The following points highlight the top ten provincial kingdoms of medieval India. They are: 1. Kashmir 2. Jaunpur 3. Bengal 4. Gujarat 5. Malwa 6. Mewar (Udaipur) 7. Marwar 8. Khandesh (South India) 9. The Bahmani Kingdom (South India) 10. Kingdom of Vijayanagara in South India.
Provincial Kingdom # 1. Kashmir:
Suhadeva succeeded in establishing a united state of Kashmir in 1301 A.D. yet, he was threatened by foreign enemies both on his eastern and western boundary. In 1320 A.D., Suhadeva was forced to leave Kashmir which was occupied by Rinchana, the son of a western Tibetan chief. Rinchana employed one Muslim person, Shah Mir to educate his wife and children.
Rinchana was succeeded by Udayana Deva who died in 1338 A.D. As his sons were minor, his wife, Kotta took up the administration in her own hands. But, by then, Shah Mir had become quite powerful. He imprisoned queen Kotta and her sons in 1339 A.D. and himself sat on the throne of Kashmir. He assumed the title of Shams- ud-din Shah and became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir.
Shams-ud-din died after three years and was succeeded by his eldest son Jamshed. However, Jamshed was dethroned within some months by his brother Ala-ud-din who ruled for nearly twelve years. After him, his brother Shihab-ud-din ascended the throne and ruled for nineteen years. Shihab-ud-din pursued a policy of plundering the neighbouring states. In the west, he attacked up to Peshawar and, in the south, up to the river Satluj.
However, he maintained friendly relations with the ruler of Tibet. He was a tolerant ruler and Kashmir prospered during his reign. When he died, his brother Qutb-ud-din ascended the throne. Qutb-ud-din died in 1389 A.D., and was succeeded by his infant son, Sikandar. Sikandar’s reign marked a turning point in the history of Kashmir from social and religious point of view.
So far, the Muslim rulers of Kashmir had been tolerant towards their Hindu subjects who constituted the majority of the populace. But Sikandar proved a bigot. He attempted mass conversion of the Hindus to Islam. He, particularly, was oppressive to Brahmanas.
The majority of the Hindus accepted the Islam. Amongst the rest, many committed suicide and some fled away from Kashmir. Sikandar destroyed the Hindu temples and their images in such a large number that his co-religionists gave him the title of Butshikan (destroyer of idols).
Jonaraja wrote- “The king forgot his kingly duties and took a delight day and night, in breaking images. . . He broke the images of Martanda, Vishaya, Isana, Chakravrat and Tripuresvara. . . There was no city, no town, no village, no wood where Suha the Turushka left the temples of gods unbroken.”
Sikandar died in 1413 A.D. His son, Ali Shah, succeeded him. His chief minister, Suhal Bhatta, continued the policy of persecuting the Hindus and completed the work which was started by Sikandar. Ali Shah was captured by the Khokkaras while he was leading an expedition to fight against his brother and died at Chadura.
In 1420 A.D., brother of Ali Shah, Shahi Khan ascended the throne and assumed the title of Zain-ul-Abidin. Zain-ul-Abidin was the greatest ruler of Kashmir and some historians have compared him with Mughal ruler, Akbar because of his liberal religious policy towards the Hindus. He extended his empire. He conquered Gandhara, Sindhu, Madra, Rajapuri, Ladakh, Leh, etc. and defeated the ruler of Jammu also while assisting the Khokkar chief, Jasrath.
However, his fame rests primarily on his peaceful activities. Kashmir achieved both material and cultural progress during his reign. He himself was well- cultured and learned. He was well-versed in Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan and other languages. Many Arabic and Persian works were translated into the local language and the Mahabharata and the Rajatarangini were translated into Persian during his reign.
He provided religious freedom to the Hindus, encouraged those who had fled away from Kashmir to return, allowed the Hindus to build up their temples and images and rewarded the Brahamanas for their meritorious works.
He abolished many taxes including much-hated Jizya from the Hindus, forced traders to sell their goods on reasonable prices, established peace and order, provided indiscriminating justice to his subjects and patronized literature and fine arts like music and painting. Zain-ul-Abidin enjoyed fame even in foreign countries. He maintained cordial relations with the rulers of Delhi, Gujarat, Gwalior, Mecca, Egypt, Khorasan etc. He died in 1470 A.D.
Haji Khan succeeded his father and assumed the title of Haidar Shah. He was an intolerant and incompetent ruler. However, he died within one year. He was succeeded by his son Hasan Shah. He pursued a tolerant religious policy but could not keep control over his nobles and the kingdom began to disintegrate during his reign.
Yet, Kashmir remained an independent kingdom during the period of the Delhi Sultanate. Afterwards, it was conquered by the Mughal ruler, Akbar.
Provincial Kingdom # 2. Jaunpur:
The city of Jaunpur is situated on the river Gaumti and is thirty-four miles away from Banaras towards the north-west. It was founded by Firuz Shah Tughluq. Malik Sarvar, the founder of the independent kingdom of Jaunpur was a slave of Sultan Muhammad, son of Firuz Tughluq. He had a humble origin but rose to the position of vazir by his own merit.
In 1394 A.D., he was sent to suppress the revolt in Doab. He not only suppressed that revolt but, taking advantage of the invasion of Timur, occupied the entire territory extending from Aligarh in the east to Tirhut in the west and acted as an independent ruler though, of course, he assumed no royal title. He was assigned the title of Malik-ush-Sharq by Sultan Mahmud. Therefore, his dynasty was called the Sharqi dynasty.
