Sultanate of Ahmednagar
28 May 1490–1636
Flag of Qutb Shahi
Extent of Ahmadnagar Sultanate.[1]
Extent of Ahmadnagar Sultanate.[1]
CapitalJunnar (1490–1494; 1610)
Ahmednagar (1494–1600)
Daulatabad (1499–1636, secondary capital)
Paranda (1600–1610)
Aurangabad (1610–1636)
Common languagesPersian (official)
Marathi (de facto)
Deccani Urdu (language of the ruling class)
Sunni Islam until 1509,[2] Shia Islam 1509 onwards
• 1490–1510
Ahmad Nizam Shah I (first)
• 1633–1636
Murtaza Nizam Shah III (last)
• Established
28 May 1490
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bahmani Sultanate
Mughal Empire
Today part ofIndia

The Sultanate of Ahmednagar or the Nizam Shahi Sultanate was a late medieval Indian Muslim kingdom located in the northwestern Deccan, between the sultanates of Gujarat and Bijapur, ruled by the Nizam Shahi or Bahri dynasty.[4][5][6] It was established when Malik Ahmed, the Bahmani governor of Junnar after defeating the Bahmani army led by general Jahangir Khan on 28 May 1490 declared independence and established the Nizam Shahi dynasty of the Sultanate of Ahmednagar.[7]

Initially his capital was in the town of Junnar with its fort, later renamed Shivneri. In 1494, the foundation was laid for the new capital Ahmadnagar. Ahmednagar sultanate was dependent on Koli chieftains for military or soldiers. Koli chieftains often provided the cavalry and infantry for Sultans of Ahmednagar during wartimes.[8] In 1636 Aurangzeb, then Mugal viceroy of Deccan, finally annexed the sultanate to the Mughal Empire.



Malik Ahmad Nizam Shah I was the son of Nizam-ul-Mulk Malik Hasan Bahri, originally a Hindu Brahmin from Beejanuggar (or Bijanagar) originally named Timapa.[9] Ahmed's father was made Malik Na'ib on the death of Mahmud Gavan and was appointed Prime Minister by Mahmood Shah Bahmani II. Soon after, he appointed Ahmed governor of Beed and other districts in the vicinity of Dowlutabad. After the death of his father, Ahmed assumed the titles of Nizam ul-Mulk Bahri from his father, the last signifying a falcon as Hasan had been falconer to the Sultan.[10] Malik Ahmad the Bahmani governor of Junnar defended his province against incursions from the Sultan, successfully defeating a much larger army led by Sheikh Mowullid Arab in a night attack, an army of 18,000 led by Azmut ul-Mulk and an army led by bahmani general Jahangir Khan on 28 May 1490 declared independence and established the Nizam Shahi dynasty rule over the sultanate of Ahmednagar.[7] Initially his capital was in the town of Junnar with its fort, later renamed Shivneri. In 1494, the foundation was laid for the new capital Ahmadnagar. After several attempts, he secured the great fortress of Daulatabad in 1499.

Reigns of the successors of Malik Ahmad

Battle of Talikota

After the death of Malik Ahmad in 1510, his son Burhan Nizam Shah I, a boy of seven was, installed in his place. In the initial days of his reign, the control of the kingdom was in the hands of Mukammal Khan, an Ahmadnagar official and his son. Burhan converted to Shi'i Islam under the tutelage of Shah Tahir Husaini.[11] Burhan died in Ahmadnagar in 1553. He left six sons, of whom Hussain Nizam Shah I succeeded him. Aliya Rama Raya emperor of vijayanagara made a series of aggressive efforts to maintain hold over Kalyan[12][b] and diplomatic dealings with the Sultanates laden with insulting gestures, the four Muslim Sultanates – Hussain Nizam Shah I and Ali Adil Shah I of Ahmadnagar and Bijapur to the west, Ali Barid Shah I of Bidar in the center, and Ibrahim Quli Qutb Shah Wali of Golkonda to the east – united in the wake of shrewd marital diplomacy and convened to attack Aliya Rama Raya, in late January 1565 at talikota. Hussain was a leading figurehead of the Deccan Sultanates during the Battle of Talikota.after the battle Rama Raya was beheaded by Sultan Nizam Hussain himself.[13]

