Deccan and South India
After the break-up of the Bahmani kingdom, three powerful states, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, and Golconda emerged as the independent states. In 1565, all these three states united to crush Vijayanagara Empire at the battle of Bannihatti, near Tallikota.
After the victory in the battle of Bannihatti, the Deccani states resumed their old ways. Both Ahmednagar and Bijapur claimed Sholapur, which was a rich and fertile tract of that time.
The Gujarat rulers actively supported Berar ruler against Ahmednagar, and later also engaged in a war against Ahmednagar. On the other hand, Bijapur and Golconda clashed over the possession of Naldurg (located in Maharashtra).
In 1572, the Mughal emperor Akbar conquest Gujarat, which created a new situation. The conquest of Gujarat was just beginning of the Mughal conquest of the Deccan. However, Akbar at that time was busy elsewhere and did not pay attention to the Deccan affairs.
Ahmednagar conquested Berar. Further, Ahmednagar and Bijapur made an agreement whereby Bijapur was left free to expand its territory in the south at the expense of Vijayanagara, while Ahmednagar ruled Berar.
The Marathas were also started taking interest in the affairs of the Deccan.
In south, the revenue affairs at the local level were in the hands of the Deccani Brahmans.
During the middle of the sixteenth century, the rulers of the Deccan states relied upon a policy i.e. winning over the Marathas to their side.
The Maratha chiefs were given services and positions in all the three leading states of the Deccan. Ibrahim Adil Shah (ruler of Bijapur), who ascended the throne in 1555, was the leading advocate of this policy.
Ibrahim Adil Shah, most likely, introduced Marathi in revenue accounts at all levels. Besides, a few other families such as the Bhonsales who had the family name of Ghorpade, Dafles (or Chavans), etc., also rose to prominence in Bijapur.
Ahmednagar ruler had been given the title of ‘Peshwa’ to a Brahmana, namely Kankoji Narsi.
Mughal’s Movement towards Deccan
After decline of the Delhi Sultanate, many Sufi saints and other people in search of the employment had migrated to the court of the Bahmani rulers.
After the conquest of Malwa and Gujarat in 1560's and early 1570's, Akbar gradually moved towards the Deccan politics.
In 1576, a Mughal army invaded Khandesh, and compelled the rulers of Khandesh to surrender. However, because of the 12 years (from 1586 to 1598) Akbar’s absent from India (he was lived at Lahore during this period), affairs in the Deccan deteriorated.
Among the Deccan states, there was very unstable politics. War among the various Deccan states was a frequent occurrence. Religion (especially shia and sunni) was the leading cause of conflict.
Mahdawi ideas had spread widely in the Deccan. In fact, a group of the Muslims believed that in every epoch, a man from the family of the Prophet will make an appearance and will strengthen the religion, and make justice triumph; such a group of Muslims were known as the ‘Mahdi.’
In India, Saiyid Muhammad, who was born at Jaunpur (in Uttar Pradesh), in the first half of the fifteenth century, proclaimed himself as the Mahdi.
Saiyid Muhammad traveled throughout the country as well as in the Islamic world, which created great enthusiasm. He established his dairas (circles) in different parts of the country, including the Deccan where his ideas found a fertile soil. However, the orthodox elements were bitterly opposed to Mahdawaism as to Shiism.
Akbar was apprehensive because of the growing power of the Portuguese, as they had been interfering the pilgrim traffic (to Mecca), not sparing even the royal ladies.
In their territories, Portuguese were practicing the proselytizing activities, which Akbar disliked. Akbar apparently felt that the coordination and pooling of the resources of the Deccani states under Mughal supervision would check, if not eliminate, the Portuguese danger.