Bajbhadur and Rupmati



The Sultans of Malwa

The Fort at Mandu


Synopsis [to be expanded]


  • Bajbhadur (also Bazbhadur) Sultan of Malwa 1555-1562
  • Fell in love with Rupmati, a Hindu shepherdess and singer
  • Legend says Akbar’s general Adham Khan attacked Mandu because he had fallen in love with Rani Rupmati, but we should be aware that Akbar was expanding into Central India at the time and Malwa would be a natural target.
  • Bazbhadur had only a small army and was defeated.
  • After learning Mandu had fallen and her husband had fled, Rupmati committed suicide by poison.

Baz Bahadur

"At the beginning of the reign of Akbar, Baz Bhadur was ruler of Malwa. He was a type of the Mussulman princes of the time; no doubt he went to mosque; he surrounded himself with Hindu singing and dancing girls; he became more or less Hinduised. Akbar sent an officer named Adham Khan to conquer Malwa. Adham Khan had no difficulty. Baz Bhadur abandoned his treasures and harem and fled. Adham Khan distributed part of the spoil among his soldiers; he kept the treasures and harem for himself....The Mussulmans generally respected the harems of their fellow-Mussulmans. They had no scruples regarding Hindu women. The favorite mistress of Baz Bhadur is said to have poisoned herself rather than yield to the advances of Adham Khan."

J. Talboys WheelerThe History of India From the Earliest Ages Volume IV Part I Mussulman Rule p. 136.

This is a view of the pavilion Bajbhadur built for Rupmati at Mandu, as an extension of an existing structure, probably a fort.  In accordance with her wish, it is built within sight of the River Narbada 305-meters below. The photograph is by Subhash Chandran and listed as “Public” at

Adham Khan

 In effect the murderer of Rupmati, he came to an unhappy end. He sent little of the loot from Mandu to his overlord, Akbar. The emperor made a quick march to Malwa; Adham Khan made restitution and begged forgiveness. Ostensibly Akbar agreed, but he refused to give Adham Khan further missions. The general, thinking that the Prime Minister was responsible for his disgrace, murdered him in a rage in the court. Akbar, coming on the body drew his sword, intending to kill his general. But instead he ordered his servants to throw the general to his death from a parapet.


Rupmati's Pavilion


Baz Bahadur Attempts A Comeback

But that is not the end of Baz Bhadur's story. Governorship of Malwa was given to Akbar's former tutor, Pir Ahmed Khan. This worthy had no idea of how to rule, and Baz Bahadur returned to oust him. The Pir was defeated, and drowned in the Narbada River. But Akbar sent another general against Baz Bahadur, Khan Uzbek. Defeated a second time, Baz Bahadur accepted service under Akbar, who always sought to turn former enemies into friends. He was given given 2000 fighters to command. We await further research on what happened next.

The above account is from M. Elphinstone's History of India, London 1866; p. 501.