After the collapse of the Musunuri Nayaks, the scenario in Andhra was that the area was split between multiple players – both local as well as global. While Vijayanagar, Bahamani Sultanate and Kalinga formed that large and powerful kingdoms, the rest is shared between the two Velama kingdoms of Rachakonda and Devarakonda, the two Reddy kingdoms of Kondaveedu and Rajahmundry and the Reddy rebel of Bhaktiraja. After shifting alliances, one after one are consumed by the larger entities. Ironically, it’s Kalinga which finished off the Velama kingdoms and not the Bahamanis. As time progressed, Bahamani Sultanate slowly encroached upon the Kalinga territories and in due time, all the three kingdoms – Bahamani, Vijayanagar and Kalinga had their borders at Kondavidu-Kondapalli. May be a century later, we see that a Bahamani noble by name Shitab Khan declares independence in concurrence with the five Deccan Sultanates before being subsumed by Golkonda. Very less is known regarding him, except that he ruled Warangal, Rachakonda and Khammam, that there is an inscription by him at Warangal and he tried to stop the Vijayanagar armies during their march to Cuttack. Almost all of him, whatever is known is sourced from the book Shitab Khan of Warangal by Hirananda Sastri, published by Hyderabad Government way back in 1932. I searched for the book for more than two years with not even a single result yielding(Well, there was only one and the link was unavailable) and no information whatsoever over the Warangal inscription except some tantalising hints. Suddenly, out of a whim, I checked DLI portal of the Government of India and to my surprise, I found this book. It’s just a matter of time to download the book and end my curiosity of what is in the book.

It’s just a 30 page monograph over the inscription. Below is the story of Shitab Khan according to it –

It looks like Shitab Khan, possibly a Hindu by name Sitapati held the forts of Warangal, Bellamkonda and Khammamet along with some minor ones was a major player who tried to carve out a separate kingdom out of Bahamani Sultanate when the five Deccan Sultanates declared their independence. Posessing an army of twenty thousand, he was a force to contend with. To tame him, Quli Qutb Shah first invested Bellamkonda which fell after a long and hard siege. In response, Shitab Khan marched with his army but almost decimated the Golconda army before being beaten on field. Leaving all the baggage, he left to Khammamet. There, he planned a confederacy with the chiefs of the forts of Indrakonda, Warapalli, Etgir and other minor Hindu chiefs. After another sanguine battle at Khammamet, Sitapati escaped again with Etgir and Indrakonda taken. Khammamet was then invested. The fort didn’t surrender even after being told that their army was defeated on field. After a long and bloody siege, Khammamet was taken and evenone, sparing the women in the females in the family of Sitapati were slaughtered. They were taken to the king’s zenana.

Sitapati then left to Kondapalli, the seat of Ramachandra, the Gajapati governor of southern terriroties. He gave an army to Sitapati and stood for a face off at Palunchmoor. The numbers and disposition of the forces Muslims gave, obviously, garbage, are below –

Kalinga Army

Centre – Ramachandra – 10000 horse, 100000 infantry, 300 elephants

Right – Vidyadhara, the nephew of Ramachandra – 10000 horse, 100000 infantry, 200 elephants

Left – Harichandra and Sitapati – 10000 horse, 100000 infantry, 200 elephants

Muslim Army

Centre – Quli Qutb Shah 2000 horse

Right – Fateh Khan – 1500 horse

Left – Hyder Khan – 1500 horse

The Hindu army is slaughtered with Haider Khan personally killing Vidyadhara and Ramachandra taken prisoner along with all the treasures. Kondapalli was invested first and then after battles at Ellore and Rajahmundry, threatened to take Rajahmundry. The Gajapati, sensing the discomfiture, sent ambassadors for release of Ramachandra and deciding Godavari as the border.

FromTarikh-i-Muhammad Qutb Shahi

Unlike Firishtah who received brickbats for writing fiction in the name of history, happily the author’s name of this book is unknown. Going by the fact that Shitab Khan was last heard fighting Srikrishna Deva Raya near Simhachalam, it is clear that Quli Qutb Shah’s campaign happened much before Srikrishna Deva Raya marched through his lands insolently. It is sure that, after the treatment meted out to Yusuf Adil Shah, he wouldn’t have even dared face the Vijayanagar army. Now, let’s look at what happened there. Warangal, Shitab Khan’s capital was left unmolested. Bellamkonda fell after a sanguine siege and a battle. Then fell Khammamet. Then, Shitab Khan left Warangal and formed a confederacy of all the petty lords in that area including Kondapalli and lost. Kondapalli was taken and Rajahmundry itself was threatened when the Gajapati gave in. Note that Kondapalli is not a minor fort, but the headquarters of Kalinga Empire in the south. Don’t forget that in less than a decade, Srikrishna Deva Raya stormed Kondapalli and captured the crown prince of Kalinga. The march continued till Simhachalam when the Gajapati surrendered. Had Kondapalli been mauled, it would surely have come out in some Vijayanagar account, which never came. Srikrishna Deva Raya faced virgin armies there, not some battle worn or decimated ones. This itself raises questions –

This story is uncomfortably identical to what Srikrishna Deva Raya did. It is possible that some Muslim bard would have heard of this story and replaced the main character and making Sitapati, a petty lord one of the most powerful of the region. The story would have stopped at Rajahmundry simply because the poet didn’t know what to write.

Else, piggybanking over Srikrishna Deva Raya’s success, Quli Qutb Shah may have followed the wasted lands after the Vijayanagar Emperor left and claimed some. The way he was trashed by Vijayanagar, there is no way he could have engaged the might of the main Kalinga armies. Note that Udayagiri fell recently and all the forces from Southern Andhra would have concentrated in main forts in the South, powerful enough to ward off a major Vijayanagar incursion. Even if he fought Kalinga, it would have been a minor raid bypassing Kondapalli and would never have reached Godavari. Had he been that powerful, the Vijayanagar forces would never have marched insolently through Golconda territories. But, this story confirms to what happened after Talikota. Even Kalinga fell in the same period for good and Golconda may have encroached into the vacuum till Todar Mal stabilized it.

I will not give my comments over the quality of the book. Day in and day out, we will come across these sort of books, which are good only on poetic merit and not on historic merit. Well, it is going to take hell lot of a time to topple this established order and it’s history and replace it with some rational thought.

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