History of Independent Sultanate Rule in Bengal

The Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent absorbed Bengal into the medieval Islamic and Persianate worlds. Between the 1204 and 1352, Bengal was a province of the Delhi Sultanate. This era saw the introduction of the taka as monetary currency, which has endured into the modern era. An independent Bengal Sultanate was formed in 1352 and ruled the region for two centuries, during which a distinct form of Islam based on Sufism and the Bengali language emerged and the region was known as a major trading nation in the world. The ruling elite also turned Bengal into the easternmost haven of Indo-Persian culture. The Sultans exerted influence in the Arakan region of Southeast Asia, where Buddhist kings copied the sultanate's governance, currency and fashion. A relationship with Ming China flourished under the sultanate.

The Bengal Sultanate was notable for its Hindu aristocracy, including the rise of Raja Ganesha and his son Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah as usurpers. Hindus served in the royal administration as prime ministers and poets. Under the patronage of Sultans like Alauddin Hussain Shah, Bengali literature began replacing the strong influence of Sanskrit in the region. Hindu principalities included the Kingdom of Mallabhum, Kingdom of Bhurshut and Kingdom of Tripura; and the realm of powerful Hindu Rajas such as Pratapaditya, Kedar Ray and Raja Sitaram Ray.

History of Independent Sultanate Rule in Bengal


  • Bengal was gradually absorbed into the Delhi Sultanate during the 1200s.
  • It began with Bakhtiar Khilji's conquest of Gauda between 1202 and 1204 during the reign of Muhammad of Ghor.
  • After the assassination of Bakhtiar Khalji by his own officer Ali Mardan in 1206, Sultan Iltutmish sent forces under his son, Nasir-ud-din Mahmud, to bring Bengal under the direct control of the Delhi Sultans.
  • Iltutmish declared Bengal as a province of Delhi in 1225.
  • The Delhi Sultans attempted to govern Bengal through appointed governors but could not succeed given the considerable overland distance with Bengal.
  •  Ambitious governors rebelled and ruled as independent rulers until being suppressed militarily by the Delhi Sultanate.
  • In 1325, the Delhi Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq reorganized the province into three administrative regions, with Sonargaon ruling eastern Bengal; Gauda ruling northern Bengal; and Satgaon ruling southern Bengal.
  • Even this arrangement broke down. By 1338, the three administrative regions had separatist Sultans, including Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah in Sonargaon; Alauddin Ali Shah in Gauda, and Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah in Satgaon.
  • Fakhruddin conquered Chittagong in 1340 and was succeeded by his son Ikhtiyaruddin Ghazi Shah in 1349.
  • Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah defeated Alauddin Ali Shah and secured control of Gauda. He then defeated Ikhtiyaruddin of Sonargaon.
  • By 1352, Ilyas Shah emerged victorious among the Bengali triad and independent sultanate rule started in Bengal and named this land as ‘Bangalah’ means ‘The Land of Bengal’.



Ilyas Shahi Dynasty (1342-1415)

1.Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah (1342–1352)

Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah (1342–1352)

  • Ilyas Shah established his capital in Pandua.
  • He unified the delta of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers into the Sultanate of Bengal.
  • He conquered eastern Bengal and northern Bihar.
  • He led the first Muslim army into Nepal, raided the Kathmandu Valley, and returned to Bengal with treasures.
  • In 1353, Ilyas Shah was defeated by Delhi Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq in the Siege of Ekdala Fort during the Bengal Sultanate-Delhi Sultanate War.
  • Despite losing control of many conquered areas, Ilyas Shah remained in firm control of Bengal.

2. Abul Mujāhid Sikandar Shāh (1358–1390)

  • Sikandar Shah defeated Delhi Sultan Firuz Shah Tughluq during the second Siege of Ekdala Fort in 1359.
  • A peace treaty was signed between Delhi and Bengal, with the former recognizing the independence of the latter with a golden crown estimated to be worth 80,000 taka to Sikandar Shah and ensured Bengal's independence for two centuries.
  • The Adina Mosque was built during his reign.
  • During this time, much of the agricultural land was controlled by Hindu zamindars, which caused tensions with Muslim taluqdars. 