Rama Raya's beheading in the Battle of Talikota.
A view of the Farah Bagh built by the Nizam Shahs

After the death of Hussain in 1565, his minor son Murtaza Nizam Shah I ascended the throne. During his minority, his mother Khanzada Humayun Sultana ruled as a regent for several years. Murtaza Shah annexed Berar in 1572. On his death in 1588, his son Miran Hussain ascended the throne. But his reign could last only a little more than ten months as he was poisoned to death. Ismail, a cousin of Miran Hussain was raised to the throne, but the actual power was in the hands of Jamal Khan, the leader of the Deccani/Habshi group in the court. Jamal Khan was killed in the battle of Rohankhed in 1591 and soon Ismail Shah was also captured and confined by his father Burhan, who ascended the throne as Burhan Nizam Shah II. But his sister Chand Bibi fought him. Winning the kingdom, Chand Bibi ascended the throne as regent for the new infant sultan, Bahadur Nizam Shah. She repulsed an invasion by the Mughal Empire with the reinforcements from the Bijapur and Golconda Sultanates. After the death of Chand Bibi in July 1600, Ahmadnagar was conquered by the Mughals and the Sultan was imprisoned.

Malik Ambar and the demise of the sultanate

Murtaza Nizam Shah II with Malik Ambar

Although, Ahmadnagar city and its adjoining areas were occupied by the Mughals, an extensive part of the kingdom still remained in possession of the influential officials of the Nizam Shahi dynasty. Malik Ambar and other Ahmadnagar officials defied the Mughals and declared Murtaza Nizam Shah II as sultan in 1600 at a new capital Paranda. Malik Ambar became prime minister and Vakil-us-Saltanat of Ahmadnagar.[14] Later, the capital was shifted first to Junnar and then to a new city Khadki (later Aurangabad).

After the death of Malik Ambar in May 1626, his son Fath Khan surrendered to the Mughals in 1633 and handed over the young Nizam Shahi ruler Hussain Shah, who was sent as a prisoner to the fort of Gwalior. But soon, Shahaji with the assistance of Bijapur, placed an infant scion of the Nizam Shahi dynasty, Murtaza Nizam Shah III on the throne and he became the regent. In 1636 Aurangzeb, then Mughal viceroy of Deccan finally annexed the sultanate to the Mughal empire after defeating Shahaji.

Revenue system of Malik Ambar

The revenue system introduced by Malik Ambar was based on the revenue system introduced in Northern India and some parts of Gujarat and Khandesh subahs by Raja Todarmal. Lands were classified as good or bad according to their fertility and he took a number of years to ascertain accurately the average yield of lands. He abolished the revenue farming. At first, revenue was fixed as two-fifths of the actual produce in kind, but later the cultivators were allowed to pay in cash equivalent to approximately one-third of the yield. Although an average rent was fixed for each plot of land but actual collections depended on the conditions of crops and they varied from year to year.[14]


Main article: Deccan painting

Under the reigns of successive rulers of the dynasty, architecture and art flourished in the kingdom. The earliest extant school of painting in the Deccan sultanates is from Ahmadnagar.[15] Several palaces, such as the Farah Bakhsh Bagh,[16] the Hasht Bihisht Bagh, Lakkad Mahal were built, as were tombs, mosques and other buildings.[17] Many forts of the Deccan, such as the fort of Junnar (later renamed Shivneri), Paranda, Ausa, Dharur, Lohagad, etc. were greatly improved under their reign. Daulatabad, which was their secondary capital, was also heavily fortified and constructed in their reign.[18] Literature was heavily patronised in the kingdom, as seen through manuscripts such as the Tarif-i Husain Shah Badshah-i Dakan.[19] Sanskrit scholarship was also given a boost under their rule, as demonstrated by the works of Sabaji Pratap[20] and Bhanudatta.[21] The city of Ahmadnagar, founded by the Nizam Shahs, was described as being comparable to Cairo and Baghdad, within a few years of its construction.[22] It was modelled along the great cities of the Persianate world, given the Shi'i leanings of the dynasty.[23]


