The Bahamani Kingdom

by Dr. (Mrs) Jyotsna Kamat

Page Last Updated: March 31,2001

Origins of an Empire

Yusuf Adil Shah was the son of Murad II, the Sultan of Turkey. After the Sultan's death and succession to throne by the crown prince, all other sons were executed. However, Yusuf's mother secretly replaced him with a slave boy and sent him to Persia. After many romantic adventures, Yusuf reached the court of the Bidar Sultanate. His bravery and personality raised him rapidly in Sultan's favor, resulting in his appointment as the Governor of Bijapur. He built the Citadel or Arkilla and the Faroukh Mahal. Yusuf was a man of culture. He invited poets and artisans from Persia, Turkey and Rome to his court. He married Punji, the sister of a Maratha warrior. When Yusuf died in 1510 A.D., Ismail, his son, was still a boy. Punji in male attire valiantly defended him from a coup to grab the throne. Ismail Adil Shah thus became the king of Bijapur.

Ibrahim Adil Shah I who succeeded his father Ismail fortified the city and built the old Jami Masjid. Ali Adil Shah I who next ascended the throne, aligned his forces with other Muslim kings of Deccan and together, they brought down the Vijayanagar empire. With the loot gained, he launched ambitious projects . He built the Gagan Mahal, Ali Rauza (his own tomb), Chand Bawdi (a large well) and the Jami Masjid. Ali I had no son, so his nephew Ibrahim II was set on the throne. Ali I's queen Chand Bibi had to aid him till he came of age. Ibrahim II was noted for his valor, intelligence and leanings towards the Hindu music and philosophy. Under his patronage the Bijapur school of painting (see: Deccan Miniatures) reached its zenith. Muhammad Adil Shah succeeded his father Ibrahim II. He is renowned for Bijapur's grandest structure, the Gol Gumbaz, which has the biggest dome in the world with whispering gallery round about slightest sound is reproduced seven times. He also set up the historical Mallik-E-Maidan, the massive gun. Ali Adil Shah II inherited a troubled kingdom. He had to face the onslaught of Shivaji on one side and Aurangjeb on another. His mausoleum, Bara Kaman planned to dwarf all others was left unfinished due to his death.

Adil Shah II Playing Tamboor
Deccan or Dakhani Painting

Bahamani Arts and Heritage

The contribution of Bahamani kings to the architecture, painting, language, literature and music of Karnataka is unique. Bijapur (Kannada form of Vidyapur or Vidyanagari in Sanskrit) attracted many Sufi saints scholars artists and musicians from Rome, Persia (Iran) Iraq, Arabstan, Turkastan (Turkey) etc. that it became a cosmopolitan city of medieval times.

The unfinished Jami Masjid started in 1565 A.D. has an arcaded prayer hall with fine aisles supported on massive piers has a impressive dome.The Ibrahim Rouza which contains Tomb of Ihrahim II is the finest structure with delicately carved designing. Persian artists of Adilshahi court have left a rare treasure of miniature paintings, some of which are well-preserved in Europe's great museums.

The "Dakhani" language an amalgamation of Persian-Arabic, Gujarati, Marathi, and Kannada developed into an independent spoken and literary language. Under the Adilshahis many literary works were published in Dakhani. Ibrahim Adilshash II's book of poems and music, Kitab-e-Navras is in Dakhani. Dakhani language later came to be known as Dakhan Urdu to distinguish it from the North Indian Urdu. Mushaira or poetic symposium was born in Bijapur court and later traveled north.

Adilshahis had a leading role in bringing down the mighty Vijayanagar empire. (1565 A.D.) Earlier Ali Adilshah I (1557-1580 A.D.) was a friend of Vijayanagar but joined hands with other three Shahi kingdoms of Golkonda, Ahmednagar and Bidar. Plundering of Vijayanagar brought him immense wealth along with annexation of vast territory after the fall of Vijayanagar. The Adilshahi kings were known for tolerance towards Hindus and non-interference in their religious matters. They employed Hindus to high posts especially accounts administration which were maintained in Marathi.

Almost all the Bahamani kings loved poetry some were poets and some were musicians. Adil Shah II played the Sitar and Ud and Ismail was a composer.

Muhammad Qasim Ferishta the famous historian was a protege of Ibrahim Adilshah II. His Gulshane-Ibrahimi forms a very good source book for the history of Adilshahis.

The Last Adil Shah

Sikandar Adil Shah ruled next for fourteen stormy years. Finally in 1686 A.D., the Moguls under Aurangjeb overpowered the city of Bijapur. Thus ended the nearly two hundred year old Adil Shah dynasty -- a kingdom that patronized arts and crafts, building the eloquent city of Bijapur with its splendid examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture.