Friday, November 4, 2011

Deccan, as we call today is a corrupt version of “Dakkin”, the Prakrit form of the Sanskrit word Dakshin. This area was primarily occupied and ruled by many ancient Hindu kingdoms, the history and origins of which are lost. The two northernmost of these kingdoms had their capitals in Devagiri (modern Daulatabad) in Maharashtra and Warangal in Telinga (modern Andhra Pradesh). The Bahmani kingdom formed under very interesting circumstances, which all started with Allauddin Khilji marching towards the South to plunder the wealth of these mighty kingdoms. Unfortunately, religion became an excuse. Daulatabad was the first place to be hit and the king paid huge ransom to avoid a war and this became a practice to further invasions and invaders.

With the huge booty, Allauddin Khilji also played treachery and killed the Sultan of Delhi (his uncle) in 1296AD and became the ruler himself. Soon two successive wars were waged on Devagiri in 1308 and Warangal in 1309. Pratapa Rudradeva was the king of Warangal at that time and the Mohammedan Army was led by the famous Malik Naib Kafur. He plundered the unfortunate Kakatiya Kingdom and historians like Amir Khusru greatly described the uncalled destruction and the plight of people. This was only the first of the attacks on Warangal and there were more due to which, 13 years later, the dynasty was eliminated. In 1312, Malik Kafur invaded down South and he was obstructed by Ballal Deo of Dharwar Samoonder (the Hoysala King Veera Ballala II of Dwarasamudra, now called Halebidu), who also was not spared. Malik Kafur marched further south and Madhurai was plundered with the help of an illegitimate son of a Pandya King, and step-brother of the famous Veera Pandya Katta Bommana.

Malik Kafur, after going back to Delhi killed Allauddin Khilji himself and captured the throne. It was not long when he was killed by Allauddin Khilji’s nobles and Mubarak Khan was placed on the throne. Allauddin Khilji’s dynasty did not rule Delhi after that for long and a warlord Ghazi Malik came to power and assumed the title of Ghiyasuddin Tughlak. He sent his son Ulugh Khan to capture Warangal, which was executed right on and the kingdom was renamed Sultanpur in 1323. Ulugh Khan later conspired against his own father, killed him and usurped the throne under the title of Mohammed Tughlak Shah.

This was the time when Deccan started coming under the rule of Mohammedans as the two mighty kingdoms, Devagiri and Warangal were demolished. It was an absolute necessity that an other kingdom was found which carried the Hindu bastion and this was laid by two generals from Warangal, Harihara and Bukka which we all know as the Vijayanagara Kingdom of Hampi, Karnataka .

Talking about Mohhammed Tughlak Shah, i am sure many of us have heard of this madman. He orders all the inhabitants of a city, which for 180 years, has been the capital of the Mohammedan empire in India to leave to another place which is hundreds of kilometres away, and that too at a moment’s notice. The historian Barni thus describes the effect of this tyrannical order: “The city with its suburbs and villages spread over 10 kos (about 10 miles) were destroyed. So complete was the ruin, that not a cat or dog was left behind. Troops of the natives, with their dependents were forced to remove. Many from the toils of the long journey, perished on the road, and those who arrived at Deogiri could not endure the pain of exile. All around the area, sprang up graveyards of Mohammedans”

Who would know that this mad incident would be the foundation of a great Kingdom? One of the emigrants to Deogiri was a man named Hassan. Born in 1290 AD, he spent his first 30 years as a field labourer. He was employed by a Brahmin named Gangu, who gifted some land and oxen for Hassan to till. While tilling, Hassan found an earthen vessel full of antique gold coins. Instead of using them himself, he takes them to Gangu as the land was gifted. Gangu immediately informs Sultan Ghiasuddin about the discovery and Hassan would be taken to the Sultan’s army for his honesty. Gangu, who is also an astrologer predicts that Hassan would one day be a ruler and asked Hassan to take him as his finance minister once becoming a King.

Hassan, under the Sultan becomes a army general and thus migrates to Devagiri. We also know that Mohammed Tughlak starts disliking the new capital after some time and orders the inhabitants to move back to Delhi. Hassan, who has already become an important person in the Sultan’s rule would be instated as the Sultan’s representative at Devagiri. Soon Mohammed Tughlak, will all his mistakes committed, loses credibility and all his dynasty would be exterminated in the bloodshed that followed. Hassan with the support of the chieftains,  assumes the title Sultan Allauddin Hassan Gangu Bahmani and faithful to his former promise, offers Gangu the post of the finance minister.

It is said that Gangu was the first Brahmin who ever took service under a Mohammedan ruler and certainly, not the last. We know that for the next 200 years it became a universal custom for any Mohammedan King in Deccan to have Brahmins in high posts of authority.

Such was the commencement of the dynasty of the Bahmani Sultans of Gulbarga. I will need to give a brief picture of a typical Mohammedan rule, especially of the Bahmani rulers, which i will be doing in the further posts. This is the first time i explored a Deccani Kingdom. The perspective was totally new. Also it was a welcome break after my previous visits to temples in the Hassan District of Karnataka. I thought it would be better to give a good historical insight as this is a momentous event of Mohammedans ruling Deccan for the first time.


1. History of the Deccan by J.D.B Gribble

2. The Bahmanis of the Deccan by Haroon Khan Sherwani

3. Bahman Shah - The Founder of Bahmani Kingdom by Dr. S.A.Q.Hussaini


Team G Square said...

Wonderful introduction to Bahmani Kingdom . Waiting for the virtual tour .

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