Malik Sarvar was succeeded by his adopted son who assumed the title of Sultan Mubarak Shah. Mubarak issued his own coins and had the khutba read in his name. The vazir of Sultan Mahmud Tughluq, Mallu Iqbal Khan, tried to conquer Jaunpur but failed. Mubarak Shah died in 1402 A.D.
Mubarak was succeeded by his brother who assumed the title of Shams-ud- din Ibrahim Shah. The kingdom of Jaunpur and Delhi constantly fought against each other during his reign as both desired to expand itself at the cost of other. Ibrahim fought not only against Mahmud Tughluq but also against the Sayyid rulers Khizr Khan and Mubarak Shah. But no result came out of their conflict. Ibrahim tried to capture Bengal but failed.
His reign, however, was remarkable from the point of view of progress in cultural field. His reign was a period of prosperity as well. Jaunpur became a notable centre of learning and culture in northern India during his reign.
He patronized scholars and books like the Hashiah-i-Hindi, the Bahr-ul-Mawwaj, the Fatwa-i-Ibrahim Shahi and the Irshad were written during his reign. He beautified Jaunpur and built many beautiful buildings there. A new school of architecture, Janupuri or Sharqi School of Architecture, came into existence during his reign. He died in 1440 A.D.
Ibrahim Shah was succeeded by his son, Mahmud Shah. Mahmud Shah captured the fort of Chunar but his efforts to capture Kalpi failed. He once attacked Delhi also but the then ruler of Delhi, Bahlul Lodi defeated him.
The conflict between the kingdoms of Delhi and Jaunpur became bitter during his reign. After him, his son Muhammad Shah also fought against Bahlul but with no useful result. Muhammad Shah was killed by his brother, Husain Shah.
Husain Shah entered into a life and death struggle against Bahlul Lodi and was eventually defeated. He fled away to Bihar in 1479 A.D. and the state of Jaunpur was annexed to the Delhi Sultanate by Bahlul Lodi. During the rule of Sikandar Lodi, Husain Shah was forced to find shelter in Bengal and there he finished his life under the protection of the king of Bengal.
Thus, the kingdom of Jaunpur which had become an independent state out of the ruins of the Delhi Sultanate once more became its integral part after seventy-five years.
Provincial Kingdom # 3. Bengal:
Ikhtiyar-ud-din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji was the first Muslim invader who annexed Bengal and Bihar to the Delhi Sultanate. But Bengal, being a distant province, had always been a problem-province for the rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and could remain independent from time to time.
The last serious rebellion, that of Tughril Khan, was sternly suppressed by Sultan Balban who appointed his son Bughra Khan as governor there. After the death of Balban, his successor Kaiqubad accepted his father Bughra Khan as independent ruler of Bengal who assumed the title of Sultan Nasir-ud-din.
Nasir-ud-din abdicated his throne in favour of his son Rukn-ud-din Kaikaus in 1291 A.D. when the throne of Delhi was captured by the Khaljis. Kaikaus ruled till 1301 A.D. when Shams-ud-din Firuz Shah, governor of Bihar dethroned him. Shams-ud-din extended the boundary of his kingdom and captured Assam and Silhat. He died in 1322 A.D.
His sons fought against him even when he was alive and when he died his son Ghiyas-ud-din, probably, murdered all his brothers save Nasir- ud-din Bahadur and Shihab-ud-din. Nasir-ud-din Bahadur and Shihab-ud-din sought support of Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq. Ghiyas-ud-din Tughluq attacked Bengal and imprisoned Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur.
He annexed southern and eastern Bengal to the Delhi Sultanate but gave northern Bengal to Nasir-ud-din. Sultan Muhammad Tughluq freed Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur from the prison and appointed him governor of eastern Bengal along with one of his nobles. But Ghiyas-ud-din Bahadur revolted after some years.
Then the whole of Bengal was annexed to the Delhi Sultanate by Sultan Muhammad Tughluq. But in 1337- 38 A.D., revolt occurred again in Bengal. Muhammad Tughluq sent Fakhr- ud-din to suppress that revolt.
He suppressed it but when he received no help or communication from Delhi, he declared himself ruler of Bengal and assumed the title of Fakhr-ud-din Mubarak Shah. Thus, Bengal again became independent during the reign of Muhammad Tughluq.
In 1345-46, Shams-ud-din Ilyas Shah occupied the whole of Bengal and ruled as an independent ruler. Firuz Tughluq tried twice to capture Bengal but failed both the times. Bengal, afterwards, was occupied by Sher Shah Suri and, then after him, it was finally annexed to the Mughal empire by Akbar.
Provincial Kingdom # 4. Gujarat:
Raja Karan (Rai Karan) was defeated by the forces of Ala-ud-din Khalji and Gujarat was annexed to the Delhi Sultanate in 1297 A.D. Gujarat then remained a province of the Delhi Sultanate till 1401 A.D. when Zafar Khan, the governor of Gujarat, declared himself as an independent Sultan.
He assumed the title of Muzaffar Shah in 1407 A.D. Muzaffar defeated Sultan Hushang of Malwa and occupied his capital, Dhar, though restored his kingdom to him afterwards. Muzaffar died in 1411 A.D.
Muzaffar was succeeded by his grandson Ahmad Shah. Ahmad Shah ruled for thirty-two years. He fought against the neighbouring rulers of Rajasthan, Malwa and south India. He was a successful ruler. He built up a new city.
