Regional Kingdoms of Medieval India

Regional Kingdoms of Medieval India- The Delhi Sultanate at its height included the states of Bihar, Bengal, Malwa, Gujarat, the Deccan states of Warangal, the Yadavas of Devagiri, Telangana, the southern state of the Hoysalas of Dwarasamudra, the Pandyas of Madurai, and various Rajputana states such as Jalore, Ranthambore, Ajmer, and Nagore. However, internal instability caused the Delhi Sultanate to begin to fall apart at the time of Firoz Shah Tughlaq’s rule (after the 13th century).

Regional Kingdoms

The Vijayanagara Kingdom, the Bahmani Kingdom, the Sultanate in Gujarat, Bengal, Malwa, and Jaunpur in Varanasi all declared their independence from the Delhi Sultanate and went on to become some of the most influential provincial kingdoms in medieval India.

Regional Kingdoms of Medieval India

Jaunpur Kingdom

Malik Sarwar laid the foundation of the Sharqi dynasty. Jaunpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh on the banks of river Gomati. It was once a thriving province of the Delhi Sultanate in the eastern part. Malik Sarwar, who was a leading noble during Feroz Shah Tughlaq’s rule, was made the Governor of Jaunpur.
In 1394, Sultan Nasiruddin Mohammad Shah Tughlaq appointed him as a minister and gave him the title of Sultanu-Sharq. It meant “the master of the east”. After that, he was identified as Malik Sarwar Sultanus Sharq.
Two incidents, Timur’s invasion and the weakening of the Delhi Sultanate provided an opportunity for Malik Sarwar. He took advantage of a feeble political situation and asserted himself independently.

Mubarak Shah Sharqi, son of Malik Sarwar succeeded his throne. The Sultan minted coins in his name.
During his period, the Delhi sultanate was ruled by Mahmud Shah Tughlaq. Mahmud Shah Tughlaq attempted to annex Jaunpur but was unsuccessful. This led to continuous tensions between the rulers of Jaunpur and the Delhi Sultanate. The Sharqi Sultans made numerous efforts to occupy Delhi, but they failed.
In 1402, Ibrahim Shah Sharqi who was the brother of Mubarak Shah became the Sultan. He continued to rule Jaunpur for thirty-four years. He was a scholar, proficient in Islamic theology and law. He was also good in music and fine arts and patronised architecture on a large scale.

A distinct style of architecture was developed called the Sharqi style. Notably, it had some Hindu influence. At its zenith, the Sharqi Sultanate stretched from Aligarh in western UP to Darbhanga in Bihar and from Nepal to Bundelkhand.
It was in the reign of Hussain Shah Sharqi (1458–1505) that a long-lasting war started with Bahlol Lodhi. In 1484, Jaunpur was under the attack of Bahlol Lodhi. This forced Hussain Shah to abscond.
Finally, under the watch of Sikandar Lodhi, Jaunpur was again captured. With the death of Hussain Shah, the Sharqi dynasty came to an end.

  • Malik Muhammed Jaisi the writer of “Padmavat” was the court, Poet.
  • Jaunpur evolved a distinct architecture that is known as the Sharqi style of architecture. Jaunpur was known as the Shiraz of India. The most notable examples of Sharqi style of architecture in Jaunpur are the Atala Masjid, the Lal Darwaja Masjid, and the Jama Masjid.

Malwa Kingdom

As we reached an era of the medieval period, the Muslims started to explore the land of Madhya Pradesh. Sultan Alauddin Khalji was the first one to reach Malwa and rule it. Then Tughlaqs came to power and ruled the region for some time.

Since 1305, Malwa with the capital Dhar had been under the control of Tughlaqs. In 1401, Dilawar Khan and his son Alp Khan declared themselves independent and marked the beginning of a dynasty.

