In 1707, when Emperor Aurangzeb went to his grave, the Mughal empire began to crack into a hundred fractured pieces. It was the lure of the Deccan that drained this conqueror’s energies, putting him on a course of collision with his most threatening adversaries. After all, the Deccan was a land that inspired wonder. Its treasures were legendary, and its kings magnificent. It was a horizon of rousing adventure, attracting talent from beyond oceans. A traveller here could encounter bands of European snipers, available for military hire, or forbidding fortresses where African nobles scaled the heights of power. Diamonds and pearls lay heaped in the Deccan’s bazaars while in its courts thrived Persians and Marathas, Portuguese and Georgians, presiding over a world of drama and betrayal. A thousand fortunes were made in the Deccan, drawing the formidable envy of generations of Mughal emperors.
In Rebel Sultans, Manu S. Pillai narrates the story of the Deccan from the close of the t13th century to the dawn of the 18th. Packed with riveting tales and compelling characters, this book takes us from the age of Alauddin Khilji to the ascent of Shivaji. We witness the dramatic rise and fall of the Vijayanagar empire, even as we negotiate intrigues at the courts of the Bahmani kings and the Rebel Sultans who overthrew them. From Chand Bibi, a valorous queen stabbed to death, and Ibrahim II of Bijapur, a Muslim prince who venerated Hindu gods, to Malik Ambar, the Ethiopian warlord, and Krishnadeva Raya on Vijayanagar’s Diamond Throne – they all appear here as we journey through one of the most arresting sweeps of Indian history. Unravelling a forgotten chapter in our medieval past, Rebel Sultans reminds us of a different age and a different time in the Deccan – one that ended an empire and rewrote India’s destiny.