Adilshahi (AdilshAhI dynasty) (ಆದಿಲ್ ಶಾಹೀ ರಾಜವಂಶ) is one of the premiere Royal Dynasties of Karnataka.
This kingdom has played a crucial role in the history of
The political rule during the regime of Adil Shahi Sultans was dictated by a few conflicting factors. Firstly, the internal strife among the sultans who became independent of the Bahmani rule needed many compromises and their ruptures. For instance the wedding of Ali Adil Shah-2 and Chand Bibi the queen of Ahmednagar brought about many new alliances. Secondly the conflict that arose between Muslims who belonged to other countries (mainly Shias) and the Muslims of local origin (predominantly Sunnis) was quite strong. They Emperors had to play a balancing game. Ibrahim Adil Shah supported the locals at the cost of the foreigners and he declared Marathi as the official language in preference to Persian. On the contrary, his son Ali Adil Shah was openly in favour of the foreigners. Thirdly the kings had to confront the external enemies. The Vijayanagar Empire, the Marathas and the Mughals were prominent among them at different points of time. Ali Adil Shah made a successful attempt to bring together various Muslim dynasties to precipitate a final confrontation with the Vijayanagar scions. He could bring about the downfall of the empire in 1565 A.D. Most of these kings ruled for long periods and consequently they could bring about a number of administrative reforms and indulge in their artistic passions such as architecture, sculpture and literature.
The administrative patterns adopted by the Adilshahi dynasty were very similar to those practiced by the Bahmani kingdom. They were controlled neither by the religious fanatics nor by the military dons. The power structure was dominated by the royal families and a strong officialdom. There was some difference between the patterns adapted in the original kingdom and the regions that were appropriated by military endeavours. The later were left to the mercies of Chieftains. (Palegaars) There was no interference by the Royal family in local governance. Official hierarchy took care of the day to day administration and the revenues to the government stemmed from sources such as commercial taxes, revenue income, and annual gifts and of course the hordes of money collected during their multiple invasions. They thought of many innovative practices to alleviate the problems of the people. ”The Adil Shahi Sultans made an elaborate arrangement of pure and wholesome water for the people of Bijapur and its suburbs. At Torvi a masonry dam was constructed. We find another dam in its far eastern side. These two dams fed the reservoirs of Torvi and Afzalpur.”
The presence and influence of Sufism in Bijapur during the Adilshahi regime and prior to that is a great tribute to the catholicism and the religious tolerance of these kings. A very healthy amalgamation of two cultures that has taken place during this period is indebted to the precepts taught by the great Sufis of Bijapur.
Adilshahis have supported fine arts, literature, architecture and sculpture in various parts of their kingdom. Some of these monarchs were personally endowed with artistic talents. Yosuf Adil Khan and Ismail Adil Khan were poets and accomplished writers. Ismail Adil Khan has written many books in Persian as well as Turkish. He took interest in painting and making of ornaments and arrows. Ibrahim Adil Shah has written ‘Kitab E Navras’, (Book of Nine Rasas) in Dakhani. It is a collection of 59 poems and 17 couplets. This was written to introduce the theory of nine rasas delineated in the Sanskrit Poetics. These poems are set to a number of ‘raags’ in HIndustani music. They encouraged local languages such as Marathi and Kannada. The evolution of Dakhani and Urdu took place one after the other during this period. They were keen to have well equipped libraries and spared no efforts in pursuits of their goal. The royal library lodged in Asari Mahal at Bijapur had its beginning during the rule of Ali Adil Shah. Calligraphy had a pride of place during these times.
The contribution of the Adilshahi in the fields of architecture sculpture is enumerated in detail in the entry on Bijapur. Ibrahim Roja, Gol Gumbaj, Mehtar Mahal are the more prominent among them. Those built outside Bijapaur are few and far between.
Thus, the contributions of The Adilshahi dynasty to the culture of Karnataka are immense.
1. Tazkiratul Mulk. Mir Rafi-uddin Ibrahim-i Shiraz
2. Richard Maxwell Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur (1300-1700), Page:22 Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersy 1978,
3. Dastur-e-Atibba, Muhammad Qasim Firishta
4. Devare, T. N. A short history of Persian literature; at the Bahmani, the Adilshahi, and the Qutbshahi courts. Poona: S. Devare, 1961.
5. The Adil Shahi Kingdom (1510 CE to 1686 CE) by Dr. (Mrs) Jyotsna Kamat