over to the Adil Shah the areas allotted to him under the agreement.
  • As a result, the Adil Shah made a somersault, and decided to help the Nizam Shah who agreed to surrender Sholapur to him. This turn in the political situation compelled the Mughals to raise the siege of Parenda, and to retreat.

Reward for Fath Khan and Defection by Shahji Bhosle

  • By now, the internal situation in Ahmednagar now turned in favour of the Mughals. Fath Khan, the son of Malik Ambar, had recently been appointed Peshwa by the Nizam Shah in the hope that he would be able to induce Shah Jahan to make peace. Instead, Fath Khan opened secret negotiations with Shah Jahan, and at his instance, murdered Burhan Nizam Shah and put a puppet on the throne at Daulatabad. He also read the khutba and struck the sikka in the name of the Mughal emperor.
  • As a reward, Fath Khan was taken in Mughal service, and the jagir around Poona, previously allotted to Shahji Bhonsle, was transferred to him.
  • As a result, Shahji defected from the Mughal side. These events took place in 1632.

Difficult Times for Mughals

  • After the surrender of Fath Khan, Shah Jahan appointed Mahabat Khan as Mughal viceroy of the Deccan and himself returned to Agra.
  • Mahabat Khan, faced with the combined opposition of Bijapur and the local Nizam Shahi nobles including Shahji, found himself in a very difficult situation.
  • Parenda surrendered to Bijapur which made a strong bid for the fort of Daulatabad as well by offering a large sum of money to Fath Khan for surrendering the fort.
  • It will thus be seen that the Mughals and Bijapur were, in reality, engaged in a contest for dividing between themselves the prostrate body of Ahmednagar.
  • The Adil Shah sent a large army under Randula Khan and Murari Pandit for the surrender of Daulatabad and for provisioning its garrison.
  • Shahji Bhonsle was also enrolled in Bijapur ’s service to harass the Mughals and to cut off their supplies.
  • But the combined operations of the Bijapuri forces and Shahji were of no avail.
  • Mahabat Khan closely invested Daulatabad and forced the garrison to surrender (1633).
  • The Nizam Shah was sent to prison in Gwalior . This marked the end of the Nizam Shahi dynasty.
  • However , even this did not solve the problems facing the Mughals. Following the example of Malik Ambar, Shahji found a Nizam Shahi prince, and raised him up as ruler. The Adil Shah sent a force to aid Shahji, and induced many of the Nizam Shahi nobles to surrender their forts to Shahji. Many disbanded Nizam Shahi soldiers joined Shahji. With these he harassed the Mughals and took control of large portions of the Ahmednagar state.

Invasion of Bijapur by Shah Jahan

  • Shah Jahan now decided to give personal attention to the problems of the Deccan.
  • He realised that the crux of the situation was the attitude of Bijapur. He, therefore, deputed a large army to invade Bijapur , and also sent feelers to the Adil Shah, offering to revive the earlier accord of dividing the territory of Ahmednagar between Bijapur and the Mughals.
  • The policy of the stick and the carrot and the advance of Shah Jahan to the Deccan brought about another change in Bijapur politics.
  • The leaders of the anti-Mughal group, including Murari Pandit, were displaced and killed, and a new treaty of Ahdanama was entered into with Shah Jahan.

Treaty of Ahdanama

  • According to this treaty, the Adil Shah agreed to recognise Mughal suzerainty, to pay an indemnity of twenty lakhs rupees, and not to interfere in the affairs of Golconda which was brought under Mughal protection.
  • Any quarrel between Bijapur and Golconda was, in the future, to be referred to the Mughal emperor for his arbitration.
  • The Adil Shah agreed to cooperate with the Mughals in reducing Shahji to submission and, if he agreed to join Bijapuri service, to depute him in the south, away from the Mughal frontier.

Treaty with Golconda

  • Shah Jahan completed the settlement of the Deccan by entering into a treaty with Golconda as well.
  • The ruler agreed to include the name of Shah Jahan in the khutba and to exclude the name of the Iranian emperor from it.
  • The Qutb Shah was to be loyal to the emperor.
  • The annual tribute of four lakh huns which Golconda was previously paying to Bijapur was remitted. Instead, it was required to pay two lakh huns annually to the Mughal emperor in return for his protection.

Effect of these Treaties

  • The treaties of 1636 with Bijapur and Golconda were statesmanlike. In effect, they enabled Shah Jahan to realise the ultimate objectives of Akbar.
  • The suzerainty of the Mughal emperor was now accepted over the length and breadth of the country.
  • The treaties helped to stabilize the situation in the Deccan, and held out hopes of a stable peace with the Mughals and of limiting further Mughal advance into the Deccan.
  • Peace with Mughals helped the Deccan states to expand their territories towards south.

