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The Adilshashis of Bijapur – Ali Adil Shah and the Fall of Vijayanagar

During the time of the Bahmani kings, although there were numerous wars, the boundary of the Tungabhadra or the Krishna was rarely overstepped by either side. The fighting was almost entirely confined to the country lying between these two rivers, known as the Doab. With the ruin of the Bahmani dynasty and the constant quarrels of the Mohammedan kings, who established themselves in its place, the importance of Vijayanagar rapidly increased. The Doab virtually became Vijayanagar territory, and though the forts of Raichur and Mudgal were frequently retaken by the Bijapur kings, they were not held for long. In course of time Rama Raya assumed the aggressive, and we find him being called in first on one side, and then on the other, and occasionally being subsidized by both. This time however, during the mid of 1500s, the time had come for the final blow which was to crush Vijayanagar forever, and we will narrate the incidents from the perspective of Ali Adil Shah.

When Ibrahim Adil Shah died in 1557, Hussain Nizam Shah was ruling in Ahmednagar. He at once took advantage of the situation and planned an accession to invade the Bijapur territory, which he planned in conjunction with Qutub Shah of Golconda. Ali Adil Shah, who had succeeded his father Ibrahim, at once resolved to revenge the unprovoked attack. Nizam Shah made overtures to Imad Shah of Berar, and strengthened the alliance by giving his daughter in marriage. Adil Shah took the opportunity when Rama Raya lost his son. He went all the way to Vijayanagar to offer his condolence.

Ferishtah states that he was well received in Vijayanagar and Rama Raya’s wife adopted Adil Shah as her son, in order to cement the friendship between the Kings. But this visit instead of strengthening the friendship was in reality, the reason for its dissolution. Rama Raya an old man of 90 years, displayed a considerable amount of arrogance, and made Adil Shah feel that he was a suppliant. Ferishtah made detailed notes of the events where Rama Raya made statements hurting Adil Shah’s religious sentiments and he resolved to avenge it when the opportunity should come.

Eventually, Rama Raya helped Adil Shah, and Qutub Shah fearful of Rama Raya had no option but to join forces. This combination was too strong for Nizam Shah to withstand. The whole of his territory was ravaged. Moreover, it is said that the Vijayanagar soldiers committed all kinds of excesses like desecrating mosques and deflowering young Mohammedan woman. Rama Raya as arrogant he was, never allowed the Mohammedan kings to be seated in his presence, and he made them walk in his convoy unless he permitted them to mount. At the close of this war, he compelled both Qutub Shah and Adil Shah to forego their territories as a price for his assistance.

The termination of the war left Adil Shah with disgust. He had gained nothing for himself, rather he had to concede his territories to Rama Raya along with getting dishonored in the eyes of his co-religionists. Realizing the growing power of Rama Raya in the face of the suicidal quarrels of the Mohammedan Kings, he conceived the idea of a league of Mohammedan Kings to crush the rival. The masterstroke was Qutub Shah mediating a marital alliance between Adil Shah and Chand Bibi, the daughter of Nizam Shah with Sholapur in dowry. In return, Adil Shah was to give his daughter to Nizam Shah’s son. This double marriage ensured the bond between three of the strongest kingdoms. This holy league thus formed, was joined by Barid Shah of Bidar making it almost impregnable. The Sultan of Berar does not seem to have been invited, and took no part in it.

And thus happened the greatest war in medieval India, the battle of Talikota. Not going into the details of the war, with the firm determination of Nizam Shah who held the center and treachery, Rama Raya was captured and his head cut off. The soldiers at the sight of their slain King fled and were pursued by the allies with such successful slaughter that the river which ran near the field of the battle was dyed red with their blood. The plunder was so great that every private man in the allied forces became a millionaire. In his share of plunder, Adil Shah got a diamond, as large as an ordinary egg and another of extraordinary size, though smaller, together with other jewels of inestimable value.

It was not long after the fall of Vijayanagar that dissensions again broke out between the Mohammedan kings of the Deccan. Nizam Shah died and the regency was conducted by Khunza Sultana on behalf of the heir Murtaza. Adil Shah taking advantage of the infant led an army against Vijayanagar again in the hope of annexing more territory. Vijayanagar appealed Ahmednagar for help and the Bijapur troops were compelled to retire. For the next three years continual fighting took place between Ahmednagar and Bijapur until 1569, Kishawar Khan the Bijapur general attacked Ahmednagar.

In the year 1578, Adil Shah sent this troops against the Marathas who were assassinated by treachery in the garb of friendship. This act of cruelty must have long lived in the memory of the Marathas and was possibly a principal factor in exciting a race-hatred which bound them together. In the year 1580, Ali Adil Shah died, assassinated by one of his servants in a brawl, and was succeeded by his nephew, Ibrahim, then in his ninth year.

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