Bengal Sultanate

The Sultanate of Bengal (also known as the Bengal Sultanate; Bangalah (Persian: بنگالهBangālah, Bengali: বাঙ্গালা/বঙ্গালা) and Shahi Bangalah (Persian: شاهی بنگالهShāhī Bangālah, Bengali: শাহী বাঙ্গলা)[2] was the sovereign power[3][4][5] of Bengal for much of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It emerged after more than a century of rule by the Delhi Sultanate. The Bengal Sultanate was a cosmopolitan and important Muslim state in Asia.[6] Described by the Europeans as the richest country to trade with,[7] it was the first independent unified Bengali kingdom under Muslim rule. The region became widely known as Bangalah and Bengala under this kingdom. The two terms are precursors to the modern terms Bangla and Bengal. In European and Chinese accounts, the Bengal Sultanate was described as a major trading nation in the medieval period.

The kingdom was formed after Delhi's governors in Bengal declared independence. Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah united the region's states into a single government headed by an imperial Sultan. Aside from a population of Bengalis, the kingdom was a stronghold for Persianate Turkic immigrants, Moorish merchants and Sufi clerics. It was notable for religious pluralism, in which Hindus played an important role in government, the military, land ownership and the arts. Bengal's economy flourished after the stoppage of wealth outflow to Delhi.[8] Shipbuilding and textile manufacturing became the largest industries. Bengali silver currency had a greater supply than Delhi.[9] The kingdom played an important role in Indian Ocean trade and Asian Pacific trade, with a maritime network stretching from the Red Sea and East Africa in the west to China, Brunei, Malacca and Sumatra in the east. Bengali ships were the largest vessels in Southeast Asia.[10] In the west, Bengal won wars against Delhi and Jaunpur; captured the attention of the Persian poet Hafez; traded with the Maldives; financed colleges in the Hejaz; and imported mercenaries from Africa. In the early 16th-century, permission was given for setting up the Portuguese settlement in Chittagong, which was the first European trading colony in Bengal.

At the height of its territorial empire, the kingdom ruled over areas in eastern South Asia and Southeast Asia. It restored Min Saw Mon as the king of Arakan after the Reconquest of Arakan. The Sultans were very Persianized.[11] Literature was fostered in Persian and Bengali, with strong Sufi influences. Bengali architecture evolved significantly during this period, with several external influences. Mosques were the most important civic architecture.[12] Sultan Sikandar Shah built the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent.

The kingdom was ruled by five dynasties. These included the Ilyas Shahi dynasty, the Hussain Shahi dynasty, the Suri dynasty, the Karrani dynasty; and the dynasty established by Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah. The sultanate's reign was interrupted by Raja Ganesha's coup and the rebellion of African mercenaries in the 15th-century;[13][14] and the invasion of Sher Shah Suri in the 16th-century.

The kingdom began to disintegrate in the 16th century, in the aftermath of Sher Shah Suri's conquests. The Mughal Empire began to absorb Bengal under its first emperor, Babur. The second Mughal emperor Humayun occupied the Bengali capital of Gaurh. In 1576, the armed forces of emperor Akbar defeated the last reigning Sultan Daud Khan Karrani. The region later became Mughal Bengal. The eastern Bhati region was ruled by remnants of the sultanate, known as the Twelve Bhuiyans, until the early 17th-century. The Twelve Bhuiyans resisted Mughal expansion under their leader Isa Khan before succumbing to Mughal conquest by the early 1600s.

Sultanate of Bengal
Shahi Bangla

শাহী বাংলা
Bengal Sultanate
CapitalPandua (1352-1450)
Sonargaon (1390-1411)[note 1][1]
Gaur (1450-1565)
Tandah (1565-1576)
Common languagesPersian, Bengali (official)
Arabic (religious)
Islam (official)
GovernmentAbsolute monarchy
• Unification of Bengal
• Mughal invasion
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Delhi Sultanate
Mughal Empire
Kingdom of Mrauk U
Suri Empire
Today part of Bangladesh


Adina Mosque at Malda district of West Bengal 07
Ruins of Adina Mosque, the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent, in Pandua
Codice Casanatense Bengalis
"People of the Kingdom of Bengal", 16th-century Portuguese illustration

The Delhi Sultanate lost its hold over Bengal in 1338 when separatist states were established by governors, including Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah in Sonargaon, Alauddin Ali Shah in Lakhnauti and Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah in Satgaon. In 1352, Ilyas Shah defeated the rulers of Sonargaon and Lakhnauti and united the Bengal region into an independent kingdom. He founded the Turkic Ilyas Shahi dynasty which ruled Bengal until 1490. During this time, much of the agricultural land was controlled by Hindu zamindars, which caused tensions with Muslim Taluqdars. The Ilyas Shahi rule was challenged by Raja Ganesha, a powerful Hindu landowner, who briefly managed to place his son, Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah, on the throne in the early 15th century, before the Ilyas Shahi dynasty was restored in 1432. The late 1480s saw four usurper sultans from the mercenary corps. Tensions between different Muslim communities often affected the kingdom.[15]

After a period of instability, Alauddin Hussain Shah gained control of Bengal in 1494 when he was prime minister. As Sultan, Hussain Shah ruled till 1519. The dynasty he founded reigned till 1538. Muslims and Hindus jointly served in the royal administration during the Hussain Shahi dynasty. This era is often regarded as a golden age of the Bengal Sultanate, in which Bengali territory included areas of Arakan, Orissa, Tripura and Assam.[15] The sultanate gave permission for establishing the Portuguese settlement in Chittagong. Sher Shah Suri conquered Bengal in the 16th century, during which he renovated the Grand Trunk Road.[16] After conquering Bengal, Sher Shah Suri proceeded to Agra. His governor in Bengal rebelled and later reclaimed the sultanate. The Pashtun Karrani dynasty was the last royal family of the kingdom.