Gauri Dynasty of Malwa

  • After Tughlaqs, Dilawar Khan Gauri established an independent sultanate at Malwa.
  • In 1392, Dilawar Khan asserted his freedom and founded an independent kingdom known as Malwa Sultanate.
  • He chose Dhar as its capital and later shifted it to Mandu. Mandu was renamed Shadiabad (the city of joy).
  • His son Alp Khan changed his name to Hoshang Shah and founded Hoshangabad.
  • But the Gauris couldn’t rule for long. After poisoning the grandson of Hoshang Shah, Mohammad Khalji came to the throne.
  • The dynasty was replaced by Mehmood Shah I who proclaimed himself king on 16th May 1436.

Khilji Dynasty of Malwa

  • Mahmud Shah founded the Khilji Dynasty in Malwa.
  • Mahmud Shah-I was succeeded by his son Ghiyas-ud-din.
  • The last days of Ghiyas-ud-din were troublesome as he saw the struggle for the throne between his two sons – Nasir-ud-din and Ala-ud-din. Nasir-ud-din emerged victorious and ascended the throne in 1500.
  • Mohammad Shah II was the last ruler of this dynasty. He surrendered to Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat in 1531.
  • During 1531-37, the kingdom was ruled by Bahadur Shah through the Mughal Emperor Humayun. He ruled it for a short period during 1535-36.
  • In 1537, Qadir Shah, an officer of the previous Khalji dynasty, regained control over some parts of Malwa.
  • In 1542, Sher Shah Suri conquered the kingdom defeating him, and appointed Sujaat Khan as his governor.
  • Shujaat Khan’s son Baz Bahadur succeeded him declaring himself independent in 1555.
  • In 1561, Akbar’s army attacked Malwa and defeated Baz Bahadur.

Akbar was the first Mughal emperor to focus on Malwa. Baz Bahadur was defeated by the Mughal army and fled to Chittor. It became a subah of the Mughal empire and Abdullah Khan became its first governor. Under the efficient and firm control of the Mughals Malwa remained peaceful and firm till 1731 when it passed to the Marathas.

Sultanate in Gujarat

The first Sultan to annex Delhi Sultanate was Alauddin Khalji and subsequently, it remained under the Turkish governors of the Sultanate.

Timur invaded in 1407 and made Zafar Khan, who was the then governor, the independent ruler. Later, he took the title of Muzaffar Shah. Zafar Khan was the son of a Rajput who had married his sister to Feroz Shah Tughlaq.

Ahmad Shah (1411–1441), was one of the important rulers of Gujarat. He founded the city of Ahmedabad and made it his capital in 1413. He built beautiful buildings, like Jama Masjid and Teen Darwaza, and beautified the city with gardens, palaces, and bazaars.

Ahmad Shah was influenced by the Jaina architectural traditions of Gujarat. He was a competent administrator and successfully established the regional state of Gujarat. It was under his regime that the Rajput states of Jhalawar, Bundi, and Durgapur were subdued. He is believed to be an orthodox Muslim who imposed jaziya on the Hindus and destroyed several temples. However, the picture was complex as he also appointed Hindus to important administrative positions. Ahmad Shah fought equally fiercely against the Hindu as well as the Muslim rulers. His main enemy was the Muslim rulers of Malwa. There was a bitter rivalry between Gujarat and Malwa. It did not let the regional states focus on large political gains. He was famous for imparting justice.

Mahmud Begarha was among the most important rulers of Gujarat. He was called Mahmud Begarha as he had captured two powerful forts or garh, Girnar (Junagarh) in Saurashtra and the fort of Champaner from the Rajputs in south Gujarat. Both these forts were of strategic importance. The fort of Girnar was in the prosperous Saurashtra region and also provided a base for operations against Sindh. He established a new town called Mustafabad at the foot of the hill which later became the second capital of Gujarat. The fort of Champaner was critical to controlling Malwa and Khandesh. Mahmud built a new town called Muhammadabad near Champaner.

According to another version, he was called Begarha as his moustaches resembled the horns of a cow (begarha). Mahmud is supposed to have had a flowing beard that reached up to his waist. His moustache was supposed to be so long that he tied it over his head. As per the memoirs of a foreign traveler, Duarto Barbosa, Mahmud, right from his childhood, was given some poison in his food which made him so poisonous that if a fly settled on his head, it would meet instant death. Mahmud was also famous for their huge appetite. It is said that for breakfast he ate a cup of honey, a cup of butter, and one hundred to hundred and fifty bananas. In total, he consumed ten to fifteen kilos of food every day. Mahmud Begarha ruled for 52 years. He was a great supporter of art and literature. Numerous works were translated from Arabic to Persian in his court. Udayaraja, who composed poetry in Sanskrit was his court poet.

