Mahmud Gawan (1411, Iran - 1481) was a Prime Minister in the Bahamani Sultanate of Deccan. Khwaja Mahmud Gilani, from the village of Gawan in Persia, was well-versed in Islamic theology, Persian language and Mathematics and was a poet and a prose writer of repute. Later, he became a minister in the court of Muhammad III (1463-1482). A storehouse of wisdom, Mahmud enjoyed the trust and confidence of rulers, locals as well as that of foreign kingdoms, who had great respect for Mahmud.

Mahmud Gawan

His characteristics are as follows: competent and successful general, capable administrator, learned man, patron of art and poetry


He was very capable and efficient. He was a gifted administrator and a skilled general.[1] Greatly impressed with his military genius, Sultan Humayun Shah had taken him in his service. After Humayun's death, he became the guardian of his minor prince Nizam Shah. He had the reigns of Government in his hands. When the young Sultan died in 1463 and his brother Muhammad III aged 9 succeeded him, Mahmud Gawan served as the prime minister. He effectively put an end to the havoc wrought on the pilgrims of Mecca and on merchants by the fleets of Rana Shankarrao Surve and Rana Neelkanthrao Surve of Khelna (Vishalgarh) and Sangameshwar which were part of Shringarpur jagir of Surve Maratha clan respectively. In 1474, a terrible famine known as "famine of Bijapur" devastated the Deccan. Large number of people fled to Gujarat and Malwa. For 2 years the rains failed and when they came in the third year, scarcely any farmers remained in the country to cultivate the lands. He instated a land revenue system and drastically reduced the power of the nobles.

Campaigns against VijayanagarEdit

Mahmud Gawan served the state most faithfully and enlarged the kingdom to an extent never achieved before. He conquered Kanchi or Kanjeevaram during the course of campaign against Vijayanagar. He fought successful wars against ruler so Konkan, Sangameshwara, Orissa and Vijayanagar. He captured Goa and Dabhol, the best part of Vijayanagar empire.[1]

Mahmud Gawan Madrasa was built by Mahmud Gawan, the Vizier of the Bahmani Sultanate as the center of learning in the Deccan.


He built the great university in Bidar which is known as Mahmud Gawan Madrasa. Almost at the centre of Bidar's Old Town stand the graceful buildings, which bear testimony to the genius and eclecticism of Mohammad Gawan. A linguist and a mathematician, he, together with carefully chosen scientists, philosophers and religious seers, created a distinguished religious school. His extensive library boasted of 3,000 manuscripts.[2]

This madarasa had a 242 ft length, 222 ft width and 56 ft height three-storied building with a monumental minaret, a mosque, labs, lecture halls and students' cells overlooks an immense courtyard with arches on every side giving it a graceful facade. Many of the blue tiles on the mosque's outer walls have been pilfered. The minaret is elegant with Samarkhand-like domes here and there.


There were two factions of nobles: The Deccanis (Of local origin) and Afaqis. (Of Foreign origin). Mahmud was an Afaqi, so he faced many challenges.[1] Unfortunately, plots were hatched to topple him by the Deccanis, the nobles forged a treasonous document purportedly from him. In a drunken state the Sultan ordered him executed in April 1481. "With him departed all the cohesion and power of the Bahmani Sultan."[3]

Later the Sultan regretted his hasty decision and buried his Prime Minister with honours.


A Russian traveller, Athanasius Nikitin, who visited Bidar, has recorded that Mohammad Gawan's mansion was guarded by a hundred armed men and ten torchbearers.[2]


  1. ^ a b c A Textbook of History Grade 7. Macmillan.
  2. ^ a b "Deccan dreams". Business Line. 23 September 2005. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  3. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 106–108. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.