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Alivardi Khan Biography

Alivardi Khan (1671-1756) was the Nawab Nazim of West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. A Shiite Muslim by religion, Alivardi Khan was the son of Mirza Muhammad Madani, who served Azam Shah, the son of the great Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb. His mother was a descent of the Turkish tribe of Afshar.

Azam Shah employed the adult youths, Mirza Muhammad Ali and his brother Haji Ahmed under his service; however, upon his death in 1707, the family faced a poverty crisis. This led him to move with family, consisting of his wife and three daughters namely, Ghasheti Begum, Maymuna Begum and Amena Begum to Orissa in 1720.

He faithfully and dedicatedly served the subedar Shujauddin Muhammad Khan, even advising him on the kingdom’s administarial and financial matters. His meritorious service led to his promotion as fauzdar of Rajmahal and was bestowed with the title ‘Alivardi Khan’ in 1728. Alivardi was then appointed the Naib Nazim (assistant subedar) of Bihar in 1733, and later entitled Mahabat Jang, for his brilliant fiscal reforms and effective administration skills in the ruling of Bihar.

However, after the death of Shujauddin in 1739, Alivardi greatly aspired the masnad of Bengal, which saw him gradually rise to power. He went on to successfully defeat and kill Shujauddin’s son, Sarfaraz Khan in the battle at Giria in 1740, to eventually wrest power and authority.

Soon later, he became the subedar of Bengal, even achieving recognition from the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah, with numerous titles bestowed on him like Shuja-ul-mulk and Husam-ud-daula. During his glorious reign (1740-1756) as Nawab of Bengal, Alivardi successfully defended his kingdom from his enemies to expand his dominion across Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. However, the repeated external attacks in the form of the Maratha invasions brought a major setback in the region’s trade, agriculture and economy.

He thus signed a peace treaty for war-indemnity with the Marathas in 1951. A surging Afghan invasion in Bihar then followed, which saw Alivardi appoint his beloved grand-son Siraj-ud-daula (the son of Alivardi’s daughter, Amena Begum) as subedar, to overthrow the invaders. The long siege eventually took its toll on the aged Alivardi and he slipped into serious ill health, never to recover out off.

Alivardi Khan passed away on 9th April, 1756, leaving the kingdom and administration in the able hands of Siraj-ud-daula, who succeeded him as the next ruler. He would always be remembered as an able ruler, well-known for his brilliant administration skills and his dedication in re-building the war-torn towns and villages of his kingdom, even under the constant shadow of enemy invasions.