As the title mentions this book is about some of the most famous and significant Muslim empires which flourished in South India from the 1300s to the 1700s. At many times during the pre Mughal phase, cities in South India like Bidar and Bijapur were the largest and most sophisticated in the whole country. But unfortunately not many people know how important cities like Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga were at one point of time in History. This book looks to recount the history of the kingdoms that existed during that time.
Name: Forgotten Muslim Empires of South India: Bahmani Empire, Madurai, Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Golconda & Mysore Sultanates
Author: Syed Ubaidur Rahman
Book Post No. 42
What is it about? : As the title mentions this book is about some of the most famous and significant Muslim empires which flourished in South India from the 1300s to the 1700s. At many times during the pre Mughal phase, cities in South India like Bidar and Bijapur were the largest and most sophisticated in the whole country. But unfortunately not many people know how important cities like Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga were at one point of time in History. This book looks to recount the history of the kingdoms that existed during that time. It starts off with the Bahmani Empire which forms the major portion of the book. It then talks about the 3 major sultanates that emerged from the ashes of the Bahmani empire; Adil Shahi’s of Bijapur, Nizam Shahi’s of Ahmadnagar and Qutb Shahi’s of Hyderabad. The book then talks about the Mysore sultanate esp. about Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan. The book ends with the Madurai Sultanate which was the first significant Muslim kingdom in South India.
How I came to read it? : During my last trip to my home in India my dad showed me this book which he had got from an event. He had met the author and got a signed copy from him. When I saw this I immediately wanted to read it as I had always been interested in the history of South India.
Did I like it? : Absolutely loved it even though there are a lot of flaws in editing of the book. Before I picked this book up I had a fair knowledge about the Qutb Shahi’s but no so much about the other major empires of the region like the Bahmanis and Adil Shahis. I always thought that out of all these the Qutb Shahis were the most powerful and had great structures as evidenced by Charminar. I also thought that of all the cities, Hyderabad always was superior in terms of its rich heritage. But after I completed this book I realized I was wrong. The Adil Shahis and Nizam Shahis were far stronger and more powerful than the Qutb Shahis. But the Qutb Shahis did have an edge in terms of structures and the rich artistic and cultural heritage they left. Adil Shahis built some great structures too like the Gol Gumbaz and the Ibrahim Rouza which, I was fortunate enough to have visited, but do not come nowhere near the popularity and the iconic status that a structure like Charminar has attained over the last 400 years. Qutb Shahis were great patrons of Urdu too and they have made added to its richness. In terms of the power and prestige and the military strength during the 1500s there is no doubt that the Adil Shahis and Nizam Shahis were better. The Bahmanis came before all these 3 empires and they made Bidar one of the best cities in India at that time. Another point is that people do not realize how close South India was to Iran/Persia during those times. There are tons of people who immigrated to South India from Iran and made a successful life here. One such person who is also one of my favorite characters in the entire book is Mahmud Gawan, who served as the Prime Minister in the Bahmani Sultanate. The first time I heard of Mahmud Gawan was when I visited his Madrasa (School or University) in Bidar during my Undergrad days back in 2010. It still is one of my favorite buildings ever. How many famous buildings of the past can you think of which were a school or a University? I always wanted to know more about this legendary man. Fortunately this book has a small section dedicated to him.
Positives: Very insightful and a lot of detail. My understanding of the Bahmani Kingdom, Adil Shahis, Nizam Shahis and Qutb Shahis is much better now than before I picked up this book. The author also rarely digresses from the core subject. Inspite of the negatives listed below, the book is very engaging. There aren’t too many books that discuss these kingdoms in detail and this book does a great job.
Negatives: There are tons of typos in the book. Editing is a major let down. But its not as bad as to make you stop reading. Another major flaw is that different spellings are used for the same name at different places. This makes you wonder if the author is talking about the same person or if its a different person. A third major issue is repetition. The same incident is repeated multiple times. Again this makes you wonder if something has changed or what’s different now. The end chapters can get confusing as most of the history is just kingdoms attacking each other in different combinations.
Any other personal notes, observations, fun facts etc.: This book was in continuation of my reads on books about South Indian history. Previous books read: White Mughals and Lords of the Deccan.