Bahmani Kingdom (c.1347-1525 CE): Origin, Rulers, Administration, & Decline

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Bahmani Kingdom

The Bahmani Kingdom was a medieval kingdom in South India that thrived from the 14th to the 16th century. The kingdom was founded by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah and was established in 1347. The sultanate was a Persianised Muslim State of the Deccan in the South Indian region. This marked the beginning of a powerful and independent dynasty that aimed to challenge the supremacy of the Delhi Sultanate in the Deccan region. The kingdom with its capital at Gulbarga (present-day Kalaburagi in Karnataka, India), flourished rapidly under the leadership of its ambitious rulers. In this blog, we will learn more about the Bahmani Kingdom and know about its rulers, administration and decline.

History of the Bahmani Kingdom

The Bahmani Kingdom was founded in 1347 by Zafar Khan, who declared independence from the Delhi Sultanate of Muhammad Bin Tughlaq, while he was serving as a commander and the governor of this Deccan Region. Later the Sufi Saints asserted his political dominance in the region and was given the title of Alauddin Bahman Shah. 

The kingdom’s capital was initially located at Gulbarga but later moved to Bidar. Over the years, the Bahmani Kingdom expanded its territory and acted as a cultural bridge between the North and South regions. 

Also Read – Tughlaq Dynasty: Rulers of Delhi Sultanate

List of Rulers of the Bahmani Kingdom

There were in total 14 Bahman Sutans. The kingdom saw the reign of several powerful and influential kings throughout its existence. Some of the notable rulers are – 

Rulers of the Bahmani DynastyDetails
Alauddin Hasan Bahman ShahAlso known as Hasan Gangu alias Zafar Khan. The founder of the kingdom, he established a strong foundation for the Bahmani dynasty.
Muhammad Shah I ( 1358- 1375 A.D)He was known for his successful military expeditions and policies that strengthened the kingdom’s economy. He defeated the Vijaynagar rulers Bukka I and Kapaya Nayaks of Warangal.
Muhammad Shah II ( 1378- 1397 A.D)He was a peace lover and developed friendly ties with others. He also built many Madrasas and hospitals. 
Feroz Shah Bahmani ( 1397 -1422 A.D)He was a great ruler and defeated Deva Raya I of the Vijaynagar Empire.
Ahmad Shah I (1422-1436)Under his rule, the Bahmani Kingdom reached its peak, conquering vast territories and becoming a major power in the Deccan region. He changed his capital to Bidar from Gularga but was a ruthless ruler.
Muhammad Shah III (1463-1482)He became the ruler of the kingdom at the age of 9 years. His regent was Muhammad Gawan.
Muhammad Gawan was a trader and was granted the title of Malik-ul-Tujjar. Gawan dominated the kingdom for nearly 2 years. He divided the kingdom into eight provinces named Tarafs, each of which was governed by the tarafdar. He also introduced the use of Gunpowder against the Vijaynagar Empire.
Alauddin Shah IIHis reign marked the beginning of the decline of the Bahmani Kingdom, as internal conflicts and external invasions weakened its power.
KalimullahHe was the last ruler of the Bahmani Dynasty.

Also Read – Chera Dynasty: Kings, Administration, Religion & Conquests

Administration of the Bahmani Kingdom

After Gawan’s Execution, the Bahmani Kingdom was disintegrated and 5 different kingdoms known as Deccan Sultanates came into existence.

  • A feudal type of administration was followed by the Sultans
  • Small kingdoms were controlled by the Tarafdars.
  • These Tarafs were further divided into Sarkars.
  • These Sarkars were again divided into Parganas for administration.
  • The Parganas again had different levels from – Kotwal, Deshmukhs or Desais.
  • Patel’s and Kulkarni’s were responsible for the administrative unit of villages.
Wazir-i-KulPrime Minister and supervised all other Ministers.
Amir-i-JumlaHead of the Department of Finance
WazirDeputy Chief of the Department of Finance
Sadr-i-JahanHead of the Judicial and Charities Department
Vakil-us-SultanaEqual to the Naib Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate
PeshwaAttached to the Vakil-us-Sultana
KotwalHead of the Police Department
TarafdarsProvincial Governors
Wazir AshrafHead of the Royal Court and Foreign Affairs 

Military Administration of the Bahmani Kingdom

  • The Army’s Supreme Commander was the Sultan
  • Amir-ul-Umra was the general in charge of the Army
  • The personal bodyguards of the Sultan were Khas-i-Khel
  • Army Resources are weapons like Infantry, Cavalry, War elephants, etc
  • The Mansabdari System was practised widely. 

Also Read – Haryanka Dynasty: Rulers of Magadha Empire 

Bahmani Society and Culture

The Bahmani Kingdom was a melting pot of various cultures and religions. It had a diverse population, with people from different backgrounds coexisting harmoniously. The kingdom was a centre of art, architecture, and literature, attracting scholars, poets, and artists from far and wide. Some key aspects of Bahmani society and culture include:

  • Persian Influence: Urdu and Persian were the dominant languages in the Bahmani Kingdom. The kingdom witnessed a flourishing of literature, with renowned poets and scholars like Abdul-Qadir Bada’uni and Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah leaving behind a rich literary legacy.
  • Religious Toleration: The Bahmanids were known for their policy of religious tolerance, providing patronage to Hindu scholars, poets, and artists, along with the traditional patrons of Islamic art and literature.
  • Architectural Marvels: The Bahmani Kingdom witnessed a flourishing of architectural brilliance. Its art and architecture comprised – 

At Gulbarga – Gulbarga Fort, Haft Gumbaz  and Jama Masjid in Gulbarga

Gulbarga Fort, Source – Journey Across Karnataka

2. Haft Gumbaz

Haft Gumbaz

At Bidar – Bidar Fort, Bahmani Tombs, etc

  1. Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur
Gol Gumbaz 

The Decline of the Bahmani Dynasty

Internal conflicts, rivalries among the nobles, and external invasions eventually led to the decline of the Bahmani Kingdom. 

  • The lack of a strong centralised authority and constant battles over succession weakened the once-powerful dynasty. 
  • The disintegration of the Bahmani Kingdom led to the emergence of smaller sultanates, known as the Deccan Sultanates, which continued to rule parts of the Deccan region.

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