Tag Archives: Deccan history

Bidar : a journey in time

           Bidar,  a region in Deccan, India, the old Viduranagara of Mahabharata, the great Indian epic. In ancient times it was under the Mauryan rule in 3rd century B.C; Bidar saw many rulers after that; the Satavahanas, Chalukyas of Kalyani, Rashtrakutas, Kalachuris, rulers from Devagiri and the Kakatiyas of Warangal. The Sultanate rulers controlled the region of the Deccan and Bidar came under the same when Ulugh Khan (who later became Mohammad bin-Tughlaq) annexed many parts of the Deccan. He might have built a small but strong fort in 1322. Around the mid 14th century, the Sultanate rulers’ Deccan chiefs rebelled and new rulers; the Bahamanis took over the region.

Bahmani Sultanate

     Bidar is majorly associated with the Bahmanis and the Baridis. They ruled from Bidar at different points of time. The Bahmani dynasty was established in 1347. Its first Sultan had made Gulbarga his capital. Later during the rule of Ahmad Shah, Bidar became the capital. The old fort got a total makeover and palaces, mosques, gardens and a great madrasa was built. The madrasa was established by Mahmud Gawan, prime minister in 1466;  an important figure in Bidar’s history. The Bahmani kingdom disintegrated into 5 kingdoms and the Barid Shahi was one of them. The Barid Shahis ruled the region upto 1619 when the Bijapur Sultans captured Bidar. In 1656 Aurangzeb took it from the Adil Shahis of Bijapur; thus it came under the Mughals. In 1724 it became part of the Asaf Jahi kingdom of the Nizam. The Indian Union was formed after independence from  British rule and now it is in Karnataka state of India.

  A journey through Bidar is a walk through history, a rediscovering of the times when the fort might have buzzed with activity. When the Sultans ruled Bidar, of the times when cannons were used, poetry in Persian was written, few sultans being poets themselves. The Fort with the Tarkash Mahal, the Takht Mahal, the Rangeen Mahal and Mahmud Gawan’s madrasa. Remains are still there. Of enchanting blue-green mosaic tile work, of inscriptions and mother-of-pearl inlays. The beautiful architecture with arches, the gardens, the calligraphy, the stucco, the arabesque designs and the Barid Shahi necropolis with tombs. The rulers supported and encouraged the craft of Bidri; silver, bronze or gold work on a metal alloy of zinc, lead and copper. The scholars at the Sultan Ali Barid Shah’s courts brought the 12th century Persian mystic-poet Fariduddin’s (Attar) work to Bidar.

’All things are but masks at God’s beck and call,

They are symbols that instruct us that God is all’’


Image result for bidri


    The monuments at Bidar have been standing as a testament to the times of the Sultans reflecting opulence in architecture and design. The Bidar Fort on the edge of the plateau shows Persian influence  which has seven gates ( in addition to the main gate) and 37 bastions. The Mandu darwaza, Kalmadgi darwaza, Delhi darwaza, Kayani darwaza, Carnatic darwaza; two gates have no names. The bastions are massive round, ocatgonal or square in shape. The fort complex had many palaces and the mosque. On the southern side the city was built for the general public.

Sultan Ali Barid Shah I

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Entrance gate, Bidar Fort.

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Bastion, Bidar Fort complex, Bidar.  

    On entering the fort complex there are lawn-gardens and cisterns; the Lal Bagh has an ornate cistern with a fountain.

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Cistern with fountain, Bidar Fort complex, Bidar.

   The city of Bidar has a unique water supply system called karez or qanat. A water harnessing technique orginally from Persian and brought to the Decccan by the Bahmani Sultans. It consists of network of undeground canals with vertical shafts at different points.  It taps into the ground water and transports through the canals ending in a pool for public access and the garrison which had been inside the fort. The system has 21 vertical shafts and extends to 2 kilometres. The fort has a triple moat.

Gagan Mahal : Originally built by the Bahmani kings and additions made by the Barid Shahi Sultans, it has two courts used by guards. The main building was used by the Sultan and his harem.


