Chand Sultana, the Warrior Queen of Ahmednagar
Events in Ahmednagar: By 1591, Mughal emperor Akbar had asked all the four Deccan sultanates to acknowledge his supremacy. After the death of Ibrahim Nizam Shah in 1594, Mian Manju Deccani, his minister, imprisoned Ibrahim’s infant son Bahadur, and placed Ahmad Shah, a descendant of Nizam Shah, on the throne. When the Abyssinian nobles discovered that Ahmad was not a lineal descendant of Nizam Shahi dynasty, they refused to acknowledge the new king and rebelled. Unable to oppose this, Mian Manju invited Prince Murad(son of Akbar), who was in Gujarat at that time, to assist him and also promised him to surrender the fort. Akbar had already given orders to Prince Murad and Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan to march to Deccan. But what happened was that, while Murad was on his way to Ahmednagar, Mian Manju had successfully suppressed the rebellion. He now regretted for having invited the Mughals to invade Ahmednagar. Mian Manju requested Chand Bibi to take command of the fort and himself marched towards Bijapur with Ahmad Shah.
Cession of Berar: Prince Murad and the Khan-i-Khanan reached Ahmednagar and laid siege to the fort by Dec 1595. Chand requested help from Ibrahim Adil Shah and Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah of Golconda against Mughals. When Murad learned this, he ordered the capture of the fort as soon as possible; and within few days, five mines were constructed around the fort. It is said that Khwaja Muhammad Khan Shirazi, a Mughal noble, informed Chand about Murad’s plan. Chand herself with the assistance of some nobles, dig out and destroyed two of the mines. Others were still in the process of digging out rest of the mines. At this time, the Prince ordered to blow up the mines, without informing the Khan-i-Khanan. Murad was in fact jealous of the Khan-i-Khanan; he wanted the sole credit of capturing Ahmednagar. Three of the mines were exploded. Many of the counter-miners were killed and a part of the fort was broken up. People began to flight. The Queen, on the contrary, put an armour, and with a veil on her face and a sword in her hand, flew to defend the breach. Seeing the braveness of their Queen, the people who fled, came back and joined her. According to Ferishta, Chand Bibi caused guns to be brought to bear on the assailants, and stones to be hurled on them, so that they were repulsed in several repeated attacks. During the whole night, she supervised the repairs of the breach and it was built up to the height of eight feet before daylight. On the next day, she dispatched letters to Adil Shah and Qutub Shah to hasten the arrival of their forces, and some of them fell into the hands of Murad. The Mughal army was already suffering due to lack of provisions. Seeing these letters, they became more distressed. At this situation, Prince Murad decided to negotiate with her. As per the treaty, she surrendered Berar to the Mughals (Feb 1596).
Chand Sultana, Regent of Nizam Shahi Sultanate (1595-1599): After the retreat of Mughals, Mian Manju again came up with Ahmad Shah. Chand Sultana, with the help of her nephew Ibrahim Adil Shah, quelled Mian Manju’s revolt. At Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah gave an estate to Ahmad and also enrolled Mian Manju as noble of Bijapur. Chand now proclaimed Bahadur Nizam Shah (1595-1599) as the new Sultan and became his regent. She appointed her adviser Muhammad Khan as the Viceroy. Gradually the Khan usurped the authority of the whole Kingdom and promoted his relatives to chief offices. Hearing this, Ibrahim sent his general Sohail Khan for her assistance. After the capture of Muhammad Khan, she appointed Abhang Khan, an Abyssinian, as the new Viceroy.
Defeat of the Deccan Confederates: On his return to Bijapur, Sohail Khan learned that the Mughals had captured territories that were beyond the limits of Berar. Chand appealed to Adil Shah and Qutub Shah, asking them to unite against the Mughals; and the forces arrived accordingly. The Mughal forces under Mirza Shahrukh and Khan-i-Khanan met with the combined forces of Nizam Shahis, Adil Shahis and Qutub Shahis under Sohail Khan near Sonpet on the banks of River Godavari in Feb 1597. The battle lasted for two days, and in this fierce battle, Sohail Khan was defeated.
Meanwhile, the new Viceroy Abhang Khan, who had now obtained unlimited power in the Kingdom, was making plans to remove the Queen and took the regency in his own hands. Suspicious of his acts, Chand removed him from the position of Viceroy. Offended by this, he turned a rebel. Ibrahim Adil Shah tried to effect a reconciliation between the two, however, didn’t succeed. By this time Prince Murad died (1599). Abul Fazl was sent to Deccan to take charge of Berar. Taking advantage of Murad’s death, Abhang Khan sent an army to retook Bir from Mughals. By this time Akbar dispatched Prince Danyal (youngest son of Akbar) and Khan-i-Khanan to Ahmednagar. Hearing this, Abhang Khan marched towards Jaipur Kotly Ghat, to oppose Prince Danyal, but, the Prince reached Ahmednagar by another route. Akbar himself camped at Burhanpur and laid siege to Asir. Unable to withstand the Mughals, Abhang Khan retreated to Ahmednagar and tried to compromise with Chand. Since she was not willing, he fled to Junair.
