References: Satish Chandra(Medieval India).Also minor facts from other books and figure and facts from verified Internet sources.
24.THE DECCAN ND THE MUGHALS (UPTO 1657)
The unity and diversity of India has always posed problems for rulers who considered India to be
geographically and culturally one, and tried to bring it under one over-arching political authority. There
was a strong sense of regional identity in different parts of India. Such differences were even more
marked in the case of India south of the Vindhyas. The Vindhyas demarcated the south from the north,
but did not pose an impassable barrier. In fact, religious leaders, sadhus, travellers etc. had always
moved between the two regions. Politically, too, Malwa and Gujarat in the west, and Orissa in the east
had interacted politically with the south, and vice versa, as we have seen in the context of the Bahmani
and Vijayanagar, and was the case with the Rashtrakutas earlier.
Yet, conquest of distant places in the north, or in the south, put pressures on the political system which
hastened its collapse.
While the Mughal conquest of north India was accomplished by Akbar in a brief span of twenty-five
years, although ground for it had been prepared earlier, in the case of the Deccan the process lasted for
almost a hundred years (1596-1687). This protracted process needs to be analysed in the context of the
policies and predilections of individual rulers, and necessary interaction between the various political
groups and social classes, geographical factors etc.
The Deccani States upto 1595
After the disintegration of the powerful Bahmani kingdom towards the end of the fifteenth century,
three powerful states, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda had come into being. These states constantly
fought each other as well as Vijayanagar. However, by chance and good fortune, they combined to crush
Vijayanagar at the battle of Bannihatti near Talikota in 1565. After this victory, they resumed
their mutual warfare. Both Ahmadnagar and Bijapur claimed Sholapur which was a rich and fertile tract.
In 1524, the Ahmadnagar ruler, Burhan, Nizam Shah, and the Bijapur ruler, Ismail Adil Khan, agreed to
form an alliance, and to cement it, it was agreed that the sister of Ismail Adil Shah would b e married to
Burhan Nizam Shah, and that Sholapur would be given to Ahmadnagar in dowry. But after the marriage,
Adil Shah refused to hand over Sholapur fort and its fertile five and a half sarkars. This led to further
hostilities and bad blood between Ahamdnagar and Bijapur, the conquest of Sholapur being considered
a matter of honour for both. Ahmadnagar and Bijapur also had the ambition of conquering Bidar and
Berar, the two other independent but small states in the Deccan. Bidar was the remaining portion of the
old Bahmani kingdom. The Bahmani rulers were under the tutelage of the wazir, Ali Barid, who allowed
them linger on till he brought the dynasty to an end, and ascended the throne as an independent ruler.
Despite constant invasions from one or another Deccani kingdom, the Baridi dynasty managed to
survive till the seventeenth century.
Further to the south-west, Bijapur amd Golconda clashed over the possession of Naldurg. At the same
time, both of them tried to aggrandize themselves at the expense of the remaining portions of the
Vijayanagar kingdom in the Karnataka.
Thus, all the leading Deccani states were expansionist states. Their mutual rivalries made it difficult for
them to form a lasting united front against an invader from the north.
Following the decline of the Gujarati kingdom, Ahmadnagar and Bijapur came to an agreement whereby
Ahmadnagar was free to annex Berar, and Bijapur was free to take from Vijayanagar territory equal to
that yielde3 by Berar. Accordingly, Ahmadnagar conquered Berar (1573), but Bijapur could not gain at
the expense of Vijayanagar, and felt cheated.
Apart from these rivalries, the Deccani states were also distracted by ethnic strife and sectarian
violence. As in the Bahmani sultana t, the nobility was divided between Foreigners, called afaqis or
gharibs, and the Deccanis. The Deccanis, in turn, were divided between the Afghans and the Habshis,
the latter being drawn from Abyssinia and the Erithrean coast of Africa. Among the afaqis, many were
from Khurasan and Iran where, with the rise of the Safavids to power towards the beginning of the
sixteenth century, shi-ism had become the state religion. Many of the afaqis
were, therefore, suspected of leaning towards shi-ism to which members of the Deccani partly were
bitterly opposed. Yusuf Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur, made shi-ism the state doctrine in 1503-4, and,
simultaneously ousted the Deccanis from positions of power and influence. When the Deccani party
became strong, it restored sunni-ism and persecuted the afaqis and shi-ism.
Ethnic and sectarian conflict was a feature in Ahmadnagar as well. In Golconda7 the rulers supported
shi-ism right from 1503. However, even Golconda could not completely escape from sectarian strife.
Another factor which led to a new round of sectarian persecution was the rise of Mahdawism during the
period. The claim of Saiyid Muhammad of being the Mahdi or the redeemer of the age was rejected
both by the orthodox sunni and shia divines.
Another notable feature was the growing importance of the Marathas in the affairs of the Deccan.
Maratha troops were employed as losse auxiliaries or bargirs(usually called bargis)in the Bahmani
kingdom. The revenue affairs at the local level were in the hands of the Deccani brahmans. Some of the
old Maratha families which rose in the service of the Bahmani rulers and held jagirs from them were the
Mores, Nimbalkars, Ghatges, etc. Most of them were powerful zamindars, or deshmukhs as they were
called in the Deccan. However, unlike the Rajputs, they were not established rulers over a recognised
kingdom. Secondly, they were not the leaders of clans on whose backing and support they could
depend. Hence, many of Maratha sardars appear as military adventurers who were prepared to shift
their loyalty according to the prevailing wind. During the middle of the sixteenth century, the rulers of
the Deccan states embarked upon a definite policy of winning over the Marathas to their side. The
Maratha chief were accorded service and position in the leading states of the Deccan, especially Bijapur
and Ahmadnagar. Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur who ascended the throne in 1555 was the leading
advocate of this policy. It is said that he entertained 30,000 Maratha auxiliaries (bargis) in his army, and
showed great favour to the Marathas in the revenue system. He is supposed to have introduced Marathi
in the revenue accounts at all levels. Apart from increasing his favours to old families such as the
Bhonsales who had the family name of Ghorpade, others, such as the Dafles (or Chavans) etc. also rose
to prominence in Bijapur as a result of this policy. Maharashtrian brahmans were regularly used for
negotiations as well. Thus the title of Peshwa was accorded to a brahman, Kanhoji Narsi, by the ruler of
In Golconda, Sultan Quli Qutb Shah made no distinction between Hindus and Muslims, despite his clash
with Vijayanagar. His successor, Ibrahim Qutb Shah, was a great patron of Telegu, and often utilized his
Hindu officials for military, administrative and diplomatic purposes. Murahari Rao, for example, rose to a
high position in the official hierarchy, and was in every respects the second person in the state.