Gagan Mahal, Bidar Fort.

Solah Khamba Masjid :  a mosque with sixteen pillars or solah sutoon ki masjid was built under Sultan Ahmad Shah ali Bahmani’s son Prince Muhammad’s viceregal period. Also called zenana masjid having columns, arches and domes. Adjoining the Lal Bagh the building has a long front of 310 feet from the north to the south. The dome above a central hall, has windows of ornate jaali work around.

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Solah Khamba Masjid, Bidar Fort.

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Bidar Fort view.

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Ornate stucco, Bidar Fort.

Rangeen Mahal : meaning coloured palace; it has coloured tile work and wood carvings. Also mother-of-pearl inlay on black stone. There is also ornate stucco and stone carvings.The access to the palace is by a flight of steps and after passing through few rooms the palace interior can be reached.

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Rangeen Mahal, Bidar Fort.

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Calligraphy as fresco work, Rangeen Mahal, Bidar Fort.

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Mother-of-pearl inlay work, Rangeen Mahal, Bidar Fort.

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Ceiling design, Rangeen Mahal, Bidar Fort.

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Stucco work, Bidar Fort.

Tarkash Mahal : …….this palace was built for the Turkish queen of the Sultan, originally begun being built by the Bahmani kings, the upper parts are of the Baridi period, built by the Barid Shahis who had large harems.

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Tarkash Mahal , Bidar Fort.

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Arched niches, Bidar Fort.

Takht Mahal :  This was the Royal Throne palace built by Ahmad Shah Bhamani where the Sultan resided and coronations took place. It has coloured tiles ans tone carvings. There are two royal pavillions and a large hall behind which was the Sultan’s chamber. This building was previously called Dar-ul-Imara or Government House.

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Takht Mahal,  Bidar Fort.

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Diwani-i-aam or audience hall, Bidar Fort.

  Mahmud Gawan Madrasa:  Built by the vazir or prime minister  Mahmud Gawan in late 15th century. He had set up a University, a centre of learningt with alibrary of 3000 manuscripts.The architecture is very similar to the Madarasa of Khardgird near Masshed, Iran.

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Mahmud Gawan Madrasa, Bidar.


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Tomb of Sultan Ali Barid, Bidar.


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Calligraphy in Tomb of Ali Barid Shah, Bidar.

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Tomb of Khan Jahan, brother of Amir I, second Barid Shahi Sultan, Barid Shahi Garden, Bidar.

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Tomb of Sultan Qasim Barid, Bidar.

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Bahmani tombs at Ashtur, Bidar.

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Tomb of Sultan Ahmad Shah Wali Bahmani, Bidar.

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Chaukhandi, tomb of Hazrat Khalil-Ullah, Bidar.

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Tombs at sunset, Bidar.

        Bidar is home to many more monuments; the chaubara, a tall cylindrical tower of 71 feet, used as a watch tower, a winding staircase leading to the top from where the plateau can be seen. Also the Diwan-i-aam, the tomb of Sultan Humayun, the Kali Masjid, the tombs of Hazrat Abu-’l-Faid, Hazrat Makhdoom Qadiri,Hazrat Sayyid-us-Sadat, the Takht-i-Kirmani, the Dulhan Darwaza, the Talghat Darwaza, mosques adjoining few monuments, the Farh Bagh and the Habshi Kot.


References :

  1. Bidar : its history and its monuments/Yazdani, Ghulam, London: Oxford University Press, 1947.
  2. Wikipedia.org
  3. https://blogvirasatehind.com/2016/09/30/tile-work-at-bidar-a-touch-of-persia/
  4. Images from Wiki commons



Posted by :

Soma Ghosh


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.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Sultan-Ibrahim-Adil-Shah-II-of-Bijapur._Miniature._Deccan%2C_Bijapur%3B_c._1590._The_David_Collection..jpgBy 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.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/20/Sultan_Ibrahim_Adil_Shah_II_Riding_His_Prized_Elephant%2C_Atash_Khan.jpgBy 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.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Muhammad_Adil_Shah_of_Bijapur_and_his_African_Prime_Minister_Ikhlas_Khan_LACMA_M.76.2.35_%281_of_3%29.jpgSee 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.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f8/Ali_Adil_Shah_of_Bijapur.jpg 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 – http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/96048.html?mulR=5018, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9500020


Chandbibi playing polo, Bijapur, 18th century.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Chand_Bibi_playing_Polo_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgSee 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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41665109

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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=153074


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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24571824

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.
  • wikipedia.org

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh

Ⓒ author

Bygone splendour : a history of the Satavahanas

       The Satavahanas were a South Indian dynasty who ruled for four and a half centuries. They were next to the Mauryas in authority and managed to ward off invaders and ensured peace in Dakshinapatha (southern region of the Indian peninsula) Their age had high economic prosperity, Puranic theism became prominent, Mahayana Buddhism which was more universal became prominent than Hinayana Buddhism. Prakrit flourished as the official language though Sanskrit too gained importance. Their sculptural and aesthetic brilliance can be gauged by their contributions at Amaravati, Bhaja, Nashik, Pitalkhora and Sanchi.

         The sources of the age are scanty and sometimes not reliable and there seems to be difference of opinion between historians. Numismatic evidence is found and the record at Nashik are considered the most important. The Kathasaritsagara is believed to be based on the Prakrit text Brihatkatha from Satavahana times.The Yugapurana of the Gargisamhita and early Jain literature contain information about the Satavahana kings. The times are also reflected in Hala’s Gathasaptasati and Kamasutra of Vatsyayana.

          The inscriptions found of the Satavahanas are around 25 out of which only few are royal records and the others are of private individuals. Most of them are Buddhist in content. The Junagadh inscription of Rudraraman notes the last Saka-Satavahana war. Neighbouring Kalinga King Kharavela mentions their conflict with the Satavahanas in the Hathigumpha inscription at Udaigiri Odisha. Satavahana time coins have been found at places like Nevasa, Kondapur, Maski, Tripuri, Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda. These coins validate the historicity of the rulers as mentioned in the Puranas. However though sometimes unclear, numismatic evidence helps in finding the racial affinities and how the empire disintegrated etc. The Matsya Purana says that altogether 30 kings ruled for 470 years. Vayupurana says 17 rulers and 270 years of rule. The early historians identify the Satavahanas with the Andhras and that they flourished in the Krishna-Godavari region of Eastern Deccan. Their seat of power was Srikakulam or Dhanyakataka. Later historians differ saying they were servants of the Andhras as they are mentioned as Andhrabhrityas in the Puranas. However the Satavahanas is the name of a family and they ruled Andhra, who were vassals of the Mauryas. They inherited the Prakrit language from them. The Puranas indicate that Sirimukha was the founder of the dynasty. He has also been called Sisuka,Srimukha, Chismoka etc.The inscriptions on the relievo-figures at Nanaghat refer to him as Sirimukha Satavahana. This could be interpreted as : son of Satavahana. Satavahana ruled from Paithan, as a vassal of King Asoka of the Mauryas and later consolidated the position for declaring  independence in the Deccan with his son Sirimukha as successor; around 230 B.C. Punch marked coins are attributed to him. He ruled for 23 years; built stupas and viharas for Jainas. He changed his religion during his last days. He was succeeded by his brother Kanha(208-198 B.C) because his son Satakarni was of a young age. He ruled for ten years and his minister or mahamatra got carved a cave for monks at Nashik.

