The city of Ahmadnagar, close to the heart of India, has a handful of buildings that are among the few reminders of one of the first homegrown Muslim dynasties in India. The Nizam Shahs dominated what is now most of Maharashtra, fought ‘the outsiders’ and helped draw the first outline for the great Maratha leader Shivaji. Who were they and why should we remember them? To find these answers we have to go back to the fractious Deccan of the 14th century CE – where the story begins.
The mid 14th century saw a fair amount of disquiet in the Deccan. Muhammad Bin Tughlaq’s attempt to settle his capital in Daulatabad had failed – first, the outbreak of a devastating plague in Bidar and then a rebellion in Bengal had forced the Sultan to head north. What was left, in what was once his ambitious new capital, were the remnants of a disgruntled force.