Thus, the policy of allying with the local landed elements, and with those who had the con trol or
command over fighting groups, can be seen at work in different regions of the country, including the
Deccan. Although the Deccani rulers were rarely able to rise above their narrow local concerns, they did
evolve a policy in which Hindu-muslim conflicts were rare, and a sense of pride in regional culture had
developed. The important point to note is that all these elements considered the Mughals to be
Mughal Advance Towards the Deccan
It was logical to expect a Mughal advance towards the Deccan after the consolidation of the empire in
north India. The conquest of the Deccan by the Tughlaqs and the improved communications between
the north and the south had led to a strengthening of the commercial and cultural relations between the
two. After the decline of the Delhi Sultanat, many sufi saints and persons in search of employment had
migrated to the court of the Bahmani rulers. Politically also, the north and south were not isolated. The
rulers of Gujarat had their eyes on the rich Konkan area, as also on Berar. Bahadur Shah, the ruler of
Gujarat, had invaded Ahmadnagar and forced its ruler to read Khutba in his name. Hence, after the
conquest of Malwa and Gujarat in the sixties and seventies, the Mughals could hardly have kept
themselves aloof from the Deccan.
In 1562, after the Mughal conquest of Malwa, Pir Muhammad Khan had invaded Khandesh, an
independent kingdom, located between the Narmada which was considered the boundary of north
India, and the river Tapti. This attack was a punishment for its having given shelter to Baz Bahadur, the,
former ruler of Malwa. But the expedition failed. Two year later, when Akbar came to Malwa to punish
its governor Abdullah Khan Uzbek for behaving in an independent manner, the ruler of Khandesh,
Mubarak Shah, apprehensive of Akbar’s intentions, sent an ambassador to hlm with splendid presents,
and agreed to Akbar’s demand for the hand of his daughter in marriage. He also agreed to cede
Bijaygarh and Handia which Akbar wanted in order to round off Malwa. However, its does not seem
correct to think that as early as 1564, Akbar and his advisors had decided upon a forward policy in the
south, and that Malwa was their first objective.
After the conquest of Gujarat, it seems that Akbar was drawn towards the Deccan, and Mir Husain Rizavi
was sent as a kind of a roving ambassador to the Deccan to ascertain the conditions there. Another
reason for this was that Muhammad Husain Mirza and a number of his associates had found shelter at
the Ahmadnagar court. The Mughal ambassador returned in 1576. The ruler of Ahmadnagar sent
presents and expressions of goodwill, and expelled Muhammad Hussain Mirza who fled to Khandesh.
Akbar sent an expedition to Khandesh because the new ruler, Raja Ali, had been remiss in paying tribute.
Although urged by the Nizam Shah to resist, Raja Ali, conscious that the Deccani states had their own
selfish motives, and in view of his own vulnerability to Mughal powers not only agreed to pay tribute,
but arrested Muhammad Hussain Mirza and sent him to the Mughals.
Thus, Khandesh was the first Deccan state which submitted to the Mughals. Khandesh could have
provided a base for operations against the Deccan states, especially as the Mughal ambassador to the
Deccan, Mir Muhsin, had reported that there was restlessness and instability among the men of the
Deccan. However, deeming the redressal of the situation in Bengal and Bihar to be more important,
Akbar deferred the conquest of the Deccan.
From the remarks of Abul Fazl it is clear that the Mughals considered India from the Himalayas upto the
borders of the sea to be integrally one, and felt that they had the divine mandate to rule over this entire
tract. To highlight this, the Mughal emperors did not use the word “Shah” but only “Khan” for the rulers
of the Deccan, and often called them “marzaban”, or chiefs. Abul Fazl also argued that as supreme rulers
the Mughals had the responsibility to “free the heads of those distressed ones from the heavy burden of
tyrants and oppressors.” Thus, empire building, which was the object of all medieval rulers, was to be
based on the welfare of the subjects. Although Abul Fazl did not say so, the
Mughal concept of all-India suzerainty did not imply a desire on their part to wipe out all local
principalities or riyasats, and establish direct rule everywhere. The model which Akbar had developed in
the north, and one which he apparently tried to extend to the south was that of Rajasthan where local
potentates were allowed to rule over their own dominions, provided they accepted “Mughal overlordship, maintained peace (including sectarian peace) and law and order within their borders and in
their dealings with their neighbours, and served the Emperor when called upon to do so.
For almost a decade and a half after the Mughal conquest of Gujarat, Akbar watched the situation in the
Deccan, and hoped that by diplomatic means the Deccani rulers would be persuaded to accept Mughal
over-lordship, mend their public conduct, and maintain internal law and order including sectarian peace.
In 1579, Ain-ul-Mulk who had been sent to “guide” Ali Adil Shah, the Bijapuri ruler, returned with rare
presents, and a letter expressing sentiments of good-will. But the Bijapur ruler showed no inclination to
accept Mughal over-lordship. After the death of Ali Adil Shah in 1580, factional squabbles and sectarian
fights erupted once again.
Conditions in Ahmadnagar were no better. The ruler, Murtaza Nizam Shah, was popularly called diwana
or madman. His infatuation for a slave boy had led to internal discords, and a faction among the nobles
tried unsuccessfully to put Murtaza’s brother, Burhan, on the throne. After failing in this attempt,
Burhan, after wandering about, reached Akbar’s court in 1584. Akbar sent a mission to the Nizam Shah,
and made a military demonstration in Berar, but took no further action, perhaps in view of the situation
in the north-west. Meanwhile, conditions in Ahmadnagar continued to deteriorate. Mahdawism was
made the state religion, and horrible blood-shed took place.
In 1589, Murtaza Nizam Shah died. Akbar now supported the candidature of Burhan Nizam Shah, and
hoped that his long stay at the Mughal court would lead to cordial relations between the two, and an
end to the ugly sectarian strife in the state which, he feared, might affect Malwa. Burhan was able to
ascend the throne at Ahmadnagar with the help of the ruler of Khandesh. But he showed no inclination
to accept Mughal suzerainty, as Akbar had hipped. Sectarian strife in the state continued, with shi -ism
Akbar now embarked upon a diplomatic offensive. In 1591 four missions were sent to the four Deccani
rulers. Faizi, the court poet and brother of Abul Fazl, was sent to Khandesh to advise his friend, Murtaza
Nizam Shah,to mend his ways. The ruler of Khandesh, Raja Ali, accepted Mughal-suzerainty, and sent his
daughter in marriage. The other missions came back With presents and letters of goodwill but little else,
knowing that Akbar was too busy in the north-west to take any stern action against them. In fact,
Burhan Nizam Shah was rude: he sent no presents, and brusquely dismissed the Mughal envoy.
This was the background to Mughal intervention in the Deccan in 1595. It has been suggested that an
additional reason why Akbar wanted to extend Mughal suzerainty over the Deccan was his growing
concern at the activities of the Portuguese. Akbar had come into touch with the Portuguese after the
Mughal conquest of Gujarat. The Portuguese had captured Diu in 1530, and later extended their control
over Bassein. They were also keen to extend their control over Surat, and on the coastland opposite
Goa, including the ports located in the Konkan. There was a lot of resentment among the traders
towards the Portuguese for their confiscating any ship not carrying a carta z, or pass issued by them, and
forcing all ships coming to Gujarat to pay customs duty at Diu. The proselytising activities of the
Portuguese were also resented. Akbar met the Portuguese at Surat, and wanted to establish friendly
relations with them. In 1573, he granted the Portuguese traders at Cambay exemption from paying
custom duties on goods imported by them into Cambay, and instructed his officials in Gujarat not to
disturb the Portuguese, and not to favour the Malabar pirates against them. In return, the Portuguese
agreed to give passes (cartaz) to members of the royal family going to Mecca, and to issue every year a
free cartaz to one of the Akbar’s ships, and to exempt it from paying customs duty at Diu. But this did
not remove the over-all causes of conflict. It was also felt humiliating that even members of the royal
family had to obtain a permit from the Portuguese for their activities. This was highlighted when in
1577, the Portuguese seized one of the Akbar’s ships though it had a cartaz, and took it to Diu, before
better sense prevailed.
