Indian History Part 65 The Bahmani Kingdom Section II The Gulbarga Sultans

Canberra, 31 March 2018

On his death bed, Bahman Shah nominated Prince Muhammad as his heir and exhorted all other princes and nobles to be loyal to him. Muhammad came to the throne with no opposition and celebrated his coronation with great pomp and ceremony, assuming the title Muhammad Shah. The huge expenses for the coronation was a great drain on the treasury. So much so that the new Sultan had no option but to set out on a conquering march to bring wealth to the coffers, much like what his father had endeavoured to do earlier.

Muhammad Shah I

On Muhammad coming to the throne, Kapaya ruling Telangana from Warangal and Bukka ruling the fledgling Vijayanagar kingdom, send demands to the new Sultan to return the territories of Kaula to Warangal and the Raichur Doab to Vijayanagar. Both these territories had been conquered and annexed by Muhammad’s father Ala ud-Din during his reign. Muhammad in turn demanded that both Kapaya and Bukka pay tribute to him, as was his due as the new Bahmani Sultan. A Telugu army under the command of Kapaya’s son Vinayak Deo that was send to reconquer Kaula was decisively beaten back by the Bahmani forces. Buoyed by this victory, Muhammad took the offensive and decided to invade both Telangana and Vijayanagar. Considering the parlous state of his treasury and that he had only been anointed king recently, this decision was a brave move demonstrating the self-confidence that Muhammad had in his own capability. It is obvious that he harboured ambitions to better his father’s record of conquests.

Even though the Bahmani kingdom, from its very inception, had been at odds with Vijayanagar, the invasion by Muhammad Shah could be considered the real beginning of the long-drawn war between the two newly formed states in the Deccan and South India. It is also noteworthy that these two kingdoms were the successors of the regional linguistic states that had co-existed in relative peace for nearly three centuries.

The first invasion of Warangal has been reported by the Bahmani court chroniclers as a ‘great’ success, while it is also mentioned that the Hindu forces fought with tenacious bravery and courage. The two statements are dichotomous, considering that it was written by the court scribes, who never missed an opportunity to relegate Hindu kings and their forces to the status of cowards. It has to be surmised that the invasion was only a part-success, although Muhammad managed to collect a great deal of wealth from his minor victory. There were a number of battles thereafter, in which Muhammad repeatedly had the upper hand, even though no outright victory was achieved. In one of the battles, the crown prince Vinayak Deo was captured by the Muslim forces and executed. This changed the complexion of the contest.

Enraged by the execution of his son, Kapaya approached Firuz Shah, the Delhi Sultan for assistance against the Bahmani kingdom. In the meantime, Muhammad Shah attacked Warangal in force and Kapaya was unable to withstand the onslaught. He sued for peace and was forced to surrender the Fort of Golconda to the Bahmani Sultan. The Telangana chieftain also surrendered a turquoise and gold throne to Muhammad Shah, which was installed in the Hall of Audience in Gulbarga. The accounts of these battles and the Bahmani victory is obtained purely from the account written by Ferishta who was obviously biased to singing the praises of his king, Muhammad Shah. An impartial assessment of Ferishta’s recounting of Bahmani history shows that no setback of the Bahmani Sultan receives a mention in them. Therefore, Ferishta’s accounts cannot be taken at face value. He states that Muhammad now wanted to conquer the whole of Telangana but accepted a treaty of peace after Golconda was ceded. This statement is also difficult to believe in its entirety, considering Muhammad’s ambition and position of advantage, as described. The fact, not mentioned by Ferishta, is that Telangana was not the easy conquest as has been described, but a stubborn and resolute state that held its own at all times, and after the initial setback, successfully blocked further Bahmani advances.

According to the peace deal, Golconda was fixed as the permanent border between the two kingdoms. Considering the peace deal, however uneasy it may have been, and the fixing of a permanent boundary line, it is more likely that the Bahmani conflict with Telangana was defensive in nature and also that it did not yield any clear victor or unambiguous victory to either side. At best it can be stated that Muhammad Shah emerged in a slightly better position than when he entered the conflict.

Conflict with Vijayanagar

Ferishta also mentions, in great and glorified detail, Muhammad’s victories over the kingdom of Vijayanagar. Once again the reports are suspect and needs to be watered down. It could be presumed that the Bahmani kingdom did not suffer any outright defeat, or that they did not lose the war as such. There is also a statement that Vijayanagar imposed several strictures on Muhammad, one of which was to not kill any Hindus, after the Bahmani Sultan is supposed to have achieved a battlefield victory. Again, this is a contrary report, since it is highly unlikely that a defeated opponent could pass a stricture on the king of the victorious forces. This ‘victory’ of the Bahmani Sultan was certainly only an indecisively concluded battle, ending in a negotiated settlement.

