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teenth Century, reconstructed from Persian sources.

By Jadunath Sarkar, M. A.


In his Account of Orissa Proper or Cuttack, written in 1822, Alexander Stirling complains, "The slender information extant of the proceedings of the Moghul officers from the retirement of Raja Man Sinh in A.D. 1604 to the dewanship of the famous Nawab Jaffer Khan Nasiri (A.D. 1707 to 1725), has to be gleaned from a few scattered notices in Persian histories of Bengal and scarcely intelligible revenue accounts, though the century in question must be regarded as a most important period in the annals of the country, when we consider the deep and permanent traces impressed on the state of affairs, by the arrangements, institutions, offices, and official designations, introduced by the imperial government during that interval." (Page 87 of the Government reprint of 1904.)

From Persian works, not indicated by Stirling, it is possible now to fill, though partially, this gap in our knowledge of Orissa during the 17th century, which Stirling rightly calls "a most important period in the annals of the country." Our sources of information are:

(i) The Memoirs of Jahangir and the official annals of the reigns of Shah Jahan and Aurangzib, which throw light only on the conquests and changes of officials but not on the administration or the condition of the people.

(ii) The Muraqat-i-Hassan, or Letters of Maulana Abul Hassan, who served the subahdars of Orissa as Secretary for about 12 years (1655-1667), and put this collection

together in 1080 A.H. (1669-1670). Only one manuscript of this work is known to exist, which belongs to the library of His Highness the Nawab of Rampur in Rohilkhand, to whose enlightened courtesy I am indebted for the opportunity of taking a copy of the more important portions of it.

(iii) Letters addressed by Aurangzib to Murshid Qulí Khan when diwan of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, about 1700 -1705, included in imperial secretary Inayetullah Khan's Ahkam-i-Alamgiri, of which there are only two extant manuscripts, namely one belonging to the Nawab of Rampur and the other to the Khuda Bakhsh collection of Bankipore.

By means of these sources the middle and close of the century are brightly lit up for the historian, but the other portions of it will remain dark till some other happy discovery among Persian manuscripts.


Baqar Khan Najam Sani, 4th February 1628-1632.

The order removing him from Orissa was dated 24th June 1632, but he reached the imperial court on return on 13th January 1633.

Mutaqad Khan (Mirza Maki), 1632-1641.

The order removing him from Orissa was issued on 9th March 1640, but he reached the imperial court on 29th July 1641.

Shah Nawaz Khan, 1641-1642.

Appointed to Orissa on 9th March 1640, but went there

about the middle of 1641, removed by order dated 8.h March 1642, but continued in the province till the end of the year.

Muhammad Zaman Tihrani (as agent of Prince Shuja), 1642-1645.

Order of appointment dated 8th March 1642, removal dated 21st November 1645,

Mutaqad Khan, 1645-1648—

Appointed 21st November 1645.

Recalled to court in the

22nd year of Shah Jahan's reign (July 1648—June 1649). Tarbiyat Khan (Shafiullah Birlas, vilayet-za) as agent of Prince Shuja, 1655-1656.

Anarchy, 1658-1659.

Ihtisham Khan, November 1659-September 1660.

Khan-i-Dauran, September 1660-May 1667. *

Tarbiyat Khan, June 1667-October 1669.

Safi [or Saif] Khan, October 1669—?

Rashid Khan, ?-March 1676.

Shaista Khan, March 1676-December 1676 (?)
Nurullah, (as agent of Prince Azam), June 1678 -?
Kamgar Khan, ?-1704.

Murshid Quli Khan, 1704-1725.



In the 16th century the independent Rajahs of Orissa were crushed between the upper mill-stone of the Afghans advancing southwards from Bengal and the nether mill-stone of the Qutb Shahi power (of the Golkonda) expanding northwards from the Madras side. Under Akbar the Mughals held only the northern portion of Orissa, while the central portion was ruled by native princes with semi-independent powers, but bearing the title of monsabdars in the Mughal peerage. The Qutb Shahis held the southern extremity of the province. In the reign of Shah Jahan the power of Golkonda was broken by the Mughals in 1636 and 1656, and Qutb Shah became a loyal feudatory of the Emperor of Delhi, paying him an annual tribute.

In Muragat, page 48, Ihtisham Khan says that he has been recently appointed Subahdar of Orissa and would reach Medinipur on 9th Rabi-ul-awwal, year one of Aurangzib's reign. This would yield the date 25th November 1658, when Shuja was in possession of all the country between Benares and Orissa, and therefore no officer of Aurangzib could have reached Medinipur. Moreover, Ihtisham Khan was sent to Bengal after the defeat of Shuja in January 1659. Í have, therefore, changed the date to 9th Rabi-ul-awwal, year two (=14th Novem ber 1659). The Alamgirnamah says that the Emperor learnt of Khan-i-Dauran's death on 7th December 1667 (page 1067), but on page 1050 he is represented as dead in the preceding June. I have accepted the latter date.

Early in Aurangzib's reign Māluh (or Malud) was the southernmost outpost of Mughal Orissa, and beyond it lay the QutbShahi district of Chicacole, from which the Golkonda tribute "appertaining to the province of Orissa," about Rs. 20,000 a year, was sent to the Mughal Subahdar of Orissa (Muraqat, 51, 160).

This result, however, was achieved after much fighting. On 13th Bahman, 12th regnal year, (about the end of January, 1618), Jahangir records in his Memoirs, "At this time it was reported to me that Mukarram Khan, the governor of Orissa, had conquered the country of Khurda, and that the Rajah of that place had fled and gone into Rajmahendra. Between the province of Orissa and Golkonda there are two zamindars, one the Rajah of Khurda and the second the Rajah of Rajmahendra. The province of Khurda has come into the possession of the servants of the Court. After this it is the turn of the country of Rajmahendra. My hope in the grace of Allah is that the feet of my energy may advance further. At this time a petition from Kutb-ul-mulk reached my son Shah Jahan to the effect that as the boundary of his territory had approached that of the King [i.e., the Mughal Emperor], and he owed service to this Court, he hoped an order would be issued to Mukarram Khan not to stretch out his hand, and to acquire possession of his country (Rogers and Beveridge, i, 433).

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In the winter of 1629-30, Baqar Khan, the Governor of Orissa, marched to Khirāpārah, 4 miles from Chattarduar, a very narrow pass on the frontier between the Qutbshahi kingdom and Orissa, and 24 miles from Mahendri, and plundered and laid waste its territory. The approach of the rainy season compelled him to retire without doing anything more. In the autumn of 1630 he set out again, with friendly levies from the zamindars of Khalikot, Kudla and Ala, and on 3rd December arrived in the environs of Mansurgarh, a fort built by a Golkonda officer named Mansur, 8 miles from Khirāpārah. The enemy offered battle in the plain outside the fort, but were routed, and then the commandant of the fort, a Näikwār, capitulated. Baqar Khan returned,

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