The absorption of Bengal into the Mughal Empire was a gradual process. It began with the defeat of Bengali forces under Sultan Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah by Babur at the Battle of Ghaghra. Humayun occupied the Bengali capital of Gaur during the invasion of Sher Shah Suri against both the Mughals and Bengal Sultans. Mughal rule formally began with the Battle of Raj Mahal when the last reigning Sultan of Bengal was defeated by the forces of Akbar. The Bengal Subah was created. The eastern deltaic Bhati region remained outside of Mughal control until being absorbed in the early 17th-century. The delta was controlled by a confederation of twelve aristocrats of the former sultanate, who became known as the Twelve Bhuiyans. Their leader was Isa Khan, a former nobleman of the sultanate. The Mughal government eventually suppressed the remnants of the sultanate in Bhati and brought all of Bengal under imperial rule.


The Firoz Minar in Gaur

The Bengal Sultanate was an absolute monarchy. The Ilyas Shahi dynasty promoted a Persianate society. It copied the pre-Muslim Persian tradition of monarchy and statecraft. The courts of the capital cities sanctified the sultan, used Persianized royal paraphernalia, adopted an elaborate court ceremony modeled on the Sasanian imperial paradigm, employed a hierarchical bureaucracy, and promoted Islam as the state religion. The rise of Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah saw more native elements inducted in the courts.[17] The Hussain Shahi dynasty employed many Hindus in the government and promoted a form of religious pluralism.[18]


Babur began absorbing Bengal in the early 16th century

Military strength was the existential basis of medieval kingdoms in Bengal and other parts of India. The sultans had a well-organised army, including cavalry, artillery, infantry and war elephants; and a navy. Due to the riverine geography and climate, it was not feasible to use cavalry throughout the year in Bengal. The cavalry was probably the weakest component of the Bengal Sultanate's army, as the horses had to be imported from foreign countries. The artillery was an important section. Portuguese historian João de Barros opined that the military supremacy of Bengal over Arakan and Tripura was due to its efficient artillery. The artillery used cannons and guns of various sizes.[19]

The paiks formed the vital part of the Bengal infantry during this period. There were occasions when the paiks also tackled political situations. The particular battle array of the foot-soldiers who used bows, arrows and guns attracted the attention of Babur.[19]

War elephants played an important part in the Bengal army. Apart from carrying war materials, elephants were also used for the movement of the armed personnel. In riverine Bengal the usefulness of elephants, though very slow, could not be minimised. The navy was of prime necessity in riverine Bengal. In fact, the cavalry could ensure the hold over this country for a period of six months whereas the boats backed by the paiks could command supremacy over the other half of the year. Since the time of Iwaz Khalji, who first organised a naval force in Islamic Bengal, the war boats played an important role in the political affairs of the country. The chief of the admiralty had various responsibilities, including shipbuilding, river transport, to fit out strong boats for transporting war elephants; to recruit seamen; to patrol the rivers and to collect tolls at ghats. The efficiency of the navy eroded during the Hussain Shahi dynasty. The sultans also built forts, including temporary mud walled forts.[19]

Name of Conflict Belligerents Outcome
Allies Opponent(s)
Bengal Sultanate-Delhi Sultanate War (1353–1359) Velanati Chodas Delhi Sultanate Victory
  • Delhi recognizes Bengal Sultanate
Bengal Sultanate-Jaunpur Sultanate War (1415-1420) Timurid Empire
Ming China
Jaunpur Sultanate Victory
  • Jaunpur halts raids on Bengal
Reconquest of Arakan (1429-1430) Launggyet Burmese Kingdoms Victory
Bengal Sultanate–Kamata Kingdom War (1498) Kamata Kingdom Victory
  • Khen dynasty overthrown
Bengal Sultanate-Kingdom of Mrauk U War of 1512-1516 Kingdom of Mrauk U Victory
Battle of Ghaghra
Eastern Afghan Confederates Mughal Empire Defeat
  • Bengal signs peace treaty with Mughals
Battle of Raj Mahal
Mughal Empire Defeat
  • Last Bengal Sultan captured


Maritime links of the Sultanate of Bengal
Maritime links of the Bengal Sultanate

The economy of the Bengal Sultanate inherited earlier aspects of the Delhi Sultanate, including mint towns, a salaried bureaucracy and the jagirdar system of land ownership. The production of silver coins inscribed with the name of the Sultan of Bengal was a mark of Bengali sovereignty.[20]

Bengal was more successful in perpetuating purely silver coinage than Delhi and other contemporary Asian and European governments. There were three sources of silver. The first source was the leftover silver reserve of previous kingdoms. The second source was the tribute payments of subordinate kingdoms which were paid in silver bullion. The third source was during military campaigns when Bengali forces sacked neighboring states.[9]

The apparent vibrancy of the Bengal economy in the beginning of the 15th-century is attributed to the end of tribute payments to Delhi, which ceased after Bengali independence and stopped the outflow of wealth. Ma Huan's testimony of a flourishing shipbuilding industry was part of the evidence that Bengal enjoyed significant seaborne trade. The expansion of muslin production, sericulture and the emergence of several other crafts were indicated in Ma Huan's list of items exported from Bengal to China. Bengali shipping co-existed with Chinese shipping until the latter withdrew from the Indian Ocean in the mid-15th-century. The testimony of European travelers such as Ludovico di Varthema, Duarte Barbosa and Tomé Pires attest to the presence of a large number of wealthy Bengali merchants and shipowners in Malacca.[8] Bengal was also an entrepot. For example, horses were imported into Bengal and re-exported to China.[21]

