The Adil Shahis of Bijapur – Till the End

When Adil Shah died in 1579, the most popular personage in Bijapur was his widow Chand Bibi, who, it will be remembered, was the sister of the Ahmednagar Sultan. She assumed the direction of affairs (her nephew, the King was 9 years old), associating with herself Kamil Khan. Kamil Khan and later Kishawar khan went against the queen and were punished accordingly with death. Kishawar khan went to the extent of procuring an order to confine Chand Bibi in the fort of Satara however, he could not succeed as the people and the army were loyal to the queen. The Bijapur army which was reduced after the Talikota war was strengthened.  Till the time Ibrahim Adil Shah came of age, there was much turbulence internally as well as with Ahmednagar, and Chand Bibi overtook all of the rebellions and wars effectively. Queen Elizabeth was often compared to Chand Bibi by historians for her administrative capabilities.

Once Ibrahim Adil Shah came of age, withdrew from public interferences in the state affairs. He too had internal issues to resolve with his ministers being un-loyal and fighting among themselves. Even during Ismail’s regime, there were wars with Ahmednagar and he managed to win every time. He then won Mysore which was under the control of the Vijayanagar rulers. Another nephew of Ali Adil Shah, Ismail who was the Governor of Belgaum declared his independence in 1593. Other kings including Nizam Shah, Vijayanagar and the Portuguese supported Ismail, however treachery among partners led to the capture of Ismail. One of the noblemen of Bijapur, Ain-ul-Mulk who supported Ismail was captured and his head blown off with the cannon Malik-E-Maidan.

Situations transpired wars with the Mughal Emperor as well and Chand Bibi, a war machine she was tactfully won all of them, some times in the battlefield herself. In this course of time, she safeguarded the independence of Ahmednagar as well however she was killed in 1599 by one of the generals in the Ahmednagar kingdom. This marked the entry of Mughals into the Deccan and the end was near. After this catastrophe, Ibrahim took but little active share in the affairs of the Deccan. He agreed on an alliance with the Mughal Emperor Akbar that he would give his daughter to Akbar’s son. At this time, Bijapur was probably at the height of its splendor and magnificence. Ibrahim Adil Shah lived till 1626 and some of the finest buildings in Bijapur arose during his reign.

Mahmud Shah succeeded Ibrahim Adil Shah and reigned till 1656. During this long period of 30 years, then Sultan, though not very successful against the imperial army of the Mughals and Marathas, extended his dominions far into the south and east. He raised many handsome buildings, amongst those is the celebrated Gol Gumbaz in which he would be eventually buried. During this time the Marathas rose into greater power and Bijapur had been given the task of controlling them. As an excuse that the Bijapur ruler Ali Adil Shah II (1656-72) was not able to keep the Maratha warrior Shivaji in restraint, Aurangzeb commenced an expedition against it, however had to withdraw when he got the news that Shah Jahan was ill.

Aurangzeb’s absence from the Deccan was Shivaji’s opportunity, and he at once commenced a series of attacks on the imperial country and Bijapur. The Sultan entrusted Afzal Khan to defend the kingdom. However, Afzal Khan was killed by Shivaji at Pratapgarh. This incident took down the morale of the Mohammedan army, and everyone were cut down, only a small remnant escaping to tell the tale. Ultimately Bijapur had to sign a peace pact with Shivaji which lasted for six years. Bijapur was gradually crumbling away. It still continued to be a center of commercial enterprise. Soon after this, Ali Adil Shah II died in 1672 and was succeeded by Sikandar Adil Shah., a boy five years of age. Thereafter Bijapur was torn with multiple expeditions by Shivaji and Aurangzeb and the Sultan Sikandar was ordered to be kept in confinement in his own capital. This was the end of Bijapur as an independent kingdom, and from henceforth it became and imperial province.

Now that we had seen the history of the Adil Shahi’s it is now time to take a closer look at the art and architecture of Bijapur.

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