         Satakarni I succeeded him who was most illustrious among the early Satavahanas. His queen Naganika described him as virasura in the Nanaghat inscription recorded after his death. He ruled for 18 years and tried to expand his kingdom; came into conflict with King Kharavela of Kalinga but managed to keep his empire intact. He conducted many sacrifices and worked for the welfare of the Brahmin community. He conducted many sacrifices. He died leaving behind four young sons;Kumara Hakusiri, Sati Srimat, Kumara Satavahana and Vedisiri (the eldest) or Purnotasanga (179 B.C- 161 B.C) who succeeded him and ruled independently.The sons partitioned the empire. Rani Naganika was regent with her father Maharathi Tranakayiro who assisted her in guiding the empire

         Satakarni II was another great king who ruled for 56 years and who restored unity in the split dominions of the empire. Many kings ruled between this king and Gautamiputra Satakarni. Some names include Apilaka, Meghasvati,Kuntala Satakarni,Pulomavi,Hala Satavahana etc. The kingdom went into eclipse between King Hala and Gautamiputra Satakarni, the 26th ruler of the dynasty. This was due to the invasion of the Sakas from the Indus region. The famous work Periplus of the Erythrean Sea  by a Greek sailor, notes these conflicts.

          Gautamiputra Satakarni revived the empire (106 A.D to 130 A.D) and is remembered as one of India’s greatest monarchs. Number of coins found in the Deccan area along with the Nashik Prasasti recorded by his mother Bala Sri give a picture of his reign. As per the Nashik Prasasti, the Satavahana kingdom was limited to the region east of Paithan, parts of Andhradesa and Kalinga, at the time he ascended the throne. However, he undertook many campaigns and destroyed the Kshaharatas defeating Nahapa and recovered regions upto Malwa. His empire extended between Aravalis to the Nilgiris from Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal. He was a skilled archer, learned in the Vedas, a dutiful son and a benevolent king.


Gautamiputra Satakarni celebrating his victory on Nahapa, a satrap of Gujarat in Western India,artist’s impression.

By Ambrose Dudley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

        Gautamiputra Satakarni was succeeded by his son Vasistiputra Pulomavi II. He came into conflict  with Chastana and lost Malwa and Saurastra to the Kardamakas. But as per the Nasik and Karle inscriptions Pulomavi retained his control over Maharashtra. He was succeeded by Sivasri or Vasistiputra Satakarni; many coins found in Andhra region bearing his legend have been found. He was most likely a brother of Pulomavi II. He attempted to recover same Satavahana dominions from the Kardamakas.

        As per the Puranic sources Sri Yajna Satakarni is the last great king of the Satavahana dynasty. He had a reign of 29 years and flourished in the last quarter of 2nd century. He is known from inscriptions at Nashik, Kanheri and a large number of coins from all over Deccan, Madhya Pradesh, Berar, Baroda etc. He conquered Central and Western Deccan and the Narmada valley. He patronised Acharya Nagarjuna for who he built a mahachaitya and a mahavihara at Sriparvata (Nagajunakonda). Acharya Nagarjuna built the stone railing around the great stupa at Amaravati. Vijaya Satakarni succeeded him. The process of disintegration of the empire had started in the reign of Pulomavi II and speeded up as subordinate ruling families such as the Kuras of Kolhapur, Chutuis of Banavasi and Ishkavakus of Vijaypuri became formidable and got greater powers for themselves. Vijaya was succeeded by Chandra Sri followed by Puloma and is the last king as per the Puranas. After Sri Yajna the kingdom got divided into independent units under the collateral branches of the dynasty.


Vashistiputra Pulomavi inscribed on coin.

By PHGCOM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

          The Satavahanas followed Kautilya’s Arthasastra and manavadharma sastra and was a     hereditary monarchy; the king was called called raja or maharaja. There were autonomous units, though the main empire was under the direct rule of the king who had officers like viswasamatyas, rajamatyas and mahamatras who were officers on special duties. Land revenue was the main source of income for the king’s treasury.


Royal ear-rings from 1st Century BC India.

By PHGCOM – self-made, photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3032128


Indian ship on lead coin of Vasistiputra Pulomavi.

By PHGCOM [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commonsimage009

Vasisitiputra Satakarni inscribed on coin.

By Uploadalt – Own work, photographed at British Museum, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12223527


Coin of  Sri Yajna Satakarni.