The baghlah was a type of ship widely used by traders in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Malacca Straits and the South China Sea

A vigorous riverine shipbuilding tradition existed in Bengal. The shipbuilding tradition is evidenced in the sultanate's naval campaigns in the Ganges delta. The trade between Bengal and the Maldives, based on rice and cowry shells, was probably done on Arab-style baghlah ships. Chinese accounts point to Bengali ships being prominent in Southeast Asian waters. A vessel from Bengal, probably owned by the Sultan of Bengal, could accommodate three tribute missions- from Bengal, Brunei and Sumatra- and was evidently the only vessel capable of such a task. Bengali ships were the largest vessels plying in those decades in Southeast Asian waters.[10]

All large business transactions were done in terms of silver taka. Smaller purchases involved shell currency. One silver coin was worth 10,250 cowry shells. Bengal relied on shiploads of cowry shell imports from the Maldives. Due to the fertile land, there was an abundance of agricultural commodities, including bananas, jackfruits, pomegranate, sugarcane, and honey. Native crops included rice and sesame. Vegetables included ginger, mustard, onions, and garlic among others. There were four types of wines, including coconut, rice, tarry and kajang. Bengali streets were well provided with eating establishments, drinking houses and bathhouses. At least six varieties of fine muslin cloth existed. Silk fabrics were also abundant. Pearls, rugs and ghee were other important products. The finest variety of paper was made in Bengal from the bark of mulberry trees. The high quality of paper was compared with the lightweight white muslin cloth.[22]

Europeans referred to Bengal as "the richest country to trade with".[23] Bengal was the eastern pole of Islamic India. Like the Gujarat Sultanate in the western coast of India, Bengal in the east was open to the sea and accumulated profits from trade. Bengal also followed the prosperous Malabar Coast of southern India in becoming a center for re-exports.[21] Merchants from around the world began to trade in the Bay of Bengal. Cotton textile exports were a unique aspect of the Bengali economy. Marco Polo noted Bengal's prominence in the textile trade.[24][25] In 1569, Venetian explorer Caesar Frederick wrote about how merchants from Pegu in Burma traded in silver and gold with Bengalis.[24] Overland trade routes such as the Grand Trunk Road connected Bengal to northern India, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Currency and mint towns

Silver Coin of Jalaluddin
Silver taka with a lion symbol, 15th century

The Taka was the currency of the Bengal Sultanate. Locations hosting a mint also served as provincial capitals, known as mint towns. The following includes a partial listing of mint towns in the Bengal Sultanate.[26]

  1. Lakhnauti
  2. Sonargaon
  3. Ghiaspur (Mymensingh)
  4. Satgaon
  5. Firuzabad (Pandua)
  6. Shahr-i-Naw (Pandua)
  7. Muzzamabad (Sonargaon)
  8. Jannatabad (Lakhnauti)
  9. Fathabad (Faridpur)
  10. Chatgaon (Chittagong)
  11. Rotaspur (Bihar)
  12. Mahmudabad (Jessore and Nadia)
  13. Barbakaabad (Dinajpur)
  14. Muzaffarabad (Pandua)
  15. Muahmmadabad
  16. Husaynabad (24 Parganas)
  17. Chandrabad (Murshidabad)
  18. Nusratabad (Bogra and Rangpur)
  19. Khalifatabad (Bagerhat)
  20. Badarpur (Bagerhat)
  21. Sharifabad (Birbhum)
  22. Tandah (Malda)


ষাট গম্বুজ মসজিদ, বাগেরহাট 02
Khan Jahan Ali, the Sultan's governor in the Sundarbans, built the Mosque City of Bagerhat

Bengali was the most spoken language. Persian was an administrative and commercial language. Men wore white shirts, cotton fabrics of various colors, turbans, sarongs, lungis, dhutis, leather shoes, and belts to wrap their robes on the waist. Women wore cotton saris. Upper-class women wore gold jewelry. There were various classes of artisans, as well as physicians and fortune tellers. There was a class of musicians who would gather by the houses of the rich during dawn and play music; and they would be rewarded with wine, food and money during breakfast hours. Some men would have performances with a chained tiger. The Hindu minority did not eat beef. The streets and markets included bathing areas, eating and drinking places, and dessert shops. Betel nut was offered to guests. The population included royalty, aristocrats, natives and foreigners. Many of the rich built ships and went abroad for trade. Many were agriculturalists. Punishments for breaking the law included expulsion from the kingdom, as well as bamboo flogging.[27]


Bengal was a melting pot under the sultanate. It received settlers from North India, the Middle East and Central Asia. They included Turks, Afghans, Persians and Arabs.[28] An important migrant community were Persians. Many Persians in Bengal were teachers, lawyers, scholars and clerics.[29] Mercenaries were widely imported for domestic, military and political service. One particular group of mercenaries were the Abyssinians.[17]

Diplomatic relations

Tribute Giraffe with Attendant
The giraffe gifted by Bengal to China in 1414
Silver coin from Arakan. The kings of Arakan modelled currency, government and even royal clothing based on the Bengal Sultanate


Political relations between China and the Indian subcontinent became nonexistent after the decline of Buddhism in India.[30] In the 15th century, the Bengal Sultanate revived the subcontinent's relations with China for the first time in centuries. Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah began sending envoys to the Ming dynasty. He sent ambassadors in 1405, 1408 and 1409.[31] Emperor Yongle of China responded by sending ambassadors to Bengal between 1405 and 1433, including members of the Treasure voyages fleet led by Admiral Zheng He.[32] The exchange of embassies included the gift of an East African giraffe by Sultan Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah to the Chinese emperor in 1414.[33][34][32] China also mediated an end to the Bengal-Jaunpur War after a request from Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah.[35]

Ming China considered Bengal to be "rich and civilized" and one of the strongest countries in the entire chain of contacts between China and Asian states during the 15th-century.[36]


Following Vasco Da Gama's landing in southern India, Portuguese traders from Malacca, Ceylon and Bombay began traversing the sea routes of the Bay of Bengal. In the early 16th century, Bengal received official Portuguese envoys.[37] Permission was given for the establishment of the Portuguese settlement in Chittagong.