Ahmadabad and made it his capital. He died in 1433 A.D. He was succeeded by his eldest son Muhammad Shah II who died in 1451 A.D. Muhammad Shah II was succeeded, in turn, by Qutb-ud-din Ahmad Shah and Daud Khan.
The last two rulers proved themselves incompetent. While Qutb-ud-din ruled between 1451-1458 A.D., the reign of Daud Khan was limited only to some days. In 1458 A.D., the nobles dethroned Daud Khan and chose Fath Khan, son of Muhammad II, to be the ruler. Fath Khan assumed the title of Abu-i-Fath Mahmud and is famous in history as Mahmud Begarha.
Mahmud Begarha ruled between 1458-1511 A.D. and has been regarded as the greatest Sultan of his dynasty. He fought many battles. He suppressed those nobles who desired to place his brother, Hasan Khan on the throne and defeated those Hindu Chiefs who challenged his authority. He supported the Bahmani kingdom against Malwa and his maternal grandfather Jam Nanda against his rebellious Hindu subjects.
However, his best success was capture of the forts of Girnar and Champaner. This success brought him the nickname Begarha. Mahmud fought against the Portuguese and was supported by the Egyptian fleet but he could not check their influence on the sea, and finally, compromised with them. Mahmud raised Gujarat to the status of one of the powerful states of northern India.
Besides, Gujarat prospered during his reign and progress was achieved in the field of literature and fine arts. Mahmud, however, was a bigoted Sunni and pursued an intolerant religious policy towards his Hindu subjects.
Mahmud Begarha was succeeded by his son Khalil Khan who assumed the title of Muzaffar Shah II. Muzaffar Shah supported Mahmud Khalji, the ruler of Malwa against his vazir Medini Rai and succeeded in restoring his authority in Mandu though Chanderi remained with Medini Rai.
He fought hard against the ruler of Mewar, Rana Sanga who was supporting Medini Rai and other Rajput rulers against Muslim rulers. But he did not succeed against the Rana. He died in 1526 A.D. Muzaffar was succeeded by Sikandar and Mahmud II respectively. Both of them proved incompetent and could rule only for some months.
Then, in July 1526 A.D., Bahadur Shah ascended the throne and his period of reign marked the zenith of the power of the state of Gujarat. He conquered Malwa in 1531 A.D. and plundered Chittor, the capital of Mewar.
However, the Mughal ruler Humayun proved his greatest enemy. Humayun once succeeded in capturing the entire Gujarat. Bahadur Shah was murdered by the Portuguese in 1537 A.D. After him, no capable man ruled over Gujarat and it was finally conquered by the Mughal ruler Akbar in 1572 A.D.
Provincial Kingdom # 5. Malwa:
Malwa was annexed to the Delhi Sultanate first by Ala-ud-din Khalji. It remained a part of it till the reign of later Tughluqs. Dilawar Khan who was appointed governor of Malwa by Firuz Tughluq in 1390 A.D. made himself an independent ruler in 1401 A.D. though he did not assume the title of Sultan. He died in 1405 A.D. His son and successor Alp Khan assumed the title of Husang Shah.
Husang Shah was once defeated and captured by Muzaffar Shah, ruler of Gujarat, but was left free and sent to suppress the revolt of Malwa. Husang Shah utilised that opportunity and once again made himself independent ruler of Malwa.
He built up Mandu and made it his capital. Husang Shah fought many battles against Ahmad Shah, the ruler of Gujarat who had succeeded Muzaffar Shah. But no concrete result came out of those battles. He also failed to capture Gwalior.
However, he captured Kalpi and successfully plundered the Hindu states of Orissa. Husang Shah was an ambitious ruler and engaged himself constantly in wars of conquest. But he failed to extend the territory of his kingdom because there existed equally powerful states in his neighbourhood. He died in 1435 A.D. He was succeeded by his son Ghazni Khan under the title of Muhammad Shah. He, however, proved himself incompetent and his vazir, Mahmud Khan, succeeded in dethroning him after a year.
Mahmud Khan assumed the title of Mahmud Shah and laid down the rule of Khalji dynasty in Malwa. He ruled between 1436-1469 A.D. and proved himself the ablest ruler of Malwa. He fought against the rulers of Gujarat, Delhi, Bahmani and Mewar. He extended the territory of his kingdom and got approval of his title of Sultan from the Khalifa of Egypt. He was a just and successful ruler though he was a bigot and pursued an intolerant religious policy towards the Hindus. He died in 1469 A.D.
Mahmud Shah was succeeded by his son Ghiyas-ud-din who mostly pursued a policy of peace with his neighbours and enjoyed the pleasures of life. However, he invaded Mewar twice but failed. He allowed the ruler of Gujarat to capture Champaner. He was a bigot and even surpassed his father in certain respects.
Probably, his son Nasir-ud-din got him poisoned and sat on the throne in 1500 A.D. Nasir-ud-din Shah was a tyrant. He died in 1511 A.D. and was succeeded by his younger son, Azam Humayun who assumed the title of Mahmud Shah II. During the reign of Mahmud Shah II, his Hindu and Muslim nobles contested for power against each other which helped Medini Rai to build his power even against the Sultan.
The Sultan sought the help of Muzaffar II, the ruler of Gujarat against Medini Rai but was foiled in his attempt because, Medini Rai, in turn, got the support of Rana Sanga, the ruler of Mewar. Mahmud developed enmity with Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat and was defeated by him in 1531 A.D. He was, afterwards, killed and Malwa was occupied by the state of Gujarat. The Mughal emperor Akbar annexed both Malwa and Gujarat to his empire afterwards.