In 1580, Akbar appointed an army under Qutbuddin Khan to expel the Portuguese from the ports,
making out that this was in order to free pilgrim traffic to Hejaz. The Deccani rulers who had
their own complaints against the Portuguese were asked to cooperate. But nothing further happened in
the matter. Akbar probably realized that there was little possibility of success against the Portuguese
without a strong navy. However, he may have hoped that with wider Mughal control over the Deccan
states, he would be able to put greater diplomatic and military pressure on the Portuguese.
Mughal Conquest of Berar, Khandesh and Parts of Ahmadnagar
The failure of Akbar’s diplomatic offensive of 1591 postulated a more active intervention in the Deccan.
In 1595, Burhan Nizam Shah died and was succeeded by his son, Ibrahim. Ibrahim Nizam Shah renewed
the war with Bijapur over Sholapur, but he was defeated and lost his life in the battle. Various
contenders to the throne now arose: Mian Manju, who was the Peshwa and leader of the Deccani party,
put forward his own candidate, though he was a mere pretender, not belonging to the Nizam Shahi
dynasty. Chand Bibi, sister of Burhan Nizam Shah, who had been married to the Adil Shahi ruler in 1564,
supported by the Habshi party favoured the claim of Bahadur, the infant son of the late king, Ibrahim
Nizam Shah. For many years after her husband’s death in 1580, Chand Bibi had looked after the affairs
of Bijapur with the help of able advisors. But due to growing factionalism she had gracefully retired to
the court of her brother, Burhan Nizam Shah. Afraid that in the confused situation she would rule over
the affairs of Ahmadnagar with the help of the Habshis, Miyan Manju the leader of the Deccani party,
appealed to the Mughals for help.
Akbar had already geared himself to invade the Deccan. In 1593, Prince Daniyal had been asked to
punish the Nizam Shah, but the campaign had been deferred. Prince Murad was then appointed
governor of Gujarat to prepare for the expedition. Hence, he was fully ready when he received the
invitation of Miyan Manju. The campaign was led by Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan. Raja Ali, the ruler of
Khandesh, also joined. Due to internal differences among the Nizam Shahi nobles, the Mughals faced no
opposition till they reached Ahmadnagar. But on their approach, Miyan Manju felt sorry that he had
invitecTthe’rh, and decided to join hands with Chand Bibi to resist them. Chand Bibi also appealed to
Bijapuf and Golconda for help. The arrival of a Bijapuri force of seven thousand enabled Chand Bibi to
offer a valiant defence: After a close siege of four months, Chand Bibi
was forced to an agreement whereby Berar was ceded to the Mughals. The infant, Bahadur Nizam Shah,
was acknowledged as the ruler under her Regency, and Mughal suzerainty was accepted. This was in
1596. Mughals accepted this compromise partly because of the presence of a strong Bijapur-Golconda
force at the frontier.
Neither side was satisfied with this agreement. The Mughals were keen to get Balaghat which had been
a bone of contention between Gujarat and Ahmadnagar. Dissensions among the Nizam Shahi nobles
also continued: one group opposed the handing over of Berar to the Mughals, while another group led
by the Wakil and Peshwa, Muhammad Khan, opened negotiations with the Mughals. Chand Bibi sent
urgent messages to the rulers of Bijapur and Golconda to send reinforcements for her help. The rulers of
Bijapur and Golconda responded, because they felt, not without reason, that Berar would give the
Mughals a permanent foothold in the Deccan which enlarged upon at any time. Hence, a combined
force of Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmadnagar, led by a Bijapur commander, Suhail Khan, entered Berar in
strength. In a hard fought battle in 1597 at Sonepat, the Mughals defeated a Deccani force_three times
their number. The Bijapuri and Golconda forces now withdrew, leaving Chand Bibi alone to face the
situation. Although Chand Bibi was in favour of observing the treaty of 1596, she could not stop
harassing attacks on the Mughals in Berar by her nobles. This resulted in a second Mughal siege of
Ahmadnagar. In the absence of help from any quarter, Chand Bibi decided to surrender the fort, and
opened negotiations with the Mughals, demanding grant of a mansab and a jagir in Ahmadnagar to
Bahadur as a subordinate ruler, with herself remaining his guardian. She was, however, accused of
treachery by the faction hostile to her, and was murdered. Thus ended the life of one of the most
romantic figures in Deccani politics. The Mughals now assaulted and captured Ahmadnagar. The boy king, Bahadur, was sent to the fortress of Gwaliyar. Ahmadnagar fort and the areas adjacent to it were
surrendered to the Mughals. Balaghat including. Daultabad wich had been claimed by the Mughals
earlier, was also added to the empire, and a Mughal garrison was stationed at Ahmadnagar. This was in
The fall of Ahmadnagar fort did not resolve Akbar’s problems in the Deccan. The Mughals were hardly in
a position to go beyond Ahmadnagar fort and its surrounding areas,or to try and
seize the remaining territories of the state. Shah Ali, an old man of eighty, who was a son of Murtaza
Nizam Shah, had been living in Bijapur for some time along with his son, Ali, under the protection of the
Bijapur ruler. In 1595, at Parenda, a number of Nizam Shahi nobles had raised AH to the throne of
Ahmadnagar under the title Murtaza Shah II. With the removal of Bahadur from the scene, the ground
was cleared for Murtaza II who already enjoyed the support of Bijapur, of being accepted as the
legitimate successor to the Nizam Shahi throne by all sections.
Amid confused fighting, Khan-i-Khanan, who was the Mughal commander in the Deccan, offered a
compromise to Malik Ambar who had emerged as the chief man of Murtaza II. He offered to Murtaza II
the sarkars of Ausa, Dharwar and parts of Bir on a promise of loyalty. Ambar, after suffering two
successive defeats at the hands of the Khan-i-Khanan, finally agreed. “Some territories” were left to him,
but these were not specified. According to the Deccani historian, Ferishta the two sides “marked out
their respective future boundaries.” This was in 1601. Thus, although the capital, Ahmadnagar, and
Balaghat fell, the Nizam Shahi ruler continued to rule over the remaining portions of the kingdom, and
was recognised by the Mughals.
