Category Archives: Bijapur

Bijapur and Ahmadnagar paintings : regal splendour

Bijapur and Ahmadnagar were two important sultanates of the Deccan in medieval India. Both were powerful and contributed to the regions they ruled; built monuments whose remains are still seen. They were patrons of a unique painting forms which give us not only a historical record of those times but also contribute to the genre of Indian miniature painting. Bijapur paintings have survived in bigger number than those from Ahmadnagar.

The Bijapuri school flourished under Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his successors to some extent. Sultan Adil Shah I too was a patron of the arts and Shirazi, a immigrant from Persia who composed Tazkira-al mulk, worked in his kingdom during his reign. He patronised calligraphers and had a well stocked library.


Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II, Bijapur, late 16th century. Anonymous [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Bijapuri school was influenced by the Mughal and European style to some extent. Males are seen wearing turbans and royal costumes. The women had South Indian features with elongated eyes,wearing gold jewellery and saris. The main works produced during Sultan Adil Shah I rule were on musical themes like the Javahir al Musiqat-i-Muhammadi.

Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II was a mystic,a calligrapher and a composer himself; he transformed Bijapuri painting. Highly sensitive, he was influenced by both Islam and Hinduism.The work produced during his reign is very strong on emotion; the word nauras meant everything to him which translates as ‘nine flavours of life’. His writings are collected in Kitab-i-nauras. Maulana Farookh Hussain was an important painter in his court who influenced all the artists of the time.  Bijapuri painting had paintings either with the garden of paradise  setting or a idealised form of a human figure. The clothes were reflective of the era. Muslin robes, Kashmiri shawls , golden slippers, conical headgear are all seen on royalty and noblemen.

The painting of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah on his elephant, Atash Khan and his mate Chanchal are seen moving through  a meadow. Delicate flowers and trees abound; this painting has strong European influence.


Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah on his elephant Atash Khan, Bijapur,1600-10. Attributed to Farrukh Beg [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Aayat-ul-kursi, Bijapur,16th century.

By Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The throne verse in the form of a calligraphic horse, Bijapur, 16th century.(Aayat-ul-kursi). The painting style of Bijapur changed when Ahmadnagar was divided between Bijapur and the Mughals. Many Rajputs were serving as Governors in the Mughal administration om Bundi, Kotah and Bikaner. These princes brought their families and probably painters as well. Portraiture became popular and the works began to be dated and signed. Mughal artists too had come to Bijapur and influences are seen in the paintings. Slowly lot of North Indian influence came into the later works. Mohammad Khan and Abdul Karim were important artists during Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah’s reign.


Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah with Ikhlas Khan, his prime minister, Bijapur, 17th century. page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah selecting a jewel, Bijapur,1650.

By English: thesandiegomuseumofartcollection (Flickr) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

During Sultan Ali Adil Shah reign florals and abstracts too were produced in addition to portraiture.


Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur, Bijapur,1800. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Chandbibi was daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar and was married to Sultan Ali Adil Shah of Bijapur. She was  regent of Bijapur ( 1580-90) and regent of Ahmadnagar (1596-99). She fought hard against the Mughal forces to save Ahmednagar from their hegemony.


Chandbibi, regent of Bijapur and Ahmadnagar, painting,Bijapur,18th century.

By India, 18th century Deccan School (Sotheby’s, London, 06 April 2011, lot 248) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mughal and Deccani styles had amalgamated and continued during the reigns of Sultan Ali Adil Shah II and Sultan Sikandar Adil Shah; but the local styles re-emerged in the form of richer colours, prominent facial features and  graceful gestures.

During Sultan Ali Adil Shah’s reign florals and abstracts too were produced in addition to portraiture.


Sultan Ali Adil Shah II, Bijapur painting, 1670.

By Unknown –, Public Domain,


Chandbibi playing polo, Bijapur, 18th century. page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Painting in the Nizam Shahi court at Ahmadnagar(1490-1636) took place under the three Sultans; Hussain Nizam Shahi I, his sons Murtaza I and Burhan II. The art mainly lasted for a short time and only some specimens have survived for posterity. The Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi lauds Hussain and his queen Khanzada Humayun and the conquest of Vijayanagara kingdom. The illustrations include that of the court, the queen and a shalabhanjika/dohada theme of a tree bursting into flowers at the touch of a lovely maiden (most probably the queen herself)


From the Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi, battle of Talikota, Ahmadnagar,1565.

