‘Ādil Shah Dynasty Founded Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Muslim ՙĀdil Shah Dynasty attained independence from the declining Bahmani Dynasty and flourished despite political infighting and intrigue. The ՙĀdil Shah Dynasty won the bloodiest battle in the history of India against its Hindu neighbor, the Vijayanagar Empire, but in doing so opened the door to later Mughal and British invasion.

Summary of Event

The Bahmani sultanate Bahmani sultanate in the Deccan declined sharply following the death of Sultan Shams ud-Dīn Muḥammad Shah III in 1482 (r. 1463-1482), but it had begun to disintegrate years before. YūsufՙĀdil Khan, founder of the ՙĀdil Shah Dynasty, manipulated Sultan Muḥammad Shah to acquiesce to the demands of the nobles for greater power, and Bijāpur Bijāpur[Bijapur] was conferred upon Yūsuf. Muḥammad Shah was dependent on Yūsuf and the other governors to defend the kingdom from the might of neighboring Hindu Vijayanagar Empire Vijayanagar Empire , and he tolerated their rebellious behavior for fear of a complete revolt. ՙĀdil Shah Dynasty[Adil Shah Dynasty] Yūsuf ՙĀdil Khan Ismāՙīl ՙĀdil Shah Ibrahim ՙĀdil Shah I ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah Shams ud-Dīn Muḥammad Shah III Yūsuf ՙĀdil Khan Qāsim Barīd Maḥmūd (Bahmani sultan) Ismāՙīl ՙĀdil Shah Kamal Khan Bibiji Khanam Mullu Ibrahim ՙĀdil Shah I Venkatadri ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah (fourth sultan of Bijāpur) Ibrahim ՙĀdil Shah II Chand Bibi Akbar

After Muḥammad’s death, the regent and his vizier recognized Yūsuf’s status among the nobles and formed a conspiracy to remove him from Bijāpur, hoping that if Bijāpur were in the hands of its allies and its troublesome leader was gone, they would be able to destroy the rest of the foreign nobles in short order. This plan failed miserably, however. Nearly four thousand lives were lost on both sides until the holy men of Bīdar, the city in which the fighting took place, persuaded Yūsuf to retire and return with his family to Bijāpur. He had the khutba read in his name in 1489, announcing that Bijāpur was an independent kingdom, the third to rise out of the remains of the Bahmani Dynasty, which would continue to decline in the following years.

Yūsuf’s rivals resented his success. Qāsim Barīd had long been interested in Bijāpur for its rich natural resources and had desired the territory for himself. Because he was one of the head officials of the declining Bahmani Dynasty, he considered Yūsuf a rebel and usurper, and then raised a coalition against him. Hindu Vijayanagar joined for territory and succeeded in controlling Rāichūr and its forts, but Yūsuf’s skill in statecraft prevented further damage, as he convinced Vijayanagar to go no further by recognizing that the newly conquered territory was indeed part of the Vijayanagar Empire.

Qāsim Barīd and his allies met Yūsuf’s army at Naldurg, but the battle was indecisive because Qāsim fled soon after they engaged. Confused, the allies came to a peaceful settlement with Yūsuf and parted.

Yūsuf prepared to battle with Vijayanagar, and they met at the Tungabhadra River in 1493. Militarily, Bijāpur was no match for the great Vijayanagar Empire, but Yūsuf’s craft and deceit allowed him to succeed in regaining Rāichūr and the two forts. Once Yūsuf had proved his independent strength, ironically, the young Bahmani sultan Maḥmūd sought his help in calming the officials who had opposed Yūsuf, including Qāsim Barīd. Yūsuf also successfully checked the Portuguese incursion in the west, which would eventually become Goa.

By the time of Yūsuf’s death in 1510, he had completed the challenge of creating an independent and strong Bijāpur; however, it was by no means a stable state. Yūsuf attempted to ensure a stable succession by unequivocally naming his son Ismāՙīl as successor, and, since the boy was about twelve years old, named the adviser Kamal Khan as Lord Protector, or regent, until Ismāՙīl came of age. Unfortunately, Kamal Khan began attempts to gradually seize the young king’s power. He was not content with a de facto rule that would terminate when Ismāՙīl came of age, but instead wanted to consolidate power in his hands that would terminate only upon Kamal’s death. He had enlisted a friend, Amir Barīd, and their plans grew until even the details of Kamal’s coronation were organized. Ismāՙīl’s mother, Bibiji Khanam, however, an intelligent, well-educated Mārathā woman, upset Kamal’s plots by having him assassinated. Kamal’s mother attempted to continue, and she encouraged Kamal’s son to rally the army that had supported Kamal and march on the royal palace. They did so but were unsuccessful, and this allowed for Ismāՙīl to fare relatively smoothly in the domestic sphere. His foreign dealings were less secure, and attempts to quell problems in Ahmadnagar and Berar by marrying his sisters to the dominions were unsuccessful. Until his death in 1534, however, Bijāpur enjoyed relative peace.

