The Adilshahis of Bijapur – State of Affairs of the time

The period of two hundred years which this portion of the history of the Deccan comprises, was one of great restlessness and is full of important events. We know that five kingdoms rose from the disintegrated Bahmani Empire, viz. Bidar, Berar, Ahmednagar, Golconda and Bijapur. Almost the whole of this period was taken up by the frequent wars amongst these Mohammedan kings. During the first portion of the sixteenth century the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar profited by the weakness of the various Mohammedan states, and rapidly rose in power. The original Hari Hara dynasty had come to an end towards the close of the fifteenth century. It was probably at its zenith about the time of  visit of Abdul Razzak in 1444.

The Russian traveler Athanasius Nikitin who was in the Deccan in 1474, says that the king of Bidar attacked and took Vijayanagar, killing some 20,000 Hindus. The Sultan of Bidar at this time was Mohammed Shah, who, by the murder of Khaja Jehan bought about the ruin of his kingdom. You can read more about the Bahmani Kingdom here. However, this account may not be accurate as Ferishtah who made a detailed account of this prince never mentions of any capture of Vijayanagar, although we know of sieges of Belgaum, Kurnool and Kanchipuram. The defeat alluded was of the Vijayanagar army only.

Though there are different accounts that the king with whom Mohammed Shah fought was Narasimha, Dr. Burnell is of the opinion that Virupaksha, under whom Narasimha was a chieftain ruled up to 1490. This is actually believable as during the time of the war, Virupaksha was struggling with internal turbulences and this could have helped Mohammed Shah. Narasimha was succeeded by the famous Krishna Deva Raya, the greatest and most powerful of all the Vijayanagar rulers. You can read about the Vijayanagar kingdom here.

At the same time as the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar was threatening the Mohammedan supremacy in the south, the foundations of another Hindu power were being laid in the West. During this period of two hundred years, the Marathas grew from scattered freebooters into a great nation. In the early sixteenth century the first of the European nations settled in Goa. The division therefore of the great Bahmani kingdom into five smaller ones was singularly unfortunate, and weakened by their own jealousies and quarrels, and by the constant struggles with their Hindu and European neighbors, it was not difficult for Aurangzeb to eventually conquer them, one by one.

We will explore the Adilshahi history in the subsequent posts.