According to Abul Fazl, Chand had sent letters to him inviting friendship and promised to surrender the fort after punishing Abhang Khan. As per the treaty she will accept Junair as her fief and would accompany Bahadur to the court. Meanwhile Prince Danyal and his army entered Ahmednagar and laid siege to the fort. She requested Hamid Khan, an eunuch, for advice. She declared that after seeing the misconduct of several officers within the past years, she could place no trust on them. Also told him that she is going to surrender the fort to Mughals on a condition of no injury should be caused to the inhabitants of the fort. After that she will retire to Junair with the young King. Hearing this Hamid Khan went to the streets and exaggeratedly spread her words that she was in treaty with the Mughals. The Deccanis headed by Hamid Khan entered her apartment and put her to death. Thus ended the life of the brave Queen of Ahmednagar. The Queen was very fond of hunting. The painting of “Chand Bibi Hawking” is very famous.
Akbar Finally Captures the Fort: After the death of Chand Sultana, Ahmednagar fell into the hands of Mughals by Aug 1600. Sultan Bahadur Nizam Shah was taken as prisoner and sent to Akbar at Burhanpur. By this time Akbar had captured the fort of Asir. After appointing Prince Danyal as Viceroy of Deccan, he returned to Agra.
- Chand Bibi was also the name of Humayun‘s wife.
|Regent of Bijapur and Regent of Ahmednagar|
Chand Bibi hawking, an 18th-century painting
|Spouse||Ali Adil Shah I|
|Father||Hussain Nizam Shah I|
Chand Bibi (1550–1599 CE), was a Muslim woman warrior from medieval India. She acted as the Regent of Bijapur (1580–90) and Regent of Ahmednagar (1596–99). Chand Bibi is best known for defendingAhmednagar against the Mughal forces of Emperor Akbar in 1595.
Chand Bibi was the daughter of Hussain Nizam Shah I of Ahmednagar, and the sister of Burhan-ul-Mulk, the Sultan of Ahmednagar. She knew many languages, including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Marathi andKannada. She played sitar, and painting flowers was her hobby.
Following an alliance policy, Chand Bibi was married to Ali Adil Shah I of the Bijapur Sultanate. A stepwell (bawdi) constructed near the eastern boundary of Bijapur by her husband was named Chand Bawdi after her.
Ali Adil Shah’s father, Ibrahim Adil Shah I, had divided power between the Sunni nobles, the Habshis and the Deccanis. However, Ali Adil Shah favored Shi’as. After his death in 1580, the Shi’a nobles proclaimed his nine-year-old nephew Ibrahim Adil Shah II as the ruler. A Deccani general called Kamal Khan seized power and became the regent. Kamal Khan showed disrespect to Chand Bibi, who felt that he had ambitions to usurp the throne. Chand Bibi plotted an attack against Kamal Khan with help from another general, Haji Kishvar Khan. Kamal Khan was captured while fleeing and was beheaded in the fort.
Kishvar Khan became the second regent of Ibrhaim. In a battle against the Ahmednagar Sultanate at Dharaseo, the Bijapur army led by him captured all the artillery and elephants of the enemy army. After the victory, Kishvar Khan ordered other Bijapuri generals to surrender all the captured elephants to him. The elephants were highly valued, and the other generals took great offense. Along with Chand Bibi, they hatched a plan to eliminate Kishvar Khan with help from General Mustafa Khan of Bankapur. Kishvar Khan’s spies informed him of the conspiracy, so he sent troops against Mustafa Khan, who was captured and killed in the battle. Chand Bibi challenged Kishvar Khan, but he got her imprisoned at the Satara fort and tried to declare himself the king. However, Kishvar Khan had become very unpopular among the rest of the generals. He was forced to flee when a joint army led by a Habshi general called Ikhlas Khan marched to Bijapur. The army consisted of the forces of three Habshi nobles: Ikhlas Khan, Hamid Khan and Dilavar Khan.Kishvar Khan tried his luck at Ahmednagar unsuccessfully, and then fled to Golconda. He was killed in exile by a relative of Mustafa Khan. Following this, Chand Bibi acted as the regent for a short time.
Ikhlas Khan then became the regent, but he was dismissed by Chand Bibi shortly afterwards. Later, he resumed his dictatorship, which was soon challenged by the other Habshi generals. Taking advantage of the situation in Bijapur, Ahmednagar’s Nizam Shahi sultan allied with the Qutb Shahi of Golconda to attack Bijapur. The troops available at Bijapur were not sufficient to repulse the joint attack. The Habshi generals realized that they could not defend the city alone, and tended their resignation to Chand Bibi. Abu-ul-Hassan, aShi’a general appointed by Chand Bibi, called for the Maratha forces in Carnatic. The Marathas attacked the invaders’ supply lines, forcing the Ahmednagar-Golconda allied army to retreat.