Ferishta then goes on to claim that Muhammad and the following Bahmani Sultans thereafter adhered to the pact and did not kill any more Hindus. This also not borne out by actual facts. In medieval times, pillage and plunder of enemy towns and killing ordinary citizens of the adversary kingdom was normal, across the world. More so during times of conflict. The Indian wars were no exception. Acts that are seen as atrocities within today’s concept of morality, were common place, and in this instance, practised by both Muslim and Hindu forces with equal ferocity.

Irrespective of the hyped up and embellished reports, the conflict with Vijayanagar went to assume epic and formidable proportions. Muhammad Shah had already set his mind on invading Vijayanagar. The immediate catalyst to do so, other than Bukka’s demand for the Raichur Doab to be handed over, was the humiliation of a Bahmani messenger in the Vijayanagar court who had been send by Muhammad demanding that the king of Vijayanagar pay tribute to the Bahmani Sultan. As the war drums began to beat, Bukka crossed the River Tungabhadra and seized Mudgal. Almost immediately, Muhammad Shah counterattacked and recaptured Mudgal. The Muslim army made exemplary use of artillery and cavalry in the successful recapture, whereas the Hindu artillery was employed late and ineffectually. This is one of the first confirmed use of guns in the Deccan. The artillery contingent on both sides were officered by Europeans and Turks.

After this battle, Bukka resorted to a combination of guerrilla tactics and direct action, resorting to pitched battles only when he was certain of victory. After a series of battles and skirmishes, both sides agreed to accept River Krishna as the boundary between the kingdoms.

By reconciling River Krishna as the border, Bukka essentially won the Raichur Doab, which lies between the River Tungabhadra and Krishna, which was his original claim and the core reason for the conflict. This fact is reason to believe that Muhammad Shah was not very successful in his attempt to ‘punish’ Vijayanagar for its temerity in asking for the return of its conquered territory. Although Muslim chronicles proclaim a great victory for the Bahmani Sultan, facts on the ground point towards an unsuccessful campaign, if not an outright defeat. The truce with Vijayanagar was not one-sided, but definitely weighed in favour of the Hindu kingdom. Repeated embellishment of the narrative that are not corroborated by actual facts on the ground, continually undermine the veracity of the reports filed by the Muslim chroniclers throughout the history of the Bahmani dynasty.

Domestic Rebellions

While the truce with Vijayanagar was being enacted, the governor of Daulatabad Bahram Khan Mazandarani who was also a son-in-law of Bahman Shah the founder of the dynasty, rebelled. He was also in conflict with another son of Ala ud-Din, Muhammad’s brother. Muhammad easily suppressed the revolt and banished Mazandarani from the kingdom. During this campaign, Muhammad was assisted by the Maratha chief Kombha Deo, then ruling Berar. For his troubles, Kombha appropriated revenue of the region for himself. This independent act of the Maratha chief indicates that Muhammad Shah was not as powerful as it is made out to be in his court chronicles.

The Marathas

This is perhaps the first direct reference to the Marathas, as a separate and distinctive race or entity, in the narrative of the Deccan. The Muslim chronicles mention them as occupying the area called ‘Mharat’, obviously a corruption of the Hindu name Maharashtra, which encompassed the strip of country lying between Gujarat in the north and Pune in the south, bounded by the Konkan coast in the west and the Deccan in the east. The territory is a narrow hilly tract, full of inaccessible valleys and wooded hills. The terrain is difficult to traverse and both inhospitable and hostile.

An Efficient Sultan – Prone to ‘Indulgence’

Muhammad Shah was ruthless in enforcing his will, especially in domestic matters. He was the ultimate champion of orthodox Islamic faith and therefore gets fulsome praise for all his actions from Muslim chroniclers of the time. Enforcing the rules of orthodox Islam was considered the epitome of being an exemplary ruler and Muhammad stuck to the script as none of the Bahmani rulers had done so far.

With the usual exaggeration that typifies his writings, Ferishta reports the aftermath of the conflict with Vijayanagar: ‘…five hundred thousand unbelievers fell by the swords of his warriors in defence of the faith of Islam, by which the districts of the Carnatic were so laid waste that they did not recover their natural population for several decades.’


As quoted in History of the Deccan – Volume I, by J. D. B. Gribble, p. 46.

