Political Situation of Southern India

Deccan Sultanates were five dynasties that ruled late medieval Indian kingdoms, namely, Bijapur, Golkonda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar, and Berar in south-western India.

The Deccan Sultanates and Vijaynagar empire ruled southern India.

Deccan Sultanates
Deccan Sultanates

These Deccan Sultanates became independent during the break-up of the Bahmani Sultanate.

In 1490, Ahmadnagar declared independence, followed by Bijapur and Berar in the same year.

Golkonda became independent in 1518 and Bidar in 1528.

Although generally rivals, they did ally against the Vijayanagara Empire in 1565, permanently weakening Vijayanagar in the Battle of Talikota.

In 1574, after a coup in Berar, Ahmadnagar invaded and conquered it. In 1619, Bijapur annexed Bidar.

Akbar Invasion of Deccan Sultanates

The great Emperor Akbar after consolidating his Empire in North India decided to subjugate the regions south of the Narmada.

He found that task not quite so easy as his earlier conquests.

The death of Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar in 1594 gave rise to murders and intrigues in rapid succession.

Akbar took advantage of confusion that ensued in the fortunes of that state and at once sent an army for it conquest.

At this critical hour the famous Chand Bibi stood forth boldly, organised a strong opposition.

She heroically defended Ahmednagar for some years.

Eventually about the middle of 1599 Akbar himself marched southwards at the invitation of his trusted general Abul Fazl.

He occupied Burhanpur without opposition.

Akbar charged his son Daniyal and the Khan Khanan with the duty of taking Ahmednagar.

At that time internal dissensions precluded the effective defense of the Ahmednagar.

Soldiers of Ahmednagar murdered Chand Bibi the only capable leaders to defend Ahmednagar.

The town was stormed without much difficulty in August 1600 and formally surrendered on the 19th of that month.

The young King Bahadur Shah and his family paid the penalty for their crime of independence by life-long imprisonment in the fortress of Gwalior.

At this moment of success Akbar received the news of his son Salim being in open rebellion and was compelled to return hastily to the north. 

Thereafter his fortunes rapidly declined and he died in 1605 without leaving a worthy successor.

Jahagir Invasion of Deccan Sultanates

A more competent ruler than the slothful, easy-going, pleasure-seeking Jahangir succeeded the history of the Marathas would possibly have taken a different turn.

Jahangir resumed his father’s policy of subjugating the Deccan in 1608.

The war thus started continued practically till 1636.

Shah Jahan ultimately succeeded in putting an end to the existence of the Nizamshahi Kingdom.

Malik Ambar, an Abyssinian Muslim in origin, who when young had been made a slave.

Merchant of Baghdad brought him to India and sold to Chengiz Khan a minister of the Sultans of Ahmadnagar.

The latter detected Ambar’s capacity and trained him for the service of the Nizamshahi State.

In a short time he became a power in the Deccan. He defied all Emperor Jahangir’s efforts for over fifteen years.

He practically re-made the history of the Deccan for that period with the help of many Maratha captains.

The Abyssinian emigrants here gained opportunities unequalled elsewhere.

He displayed a rare capacity for sea-faring, land warfare, management of men and civil administration.

Malik Ambar at last kept the new Sultan Murtaza Nizam Shah (1599-1631) secure in the difficult fort of Daulatabad.

He established a separate city for administrative purposes at Khadki in the vicinity of that fort.

This city was afterwards renamed Aurangabad when Aurangzeb became his father’s viceroy in the Deccan in 1636.

Bhosles under Malik Ambar

The various Maratha clans of the Deccan were dragging on their obscure existence in the service of one or other of the three Muslim sultanate. They hardly any idea at the time of asserting their independence.

Among them the Jadhavs with their stronghold at Sindkhed in the vicinity of Daulatabad were then powerful in the service of the Nizam Shah.

The Bhosles were at first comparatively insignificant.

Soon Maloji Bhosle the grandfather of Shivaji had to content himself by serving as a petty horseman in the employ of the Jadhavs.

The cousins of the Bhosles, viz. the Ghorpades, served the Adil Shah of Bijapur, enjoying a small jagir at Mudhol.

The clan of the Mores enjoyed almost royal power and influence in the hilly regions west of Satara, while rendering nominal service to Bijapur.

It was during the course of this long war that Maloji and Shahji Bhosle rose to prominence as helpmates of Malik Ambar.

The period bristles with the names of captains on the two sides and with stirring incidents of a varying character.

Soon Ambar adapting his tactics to the geographical conditions of the southern regions and boldly opposed the Mughals.

He developed a particular method of fighting the enemy known as guerilla warfare.

Later Shivaji later used with such method against his opponents.

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