Like other kingdoms of Deccan, this state also rose after the disintegration of the Bahmani Empire. Berar then included the present districts of Akola, Buldhana, Amravati, Yavatmal, most of Parbhani district and parts of Nanded and Aurngabad districts.
Its founder Fathullah Imadul-Mulk was a slave of the Bahmani king Ahmad Shah who had captured him in one of his invasions of Bijapur. He rose to the high position of sarlashkar of Berar under the patronage of Khwaja Mahmud Gawan.
He was appointed ivazir and mir jumla in the reign of Sultan Mahmud Shah Bahmani. But he was soon disillusioned with the state of affairs at the Bahmani capital and returned to his own province of Gawilgarh where he declared himself autonomous in 1486 though he continued to profess loyalty to the Sultan.
However, he followed a policy of complete neutrality and did not align himself with any of the groups and kept friendly relations with his neighbours.