Shah Mir Dynasty
Shah Mir, a Muslim adventurer who had acquired considerable political influence during the reign of Udayanadeva, the last Hindu ruler of Kashmir, seized the throne in 1339. This marked the beginning of Muslim rule in Kashmir. He assumed the title of Sultan Shams-ud-din (1339-42) and his dynasty, known as the Shah Mir dynasty, ruled Kashmir for more than two centuries (1339-1561). Of the seventeen members of this dynasty, two deserve special mention – Sikandar and Zain-ul-Abidin. Sikandar (1389-1413) brought about the Islamisation of Kashmir through his ruthless persecution of the Hindus.
A large number of Muslim immigrants came to Kashmir from Central Asia and Persia as a result of Timur’s devastating campaigns. They were liberally patronised by Sikandar. Supported by the Sultan, they introduced a new powerful element into the population of Kashmir and provided for Islam a cultural and educational basis in the valley. Zain-ul Abidin (1420-70) gets the credit for undoing the wrongs done to the Hindus by Sikandar. Though he was an orthodox Muslim in his personal life, he reconstructed and repaired all the temples which had been destroyed earlier.
He also conciliated and brought back many nonMuslims who had fled and valley. Besides, he proved to be a just and benevolent ruler, besides being an efficient administrator. Well-versed in Persian, Sanskrit, Tibetan and other languages, he had the Mahabharata and Kalhana’s Rajatarangini translated into Persian. He was also the first Sultan to abolish jeziya (a religious tax collected from non-Muslims) and even used to undertake a pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi.
He has been referred to as the “Akbar of Kashmir’. The later Shah Mirs were weak and became puppets in the hands of their nobles. Two parties of nobles known as Chaks and Makris became rival contenders for political ascendancy. The dynasty was ultimately overthrown by the Chaks in 1561.
The Chaks seized power in 1540 itself, but they ruled as wazirs with Shah Mirs acting as mere puppets on the throne. The pretence was given up in 1561 when the Chak wazir assumed the title of Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Ghazi Shah. Five more Chak rulers followed him and the last Chak, Nasir-ud-din Muhammad Yusuf Badshah Ghazi, was defeated and his kingdom annexed by Akbar in 1586.
There were three important independent States in Rajasthan during this period. They were Mewar (modern Udaipur), Marwar and Amber.
The history of Mewar goes back to far-off antiquity. Scientific research has shown that Guhilot Rajputs were the rulers of Mewar at least in the 7th century A.D. Ala-ud-din Khalji captured Chittor, the capital of Mewar, in 1303 A.D.; but a portion of the State remained in the hands of the Guhilots. The capital too was recovered by Rana Hamir (the head of the younger branch of this ruling dynasty) who retrieved the honour of his race and died in 1364.
The next famous ruler was Rana Kumbha Karan, popularly known as “Kumbha’. He was one of the greatest rulers of his time. He was a brave soldier and first-rate general. He increased his army and fortified his frontiers by building numerous forts, among which Kumbhalgarh is the most famous. He carried on incessant warfare against the Sultans of Malwa and Gujarat. He built the famous Tower of Victory or Vijaya Stambha at Chittor in commemoration of his success against Malwa.
Rana Kumbha was a great patron of learning and was himself a scholar of no mean ability. But Mewar reached the zenith of its glory under Rana Sanga (1509-28) who has been described as ‘the fragment of a soldier, having the marks of eighty wounds on his body from sword or lance and being crippled in one leg, one eye and one arm. Sanga was endowed with remarkable military ability. He fought successfully against Malwa, Delhi and Gujarat.
His supremacy was recognised by the rulers of the other Rajput states in Rajasthan. He defeated and captured Mahmud II of Malwa but generously restored his kingdom to him. Taking advantage of the chaos in the Lodi kingdom, he invaded the Lodi territory and defeated the sultan, Ibrahim. He came into conflict with Babur and was defeated in a battle with him at Khanua in 1527. But Babur and later Akbar too failed to annex it. Mewar recognised the Mughal suzerainty in the time of Jahangir (1615 ADI Marwar
The next important state in Rajasthan was Marwar, known in our day as Jodhpur It was ruled by the Rathors who descended from the ancient Rashtrakutas. The modern history of Marwar dates from the time of Chunda who ruled from 1394 to 1421. His successor was the Jodha who built the fort of Jodhpur, founded a town there and made it his capital. One of his sons named Bila founded the present state of Bikaner about 1464. The most important ruler of Marwar during our period was Maldeva (1532-62) under whom the power of the dynasty reached its height.
The State of Amber, now called the Jaipur state, was ruled by the Kachhawana Kamphuis who belonged to the solar dynasty and traced their descent from Shri Ram of Ayodhya. The state of Amber was founded, according to Colonel Todd, in the 10th century A.D. In its early days, it seems to have been under the suzerainty of Mewar. In the Mughal age, Amber became the first Rajput state to recognise the overlordship of Akbar in 1561 and contributed greatly to the glory of the Mughal Empire.
The minor state of Jaisalmer was ruled by a comparatively older dynasty of the Bhattis. They built various lakes and temples in their territory during the course of their rule of about four centuries. The state of Ranthambhor was ruled by the descendants of the famous Prithviraja Chauhan. Among these Chauhans of Ranthambhor, the most notable ruler was Hammir Deva, who ruled between 1283 and 1301, when he was defeated and killed by Alauddin Khalji. But later the Chauhans were overthrown by another dynasty, the Hadas, who became prominent in the Mughal period.