A little earlier, in 1600, Akbar had advanced into Malwa and then into Khandesh to study the situation
on the spot. In Khandesh he learnt that the new ruler of Khandesh. Bahadur, had not shown due respect
to Prince Daniyal when he had passed through the territory on his way to Ahmadnagar. Worse, though
summoned repeatedly, he did not appear before Akbar. However, the main factor in Akbar’s taking
action again Bahadur was his desire to secure the fort of Asirgarh in Khandesh which was reputed to be
the strongest fort in the Deccan. He was also keen to annex Khandesh, with its capital Burhanpur which
was a point of entry into the* Deccan. Khandesh, was also the hinterland of Surat and the Gujarat seaports, the route from Agra to Surat passing through Burhanpur. After a tight siege, and when pestilence
had broken out in the fort, the ruler came out and surrendered (1601). He was pensioned off and Sent
to the Gwaliyar fort. Khandesh was incorporated into the Mughal empire.
The conquest of Asirgarh and annexation of Khandesh, the ceding of Berar and Balaghat, and Mughal
control over Ahmadnagar fort and its surrounding areas were substantial achievements. However, the
Mughals were still far from the
realization of their objective of their over-lordship being accepted by all the rulers of the Deccan. After
the fall of Asirgarh, Akbar again sent envoys to the rulers of Bijapur, Golconda and Bidar to persuade
them to “make binding treaties of obedience.” None of the rulers agreed to do so. However, the ruler of
Bijapur reluctantly agreed to sent his daughter to the haram of Prince Daniyal, the Mughal viceroy in the
Deccan. Meanwhile, in order to deal with the rebellion of Prince Salim, Akbar had to return to Agra.
Akbar’s hope of befriending Bijapur, the most powerful and influential kingdom in the Deccan, could not
be realized. The marriage of the Adil Shahi princess with Daniyal took place only in 1604, and shortly
after it, Daniyal died due to excessive drinking. Akbar too, died shortly afferwards. Hence, the position in
the Deccan remained nebulous, and had to be tackled anew by his successor, Jahangir.
Rise of Malik Ambar and Frustration of Mughal Attempt at Consolidation (1601-27)
After the fall of Ahmadnagar fort and capture of Bahadur Nizam Shah by the Mughals, the state of
Ahmadnagar would have disintegrated and different parts of it would have, in all probability, been
swallowed up by the neighbouring states but for the rise of a remarkable man, Malik Ambar. Malik
Ambar was an Abyssinian, born a t Harare in Ethiopia. We do not know much about his early life and,
career. It seems that his poor parents sold him at the slave market of Baghdad. In course of time, he was
purchased by a merchant who treated him well and brought him to the Deccan which was a land of
promise. Malik Ambar rose in the service of Chingiz Khan, the famous and influential minister of
Murtaza Nizam Shah. When the Mughals invaded Ahmadnagar, Ambar at first went to Bijapur and
Golconda to try his luck there. But he soon came back and enrolled himself in the powerful Habshi
(Abyssinian) party which at the time was opposed to Chand Bibi
Just before Chand Bibi’s treaty with the Mughals in 1596, Murtaza Nizam Shah II had been proclaimed
ruler at Parenda in 1595. Malik Ambar and Raju Dakhani harassed the Mughals in Telengana and
Balaghat. We do not know precisely when Malik Ambar became the chief man of Murtaza Nizam Shah II,
and began to be catted Peshwa—a title which was common in Ahmadnagar. Ambar gathered around
him a large band of disbanded Deccani soldiers, including Afghans and Habshis. He
also enlisted in his service a large number of Maratha troopers or bargis.
The Marathas were adept in rapid movements, and in plundering and cutting off the supplies of the
enemy troops. Although this guerilla mode of warfare was traditional with the Marathas in the Deccan,
the Mughals were not used to it. Withthe help of the Marathas, Ambar made it difficult for the Mughals
to consolidate their position in Berar, Ahmadnagar and Balaghat.
The Mughal commander in the Deccan at the time was Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan, a shrewd and wily
politician and an able soldier. He inflicted a crushing defeat on Ambar in 1601 in Telengana at a place
called Nander. However, he decided to make friends with Ambar since he considered it desirable that
there should be some stability in the remaining Nizam Shahi kingdom. In turn, Ambar also found it
useful to cultivate the friendship of the Khan-i-Khanan since it enabled him to deal with his internal rival,
Raju Dakhani. This led to the pact between them in 1601.
The political situation of the Deccan during the next eight to nine years remained extremely complex.
Ibrahim Adil Shah, the ruler of Bijapur, was keen to preserve the Nizam Shahi dynasty. The struggle
between Ambar and Raju Dakhani continued. Murtaza Nizam Shah tried to play between the two which
led to his depositions and death in 1610, despite the efforts of the Adil Shah to persuade Malik Ambar to
remain loyal to him.
Following the death of Akbar, and Jahangir’s preoccupation with the rebellion of Prince Khusrau, Ambar
unleashed a fierce campaign to expel the Mughals from Berar, Balaghat and Ahmadnagar. In 1608,
Jahangir appointed Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan to the Deccan again. The Khan-i-Khanan made the
impossible promise of not only recovering within two years the areas lost to Malik Ambar but also
bringing Bijapur within the imperial dominions. Faced with this threat, Ambar petitioned the Adil Shah
for help, arguing that the two kingdoms were one for all intents and purposes. The Adil Shah agreed to
Ambar’s request of restoring to him the powerful fort of Qandahar so that he could keep his family,
stores and provisions there and fight the Mughals with an easy mind. He also appointed a picked army
of 10,000 troopers to help Ambar who set apart a jagir worth three lakh huns for their payment. The
treaty was cemented by a marriage alliance, the daughter of one of the leading Ethiopian noble of
Bijapur marrying Fath Khan, the son of Malik Ambar.
The marriage was celebrated with great rejoining (1609), the Adil Shah giving a handsome dowry to the
bride, with Rs. 80,000 being spent on fireworks alone.
Fortified with the support of Bijapur, and with the active aid of the Marathas, Ambar soon forced Khan-iKhanan to retreat to Burhanpur. Thus, by 1610, all the gains in the Deccan made by Akbar were lost.
Although Jahangir sent prince Parvez to the Deccan with a large army, he could not meet the challenge
posed by Malik Ambar. Even Ahmadnagar was lost, and Parvez had to conclude a disgraceful peace with
In 1611, Jahangir sent two armies, one commanded by Khan-i-Jahan Lodi and including Raja Man Singh,
and the other by Abdullah Khan. These armies were to attack from two sides, and converge on
Daulatabad. However, mutual wranglings and lack of co-ordination led to their failure.
The affairs of Malik Ambar continued to prosper and the Mughals were not able to re-assert themselves
as long as Ambar had the solid support of the Marathas and other elements in the Deccan. But in course
of time, Malik Ambar became arrogant and alienated many of his allies. The Khan-i-Khanan, who had
again been posted as the Mughal viceroy of the Deccan, took advantage of the situation and won over
to his side a number of Habshi and Maratha nobles, such as Jagdev Rai, Babaji Kate, Udaji Ram, Maloji
and Kanhoji Bhonsle etc. Jahangir himself was well aware of the value of the Marathas, for he observed
in his Memoirs that the Marathas “are a hardy lot and are the centre of resistance in that country”. With
the help of the Maratha sardars, the Khan-i-Khanan inflicted a crushing defeat on the combined forces
of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and Golconda in 1616. Ibrahim Adil Shah had sent twenty-five thousand troops
under Mulla Muhammad Lari, and- the Qutb Shah five thousand horse. The Mughals occupied the new
Nizam Shahi capital, Khirki, and burnt all its buildings before they left. This defeat shook the Deccani
alliance against the Mughals.