Ismāՙīl’s eldest son, Mullu, succeeded him, but after six irresponsible months fraught with problems, even those who had supported Mullu initially realized that his neglect of affairs of state demonstrated that he could be no king of Bijāpur. Bibiji Khanam again intervened to preserve the kingdom, enlisting chief ministers in her plan to remove Mullu from the throne and replace him with Ibrahim, Ismāՙīl’s third son.

Ibrahim’s reign ushered in a new era for Bijāpur, as he revised the policies of the previous reigns. Especially significant was the replacement of Shīՙite Islam with Sunni Islam Islam;India and the expulsion of the foreign nobles from the armed forces. Excluding from the military the foreign nobles, who had previously made up much of the strength of both revolutionary and independent Bijāpur, caused them to return to the other successor states of the Bahmani kingdom, strengthening their armies and allowing them to menace Bijāpur.

Ibrahim was a very suspicious ruler, so his ministers were less apt to be loyal and trusting and more prone to rebel, forcing Ibrahim to admit losses to both the Portuguese and Vijayanagar. Ibrahim did have the occasional success, including his victory over the Vijayanagar armies led by Venkatadri. Unlike his father’, Ibrahim’s reign was turbulent, and upon his death in 1558, he had not clearly delineated which of his two sons, ՙAli or Ṭahmasp, would succeed him. ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah was more aggressive, declaring himself the rightful heir. Most of the nobles and important officials, including Kishwar Khan and Zain Khan, commander of the fort of Bijāpur, offered allegiance to him, even though ՙAli had been disliked by his father and had spent the later years of Ibrahim’s reign imprisoned. Ibrahim and Ṭahmasp were Sunni Muslims, but ՙAli had followed the Shīՙite tradition. He began to systematically denounce the practice of Sunni Islam, having associated it with his father.

In the foreign sphere, ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah’s reign was extremely successful, though very pragmatic and mercenary. Despite relatively good relations with Vijayanagar and extremely valuable help from the empire, ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah decided to attack and destroy Vijayanagar anyway. He convened the other Muslim rulers in the Deccan region and argued that no single power could defeat Vijayanagar, but if allied, they surely could do so. General contempt for Hindu Vijayanagar and desire for its wealth led to success for ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah’s call to arms.

The armies of Golconda, Bīdar, Ahmadnagar, and Bijāpur met and began their march to Vijayanagar at the end of 1564. They met the Vijayanagara, and one of the bloodiest battles in Indian history ensued, a battle that came to be known as the Battle of Talikota (1565) Talikota, Battle of (1565) . Vijayanagar forces were evenly matched against the four allied Muslim rulers, making it particularly damaging to both sides. (It is said that the Krishna River ran red with blood.) Clever maneuvering, however, led to victory for Bijāpur and its allies. They captured and killed the ruler, whose wife had named ՙAli as her son, plundered the city, and utterly decentralized the Vijayanagar Empire. Even after the forces scattered following the murder of their commander, Bijāpur and the other allies pursued them to ensure their victory.

Victory over Vijayanagar inspired arrogance in ՙAli. He attempted with allies to rout the Portuguese but was defeated. In 1580, he was found in his private apartments having died a bloody death. ՙAli’s nine-year-old nephew Ibrahim ՙĀdil Shah II succeeded him with a legion of regents and Chand Bibi, the dowager queen. There was great political intrigue and corruption as the various regents and ministers attempted to check the influence of Chand Bibi, and she responded in kind. Additionally, under Emperor Akbar, the Mughals slowly had been moving southward and were becoming a very real threat. When Akbar had subjugated Ahmadnagar, Ibrahim entered into a humiliating alliance in which he paid tribute to Akbar, also giving his daughter.


Unwittingly, by destroying Vijayanagar, ՙAli ՙĀdil Shah removed the only real block to Mughal and British expansion into south India. The alliance during Ibrahim II’s reign allowed Bijāpur to continue to exist, but its power rapidly declined at the hands of both the Mughals and the Mārathās. Bijāpur was annexed by the Mughal ՙĀlamgīr (r. 1658-1707) in 1686, bringing an end to a dynasty that also left a legacy of great Islamic architecture and patronage of the arts, and a cosmopolitan culture.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Cousens, Henry. Bijāpur and Its Architectural Remains. Columbia, Mo.: South Asia Books, 1996. Explores the structures, monuments, and buildings of Bijāpur.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Eaton, Richard Maxwell. Sufis of Bijāpur, 1300-1700. Columbia, Mo.: South Asia Books, 1996. An excellent social history of Sufism and other religions in Bijāpur.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Verma, D. C. History of Bijāpur. New Delhi, India: Kumar Brothers, 1974. The best textbook treatment of Bijāpur.

c. 1490: Fragmentation of the Bahmani Sultanate

1509-1565: Vijayanagar Wars

1552: Struggle for the Strait of Hormuz

Categories: History