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The Adilshahis of Bijapur – A History – Yusuf Adil Shah and Ismail Adil Shah

The story of Yusuf Adil Khan goes back to the days of the Bahmani kingdom and Khaja Mahmud Gawan. . He was born as Yusuf in 1443 and his father was no less a person than Murad, the Sultan of Turkey. Murad died in 1450, and was succeeded by his eldest son Mohamed. Yusuf was then only seven years of age, however his Mohamed planned his assassination to secure the throne. Yusuf’s mother tricks everyone by sending him off with a merchant and replacing him with a boy purchased from a slave dealer. The merchant flees to Persia with Yusuf where he gets him educated along with his children.

At 16, Yusuf travels to Hindustan and arrives at Dabul (near Goa) in 1458 and further moves to Bidar. He was taken into the royal household as one of the Turkish slaves. Yusuf soon gained trust and attached himself to the fortunes of Nizam-ul-Mulk who killed Khajeh Jahan and was treated like a brother. It was there he was given the title of Adil Khan. He was later appointed the command of Daulatabad. When Khaja Gawan was killed by treachery, Yusuf Adil Khan was commanding Belgaum and Bijapur.

He declared his independence in the year 1498 with Bijapur as his capital. As was to be expected, the new King was not allowed to have his independence without having to fight for it.. Bijapur was soon attacked by Kasim Barid of Bidar along with Narasimha of Vijayanagar, however Adil Khan thwarted the attack. The first thing that he did was to build that Ark-killah which subsequently improved and beautified by his successors until it became as Silcock mentions in The Bombay Gazetteer “a perfect treasury of artistic buildings”. The Adilshahi kings, though independent continued to acknowledge the Bahmani Sultans and afforded them assistance whenever called upon.

The actual division of the Deccan into five kingdoms was made in 1498 and Yusuf Adil Shah secured Gulbarga along with Bijapur. Further wars prospered the king and left him firmly established in his kingdom from Gulbarga and Sholapur to Goa. He had to fight the Portuguese for Goa when Vasco De Gama landed in India, otherwise his regime was more or less quiet. In the midst of the continuous fight on the west coast, Yusuf Adil Shah died in the year 1510 of a dropsical complaint and was succeeded by his son Ismail Adil Shah who was just 14 years of age.

Kamil Khan who was the guardian of Ismail, attracted by the sweets of power began to entertain the ambition of usurping the throne and captured Sholapur after confining the young Sultan and the queen mother in the citadel. The queen with the help of Ismail’s foster father gets Kamil Khan killed. The kingdom was thus saved and Ismail who was seventeen then took over the rule. Amir Barid called upon the kings of Ahmednagar, Berar and Golconda to come to his assistance in capturing Bijapur, however that effort was futile as well. Eventually, this enmity among the Mohammedan rulers helped the Vijayanagar empire expand its boundaries. Acknowledging this fact, the rulers tried conducting marital alliances between the families thereby safeguarding each other however altercations continued and each of the rulers eventually tried capturing other kingdoms.

Wars continued between all the Deccan states and during one of them, Ismail Adil Shah died of illness and was buried alongside his father Yusuf Adil Shah.. His son Ali Adil Shah was made the king eventually, which historians consider to be the rise of the Adil Shahi kingdom in the Deccan.

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