To complete Khan-i-Khanan’s victory, in 1617 Jahangir sent a grand army under his son, prince Khurram
(later Shah Jahan), and himself moved to Mandu to support the prince. Faced with this threat, Ambar
had no option but to submit. All the territory of Balaghat recently seized by Ambar were restored to the
Mughals. The key of Ahmadnagar fort was also delivered. It is significant that in the treaty, Jahangir did
not try to enlarge the
conquests made by Akbar in the Deccan. This was not due to any military weakness on the part of
Jahangir, as has been sometimes imagined, but due to deliberate policy. Apparently, Jahangir did not
want to extend Mughal commitments in the Deccan, or become too deeply embroiled in its affairs.
Moreover, he was still hopeful that his moderation would enable the Deccani states to settle down, and
live in peace with the Mughals. As a part of his policy, Jahangir tried to win over Bijapur to his side, and
sent a gracious farman to Adil Shah, calling him ‘son’ (farzand).
Despite these reverses, Ambar continued to lead the Deccani resistance against the Mughals, and
reconquered large portions of Ahamdnagar and Berar. In 1621, Prince Shah Jahan was deputed to lead
the Mughal campaTgn. The combined Deccani forces again suffered a severe defeat at the hands of the
Mughals. Ambar had to restore all the Mughal territories, and another 14 kos of territory adjoining
Ahmadnagar. The Deccani states had to pay an indemnity of rupees fifty lakhs. The credit for these
victories was given to prince Shah Jahan,
It has been suggested that Jahangir’s mild attitude towards the Deccani states was due to the pressure
of the Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas I. There had been a continuous exchange of embassies between the
Deccani states and the Safavid rulers who were keen to keep abreast of the situation in the Deccan.
From a study of the exchange of the letters, it is clear that the Safavid ruler was keen on the
preservation of the Deccani states, and for the purpose, appealed to Jahangir to adopt a policy of
generosity provided these states behaved as “tribute paying vassals” and did not “deviate from the
traditional rules and conditions of loyalty and submission”. That the Safavid monarch did not favour a
policy of confrontation with the Mughals is clear from the above, as also from his warning to the ruler of
The two defeats of the combined Deccani forces, coming one after the other, shattered the united front
of the Deccani powers against the Mughals. The old rivalries between the Deccani states now came to
the surface. There had been an old standing rivalry between Ahmadnagar and Bijapur over Sholapur and
Bidar. The Adil Shah had not only kept Sholapur while helping Ambar, but had occupied the pargana of
Shirwal while handing over Qandahar to Ambar. In 1619, the Adil Shah had invaded and captured the
kingdom of Bidar.
According to Bijapur historians, Ambar assumed an arrogant attitude and forgot the past favours to him
by his benefactor, Ibrahim Adil Shah. He had also alienated many Nizam Shahi nobles by his
authoritarian ways, and his harsh treatment of Murtaza Nizam Shah II. Hence, a showdown between
Ahmadnagar and Bijapur appeared imminent, and both sides bid for an alliance with the Mughals. After
careful consideration, Jahangir decided in favour of Bijapur. Perhaps he felt that an alliance with a
restless, ambitious person like Ambar would unnecessarily draw the Mughals into the internal politics of
the Deccan states. Also, for the stabilization of the Mughal position in the Deccan, it was necessary to
isolate Malik Ambar. In accordance with the agreement, the Adil Shah sent a force of 5000 troop under
one of his ministers, Mulla Muhammad Lari, for service with the Mughal governor at Burhanpur.
While these developments were taking place, Ambar invaded Golconda and forced the ruler to pay
arrears of two year’s tribute. He also concluded a defensive-offensive alliance with Golconda. Safe from
that quarter, he surprised and routed a Bijapur army at Bidar, and then advanced pludering upto
Bijapur. The Adil Shah was forced to take shelter in the fort, and sent urgent summons to Muhammad
Lari at Burhanpur. Mahabat Khan, the Mughal governor, deputed Lashkar Khan and a strong Mughal
force to accompany Muhammad Lari to Bijapur. We are told that Malik Ambar, asserting his loyalty to
the Imperial throne, asked the Mughal forces to stand aside, and to allow the Nizam-ul-Mulk and the
Adil Shah to settle their old standing differences without interference. The Mughals refused since this
would have meant breaking their alliance with Bijapur. Ambar surprised the combined forces at Bhaturi
near Ahmadnagar (1624). In the first attack, Muhammad Lari died, and the Adil Shahi and Mughal forces
The victory at Bhaturi over the combined Adil Shahi Mughal forces raised the prestige of Malik Ambar to
its pinnacle. Since the Mughals were pre-occupied with dealing with Shah Jahan’s rebellion, no Mughal
response was forthcoming. After his victory, Ambar besieged Ahmadnagar, but finding it too well
defended, he again turned to Bijapur, burning and plundering Nauraspur, the new city built in its
neighbourhood by Ibrahim Adil Shah. He also recaptured Sholapur. He then over-ran the Mughal
territories in the Balaghat, and besieged Burhanpur. Shortly afterwards,
Shah Jahan returned from his revolt in Orissa, Bengal and Bihar. Ambar assigned him the responsibility
of storming Burhanpur. But Shah Jahan failed.
Jahangir now decided to patch up with his most competent son, Shah Jahan. Around this time Malik
Ambar died (1627). According to a contemporary Mughal historian, Muhammad Khan, “in warfare,
command, in sound judgement”, and in “administration, he (Ambar) had no rival or equal. (He)
maintained his exalted position to the end of his life and closed his career in honour”.
However, there may be differences of opinion about Ambar’s overall role. To most writers, he was the
valiant champion of Deccani independence against the Mughals. According to Satish Chandra, in his
article on the Deccan Policy of the Mughals, “the valiant fighter for Deccani independence and the
upholder of the rights of the Nizam Shahi Dynasty can, with equal justice, be looked upon as a gifted
man who utilized a complex political situation to push himself forward. His restless ambition led him
into a conflict with Bijapur which was a definite factor in the dissolution of the united front of the
Deccan states against the Mughals. Above all, his refusal to accept and honour the settlement of 1600
led to continuous wars which ultimately led to the extinction of the kingdom he had wished to preserve.
Perhaps, Ambar’s main contribution was to provide training to the Maratha armies and to instill in them
a sense of self-confidence so that they could successfully defy even the might of the Mughal empire”.
Not much is known about the administrative system of Malik Ambar. He is popularly credited with
introducing Todar Mal’s system of land revenue. According to later Marathi sources. “He (Malik Ambar)
got the land of the kingdom measured and settled the rates of revenue payment, the boundaries of the
different villages, and (fixed) the measures of cavars and bighas. Since then Malik Ambar’s settlement
continues in that territory”.
