Alivardi Khan আলিবর্দী খাঁ (1740-1756 AD)

Alivardi Khan nawab of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Originally known as Mirza Muhammad Ali, was the son of Mirza Muhammad, an Arab by descent and an employee at the court of Azam Shah, second son of Aurangzeb. His mother belonged to the Turki tribe of Afshar settled in Khurasan. His grandfather was a foster brother of Aurangzeb. On his attaining adulthood, Azam Shah appointed him as the superintendent of the filkhana (elephant stables); he was also given charge of the zardozkhana (department of embroidered clothes). The death of Azam Shah in a battle in 1707 and the consequent loss of employment put Mirza Muhammad Ali's family in great trouble. For his livelihood he came to Bengal in 1720 with his wife and daughters in a state of penury. He proceeded to Cuttack, where he was received by Suja-ud-Daulla with due honour.

Muhammad Ali helped Suja-ud-Daulla (সুজা-উদ-দৌল্লা) or Suja-ud-din Muhammad Khan considerably in securing the masnad of Bengal after the death of the latter's father-in-law Murshid Quli Khan. Suja-ud-Daulla bestowed rewards and favours on members of Mirza Muhammad Ali's family in recognition of his sound advice and meritorious services. Mirza Muhammad Ali was appointed faujdar of the chakla Akbarnagar (Rajmahal) in 1728 and was invested with the title of 'Alivardi'. The people of Rajmahal enjoyed peace and prosperity under the efficient administration of their new faujdar.

Rise to power

In 1733, he was assigned as Bihar's assistant Subahdar (governor). A few days before Alivardi received this new appointment, his youngest daughter Amina Begum, married to his youngest nephew Zainuddin Ahmed Khan or Mirza Muhammad Hashim, had given birth to a son, Siraj-ud-Daulla. Alivardi had no son of his own; he adopted the child as his successor, and made him an object of special favour and affection, as his birth was synchronous with his elevation to that high post. After his stay at Azimabad (Emperor Azim-ush-Shan re-named Patliputra now Patna to Azimabad in 1704) for one full year he was summoned to Murshidabad by Suja-ud-Daulla, who bestowed him with the title of  'Suja-ul-mulk, Hasem-ud-daulla, Mahabat Jang (Hero of the Country, Sword of the State, Horror in War)' and the rank of panch hazari mansabdar, after which he returned to Azimabad.

The battle of Giria (where Sarfaraz Khan was defeated) made Alivardi the undisputed leader of Bengal and Bihar, but Orissa still remained beyond his control. Its deputy governor Rustam Jang, a relative of the deceased Nawab Sarfaraz Khan, refused to recognise Alivardi's authority. Alivardi defeated Rustam Jang in the battle of Phulwarion (3rd March 1741). Subsequently, Mirza Baqar, who had challenged Alivardi's authority after the defeat of Rustam Jang, was also defeated by the nawab.

By the end of 1741, Alivardi subdued all his enemies and established his absolute authority throughout the length and breadth of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. But soon he faced a dreadful new situation in the shape of the Maratha invasions, which kept him restless for the greater part of his life. The Marathas, who became an important politico-military force in eighteenth century India, raided Bengal almost every year between 1742 and 1751 and the repeated invasions exercised a highly pernicious influence on trade, industries, currency, and agriculture in Bengal causing economic distress in the province. The Marathas under Shahu (Grandson of Shivaji) were emerging as a new power, at that time. The Mughal Samrat Muhammad Shah got worried and gave the Subahdari of Bihar to Shahu, against 11 lacks per annum tax amount. Shahu handed over the power to Raghuji Bhosle. Alivardi had a tough time dealing with the Marathas, since they were not confined in Bihar; under Raghuji Bhosle they frequently attacked Bengal and Orissa. During 1740 to 1744 AD Alivardi was busy handling the Maratha attacks. After supperssing two revolts in Orissa, Alivardi defeated 45,000 Marathas under Raghuji Bhosle near Burdwan. The defeated army meanwhile reached Dahapara and looted Jagat Seth's house of two crores of rupees. In 1751 a peace treaty was signed between the two sides. It cannot be said that the terms of the treaty were favourable to Alivardi. Under the terms of the treaty the nawab would be required to pay to Raghuji Bhonsle twelve lac taka every year as chouth (one fourth of the revenue). However, a cessation of the hostilities was achieved.

The Maratha invasions encouraged the Afghans to rebel in Bihar. Mustafa Khan, the leader of the Afghans in Bihar was defeated by Zainuddin Ahmed Khan, naib-nazim of Patna. Two other Afghan officers, Shamser Khan and Sardar Khan, hatched a plot with Raghuji Bhosle for overthrowing the nawab. Alivardi promptly dismissed them from service. But these two Afghans treacherously killed Zainuddin and started a reign of terror in Bihar. Alivardi had to march against them and reoccupy Bihar. He appointed his grandson Siraj-ud-Daulla as deputy Subahdar with Janaki Ram to assist him.

