GULBARGA (Golbargā), city and district in the central Deccan, India. The city, located at 17° 21′ N and 76° 51′ E, belonged, prior to 1947, to the territory of the Neẓām of Hyderabad. It became the first capital of the Bahmanid dynasty (748-934/1347-1527; q.v.) when, in 748/1347, a rebel Tughluqid commander, perhaps a descendant of the Kakuyids of Isfahan (398-443/1008-51), was proclaimed sultan of the Deccan as ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Ḥasan Bahman Shah.

The city, which retained the mint-name of Aḥsanābād, was the residence of eight sultans: Bahman Shah (748-59/1347-58), Moḥammad I (759-76/1358-75), ʿAlāʾ-al-Din Mojāhed (776-80/1375-78) Dāʾud I, (780/1378), Moḥammad II (780-99/1378-97), Ḡiāṯ-al-Din Taham-tan (799/1397), Šams-al-Din Dāʾud II (799/1397), and Tāj-al-Din Firuz Shah (800-25/1397-1422). Firuz Shah’s brother, Šehāb-al-Din Aḥmad Shah I Wali (825-39/1422-36), around 827/1424, transferred the capital to the more salubrious and strategically superior location of Bidar/Moḥammadābād (q.v.). The Bahmanids of Gulbarga were celebrated as patrons of Persian culture. The poet ʿAbd-al-Malek ʿEṣāmi (q.v.) dedicated his Fotuḥ al-salāṭin,known as the Šāh-nāma of India, to Bahman Shah. The hedonistic Moḥammad I brought to Gulbarga from Delhi musicians and singers with firsthand acquaintance of the Indo-Persian musical style of Amir Ḵosrow Dehlavi (q.v.), and either Moḥammad I or Moḥammad II may have been the Bahmanid ruler who, according to tradition, almost prevailed upon Ḥāfeẓ to join his entourage (Ṣafā, Adabiyāt IV, pp. 1069-70). Tāj-al-Din Firuz Shah exceeded all his predecessors as a patron of those Persian exiles and adventurers, known as āfāqis, who formed a distinct court faction pitted against the rival Daḵnis.

Among the surviving Bahmanid monuments of Gulbarga, the massive citadel, built or rebuilt by Bahman Shah, contains only two surviving contemporary or near-contemporary buildings: a rectangular donjon or keep, perhaps of pre-Bahmanid date, and the Jāmeʿ Mosque, built for Moḥammad I by the Persian architect, Rafiʿ b. Šams b. Manṣur Qazvini (Haig, pp. 1-2). Unique among Indian mosques in being entirely covered, its style has reminded some observers more of Andalus or Maḡreb than of Persia. It has also been suggested that it was not originally intended as a congregational mosque, but as a multi-purpose public building (Schotten-Merklinger, p. 22). This mosque, together with the Šāh Bāzār mosque (also attributed, on stylistic grounds, to the reign of Mo-ḥammad I), may be said to have initiated a distinctive Deccani–Islamic architectural idiom.

By contrast, the royal mausoleums of Gulbarga reflect the style of Tughluqid Delhi. Located in two distinct clusters, six stand west of the fort and include the tombs of Bahman Shah, Moḥammad I, and Moḥammad II. East of the fort are seven more (known locally as the Haft Gonbad), including the tombs of Mojāhed and Dāʾud I, and the twin-domed mausoleum of Firuz Shah which marks the beginning of a distinctive Bahmanid style of architecture. Aḥmad Shah erected in Gulbarga a mausoleum for his spiritual mentor, the Češti shaikh Sayyed Moḥammad Gisu Derāz (q.v.), around which the present dargāh has grown up, but in transferring his capital to Bidar, he also transferred his allegiance from the Češtis to the Neʿmat-Allāhis, whom he brought from Kermān.


Bibliography (for cited works not given in detail, see “Short References”):

J. Burton-Page, “Gulbargā,” in EI2 II, p. 1135.

Z. A. Desai, “Architecture: the Bahmanis,” in H. K. Sherwani and P. M. Joshi, eds., History of Medieval Deccan, Hyderabad, 1974, II, pp. 229-304.

R. M. Eaton, Sufis of Bijapur, 1300-1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India, Princeton, 1978.

ʿAbd-al-Malek Eṣāmi, Fotuḥ al-salāṭin, ed. A. S. Usha, Madras, 1948.

Ferešta, tr. Briggs, II, pp. 175-254.

T. W. Haig, “Inscriptions in Gulbarga,” Epigraphia Indo-Moslemica, 1907-08, pp. 1-10.

S. A. Q. Husaini, Bahman Shah: The Founder of the Bahmani Kingdom, Calcutta, 1960.

G. Michell and R. Eaton, Firuzabad, Palace City of the Deccan, Oxford, 1992.

H. K. Sherwani, “Tāju’d-din Firōz and the Synthesis of Bahmani Culture,” New Indian Antiquary 6, 1943-44, pp. 75-89.

Idem, “Cultural Influences under Aḥmad Shāh Wali Bahmani,” Islamic Culture 18, 1944, pp. 364-76.

Idem, The Bahmanis of the Deccan, Hyderabad, 1953.

M. S. Siddiqi, The Bahmani Sufis, Delhi, 1989.

E. E. Speight, “The Coins of the Bahmani Kings of the Deccan,” Islamic Culture 9, 1935, pp. 268-307.

Sayyed ʿAli Ṭabāṭabāʾi, Borhān-e maʾāṯer, Delhi, 1936; tr. T. S. King as “History of the Bahmani Dynasty,” Indian Antiquary, 1899, pp. 119-38, 141-55, 180-92, 209-19, 235-47, 277-92, 305-23.

E. Schotten-Merklinger, Indian Islamic Architecture: The Deccan 1347-1686, Warminster, 1981.

Idem, “gulbarga,” in G. Michell, ed., Islamic heritage of Deccan, Bombay, 1986, pp. 27-41.

H. K. Sherwani and J. Burton-Page, “Bahmanis,” in EI2 I, pp. 923-26.

S. Toy, The Fortified Cities of India, London, 1965.

G. Yazdani, “The Great Mosque of Gulbarga,” Islamic Culture 2, 1928, pp. 14-21.

(Gavin R. G. Hambly)

Originally Published: December 15, 2002

Last Updated: February 24, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 4, pp. 395-396