3. Ghiyasuddin A'zam Shah (1390–1410)

  • The third Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah began expanding Bengal's influence abroad.
  • He began to send embassies to Ming China, which continued as a tradition during the reigns of his successors and also sponsored construction projects in Arabia.
  • Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah held his court in the central Bengali city of Sonargaon, in addition to Pandua.
  • The travel accounts of Chinese envoys state that the Sultan lived in a palace near the river port of Sonargaon and the  river port had shipping links to China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
  •  In 1406, Ma Huan found Sonargaon as a large metropolis.
  • Ramayan was translated into Bengali by Krittibas Ojha during his reign.

4. Saifuddin Hamza Shah (1410–1412)

5. Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah (1413–1414)

6. Ala-ud-din Firuz Shah (1414–1415)

  • During the early 15th-century, the Ilyas Shahi rule was challenged by Raja Ganesha, a powerful Hindu landowner.
  •  Ala-ud-din Firuz Shah was soon deposed by Raja Ganesha in 1415.
  • There is a saying that all the successor of Ghiyasuddin A'zam Shah is deposed by Raja Ganesha somehow in a civil war or murdered.


Ganesha Dynasty (1414-1433)

1. Raja Ganesha(1415–1416)

1. Raja Ganesha(1415–1416)

  •  He was the founder of Ganesha Dynasty.
  • Gaur was the capital city.
  • At that time he faced an imminent threat of invasion at the behest of a powerful Muslim holy man named Qutb al Alam, he appealed to the saint to call off his threat.
  • The saint agreed on the condition that Raja Ganesha's son Jadu would convert to Islam and rule in his place.

2. Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah(1415–1433)

First Phase (1415–1416)

  •  Jadu started ruling Bengal as Jalaluddin in 1415 .
  •  Qutb Al Alam died in 1416 AD and Raja Ganesha was emboldened to depose his son and accede to the throne himself as Danujamarddana Deva.
  •  Jalaluddin was reconverted to Hinduism by the Golden Cow ritual.
  • After the death of his father he once again converted to Islam and started ruling his second phase.

Second Phase (1418–1433)

  • Jalaluddin maintained a peaceful kingdom during his second phase.
  •  His authority stretched to eastern Bengal Moazzamabad (present-day Sunamganj) and south-eastern Bengal (present-day Chittagong).
  •  He also conquered Fathabad (present-day Faridpur) and the southern Bengal.
  • He died in1433 AD and was disputably buried in the Eklakhi Mausoleum at Pandua.

3. Shamsuddīn Aḥmad Shāh (1433 - 1436)

Second Phase (1418–1433) 

  • Ahmad ascended the throne at 14 years of age.
  •  The Muazzampur Shahi Mosque, adjoining the dargah of Shah Alam Shah Langar, in Muazzampur, Sonargaon was built during the reign of Ahmad Shah.
  •  Ahmad Shah ruled for only 3 years.
  • Ahmad Shah was killed by two of his powerful and influential servants, Sadi Khan and Nasir Khan in 1436 .
  • After his assassination, Sadi Khan and Nasir Khan fell out and were eventually overthrown. Bengal became under the Ilyas Shahi dynasty again after the ascension of Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah in 1437.



Ilyas Shahi Dynasty (1436-1494)

1. Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah(1436 - 1459)