Provincial Kingdom # 6. Mewar (Udaipur):
Rana Ratan Singh, a member of the elder branch of the Guhilot family ruled at Mewar when Ala-ud-din attacked and captured it in 1303 A.D. However, Lakshman Singh, a member of the junior branch of the Guhilots, viz., the Sisodiya was placed on the throne during the course of the battle.
Lakshman Singh died fighting with his seven sons in the defence of the fort of Chittor. Only one of his sons, Ajay Singh was allowed to escape himself by flight. Ajay Singh passed his life in hiding. When he died in 1314 A.D. his title passed over to the son of his elder brother, Hammir who proved himself the real founder of the state of Mewar under the Sisodiyas.
Hammir tried to recover Chittor from the hands of Ala-ud-din Khalji but failed. However, Prince Khizr Khan was forced to leave Chittor and a Rajput noble, Maldeo was appointed governor in his place. But Hammir persisted in his efforts and, probably, during the later period of Muhammad Tughluq, succeeded in recovering Chittor from the Delhi Sultanate.
Hammir ruled for sixty-four years and his creditable achievement was the independence of Mewar. Hammir was succeeded by his son Kshetra Singh (1378-1405 A.D.) who proved capable and extended his kingdom. Kshetra Singh was succeeded by his eldest son Laksha Singh or Lakha at a fairly advanced age.
He enhanced further the power of Mewar by marrying himself with the Rathor princess of Marwar. Lakha died in 1420 A.D. and was succeeded by his son, Mokal. Mokal captured Marwar with the help of his maternal uncle Ranamalla and also the Muslim principality of Nagour. Mokal was murdered in 1433 A.D. by his two relatives while he had gone on an expedition to fight against the ruler of Gujarat.
The murder of Mokal divided the Rajput chiefs among themselves. At that very time, the rulers of Malwa and Gujarat attacked Mewar. At that difficult time, Ranamalla came to the rescue of Mewar. Ranamalla placed his grand- nephew, Kumbha on the throne, suppressed the internal revolts and forced the invading armies of Gujarat and Malwa to withdraw.
Ranamalla, however, provoked the jealousy and suspicion of certain Sisodiya chiefs who murdered him in 1438 A.D. This created enmity between Mewar and Marwar. Thus, the early years of the reign of Rana Kumbha were full of troubles. But Rana Kumbha proved a great ruler. He succeeded in defeating the Rathors and captured large territory of Marwar.
He also defeated the army of Malwa several times. As a memory to his success against Malwa, he constructed the famous Kirti stambha at Chittor. Rana Kumbha ranks among the most important rulers of medieval Indian history. The Rathor-Rajputs fought against him constantly and the rulers of Malwa and Gujarat made joint efforts to defeat him.
Yet, Kumbha succeeded against them all and extended the territory of his kingdom. Besides, Kumbha was a patron of literature and fine arts. He constructed many palaces, forts and temples in Mewar. He built the city of Kumbhalgarh, strengthened the fortification of Chittor and built thirty-two forts among eighty-four forts of Mewar.
He was a scholar as well. He was proficient in the Vedas, Smritis, Mimansa, Upanishads, grammar and politics. He wrote a commentary on Jayadeva’s Gitagovinda and four dramas in four local languages. Thus, Rana Kumbha was a great king of Mewar. He lived long and was murdered by his son, Udaya in 1473 A.D. who, probably, had become impatient to occupy the throne.
Udaya, who captured the throne of his father, was not allowed to rule for long because of the resistance of the nobles. The throne was soon occupied by his younger brother, Rayamalla. Rayamalla ruled for thirty-six years (1473-1509 A.D.). He fought against his own rebellious chiefs, hill-tribes and rulers of Malwa. Yet, he succeeded.
During later years of his reign, his sons contested against each other to capture the throne which made him insane and he died in that state of mind. His eldest son, Prithviraja was poisoned, the second son Jaymal had died fighting in a duel while the third son Jaya Singh was not accepted as ruler by the nobles.
The nobles called Sangram Singh who had gone to Malwa after quarrelling with his brother to become Rana. Sangram Singh alias Rana Sanga (1509-1528 A.D.) proved himself an ambitious and war-like ruler. He either conquered all the states of Rajasthan or befriended them. He fought successfully against the neighbouring rulers of Gujarat, Malwa and Delhi.
He desired to capture Delhi itself which resulted in the battle of Khanua against Babur in 1527 A.D. He was defeated in that battle and died shortly afterwards. The power of Mewar went on decreasing afterwards and, ultimately, it accepted the suzerainty of the Mughal ruler, Jahangir.
Provincial Kingdom # 7. Marwar:
It is largely believed that the Rathors of Marwar and Bikaner were the descendants of the Rashtrakutas. Chunda (1394-1421 A.D.) founded the state of Marwar and made Jodhpur its capital. Chunda fought hard against the neighbouring Muslim and Rajput states to maintain the existence of his state.
He extended his influence by marrying his daughter with Lakha, who was advanced in age but one of the prominent rulers of Mewar. The eldest son of Chunda was Ranamalla who left the state in deference to the wish of his father. Therefore, Chunda was succeeded by Kanha and he, in turn, was succeeded by his younger brother Sata. Sata was practically blind.
