Bahmanī Sulṭāns

Based on and updating ‘The Coins of the Indian Sultanates by Stan Goron and JP Goenka

Many text sections are copied from that book and many photos and most of the Arabic scripts were provided by Stan Goron


Mints: Aḥsanābād (Gulbarga), Fatḥābād, Goa, Muḥammadābād


Brief History


It was in AD 1294 (AH 695) that ‘Alā’ al-dīn Muḥammad, sulṭān of Dehlī, first made incursions into the Deccan, which he followed up towards the end of his reign by capturing the fortress of Deogīr, where he struck coins in AH 714 and 715. This initial occupation did not prove to be secure and subsequent rulers had to send in the army to regain control. It was not until the reign of Muḥammad bin Tughluq that control of the Deccan by the Dehlī sulṭāns was firmly established, but even then only for a limited number of years. Muḥammad moved his capital to Deogīr, which he renamed Daulatābād. It is not clear whether Daulatābād became the only capital, replacing Dehlī, for some years, or whether it was established as his southern capital in addition to Dehlī.

It was not long before rebellions started to occur in the more distant provinces of the Dehlī sulṭānate. In AH 735 (AD 1333-34), Syed Ahsan, governor of Ma‘bar in the far south, declared his independence, calling himself Ahsan Shāh. In the Deccan, Shihāb-i-Sulṭānī Nuṣrat Khān, governor of Bīdar, proclaimed himself king in AH 737 (AD 1336-37) but was defeated by the imperial army and sent to Dehlī. Three years later, in AH 740 (AD 1339-40), ‘Alī Shāh Natthu, who had been sent to Gulbarga to collect taxes, instead proclaimed himself king at Dhārūr with the title ‘Alā’ al-dīn ‘Alī Shāh. Again this rebellion was not long lived, but long enough apparently for some copper coins to be struck in ‘Ali’s name. These revolts caused Muḥammad bin Tughluq to distrust the old amīrs (nobles) and he started to replace them with new ones. Some of the old nobles were executed and this led others to fear for their safety. In AH 746, a group of nobles rebelled and captured Daulatābād. They the elected one of their own number, Ismā’īl Mukh, as the first independent sulṭān of the Deccan. This latter adopted the title Abu al-Fatḥ Nāṣir al-dīn ismā’īl Shāh. Billon coins were struck in his name. One of his confederates, Ḥasan Gangu, was given the title Ẕafar Khān. This noble was to play an important role in the near future.

Muḥammad bin Tughluq was not prepared to accept the defeat in the Deccan as a fait-accompli. He sent his army against Isma’il’s forces and managed to gain a victory, retaking Daulatābād in the process. Ismā’īl and his general retreated to safe havens. Muḥammad had to depart for Gujarāt because of a serious insurrection there, leaving others to prosecute his campaign in the Deccan. Ismā’īl was unable to move, but Ẕafar Khān bided his time and soon took on the imperial army and defeated it. This left the ground clear and he was elected king by the army and the people. It was the end Tughluqid rule in the Deccan

The new king took the title ‘Alā al-dīn Bahman Shāh, tracing his lineage back to Persia. His first tasks were to establish his administration and consolidate his position. He succeeded in winning over or vanquishing any hostile factions and also in extending the borders of the new sulṭānate. He moved his capital from Daulatābād to the more southerly city of Gulbarga, which was renamed Aḥsanābād. He established the pattern of Bahmanid coinage, with issues in gold silver and copper. However, the kingdom did not reach its full stature until the reign of his son, Muḥammad I (AD 1359-75). He improved the government administration, reorganised the army and started to embellish the capital with fine buildings. During the future course of the Bahmanid kingdom there would be frequent quarrels with the neighbouring states of Vijayanagar and Tilangāna. Such quarrels occurred during the reign of Muḥammad I, with hard battles being fought and won against both adversaries. He also had to deal with a rebellion on his home territory in the form of the governor of Daulatābād, Bahram Khān Mazendrānī. The last years of the sultan’s reign were spent in peace, with Vijayanagar continuing to pay annual tribute, and he himself making annual tours of the various provinces. Muḥammad I had inherited a small, rather all-organised kingdom; by the time of his death, he had built up a strong state, secure both internally and externally, with a good central and provincial administration. The next twenty years however, were to be a period of flux.

Muḥammad I was succeeded by his son, Mujāhid (AD 1375-78), a well-educated man of considerable size and strength. Most of his reign was taken up with a war of nerves with Vijayanagar. Before he could achieve anything of note, he was murdered in his tent while returning from a campaign. One of the conspirators, Dā’ūd Khān, a cousin of the murdered sulṭān, was proclaimed king as Dā’ūd Shāh I. He was not able to enjoy his position long and suffered a fate similar to that of his cousin that same year. He was replaced on the throne by his brother Muḥammad, who thus became Muḥammad Shāh II (AD 1378-97).

Muḥammad II’s reign of 19 years was one of the most peaceful in Bahmanid history. He was a man of culture and succeeded in putting a temporary halt to the hostilities with his southern neighbour. He did however have to deal with one insurrection towards the end of his reign. At Sagar.

Muḥammad II died in AD 1397 and was succeeded by his young son, Tahmatan Shāh. His inexperience led him to fall foul of the factionalism that was forming within the kingdom between the old guard (Deccanis) and the newcomers (the foreigners), most of whom came from Persia. He was blinded and imprisoned. His step-brother, Shams al-dīn, was put on the throne as Dā’ūd Shāh II. He was soon to suffer the same fate and was allowed to go to Mecca. This brief state of anarchy ended when Fīrūz Khān, a protégé of Muḥammad II, placed himself on the throne as Fīrūz Shāh (AD 1397-1422).


Bahmanī Sulṭāns and their Precursors


The names of those sulṭāns for whom no coins are known to have been issued in their own name, are shown in italics.






Nuṣrat Khān



‘Alā’ al-dīn ‘Alī Shāh



Nāṣir al-dīn Ismā’īl Shāh




Bahmanī Sulṭāns




‘Alā’ al-dīn Bahman Shāh



Muḥammad Shāh I



‘Alā’ al-dīn Mujāhid Shāh



Dā’ūd Shāh I



Muḥammad Shāh II



Ghiyāth al-dīn Tahmatan Shāh



Shams al-dīn Dā’ūd Shāh II



Tāj al-dīn Fīrūz Shāh



Shihāb al-dīn Aḥmad Shāh I



‘Alā’ al-dīn Aḥmad Shāh II



‘Alā’ al-dīn Humāyūn Shāh



Niẕām al-dīn Aḥmad Shāh III



Shams al-dīn Muḥammad Shāh III



Shihāb al-dīn Maḥmūd Shāh



Aḥmad Shāh I



‘Alā’ al-dīn Shāh



Walī Allāh Shāh



Kalīm Allāh Shāh