Tag Archives: Adilshahi

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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2012082

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 – http://golgumbad.com/hob_7.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12214102

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=”http://www.sothebys.com/en/catalogues/ecatalogue.html/2011/arts-of-the-islamic-world-l11220#/r=/en/ecat.fhtml.L11220.html+r.m=/en/ecat.lot.L11220.html/248/”>Sotheby’s</a&gt;, Public Domain, <a href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1491242″>https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1491242</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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153078

 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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24572113


Muhammad Adil Shah, Sultan of Bijapur 

 By Deccan, India – http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/singleObject.cfm?ObjectNumber=F1968.7, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18066795

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 – http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/96048.html?mulR=5018, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9500020

image011.pngAli Adil Shah II, Sultan of Bijapur

By India, Deccan, Bijapur – Sotheby’s, Public Domain,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14797152

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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21407678


Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur

By Ashwatham at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1805591

image023  Ibrahim Rauza,Bijapur

 By Sanyam Bahga – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21633366


Bara Kaman, Bijapur

By Unknown – Henry Cousens’ book “Guide to the town Beejapor” published in 1889, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22282996


Gagan Mahal, Bijapur

By Cousens, Henry – http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/v/019pho000001003u01802000.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8625165


Bijapur Fort, Bijapur

By Hinton, Henry – http://ogimages.bl.uk/images/019/019WDZ000000247U00003000%5BSVC2%5D.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8625287


 Jami Masjid, Bijapur

 By Cousens, Henry – http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/apac/photocoll/v/019pho000001003u01839000.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8625062


Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=565113


Sangeet Mahal, Bijapur

 By Raghu Jorapur – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21504653


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

By Daderot – Daderot, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24947196

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