Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Queen of the Deccan

She was the Queen of the Deccan. She ruled over the Kingdom when it was passing through a difficult phase. Though she was the  Queen of  one of the most prominent dynasties of the Deccan in the mediaeval ages, her name even today is unknown.
When she died, the kingdom stretched from Goa and Konkan in the west to Machilapatnam of Andhra Pradesh in the East and Berar in the north to Kanchipuram in the south.
She was also the chief of the Regents and the Dowager Empress of the kingdom and she was an associate of Mahmud Gawan, one of the most well-known personalities of the period.
The Queen and Mahmud Gawan worked for the welfare of the people and took up several developmental works. She is Makhduma-e-Jahan Nargis Begum, the Bahmani (also spelled as Bahamani) Queen, who ruled the Deccan for nearly two decades.
Unfortunately, she is a very obscure figure in India history and she has not been given her due place either by historians or by people. This is really surprising as Queens with lesser reigns such as Chand Bibi and Razia Sultan have been immortalized in history for one or other.
The reason for her obscurity could be because she exercised control indirectly and was always a shadowy figure even then. Even then, for her not to figure in any book on history is itself a mystery.
Nargis Begum was the ruler of the Kingdom which had a running feud with the Vijayanagars. However, during her reign, except for minor skirmishes, there were no major wars or battles against the Hindu Kingdom.
When she took over as the Dowager Queen, the capital of the Bahmanis had been shifted from Gulbarga to Bidar. The magnificent Madrasa at Bidar was constructed by Gawan along with other monuments. (The ruins of the Madrasa can still be seen.)
She was the real power behind the Bahmani throne between 1458 and 1473. She was married to Humayun (Aladdin Humayun Zalim Shah)  who had a short reign  from May 7, 1458 to September 4, 1461 A D. Humayun was a cruel and despotic King. He hated others and they hated him equally. He and the Begum had two sons, both of who succeeded the Bahmani Throne made of Torquise one after the other.
At the time of his death, Humayun had constituted a council of regents to rule over the kingdom with Begum as its head. One of the other prominent members of the council was Mahmud Gawan.  A brave and doughty warrior, Begum also lead the Bahmanis in their war against the Kingdoms of Konkan, Belgaum and Kanchipuram.
She was instrumental in introducing administrative reforms and overhauled the system of  land survey. She also extended all help to Muhamad Gawan to construct the famed Madrassa in Bidar.
She was the regent when two of her sons occupied the Bahmani throne- Nizam Shah alias Nizam-Ud-Din Ahmad III (September 4, 1461 to July 30, 1463 AD) and Mohammed Shah III Lashkari alias  Shams-Ud-Din Muhammad Shah III (July 30, 1463 to March 26, 1482 AD.
The Queen died in Bijapur while she was returning from a battlefield in Belgaum. She was buried with all honors in the royal necropolis of Ashtur on the outskirts of Bidar. Her tomb is almost opposite to the tomb of her husband, Humayun.
Her tomb is built in Persian style. A simple stone inscription in Persian reads, “Makhduma -e-jahan (ruler of the world) Nargis Begum, most gracious queen of Sultan Humayun, sleeps here”.
By the way, this is the only East facing tomb in the complex which houses the tombs of sixteen Bahmani rulers.
Like in life, she has been neglected in death too. There are few articles on her and fewer details about the Dowager Queen.