VIJAYNAGAR AND BAHAMANI KINGDOMS

Introduction 

    • Both these kingdoms arose when the control of the Sultanate over the Deccan became weak during the reign of Muhammad- bin-Tughlaq. Both were founded by officers who had rebelled against the Sultanate.
    • By the 15th and early 16th centuries, the Sultanate in the north had given way to a series of regional kingdoms viz, Gujarat, Malwa, Jaunpur, Delhi itself and Bengal. More-over in the Deccan and peninsular India. the Sultanate incursions had overturned existing regimes, opening the way for new kingdoms to emerge.
    • Shortly after Muhammad bin Tughluq, whose efforts to expand South were more intensive, withdrew from the capital he had established at Daulatabad in the Deccan. the Bahmanid kingdom also dominated by Muslims, was established in 1345.
    • After roughly a century and a half. the Bahmani kingdom, like the Sultanate, gave way to more localised powers across the Deccan, and these kingdoms— Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Berar, Bidar, and Golconda—persisted as Muslim dynasties from the late 15th century well into the Mughal era.
    • Zafar Khan. also known as Bahman Shah became the founder of an important dynasty in 1345, which ruled the Deccan for nearly two centuries. He made Gulbarga his capital instead of Daulatabad.
    • He had to fight various remnants of Muhammad Tughlaqs troops as well as the Hindu rulers of Orissa and Warangal who had also expanded their spheres of influence as soon as Muhammad had left the Deccan.
    • The Rajas of Vijavanagar had established their empire almost at the same time as Bahrnan Shah had founded his sultanate. They now emerged as his most formidable enemies. The reasons were that: (a) they both claimed the Raichur Doab : the fertile land between the Krishna and Tungabhadra, as part of their territory which laid between the two kingdoms; (b) Golconda in the Bahmani kingdom had diamond mines and the kings of Vijayanagara were eager, therefore to conquer Golconda, and the rulers of both these kingdoms were very ambitious and wished to control the peninsula.
    • Zaman Shah, before he took his title was called Hasan Gangu. He was apparently the servant of a Delhi Brahman called Gangu. By chance, while ploughing his patch of land, Hasan unearthed a cache of gold coins whereupon Gangu, in his capacity as an astrologer, predicted a great future for him, he also made him promise not to forget his one-time master.
    • Encouraged by such predictions and by his evi- dent good fortune, has an headed for the land of opportunity tn the Deccan. There he rose rapidly in the service of Muhammad bin Tughlaq and when, at the end of the latter’s reign, both Gujarat and the Deccan defied Delhi’s authority, Hasan emerged from the subsequent confusion as the choice of his fellow commanders to assume the sultanate of his breakaway Deccani kingdom.
    • Enthroned at Daulatabad, and now known as Bahaman Shah, he re- membered his promise to his Brahman patron and duly summoned Gangu to south to become finance minister of the new kingdom. Even though Hasan was of Afghan birth he adopted the name Gangu as one of his titles in honour of the Brahman, and as then used on all public documents and remained engraved on the royal seal of the dynasty until its extinction.
    • Despite their many wars Sultan Muhmnmad Shah and his successors could not expand the sultanate very much: they just about managed to maintain the status quo. Around 1400, the rulers of Vijaynagar, even established an alliance with Bahmani sultan’s northern neighbours — the sultans of Gujarat and Malwa — so as to check his expansionist policy. But in 1425 the Bahmani sultan subjected Warangal and thus reached the east coast. In the 15th century, the capital of the Bahmani sultanate was moved from Gulbarga to Bidar. However, only a few years later the new Suryavamsha dynasty of Orissa challenged the sultanate and contributed to its downfall. Athanasius Nikitin, a Russian traveler who spent four years in the sultanate, from 1470 to 1474 left us a report, which is one of the most important European accounts of life in medieval India.
    • The Bahmani Kingdom reached the height of its glory under Mahmud Gawan in the Bidar period. He served as prime minister and genera] to several sultans from 1461 to 1481.
    • He conquered Goa, which had been captured by the rulers of Vijayanagar. The sultanate then extended from coast to coast. Gawan also introduced remarkable administrative reforms and controlled many districts directly. State finance was thus very much improved. But his competent organisation ended with his execution, ordered by the sultan as the result of a court intrigue. After realising his mistake the sultan drank himself to death within the year. thus marking the beginning of the end of the Bahmani sultanate.
    • After Gawan’s death the various factions at the sultan’s court started a struggle for power that was to end only with the dynasty itself; indigenous Muslim courtiers and generals were ranged against the ‘aliens’ — Arabs, Turks and Persians.
    • The last sultan, Mahmud Shah (1482-1518) no longer had any authority and presided over the dissolution of his realm. The governors of four most important provinces — declared their independence from him one after another.
    • Although the Bahmani sultans lived on in Bidar until 1522, they were mere puppets in the hands of the real rulers of Bidar, the Barid Shahis, who used them to put pressure on the other usurpers of Bahmani rule.
    • Bijapur proved to be the most expansive of the successor states and annexed Berar and Bidar. Ahmadnagar and Golconda retained their independence and finally joined hands with Bijapur in the great struggle against Vijayanagar.
    • Embroiled in incessant fighting on the Deccan, Bijapur lost Goa to Portuguese in 1510 and was unable to regain this port, even though attempts at capturing it were made.
    • The armies of Vijayanagar were a match for the armies of Bijapur. However, when all the Deccan sultanates pooled their resources, Vijayanagar suffered a crucial defeat in 1565. Subsequently the Deccan sultanates succumbed to the Great Mughals: Ahmadnagar, being the northern most, was annexed first; Bijapur and Golconda survived for some time, but were finally vanquished by Aurangzeb in 1686-7.

