'Adil Shahi dynasty

Adil Shahi

The Adil Shahi or Adilshahi dynasty ruled the Sultanate of Bijapur in the Western area of the Deccan region of Southern India from 1490 to 1686. Bijapur had been a province of the Bahmani Sultanate (1347-1518), before its political decline in the last quarter of the 15th century and eventual break-up in 1518. The Bijapur Sultanate was absorbed into the Mughal Empire on 12 September 1686, after its conquest by the Emperor Aurangzeb.

The founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty, Yusuf Adil Shah (1490-1510), was appointed Bahmani governor of the province, before creating a de-facto independent Bijapur state. Yusuf and his son, Ismail, generally used the title Adil Khan. 'Khan', meaning 'Chief' in Persian,conferred a lower status than 'Shah', indicating royal rank. Only with the rule of Yusuf's grandson, Ibrahim Adil Shah I (1534-1558), did the title of Adil Shah come into common use.

The Bijapur Sultanate's borders changed considerably throughout its history. It's Northern boundary remained relatively stable, straddling contemporary Southern Maharashtra and Northern Karnataka. The Sultanate expanded southward, first with the conquest of the Raichur Doab following the defeat of the Vijayanagar Empire at the Battle of Talikota in 1565. Later campaigns, notably during the reign of Mohammed Adil Shah (1627-1657), extended Bijapur's formal borders and nominal authority as far south as Bangalore. Bijapur was bounded on the West by the Portuguese state of Goa and on the East by the Sultanate of Golconda, ruled by the Qutb Shahidynasty. At the height of its extent, the Bijapur Sultanate covered an area roughly four times the size of modern France.

The former Bahmani provincial capital of Bijapur remained the capital of the Sultanate throughout its existence. After modest earlier developments, Ibrahim Adil Shah I (1534-1558) and Ali Adil Shah I (1558-1580) remodelled Bijapur, providing the citadel and city walls, Friday Mosque, core royal palaces and major water supply infrastructure. Their successors, Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627), Mohammed Adil Shah (1627-1657) and Ali Adil Shah II (1657-1672), further adorned Bijapur with palaces, mosques, mausolea and other structures, considered to be some of the finest examples of Deccan Sultanate and Indo-Islamic Architecture.

Bijapur was caught up in the instability and conflict resulting from the collapse of the Bahmani Empire. Constant warring, both with the Vijayanagar Empire and the other Deccan Sultanates, curtailed the development of state before the Deccan Sultanates allied to achieve victory over Vijayanagar at Talikota in 1565. Bijapur eventually conquered the neighbouring Sultanate of Bidar in 1619. The Portuguese Empire exerted pressure on the major Adil Shahi port of Goa, until it was conquered during the reign of Ibrahim II. The Sultanate was thereafter relatively stable, although it was damaged by the revolt of Shivaji, his father was Maratha commander in the service of Mohammed Adil Shah. Shivaji founded an independent Maratha state which goes to become largest empire in India. The greatest threat to Bijapur's security was, from the late 16th century, the expansion of the Mughal Empire and into the Deccan. Although it's look like that it was Mughals who destroyed the Adilshahi it was Shivaji who almost had done it. The last shot was from Aurangzeb to Destroy the remaining parts.Various agreements and treaties imposed Mughal suzerainty on the Adil Shahs, by stages, until Bijapur's formal recognition of Mughal authority in 1636. The demands of their Mughal over-lords sapped the Adil Shahs of their wealth until the Mughal conquest of Bijapur in 1686.

Historical overview

The founder of the dynasty, Yusuf Adil Shah, was likely a Bahmani nobleman of Iranian origin. According to the historian Mir Rafi-uddin Ibrahim-i Shirazi, or Rafi', Yusuf's full name was Sultan Yusuf 'Adil Shah Sawa or Sawa-i, the son of Mahmud Beg of Sawa in Iran, (Rafi' 36-38, vide Devare 67, fn 2). Rafi's history of the 'Adil Shahi dynasty was written a the request of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, and was completed and presented to the patron in AH 1017. The Indian scholar T.N. Devare mentioned that while Rafi's account of the Bahmani dynasty is filled with anachronisms, his account of the Adilshahi is "fairly accurate, exhaustive, and possesses such rich and valuable information about Ali I and Ibrahim II" (312). Rafi-uddin later became the governor of Bijapur for about 15 years (Devare 316).

Rafi' account is less well known than that of the popular historian Firishta, the author of the Tarikh-i Firishta, also known as the Gulshan-i Ibrahim. Rafi's account of the life of Yusuf 'Adil Shah directly contradicts a popular myth penned by Firishta. According to Firishta, Yusuf was the son of the Ottoman Emperor Murad II. After the Sultan Murad II's death, and the crown prince's succeeded to the throne, all of the other sons of the emperor were executed. Firishta farbicated a story that Yusuf's mother secretly replaced Yusuf with a slave boy and sent him to Persia. After many romantic adventures, Yusuf reached the court of the Bidar Sultanate. T.N. Devare found that other historians of the time, Mir Ibrahim Lari-e Asadkhani, and Ibrahim Zubayri, the author of the Basatin as-Salatin, favored Rafi's account and rejected this account provided solely by Firishta (Devare 67, fn 2).