Thus, Malik Ambar introduced the zabti system instead of the earlier system of giving land on contract
(ijara). According to some documents, the land was measured by chains, and there was a progressive tax
on lands newly brought under cultivation, the full rate being paid only in the fifth year. We have no
precise idea of the scale of land-revenue demand, but it is generally assumed to have been one-third.
Malik Ambar paid close personal attention to the problems of the local deshmukhs and others
connected with the cultivation of land. By these means he tried to enforce local law and order, and
Extinction of Ahmadnagar, and Acceptance of Mughal Suzerainty by Bijapur and Golconda
Shah Jahan ascended the throne in 1627. Having commanded two expeditions to the Deccan as a prince
and spent a considerable period in the Deccan during his rebellion against his father, Shah Jahan had a
great deal of experience and personal knowledge of the Deccan and its politics.
After the death of Malik Ambar, and following the confused situation in the last years of Jahangir’s reign,
the Mughal governor, Khan-i-Jahan Lodi, had made a deal, surrendering Balaghat allegedly for a sum of
three lakh of huns. Even Burhanpur had been besieged.
Shah Jahan’s first concern as a ruler was to recover the territories in the Deccan which had been lost to
the Nizam Shahi ruler. For the purpose, he deputed the old and experienced noble, Khan-i-Jahan Lodi.
However, Khan-i-Jahan Lodi failed in the enterprise, and was recalled to the court. Shortly afterwards,
he rebelled, feeling that he no longer enjoyed the favours he enjoyed under Jahangir. He went and
joined the Nizam Shah who deputed him to expel the Mughals from the remaining portions of Berar and
Balaghat. Giving asylum to a leading Mughal noble in this manner was a challenge which Shah Jahan
could not ignore. It was clear that even after Malik Ambar’s death, his policy of refusing to recognise the
Mughal position in Berar and Balaghat was being persisted in by the Nizam Shahi ruler. Shah Jahan,
therefore, came to the conclusion that there could be no peace for the Mughals in the Deccan as long as
Ahmadnagar continued as an independent state. This was a major departure from the policy which had
been followed by Akbar and Jahangir. However, Shah Jahan was not keen to extend Mughal territories in
the Deccan beyond what was absolutely necessary. He, therefore, wrote to the Bijapur ruler offering to
cede to him roughly one-third of the Ahmadnagar state if he would cooperate with the Mughals in the
projected campaign against Ahmadnagar. This was a shrewd move on the part of Shah Jahan, aimed at
diplomatically and militarily. He also sent feelers to the various Maratha sardars to join Mughal service.
At first, Shah Jahan was successful in his overtures. Malik Ambar had defeated and killed Mulla
Muhammad Lari, and a number of other Bijapuri nobles during his campaigns. The Adil Shah was also
smarting at the humiliation of the burning of Nauraspur and the annexation of Sholapur by Malik
Ambar. He, therefore, accepted Shah Jahan’s proposal, and posted an army at the Nizam Shahi border to
cooperate with the Mughals. Around this time, Jadhav Rao, a prominent Maratha noble who had
defected to the side of the Mughals during the reign of Jahangir but had gone back to the service of the
Nizam Shah, was treacherously murdered on a charge of conspiring with the Mughals. As a result, Shahji
Bhonsale, who was his son-in-law (and the father of Shivaji), defected to the Mughal si de along with his
relations. Shah Jahan accorded him a mansab of 5000, and gave him jagirs in the Poona region. A
number of other prominent Maratha sardars also joined Shah Jahan at this time.
In 1629, Shah Jahan deputed two armies against Ahmadnagar, one to operate in the west in the
Balaghat region, and the other in the east to operate in the Telengana region. The Emperor himself
moved to Burhanpur to coordinate their movements. Under relentless pressure, large parts of the
Ahmadnagar state were brought under Mughal occupation. Parenda, one of the last outposts of the
kingdom, was besieged. The Nizam Shah now sent a piteous appeal to the Adil Shah, stating that most of
the kingdom was under Mughal occupation, and if Parenda fell it would mean the end of the Nizam
Shahi dynasty, after which, he warned, would come the turn of Bijapur. A strong group at the Bijapur
court had been uneasy at the steady Mughal advance in Ahmadnagar. In fact, the Bijapuri forces at the
border had merely watched the situation, taking no active part in the Mughal operations. The Mughals,
on their part, had refused to hand over to the Adil Shah the areas allotted to him under the agreement.
As a result, the Adil Shah made a somersault, and decided to help the Nizam Shah who agreed to
surrender Sholapur to him. This turn in the political situation compelled the Mughals to raise the siege
of Parenda, and to retreat. However, the internal situation in Ahmadnagar now turned in favour of the
Mughals. Fath Khan, the son of Malik Ambar, had recently been appointed Peshwa by the Nizam Shah in
the hope that he would be able to induce Shah
Jahan to make peace. Instead, Fath Khan opened secret negotiations with Shah Jahan, and at his
instance, murdered Burhan Nizam Shah and put a puppet on the throne at Daulatabad. He also read the
khutba and struck the sikka in the name of the Mughal emperor. As a reward, Fath Khan was taken in
Mughal service, and the jagir around Poona, previously allotted to Shahji Bhonsale, was transferred to
him. As a result, Shahji defected from the Mughal side. These events took place in 1632.
After the surrender of Fath Khan, Shah Jahan appointed Mahabat Khan as Mughal viceroy of the Deccan
and himself returned to Agra. Mahabat Khan, faced with the combined opposition of Bijapur and the
local Nizam Shahi nobles including Shahji, found himself in a very difficult situation. Parenda
surrendered to Bijapur which made a strong bid for the fort of Daulatabad as well by offering a large
sum of money to Fath Khan for surrendering the fort. Elsewhere also, the Mughals found it difficult to
hold on to their positions.
It will thus be seen that the Mughals and Bijapur were, in reality, engaged in a contest for dividi ng
between themselves the prostrate body of Ahmadnagar. The Adil Shah sent a large army under
Randaula Khan and Murari Pandit for the surrender of Daulatabad and for provisioning its garrison.
Shahji Bhonsale was also enrolled in Bijapur’s service to harass the Mughals and to cut off their supplies.
But the combined operations of the Bijapuri forces and Shahji were of no avail. Mahabat Khan closely
invested Daulatabad and forced the garrison to surrender (1633). The Nizam Shah was sent to prison in
Gwaliyar. This marked the end of the Nizam Shahi dynasty. However, even this did not solve the
problems facing the Mughals. Following the example of Malik Ambar, Shahji found a Nizam Shahi prince,
and raised him up as ruler. The Adil Shah sent a force of 7,000 to 8,000 horsemen to aid Shahji, and
induced many of the Nizam Shahi nobles to surrender their forts to Shahji. Many disbanded Nizam Shahi
soldiers joined Shahji whose force swelled to 20,000 horses. With these he harassed the Mughals and
took control of large portions of the Ahmadnagar state.