(First published 1896)

[An interesting observation has to be made regarding the quote above. The author states that the massacre of the unbelievers (read Hindus) was carried out in the ‘defence’ of Islam. It is difficult to understand how Islam was being ‘defended’ when the invasion was perpetuated by the Muslim kingdom on a predominantly Hindu kingdom. Such religiously couched justifications for offensive actions of extreme brutality abound in the Muslim chronicles in the sub-continent.]  

True to form, like many other Sultans, Muhammad was also a hypocrite. While enforcing strict religiosity on his subjects and nobles, he himself led a life of complete ‘indulgence’ according to a number of other corroborated reports. In fact it is believed that he died of excessive drinking in 1375, after ruling for 17 years.

On the other hand, Muhammad Shah was a diligent and efficient administrator. He established a council of ministers and created the position of Peshwa, a tradition that was continued into later-day kingdoms in the Deccan. He also created a decentralised administration. This was a great forward looking reform, which is a great concept when the king is strong and able to enforce his will easily. However, if the central control is weak, the very same concept tends to break up the kingdom. Muhammad paid particular attention to commerce understanding it to be fundamental to the prosperity of the kingdom. In order to facilitate easy trade he suppressed the prevalent state of common highway robbery. He is reported to have executed more than 20,000 brigands and thieves. He is also credited with building the great mosque of Gulbarga.

While he did have his positive side, particularly in administering the kingdom, Muhammad was a passionate and impulsive king. He was easily offended and given to venting his wrath, ever ready to avenge even the slightest perceived offence to his dignity. His personal bravery was never in question and he was not averse to undertaking military campaigns, personally leading small forces against numerically large opponents. It is obvious that Muhammad Shah was a talented military commander.

The Weak Successors

Muhammad Shah was followed to the throne by his son Ala ud-Din Mujahid Shah. Ala ud-Din was a handsome man of great physical prowess that earned him the sobriquet of ‘balwant’ or ‘the strong’. He had a short reign of about three years, the main event during which was a war with Vijayanagar provoked by the Sultan. He demanded the return of the territories that had been ceded to Vijayanagar in earlier times and on being refused, invaded Vijayanagar. By now Vijayanagar was a powerful kingdom commanding the allegiance of a number of dependent princes of South India. Gradually the kingdom had also taken on the mantle of being the bulwark against Muslim invasions and the insidious spread of the Islamic faith towards South India from their stronghold in the Deccan.

Bukka still ruling Vijayanagar and consolidating his kingdom avoided pitched battles and harried the invading forces constantly. He wore down the invading army through hit and run tactics while luring them deeper into his own territory. When the Bahmani forces reached close to the capital, they were decisively defeated and had to flee back. At the same time a nine-month siege of Adoni by the Bahmani forces also ended in abject failure. Mujahid blamed his uncle Daud Khan, who was the commander of the Bahmani forces during the expedition, for its overall failure. Stung by the accusation, Daud Khan retaliated by murdering Mujahid on 15 April 1378 and claiming the throne for himself. The kingdom descended into chaos brought about by fratricidal conflicts.

During his reign Mujahid promoted Persians and Turks to higher positions in the administration in preference to the local Deccani Muslims. Thus he perpetuated the division between the Deccani and foreign Muslims and sowed the seeds of jealousy that exacerbated an already tense relationship between the two. This was one of the fundamental reasons for the intrigue, plots and assassinations that plagued the Bahmani kingdom throughout its existence. The division contributed a great deal to its ultimate collapse and dismemberment.

Within a month of usurping the throne, Daud was also murdered by a hired assassin on the orders of Mujahid’s stepsister, Ruh Parwar Agha. Daud Khan’s son Sanjar was blinded to ensure that he did not make any claim to the throne. Muhammad Shah II, the son of the youngest son of Ala ud-Din was proclaimed sultan.

Muhammad Shah II

Muhammad Shah was a man of peace, entirely devoted to religion and poetry. The internal turmoil following the Bahmani defeat was exploited by Vijayanagar who took advantage of the situation and annexed a large slice of land in the West Coast that included the port of Goa. Muhammad II established an uneasy peace with Vijayanagar. He also managed to contain the palace and court intrigues that was becoming commonplace. The regicidal atmosphere prevalent in the capital was contained. Having re-established some semblance of stability, Muhammad devoted himself to his primary interest of pursuing poetry, literature and scientific learning. He established educational institutions, monasteries and a number of mosques. Muhammad also enforced the ‘holy law’ across the entire kingdom. This would have meant unnecessary and at times unbearable pressure on the majority Hindu population of the kingdom. However, medieval Indian sultans were not in the habit of considering Hindus either their subjects or even as normal people—they were sub-human in the eyes of Muslim Sultans.

