17 June, 2021

Swords And Chandeliers

The Bahmanis, Vijayanagara, Shivaji...a fine history of the Deccan bristles with cruel and grand potentates, frustrated Mughals and snooty Persians

Swords And Chandeliers

This is a fascinating book, with delectable minutiae in practically every page. Unlike the usual turgid tomes we encounter when we go in search of aut­horitative books, Manu Pillai’s volume tells us, succinctly but with sufficient wei­ght, the turbulent history of 500 years of the Deccan—from the events leading to the founding of the Bahmani kingdom to the ascent of the Marathas, who nagged Aura­ngzeb until he died a disappointed and bitter man.

The Sultans, both Muslim and Hindu, were at once magnificent and bloodthir­sty—killing thousands without comp­un­ction and destroying cities and places of worship that took decades to reach eminence in a few terrible days of loot and arson. At the same time, they have left beautiful monuments and rare works of art. The cities of Bijapur, Hyd­e­rabad, Aurangabad and the ruined wonder of Hampi are their creations.  

The Sangamas of Vijayanagar called themselves Hinduraya Suratrana, Sul­tan among Hindu kings. Krishna Deva Raya, the most famous of them, “gave...

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