Shah Jahan now decided to give personal attention to the problems of the Deccan. He realised that the
crux of the situation was the attitude of Bijapur. He, therefore, deputed a large army to invade Bijapur,
and also sent feelers to the Adil Shah, offering
to revive the earlier accord of dividing the territory of Ahmadnagar between Bijapur and the Mughals.
The policy of the stick and the carrot and the advance of Shah Jahan to the Deccan brought about
another change in Bijapur politics. The leaders of the anti-Mughal group, including Murari Pandit, were
displaced and killed, and a new treaty or ahdanama was entered into with Shah Jahan. According to this
treaty, the Adil Shah agreed to recognise Mughal suzerainty, to pay an indemnity of twenty lakhs of
rupees, and not to interfere in the affairs of Golconda which was brought under Mughal protection. Any
quarrel between Bijapur and Golconda was, in the future, to be referred to the Mughal emperor for his
arbitration. The Adil Shah agreed to cooperate with the Mughals in reducing Shahji to submission and, if
he agreed to join Bijapuri service, to depute him in the south, away from the Mughal frontier. In return
for these, territory worth about 20 lakh hurts (about eighty lakh rupees) annually belonging to
Ahmadnagar was ceded to Bijapur. Shah Jahan also sent to Adil Shah a solemn farman impressed with
the mark of the emperor’s palm that the terms of this treaty would be “as strong as the battlements of
Alexander”, and would never be violated.
Shah Jahan completed the settlement of the Deccan by entering into a treaty with Golconda as well. The
ruler agreed to include the name of Shah Jahan in the khutba and to exclude the name of the Iranian
emperor from it. The Qutb Shah was to be loyal to the emperor. The annual tribute of four lakh hurts
which Golconda was previously paying to Bijapur was remitted. Instead, it was required to pay two lakh
hurts annually to the Mughal emperor in return for his protection.
The treaties of 1636 with Bijapur and Golconda were statesmanlike. In effect, they enabled Shah Jahan
to realise the ultimate objectives of Akbar. The suzerainty of the Mughal emperor was now accepted
over the length and breadth of the country. The treaties helped to stabilise the situation in the Deccan,
and held out hopes of a stable peace with the Mughals and of limiting further Mughal advance into the
Shah Jahan and the Deccan (1636-57)
In the decade following the treaties of 1636, secure from further Mughal attacks from the north, Bijapur
and Golconda overran the rich and fertile Karnataka area from the river Krishna to Tanjor
and beyond. This area was divided into a number of petty principalities, many of them, such as the
Nayaks of Tanjore, Jinji and Madurai owing nominal allegiance to the Rayal, the former ruler of
Vijayanagar. A series of campaigns were conducted by Bijapur and Golconda against these states.
For some time, the Mughals welcomed this development. Apart from maintaining a benevolent
neutrality, the Mughals helped by diplomatic means in resolving the differences and rivalry between the
two Deccan states whenever they threatened to get out of hand. Diplomatic correspondence of the time
shows that the Mughal emperor played a definite role in the agreement between Bijapur and Golconda
in 1646 whereby the territories and the booty won by their armies in the South were to be divided by
them in the proportion of two shares to Bijapur and one to Golconda. Clash between Bijapur and
Golconda for control over Jinji and Karnataka led the Qurb Shah to solicit Mughal intervention again.
Shah Jahan was asked to send amins to examine everything on the spot, and to enforce an agreement
whereby Kamataka could be divided between the two, half and half. The Rayal of Vijayanagar, too,
actively solicited and canvassed Mughal intervention in the affairs of the Deccan.
The Mughal attitude of benevolent neutrality towards the Deccan states began to gradually change after
1648. A clear index of this was provided by the Mughal attitude towards the arrest of Shahji Bhonsale by
Adil Shah in 1649. By the accord of 1636, both Bijapur and the Mughals had agreed not to seduce each
other’s servants. Further, it had been specifically stipulated that the Mughals would not accord service
to Shahji. If Adil Shah so desired, he could enroll Shahji in his service, but was to employ him in the
Karnataka, far away from the Mughal frontier. However, in 1649, at the instance of prince Murad
Bakhsh, a mansab of 5000/5000 was granted to Shahji, and Shivaji was invited to join “with his father
and clansmen”. This only makes sense if the Mughals were contemplating intervention in the Deccan,
and hence wanted to win over powerful Maratha sardars to their side. The taking into employment of
Mir Jumla later on was a continuation of this policy.
The Mughal attitude towards the Deccan states changed rapidly after this, culminating in the invasions
of Golconda and Bijapur in 1656 and 1657. The chronic Mughal inability to manage the financial affairs
of the Mughal Deccan, as is borne out by the
angry exchange of letters between Shah Jahan and prince Aurangzeb when the latter was the Viceroy of
the Deccan, and Shah Jahan’s refusal to continue to meet the deficit from the treasuries of Malwa and
Surat, was another factor in this change of attitude. Earlier, Shah Jahan had tried to force Bijapur to
share a part of the booty it had captured from the Rayal of Vijayanagar “as a compensation for Mughal
neutrality”. The principle of compensation could not be confined to a sharing of treasure: the vast
territories gained in the south by Bijapur and Golconda could be attributed to the benevolent neutrality
of the Mughals. The situation was ripe for a Mughal demand to the Deccan states for territorial
compensation. A dispute about the decline in the exchange rate between the rupee and the hurt, and
the consequent obligation of Golconda enhancing the annual tribute in rupees was used as a pretext for
war. In the case of Bijapur, the death of Muhammad Adil Shah in 1656, and the resulting confusion in
Bijapur, as also arrears in payment of tribute and siding with Golconda in the recent war were used as
an excuse to invade it. The Mughal decision to intervene in Golconda and Bijapur in 1656-7 was not a
sudden one. As we have seen, events in the preceding decade had gradually prepared the ground for it.
There has been a considerable debate among historians about the aims and objectives of Shah Jahan,
Dara and Aurangzeb in these wars. From the outset, Aurangzeb had wanted the annexation of the entire
kingdom of Golconda, and had used all kinds of arguments to persuade Shah Jahan to order annexation.
However, Shah Jahan’s objectives were limited: he wanted to fleece Qutb Shah in the name of
compensation. By the treaty, the Mughals also gained Ramgir district which was an added bonus.
However, soon a controversy began whether Mir Jumla’s jagir in Karnataka belonged to the Mughal
emperor or to Qutb Shah. Aurangzeb, arguing that it was equal in wealth to the rest of the Golconda
kingdom, had rejected Qutb Shah’s offer of fifteen lakhs for being left in possession of Karnataka. He
had sternly warned Qutb Shah that “Karnataka belongs to Mir Jumla and is a part of the Deccan. Banish
from your mind all thoughts of keeping it….”. Accordingly, a Mughal army under Shah Beg Khan , Qazi
Muhammad Hashim and Krishna Rao had entered Karnataka. Since Qutb Shah had refused to give up
possession, Shah Jahan’s objectives, it seems, were still hazy, for he now instructed Aurangzeb to
conquer Golconda after settling the affairs of Bijapur. As for Bijapur, Shah
Jahan instructed Aurangzeb to annex, if possible, the whole of the kingdom; else to recover the old
Ahmadnagar territory, and to spare the rest for an indemnity of one and a half crores and the
recognition of the Emperor’s suzerainty, that is, the reading of khutba and sikka in his name.
