The Bahmani kingdom came into existence in 1347AD. Alauddin Hasan, an Afghan, founded the Sultanate after revolted against the Bin Tuglaq, sultan of Delhi. He ruled it under the title of Bahaman Shah. He was also known as Hasan Gangu, as he had risen in the servise of a Brahmin, named Gangu. He is believed to have traced his descent from a half mythical hero of Iran, Bahman Shah. But Persian writer Ferishta writes that the word Bahman Shah was meant to be a tribute to his Brahman patron. In any case, it is from this title that the kingdom was called the Bahman Shahis.
They clashed with Vijaynagar empire for a very long time. The areas of disputes were in the Tunbhadra doab, in the Krishna-Godavari delta and in the Marathawada country.
Alauddin Bahman Shah was a powerful ruler. He was an empire builder and through incessant warfare extended his domain from Daulatabad in the west to Bhongir in the east. He was a good and efficient administrator and divided his kingdom into four provinces namely Gulbarg, Daulatabad, Berar and Bidar. Each of these provinces was placed under a governor who maintained an army and made appointments in all civil and military posts under him.
Alauddin Bahman Shah (Hasan) died in 1358 but before his death he established peace and prosperity in his kingdom.
Muhammad Shah I: The successor of Bahman Shah (Hasan), Muhammad Shah I ruled from 1358 to 1375 A.D. There was constant clashes between the Bahmani Sultanate and the Vijayanagar Empire. Muhammad Shah I systematize his government properly and thoroughly but had to fight with the long rivals kingdom of Vijayanagar and Warangal throughout his reign. He defeated the rulers of these kingdoms and made them to pay huge war indemnity.
Mujahid Shah: Mujahid Shah succeded the throne after his father’s death and waged wars with Vijayanagar Kingdom. In spite of besieging the country he failed to retain it and hence a peace was concluded between him and the king of Vijayanagar Empire.
Muhammad Shah II was the passionate lover of peace and learning. His reign was a peaceful one and as such he could constructed mosques, free schools for orphans and also invited the scholars from all parts of the Asia. But the intrigues of his two sons Ghiyas-ud-din and Shams-ud-din Daud had antagonized his last days and thus he died in 1397 A.D. , but none of his sons could rule successfully for any length of time and eventually the throne was seized by Firoz, a grandson of Alauddin Bahman Shah who assumed the title “Taj ud-din Firuz Shah”.
Taj ud-din Firuz Shah was a valiant ruler and inflicted humiliating defeat on the armies of Vijayanagar kingdom twice and compelled the king to pay tribute to him. However, towards the end of his reign he was terribly defeated by the Vijayanagar king’s army at Pangul and lost much of his territory. He was a great builder and constructed his capital Gulbarg in a beautiful manner..
Ahmed Shah succeded Firuz Shah and transferred his capital from Gulbarg to Bidar in about 1425 A.D. The new capital-city, Bidar, was at a much higher level (about 3,000 feet) than Gulbarga. It had a better climate in the rainy season and much closer to Warangal. He also carried a horrible war against Vijayanagar Kingdom to avenge the losses sustained by the Bahmanis. Vijayanagar was besiezed by Bahmani troops and finally the King of Vijaynagar had to conclude peace by paying a huge war indemnity. He also annexed Warangal, Malwa and made an unsuccessful attempt to annex Gujarat, however he took control of Konkan. He was not a learned man but he encouraged education and learning. He patronized the great poet Shaikh Azari. Another celebrated poet was Maulana Sharfuddin Mazandarani. During his reign, there was a endless conflict between the Deccan nobles with their allies on one side and the foreign nobles composed of the Turks, the Arabs, the Persians and the Mughals on the other.
The most famous personality of Bidar period of the Bahmani sultanate was Mahmud Gawan, who served under several sultans as prime minister and general from 1461 to 1481. The kingdom reached its climax under the leadership of Mahmud Gawan. He remained loyal to the Bahaman kingdom. He was also a learned man and possessed a great knowledge of mathematics. He made grants to construct a college at Bidar which has influence of Persian style of architecture. He was a successful military commander and waged many successful wars against Vijayanagar, Orissa and the sea pirates in the Arabian sea. He successfully conquered Konkan, Goa and Krishna-Godavari delta. Thus he extended the Bahmani Sultanate in the whole of south India.
He was a great administrator who brought about many reforms in every department of the Sultanate. He devided the kingdom into eight provinces or tarrafs. Each tarraf was goveroned by a tarrafdar. The salary could be paid in cash or assigning a jagir. Those who were paid by means of jagir were allowed expences for the collection of land revenues. He also laid many internal reforms to increase the control of Sultan over the nobles and provinces and royal officers were appointed in every province for this purpose. Most of the forts were under the command of these officers. Allowances were reduced to the nobles who skiped their responsibility. This step was disliked by the nobles and they organised a plot against Gawan. They convinced the Sultan to punish him with death penalty. After the execution of Gawan, the Bahmani kingdom began to fall. A series of weak rulers succeded the throne and during this period the governors of the four most important provinces declared their independence from him one after another: Bijapur (1489), Ahmadnagar and Berar (1491), Bidar (1492) and Golconda (1512). Though the Bahmani sultans ruled from Bidar until 1527, but they were mere puppets in the hands of the real rulers of Bidar, the Barid Shahis, who used them so as to put pressure on the other usurpers of Bahmani rule.