Shah Jahan and the Deccan (1636-57 AD)

  • In the decade following the treaties of 1636, secure from further Mughal attacks from the north, Bijapur and Golconda overran the rich and fertile Karnataka area from the river Krishna to Tanjore and beyond.
  • This area was divided into a number of petty principalities.
  • A series of campaigns were conducted by Bijapur and Golconda against these states.
  • Apart from maintaining benevolent neutrality, the Mughals helped by diplomatic means in resolving the differences and rivalry between the two Deccan states whenever they threatened to get out of hand.
  • Diplomatic correspondence of the time shows that the Mughal emperor played a definite role in the agreement between Bijapur and Golconda in 1646 whereby the territories and the booty won by their armies in the South were to be divided by them in the proportion of two shares to Bijapur and one to Golconda.
  • Clash between Bijapur and Golconda for control over Jinji and Karnataka led the Qutb Shah to solicit Mughal intervention again.
  • Despite quarrels, the task of conquest went ahead and within short span of time, the territories of these two states were more than doubled and they reached the climax of their power and prosperity.
  • Unfortunately, rapid expansion weakened whatever internal cohesion these states had.
  • Ambitious nobles such as Shahji of Bijapur and Mir Jumla of Golkonda started carving out spheres of influence for themselves.
  • The Mughals too found that the balance of power in the Deccan was upset and demanded a price for their benevolent neutrality during the expansionist phase of these states.
  • The Mughal attitude towards the Deccan states changed rapidly after this, culminating in the invasions of Golconda and Bijapur in 1656 and 1657.
  • In the case of Bijapur , the death of Muhammad Adil Shah in 1656, and the resulting confusion in Bijapur, as also arrears in payment of tribute and siding with Golconda in the recent war were used as an excuse to invade it.
  • Accordingly, the Mughal army under Shah Beg Khan, Qazi Muhammad Hashim and Krishna Rao had entered Karnataka. Shah Jahan’s objectives, it seems, were still hazy, for he now instructed Aurangzeb to conquer Golconda after settling the affairs of Bijapur.
  • As for Bijapur, Shah Jahan instructed Aurangzeb to annex, if possible, the whole of the kingdom; else to recover the old Ahmednagar territory, and to spare the rest for an indemnity of one and a half crores and the recognition of the Emperor ’s suzerainty, that is, the reading of khutba and sikka in his name.
  • The final agreements with these states fell short of the demands of full annexation put forward by Aurangzeb and apparently agreed to by Shah Jahan at first. Aurangzeb suspected that the change in the Emperor ’s attitude was at the instance of his arch rival, Dara. On balance, it would appear that Shah Jahan’s objectives in the Deccan were still limited, and that he got alarmed when Aurangzeb tried to pursue a policy of all-out conquest.
  • Shah Jahan’s action in once again throwing the Deccan into the melting pot, thus had undone what he had achieved in 1636 after such great efforts, may be considered of doubtful wisdom. By his action he placed on the agenda the outright annexation of the two Deccan states-something which preceding Mughal emperors and he himself had strenuously avoided.
  • Thus, in a manner of speaking, it was Shah Jahan who created the dilemma which Aurangzeb was never able to resolve throughout his long reign-that the treaties of 1636 were dead, yet the outright annexation of the Deccan states posed more problems than it solved.
  • The above conclusions call into question Shah Jahan’s reputation for political sagacity which, in no small measure, he had earned by his skilful handling of the Deccan crisis earlier. During the later part of his reign, at any rate, Shah Jahan mishandled the Balkh campaign, while successive Qandahar campaigns failed to add to his prestige. But his biggest mistake was to reopen the Deccan question which, to all intents and purposes, he had so carefully settled in 1636.

Cultural Contributions of Deccan States

  • Like the Mughals, the Deccani rulers were also great patrons of culture, and followed a broad policy of toleration which helped to promote a composite culture. Ali Adil Shah (1580) was very fond of organizing discussions with Hindu and Muslim saints. He was called a Sufi.
  • Adil Shah invited catholic missionaries to his court, much before Akbar had done so. He had an excellent library to which he appointed the well-known Sanskrit scholar, Waman Pandit. Patronage of Sanskrit and Marathi was continued by his successors.
  • Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627), the successor of Adil Shah, ascended the throne (of Bijapur ) at the age of nine. He was very attentive of the poor, and had the title of abla baba, or Friend of the Poor.
  • Ibrahim Adil Shah II was very fond of music; he composed a book namely Kitab-e-Navras (Book of Nine Rasas).
  • In this book, he set various musical modes or ragas. In his songs, he freely prayed the goddess of music and learning, Saraswati. Due to his broad approach, he came to be called as Jagadguru.
  • Adil Shah II, further, built a new capital, Nauraspur; where he invited a large number of musicians (to settle). He offered patronage to all, including Hindu saints and temples. This included grants to Pandharpur, the center of the worship of Vithoba, which became the center of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra.
  • Golconda was the popular intellectual resort for the literary men. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (who was a contemporary of Akbar ) was very fond of both literature and architecture. Sultan Muhammad Qutb Shah wrote in Dakhini Urdu, Persian, andTelugu and left an extensive collection.
    • He was the first who introduced a secular note in poetry. Qutb Shah not only wrote about God and the Prophet (their praise), but he also wrote about nature, love, and the social life of his time.