By Aftabi – Template:Ta’rif-i Husain Shahi [1][2], CC BY-SA 4.0,

Ragamala paintings were produced in Northern Deccan which are mostly assigned to Ahmadnagar. They  bear some  similarity to Tarif -i-hussain shahi vide its colour composition and and simple figures.


Gauri ragini , Ragamala painting , probably Ahmadnagar,16th century.

See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Sultan Hussain Nizam Shah I, from the Tarif-i-Hussain Shahi, Ahmadnagar, 1565.

By Indischer Maler um 1565 – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain,


Sultan Burhan Nizam Shah II, Ahmadnagar,1591-95.

By Unknown – PORTRAIT OF BURHAN NIZAM SHAH II. (1591-95) of Ahmadnagar. Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Malik Ambar(1548-1626) was an important figure in Deccan politics. He was an Ethiopian  and sold as a slave and came to India. He organised his own army and became a prime minister at the Ahmadnagar Sultanate. He had an important military role against the Mughals. His portrait captures his complexion, his strong stature showing him with his head-dress, long robe and his sword.


Malik Amber, Ahmadnagar, 1624-5.

By Hashim (made) (bridgeman berlin) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

References :

  • George, Michell and Zebroswki, Mark/The art and architecture of the Deccan Sultanates, Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

Ⓒ author

Bygone splendour : a history of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur

The Adil Shahi kingdom is one of the Deccan Sultanates, one of the five offshoots of the Bahmani kingdom. The kingdom ruled from from 1489 to 1686 A.D with Bijapur as their capital. The Adil Shahis were immigrants from Iran and had brought with them Oriental traditions which reflected in customs and ceremonies,court culture,dress,etiquette,art and architecture.

A  composite culture evolved out of the synthesis with local sensibilities as can be seen even 500 years later from the art,architecture,paintings,jewellery and costume,arms and armour,calligraphy and inscriptions left behind by them. Turko-Iranian/Persian synthesis is evident in their designs and style. The splendour of the Adil Shahis depicts a secular mindset, life of affluence and appreciation for the refined and sophisticated.

The founder of the kingdom was Yousuf Beg. He belonged to the Aq-Quyunlu or white sheep tribe of Diyarbykir in Southern Anatolia(Asia minor). After the death of his father Mahmud Beg of Sawa in Iran,he came to the Deccan being brought by Khwaja Imamuddin who is believed to have sold him as a Georgian slave to the minister Mahmud Khwaja Gawan for the service to the royal bodyguard. Yousuf impressed the Bahmani emperor with his bravery and he rose rapidly to become the governor of Bijapur. Some sources his full name was Yousuf Adil Shah Sawa, while some say Nizam-ul-Mulk procured the title Adil Khan for him, when he was governor of Berar. He soon consolidated his position and acted with authority and autonomy. He was a man of refined taste and culture who invited poets and artists from Persia,Turkey and Rome. He built the Ar-killa and the Faroukh Mahal. Though Yousuf’s authority stated in 1489, he was still loyal to the Bahmani throne. He ruled upto 1510. The dynasty came to be known as Adil Shahi from the title Adil Khan which had been bestowed on Yousuf Beg.

Yousuf’s son Ismail succeeded him with Kamal Khan as regent,because he was a minor.Kamal Khan became ambitious and wanted to oust Ismail; however he was assassinated and Ismail ascended to the throne. Ismail Adil Shah recaptured Raichur from Vijayanagar kingdom in 1519. However hostilities continued for few years. Between the Deccan states too there were hostilities during this time. Ismail was a just ruler, prudent and kind who patronised poets, musicians and was fond of Turkish and Persian. He died in 1535. Ismail Adil Shah built the Champa Mahal in 1521 and established a new town Chandapur in 1520. His son Mallu Adil Khan,an unfit ruler, ruled for six months and was replaced by his younger brother Ibrahim.