Vijaynagar and Bahamani Empires declared their independence due to the weakness of central authority under Muhammad bin Tuglaq. 

Vijaynagar Empire:

Political conditions:

The Vijaynagar kingdoms were ruled by Sangam, Suluvu, Tuluva and Aravidu. The kingdom was initially under influence of Kakatiyas of Warangal.

 

The decline of Hoysala kingdom enabled them to grow. The kingdom was in conflict with Bahamani kingdoms for Krishna Tungabhadra doab and Krishna Godavari delta.

The Sangama, Saluvu couldn’t win against the Bahamani kingdom. Then came the Tuluvus.

King Krishna dev raya:

He was the most powerful Tuluvu king. He was an able commander. He was the greatest Tuluvu king. He kept the invading Bahamani army in check. The Bahamani were replaced by the Delhi sultanate.

These were defeated by Vijaynagar army. Krishna dev raya also captured the Raichur doab and Bidar. He captured whole of Telangana and maintained friendly relations with Portuguese.

The king was a great patron of literature and encouraged Telugu work. He also was a Vaishnavaite but respected all religions.

He built and repaired many temples. But after his death the forces of Bidar, Golconda, Bijapur and Ahmednagar combined forces and defeated Vijaynagar. The reason for this was that the king Ramaraya tried to pit one sultan against the other. They also destroyed the great city. After this the Aravidu dynasty continued the Empire for another 100 years. 

Administration: 

  1. The king was the highest authority. Hereditary succession was practised. The king was assisted by a council.
  2. For efficient administration, the Empire was divided into mandalam, nadu, sthala and gram.
  3. The land revenue was source of income along with customs and taxes.
  4. The punishment system was harsh and mutilation or death by throwing to elephants was seen.
  5. Well maintained standing army was kept.
The Empire that Vanished

Society: 

  1. Caste system was prevalent – Brahmins enjoyed privileges.
  2. Splendor of houses and buildings was great.
  3. Silk and cotton clothes were used.
  4. Sati and polygamy was seen. Devdasi system was common. Thus women had an inferior status in society.
  5. Religious freedom was given. Muslims could build mosques and work in the administration.

 Economic conditions: 

  1. The agriculture was the most common profession. Kings undertook reforms like irrigation system for it.
  2. The peculiar feature of Vijayanagar kingdom was Walled cities, multiple layers of walls and Agriculture fields enclosed inside the walls. This was useful during seiges to ensure regular food supply.
  3. The internal and overseas trade was carried out and gold coins were used.
  4. Art of shipbuilding was developed. The trade was with Persia, South Africa, East Asian countries.

Bahamani Kingdom: 

The kingdom extended from Arabian Sea to Bay of Bengal. It extended in west from Bombay to goa and in east from Kakinada to mouth of the river Krishna. The bahamani minister Mahmud Gawain was the reason for the increase in the kingdoms strength. Gawain suggested administrative reforms to improve control of sultan over nobles. The nobles disliked him and convinced the sultan to execute him. After gawans execution, the Empire weakened. The provincial governors declared autonomy. Thus five kingdoms were formed in 1526 viz. Ahmed nagar, Golconda, bidar, bijapur and Berar.

division of bahamani kingdom
    • The Vijaynagar empire collected more land tax than its predecessors, helped by a growing monetisation of the economy and an expansion of agricultural production through investment by chiefs and temples. Its core region was large and productive of cotton and livestock. But, with its low rainfall and dependence on tank irrigation, there were limits to its capacity to increase agricultural output. Moreover, the decentralised political and administrative structure restricted the proportion of revenue that reached the centre. Vijayanagara needed the tribute from the richer lands to the east.

    • There was another source of income. Control of the western seaboard gave Vijayanagara access to the growing Arabian sea trade. sponsored by Islamic power in pepper, textiles, sandalwood and other Indian produce. Customs and commercial dues were collected at ports and in the cities. Vijayanagara itself was noted for its merchant houses and warehouses.

Architecture in Vijaynagar and Bahmani Kingdoms

    • The capital cities of the Bahmanis, Gulbarga and Bidar boasted of many fine buildings. Some of these continued on the older style of architecture. Others like the Jama Masjid of Gulbarga and Madrasa at Bidar were built on the Persian style. Perhaps the best known of these buildings was to be the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur the tomb of one of the Bijapur kings. Its dome is said to be one of the largest in the world.

    • Inside their forts, the kings of the Deccan built magnificent buildings. The forts at Daulatabad and Golconda are examples of this. The new city Vijayanagar, now in ruins, built by its rulers is represented by the well known site of Hampi. What we know about it is from the accounts of foreign travellers, Marlo Polo and Abdur Razzaq.

    • New elements were introduced in the temple architecture. In addition to the main shrine, a smaller temple was built in the north-west called Amma Shrine where the lord or main deity‘s consort resided.

    • This practice, which began in the late Chola period now became the rule. The other building was known Kalyanmandap. This was an open pillared-pavilion with a raised platform where the main deity and his consort were shown on important ceremonial ocea- sions. To this was added the with or the temple car, a chariot usually made of stone. A massive wall was built around the shrine as a safeguard against intruders.

    • The important features of Vijayanagara style of temple architecture are monolithic pillars, ornate bracelets and decoration on the exterior side of the walls. Besides paintings. the outer walls were decorated with images or figures made out of stone.

  • Interesting scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and other sacred works were portrayed on the walls. They renovated and rebuilt some of the Chalukyan temples and even constructed the temples of Vitthala and Pattabhirama.