Therefore, Ranamalla, who had been at Mewar so far, attacked Marwar and occupied the throne for himself. Ranamalla helped Rana Kumbha of Mewar in early years of his reign, grew very influential but was, then, murdered by the nobles of Mewar. It resulted in constant fighting between the state of Mewar and Marwar. The son of Ranamalla, Jodha was able to escape from Mewar but Marwar was occupied by the Sisodiyas.
Jodha continued to resist the Sisodiyas and, finally, Rana Kumbha agreed for peace with him as he was fighting against the Muslim rulers of Gujarat and Malwa. Therefore, Jodha captured Marwar. Jodha had seventeen sons. His sons established semi-independent kingdoms at Satal, Merta, and Bikaner during his life-time and when he died in 1488 A.D., they fought amongst themselves for the throne.
One of his sons, Satal occupied the throne with the consent of the nobles. Satal died shortly and was succeeded by Suja. However, his brother Bika refused to submit to him and founded the independent state of Bikaner. Merta also became independent nearly the same time.
Thus, Marwar got the opportunity to rise as an important state of Rajasthan after the decline of the state of Mewar. It was the first-rate power in Rajasthan under its ruler Maldeo when Sher Shah Suri ruled at Delhi. However, during the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar at Delhi, Marwar accepted his suzerainty.
Provincial Kingdom # 8. Khandesh (South India):
The independent state of Khandesh was established by its governor, Malik Raja after the death of Firuz Tughluq. It was situated in the valley of the river Tapti. Khandesh could never become a powerful state. It had to fight constantly for its existence against its powerful neighbouring state, the Bahmani kingdom and therefore, remained dependent on the support of Malwa and Gujarat.
Most of the rulers of Khandesh accepted the suzerainty of the rulers of Gujarat with whom they had matrimonial relations as well. Finally, the Mughal emperor Akbar annexed it to his empire in 1601 A.D.
Provincial Kingdom # 9. The Bahmani Kingdom (South India):
The foreign Muslim nobles in the Deccan revolted against Sultan Muhammad Tughluq, occupied Daultabad and chose Hasan as their Sultan. Hasan assumed the title of Abu-ul-Muzaffar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah and, thus, laid down the foundation of the independent Bahmani kingdom in 1347 A.D. Firishta wrote that Hasan in his early life, was a servant of a Brahmana named Gangu and therefore, assumed the title of Bahman Shah as a mark of respect to his previous master.
But Bahman Shah himself claimed to be a descendant of the famous Persian hero Bahman, son of Isfandiyar. The Bahmani kingdom remained a powerful state of the South and possessed a large part of it for nearly two hundred years.
Bahman Shah proved a capable and ambitious ruler. He made Gulbarga his capital. He extended the territory of his kingdom and, thus, succeeded in making it a powerful state during his own lifetime.
The Bahmani kingdom extended from the Wainganga river in the north to the river Krishna in the south, and from Daultabad in the west to Bhongir in the east. Bahman Shah was an efficient administrator. He divided his kingdom into four provinces (tarafs) whose capitals were Gulbarga, Daultabad, Barar, and Bidar. He died in 1358 A.D.
Bahman Shah was succeeded by his son, Muhammad Shah I. Muhammad Shah fought against the neighbouring Hindu states of Warangal and Vijayanagara which were established in the south-east and the south-west of his state respectively during the reign of his father. The ruler of Warangal, Kapaya Nayaka and Bukka, the ruler of Vijayanagara, probably made an understanding between each other and claimed the fort of Kaulas and Krishna-Tungabhadra- doab respectively.
Muhammad refuted their claim and fought against both of them. He was more successful against Kapaya Nayaka and snatched away the fort of Golkunda from him which was accepted the boundary line between the two. He reached an understanding with Bukka as well by which it was agreed that none would kill the prisoners of war and unarmed subjects of each other.
Muhammad died in 1375 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Ala-ud-din Mujahid. He ruled only for three years and constantly fought against the kingdom of Vijayanagara. While returning from one of his campaigns he was murdered by his cousin Daud. But Daud was murdered by Mujahid’s partisans within a month of his accession to the throne and then his brother Muhammad II was raised to the throne.
During this period of internal strife in Bahmani kingdom, Vijayanagara occupied a part of its western coast. Yet, Muhammad II did not fight against Vijayanagara. He was a scholarly king, patronised scholars and pursued a peaceful policy. He died in 1397 A.D. and was succeeded by Ghiyas-ud-din and Shams-ud-din respectively who ruled only for short durations.
Shams-ud-din was deposed by Taj-ud-din Firuz Shah who became king in 1397 A.D. Taj-ud-din fought against Vijayanagara thrice. He was successful twice but was defeated the third time which reduced his respect. Taj-ud-din was an enlightened ruler. He constructed the new city of Firuzabad and improved the ports of Chaul and Dabhol. He was deposed by his brother, Ahmad Shah in 1422 A.D. who then became the king.
Ahmad Shah (1422-1436 A.D.) conquered Warangal, plundered part of the Vijayanagara kingdom and successfully attacked Malwa. But he failed against Gujarat. He transferred his capital to Bidar in 1425 A.D. and remained there till the close of his reign. The quarrels between the foreign and Indian Muslim nobles which became one of the primary reasons of the weakness of the Bahmani kingdom began during his reign.
Ala-ud-din II, his son, succeeded him after his death. He brought to submission the Hindu kingdom of Konkan, married the daughter of the Hindu king of Sangameshwar, failed the attack of Khandesh and fought against Vijayanagara. He was succeeded by his son Humayun after his death in 1457 A.D. Humayun was a tyrant and was known as zalim. He died in 1461 A.D. and was succeeded by his minor son, Nizam Shah.