There are records of diplomatic relations between Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah and Sultan Ashraf Barsbay of Mamluk Egypt. The latter sent the Bengali sultan a robe of honor and a letter of recognition.[38]


There are records of envoys from the East African city state of Malindi being hosted in the Bengali court.[39] Animals constituted a significant part of tributes in medieval courts.[33] The East African envoys brought giraffes, which were noticed by Chinese envoys.[39]


There are records of contacts between Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah and Sultan Shahrukh Mirza, the Timurid ruler of Herat.[35]


Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam began sending envoys to the neighboring Jaunpur Sultanate. He sent elephants as gifts to Sultan Khawja Jahan.[31] The two kingdoms fought a war between 1415 and 1420. The end of the war brought a long period of peace between the neighboring states. In 1494, Sultan Husayn Shah Sharqi of Jaunpur took refuge in Bengal.[40]


Chinese accounts state that Bengali ships carried an embassy from the Bruneian Empire to Ming China.[10]


The island of Sumatra lies at the southeastern tip of the Bay of Bengal. Northern Sumatra was ruled by the Aceh Sultanate. Chinese accounts state that Bengali ships carried a Sumatran embassy to Ming China.[10]


European accounts refer to the presence of a large number of Bengali merchants in the Malacca Sultanate. The merchants were wealthy shipowners. It is yet to be ascertained whether these merchants had a significant role in the Sultan's court.[8] Ship-owning merchants were often royal envoys.[41]


The Delhi Sultanate initially received tributes from the Bengal Sultanate between 1353 and 1359. Tributes stopped after a war and peace treaty in 1359. The Delhi Sultanate gradually weakened, leaving Bengal as the most powerful state in eastern India.

Contribution to Mecca and Medina

Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam sponsored the construction of madrasas (Islamic theological schools) in Mecca and Medina.[42] The schools became known as the Ghiyasia Madrasa and Banjaliah Madrasa. Taqiuddin Fasi, a contemporary Arab historian, was a teacher at the madrasa in Mecca. The madrasa in Medina was built at a place called Husn al-Atiq near the Prophet's Mosque.[43] Several other Bengali sultans also sponsored madrasas in Mecca and Medina, including Sultan Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah.[35]


The kingdom was visited by noblemen from city states such as the Venetian Republic, including Niccolo De Conti, Caeser Frederick and Ludovico di Varthema.[44][45][46][47]


Muslim poets were writing in the Bengali language by the 15th century. By the turn of the 16th century, a vernacular literature based on concepts of Sufism and Islamic cosmology flourished in the region. Bengali Muslim mystic literature was one of the most original in Islamic India.[25]

Hafez 880714 095
Tomb of Hafez in Shiraz. The Iranian poet wrote a poem for the Sultan of Bengal

And with the three washers [cups of wine], this dispute is going on.

All the parrots [poets] of India have fallen into a sugar shattering situation (become excited)

That this Persian candy [ode], to Bangalah [Bengal] is going on.

-An excerpt of a poem jointly penned by Hafez and Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah in the 14th century.[48]

With Persian as an official language, Bengal witnessed an influx of Persian scholars, lawyers, teachers and clerics. It was the preferred language of the aristocracy and the Sufis. Thousands of Persian books and manuscripts were published in Bengal. The earliest Persian work compiled in Bengal was a translation of Amrtakunda from Sanskrit by Qadi Ruknu'd-Din Abu Hamid Muhammad bin Muhammad al-'Amidi of Samarqand, a famous Hanafi jurist and Sufi. During the reign of Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah, the city of Sonargaon became an important centre of Persian literature, with many publications of prose and poetry. The period is described as the "golden age of Persian literature in Bengal". Its stature is illustrated by the Sultan's own correspondence with the Persian poet Hafez. When the Sultan invited Hafez to complete an incomplete ghazal by the ruler, the renowned poet responded by acknowledging the grandeur of the king's court and the literary quality of Bengali-Persian poetry.[49]

In the 15th century, the Sufi poet Nur Qutb Alam pioneered Bengali Muslim poetry by establishing the Rikhta tradition, which saw poems written half in Persian and half in colloquial Bengali. The invocation tradition saw Islamic figures replacing the invocation of Hindu gods and goddesses in Bengali texts. The literary romantic tradition saw poems by Shah Muhammad Sagir on Yusuf and Zulaikha, as well as works of Bahram Khan and Sabirid Khan. The Dobhashi culture featured the use of Arabic and Persian words in Bengali texts to illustrate Muslim conquests. Epic poetry included Nabibangsha by Syed Sultan, Janganama by Abdul Hakim and Rasul Bijay by Shah Barid. Sufi literature flourished with a dominant theme of cosmology. Bengali Muslim writers produced translations of numerous Arabic and Persian works, including the Thousand and One Nights and the Shahnameh.[50][51]


