Mahmud Gawan of Bahmani

The Bahmani kingdom reached its peak under the guidance of Mahmud Gawan. He was a Persian merchant. He came to India at the age of forty two and joined the services of Bahmani kingdom. Slowly he became the chief minister due to his personal qualities. He remained loyal to the kingdom. He lived a simple life and was magnanimous. He was also a learned person. He possessed a great knowledge of mathematics. He made endowments to build a college at Bidar which was built in the Persian style of architecture. He was also a military genius. He waged successful wars against Vijayanagar, Orissa and the sea pirates on the Arabian sea. His conquests include Konkan, Goa and Krishna-Godavari delta. Thus he expanded the Bahmani Empire through his conquests.

His administrative reforms were also important. They were aimed to increase the control of Sultan over the nobles and provinces. Royal officers were appointed in each province for this purpose. Most of the forts were under the control of these officers. Allowances were reduced to the nobles who shirked their responsibility. This was disliked by the nobles. So, the Deccani nobles organised a plot against Gawan. They induced the Sultan to punish him with death sentence. After the execution of Gawan, the Bahmani kingdom began to decline. Muhammad Shah was succeeded by weak Sultans. During this period the provincial governors declared their independence. By the year 1526, the Bahmani kingdom had disintegrated into five independent sultanates. They were Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Berar, Golkonda and Bidar and known as Deccan Sultanates.

Taj-ud-Din Firuz Shah: Bahmani Sultanate

Taj-ud-Din Firuz Shah was the ruler of the Bahmani Sultanate from 1397 to 1422. He fought against the Vijayanagara Empire on many occasions and the rivalry between the two dynasties continued unabated throughout his reign, with victories in 1398 and 1406, but a defeat in 1419. One of his victories resulted in his marriage to Deva Raya's daughter.

At the beginning of his reign, Harihara II of the Vijayanagar Empire had advanced as far as the Raichur Doab and posed a threat to the Bahmanis. This threat was thwarted by a calculated and incisive attack by Firuz, which forced Harihara to retreat to his capital after his son was killed. Firuz led a successful expedition against Narsingh Rai of Kherla who had to surrender forty elephants and his daughter to Firuz. In 1420, an attack on Pangal, which had been taken by Vijayanagar, proved disastrous. Firuz was trounced by Vijayanagar and Firuz retreated, surrendering the southern and eastern districts of his kingdom. This defeat had a deep impact on his morale and he was henceforth a broken man. He spend his final two years in asceticism and piety.

He abdicated the throne to his younger brother Ahmad, "considered a saint by both the Muslims and Hindus." Firuz was determined to make the Deccan region the cultural centre of India. He inducted a large number of Hindus into his administration. Firuz Shah paid much attention to the ports Chaul and Dhabol, which attracted trade ships from the Persian Gulf and Red Sea. Firoz Shah was one of the most learned of Indian sovereigns. He was a good calligrapher and poet (poetic name Uruji or Firozi). Among other public works he under took the construction of an Observatory on the chain of hills near Daulatabad called Balaghat which could not be completed due to his death.

‘Hazrat Khwaja Syed Muhammad Gesu Draz’ was a Sufi (saint) and was deeply related with the Bahmani kings and the people of Gulbarga. He was the s/o Syed Yusuf who came to Daulatabad in the reign of Muhammad Tughlaq. Hazrat was born on Jan 30, 1331 and started living near ‘Gulbarga Jama Masjid’. He died on Nov 1, 1422 AD at the age of 105 years.

Firoz Shah paid tribute to him. He gave him many villages for his maintenance. He knows and can carry translation in Persian, Arabic, Turkish, Telugu, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali and many other languages. He tamed prince Bukka and Harihara of Vijayanagar and Narasingha of Kherla in battle.

Firoz's army tried to kill Ahmad Khan (brother of Firoz) but defeated in battle fought cleverly by Ahmad. Gates of the city was opened for Ahmad and he was taken to dying king Firoz. Firoz died on Sep 28, 1422.

Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah founder of the Bahmani sultanate

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Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah ( 1347 - 1358), whose original name was Zafar Khan, was the founder of the Bahmani sultanate. Acccording to a popular legend narrated by Ferishta, he had an original name of Hasan Gangu and worked for a Brahmin master called Gangu, but this is not corroborated by historians. 

Ancestry and early life: Zafar Khan was either Turkic or Afghan noble in the employ of Muhammad bin Tughluq. His descent is unknown. However there is a popular legend regarding him narrated by the 17th century poet Ferishta, which says that he was a servant of a Brahmin astrologer named Gangu (Gangadhar Shastri Wabale) of Delhi and he was himself called Hasan Gangu. Historians have not found any corroboration for the legend.


Zafar Khan began his career as a general serving under the Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq. He was made a governor. In 1347 he was made commander of an army in Daulatabad. On 3rd August 1347 Nasir-ud-Din Ismail Shah (Ismail Mukh, whom the rebel amirs of the Deccan placed on the throne of Daulatabad in 1345) abdicated in his favour and he set up the Bahmani Kingdom with its headquarters at Ahsanabad (Gulbarga).

His reign: On establishing an independent kingdom Zafar Khan took the title of Abu'l-Muzaffar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah. He gave Ismail Mukh a jagir near Jamkhandi and later conferred to him the highest title of his kingdom, Amir-ul-Umara. But Narayana, a local Hindu chieftain still succeeded in turning Ismail against Bahman Shah for a short period before he poisoned Ismail.

Bahman Shah led his first campaign against Warangal in 1350 and forced its ruler Kapaya Nayaka to cede to him the fortress of Kaulas. His kingdom was divided into four provinces and he appointed a governor for each province. During his reign Hasan fought many wars with Vijayanagar. By the time of his death the kingdom stretched from north to south from the Wainganga River to Krishna and east to west from Bhongir to Daulatabad.

Successor: He was succeeded by his son Muhammad Shah I after his death in 1358.