The Portuguese had settled on the western coast and monopolised the trade there. It inflected massive damage to the Muslim traders. To break the Portuguese trade monopoly, in 1507, Mahmud led an expedition against the Portuguese and sought help from the Sultan of Turkey. However, he could not get much advance and had to give the Portuguese a site for a factory in Diu. After his death in 1511, Akbar conquered and annexed Gujarat in 1572 AD.

Ahoms of Assam

  • The history of Assam is the history of the confluence of the Tibeto-Burman (Sino-Tibetan), Indo-Aryan, and Austroasiatic cultures, as well as the confluence of people from the east, west, and north.
  • The Ahoms were a Mongoloid tribe from north Burma (present-day Myanmar) who had succeeded in establishing a powerful kingdom in the 13th century and had become Hinduised in course of time. In fact, the name Assam is derived from them.
  • They suppressed the old political system of Bhuiyans (landlords)
  • Ahom state was dependent on forced labor called Paiks.
  • Each village had to send a number of Paiks by rotation.
  • Almost all male adults served in the king’s army during the war
  • “Buranjisis” – the historical chronicle of Ahoms.
  • Originally, Ahom worship their own tribal god but by 17th CE, they adopted Hinduism but they did not leave their tribal culture fully.
  • Ahom society was divided into Khel or clan

Gonds Kingdom

  • Gond lived in the vast forestland mentioned as Gondawana.
  • “Akbarnama” mention the Gond kingdom in Garh Katanga.
  • The kingdom was divided into:
    • Garh
    • Chaurasi (unit of 84 villages below Garh)
    • Bahot (divison of Chaurasi in 12 villages)
  • The famous queen Durgawati belongs to this dynasty

Orissa Kingdom

  • The Gajapati dynasty was established by Kapilendra Deva in c.1435 CE, after the fall of the last eastern Ganga king, Bhanudeva IV.
  • “Gajapati” etymologically means a king with an army of elephants.
  • Narsinghdeo of this dynasty constructed Konark Temple.
  • In the middle of the 15th CE, there was the rise of Gajpati rulers who ruled Orissa until the end of the Lodhi period.

Mewar Kingdom

  • Mewar or Udaipur Kingdom was originally called Medhpaat and over time, the name Medhpath became Mewar. Interestingly, the rulers of Mewar used the title “Maharana” (Prime Minister or Custodian) instead of the typical title “Maharaja” (King).
  • Rana Kumbha (1433-1468 AD) was the most famous ruler.
  • Rana Kumbha wrote books like Sangeet Priya, Sudha Prabandh, Rasik Priya, Kam Raja Ratisara, etc.
  • Kumbha erected a Victory Tower (Kirti Stambh) at Chittor a mark of victory in his conquests. He also consolidated the fortification of Chittor and constructed a road running through its seven doors.
  • He was acclaimed as ‘Sangeet Shiromani’ and wrote an outstanding treatise on Indian music titled Sangeet-Raj as well as other works like Sangeet Mimansa, Sangeet Ratnakar, and Sudprabhandh.

Kashmir Kingdom

  • In Rajatarangini (a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the mid-12th century) it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake.
  • Zainul Abedeen was the greatest ruler of Kashmir. He is also known as Bud Shah (the Great Sultan) and as Akbar of Kashmir who was a benevolent, liberal, and enlightened ruler.
  • He contributed to the agricultural development of Kashmir by constructing dams and canals and initiated the maintenance of agricultural records.
  • He also constructed “Zaina Lanka” the artificial island on Wullur Lake.
  • Many Sanskrit works like Rajtarangini, and Mahabharat was translated into Persian under him.
  • In c.1586 CE, Akbar conquered Kashmir and made it a part of the Mughal Empire.


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