Ikhlas Khan then attacked Dilavar Khan to seize the control of Bijapur. However, he was defeated, and Dilavar Khan became the regent from 1582 to 1591. When order was restored in Bijapur kingdom, Chand Bibi returned to Ahmednagar.
In 1591, the Mughal emperor Akbar had asked all the four Deccan sultanates to acknowledge his supremacy. All the sultanates evaded compliance, and Akbar’s ambassadors returned in 1593. In 1595, Ibrahim Nizam Shah, the ruler of Ahmednagar Sultanate was killed in a severe battle about 40 miles from Ahmednagar at Shahdurg against Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur. After his death, some nobles felt that his infant son Bahadur Shah should be proclaimed the King under the regency of Chand Bibi (his father’s aunt).
However, the Deccani minister Miyan Manju proclaimed the twelve-year-old son of Shah Tahir, Ahmad Shah II, as the ruler on August 6, 1595. The Habshi nobles of Ahmednagar, led by Ikhlas Khan, were opposed to this plan. The rising dissent among the nobles prompted Miyan Manju to invite Akbar‘s son Shah Murad (who was in Gujarat) to march his army to Ahmednagar. Murad came to Malwa, where he joined Mughal forces led by Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana. Raja Ali Khan joined them at Mandu, and the united army advanced on Ahmednagar.
However, while Murad was on march to Ahmednagar, many noblemen left Ikhlas Khan and joined Miyan Manju. Miyan Manju defeated Ikhlas Khan and other opponents. Now, he regretted having invited the Mughals, but it was too late. He requested Chand Bibi to accept the regency, and marched out of Ahmednagar with Ahmed Shah II. Ikhlas Khan also escaped to Paithan, where he was attacked and defeated by the Mughals.
Chand Bibi accepted the regency and proclaimed Bahadur Shah king of Ahmednagar.
Defence of Ahmednagar
Ahmednagar was invaded by the Mughals in November 1595. Chand Bibi took the leadership in Ahmednagar and defended the Ahmednagar fort successfully. Later, Shah Murad sent an envoy to Chand Bibi, offering to raise the siege in return for the cession of Berar. Chand Bibi’s troops were suffering from famine. In 1596, she decided to make peace by ceding Berar to Murad, who retreated.
Chand Bibi appealed to her nephews Ibrahim Adil Shah II of Bijapur and Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah of Golconda, asking them to unite against the Mughal forces. Ibrahim Adil Shah II sent a contingent of 25,000 men under Sohil Khan, which was joined by the remainder of Yekhlas Khan’s force at Naldurg. Later, it was joined by a contingent of 6,000 men from Golconda.
Chand Bibi had appointed Muhammad Khan as the minister, but he proved treacherous. He made overtures to the Khan Khanan, offering to surrender the whole Sultanate to the Mughals. Meanwhile, Khan Khanan started taking possession of districts that were not included in the cession of Berar. Sohil Khan, who was returning to Bijapur, was ordered to come back and attack Khan Khanan’s Mughal forces. The Mughal forces under Khan Khanan and Mirza Shah Rukh left Murad’s camp at Sahpur in Berar and encountered the combined forces of Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, and Golconda under Sohil Khan near Sonpet (or Supa) on the banks of Godavari River. In a fierce battle on February 8–9, 1597, the Mughals won.
In spite of their victory, the Mughal forces were too weak to pursue their attack and returned to Sahpur. One of their commanders, Raja Ali Khan, was killed in the battle and there were frequent disputes between other commanders. Due to these disputes, Khan Khanan was recalled by Akbar in 1597. Prince Murad died shortly thereafter. Akbar then sent his son Daniyal and Khan Khanan with fresh troops. Akbar himself followed and encamped at Barhanpur.
In Ahmednagar, Chand Bibi’s authority was being resisted by the newly appointed minister Nehang Khan. Nehang Khan had recaptured the town of Beed, taking advantage of Khan Khanan’s absence and of the rainy season. In 1599, Akbar dispatched Daniyal, Mirza Yusuf Khan and Khan Khanan to relieve the governor of Beed. Nehang Khan also marched to seize the Jaipur Kotli pass, expecting the Mughals to meet him there. However, Daniyal avoided the pass and reached Ahmednagar fort. His forces laid siege to the fort.
Chand Bibi again defended the fort bravely. However, she could not bring about an effective resistance, and decided to negotiate terms with Daniyal. Hamid Khan, a nobleman, exaggerated and spread the false news that Chand Bibi was in treaty with the Mughals. According to another version, Jita Khan, an eunuch valet of Chand Bibi, thought that her decision to negotiate with the Mughals was treacherous and spread the news that Chand Bibi was a quisling. Chand Bibi was then killed by an enraged mob of her own troops. After her death, and a siege of four months and four days, Ahmednagar was captured by the Mughal forces of Daniyal and Mirza Yusuf Khan.
Chand bibi ka Mahal
The tomb of Salabat Khan is wrongly known locally as “Chand bibi ka Mahal”.:199
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