Her mother, Maqdum-i-Jahan formed a regency council consisting of herself, Mahmud Gavan and Khvaja Jahan Turk to look after the administration. The rulers of Malwa and Orissa attacked the Bahmani kingdom during his reign but failed to gain anything. The boy-king died in 1463 A.D. and was succeeded by his brother, Muhammad III.
The queen mother had become suspicious towards Khvaja Jahan Turk who was now murdered. Mahmud Gavan was then appointed the Vakil-us-Sultanat (vazir) of the kingdom. Mahmud Gavan was a Persian who came to the Bahmani kingdom as a trader. He proved to be the ablest vazir of the Bahmani kingdom.
He subjugated the Hindu ruler of Konkan, captured the fort of Khalna from the king of Sangameshwar, plundered part of the Vijayanagara kingdom and snatched away a part of Goa from it. He also conquered the forts of Rajamundry and Kondavir and successfully plundered the state of Orissa.
Besides a successful commander Mahmud Gavan was a capable administrator as well. He strengthened the Central government and raised the number of provinces from four to eight. He tried to abolish the Jagirdari-system and, instead of assigning jagirs to his officers paid them in cash. He paid proper attention towards the training and discipline of the soldiers and, thus, strengthened the Bahmani kingdom militarily.
With a view to increase the economic resources of the state, he introduced the system of measurement of land and collected revenue directly from the peasants. The peasants were provided the facility of paying revenue either in cash or kind. The success of Mahmud Gavan provoked jealousy among the Indian Muslim nobles who succeeded in getting death orders for him from the king while he was drunk.
He was then executed on April 5, 1481 A.D. Mahmud Gavan was a successful man. He served well the Bahmani rulers for three generations. He established a good college at Bidar. Mahmud Gavan himself was a scholar. He wrote himself two texts—Rauzat-ul-lnsha and Diwan-i-Asra. However, he had one shortcoming. His religious policy remained reactionary.
The conflict between the foreign Muslim nobles and the Indian Muslim nobles became further sharp after his death which, ultimately, led to the disintegration of the Bahmani kingdom. Muhammad Shah III died in 1482 A.D.
Muhammad Shah III was succeeded by his son, Mahmud Shah. As he was a minor, the real power of the state passed into the hands of Malik Naib, Hasan Nizam-ul-mulk. The foreign Muslim nobles (pardesis) were dissatisfied due to the execution of Mahmud Gavan and therefore, refused to obey the new king.
The foreign Muslim nobles consisted of the Turks, the Mughals, the Persians and the Arabs while the Indian Muslim nobles had Abyssinians on their side. The two groups fought against each other primarily not because of racial differences but to capture the power of the state. Besides, they were divided on religious ground as well.
While the foreign Muslims were mostly Shias the Indian Muslims were Sunnis. The foreign Muslims had come to the Bahmani kingdom in large number, gained strength and formed a distinct party. The Indian Muslim and the Abyssinians grew envious of their growing power in the state and combined themselves against them.
Therefore, the court of the Bahmani kingdom was divided into two powerful rival groups which were determined to destroy each other. The weakness of later Bahmani rulers gave encouragement to these groups. Nizam Shah who was a minor failed to check their conflict. Mahmud Gavan who was a foreign Muslim tried to keep a balance between the two groups but finally fell a victim to the conspiracy of Naib Malik who was an Indian Muslim.
The execution of Mahmud Gavan brought the conflict of the rival groups in open and Sultan Mahmud Shah failed to check it. Malik Naib fled away for the safety of his life but the governor of Bidar killed him. The Indian Muslims, in turn, attacked the palace and tried to capture the Sultan but they failed and were killed in large numbers.
The Sultan, Mahmud Shah felt so disappointed because of these quarrels that he left the administration in the hands of one Turk noble, Qasim Barid. The provincial governors, however, refused to accept the power of Qasim Barid.
First, Malik Ahmad Nizam-ul-mulk, son of the murdered Naib Malik, refused to obey the orders of the state and established his independent rule in 1490 A.D. at Ahmadnagar. His example was followed by Adil Khan at Bijapur and Imad-ul- mulk at Berar.
Thus, the Bahmani kingdom was divided and its provincial governors became independent rulers though none assumed the title of Sultan during the reign of Sultan Mahmud. Their only bond was jihad (holy war) every year against the idolators of Vijayanagara. Sultan Mahmud died in 1518 A.D. He was succeeded by four weak rulers successively who remained puppets in the hands of Qasim Barid.
The last nominal ruler, Kalimullah died some time in 1538 A.D. The Bahmani dynasty and its kingdom came to an end with his death. The Bahmani kingdom was then split into five independent kingdoms, namely, the Adil Shahi of Bijapur, the Qutb Shahi of Golkunda, the Nizam Shahi of Ahmadnagar, the Barid Shahi of Bidar and the Imad Shahi of Berar.
These five Muslim states of the South fought against each other but their primary enemy remained the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagara. Ahmadnagar conquered Berar in 1574 A.D. and Bijapur annexed Bidar in 1618-19 A.D.
The Mughal emperor Akbar occupied part of Ahmadnagar during his reign and the rest of it was conquered by Shah Jahan. The states of Bijapur and Golkunda were finally annexed by the Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb.
