The Bahmani kingdom was divided into four divisions or provinces during the time of the founder of the dynasty-Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah. His son Muhammad called these provinces as tarafs each under a tarafdar. These provincial governors enjoyed vast powers, “collected the revenue, raised and commanded the army and made all appointments both civil and military in their provinces.”

They were, however, held in check as long as a strong king ruled at the centre. Under weak rulers, they tried to defy the authority of the sultan. Mahmud Gawan was fully conscious of the problem and introduced reforms to curb their authority.

He raised the number of the provinces or tarafs to eight and the governors were allowed to keep control of only one fort, the rest of the fortresses in a province under qiladars were directly responsible to the Sultan.

These tarafdars could be transferred and the Sultan also visited each province at least once a year. Some of these tarafdars were also sometimes ministers at the court. Gawan, for example, a vakil-us-sultanat to Humayun Shah (1458-1461) was tarafdar of Bijapur at the same time. He retained this charge even as amir- i-jumla and vazir-i-kul.


khawaja jahan, vakil to Nizam Shah Bahmani (1461-63), was the tarafdar of Telingana. Every taraf was divided into several sarkars or districts which were further subdivided into parganas or tahsils. A paragana consisted of a number of villages.