Ibrahim Adil Shah I fortified the city of Bijapur and the built the old Jami Masjid. He introduced the Deccani Language in public accounting systems in place of Persian. He also dismissed many afaqis or foreigners from service and appointed people from the Deccan including the Marathas and Habshis. He ended Shia domination and brought Sunnis to power. However his anti-afaqi policy made weakened his kingdom, as the removed personnel joined neighbouring rulers. His reign lasted for over 24 years. During his time Asad Khan was prime minister and commander of his army. Ibrahim Adil Shah I adopted the title of Shah after the death of Kalimullah, Bahmani ruler in 1538. During his reign inter-state hostilities continued and alliances were the order of the day. Bijapur conquered Bidar but lost out Sholapur and Kalyani to Ahmednagar. Bijapur reached upto south of Goa. Ibrahim Adil Shah died in 1557. He established the town of Ibrahimpura and built  a mosque there. He is responsible for the Solah Thami Mahal and built the Ghalib mosques which has 1303 niches for lamps. The fort wall of Raichur was also built by him. He also built a Jami Masjid.


Ibrahim Adil Shah I,Sultan of Bijapur

Public Domain,

He was succeeded by Ali Adil Shah I who reinstated foreigners/afaqis. He aligned his forces with Golconda,Ahmednagar and Bidar. Together they scored victory over Vijayanagara kingdom at the Battle of Talikota, which actually took place at Banighatti in 1565.

Ali Adil Shah I thus ruled from 1557;had no children and so nominated his nephew Ibrahim, son of his brother Tahmasp as his successor. He was assassinated soon after in 1580. During the reign of Ali Adil Shah, diplomatic relations had been established between Mughal emperor Akbar and Bijapur. The city wall of Bijapur was constructed in his reign. He also improved water supply. He built the Gagan Mahal.


 Ali Adil Shah I , Sultan of Bijapur

By Unknown –, Public Domain,

Ibrahim Adil Shah II ascended the throne at the age of nine with Kamil Khan Deccani as regent and Chand Bibi was to educate him. But he was later replaced by Kishwar Khan by Chand Bibi (widow of Ali Adil Shah I). During his time Ahmednagar invaded Bijapur but did not succeed.However owing to the murder of Mustafa Khan,there arose differences between them and Chand Bibi was confined.He grew unpopular due to his acts and Ikhlas Khan became regent. However after many intrigues and conspiracies Dilawar Khan became very powerful, who also established Sunni faith in Bijapur. Dilawar Khan lost to Ahmednagar at Dhaserao in 1591. He left Bijapur and entered the service of Burhan Nizam Shah II. However when he came back to Bijapur, Ibrahim  confined him in the fortress of Satara and assumed charge of the government. He established better equation with the Mughal court and formed matrimonial alliances with them.Bijapur invaded Ahmednagar again and during battle Nizam Shah lost his life; and Bijapur retreated. In 1596 the Mughals invaded Ahmednagar, Chand Bibi requested Ibrahim to help which he extended. However the kingdom could not be saved. But overall Ibrahim Adil Shah was an able and intelligent politician who protected the Deccani kingdoms from Mughal effort to conquer them totally. He also annexed Bidar and ended the Barid Shahi dynasty in 1619. In 1623 an alliance was formed with Mughals against Ahmednagar. However Malik Amber(prime minister fo Ahmednagar Sultanate) formed an alliance with Golconda and won in the battle of Bhaturi. Ibrahim Adil Shah II changed the official religion from Shia to Sunni but was extremely tolerant. He appointed Marathas and Brahmins to various departments.  He was called Jagadguru and a great patron of the arts, architecture,music and painting. Deccan school flourished under him. He built Saat Manzil in 1583 and Anand Mahal in 1589. He also built Nauras Mahal, Dilkhusha palace and Haidar burj in the fort. He died in 1627.


