Ahmadnagar Sultanate

Ahmadnagar Sultanate
Nizam Shahi dynasty
28 May 1490–1636

Alam, Flag of the Nizam Shahi dynasty of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate (Contained the verse from the Quran, chapter 61, verse 13, As-Saff)

Extent of Ahmadnagar Sultanate
Capital Ahmadnagar
Languages Persian (official)[1]
Religion Islam
Government Monarchy
   Established 28 May 1490
   Disestablished 1636
Currency Falus[2]
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bahmani Sultanate
Mughal Empire
Today part of  India

The Ahmadnagar Sultanate was a late medieval Indian kingdom, located in the northwestern Deccan, between the sultanates of Gujarat and Bijapur. Malik Ahmad, the Bahmani governor of Junnar after defeating the Bahmani army led by general Jahangir Khan on 28 May 1490 declared independence and established the Nizam Shahi dynasty rule over the sultanate of Ahmednagar.[3] Initially his capital was in the town of Junnar with its fort, later renamed Shivneri. In 1494, the foundation was laid for the new capital Ahmadnagar. In 1636 Aurangzeb, then Mugal viceroy of Deccan finally annexed the sultanate to the Mughal empire.


Malik Ahmad was the son of Nizam-ul-Mulk Malik Hasan Bahri. After the death of his father, he assumed the appellation of his father and from this the dynasty found by him is known as the Nizam Shahi dynasty. He founded the new capital Ahmadnagar on the bank of the river Sina. After several attempts, he secured the great fortress of Daulatabad in 1499.

After the death of Malik Ahmad in 1510, his son Burhan, a boy of seven was, installed in his place. In the initial days of his reign, the control of the kingdom was in the hands of Mukammal Khan, an Ahmadnagar official and his son. Burhan Shah I died in Ahmadnagar in 1553. He left six sons, of whom Hussain succeeded him. After the death of Hussain Shah I in 1565, his minor son Murtaza ascended the throne. During his minority, his mother Khanzada Humayun Sultana better known in history as Chand Sultana or Chand Bibi ruled as a regent for several years. Murtaza Shah annexed Berar in 1572. On his death in 1588, his son Miran Hussain ascended the throne. But his reign could last only a little more than ten months as he was poisoned to death. Ismail, a cousin of Miran Hussain was raised to the throne, but the actual power was in the hands of Jamal Khan, the leader of the Deccani/Habshi group in the court. Jamal Khan was killed in the battle of Rohankhed in 1591 and soon Ismail Shah was also captured and confined by his father Burhan, who ascended the throne as Burhan Shah. But Chand Bibi fought him. Winning the kingdom, Chand Bibi ascended the throne. After the death of Chand Bibi in July, 1600 Ahmadnagar was conquered by the Mughals and Bahadur Shah was imprisoned.

Although, Ahmadnagar city and its adjoining areas were occupied by the Mughals, an extensive part of the kingdom still remained in possession of the influential officials of the Nizam Shahi dynasty. Malik Ambar and other Ahmadnagar officials defied the Mughals and declared Murtaza Shah II as sultan in 1600 at a new capital Paranda. Malik Ambar became prime minister and Vakil-us-Saltanat of Ahmadnagar.[4] Later, the capital was shifted first to Junnar and then to a new city Khadki (later Aurangabad). Malik Amber died in 1626. Soon, Shah Jahan ordered the Subhedar of Deccan, Mahabat Khan to finish off the Nizamshahi when the commander-in-chief, Shahaji Bhosale was away. Mahabat Khan attacked Ahmadnagar and quickly killed Fateh Khan along with the boy prince Hussain Nizamshah III, his relatives as well as two pregnant women so that there would not be any male heir to the throne. But soon, Shahaji with the assistance of Bijapur, placed an infant scion of the Nizam Shahi dynasty, Murtaza on the throne and he became the regent. The scion Nizam and Shahaji's family was stationed in the Mahuli Fort. Shah Jahan quickly made an alliance with Mohammed Adilshah of Bijapur and the respective Mughal and Adilshahi generals, Khan Zaman ( son of Mahabat Khan ) and Ranadulla Khan ( father of Rustum-e-Zaman) besieged Mahuli. Shahaji tried to break the siege externally several times, but failed. So Jijabai along with young Shivaji successfully escaped from Mahuli in disguise. However, the mother of scion Nizam, Sajeeda was caught while fleeing along with the Nizam. Nizam was brought before Shah Jahan and Mohammed Adilshah. Shah Jahan proposed to murder the boy Nizam so as to finish the Nizamshahi once and for all. But Shahaji intervened and requested Shah Jahan to change his decision. But Adilshah was adamant. After some thinking, Shah Jahan ordered Nizam's release much to the surprise of Adilshah. However, he set a condition that Shahaji would be placed in deep south so that he could not pose any challenge to Mughals. The Nizam was taken away by Shah Jahan to Delhi and was made a Sardar.