Provincial Kingdom # 10. Kingdom of Vijayanagara in South India:
The foundation of the Vijayanagara kingdom on the south-west coast of India was laid down by two brothers, Harihara and Bukka, two of the five sons of Sangama. They were ministers in the state of Kampili. When Sultan Muhammad Tughluq conquered Kampili he imprisoned these two brothers, took them to Delhi and forced them to embrace Islam.
Afterwards, when there occurred a revolt in Kampili, Muhammad Tughluq sent them there to suppress that revolt. They failed in their attempt because of the resistance of the people of Kampili who were inspired by the spirit of independence. The success of Kapaya Nayaka and Ballala II in liberating the Andhra and Dravida Pradesh inspired the two brothers to lead the liberation movement of the Hindus in the south-west.
One saint, Vidyaranya encouraged them to accept Hinduism once again and pleaded to his guru, Vidyatirtha, the chief priest of Advaita-matha at Sringeri for it. Vidyatirtha converted them to Hinduism and they decided to liberate their people from Muslim domination.
In 1336 A.D., Harihara founded the independent kingdom of Hampi-Hastinavati and was crowned as its first king. On his coronation day, he founded the capital city of Vijayanagara (Vidyanagara). This very small state grew up as the mighty kingdom of Vijayanagara afterwards.
Harihara I ruled between 1336-1356 A.D. His first capital was Anegondi but he shifted it to Vijayanagara after seven years. Harihara was a capable ruler but he had to struggle hard against his neighbours.
Qutlugh Khan, the governor of Devagiri did not like the establishment of a Hindu state by his side. Even Vir Ballala III, Kapaya Nayak and his friend Prolaya Vema who were leading the independence movement of the Hindus in the South were not friendly to him.
Yet, Harihara succeeded in extending the territory of his kingdom. While Ballala III was attempting to conquer Madura, Harihara captured part of his eastern territory. Afterwards when Ballala was murdered in 1342 A.D., Harihara annexed his entire kingdom. He then conquered the state of Kadamba and defeated the Sultan of Madura.
Harihara also established a sound system of administration, encouraged agriculture and strengthened the fortification of the forts of Badami, Udayagiri and Gooty. His civil administration lasted until the very last days of the Vijayanagara empire.
Harihara was succeeded by his brother Bukka I. Bukka centralized the administration, brought provincial governors under his effective control and conquered Tamil Nadu. He came to an understanding with the ruler of Warangal and then pressed the Bahmani ruler, Muhammad Shah I to hand over Krishna-Tungabhadra-Doab to him.
From that time started the prolonged struggle for power in the South between the Bahmani and Vijayanagara empires. During the reign of Bukka, the river Krishna was accepted as the boundary line of the two states. However, the most important conquest of Bukka was that of Madura because of which his empire extended up to Ramesvaram in the extreme south.
Thus, Bukka extended further the territory of that kingdom which he had inherited from Harihara. The same way, Bukka also proved himself as a capable ruler. He claimed to be the protector of Hinduism and assumed the title of Vedmarga-pratishthapaka or the establisher of the path of the Vedas. (Neither Harihara nor Bukka assumed the title of the king.)
Yet, he pursued a liberal religious policy and all religions, viz., Jainism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity were provided equal freedom by the state which remained the settled policy of the Vijayanagara empire till its extinction.
Fresh commentaries were written on the Vedas and the allied religious texts during his reign. He encouraged Telugu literature and was a patron of Nachana Soma, greatest Telugu poet of the age. Bukka died in 1377 A.D.
Bukka I was succeeded by his son Harihara II (1377-1404 A.D.) who assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (king of kings). He conquered Kanara, Mysore, Trichnapali, Kanchi, etc. and forced the king of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) to pay him tribute. Bahmani Sultan Mujahid Shah attacked Vijayanagara in 1377 A.D. but failed to get any success and was murdered while returning from his campaign.
Taking advantage of the dissensions in the Bahmani kingdom. Harihara attacked Konkan and northern Karnataka and captured the ports of Chaul and Dabhol as well as Goa which made him the master of the entire west coast of the Deccan. Bahmani Sultans, Muhammad Shah II and Firuz Shah respectively attempted to capture Krishna-Tungabhadra-Doab from him but failed.
Thus, Harihara II extended further the territory of his empire. He was a successful commander and proved himself equally successful administrator. When he died in 1404 A.D. there ensued a war of succession among his sons. First, Virupaksha I crowned himself but was overthrown just after a year by his brother Bukka II. Bukka II, in turn, was overthrown by Devaraya I who ascended the throne in 1406 A.D.
Firuz Shah, the Bahmani Sultan attacked Vijayanagara immediately after his accession to the throne but failed to achieve any success. Devaraya I strengthened his cavalry and recruited Turkish-archers in it. The last years of Devaraya’s reign passed on peacefully and Vijayanagara became the centre of learning in the South.
He died in 1422 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Ramachandra who ruled only for some months and, in turn, was succeeded by his brother Vijaya I. Vijaya I ruled between 1422-1430 A.D. but he left the administration primarily in the hands of his son Devaraya, who ascended the throne after his death. Devaraya II fought against the Bahmani kingdom twice but that wielded no concrete result.
However, he succeeded in defeating the rulers of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. He also recruited Turkish-archers in his army. The Italian traveller, Nicolo Conti and Abdur Razaak, the Persian ambassador visited Vijayanagara during his reign.
Both described Vijayanagara as the most prosperous and powerful state of south India. Devaraya II was succeeded by his brother Vijaya II who left the throne after a year in favour of his nephew, Mallikarjuna who ruled between 1446-1465 A.D.