Persian Poet Hafiz

Muhammad Shah II was renowned as a patron of poetry and learning. He had invited the Persian poet Hafiz to grace his court. However, Hafiz faced a severe storm at sea after he had embarked for India and turned back to his home port, vowing never to venture out to sea again. He wrote an ode and send it to the Sultan which was received with great pleasure.

Hafiz’s ode, translated to English reads:

For the wealth of the world I will not exchange

The wind of my garden which softly blows;

My friends may rebuke me, but I will not range:

I will stop here at home with the bulbul and the rose;

Enticing no doubt, is your beautiful crown,

With costliest gems in a fair golden bed;

But through perils and risks that ominous frown,

I might win it, perhaps, but then have no head.

When I thought of your pearls, it seemed then to me

To risk a short voyage would not be too bold;

But now I am sure, one wave of the sea

Can not be repaid by treasures of gold.

What care I for pearls or for gems rich and rare

When friendship and love at home both are mine?

All the gilding or art can never compare

With the pleasure derived from generous wine!

Let Hafiz retire from the cares of the world,

Contented with only few pieces of gold;

In the lap of repose here let him lie curled,

Far removed from the sea and its dangers untold!

As translated in History of the Deccan – Volume I, by J. D. B. Gribble, p. 53.

(First published 1896)

Although Muhammad Shah was a person of simple habits, he had an exalted concept of the kingly office. He followed a very modern doctrine where the king was supposed to be only a trustee of divine wealth and not the owner. Along with practising this concept, he was also very interested in the welfare of his subjects. Of course, in this case, ‘subjects’ were only followers of the Islamic faith, the Hindus who made up the majority of his subjects were not considered worthy of being given the status of being a Bahmani citizen. This division was clearly seen when the Sultan organised relief during a famine in the kingdom between 1387-95, when succour was given only to Muslims and an unaccounted number of ‘infidels and non-believers’ died of starvation.

Muhammad’s last years were beset with the conspiracy of his sons to usurp the throne. He died in April 1397. Malik Saif ud-Din Ghuri, a powerful and competent minister who had rendered distinguished service to the Bahmani dynasty since its founding days also died immediately after the death of Muhammad Shah II. This further destabilised the kingdom. Muhammad was followed on the throne by his eldest son Ghiyas ud-Din, a headstrong and indiscreet prince. Within two months he was dethroned and blinded by the chief of the Turkish slaves, Tugalchin, who brought Shams ud-Din Daud – a minor and Ghiya’s half-brother – to the throne. Tugalchin assumed the role of the regent and appropriated all power himself.

Two grandsons of Ala ud-Din I, Firuz and his brother Ahmad, who were also sons-in-law of Muhammad Shah II took it on themselves to remove the Turkish slave from power. They overpowered Tugalchin, blinded the child-Sultan and took over the kingdom. Firuz was crowned Sultan in November 1397 with the title Taj ud-Din Firuz Shah with his brother and co-conspirator, Ahmad, becoming the Chief Minister of the kingdom.

Firuz Shah

Firuz reigned for an eventful 25 years, which could be considered the most engaging period in the annals of the Bahmani kingdom. He proved to be a vigorous king—sagacious, enterprising and with a keen mind. Contemporary Muslim chroniclers extol his virtues as being a ‘good, just and generous king’ and as a ruler ‘without equal observing practices of his religions with strictness’. These are obviously exaggerated estimates of a definitely good king. Indeed Firuz was a cultured, talented and liberal monarch, while also being a linguist and a calligrapher of renown. He was a keen student of astronomy and built a major observatory in Daulatabad. Equally obvious is the fact that without a doubt he drank excessively, was very fond of music, and maintained a large harem populated by women of different nationalities. Firuz was no religious recluse.

Firuz was a good administrator who did not baulk at employing competent Brahmins to high positions. His reign was marked by three distinct campaigns against Vijayanagar. For the three decades following Muhammad Shah’s unsuccessful invasion of Vijayanagar, the Bahmani dynasty was completely immersed in its own domestic squabbles to undertake any external adventures. Therefore, during that period there were no major conflicts between the two kingdoms.

