The Brahmani Sultanate was a Persianate Muslim empire of the Deccan in South India. It was the first independent Muslim kingdom of the Deccan and was known for its perpetual wars with their Hindu rivals of Vijayanagar, which would outlast the Sultanate. The Kingdom later split into five successor states that were collectively known as the Deccan sultanates, that would eventually sack the Vijayanagar capital after the Battle of Talikota.
The empire was established by Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah after revolting against the Delhi Sultanate of Muhammad bin Tughlaq. Nazir Uddin Ismail Shah who had revolted against the Delhi Sultanate stepped down on that day in favor of Bahman Shah, a native of Delhi.His revolt was successful, and he established an independent state on the Deccan within the Delhi Sultanate’s southern provinces.
Alauddin was succeeded by his son Mohammed Shah I. Bidar was made capital of the sultanate in 1429.The eldest sons of Humayun Shah, Nizam-Ud-Din Ahmad III and Muhammad Shah III Lashkari ascended the throne successively, while they were young boys. The vizier Mahmud Gawan ruled as regent during this period, until Muhammad Shah reached of age. Mahmud Gawan is known for setting up the Mahmud Gawan Madrasa, a center of religious as well as secular education. Gawan was considered a great statesman, and a poet of repute. However, Gawan was executed by Muhammad Shah III, an act that the latter regretted until his death in 1482.
Muhammad Shah- II was succeeded by his son Mahmood Shah Bahmani II, the last Bahmani ruler to have real power.The last Bahmani Sultans were puppet monarchs under their Barid Shahi Prime Ministers, who were de facto rulers. After 1518 the sultanate broke up into five states: Nizamshahi of Ahmednagar, Qutb Shahi of Golconda (Hyderabad), Barid Shahi of Bidar, Imad Shahi of Berar, Adil Shahi of Bijapur. They are collectively known as the “Deccan Sultanates”.The south Indian Emperor Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire defeated the last remnant of Bahmani Sultanate power after which the Bahmani Sultanate collapsed.
Modern scholars have based their accounts of the Bahmani dynasty mainly upon the medieval chronicles of Firishta, Syed Ali Tabatabai, etc. Other contemporary works were Sivatatva Chintamani and Guru Charitra. Athanasius Nikitin traveled this kingdom. He contrasts the huge “wealth of the nobility with the wretchedness of the peasantry and the frugality of the Hindus”.
Rulers of the dynasty believed that they descended from Bahman, the mythological figure of Greater Iranian legend and lore. The Bahamani Sultans were patrons of the Persian language, culture and literature, and some members of the dynasty became well-versed in that language and composed its literature in that language.
The first sultan, Alauddin Bahman Shah is noted to have captured 1,000 singing and dancing girls from Hindu temples after he battled the northern Carnatic chieftains. The later Bahmanis also enslaved civilian women and children in wars; many of them were converted to Islam in captivity. The craftspersons of Bidar were so famed for their inlay work on copper and silver that it came to be known as Bidri.
The Persianate Indo-Islamic style of architecture developed during this period was later adopted by the Deccan Sultanates as well. The Gulbarga Fort and Jama Masjid in Gulbarga, Bidar Fort and Madrasa Mahmud Gawan in Bidar, are the major architectural contributions. The rulers are buried in an elaborate tomb complex, known as the Bahmani Tombs. The interior of the tombs is decorated with colored tiles. Persian poetry and Quranic verses are inscribed on the tombs.
The Bahmani rulers built beautiful tombs and mosques in Bidar and Gulbarga. They also built many forts at Daulatabad, Golconda and Raichur. The architecture was highly influenced by Persian architecture. They invited architects from Persia, Turkey and Arabia. Some of the magnificent structures built by the Bahmanis were Jami Masjid at Gulbarga, Chand Minar and Mahmud Gawan Madrasa at Bidar. The Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur is a beautiful specimen of Bahmani architecture. It is the tomb or mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah II who ruled the Sultanate of Bijapur. The dome of Gol Gumbaz is circular in shape and is supported by the eight intersecting arcs. The acoustics here are so good that even a whisper echoes.