Brief Notes on Ala-Ud-Din Hasan Bahman Shah (A.D. 1347-A.D. 1358)

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Bahman Shah was confronted with several hostile elements that were ready to strike at the first opportune moment. There were a large number of people who were anxious for the restoration of the Tughluq regime.

The followers of Ismail were most unhappy over the loss of their authority and wanted to create conditions which would help Ismail regain the control of the empire.

Besides, there were the refractory local Hindu chiefs who were anxious to throw off the rule of the Bahmani sultan and regain their independence. Bahman was, however, made of strong mettle and was not deterred by these difficulties. On the advice of his wise minister, Malik Saifuddin Ghuri, he first tried to bring the whole of Deccan under his rule.

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The Bahmani Kingdom had two powerful Hindu neighbour states which too had emerged after the disintegration of the Tughluq Empire. On its south and south-east was Warangal ruled over by Kapaya Nayak and on its south-west was the great Vijayanagar Empire. For about a century the struggle for the supremacy went on.

The Bahmanis made determined efforts to extend their kingdom up to Madura by annexing these states. But it met stiff resistance from these states which were equally determined to foil its bid.

Bahman Shah led campaign against Warangal in 1350 A.D. Its ruler had to cede the fortress of Kaulas to him. He also promised to pay him an annual tribute. All the subsequent wars between the Bahmanis and the rulers of Warangal revolved around these two stipulations in the treaty. Either it was the effort on the part of Kapaya to regain control of Kaulas or his diffidence to pay the tribute.

Regarding Vijayanagar, it is doubtful if there was any war between them during the time of Bahman Shah. Bahman Shah had a host of able generals who were sent in different directions. Husain Gurshasp wrested Kandhar and Kotgir from the Tughluqs, Qutb-ul-Mulk conquered Maran, Mahendra and Akhalkot while Qir Khan was able to capture the stronghold of Kalyani.

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Another commander, Sikandar Khan, subdued the Hindu zamindars Malkhet after a very stiff resistance. Pocha Reddy of Gulbarga refused to give up his allegiance to the Tughluqs and bravely defended the fort against the vast army of the Bahamanis. It was only after the water supply was cut off and the provisions were exhausted that Pocha Reddy submitted.

The Sultan brought under his way the chiefs of Mudhol and Jamkhandi. He generously treated the rajas and granted those jagirs. In contrast to this, he was merciless when his own nobles revolted. The rebellion of Qir Khan, the hero of Kalyani, and the conspiracy of the former Sultan Ismail to dethrone him, was crushed with a heavy hand and both of them were beheaded immediately.

His ambition to extend the boundaries of his empire led him to send expeditions to the port of Dabul, Kalhar, Kolhapur and Goa and to Mandu (in Malwa) in the north. He was successful in annexing Telingana but suffered defeats at the hands of Katya Vema of Rajamundry and Bhaktiraja of Nellore. Thus Bahman Shah carved out a vast empire extending from “river Bhima to the vicinity of Adoni, and from Chaul to Bidar”.

He died at the age of 67 in 1358. He was a kind monarch who showed generosity to his friends and foes alike. He was tolerant towards other religions and abolished the hated jizya. He was a courageous man with drive and initiative. He was a practical politician who made full use of every opportunity to further his ends.

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He was constantly engaged in wars and, therefore, hardly found any time to make any reforms in the administration. Muhammad Tughluq had divided Deccan into four divisions. Bahman Shah followed the same pattern and appointed a governor for each of them. He conferred titles of malik and khan on most of his officers while the exalted titles of Qutb-ul-Mulk, Khivaja Jahan, etc. were used for powerful nobles. Thus he created an aristocracy on the pattern of the Delhi sultans.

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