The large number of mosques built during the Bengal Sultanate indicates the rapidity with which the local population converted to Islam. The period between 1450 and 1550 was an intensive mosque building era. These mosques dotted the countryside, ranged from small to medium sizes and were used for daily devotion. Most mosques were either of rectangular or square shape. The rectangular building without an enclosed courtyard became a popular type for both large and medium-sized mosques. Bengali mosques would be covered several small domes. Other features of Bengali mosques would include corner towers, curved roofs, multiple mihrabs, pointed arches and in some cases, a dome in the shape of a hut's roof. Bengali mosques had a conspicuous absence of minarets. Ponds were often located beside a mosque. Arabic inscriptions in the mosques often include the name of the patron or builder. The most commonly cited verse from the Quran in inscriptions was Surah 72, Al-Jinn. A glimpse of houses in the Bengal Sultanate can be seen in the Iskandar Nama (Tale of Alexander) published by Sultan Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah.[52]

The buildings were made of brick. The brick mosque with terracotta decoration represented a grand structure in the Bengal Sultanate. They were often the gift of a wealthy patron and the fruit of extraordinary effort, which would not be found in every Muslim neighborhood.[52]

An exceptional building was the Adina Mosque, the imperial mosque of Bengal and the largest mosque ever built in the Indian subcontinent.[53] The monumental structure was designed in the hypostyle of early Islam with a plan similar to the Umayyad Mosque. The style is associated with the introduction of Islam in new areas.[52]

Chapai DhaniChakMosque 03Jun16 MG 4958

Dhani Chowk Mosque

Chapai ChotoSonaMashjid MG 5054

Sona Mosque

Chapai KhaniaDighiMosque 03Jun16 MG 4933

Khania Dighi Mosque

Eklakhi Mausoleum at Pandua in Malda district 02

Eklakhi Mausoluem

Pulpit of Bagha Mosque

Mihrab of Bagha Mosque

Faridpur PatrailMoshjid MG 2967

Pathrail Mosque

List of Sultans

India in 1525 Joppen
Bengal and contemporary states in the Indian subcontinent
Map of Ming Chinese empire 1415 (cropped)
States of the Far East, 1415
AtlasMiller BNF Indian Ganges
The Bengal Sultanate, shown as the Ganges Delta, in the Portuguese Miller Atlas map from 1519

Ilyas Shahi dynasty (1342-1414)

Name Reign Notes
Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah 1342–1358 Became the first sole ruler of whole Bengal comprising Sonargaon, Satgaon and Lakhnauti.
Sikandar Shah 1358–1390 Assassinated by his son and successor, Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah
Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah 1390–1411
Saifuddin Hamza Shah 1411–1413
Muhammad Shah bin Hamza Shah 1413 Assassinated by his father's slave Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah on the orders of the landlord of Dinajpur, Raja Ganesha
Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah 1413–1414
Alauddin Firuz Shah I 1414 Son of Shihabuddin Bayazid Shah. Assassinated by Raja Ganesha

House of Raja Ganesha (1414-1435)

Name Reign Notes
Raja Ganesha 1414–1415
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah 1415–1416 Son of Raja Ganesha and converted into Islam
Raja Ganesha 1416–1418 Second Phase
Jalaluddin Muhammad Shah 1418–1433 Second Phase
Shamsuddin Ahmad Shah 1433–1435

Restored Ilyas Shahi dynasty (1435-1487)

Name Reign Notes
Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah I 1435–1459
Rukunuddin Barbak Shah 1459–1474
Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah 1474–1481
Sikandar Shah II 1481
Jalaluddin Fateh Shah 1481–1487

Habshi rule (1487-1494)

Name Reign Notes
Shahzada Barbak 1487
Saifuddin Firuz Shah 1487–1489
Mahmud Shah II 1489–1490
Shamsuddin Muzaffar Shah 1490–1494

Hussain Shahi dynasty (1494-1538)

Name Reign Notes
Alauddin Hussain Shah 1494–1518
Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah 1518–1533
Alauddin Firuz Shah II 1533
Ghiyasuddin Mahmud Shah 1533–1538

Governors under Suri rule (1539-1554)

An illustration of the conqueror Sher Shah Suri
Name Reign Notes
Khidr Khan 1539–1541 Declared independence in 1541 and was replaced
Qazi Fazilat 1541–1545
Muhammad Khan Sur 1545–1554 Declared independence upon the death of Islam Shah Suri

Muhammad Shah dynasty (1554-1564)

Name Reign Notes
Muhammad Khan Sur 1554–1555 Declared independence and styled himself as Shamsuddin Muhammad Shah
Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah I 1555–1561
Ghiyasuddin Jalal Shah 1561–1563
Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah II 1563-1564

Karrani dynasty (1564-1576)

Name Reign Notes
Taj Khan Karrani 1564–1566
Sulaiman Khan Karrani 1566–1572
Bayazid Khan Karrani 1572
Daud Khan Karrani 1572–1576

