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Bidar Bakht Mahmud Shah Bahadur Jahan Shah was the Mughal Emperor for a brief period in 1788 after Shah Alam II was deposed by Ghulam Qadir.

Mahmud Shah Bahadur
Nasir ud Din Muhammad Jahan Shah
Mughal Emperor
Mughal Emperor Mahmud Shah Bahadur.jpg
17th Mughal Emperor
Reign31 July 1788 – by 11 October 1788[1]
PredecessorShah Alam II
SuccessorShah Alam II
Red Fort, Mughal Empire
(now in India)[citation needed]
Died1790 (aged 40–41)
Shahjahanabad, Delhi, Mughal Empire[citation needed]
Old Delhi, Mughal Empire
IssueNawab Najabat Afruz Banu Begum Sahiba
Nawab Muhammadi Begum Sahiba[3]
FatherAhmad Shah Bahadur[4]

Mahmud Shah Bahadur was the son of a former Mughal Emperor, Ahmad Shah Bahadur.[4] He himself became emperor for a brief period in 1788 as a puppet of Ghulam Qadir,[5] after Shah Alam II had been deposed and blinded.[6] He was allegedly put to death in 1790 by order of Shah Alam II, supposedly for usurping his authority in 1788.[citation needed]


Early LifeEdit

Born as Prince Bidar Bakht, he was the eldest surviving child of Emperor Ahmad Shah. Sometime afterwards, he was granted the title of Mahmud Shah Bahadur and was also known as Banka, a term used then in Mughal India referring distinguished warriors or champions. He was given the governorship of Punjab in 1753 on the death of the erstwhile governor Mir Mannu, though he remained in court.[7] Upon his fathers's deposition, he was imprisoned in the Salimgarh Palace-prison in June 1754.


In 1788 the Rohilla chieftain, Ghulam Qadir usurped power in Delhi and began subjecting the reigning Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II to verbal, physical and psychological abuse. To find a legitimate means of doing such acts, and due to the machinations of the former Empress Badshah Begum the emperor was deposed and Prince Mahmud Shah was enthroned as Nasir ud din Muhammad Jahan Shah on 31 July 1788. His reign was a titular one. On the day of his accession the whole Red Fort Palace was ransacked by Ghulam Qadir's men. Cruelties and torture were later on perpetrated on the whole Timurid family, sparing not even Badshah Begum or the new emperor. Porters carrying water for the deposed monarch were stopped and rebuked by the Rohilla. Finally, the arrival of Mahadji Scindia's troops forced Ghulam Qadir to flee, who took the emperor with him. He was subsequently deposed by the Scindia after the conquest of Delhi, on 16 October 1788, in favor of Shah Alam II. Gulam Qadir took him to Mirat where, in desperation at his failures, he threatened to execute the hapless prince and other captives from the Imperial family that he had taken with him but was prevented from doing so by his own bodyguard, Manyar Singh. Thence the Rohilla fled leaving behind the captive princes. When Mirat was captured by Scindia's forces on 18 December, Mahmud Shah was once more imprisoned in the Salimgarh Fort.[8] He died in 1790, allegedly on the orders of Shah Alam II for his role in the 1788 disturbaces. He left behind two daughters.


  1. ^ Royal Numismatic Society, The Numismatic Chronicle, (1926) p.415
  2. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "India: the Timurid Dynasty Genealogy- page 12". Royal Ark. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
  3. ^ Buyers, Christopher. "India: the Timurid Dynasty Genealogy- page 12". Royal Ark. Retrieved 19 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b Hasan, Iqtida (1995). Later Moghuls and Urdù literature. Ferozsons. p. 48. ISBN 9789690101204.
  5. ^ Mehta, Jaswant Lal (2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India 1707-1813. Sterling Publishers. p. 595. ISBN 9781932705546.
  6. ^ Tikkiwal, Harish Chandra (1974). Jaipur and the Later Mughals (1707-1803 A.D.): A Study in Political Relations. University of Rajasthan. p. 175. OCLC 825766812.
  7. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath. Fall of the Mughal Empire Vol. 1.
  8. ^ Sarkar, Jadunath. Fall of the Mughal Empire Vol. 4.


  • Sarkar, Jadunath (2007). Fall of the Mughal Empire (1739-1803) in 4 Volumes. Orient Longman. ISBN 9788125032458.
Mahmud Shah Bahadur
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Shah Alam II
Emperor of the Mughal Empire
Succeeded by
Shah Alam II