The states of Orissa and Bahmani attacked Vijayanagara during his reign and Orissa captured the forts of Kondavidu and Udayagiri from it. Mallikarjuna was, probably, murdered by his cousin, Virupaksha II who captured the throne in 1465 A.D. But the provincial governors refused to obey him which weakened the Vijayanagara empire.
It resulted in the loss of a part of its territory to Orissa and the capture of Goa, Konkan and northern Karnataka by the Bahmani kingdom. However, the empire was saved because of the efforts of Saluva Narasingha, the chief of Chandragiri. The incapability of Virupaksha II led to the downfall of his dynasty.
He was murdered by one of his sons in 1485 A.D. who, however, renounced his claim to the throne in favour of his younger brother, Praudha Devaraya. But Saluva Narasingha soon dethroned him, captured the throne in 1485 A.D. and laid down the foundation of the rule of his own dynasty i.e., the Saluva dynasty.
Saluva Narasingha remained the first and the last ruler of his dynasty. He failed to capture Krishna-Tungabhadra-Doab from the Bahmani kingdom. However, he saved the Vijayanagara empire from further disintegration by successfully keeping the provincial governors under his control.
He died in 1490 A.D. Before his death, he appointed Naras Nayaka as the guardian of his two minor sons and the regent of the kingdom. Naras Nayaka placed one of his sons, Timma on the throne though enjoyed all the powers of the state himself.
Naras Nayaka died in 1503 A.D. and his son, Vira Narasingha who became regent in his place got Timma murdered in 1505 A.D. Now Vira Narasingha became the ruler and founded the rule of a new dynasty, the Taluva dynasty.
Vira Narasingha ruled only up to 1509 A.D. Yet, he strengthened his army, made his subjects war-like, concluded a treaty with the Portuguese governor, Almeida for purchasing all the horses imported by him, pursued a liberal policy in administration and foiled invasions of the Bahmani kingdom.
Vira Narasingha was succeeded by his brother, Krishnadevaraya who ruled till 1529 A.D. Krishnadevaraya proved himself as the greatest ruler of Vijayanagara. The empire reached at the zenith of its power and prosperity during his reign. By that time, the Bahmani kingdom was divided into five independent kingdoms. Yet, all these five states were the determined enemies of the Vijayanagara empire.
Therefore, his main contest was against those Muslim states which were determined to destroy Vijayanagara. Sultan Mahmud Shah declared jihad and attacked Vijayanagara in the very beginning of his reign. Krishnadevaraya, however, not only defeated him but hotly pursued him. Yusuf Adil Khan, the ruler of Bijapur was killed in the battle and Krishnadevaraya captured Krishna- Tungabhadra-Doab, and the forts of Raichur and Bidar.
However, he returned Bidar state to Mahmud Shah by which he desired to bring about a division among the five Muslim states. Next, he captured Warangal and snatched away the forts of Udyagiri and Kondavidu from Orissa. Golkunda and Bijapur also attacked Vijayanagara in turn. Both were defeated.
The army of Bijapur was pursued and its capital Gulbarga was captured by Krishnadevaraya. However, he returned after placing on the throne the eldest son of Muhammad Shah II. Thus, Krishnadevaraya defeated all his enemies and recaptured all territory and forts of the Vijayanagara empire which were lost by its previous rulers. He remained undefeated in the battle.
Besides, he was a capable administrator and patron of fine arts and literature. He founded the city of Negallapur, built up many Gopurams and Mandapas and beautified his capital city, Vijayanagara. Telugu literature made tremendous progress during his reign.
The Vijayanagara empire reached to its zenith in peace, order, power, prosperity and learning during his reign. The Mughal emperor, Babur described Krishnadevaraya as the most powerful ruler of India in his autobiography Baburnama.
Krishnadevaraya was succeeded by his brother Achyuta Raya (1530-42 A.D.). He proved himself a weak ruler. The central authority weakened during his reign. He was succeeded by his nephew, Sadasivo Raya in 1542 A.D. He too was an incapable ruler and the real authority of the state passed into the hands of his minister, Rama Raya.
Rama Raya was an able administrator but failed as a diplomat. He tried to create dissensions among five Muslim states which once formed the Bahmani kingdom. He helped one against another, in turn. But, ultimately, this policy failed and all these states united themselves against Vijayanagara in the name of Islam.
The combined army of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Golkunda and Bidar attacked Vijayanagara and the famous battle of Talikota took place on 23 January 1565 A.D. The army of Vijayanagara was completely defeated and the invaders completely destroyed the capital city of Vijayanagara.
The battle of Talikota crippled the Vijayanagara empire but could not entirely destroy it. The brother of Rama Raya, Tirumala transferred the capital to Penugonda and maintained the existence of the empire. The mutual jealousy of the victors prevented them to unite among themselves once against Vijayanagara. That also helped the efforts of Tirumala.
In 1570 A.D., Tirumala dethroned Sadasiva Raya and captured the throne for himself. He, thus, laid down the foundation of a new dynasty, the Aravidu dynasty. Tirumala was succeeded by his son, Ranga II who was a successful ruler. He, in turn, was succeeded by his brother, Venkata II. The empire began to disintegrate during his rule.
The last important ruler of this dynasty was Ranga III. He could not keep the provincial governors under his control. Independent kingdoms were established at Mysore, Bednur, Madura, Tanjore etc. and the Vijayanagara empire reached its end.