Main article: Architecture of the Bahmani and Deccan sultanates

A number of palaces such as the Farah Bakhsh Bagh, Ahmadnagar Fort, Hasht Bihisht Bagh, and Manjarsumbah are in and around Ahmadnagar city. There exist tombs of nobles like Salabat Khan and Changiz Khan, and also of saints like Shah Sharif and Bava Bangali.[24]

Murud Janjira Fort

Malik Ambar is credited with the construction of the Janjira Fort in the Murud Area of present-day Maharashtra India.[25] After its construction in 1567 AD, the fort was key to the Sidis withstanding various invasion attempts by the Marathas, Mughals, and Portuguese to capture Janjira.[26]

Faria Bagh the Palace of Nizam Shahi rulers

Farah Bagh (also called as Faria Bagh) is situated in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. It is a palace build by Nizam Shahi rulers in Ahmednagar.[27][28][29] Farah Bagh was the centrepiece of a huge palacial complex completed in 1583. It were the special possessions of the royal household and Murtaza Nizam Shah often retired here to play chess with a Delhi singer whom he called Fateh Shah and also built for him a separate mahal called Lakad Mahal in the garden.

"Tomb of Salabat Khan II"

List of rulers

The treacherous Mughal Viceroy of the Deccan Khan Jahan Lodi was executed in the year 1630, for covertly allying himself with Burhan Nizam Shah III, against the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan.[30]

The following is the list of the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmadnagar:[15]

  1. Ahmad Nizam Shah I (1490–1510)
  2. Burhan Nizam Shah I (1510–1553)
  3. Hussain Nizam Shah I (1553–1565)
  4. Murtaza Nizam Shah I (1565–1588)
  5. Hussain Nizam Shah II (1588–1589)
  6. Ismail Nizam Shah (1589–1591)
  7. Burhan Nizam Shah II (1591–1595)
  8. Bahadur Nizam Shah (1595–1600; under the regency of his great aunt Chand Bibi)
  9. Ahmad Nizam Shah II (1596)
  10. Murtaza Nizam Shah II (1600–1610)
  11. Burhan Nizam Shah III (1610–1631)
  12. Hussain Nizam Shah III (1631–1633)
  13. Murtaza Nizam Shah III (1633–1636)

Family tree


  1. ^ The flag of the Nizam Shahi dynasty of the Ahmadnagar Sultanate,the flag had a Quranic verse engraved: He will also give you another favour that you long for: help from Allah and an imminent victory. So give good news O Prophet to the believers.Quran, chapter 61, verse 13, As-Saff
  2. ^ Kalyana was the capital of the Chalukyas. Rama Raya sought to control the territory in his bid to gain popular legitimacy by establishing himself as the true heir to Chalukya sovereignty and glory. Other examples included retrofitting of decayed Chalukya complexes and bringing back Chalukya festivals.