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ "History". Banglapedia. Archived from the original on 29 September 2017. Retrieved 23 September 2017. Shah-i-Bangalah, Shah-i-Bangaliyan and Sultan-i-Bangalah
  3. ^ Wink, André (2003). Indo-Islamic society: 14th - 15th centuries. BRILL. ISBN 978-9004135611.
  4. ^ Uhlig, Siegbert (2003). Encyclopaedia Aethiopica. p. 151.
  5. ^ Embree, Ainslie (1988). Encyclopedia of Asian history. Asia Society. p. 149.
  6. ^ Barbara Watson Andaya; Leonard Y. Andaya (19 February 2015). A History of Early Modern Southeast Asia, 1400-1830. Cambridge University Press. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-521-88992-6.
  7. ^ Nanda, J. N (2005). Bengal: the unique state. Concept Publishing Company. p. 10. 2005. ISBN 978-81-8069-149-2. Bengal [...] was rich in the production and export of grain, salt, fruit, liquors and wines, precious metals and ornaments besides the output of its handlooms in silk and cotton. Europe referred to Bengal as the richest country to trade with.
  8. ^ a b c Irfan Habib (2011). Economic History of Medieval India, 1200-1500. Pearson Education India. p. 185. ISBN 978-81-317-2791-1.
  9. ^ a b John H Munro (6 October 2015). Money in the Pre-Industrial World: Bullion, Debasements and Coin Substitutes. Routledge. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-317-32191-0.
  10. ^ a b c d Tapan Raychaudhuri Irfan Habib Dharma Kumar Meghnad Desai (1982). The Cambridge Economic History of India: Volume 1, C.1200-c.1750. CUP Archive. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-521-22692-9.
  11. ^ Richard M. Eaton (31 July 1996). The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760. University of California Press. pp. 40–50. ISBN 978-0-520-20507-9.
  12. ^ Snyder, Michael (9 May 2019). "In Bangladesh, Reimagining What a Mosque Might Be" – via
  13. ^ Pillai, Manu S. "The forgotten history of the African slaves who were brought to the Deccan and rose to great power".
  14. ^ Pandey, Vikas (19 December 2014). "Africans in India: From slaves to reformers and rulers" – via
  15. ^ a b David Lewis (31 October 2011). Bangladesh: Politics, Economy and Civil Society. Cambridge University Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-1-139-50257-3.
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  1. ^ Sultan Ghiyasuddin Azam Shah held his court in Sonargaon.

Further reading

  • Yegar, Moshe (2002). Between Integration and Secession: The Muslim Communities of the Southern Philippines, Southern Thailand, and Western Burma/Myanmar. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. pp. 23–24. ISBN 978-0-7391-0356-2.
  • Hussain, Syed Ejaz (2003). The Bengal Sultanate: Politics, Economy and Coins, A.D. 1205–1576. Manohar. ISBN 978-81-7304-482-3.
  • The Grammar of Sultanate Mosque in Bengal Architecture, Nujaba Binte Kabir (2012)

Coordinates: 24°52′0″N 88°8′0″E / 24.86667°N 88.13333°E

Adina Mosque

The Adina Mosque (Bengali: আদিনা মসজিদ) was the largest mosque in the Indian subcontinent. It was built during the Bengal Sultanate as a royal mosque by Sikandar Shah, who is also buried in the mosque. Shah was a member of the Ilyas Shahi dynasty and carried lofty titles such as "the exalted Sultan" and "Caliph of the Faithful". The mosque is situated in Pandua, a former royal capital. The vast architecture is associated with the hypostyle of the Umayyad Mosque, which was used during the introduction of Islam in new areas. The early Bengal Sultanate harboured imperial ambitions after having defeated the Delhi Sultanate twice in 1353 and 1359. The Adina Mosque was commissioned in 1373. The sultanate disintegrated during the sixteenth century with the rise of the Mughal Empire..Today, the mosque is mostly in ruins. It is located in the Indian state of West Bengal near the border with Bangladesh.

Battle of Ghaghra

The Battle of Ghaghra, fought in 1529, was a major battle for the conquest of India by the Mughal Empire. It followed the first Battle of Panipat in 1526 and the Battle of Khanwa in 1527. The forces of now Emperor Zahir ud-Din Muhammad Babur of the emerging Mughal Empire were joined by Indian allies in battle against the Eastern Afghan Confederates under Sultan Mahmud Lodi and Sultanate of Bengal under Sultan Nusrat Shah.

Battle of Raj Mahal

The Battle of Rajmahal was a battle that took place between the Mughal Empire and the Karrani Dynasty that ruled the Sultanate of Bengal in 16th century. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for the Mughals. During the battle, the last Sultan of Bengal, Daud Khan Karrani, was captured and later executed by the Mughals.

Bengal Sultanate–Delhi Sultanate War

The Bengal Sultanate–Delhi Sultanate War was a conflict between the Bengal Sultanate and the Delhi Sultanate in the Indian subcontinent. The war resulted in Delhi recognizing the separation of Bengal from its authority.

Bengal Sultanate–Jaunpur Sultanate War

The Bengal Sultanate–Jaunpur Sultanate War was a conflict between the Bengal Sultanate and the Jaunpur Sultanate in the Indian subcontinent. The conflict ended after diplomatic pressure from the Timurid Empire and the Ming Empire.

Bengal Sultanate–Kingdom of Mrauk U War of 1512–1516

The Bengal Sultanate–Kingdom of Mrauk U War of 1512–1516 was a conflict in the 16th century between the Bengal Sultanate and the Kingdom of Mrauk U.

Bengali Muslims

Bengali Muslims (Bengali: বাঙালি মুসলমান) are an ethnic, linguistic, and religious population who make up the majority of Bangladesh's citizens and the largest minority in the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. They are Bengalis who adhere to Islam and speak the Bengali language. They form the largest Bengali and the second largest Muslim ethnic group in the world (after Arab Muslims).Bengal was a leading power of the medieval Islamic East. Europeans traders identified the Bengal Sultanate as "the richest country to trade with". During Emperor Aurangazeb's rule, the Bengal Subah, as the richest region of the Mughal Empire, was described as the Paradise of Nations, and its citizens, chiefly Muslims, had the highest standard of living and real wages in the world. Two Bengal viceroys – Muhammad Azam Shah and Azim-us-Shan – assumed the imperial throne. Mughal Bengal became increasingly independent under the Nawabs of Bengal in the 18th century.The endogamous Bengali Muslim population emerged as a synthesis of Islamic and Bengali cultures. After the Partition of India in 1947, they comprised the demographic majority of Pakistan until the independence of East Pakistan (historic East Bengal) as Bangladesh in 1971.