Chand Bibi, regent of Ahmednagar and Bijapur

By India, 18th century Deccan School – <a rel=”nofollow” class=”external text” href=””>Sotheby’s</a&gt;, Public Domain, <a href=”″></a&gt;


Ibrahim Adil Shah II

By Indischer Maler um 1595 – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain,

 Muhammad Adil Shah, younger son of Ibrahim ruled between 1627 and 1656, who became ruler at 15.He ruled for 30 years. He maintained friendly relations with Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and made a peace treaty in 1636, received the title of Shah in 1648 and got assurance of security for Bijapur. He extended his domination to Konkan, pune,Dhabul, Mysore,south Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. His reign was peaceful, which witnessed development of painting and poetry. He introduced fresco painting and portraits on walls of Asar Mahal and at Saat Manzil. His mausoleum is at Gol Gumbaz.


Muhammad Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur

By Unknown – Portrait of MUHAMMAD ADIL SHAH (1627-56) of Bijapur. British Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Muhammad Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur 

 By Deccan, India –, Public Domain,

He was succeeded by his son  Ali Adil Shah II. However he could not rule well and lot of strife and disorder followed. Prince Aurangzeb was the Viceroy of the Deccan as per Mughal diktat, at this point of time. He invaded Bijapur with the consent of Shahjahan on the pretext of disorder and lack of an able ruler. The Mughals bribed a number of Adil Shahi officers, entered Bijapur and laid siege to Bidar and Kalyani. However the entire operation was called off and a peace treaty was concluded by which  Ali Adil Shah II has to pay an indemnity to the Mughals and Shah Jahan ceded Bidar and Kalyani. During his reign , Nayaks tried to reclaim their territories and Shivaji acquired areas of Bijapur to form an independent Maratha kingdom. Ali Adil Shah ruled from 1656 – 1672, struggling against the Mughals and the Marathas. Persian and Deccani literature, fine arts flourished in his reign. Two memorable works Gulshan-e-ishq and Alinama were produced during his tenure as Sultan of Bijapur. He built Hussaini Mahal with a mosque, Ali Mahal and Arsh Mahal.He is buried at Ali ka Rauza, Bara Kaman in Bijapur.


Ali Adil Shah II, Sultan of Bijapur

 By Unknown –, Public Domain,

image011.pngAli Adil Shah II, Sultan of Bijapur

By India, Deccan, Bijapur – Sotheby’s, Public Domain,

Sikandar Adil Shah succeeded his father Ali Adil Shah II, but was a minor. Khawas Khan became prime minister and regent. He ruled for three years, but in 1675, the Abyssinian nobleman  Abdul Kazim Buhlul Khan seized power and became prime minister, who promoted his own men who which the Deccani nobles did not like. This led to lot of internal conflict and strife. Anarchy prevailed; Siddi Masud became prime minister followed by Aga Khusrav in 1684. However after many attempts by Sikandar Adil Shah to satisfy the Mughals failed. In 1685, the Mughals laid siege to the fort of Bijapur. After a prolonged effort, Bijapur was occupied and Sikandar Adil Shah surrendered in 1686. He died prematurely while in captivity,at Daulatabad fort. He is buried in the New Market place of Bijapur. Thus ended the Adil Shahi rule.




Asar Mahal, Bijapur

By Akshatha – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur

By Ashwatham at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,

image023  Ibrahim Rauza,Bijapur

 By Sanyam Bahga – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Bara Kaman, Bijapur

By Unknown – Henry Cousens’ book “Guide to the town Beejapor” published in 1889, Public Domain,


Gagan Mahal, Bijapur

By Cousens, Henry –, Public Domain,


Bijapur Fort, Bijapur

By Hinton, Henry –, Public Domain,


 Jami Masjid, Bijapur

 By Cousens, Henry –, Public Domain,


Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur

Public Domain,


Sangeet Mahal, Bijapur

 By Raghu Jorapur – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,


Dish with inscription and solar design from Bijapur, 1600 A.D.

By Daderot – Daderot, CC0,

References :

Nayeem,M.A/The heritage of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur,Hyderabad: Hyderabad Publishers,2008.

 Hyder, Navina Najat and Sardar,Marika/Sultans of Deccan India 1500-1700,opulence and fantasy,London : Yale University Press ,2015

Posted by : Soma Ghosh