  1. ^ For a map of their territory see: Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 147, map XIV.4 (d). ISBN 0226742210.
  2. ^ Schimmel, Annemarie (1980). Islam in the Subcontinent. BRILL. p. 55. ISBN 9004061177.
  3. ^ Stan Goron and J.P. Goenka, The coins of the Indian sultanates : covering the area of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (New Delhi : Munshiram Manoharlal, 2001).
  4. ^ Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal:Volume 44. Bishop's College Press. 1875. p. 38.
  5. ^ John Horace Parry (1981). The Age of Reconnaissance. the University of California Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780520042353.
  6. ^ Sohoni, Pushkar (2018). The Architecture of a Deccan Sultanate: Courtly Practice and Royal Authority in Late Medieval India. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9781784537944.
  7. ^ a b Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. p. 118. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  8. ^ Roy, Kaushik (6 October 2015). Military Manpower, Armies and Warfare in South Asia. New Delhi, India, Asia: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-32127-9.
  9. ^ Ferishta, Mahomed Kasim (1829). History of the Rise of the Mahometan Power in India, till the year A.D. 1612 Volume III. Translated by Briggs, John. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. p. 189.
  10. ^ The Glasgow Herald - Google News Archive Search. 28 January 1857. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  11. ^ Sohoni, Pushkar (2014). "Patterns of Faith: Mosque Typologies and sectarian affiliation in the kingdom of Ahmadnagar". In Roxburgh, David J. (ed.). Seeing the Past - Envisioning Islamic Art and Architecture: Essays in Honor of Renata Holod. Brill, Leiden. pp. 110–127. ISBN 9789004264021.
  12. ^ Shobhi, Prithvi Datta Chandra (2 January 2016). "Kalyāṇa is Wrecked: The Remaking of a Medieval Capital in Popular Imagination". South Asian Studies. 32 (1): 90–98. doi:10.1080/02666030.2016.1182327. ISSN 0266-6030. S2CID 219697794.
  13. ^ Subrahmanyam, Sanjay (12 April 2012). "Courtly Insults". Courtly Encounters : Translating Courtliness and Violence in Early Modern Eurasia. Harvard University Press. pp. 34–102. doi:10.4159/harvard.9780674067363.c2. ISBN 978-0-674-06736-3.
  14. ^ a b Majumdar, R.C. (ed.) (2007). The Mughul Empire, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-407-1, pp.415–45
  15. ^ a b Michell, George & Mark Zebrowski. Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates (The New Cambridge History of India Vol. I:7), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1999, ISBN 0-521-56321-6, p.274
  16. ^ Pushkar Sohoni. "Change and Memory in Farah Bagh, Ahmadnagar" in Journal of Deccan Studies, v. 5 no. 2 (Jul–Dec 2007), pp. 59–77.
  17. ^ Pushkar Sohoni. "Architecture of the Nizam Shahs" in Helen Philon (ed.), Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan, 14th – 19th centuries (Mumbai: Marg Publications, 2010).
  18. ^ Sohoni, Pushkar (2015). Aurangabad with Daulatabad, Khuldabad and Ahmadnagar. Mumbai; London: Jaico Publishing House; Deccan Heritage Foundation. ISBN 9788184957020.
  19. ^ Aftabi (1987). Mate, M.S.; Kulkarni, G.T. (eds.). Tarif-i-Husain Shah, Badshah Dakhan. Pune: Bharat Itihas Samshodhan Mandal.
  20. ^ Gode, P.K. (1944). "Sabaji Prataparaja, a protege of Burhan Nizam Shah of Ahmadnagar, and his works between 1500 and 1560". The Indian Historical Quarterly. 20: 96.
  21. ^ Mishra, Bhanudatta (2009). Pollock, Sheldon (ed.). "Bouquet of rasa" & "River of rasa". New York: New York University Press. ISBN 9780814767559.
  22. ^ Astarabadi (Firishtah), Muḥammad Qāsim Hindū Shāh. Briggs, John (ed.). History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India, vol 3. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. p. 201.
  23. ^ Pushkar Sohoni. "Patterns of Faith: Mosque Typologies and Sectarian Affiliation in the Kingdom of Ahmadnagar" in David Roxburgh (ed.), Envisioning Islamic Art and Architecture: Essays in honor of Renata Holod (Leiden: Brill, 2014).
  24. ^ Sohoni, Pushkar (2018). The Architecture of a Deccan Sultanate: Courtly Practice and Royal Authority in Late Medieval India. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN 9780755606795.
  25. ^ Sohoni, Pushkar (2020). The Fort of Janjira. Greensboro, NC; Ahmedabad: University of North Carolina Ethiopian and East African Studies Project; Ahmedabad Sidi Heritage and Educational Center. pp. 167–183. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  26. ^ Kainthla, Anita (August 2011). "The Invincible Fort of Murud Janjira". India Currents. 25 (5): 56–57 – via ProQuest.
  27. ^ "How 16th-century Ahmednagar palace in Maharashtra stayed cool in summer". Hindustan Times. 26 May 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019.
  28. ^ George Michell (1987). The New Cambridge History of India: 1. The Portuguese in India. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521563216. Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  29. ^ Singh, M.; Kumar, S Vinodh (8 May 2019). "Architechtural features and characterization of 16th century Indian Monument Farah Bagh, Ahmed Nagar, India". International Journal of Architectural Heritage. 14 (9): 1398–1411. doi:10.1080/15583058.2019.1610524. S2CID 164648431.
  30. ^ Jayapalan, N. (2001). History of India. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors (P) Limited. p. 167. ISBN 9788171569281. Retrieved 17 May 2015.

Further reading