Gauḍa (city)

Gauḍa (also known as Gaur, Gour, Lakhnauti, and Jannatabad) was one of the prominent capital cities in the history of the Indian subcontinent. It is located on the border between modern-day India and Bangladesh, with most of its ruins on the Indian side and a few structures on the Bangladeshi side. The course of the Ganges River was located near the city before a change in the course of the river. Gauda rivaled other imperial cities in the Indian subcontinent in terms of wealth and population.

Gauda was the capital city of Bengal under several kingdoms. The Gauda region was also a province of several pan-Indian empires. During the 7th century, the Gauda Kingdom was founded by King Shashanka, whose reign corresponds with the beginning of the Bengali calendar. The Pala Empire was founded in Gauda during the 8th century. The empire ruled large parts of the northern Indian subcontinent. Gauda was also the seat of the Sena dynasty until its overthrow by the Delhi Sultanate in the 13th-century.

For over one hundred years between 1450 and 1565, Gauda was the capital of the Bengal Sultanate. The Portuguese left detailed accounts of the city. The Sultans built a citadel, many mosques, a royal palace, canals and bridges. Buildings featured glazed tiles. It became one of the most densely populated cities in the Indian subcontinent. The city thrived until the collapse of the Bengal Sultanate in the 16th-century when the Mughal Empire took control of the region. When the Mughal Emperor Humayun invaded the region, he renamed the city as Jannatabad (heavenly city). Most of the surviving structures in Gauda are from the period of the Bengal Sultanate. The city was sacked by Sher Shah Suri. An outbreak of the plague contributed to the city's downfall.

Today, much of the ruins of Gauda are located along the Bangladesh-India border. Most of the ruins are located on the Indian side in the Malda district of West Bengal. The Chapai Nawabganj district of Bangladesh also hosts remnants of the former capital.

History of Bengal

The history of Bengal is intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent and the surrounding regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia. It includes modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley, located in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, at the apex of the Bay of Bengal and dominated by the fertile Ganges delta. The advancement of civilisation in Bengal dates back four millennia. The region was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Gangaridai. The Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers act as a geographic marker of the region, but also connects the region to the broader Indian subcontinent. Bengal, at times, has played an important role in the history of the Indian subcontinent.

The area's early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. Ancient Bengal was the site of several major Janapadas (kingdoms), while the earliest cities date back to the Vedic period. A thalassocracy and an entrepôt of the historic Silk Road, Ancient Bengal established colonies on Indian Ocean islands and in Southeast Asia; had strong trade links with Persia, Arabia and the Mediterranean that focused on its lucrative cotton muslin textiles. The region was part of several ancient pan-Indian empires, including the Mauryans and Guptas. It was also a bastion of regional kingdoms. The citadel of Gauda served as capital of the Gauda Kingdom, the Buddhist Pala Empire (eighth to 11th century) and Hindu Sena Empire (11th–12th century). This era saw the development of Bengali language, script, literature, music, art and architecture.

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 Koch Kingdom, Kingdom of Mallabhum, Kingdom of Bhurshut and Kingdom of Tripura; and the realm of powerful Hindu Rajas such as Pratapaditya and Raja Sitaram Ray. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Isa Khan, a Muslim Rajput chief, who led the Baro Bhuiyans (twelve landlords), dominated the Bengal delta.Following the decline of the sultanate, Bengal came under the suzerainty of the Mughal Empire, as its wealthiest province. Under the Mughals, Bengal Subah generated almost 50% of the empire's gross domestic product (GDP) and 12% of the world's GDP. The region was globally prominent in industries such as textile manufacturing and shipbuilding, with the capital Dhaka having a population exceeding a million people and being more wealthy than all European empires. Its wealth and economic developments are believed to have waved the period of proto-industrialization.The gradual decline of the Mughal Empire led to quasi-independent states under the Nawabs of Bengal, subsequent Maratha expeditions in Bengal, and finally the conquest by the British East India Company.

The British took control of the region from the late 18th century. The company consolidated their hold on the region following the Battle of Plassey in 1757 and Battle of Buxar in 1764 and by 1793 took complete control of the region. The plunder of Bengal made direct significant contributions to the Industrial Revolution in Britain, with the capital amassed from Bengal used to invest in British industries such as textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution and greatly increase British wealth, while at the same time leading to deindustrialisation in Bengal. Kolkata (or Calcutta) served for many years as the capital of British controlled territories in India. The early and prolonged exposure to British administration resulted in the expansion of Western education, culminating in development of science, institutional education, and social reforms in the region, including what became known as the Bengali Renaissance. A hotbed of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided during India's independence in 1947 along religious lines into two separate entities: West Bengal—a state of India—and East Bengal—a part of the newly created Dominion of Pakistan that later became the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Hussain Shahi dynasty

The Hussain Shahi dynasty ruled from 1494 to 1538. Alauddin Husain Shah, considered as the greatest of all the sultans of Bengal for bringing a cultural renaissance during his reign. He conquered Kamarupa, Kamata, Jajnagar, and Orissa and extended the sultanate all the way to the port of Chittagong, which witnessed the arrival of the first Portuguese merchants. Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah gave refuge to the Afghan lords during the invasion of Babur though he remained neutral.The Hindu people of Bengal gave him the titles of Nripati Tilak and jagatbhusan. He was also known as Akbar of Bengal. He encourage the translation of Sanskrit literature in Bengali. He built a famous mosque named chota sona masjid.

However, Nasrat Shah made a treaty with Babur and saved Bengal from a Mughal invasion. The last Sultan of the dynasty, who continued to rule from Sonargaon, had to contend with rising Afghan activity on his northwestern border. Eventually, the Afghans broke through and sacked the capital in 1538 where they remained for several decades until the arrival of Mughal dynasty.