First Vijayanagar Campaign – 1398

Harihara II of Vijayanagar invaded the Raichur Doab with a massive army of 30,000 cavalry and 900,000 infantry in early 1398. Simultaneously there was a Hindu rebellion on the north bank of River Krishna, which was almost immediately crushed by the Bahmani forces. The Vijayanagar forces deployed on the southern bank of River Krishna and prepared for battle. It is reported by Muslim chroniclers that the army covered an area of 27 kilometre square, which is obviously an exaggeration of a later time, since the outcome of the battle against such a large enemy supports the claim of the ‘greatness’ of Muslim forces. Firuz’s army is reported to have been only 12,000, once again the numbers definitely reduced to emphasise the magnificence of the reported victory. However, it must be admitted that the Bahmani forces were numerically inferior to those arrayed by the Vijayanagar kingdom.

Firuz, arriving on the northern bank, appreciated the difficulty in crossing the river against a numerically superior force and resorted to subterfuge. He send some soldiers disguised as travelling minstrels to infiltrate the Vijayanagar camp and gain the trust of the enemy soldiers. This group used to perform every night in the enemy camp. On a predetermined night, during the usual performance, they fell upon the prince and killed him and his bodyguards. Confusion reigned in the Vijayanagar camp and taking advantage of this diversion, Firuz crossed the river unopposed.

Harihara was in no position to offer battle and withdrew to his capital with his son’s body. Firuz pursued the withdrawing forces for a while, harassing the rear, till Harihara purchased peace by paying a substantial indemnity. Firuz returned to his kingdom after appointing a military governor to rule the Raichur Doab.

Second Vijayanagar Campaign – 1406

Harihara II had died in 1404 and been succeeded by his son Devaraya I. There is a romantic love episode attached to the second campaign.

The Thwarted Romance of a King

The story goes that Devaraya was besotted by the beautiful daughter, Parthal, of a goldsmith in the village of Mudgal in the Raichur Doab. However, the girl had refused to marry the king. In order to win her over, the king attempted to capture the village. In order to escape the king’s wrath Parthal and her father fled north. In retaliation, the Vijayanagar troops laid waste the countryside surrounding Mudgal. Subsequently Parthal was married to Firuz’s son Hasan Khan. This story is recounted only by Ferishta and is not corroborated by any other source. It has to be discounted as a fanciful and untrue tale recounted to discredit the character of the Vijayanagar king.

The fact remains that Devaraya invaded the Raichur Doab, maybe to avenge his father’s probable defeat few years back and/or to take revenge for his brother’s murder. Firuz could not accept this move and declaring the invasion an aggression of his kingdom, which technically it was, he attacked Vijayanagar. In this instance Firuz and the Bahmani forces suffered a decisive defeat. Firuz himself was wounded in the battle and withdrew to a hastily constructed fortified camp, close to Vijayanagar territory. Although defeated, Firuz was able to ravage to countryside around his camp. The suffering of his people made Devaraya ask for peace. He gave one of his daughters in marriage to Firuz along with the district of Bankpur as dowry. Even though the marriage was conducted with great pomp and ceremony, the kings parted in anger.

Third Vijayanagar Campaign – 1417

The fort at Pangal that belonged to the Bahmani kingdom had earlier been captured by Vijayanagar. In 1417, Firuz Shah decided to recapture it. From its very inception the expedition was a disaster. The fort was besieged and could not be overrun for nearly two years. The static nature of the siege brought disease into the Bahmani ranks which was decimated over a period of few months. In 1420, Firuz was defeated and retreated to his kingdom. Vijayanagar forces captured the southern and eastern provinces of the Bahmani kingdom. Firuz was completely shaken by this emphatic defeat and loss of territory and withdrew from the affairs of state immediately on his return to the capital.

Other Military Adventures

After the first Vijayanagar campaign, which is claimed as a victory in Bahmani records, Firuz led an expedition against the Gond Raja Narsingh ruling Kherla about four miles north of Betul in modern Madhya Pradesh. Narsingh is reported to have invaded Berar at the instigation of the Vijayanagar king and the support of the Muslim rulers of Malwa and Khandesh. When the Bahmani forces took on Narsingh, the instigators of the original invasion did not come to the aid of the embattled ruler. The Gond forces offered stiff resistance, although in the end Narsingh was forced to sue for peace.

Between the second and the final Vijayanagar expedition, the Gond governor of Mahur rebelled. Firuz marched to the region, but returned without putting down the revolt. No reason is given for this inaction by a warlike king. At this stage, Telangana was on the verge of a civil war between two factions—the Vemas and Velamas—for succession. The Vemas were supported by Vijayanagar and obviously Firuz had to support the Velamas. The Bahmani forces had limited success in some minor skirmishes in the early days of the struggle. However, they were forced to retreat when Kataya Vema’s lieutenant, Allada Reddy, defeated the Bahmani army that was being commanded by Ali Khan.

