Conquest of South – I
In 1591, Akbar sent embassies to all the Deccani states inviting them to accept Mughal suzerainty. None of the states accepted this.
The Mughal invasion on Ahmednagar was led by prince Murad, who was the governor of Gujarat (at that time), and reinforced by Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan.
Chand Bibi shut herself up in the fort (of Ahmednagar) with the boy-king, Bahadur. After a close siege of four months in which Chand Bibi played a heroic role, the two sides (Mughals and Ahmednagar) agreed for an agreement and in 1596, Mughal suzerainty was accepted.
The Mughal annexation of Berar alarmed other Deccani states a combined force of Bijapur, Golconda, and Ahmednagar led by a Bijapur commander invaded Berar.
In 1597, the Mughals defeated the Deccani forces. As a result of this defeat, the Bijapur and Golconda forces withdrew and left Chand Bibi to meet the situation alone. Likewise, Mughal had sieged Ahmednagar, for the second time.
In the absence of any external help from outside, Chand Bibi had agreed for the negotiations with the Mughals, but she was accused of treachery by a hostile faction and hence was killed.
The Mughals now assaulted and captured Ahmednagar and the boy-king, Bahadur, was sent to the fortress of Gwalior.
In 1601, Khandesh was unified in the Mughal Empire. After the capture of Asirgarh, Akbar returned to the north to deal with the rebellion of his son, Salim.
Akbar was conscious that no lasting solution to the Deccan problem could be arrived without an agreement with Bijapur. To assure himself, Akbar sent the messages to Ibrahim Adil Shah II; as a result of which he (Adil Shah II) married his daughter to prince Daniyal (the youngest son of Akbar).
In 1602 prince Daniyal (immediately after his marriage) died because of excessive drinking. Thus the situation in the Deccan remained vague.
Rise of Malik Amber
Malik Ambar was an Abyssinian (born in Ethiopia). There is little known about his early life; however, probably, he was from a poor family and his parents sold him in a slave market in Baghdad. Later, he was purchased by a merchant who treated him well and brought him to the Deccan.
When the Mughals invaded Ahmednagar, Ambar at first went to Bijapur to try his luck there. But he soon returned back and joined himself in the powerful Habshi (Abyssinian) party, which was opposed to Chand Bibi.
After the fall of Ahmednagar, Malik Ambar with the implied support of the ruler of Bijapur, received the title of Peshwa (a title which had been common in Ahmednagar those days).
Malik Ambar gathered around him a large band of Maratha troopers (or bargis). The Marathas were adept in rapid movements, and in plundering and cutting off the supplies of the enemy troops.
Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khana was the Mughal commander in the Deccan; he was a shrewd and wily politician and an intelligent soldier. In 1601, he (Abdul Rahim) inflicted a crushing defeat on Ambar at a place called Nander (in Telangana). However, the war ended with a friendship agreement between Abdul Rahim and Amber.
In October 1605, Akbar died. After his death, there were differences among the Mughal commanders in Deccan regions; this situation gave an opportunity to Amber and hence he unleashed an aggressive campaign to expel the Mughals from Berar, Balaghat, and Ahmednagar.
Amber’s campaign was actively supported by Ibrahim Adil Shah (the ruler of Bijapur). Adil Shah considered it essential because he thought that the Nizam Shahi state should continue as a buffer between Bijapur and the Mughals.
Adil Shah gave Amber the powerful fort of Qandhar in Telangana for the residence of his family and stowing treasures, provisions, etc. Father, Adil Shah also sent 10,000 horsemen to support Amber.
In 1609, the treaty was cemented by a marriage alliance between the daughters of one of the leading Ethiopian nobles of Bijapur with Malik Ambar. Adil Shah gave a handsome dowry to the bride and spent about Rs. 80,000 on fireworks. Likewise, by 1610, most of the territories (in south) won by Akbar were lost.
Jahangir sent prince Parvez with a large army to conquest Deccan, but he could not meet the challenges posed by Malik Ambar. Lastly, Ahmednagar was also lost, and Parvez had to conclude with a disgraceful peace agreement with Ambar.
Over a period of time, Malik Ambar became arrogant and separated his allies. The Khan-i-Khana, who had been posted as the Mughal viceroy of the Deccan once again, took advantage of the situation and won over to his side a number of Habshis as well as Maratha nobles, including Jagdev Rai, Babaji Kate, Udaji Ram, etc.
In 1616, with the help of the Maratha sardars, Khan-i-Khana defeated the combined forces of Ahmednagar, Bijapur, and Golconda. This defeat shook the Deccani alliance against the Mughals. However, Ambar did not relax his efforts.
Jahangir, however, was not interested to extend Mughal commitments in the Deccan, or even become too deeply involved in its affairs. He had belief that his moderation would enable the Deccani states to settle down, and live in peace with the Mughals.
Despite Jahangir’s diplomatic policy, Ambar continued to lead the Deccan' resistance against the Mughals. After two years, the combined Deccani forces were again defeated by the Mughals. The credit for these victories was given to Prince Shah Jahan.
After the defeat, the Deccani states had to pay an indemnity of Rs. 5,000,000. Later, Amber conducted a series of campaigns against Bijapur for the recovery of Sholapur, which was a bone of contention between the two states.
Ambar had shown a remarkable military skill, energy, and determination. His achievements were short-lived due to his inability or reluctance to accept Mughal’s terms and conditions.
Malik Ambar attempted to improve the administrative system of Nizam Shahi state by introducing Todar mal's land revenue system. He abolished the old system of giving land on contract.
After 1622, in a situation, when Deccan was in turmoil due to the rebellion of Prince Shah Jahan against his father Jahangir, Malik Ambar once again managed to recover many of the old territories, which had been ceded by the Mughals. However, he could not live much long after this and died in 1626 at the age of 80.