Karlāṇī (Pashto: کرلاڼي‎) is a Pashtun tribal confederacy. The others being Sarbani, Gharghashti and Bettani. They primarily inhabit the FATA region of North West Pakistan and certain parts of eastern Afghanistan.In the 16th century the Karlani founded the Karrani dynasty, the last dynasty to rule the Bengal Sultanate.

The legend of Karlani in the folklore says:

"In his infancy he became an orphan and after losing his family he alone survived and was adopted by the Ormur Tribe. The tribe gave him shelter & protection & raised him like their own son. When he reached a marriageable age, the chief of the Ormur tribe made Karlan his son in law." But actually He is not the son of Ghurghusht nor Ormur.

Karrani dynasty

The Karrani dynasty (Pashto: د کرلاڼيو واکمني‎, Bengali: কররানী) was founded in 1564 by Taj Khan Karrani, an ethnic Pashtun from the Karlani tribe. It was the last dynasty to rule the Sultanate of Bengal.

Kingdom of Mrauk U

The Kingdom of Mrauk-U was an independent coastal kingdom of Arakan which existed for over 350 years. It was based in the city of Mrauk-U, near the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal. The kingdom from 1429 to 1785 ruled over what is now Rakhine State, Myanmar and Chittagong Division, Bangladesh. From 1429 to 1531 it was a protectorate of the Bengal Sultanate at different time periods. After gaining independence from Bengal, it prospered with help from the Portuguese settlement in Chittagong. In 1666, it lost control of Chittagong after a war with the Mughal Empire. Its reign continued until the 18th century, when it fell to the invasion of the Burmese Empire.It was home to a multiethnic population with the city of Mrauk U being home to mosques, temples, shrines, seminaries and libraries. The kingdom was also a center of piracy and the slave trade. It was frequented by Arab, Danish, Dutch and Portuguese traders.

List of wars involving Bangladesh

This is a list of battles and wars that involved and occurred in Bangladesh, or Bengal throughout different periods in history. Most of the battles and wars occurred when the modern area of Bengal was under different empires, especially the Mughal Empire and the British Empire, and the Bengalis served in both the Mughal and the British militaries. Since the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, it has its own military.

Mosque City of Bagerhat

The Mosque City of Bagerhat (Bengali: মসজিদের শহর বাগেরহাট; historically known as Khalifatabad) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bagerhat District, Bangladesh. It contains several mosques built during the Bengal Sultanate in the 15th-century, of which the Sixty Dome Mosque is the largest. Other mosques include the Singair Mosque, the Nine Dome Mosque, the Tomb of Khan Jahan, the Bibi Begni Mosque and the Ronvijoypur Mosque. The mosques were built during the governorship of Ulugh Khan Jahan, a Turkic military officer appointed as governor in the Sundarbans by Sultan Mahmud Shah of Bengal.

The site was a "mint town" of the Bengal Sultanate. Bagerhat has one of the largest concentrations of sultanate-era mosques in Bangladesh. The historic city, listed by Forbes as one of the 15 lost cities of the world, has more than 50 structures built in the Bengal Sultanate style of Indo-Islamic architecture. The mosques of Bagerhat display the simplistic 'Khan Jahan Style' of the Bengal Sultanate variant. These were uncovered after removing the vegetation that had obscured them from view for many centuries. The site has been recognised by UNESCO in 1983 under criteria (iv), "as an outstanding example of an architectural ensemble which illustrates a significant stage in human history", of which the Sixty Dome Mosque with actually 60 pillars and 77 domes, is the most well known. The mosques feature terracotta artwork and arabesque.

Pandua, Malda

Pandua (historically known as Hazrat Pandua and Firozabad; also known as Adina) is a historic city of the Indian subcontinent. It was the first capital city of the Bengal Sultanate for 114 years between the mid 14th and mid 15th centuries. It continued to be a "mint town" until the 16th-century. The capital later shifted to Gaur. Pandua was described by travelers as a cosmopolitan administrative, commercial and military base, with a population of natives, royalty, aristocrats and foreigners from across Eurasia.

Pandua was a lost city until it was rediscovered by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in 1808. A detailed study of the city was carried out by Sir Alexander Cunningham. An aerial survey was conducted in 1931 by the Archaeological Survey of India. The notable archaeological sites include the Adina Mosque, the largest mosque in the subcontinent; the Eklakhi Mausoleum; and the Qutb Shahi Mosque. Pandua is located in Malda district in the Indian state of

West Bengal near the border with Bangladesh.

Portuguese settlement in Chittagong

Chittagong (Xatigan in Portuguese), the second largest city and main port of Bangladesh, was home to a thriving trading post of the Portuguese Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Portuguese first arrived in Chittagong around 1528 and left in 1666 after the Mughal conquest. It was the first European colonial enclave in the historic region of Bengal.

Reconquest of Arakan

The Reconquest of Arakan was a campaign led by the Bengal Sultanate to help Min Saw Mon, an Arakanese king, to regain control of his country. Bengali forces defeated Burmese forces and installed Min Saw Mon as the ruler of Mrauk U. As a result of the victory, Arakan became a vassal state of the Bengal Sultanate.


Sonargaon (Bengali: সোনারগাঁও; pronounced as Show-naar-gaa; meaning Golden Hamlet) is a historic city in central Bangladesh. It is one of the old capitals of the historic region of Bengal and was an administrative center of eastern Bengal. It was also a port and trading center. During British colonial rule, merchants built many Indo-Saracenic townhouses in the Panam neighborhood. Sonargaon was central to the muslin trade in Bengal.


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