Alivardi's regime lasted sixteen years. The first eleven years of his administration formed a period of storm and stress, during which he remained occupied with his enemies and could do nothing substantial to serve the material interests of Bengal. But after his treaty with the Marathas in May or June 1751, he turned his attention towards rebuilding and restoring many towns and villages, which had been desolated by the Marathas, and encouraged agriculture.
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Lifestyle & Character

Alivardi Khan was very regular in his devotions and assiduously abstained from all things forbidden by the divine law. He always rose two hours before daybreak, and after ablution and prayers drank coffee with his select companions. Then for two hours he gave public audience and attended to the affairs of the people in general. He liked good food, so that if anybody knew any new recipe, he would have it cooked before him, and would himself give directions to cook particular dishes according to his taste. The officers of different departments, if necessary, also came for orders. He then sat down to eat with his friends, and many shared the bounties of his table. Each man at the table would surely receive what he liked. Thus he not only fed the poor; the rich also got a share of his bounty. After the second prayer, he would drink cold, or iced water. This is the only water that he drank in the twenty-four hours. Then he received learned men, to whom he paid the utmost respect, and heard their discussions and listened to the books of Kalini and Kafi that were read to him. After sunset, lights were brought; after the evening prayers, He used to receive his wife and other female relatives; after the night prayers the women were retired and men were admitted. Since he took no supper some dried fruits were served with sweetmeats and other light food. Then he used to go for rest.

He was unequalled in his benevolence towards his relations, friends, and people in general, particularly to those who had shown him the smallest kindness during his distress in Delhi during his early youth. He conferred favours for them or for their children beyond their expectations.

Alivardi had no son; he married his three daughters (Mehar-un-nisa Begum or Ghaseti Begum, Munira Begum , Amina Begum) to the three sons of his elder brother Haji Ahmed alias Mirza Ahmed. Haji Ahmed's elder son Nawajesh Muhammad got married with Alivardi's daughter Mehar-un-nisa and his another daughter Amina Begum (mother of Siraj-ud-Daulla ) got married with Mirza Ahmed's third son Zainundin Ahmed. Nawajesh Muhammad was the Dewan and deputy governor of Dacca (Bangladesh). Since Alivardi Khan was always engaged at war, all the administrative work of his Subah was looked after by his son-in-law Nawajesh Muhammad.

Near the capital Murshidabad besides an ox-bow lake Nawajesh Muhammad had built Moti Jheel Palace, around 1743 AD. This palace was built from the remains of capital Gour of king Shashanka. The lake was like a moat around the Palace. On the western end a huge gate was constructed to secure the palace, of which only the ruins remain. Near this gate Nawajesh built a Mosque, a Madrassa (School) and a rest house. He used to donate money for widows, orphans , old and destitute people from this rest house. For this Nawajesh used to spend Rs 37,000 per month. Since Nawajesh had no children he adopted Siraj-ud-Daulla and Ekram-ud-Daulla (brother of Siraj-ud-Daulla). In 1755 AD Ekram-ud-Daulla died of pox. Nawajesh could not bear the departure of Ekram, and he died within few months. The mortal remains of Nawajesh Muhammad and Ekram-ud-Daulla lies buried on the eastern side of Moti jheel masjid.

Khosh Bagh - Grave of Alivardi
Nawáb Hisámu-d daula Mahábat Jang (Alivardí Khán) died of dropsy, in the 80th year of his age, At five in the morning, on the 9th Rajab, 1169 A.H. (April 10, 1756 AD). From his early youth he had abstained from intoxicating liquors, he had no love for music, and never cohabited with any women except his own wives. His principal servants and relations after having purified his body, wrapped it up in a winding sheet and taking it up at midnight, they carried it in pursuance of his appointment to the feet of his mother, entombed at Khosh Bagh (Garden of happiness) Cemetery, on the west banks of river Bhagirathi.

In this cemetery lies the mortal remains of 32 Nawab family member along with Alivardi Khan. It has been said that He was perhaps the only prince in the east whom none of his subjects wished to assassinate. He would always be remembered as an able ruler, well-known for his brilliant administration skills and his dedication in re-building the war-torn towns and villages of his kingdom, even under the constant shadow of enemy invasions.
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Family Tree :: Afshar Dynasty