The final agreements with these states fell short of the demands of full annexation put forward by
Aurangzeb and apparently agreed to by Shah Jahan at first. Aurangzeb suspected that the change in the
Emperor’s attitude was at the instance of his arch rival, Dara. However, there is no conclusive proof
about Dara’s role in the matter. On balance, it would appear that Shah Jahan’s objectives in the Deccan
were still limited, and that he got alarmed when Aurangzeb tried to pursue a policy of all-out conquest.
By the treaty of 1657, Bijapur was compelled to agree to surrender the Nizam Shahi areas ceded to it by
the accord to 1636. This, and the demand on Golconda to cede to the Mughals as part of Mir Jumla’s
jagir the rich and fertile tract on the Coromondal, which had already become an important centre for
the export of textiles and indigo, outstripping Gujarat, signified that the accord of 1636 was dead and
buried. It also served notice that the ambitions of the Mughals in the Deccan were boundless. Thus, the
conditions were created for a union of hearts between the Mughals and the Deccan states becoming “a
psychological impossibility” (J.N. Sarkar).
Shah Jahan’s action in once again throwing the Deccan into the melting pot, thus undoing what he had
achieved in 1636 after such great efforts, may be considered of doubtful wisdom. By his action he
placed on the agenda the outright annexation of the two Deccan states—something which preceding
Mughal emperors and he himself had strenously avoided. Thus, in a manner of speaking, it was Shah
Jahan who created the dilemma which Aurangzeb was never able to resolve throughout his long reign—
that the treaties of 1636 were dead, yet the outright annexation of the Deccan states! posed more
problems than it solved.
The above conclusions call into question Shah Jahan’s reputation for political sagacity which, in no small
measure, he had earned by his skilful handling of the Deccan crisis earlier. During the later part of his
reign, at any rate, Shah Jahan mishandled the Balkh campaign, while successive Qandahar campaigns
failed to add to his prestige. But his biggest mistake was to reopen the Deccan
question which, to all intents and purposes, he had so carefully settled in 1636.
Cultural Contributions of the Deccani States
Like the Mughals, the Deccani rulers were also great patrons of culture, and followed a broad policy of
toleration which helped to promote a composite culture.
Ali Adil Shah (d. 1580) loved to hold discussions with Hindu and Muslim saints and was called a Sufi. He
invited Catholic missionaries to his court, even before Akbar had done so. He had an excellent library to
which he appointed the well-known Sanskrit scholar, Waman Pandit. Patronage of Sanskrit and Marathi
were continued by his successors. His immediate successor, Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627), ascended
the throne at the age of nine. He was very solicitous of the poor, and had the title of “abla baba”, or
“Friend of the Poor”. He was deeply interested in music, and composed a book called Kitab-i-Nauras in
which songs were set to various musical modes or ragas. He built a new capital, Nauraspur, in which a
large number of musicians were invited to settle. In his songs, he freely i nvoked the goddess of music
and learning, Saraswati. Due to his broad approach he came to be called “Jagat Guru”. He accorded
patronage to all, including Hindu saints and temples. This included grants to Pandharpur, the centre of
the worship of Vitobha, which became the centre of the Bhakti movement in Maharashtra. The broad,
tolerant policy followed by Ibrahim Adil Shah II was continued under his successors. The important role
played by Maratha families in the service of the Ahmadnagar state has already been mentioned.
The Qutb Shahs, too, utilised the services of both Hindus and Muslims for military, administrative and
diplomatic purposes. Under Ibrahim Qutb Shah (d. 1580), Murahari Rao rose to the position of Peshwa
in the kingdom, a position which was second only to that of Mir Jumla or wazir. The Nayakwaris, who
formed the military-cum-landed elements, had been a power in the kingdom ever since the foundation
of the dynasty. From 1672 till its absorption by the Mughals in 1687, the administrative and military
affairs of the state were dominated by the brothers, Madanna and Akkhanna.
Golconda was the intellectual resort of literary men. Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah (1580-1611)
who was a contemporary of Akbar, was very fond of literature and architecture. The Sultan
was not only a great patron of art and literature but was a poet of no mean order. He wrote in Dakhini
Urdu, Persian and Telugu and has left an extensive diwan or collection of poems. He was the first to
introduce a secular note in poetry. Apart from the praise of God and the Prophet, he wrote about
nature, love, and the social life of his times. According to some modern writers, “The Telugu people
considered the kingdom of Golconda their own, and called Ibrahim (Qutb Shah) “Malkibharam” out of
their respect for him”. Later, the Qutb Shahi kings issued bi-lingual grants in Persian and Telugu.
The growth of Urdu in its Dakhini form was a significant development during the period. The successors
of Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah and many others poets and writers of the time adopted Urdu as a literary
language. In addition to Persian, these writers drew on Hindi and Telugu for forms, idioms and themes
as well as vocabulary. Urdu was patronized at the Bijapuri court also. The poet laureate, Nusrati, who
flourished during the middle of the seventeenth century wrote a romantic tale about Prince Manohar,
ruler of Kanak Nagar, and Madhu Malati. From the Deccan, Urdu came to north India in the eighteenth
Recent research shows that Deccan painting started about 1560, at the same time as Mughal painting.
Like the Mughals, the Deccan painters absorbed both Persian painting, and the earlier forms of painting
during the Sultanat/Bahmani period, as well as the indigenous traditions of painting. Of all the schools of
Deccan painting, Bijapuri painting is considered the best. The great name earned by Bijapuri painting is
mainly due to the patronage and personality of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627). This was the period
when the best Dakhani works were produced at all the three Deccan states, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur and
Golconda. “Literary evidence clearly shows that Ibrahim Adil Shah was a person of extremely cultured
and artistic tastes, a musician and a poet and probably a painter, and that he always took interest to
secure the best possible talent to his court” (Jagdish Mittal).
In the field of architecture, Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah constructed many buildings, the most famous of
which is the Char Minar. Completed in 1591-92, it stood at the centre of the new city of Hyderabad
founded by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. It has four lofty arches, facing the four directions. Its chief
beauty are the four minarets which are four-storeyed and are 48 metres high. The double screen of
arches has fine carvings. The rulers of Bijapur
consistently maintained a high standard and an impeccable taste in architecture. The most impressive
Bijapuri buildings of (he period are the Ibrahim Rauza and the Gol Gumbaz. The former was a
mausoleum for Ibrahim Adil Shah and shows the style at its best. The Gol Gumbaz which was built in
1660 has the largest single dome ever constructed. All its proportions are harmonious, the large dome
being balanced by tall, tapering minarets at the corner. It is said that a whisper at one side of the huge
main room can be heard clearly at the other end.
It will thus be seen that the Deccani states not only maintained fine standards of communal harmony,
but also contributed in the fields of music, literature, painting and architecture.