Adil Shahi dynasty and Bijapur, the ‘City of Victory’

History Contributor
Gol Gumbaz, India
Photo Courtesy: Holidify

The city of Bijapur or Vijayapura, which translates to “City of Victory” in northern Karnataka, India, has a rich history of Islamic architecture and Adil Shahi dynasty (1489-1686). Its reign ended in seventeenth century with Sikander Adil Shah, the last Adil Shahi Sultan (he ruled for fourteen years) when Indian emperor Aurangzeb captured the city in 1686 and Bijapur Sultanate was taken over by the Mughal empire.

Origination of Adil Shahi Dynasty

Yusuf Adil Shah (1490–1510) was the founder of Adil Shahi Dynasty and accredited to be the founder of the independent state of Bijapur. He is also referred to as Adil Khan or Hidalcão by the Portuguese. It is said he was Persian by descent and a son of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II. However, some historians believe he was bought by Mahmud Gawan, a prime minister in the Bahamani Sultanate of Deccan.

He rose to the position of Governor of Bijapur owing to his bravery which won his accolades from the Bahamani Sultanate (Persianate Muslim Empire of the Deccan in South India). In 1489, he overpowered the Bahamani Sultanate with the coalition of Bijapur with the other three Muslim Deccan States of Golconda, Bidar and Ahmednagar and established himself as the Sultan of Bijapur. The title “Adil Khan was adopted by Yusuf and his son, Ismail – ‘Khan’, means chief or ruler. He married Punji (rechristened as Bubuji Khanum), the sister of a Maratha warrior. Yusuf Adil Shah was succeeded by his son Ismail Adil shah.

Yusuf’s tomb, though in shambles, is located in Gogi, near the shrine of Hazrat Chanda Hussaini, his spiritual leader. Gogi, a small village lies in the Shahapur taluk of Yadgir district in Karnataka.

Contributions of Adil Shahi Rulers

The Adil Shahi Sultans significantly contributed to architecture, painting, literature, language, music and fine arts of Bijapur. Under their rule, spanning for nearly two centuries, it gained fame as a cosmopolitan city and invited artists, architects, scholars, musicians and saints from Turkey, Persia and Iraq. The tradition of refined culture, literature and taste greatly flourished during their reign and each ruler strove to surpass his predecessor in leaving an awe-inspiring legacy.

The chronology of Adil Shahi Rulers is briefly recorded as follows;

Yusuf Adil Shah (1490–1510)

Ismail Adil Shah (1510–1534)

Mallu Adil Shah (1534–1535)

Ibrahim Adil Shah I (1535–1558)

Ali Adil Shah I (1558–1580)

Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580–1627)

Mohammed Adil Shah (1627–1656)

Ali Adil Shah II (1656–1672)

Sikandar Adil Shah (1672–1686)

Gol Gumbaz and other Architectural Wonders by Adil Shahi Sultans

Designed by Yaqut of Dabul, Gol Gumbaz exemplifies the classic Indo-Islamic architecture and was built by the seventh ruler of the Adil Shahi dynasty, Mohammed Adil Shah in 1626. However, it took thirty years for the completion of the monument, known as the greatest building of the Adil Shahi architecture, with one of the biggest dome in the world.

The other well-known constructions by Adil shah rulers include Arkilla fort or Bijapur Fort and Faroukh Mahal built by Yusuf Adil Shah who commissioned architects from Persia, Turkey and Rome for the construction. Ibrahim Roza, the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his queen. Bara Kaman, initially planned to have twelve arches, is an unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II. It is said Adil Shahis are credited with construction of over 50 mosques, 20 tombs and 20 palaces and therefore Bijapur is often called as Agra of South India.


(Written by: Shazman Shariff, freelance writer based in Bangalore, available at [email protected].)

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