Shah Jahan Invasion of Deccan

When the intelligence of this fresh advance on the part of Malik Ambar reached Jahangir, he reappointed Khan-Khanan as Governor of the Deccan. He himself marched at once from Agra to Ajmere. After that he despatched his third son Khurram with a large force against Malik Ambar.

Khurram left Ajmer on 16 October 1616. Khan Jahan and other renowned Mughal generals who were already working in the Deccan.

In order to support this grand effort, the Emperor himself left Ajmer on 10th November 1616. He took up his residence at Mandu to be nearer the field of activities.

Khurram at once started vigorous action. He sent his envoys to Bijapur demanding help and co-operation from the Adil Shah. Malik Ambar and the Adil Shah had not notw the heart to offer any opposition to this formidable advance of the Mughals.

Murtaza Nizam Shah II and Malik Ambar
Murtaza Nizam Shah II and Malik Ambar

They both sent costly presents to the Prince and agreed to deliver over Burhanpur, Aurangabad and Ahmadnagar. Malik Ambar personally waited upon the Shahzada and delivered the keys of the various forts and the territory of  Berar.

Malik Ambar gratified Khurram with this easy victory. He consigned the protection of the newly conquered territories to his two trusted generals Khan-Khanan and his son Shah-Nawaz Khan. He returned in triumph to his father’s presence at Mandu (12 October 1617).

Khurram’s quick performance so highly pleased Jahangir. He bestowed on him special honors and the grand title Shah Jahan.

Malik Ambar Reconquest

Khan Jahan Lodi, Udaram, and possibly Lukhji Jadhav and other officials from the Deccan came and paid their homage to the Emperor at Mandu.

Convinced that the Deccan had been finally subjugated, the Emperor proceeded to Ahmedabad. But all this apparent victory was a hollow show adroitly got up by Malik Ambar. He immediately started his former aggression, this time with greater vigor than ever before.

Malik Ambar first enlisted the support of both the Adil Shah and the Kutb Shah. He explained to them how it was essential in their own interest to form a confederacy against the common danger.

They made vast preparations for a concerted plan to drive the Mughal forces back beyond the Narmada. In a short time they harassed the Mughal Governor Khan-Khanan at Burhanpur so severely that he sent piteous appeals to the Emperor for further provisions and help.

Malik Ambar’s advanced parties even crossed the Narmada and entered Malwa. An interval of nearly three years since Shah Jahan’s achievement had wrought important changes in Jahangir’s fortunes.

Excesses had shattered his health. Serious plots were started at his court for seizing the imperial power. There was open jealousy on this account between Nur Jahan and Shah Jahan.

The Emperor lost all his former vigour and nerve and became unfit to control his affairs. His only answer to Khan-Khanan’s piteous appeals was to once more request Shah Jahan to go to the Deccan and put down Malik Ambar’s rebellion.

Shah Jahan and Malik Ambar Deal

Shah Jahan reached Burhanpur on 4th April 1621, at once pursued Malik Ambar with vigour and expedition and drove him back beyond the Godavari. He fought the campaign throughout the year.

Malik Ambar finding himself unable to cope with the situation. Once more made submission to the Prince and agreed to give up the territory that he had seized.

This time Shah Jahan’s attention was riveted more upon the political developments at his father’s court than upon the conquest of the Deccan.

He gave easy terms to Malik Ambar, retraced his steps in haste to Burhanpur. He planned the end of his rival and brother Khusru, and left that place for the north on 24th March 1622.

The next five years of Jahangir’s life were full of convulsion, intrigue, and plots for power in which Nur Jahan and Shah Jahan were mainly involved.

When Lukhji Jadhavrao deserted his master Nizam Shah and joined the Emperor’s side, the loss was more than made up by Maloji’s loyalty and attachment to Malik Ambar. The rising Shahji did not fail to take full advantage.

Maloji died in 1620 and his mantle fell upon his son now 26 years old and worthy in every way. He soon became the right hand man of Malik Ambar.

Battle of Bhatavadi

Shah Jahan left Burhanpur for the north in March 1622. Soon he came to be involved in the war of succession which raged throughout India during the next five years and which threw into utter confusion the affairs of the Empire. This gave the welcome opportunity for Malik Ambar and Shahji to strengthen their position in the south.

Shah Jahan turned a rebel. Parwiz and Mahabat Khan vigorously pursued him . Lest Shah Jahan should join Malik Ambar and offer a formidable opposition, Jahangir directed Shahzada Parwiz to put down the combination.

Malik Ambar accepted the challenge and resorting to his tactics of guerilla warfare. He managed to inflict a crushing defeat upon the combined force of the imperialists and the Adil Shah at the famous field of Bhatavdi, about ten miles east of Ahmadnagar.

The success was mainly due to Malik Ambar’s superior tactics of long and patient manoeuvering for contriving an inescapable trap which caught the Mughal and Bijapuri forces.

Legacy of Malik Ambar

Thus this battle of Bhatavadi forms a landmark in the history of the Maratha. Shahji’s genius shone brilliantly on the occasion in support of Malik Ambar.

He died in 1626 at the age of 80. Malik Ambar had by his Siddi wife, Bibi Karima two sons; Fateh Khan and Changiz Khan and two daughters. Fateh Khan succeeded his father as the regent of the Nizam Shahs.

However, he did not possess his predecessor’s political and military prowess. Through were a series of internal struggles within the nobility which included Fateh Khan assassinating his nephew, Sultan Burhan Nizam Shah III. The sultanate fell to the Mughal Empire within ten years of Ambar’s death.

Leave a Reply