Bijapur was the most powerful kingdom among the Deccani Sultanates. Soon it annexed Bidar. The greatest period of Adil Shahi dynasty was during the reign of Ibrāhīm ʿĀdil Shah II (1579–1626), who expanded the frontier as far south as Mysore. He was an efficient administrator and generous patron of the arts. He returned to the Sunni form of Islam but remained tolerant of other religions, including Christianity. The increasing weakness of the dynasty paved way for Mughal encroachment and the successful revolt of the Maratha king Shivaji, who killed the Bijapur general Afzal Khan. The dynasty contributed to a great length to tradition of culture and artistic patronage whose architectural remains are to be seen in the capital city of Bijapur. Ahmadnagar and Golconda maintained their independence and finally came into alliance with Bijapur in the great struggle against Vijayanagar. Ahmadnagar also conquered Berar before losing it to Mughals. Embroiled in constant wars on the Deccan, Bijapur lost Goa to the Portuguese in 1510 and was unable to conquere this port again. However, after all the Deccan sultanates joined their hands to destroy Vijayanagar empire in 1565, but they could not retain much powerfull after the horrible battle. Subsequently the Deccan sultanates succumbed to the Great Mughals: Ahmadnagar, being the northernmost, was annexed first; Bijapur and Golconda survived for some time, but were finally vanquished by Aurangzeb in 1686–87 by Aurengzeb.
The Bahmanis were passionate of art and architecture and patronized many styles from around the world. Hasan Gangu constructed many building such as Jama Masjid and Bala Hisar. The greates military commander and administrater of the Bahmanis, Gawan, built the well-known Madarasa in 1472, which has three storeys, a lecture hall, a library, a mosque, and residential houses. They built a few forts on strategic locations in the Sultanate such as Gulbarga fort, Daulatabad fort, Parendah fort, Raichur fort etc. They were also influenced by the style of the Delhi Sultanate in the field of art and craft. The Bahmani rulers kindly patronized art, science, learning during their rule. The Bahmani court was the centre of poets, scholars and artists from various parts of the world. Art critics and historians of architecture observed the influence of the military architecture of Europe and civil architecture of Persia.
The Persian architects’ hand and skill is very perceptible in the Jamil Masjid of Gulbarga. The Chand Minar of Daultabad and the Madarsa at Bidar also reflect Persian style of architecture. The capital cities of Gulbarga and Bidar were the centres of the civil architecture of the Bahmanis.
The royal tombs of Gulbarga fall into two patterns, Single tombs and Double tombs. Single tombs comprised of simple square chambers, crowned with battlements and comer turrets and roofed by a single dome. The whole standing is on a low square plinth while the double tombs are merely duplicate of the single ones. The Bahmani architecture has its own anomalies like square arches of its cloisters.
During the period, there were many Sufi orders prevailed such as Sufis of the Chisti, Qadiri and Shattari orders. Ali Adil Shah loved to hold discussions with Hindu and Muslim saints and was called a Sufi. Bidar was one of the most important centres of the Qadiri order. Sheikh Sirajuddin Junaidi was the first Sufi who received the royal honour. The famous Chisti saint of Delhi, Syed Muhammad Gesu Daraz migrated to Gulbarga in AD 1402-03 and Sultan Firuz granted a number of villages for the maintenance of Khanquah of Gesu Daraz. Khaja Gaisu Daraz was a murid (disciple) of the noted Sufi saint of Delhi, Hazrat Nasiruddin Chiragh Dehlavi. After the death of Chiragh Dehlavi, Gaisu Daraz took the resposibility of the successor (khalifa). He then moved to Daulatabad in 1398 AD, due to the attack of Timur on Delhi. He spread the Chishti Order to South India. At the request of Bahamani Sultan, Firuz Shah, he finally settled down in Gulbarga. Gaisu Daraz was born to Syed Muhammad Hussaini in Delhi in 1321. At the age of four, his family shifted to Daulatabad in Deccan.
He travelled various places such as Delhi, Mewath, Gwalior, Chander, Aircha, Chatra, Chanderi, Miandhar, Baroda, Khambayat and Gulbarga. He took his last breath in Gulbarga in the year November 1422. He was one of the greatest sufi saint of India and the fame earned him the title “Gaisu Daraz”. People also called him Khwaja Banda Nawaz Gaisu Daraaz. Khaja Sahib had a kind hearted nature of taking care and comfort of the people. He used to distribute whatever was presented to him to needy and poor persons immediately and for this reason his teacher Nasir Uddin Chirag Dehlavi awarded him the title’ Gesu Daraz’.
When Sultan Muhammad-bin Tughlaq transferred his capital from Delhi to Daulatabad (Devgiri), many scholars, theologians, and mystics went along with the masses. This led to spread of Sufism in south India.