Sulaiman Karrani

Sulaiman Karrani the ablest ruler of the Karrani dynasty of Bengal. He succeeded his brother Taj Khan and ruled from 1563 to 1572.

On his accession Sulaiman Karrani devoted his time to establish peace in Bengal and transferred the capital from gaur to tandah, 15 miles southwest of Maldah. During this time, Delhi, Oudh, Gwalior and Allahabad having fallen to the Mughals, large number of Afghans of those places took shelter in Bengal. With their help Sulaiman Karrani built a very strong army. Besides, he had a battalion of a thousand war-elephants.

In the field of diplomacy also Sulaiman Karrani gave testimony to his far-sightedness. He realised the necessity of following the policy of friendship with the Mughals and always tried to avoid open confrontation with them. He contented the Mughal officers posted in the western outskirts of his kingdom by sending usually valuable gifts and friendly letters. He also sent rich presents occasionally to the court of akbar through munim khan. He did never claim sovereignty openly. He read the Khutbah and issued coins in Akbar's name. Though outwardly he paid allegiance to the Mughals, he styled himself Hazrat-i-Ala that shows that he was independent for all intents and practical purposes.

After he had established peace in the western frontier Sulaiman turned his attention to the expansion of his kingdom. In 1567-68, while Akbar was engaged far away in the siege of Chitor, Sulaiman sent an expedition into Orissa under the command of his son Bayazid, assisted by a valiant general named Kalapahar alias Raju. In the battle that followed Bayazid defeated and killed Harichandan Mukund-Dev, the king of Orissa. In the meantime Sulaiman Karrani himself advanced into Orissa and captured its capital Tajpur. Next Kalapahar led a contingent as far as Puri and subjugated the countryside. During this time Sulaiman Karrani appointed Lodi Khan and Kotlu Lohani governors of Orissa and Puri respectively.

While Sulaiman Karrani was busy in his Orissa campaign, the Koch King Bishwa Singh sent his son Sukladhwaja alias Chila Rai at the head of an army to invade the northwestern regions of Bengal. But Sulaiman's veteran general Kalapahar opposed the Kuch army, totally overwhelmed Sukladhwaja and held him prisoner. Afterwards he besieged the capital of Koch Bihar.

In the meantime, there arose a rebellion in the newly conquered Orissa. Besides, fearing the possible Mughal attack, Sulaiman, a shrewd diplomat, felt the necessity of having a powerful ally in the northern frontier. So, he called back Kalapahar and restored the Kuch king in his territories and set the prince free (1568).

Sulaiman Karrani ruled Bengal for nine years. During this time, the Bengal Sultanate acquired immense strength and became a dominating power in northeastern India. It extended from the Koch frontier to Puri in Orissa and from the river Shon to the Brahmaputra.

Sulaiman Karrani earned good name as a wise and benevolent ruler. Energetic, industrious and strict in his administration he meted out even handed justice with equity and honesty. Peace and tranquillity prevailed in his kingdom. A pious Muslim, Sulaiman Karrani observed the religious rituals properly. He patronised the scholars and the sufis. A patron of architecture, he built the Sona Mosque in old Maldah. He died on 11 October 1572. [ABM Shamsuddin Ahmed]