Despite the obvious fabrication of Yusuf's Ottoman origin, Firishta's account continues to be very popular today in Bijapur. Devare observed that the work is "a general history of India from the earliest period up to Firishta's time written at the behest of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and presented to him in 1015 AH/1606 CE. It seems however that it was supplemented by the author himself as it records events up to AH 1033 (1626 CE). This is the most widely quoted history of the Adil Shahi, and it is the source of the story that Yusuf was an Ottoman prince" (Devare 272).

Yusuf's bravery and personality raised him rapidly in Sultan's favor, resulting in his appointment as the Governor of Bijapur. He built the Citadel or Arkilla and the Faroukh Mahal. Yusuf was a man of culture. He invited poets and artisans from Persia, Turkey and Rome to his court. He married Punji, the sister of a Maratha warrior. When Yusuf died in 1510, his son Ismail was still a boy. Punji in male attire valiantly defended him from a coup to grab the throne. Ismail Adil Shah thus became the ruler of Bijapur, which till then was a province of Bahamani kingdom.

Ibrahim Adil Shah I who succeeded his father Ismail, fortified the city and built the old Jamia Masjid. Ali Adil Shah I who next ascended the throne, aligned his forces with other Muslim kings of Golconda, Ahmednagar and Bidar, and together, they brought down the Vijayanagar empire. With the loot gained, he launched ambitious projects. He built the Gagan Mahal, Ali Rauza (his own tomb), Chand Bawdi (a large well) and the Jami Masjid. Ali I had no son, so his nephew Ibrahim II was set on the throne. Ali I's queen Chand Bibi had to aid him until he came of age. Ibrahim II was noted for his valor, intelligence and leanings towards the Hindu music and philosophy. Under his patronage the Bijapur school of painting reached its zenith. Muhammad Adil Shah succeeded his father Ibrahim II. He is renowned for Bijapur's grandest structure, the Gol Gumbaz, which has the biggest dome in the world with whispering gallery round about slightest sound is reproduced seven times. He also set up the historical Malik-e-Maidan, the massive gun.

Ali Adil Shah II inherited a troubled kingdom. He had to face the onslaught of the Maratha leader Shivaji on one side and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb on another. His mausoleum, Bara Kaman, planned to dwarf all others, was left unfinished due to his death. Sikandar Adil Shah, the last Adil Shahi sultan, ruled next for fourteen stormy years. Finally on 12 September 1686, the Mughal armies under Aurangzeb overpowered the city of Bijapur.

Sufis of Bijapur

More than 10000 sufi saints were buried in Bijapur and near by places belonging to different orders like Chishti, Quadari, Shuttari, Haidari, Naqshbandi, Suharwardi etc.

  • Haji Roomi
  • Ma'abari Khandayat
  • Ainuddin Ganjul Uloom
  • Ziauddin Gaznavi
  • Shah Sibghatullah Shuttari
  • Shaikh Hameed Quadari
  • Shaikh Lutfullah Quadari
  • Hashimpeer Dastageer
  • Murtuza Quadari Haidari
  • Shaikh Muntajibuddin Dhoulaki Siddiqui
  • Shamshul Ushaq
  • Burhanuddin Janam
  • Khwaja Ameenuddin Aala
  • Sayyad Qasim Quadari
  • Sayyad Abdur'Razaq Quadari
  • Sayyad Habibullah Sibghatullahi
  • Haji Makki (Haji Mastan of Tikota)
  • Abdur Rahmaan Shuttari
  • Kareem Muhammad Shuttari
  • Sayed Jafaer Sakaf Quadri Mukbil Sadat

Adil Shahi arts and heritage

The contribution of the Adil Shahi kings to the architecture, painting, language, literature and music of Karnataka is unique. Bijapur (Kannada form of the Sanskrit Vidyapur or Vidyanagari) became a cosmopolitan city, and it attracted many scholars, artists, musicians, and Sufi saints from Turkey, Persia (Iran) Iraq, Turkey, Turkestan, etc.

The unfinished Jami Masjid, started in 1565, has an arcaded prayer hall with fine aisles supported on massive piers has an impressive dome. The Ibrahim Rouza which contains the tomb of Ibrahim II Adil Shah, is a fine structure with delicate carvings. Persian artists of Adil Shahi court have left a rare treasure of miniature paintings, some of which are well-preserved in Europe's great museums.

The Dakhani language, an amalgam of Persian-Arabic, Gujarati, Marathi, and Kannada, developed into an independent spoken and literary language. Under the Adil Shahis many literary works were published in Dakhani. Ibrahim Adil Shah II's book of poems and music, Kitab-e-Navras is in Dakhani. The Mushaira (poetic symposium) was born in the Bijapur court and later traveled north. The Dakhani language, which was growing under the Bahamani kings, later came to be known as Dakhan Urdu to distinguish it from the North Indian Urdu. Adil Shah II played the sitar and ud and Ismail was a composer.

Adil Shahis of Bijapur


  • Devare, T. N. A short history of Persian literature; at the Bahmani, the Adilshahi, and the Qutbshahi courts. Poona: S. Devare, 1961.

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