By The original uploader was Per Honor et Gloria at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Common.


Satavahana empire.

CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

     The Satavahanas carried on internal trade and external trade and Nashik, Paithan, Tagara, Govardhana were market towns. They encouraged maritime activities and had ship-marked coins. The Satavahanas imported wines from Rome. They also imported tin, lead,coral and topaz. They exported ivory, agate, carnelian, pepper,silk etc.

       All religions flourished during their rule. The Satavahanas used Prakrit, Sanskrit and also Telugu and Kannada.


An aniconic depiction of Mara’s assault on Lord Buddha, Amaravati, 2nd century.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=378416


Panduleni caves, Nashik, Maharashtra.

By Rashmi.parab – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21747608


Images of Jain Tirthankaras at Panduleni complex ,Maharashtra

by Raama – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7975011

The artistic achievements of the age can be seen from the remains of stupas, chaityas and viharas. Buddhism flourished during the Satavahanas. At Amaravati a renowned centre of Buddhism, a unique school of art evolved. The stupa ia monument built on the remains of the Buddha or an eminent Buddhist monk. The stupas were built of brick; Jataka tales and scenes from Lord Buddha’s life were sculpted.


Mahastupa relief from Amaravati at museum in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

By Soham Banerjee [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commonsimage023

Remnants of Mahastupa at Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh.

By Adityamadhav83 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


Donor couples, Karle caves, Maharashtra.

By Amitmahadik100 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28220816

      Chaityas was a Buddhist temple with a stupa as the object of worship. They were covered out of rock at Nasik, Kanheri, Karle, Bhaja, Junnar, Mahad etc. Chaityas have a rectangular hall and divided into nave,apse and the side aisle. The apse has a solid stupa.  Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda had brick stupas. Viharas cut out of rock with an open verandah and a hall surrounded on three sides by rows of cells having benches made of stone.; monks resided in them.

      The Ajanta chaitya can be dated to around 1st century B.C. The Pandulena chaitya is of 1st century A.D. Motifs are carved around the arch and above the entrance are seen sockets and grooves most probably for the musician’s gallery. At Karle, the early Hinayana chaitya is a gift of a merchant of Vaijayanti (present Banavasi). At the front are two huge lion pillars, the hall having a vestibule with three entrances. Exquisitely carved donor couples are seen on the front wall. At Kanheri, rock cut activity began during Yajna Sri Satakarni’s reign during second half of 2nd century A.D. The 3rd chaitya is attributed to him.


Chaitya at Karle, Maharashtra.

By Amitmahadik100 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28220810

         The art of the Satavahana era was affected by the state of polity. The art  at Bhaja and Amaravati was mostly during the reign of Satakarni I. The early caves at Pitalkhora and Ajanta were executed during  reign of Sirimukha and Satakarni I, so also the earliest sculpture at  Amaravati. Sanchi, located 9 km from Vidisha, an important ancient town during Maurya and Sunga empires, the gateways or toranas were erected during the reign of Satakarni II in 1st century B. C. The Satavahana creations are very grand. The rock-cut temples are in a good state in Maharashtra; the Sanchi stupa has been reconstructed; the Amaravati stupa remains can be seen in museums. Some sculpture examples include a yaksha from Pitalkhora, the Bhaja Vihara caves decorated with carvings and pillars with a lotus capital crowned with mythical animals. Some ivory objects found at Begram(ancient Kapisha) in Afghanistan show  clearly the influence of Satavahana art, both Sanchi and Amaravati styles.


Great Stupa with torana, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh.

By Suvro Banerjee – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49228316


Lord Indra, Bhaja caves, Maharashtra.

By Amitmahadik100 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28220002


Begram ivory, Afghanistan.

By PHG at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7048722

References :

  • The age of the Satavahanas/Dr. B. S.L. Hanumatha Rao, Hyderabad: P.S.Telugu University, 2001.
  • Satavahana Art/M.K. Dhavalikar/Delhi : Sharda Publishing House,2004.

Posted by :

Soma Ghosh



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