Nawab Muhammad Alivardi Khan Mahabat Jang Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was born as Mirza Muhammad Ali, in the household of Prince Muhammad Azam Shah-i-Ali Jah in the Deccan before 10th May 1671. He was the second son of Shah Quli Khan [Mirza Muhammad Madani]. His mother was daughter of Nawab Aqil Khan Afshar [Mir Muhammad Askari] from the Afshar Dynasty. He joined as superintendant of Gold Embroidery and Elephant Stables to Prince Muhammad Azam Shah-i-Ali Jah. Moved to Cuttack after the death of his patron in 1707. Entered the service of Nawab Suja-ud-Daulla and was appointed to an Imperial mansab of 600 zat 1720, thanadar of Santrapur (1720-1727). He became Faujdar of Rajmahal 1728-1733, Naib Subahdar of Bihar in 1733. He was Granted the titles of Muhammad Alivardi Khan in 1720 and Mahabat Jang. He was appointed Wazir to Nawab Nazim Sarfaraz Khan (1739-1740). He Killed the Nawab Nazim Sarfaraz Khan and seized the government on 29th April 1740. Raised to the titles of Hasem-ud-daulla on November 1740 and Suja-ul-Mulk on 31st March 1744. Alivardi Khan married sister of Syud Ahmed Najafi (son of Syud Husain Najafi). Alivardi had three daughters.
  1. Mehar-un-nisa Begum Sahiba [Ghaseti Begum] married Nawab Nawajesh Muhammad son of her paternal uncle, Haji Mirza Ahmed [Haji Sahib]. She was drowned with her sister on the orders of Mir Miran near Jahangirnagar on June 1760 after the Battle of Plassey
  2. Munira Begum Sahiba married Nawab Syud Ahmed Khan Bahadur, Saulat Jang [Agha Muhammad Syud] son of her paternal uncle, Haji Mirza Ahmed [Haji Sahib]
  3. Amina Begum Sahiba married Ihtiram-ud-Daula, Nawab Zain-ud-din Ahmed Khan Bahadur Haibat Jang Naib Nazim of Patna son of her paternal uncle, Haji Mirza Ahmed [Haji Sahib]. She was drowned with her sister on the orders of Mir Miran near Jahangirnagar on June 1760 after the Battle of Plassey.
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The Afshar Dynasty

Nader Shah, the founder of Afshar dynasty, ruled from (1736 - 1747 A.D). He was born in Kobhan, Iran, on Oct 22, 1688, in one of the Turkish tribes loyal to the Safavid shahs of Iran. In 1726 he raised an army of 5000 to help Shah Tahmasp II regain the throne the shah's father had lost four years before. Success in battle brought him power enough to restore the shah and then depose him in favor of the shah's infant son. When the son died in 1736, Nader Shah had himself proclaimed shah.

Nawab Aqil Khan [Mir Muhammad Askari], a native of Khawaf, in Khorasan and a descendant of Ali Yar Sultan Afshar, Governor of Farah during the reign of Shah Tahmasp Safawi, migrated to India during the reign of Shah Jahan and entered the Mughal service as an officer in the Wala Shahi (Household Cavalry). He was promoted Bakshi to Prince Aurangzeb, Faujdar of Miyan Doab (1659-1663), promoted to an Imperial mansab of 2,000 zat and 700 sowar 1665, Superintendant of the Privacy Chamber (Ghusalkhana) (1665-1672), promoted to 2,500 zat 1668, Bakhshi-i-Tan (Superintendant of Grants) (1680-1682), Subahdar of Delhi (1682-1695). A poet under the nom de plume (pen name) of "Razi". He died before 19th July 1697 (or 1108 AH), having two sons and a daughter:
  1. Nawab Jan Muhammad Khan [Mirza Nur ud-din Muhammad]. He had a son Mirza Suja-ud-din Muhammad [Mirza Deccani], who became Motamul-ul-Mulk, Suja ud-Daulla, Nawab Muhammad Suja Khan Bahadur, Asad Jang, Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa
  2. Mirza-ud-din Muhammad.
  3. A daughter born before 19th October 1656. married to Shah Quli Khan [Mirza Muhammad Madani]. She died at Murshidabad on 14th February 1744 (burried at Khosh bagh)

Shah Quli Khan [Mirza Muhammad Madani] from the Afshar tribe and a distant relative of Nasiri Banu Begum died at Rajmahal, before 24th June 1732, having had issue, three sons and one daughter:
  • Mirza Muhammad Ali, who became H.H. Suja-ul-Mulk, Hasem-ud-Daulla, Nawab Alivardi Khan Bahadur, Mahabat Jang, Nawab Nazim of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa
  • Mirza Muhammad Amin Khan. He died after 1741
  • Shah Khanum Sahiba (half sister of Haji Ahmed). Married with Nawab Jafar Ali Khan Bahadur [Mir Jafar] at Murshidabad, after 30th June 1727, as his principal wife. She died at Jafarganj Palace, Murshidabad on August 1779 (burried at Jafarganj Cemetery), having had issue, one son and one daughter
Reference : Christopher Buyers, Murshidabad Genealogy, Royal Ark

Page Updated : November 01, 2012 01:08 pm