  • Nasiruddin took the title of Nasiruddin Abul Muzaffar Mahmud Shah when he ascended to power in 1435 AD. It was twenty years since his dynasty lost the power in the first phase.
  • During his reign, the Sharqi sultans of Jaunpur were involved in a deadly conflict with the Lodhi sultans of Delhi. This kept Nasiruddin Mahmud's kingdom in peace and  also able to recover Bengal's military strength.
  • During his reign, Khan Jahan Ali conquered Khulna and Jessore. According to numismatic evidence, Nasiruddin Mahmud ruled over a vast kingdom bounded by the districts of Bhagalpur to the west, Mymensingh and Sylhet to the east, Gaur and Pandua to the north and Hughli to the south.
  • With the help of Khan Jahan Ali, Nasirudddin Mahmud made progress on Muslim settlements in different parts of Bengal. They constructed mosques, khanqas, tombs, and bridges, and excavated tanks. The significant mosques of his reign were the following :
  • Sixty Dome Mosque (Bengali: ষাট গম্বুজ মসজিদ) erected by Khan Jahan at Bagerhat.
  • The two mosques built by Sarfaraz Khan at Jangipur in the district of Murshidabad in 1443 AD.
  • The mosque built by Hilali at Gaur in 1455.
  • The mosque built at Dhaka by a woman named Bakht Binat Bibi in 1455 known as Binat Bibi Mosque.
  • The mosque built by Khurshid Khan at Bhagalpur in 1446 AD
  • Nasiruddin died in 1459 AD after a reign of twenty four years.


2. Rukunuddin Barbak Shah(1459–1474)

  • Barbak Shah was appointed the governor of the Satgaon region during the reign of his father. He ascended to the throne in 1459 after the death of Mahmud Shah.
  • Barbak Shah captured Orissa in the historical Kalinga war during his reign.
  • He also invaded Kamarupa (Assam) and sent Ismail Ghazi the hero of Kalinga war.
  • But Ismail Ghazi was too ambitious and tried to capture Kamarupa for himself.
  • For this conspiracy  Ismail Ghazi was killed and his head and body were buried at two different places.
  • Barbak Shah invaded Mithila (present-day Janakpur) and conquered the region.
  • Rukunuddin Barbak Shah died in 1474 after ruling Bengal for 15 years.


3. Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah(1474 - 1481)

  • He ascended the throne in 1474 and assumed the title Shamsuddin Abul Muzaffar Yusuf Shah.
  • Under his patronage poet Jaynuddin wrote his work Rasul Vijaya.
  • A number of mosques were erected in his era. The most notable ones were the Sakomohan Mosque in Maldah, the Tantipara Mosque, Goyghor Mosque, the Kadam Rasul Mosque and the Darasbari Mosque of Gaur.
  • He put strict Sharia law in order and prohibited drinking wine in his ruling kingdom.
  • He died in 1481.


4. Sikandar Shah II (1481)

  • Following the death of his father, Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah, Sikander rose to the throne though he did not retain this position for long.
  •  Historians Nizamuddin Ahmad and Ghulam Husain Salim indicate that Sikandar held the title for only a day or two, being removed almost immediately after his ascension because of his "lack of mental equilibrium".


5. Jalaluddin Fateh Shah(1481-1487)

  • No reference of military expedition led by Fateh Shah is found.
  • His kingdom was extended to Sylhet in the northeast and to the river Damodar in the southwest.
  •  During his reign, the Habshis took important and influential positions in his court. Fateh Shah took some measures to take back control.
  • But a conspiracy rose against him and later he was assassinated by the commander of the Habshi palace-guards, Shahzada, in 1487.
  • By his death, the rule of Ilyas dynasty came to an end.



Habshi Dynasty (1487-1494)

1. Shahzada Barbak (1487)

  • Shahzada Barbak  known by his regnal title as Barbak Shah II was the Sultan of Bengal in 1487 and the founder of the Sultanate's Habshi dynasty.
  •  He assumed the title Sultan Shahzada.
  •  His reign was short-lived, being murdered roughly in the same year as his coronation by Saifuddin Firuz Shah, an Abyssinian eunuch who was loyal to the Ilyas Shahi dynasty and was commander of the army.


2. Malik Andil Habshi(1487-1489)

  • Malik Andil Habshi  was the second Abyssinian ruler of the Bengal Sultanate's Habshi dynasty.
  • After claiming the throne, he styled himself as Saifuddin Firuz Shah.
  • He is often considered as the real founder of the Habshi rule in Bengal as the previous Shahzada Barbak only ruled for a few months.
  • He is described as a patron of architecture and calligraphy in Bengal.
  • His most famous architecture is the Firuz Minar. Named after himself, it is a large five-storeyed tower situated in Gauda.
  • His rule lasted two years until his death in 1489 where he was succeeded by his adopted son, Mahmud Shah II.
  • Most historians consider that he died of natural causes while some such as Ghulam Husain Salim and Jadunath Sarkar say that he was also killed by one of the Abyssinian palace-guards.