Army of the Nizam Shahi dynasty of Ahmadnagar Sultanate

Main article: Battle of Talikota

Hussain Nizam Shah I is known to have been one of the leading figurehead of the Deccan Sultanates during the Battle of Talikota. After his death Chand Bibi repulsed an invasion by the Mughal Empire with the reinforcements of Bijapur Sultanate and Golconda Sultanate.

Revenue System of Malik Ambar

The revenue system introduced by Malik Ambar was based on the revenue system introduced in Northern India and some parts of Gujarat and Khandesh subahs by Raja Todarmal. Lands were classified as good or bad according to their fertility and he took a number of years to ascertain accurately the average yield of lands. He abolished the revenue farming. At first, revenue was fixed as two-fifths of the actual produce in kind, but later the cultivators were allowed to pay in cash equivalent to approximately one-third of the yield. Although an average rent was fixed for each plot of land but actual collections depended on the conditions of crops and they varied from year to year.[4]

List of Rulers

The treacherous Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan Khan Jahan Lodi was executed in the year 1630, for covertly allying himself with Burhan Nizam Shah III, against the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.[5]

The following is the list of the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmadnagar:[6]

  1. Ahmad Nizam Shah I 1490–1510
  2. Burhan Nizam Shah I 1510–1553
  3. Hussain Nizam Shah I 1553–1565
  4. Murtaza Nizam Shah I 1565–1588
  5. Hussain Nizam Shah II 1588–1589
  6. Isma'il Nizam Shah 1589–1591
  7. Burhan Nizam Shah II 1591–1595
  8. Ibrahim Nizam Shah 1595–1596
  9. Ahmad Nizam Shah II 1596
  10. Bahadur Nizam Shah 1596–1600
  11. Murtaza Nizam Shah II 1600–1610
  12. Burhan Nizam Shah III 1610–1631
  13. Hussain Nizam Shah III 1631–1633
  14. Murtaza Nizam Shah III 1633–1636.

Art and Architecture

Under the reigns of successive rulers of the dynasty, architecture and art flourished in the kingdom. The earliest extant school of painting in the Deccan sultanates is from Ahmadnagar.[6] Several palaces, such as the Farah Bakhsh Bagh,[7] the Hasht Bihisht Bagh, Lakkad Mahal were built, as were tombs, mosques and other buildings.[8] Many forts of the Deccan, such as the fort of Junnar (later renamed Shivneri), Paranda, Ausa, Dharur, Lohogad, etc. were greatly improved under their reign. Daulatabad, which was their secondary capital, was also heavily fortified and constructed in their reign.[9] Literature was heavily patronised in the kingdom, as seen through manuscripts such as the Tarif-i Husain Shah Badshah-i Dakan.[10] Sanskrit scholarship was also given a boost under their rule, as desmonstrated by the works of Sabaji Pratap[11] and Bhanudatta.[12] The city of Ahmadnagar, founded by the Nizam Shahs, was described as being comparable to Cairo and Baghdad, within a few years of its construction.[13] It was modeled along the great cities of the Persianate world, given the Shi'i leanings of the dynasty.[14]


  1. Brian Spooner and William L. Hanaway, Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012), 317.
  2. Stan Goron and J.P. Goenka, The coins of the Indian sultanates : covering the area of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (New Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001).
  3. Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  4. 1 2 Majumdar, R. C., ed. (2007) [first published 1969], The Mughal Empire, History and Culture of Indian People, Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, pp. 415–45, ISBN 978-8172764074
  5. Jayapalan, N. (2001). History of India. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Limited. p. 167. ISBN 9788171569281. Retrieved 2015-05-17.
  6. 1 2 Michell, George & Mark Zebrowski. Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates (The New Cambridge History of India Vol. I:7), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999, ISBN 0-521-56321-6, p.274
  7. Sohoni, Pushkar. "Change and Memory in Farah Bagh, Ahmadnagar" in Journal of Deccan Studies, v. 5 no. 2 (Jul–Dec 2007), pp. 59-77.
  8. Sohoni, Pushkar. "Architecture of the Nizam Shahs" in Helen Philon (ed.), Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan, 14th - 19th centuries (Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2010).
  9. Sohoni, Pushkar (2015). Aurangabad with Daulatabad, Khuldabad and Ahmadnagar. Mumbai; London: Jaico Publishing House; Deccan Heritage Foundation. ISBN 9788184957020.
  10. Aftabi (1987). Mate, M.S.; Kulkarni, G.T., eds. Tarif-i-Husain Shah, Badshah Dakhan. Pune: Bharat Itihas Samshodhan Mandal.
  11. Gode, P.K. (1944). "Sabaji Prataparaja, a protege of Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, and his works between 1500 and 1560". The Indian Historical Quarterly. 20: 96.
  12. Mishra, Bhanudatta (2009). Pollock, Sheldon, ed. "Bouquet of rasa" & "River of rasa". New York: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814767559.
  13. Astarabadi (Firishtah), Muḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh. Briggs, John, ed. History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, vol 3. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. p. 201.
  14. Sohoni, Pushkar. "Patterns of Faith: Mosque Typologies and Sectarian Affiliation in the Kingdom of Ahmadnagar" in David Roxburgh (ed.), Envisioning islamic art and architecture : essays in honor of Renata Holod (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

Further reading

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