These setbacks should have warned Firuz that his army was not as powerful as he thought it to be and prudence would have dictated that he not go to war with Vijayanagar. This was specially so since Vijayanagar was on the rise and becoming more powerful by the day. A pragmatic assessment of the performance of the Bahmani army in minor skirmishes would have indicated the actual state of affairs, and perhaps Firuz would have been spared the ignominy of the defeat and his subsequent withdrawal from public life.

End of Firuz’s Rule

Towards the time of the third Vijayanagar campaign, Firuz started to suspect his brother Ahmad of plotting against him. The suspicion was furthered by a prediction made a while ago by a saint, Khwaja Gisu Darag,  that Ahmed would be the next sultan instead of Firuz’s eldest son and favourite, Hasan Khan. At the same time, two slaves had inveigled themselves into the Sultan’s favour. The slaves, Hosiar Ain-ul-Mulk and Bedar Nizam-ul-Mulk were moderately successful military commanders, having achieved some minor victories in the battlefield. After his defeat at the fort of Pangal, Firuz left the running of the kingdom to these two slaves.

Ahmad realised the Sultan’s animosity and it became obvious that his position in Gulbarga had become untenable. Therefore, he fled from the capital with a small entourage. The group accompanying him also had within it a rich merchant of Basra called Khalaf Hasan. In some reports of the events that followed Ahmad’s flight from Gulbarga it is mentioned that this Hasan used his considerable wealth to win over the Bahmani army to support Ahmad. There are three variations in the narrative after this, each of them equally feasible.

The first is that a contingent of the army was sent in pursuit to capture Ahmad. However, they were defeated by Ahmad and fled back to the capital with Ahmad in pursuit. On Ahmad arriving at Gulbarga, the royal army deserted Firuz and joined Ahmad. Ahmad took charge of the capital, captured Firuz’s sons and had the ailing Sultan either strangled or poisoned. The second narrative states that even before Ahmad could flee, an attempt was made to capture and imprisoned him. However, the army, swayed by the prediction of the saint and no doubt induced by the wealth of the merchant from Basra, switched to Ahmad’s side. Ahmad now laid siege to the capital. Firuz, by now a sick man, was carried to the battlefield by the troops who had stayed loyal to him. He fainted and the citadel then surrendered to Ahmad. Firuz abdicated in favour of his brother and died within a few weeks of the incident. He was obviously ‘done away’ with, either by being poisoned or strangled.

The third version states that after fleeing the capital, Ahmad ‘persuaded’ the Habshi slaves in the royal army to join him – the persuasion obviously made possible by the spread of money by the wealthy merchant. Ahmad then marched back to the capital after making elaborate preparations for a major battle. A vicious battle ensued with death of many on both sides. Firuz realised that he could not win the battle and that he could not continue to rule without the support of the army. Therefore, he asked his son Hasan Khan to submit to Ahmad. Ahmad was then declared Sultan.

Irrespective of the correctness in terms of the detail of the events as they unfolded, the salient facts are that the royal army decided to join Ahmad, in all probabilities induced by the bribes that were passed out, and Firuz abdicated in Ahmad’s favour. It is also clear that Firuz was subsequently killed.

Firuz Shah – The Individual 

By all accounts Firuz was an enlightened ruler. He was not a rigid Muslim and could be considered a nominal Sunni Muslim who was religiously very tolerant. He was found of wine and music and also held regular and erudite discussions with philosophers, poets and historians. As mentioned earlier, he also built an observatory at Daulatabad and encouraged the study of astronomy. Firuz was an accomplished linguist and calligrapher. It is mentioned that he had ladies from different parts of the world in his harem and that he could converse with each of them in their own language.

Firuz was interested in improving commerce and paid careful attention to the two ports of the kingdom—Chaul and Dabhol. These ports serviced the trade from the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and Europe. It is obvious that Firuz understood the importance of trade to the prosperity of the nation and therefore took measures to improve that aspect of governance. Although an accomplished king, Firuz could not understand the weaknesses of his administration, which finally brought him down from the throne.

© [Sanu Kainikara] [2018]
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About Sanu Kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Political and Defence Analyst specialising in military strategy, national security, and international politics. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Executive Masters in Public Adminsitration (ANZSOG) Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

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