Urdu and other Languages

  • The growth of Urdu in its Dakhini form was a significant development during the period. The successors of Muhammad Quli Qutb shah and many other poets and writers of the time adopted Urdu as a literary language. Urdu was patronized at the Bijapuri court also. The poet laureate Nusrati who flourished during the middle of the seventeenth century wrote a romantic tale about Prince Manohar, ruler of Kanaka Nagar and Madhu Malati. Urdu gradually percolated to North India from the Deccan by the eighteenth century.
  • The successors of Qutb Shah and many other poets and writers of his time adopted Urdu as a literary language. In addition to Urdu language, Persian, Hindi, and Telugu were also significant for the idioms and vocabulary.


  • Recent research shows that Deccan painting started about 1560, at the same time as Mughal painting. Like the Mughals, the Deccan painters absorbed both Persian painting, and the earlier forms of painting during the Sultanate/ Bahmani period, as well as the indigenous traditions of painting.
  • Of all the schools of Deccan painting, Bijapuri painting is considered the best. The great name earned by Bijapuri painting is mainly due to the patronage and personality of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627). This was the period when the best Dakhani works were produced at all the three Deccan states, Ahmednagar, Bijapur and Golconda.


  • In 1591-92, Quli Qutb Shah founded the city Hyderabad; he also constructed many buildings, the most famous of which is the Char Minar. It has four lofty arches, facing the four directions. Its chief beauty are the four minarets which are four-storeyed and are 48 metres high. The double screen of the arches has fine carvings.
  • The Gol Gumbaz (the mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur ) which was built in 1656 has the largest single dome ever constructed. The architect of Gol Gumbaz was Yaqut of Dabul. All its proportions are harmonious, the large dome being balanced by tall, tapering minarets at the corner. It is said that a whisper at one side of the huge main room can be heard clearly at the other.
  • Ibrahim Rauza, another famous Bijapuri building, houses the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Adil Shahi dynasty. This was constructed in the first half of 17th Century and contains tombs of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his wife Taj sultana.
  • Considered one of India’s most outstanding citadels, the Golconda fort epitomises the sumptuous ‘Nawabi’ culture of the time. Golconda fort owes much of its present grandeur to Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah.
  • It will thus be seen that the Deccani states not only maintained fine standards of communal harmony, but also contributed in the fields of music, literature, painting and architecture.
Deccan Sultanates

Deccani States

Qutb Shahi Dynasty

  • One of the Sultanates formed after the breakup of the Bahmani Kingdom.
  • Sultan Quli Qutb Shah, the Governor of Golconda founded the Qutb Shahi Dynasty of Golconda.
  • Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali married the daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahmednagar, and took a leading part in forming an alliance of the Deccan Sultans against Vijayanagar Empire, which resulted in the rout of the Vijayanagar forces at the Battle of Talikota in 1565 Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah founded the city of Hyderabad and named it Bhagyanagar after his Hindu mistress Bhagamati.
  • In 1634, Abdullah Qutb Shah issued the Golden Firman granting trade privileges to the English East India Company on the Andhra Coast.
  • During the ruler of Abdullah Qutb Shah, the Golconda kingdom was forced to accept the suzerainty of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1635.

Adil Shahi Dynasty

  • One of the two principal successor states to the Bahmani Kingdom in the Deccan.
  • The dynasty strongly resisted the Mughal advance southwards in the 17th century until it was extinguished by the Indian emperor Aurangzeb with the capture of Bijapur in 1686.
  • Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of the dynasty, introduced Shiism; lost Goa to the Portuguese.
  • Along with Golconda, Bidar and Ahmednagar, the dynasty overthrew Vijayanagar empire at the battle of Talikota in 1565.
  • Ibrahim Adil Shah reverted to Sunni from Shiism.

Nizam Shahi Dynasty

  • Nizam Shahi Dynasty was engaged in constant warfare Burhan Shah allied with the Hindu state of Vijayanagar, but his successor Husain Shah joined the alliance that overthrew it in 1565.
  • An attack by the Mughals from the north was gallantly resisted by Chand Bibi, queen dowager of Bijapur, but Berar was ceded in 1596 and Ahmednagar fell after the queen’s death in 1600.
  • The dynasty survived until the fall of Daulatabad in 1633.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments