Akbar II first reign as puppet of Ghulam Qadir Rohilla

Started by abhinumis, July 25, 2022, 05:44:57 AM

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Hi all,
Posting after a very long time.
The coin is a very rare rupee in the name of Muhammad Akbar II. Very few collectors are aware that Akbar II had 2 reigns - 1st reign lasting approx 1 month in the winters of 1788AD and the second regular reign after 1806AD.
This coin is of the very rare first reign. Akbar II was put on the mughal throne by his master Ghulam Qadir Rohilla who had brought the Mughal empire to it's knees. Ghulam Qadir controlled Delhi for a brief period of about 4 months. This coin was minted in the Rohilla stronghold of Saharanpur (In fact the mint was restarted after more than a century )

Obverse- Sikka zad dar jahan fazl hami din ilah Muhammad Akbar Shah  1203
Reverse- Zarb Dar al suroor Saharanpur julus Ahd maimanat manoos.

P. S- The turmoil caused by Ghulam Qadir and resulting in 2 puppet rulers- Bedar Bakht and Akbar II is a very tumultuous phase in history of Mughal , Delhi and Indian subcontinent as a whole . I will touch upon the topic in greater details if anyone in the group is interested


Congratulations, Abhishek on winning this. I followed your bidding on this coin and was praying that it falls in your lap.

The history of this period is indeed fascinating and it would be worth recording it for all those interested now as also in the future. Please do spend some time and post the details at your leisure.


PS: also requesting you to post some of the gems that you have been picking up in recent times.
"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"


Hate that person (Qadir!)...love this coin! Congratulations for the rarity.


From such a short period as just a winter, surely it has to be a very rare piece. My congrats, it also looks beautiful.


A very short history of the incident is such:

The architect of these troubled years was a Rohilla named Ghulam Qadir Rohilla. Ghulam Qadir Rohilla, son of Zabita Khan and grandson of Najib Khan Rohilla became the leader of the Rohilla forces in 1786. Ghulam Qadir, was a ambitious man who coveted the post of Mir Bakshi held by his grandfather in Delhi. After the defeat of Maratha in the battle of Lalsot, the rohillas marched to Delhi with a 2000 cavalry forces in October 1787. Some of the courtiers who disliked the Maratha presence, coerced Shah Alam II  for a private audience with Ghulam Qadir which sealed the fate of Delhi and started the last Rohilla occupation of Delhi.
In July 1788 (1202AH) Ghulam Qadir Rohilla entered Shahjahanabad with a strong Rohilla contingent. He made his quarters in Red Fort by 31st July and took over looting and plundering Shahjahanabad. He took over Red fort and made Shah Alam II prisoner and exhorted money out of him. When he could not produce more money, he started torturing the royal household. Things took particularly ugly turn on 10th August 1788, when during a torture session in a fit of rage, he blinded Shah Alam II and deposed him. He placed Bedar Bakht,  a son of Ahmed Shah on the throne. Ghulam Qadir occupied Shahjahanabad till 11th October 1788, when Maratha forces of Mahadji Shinde and Begum Samru occupied Shahjahanabad and once again placed Shah Alam II on Mughal throne.
As the Maratha forces entered Delhi , Ghulam Qadir panicked and fled Delhi with his loot via the salimgarh bridge. He maintained a garrison till 11th October. Marathas entered Delhi and reinstated the blind Shah Alam II on 17th October 1788. In the meantime, he took down Bedar Bakht from throne and placed Md. Akbar, a son of Shah Alam II on mughal throne as Akbar ii on 15th October. When he fled Delhi, he took both Bedar Bakht and Akbar ii along with him. Whether he crowned him in Delhi or on the run is not known. He fled first to Aligarh and then to Meerut with Marathas on his heels. He was finally captured on 19th December 1788 and after brutal torture was killed.

Thus technically Md Akbar II was ruler for 2 days between 15th October and 17th October. But coins were probably minted by the Rohilla partisan mints till the capture of Ghulam Qadir.  Coins in the name of Akbar ii first reign is known only from Saharanpur, Shahjahanabad and Haridwar mint. Coins are known in all 3 metals but are very rare.


For example only 12-13 pieces of Akbar II Saharanpur has ever been offered in any auction so far or mentioned in any catalogues. In case of Saharanpur, the rupee was first noticed by Whitehead in Rodger's collection which he published in Punjab Museum Catalogue. Later he acquired the another rupee and published it with Hodivala. The bibliography of all coins known in all auction and catalogue is given herewith for furthur research if anybody is interested. This is the first time since 2017, any such coin had appeared in auction and I was happy to add this coin
1) R.B Whitehead and HS Hodivala, Numismatic Supplement, Vol XXXVI, Pg 3-10 (1922)and now in British Museum Accession No- 1922-4-24-3536 and illustrated as KM# 760.
2) R.B Whitehead, Numismatic Chronicle, 5th series, Vol 6, pg 169 (1926)   Fulus in BM accession no - 1922-4-24-2942
3) Punjab Museum Catalogue by Rodger coin no 3277
4) Sanjay Garg, Numismatic Digest No 10 (1986),  2 Mughal Puppets- Bedar Bakht and Akbar II (No new coin, only discussion)
5) SK Punshi, Numismatic Digest No 11 (1987), Pg 87-88. A rupee of Saharanpur in name of Muhammad Akbar (The one illustrated here)
6)Spink Taisei Singapore Auction 14, lot 1060 (1993)
7) 2 coins published from private collection in A Pawn in Politics: The First Reign of Muhammad Akbar By Shailendra Bhandare, pg 22, Oriental Numismatic Digest No 175 (2003)
8. Baldwin Auction Ltd, Auction 45 Lot 1341 (2006)
9)The New York Sale, Auction 25, Lot 381 (2011)
10) Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. Triton 15, Lot 1371 (2011)
11) Baldwin Auction Ltd, Hongkong coin auction 5, Lot 909 (2013)
12) Stephen Album Rare Coin, Auction 29, Lot 1541 (2017)


Indeed, a story full of sound and fury, as the bard called it.

If I understand correctly, it is the story of a puppet master (Ghulam Qadir), who used two pretenders (Bedar Bakht and Md. Akbar) to rule an area around Delhi in addition to his Rohilla territory. The whole episode lasted 3 months (July to October 1788). His claim of power died with him.

If so, it follows that neither Ghulam Qadir, nor his marionettes were ever recognised rulers of the Indian empire. Even when Shah Alam II was deposed, imprisoned and blinded, he did not cease to be the ruler of India. This conclusion is important, as the difference between a ruler and a pretender is the ability to rule the whole country and stabilise it. There are plenty such episodes in world history. French revolutionaries and Oliver Cromwell ruled the whole country. The Southern states of the US and Carlos VII of Spain did not, though they did issue coins. These coins could, by their nature, circulate in part of the country only.

This would mean that any coin NOT in the name of Shah Alam II issued in this period is pretender coinage. This would not change the very high interest of the coins, but it would affect their status. They would be closer to obsidional coins than to circulating specie. They would still be numismatic items and important documents of history, but they should in my opinion be considered separate from circulating coins.

An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.


The pretenders play a big role in Mughal coinage. They are the rarest issues right from Dawar Baksh as a competition to Shah Jahan to as late as Akbar III or Nikusiyar.It highlights the struggle for power and politics in their times. The 18th century North Indian politics was of intrigue and powerplay with weak rulers and strong kingmakers.
Sometimes the rulers were pretenders according to how you look at it for eg Shah Jahan III would be a pretender for the Rohillas and Abdali factions whilst he is a ruler for the Marathas and their loyalists. Such was the complexities in the polity of 18th century which makes it so much more happening area for research


Great work Abhishek!. This is important information for all numismatists. The spadework for further research. We have been blindly following that our peers told us over a hundred years back. Time has come to seriously investigate and come up with new information..........

"It Is Better To Light A Candle Than To Curse The Darkness"


Abhishek I recall reading a decade ago such series of Rohilla coins are quite scrace or few are rare you have righly said 18th century later Mughal politics was full of complexity and every scholars have different opinions.
Congratulations for this piece of history .
Cheers  ;D
Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector's item.