3.Mahmud Shah II (1489-1490)

  • Mahmud Shah II was an infant Sultan of Bengal with Habsh Khan as his regent.
  • Both of them were killed in 1490 CE by Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah.


4. Shams ad-Dīn Muẓaffar Shāh (1490-1494)

  • Sidi Badr, later known by his regnal name Shams ad-Dīn Muẓaffar Shāh was the Sultan of Bengal from 1490 to 1494.
  • He developed an army of 30,000 soldiers; recruiting thousands of Afghans and 5,000 Abyssinians during his time.
  • He also built many mosques during his reign in different places of Bengal.
  • In 1494, his wazir (chief minister) Sayyid Husain led a rebellion in which he was killed.



Hussain Shahi Dynasty (1494-1538)

1. Alauddin Husain Shah(1494-1519)

  • Husain succeeded as Sultan, assuming the name Alauddin Husain Shah, and founded the Hussain Shahi dynasty of Bengal.
  • Husain Shah's long reign of more than a quarter of a century was a period of peace and prosperity, which was strikingly contrast to the period that preceded it.
  • The liberal attitude of Husain Shah towards his Hindu subjects is also an important feature of his reign.
  • Engagement with the Delhi Sultanate happened and a treaty was signed as the country west of Barh went to Sikandar Lodi while the country east of Barh remained under Husain Shah of Bengal.
  • From 1499 to 1502, Husain Shah's general Shah Ismail Ghazi led an expedition to the Kamata kingdom and annexed the territory up to Hajo.
  • The reign of Husain Shah witnessed a remarkable development of Bengali literature.
  • Choto Shona Masjid was built in his time.
  • He died in 1519.


2. Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah (1519-1533)

  • Nāsir ad-Dīn Naṣrat Shāh, also known as Nusrat Shah, was the second Sultan of Bengal belonging to the Hussain Shahi dynasty.
  • He continued with his father's expansionist policies but by 1526, had to contend with the Mughal ascendency in the Battle of Ghaghra. Simultaneously, Nasrat Shah's reign also suffered a reverse at the hands of the Ahom kingdom.
  • The reigns of Alauddin Husain Shah and Nasrat Shah are generally regarded as the “golden age” of the Bengal Sultanate.


3. Alauddin Firuz Shah (1533)

  • Alauddin Firuz Shah was the son and successor of sultan Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah.
  • During his reign the conflict with Assam continued.
  • The Bengal army entered Assam and reached Kaliabor.
  • The war continued after the death of Firuz Shah. Alauddin Firuz Shah was assassinated by his uncle Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah in 1533.


4. Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah (1533-1538)

  • Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah was the last Sultan of the Hussain Shahi dynasty of the Bengal Sultanate, reigning from 1533 to 1538 CE.
  • Banglapedia assesses him as a "weak, pleasure loving and easy-going ruler" who "...had neither diplomatic foresight, nor any practical approach to the political problems which beset Bengal during his reign.
  • During his reign the Portuguese arrived in Chittagong in 1534, and were captured and sent to Gaur as prisoners on charges of mischief.
  •  But, in the face of enemy superiority he reconciled with them and permitted them to establish factories and commercial stations at Chittagong and Hughli.
  • Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah and his Portuguese allies were defeated and killed by Sher Shah Suri on 6 April 1538, as his appeals to the Mughal Emperor Humayun went unanswered.
  • So by this the Independent Sultanate rule came to an end in Bengal.


The history of the taka, also known as the tanka or tangka, refers to one of the major historical currencies of Asia, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and Tibet. It was introduced in the 14th century and became a currency of the Silk Road.

Currency of Independent Sultanate Rule in Bengal

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