The Mughal Empire Notes 11th History For Tnpsc Exam

The Mughal Empire Notes 11th History For Tnpsc Exam

11th History Lesson 9 Notes in English

9. The Mughal Empire


  • India had been invaded from the west/ north-west several times over the centuries, beginning with Alexander. Various parts of north India had been ruled by foreigners like the Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushans and Afghans.
  • The Mughals, descended from the Mongol Chengiz Khan and the Turk Timur, founded an empire in India which lasted for more than three centuries. But we remember them not as rulers of foreign origin, but as an indigenous, Indian dynasty.
  • Babur was the founder of the Mughal empire which was established in 1526 after Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat.
  • Thus a new epoch and a new empire in India began, lasting for nearly three centuries beginning from 1526 to 1857.
  • Six major rulers of this dynasty, Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb, known as the “Great Mughals”, left their mark on Indian history. The empire declined after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707.
  • The empire formally ended a century and a half later, when power passed to the British crown after the great revolt of 1857.
  • At the height of its power the Mughal empire stretched from Afghanistan to Bengal and from Kashmir down to the Tamil region in the south.
  • Mughal rule created a uniform, centralized administration over the entire country. The Mughals, especially Akbar, created a polity integrating Hindus and Muslims into a unified nation, forging a composite national identity.
  • In addition, the Mughals left behind a heritage of great architecture, literature and art which has enriched India.

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Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur (1526–1530)

  • The race for political supremacy in Central Asia amongst the Uzbeks (Turkic ethnic group), the Safavids (the members of the dynasty that ruled Iran patronising Shia Islam) and the Ottomans (Turkish people practicing Sunni Islam) forced Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the ruler of Samarkand, to seek his career prospects elsewhere.
  • Historically the trade conducted by countries of Central Asia through the Silk Route with India had provided the required knowledge about the country (India) they were interested in.
  • Babur who dreamed of repeating what Timur had done a century and a quarter earlier, succeeded in founding the Mughal kingdom with Delhi as its capital in 1526 in the wake of the political disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate.
  • Babur, a boy of eleven, inherited the throne of Samarkand (now a city in Uzbekistan) from his father.
  • As there were enemies all round him, he lost his throne but soon reclaimed it. But soon he realized that, with the powerful Safavid dynasty in Iran and the Uzbeks in Central Asia, he should rather turn to the southeast towards India to build an empire of his own.
  • As a Timurid, Bābur had an eye on the Punjab, part of which had been Timur’s possession. Between 1519 and 1524 when he invaded Bhera, Sialkot and Lahore, he showed his definite intention to conquer Hindustan, where the political scene also favoured his adventure.
  • After conquering Kabul and Ghazni, Babur crossed the Indus to India and established a small kingdom.
  • The time for invading India was also ripe as there was discontent among the Afghans and the Rajputs, as Sultan Ibrahim Lodi of the Lodi dynasty was trying to expand his territory.
  • Babur received an embassy from Daulat Khan Lodi, a principal opponent of Ibrahim Lodi, and Rana Sangha, ruler of Mewar and the chief of Rajput Confederacy, with a plea to invade India.
  • When Babur marched to India he first defeated the forces of Daulat Khan Lodi at Lahore as he had gone back on his promise to help Babur.

First Battle of Panipat, 21 April 1526

  • Babur then turned towards the Lodi governed Punjab. After several invasions, he defeated the formidable forces of Ibrahim Lodi with a numerically inferior army at Panipat.
  • Babur won this battle with the help of strategic positioning of his forces and the effective use of artillery. Babur’s victory provided hopes for him to settle in India permanently.
  • Babur had conquered Delhi and Agra, but he still had to suppress the Rajputs and the Afghans.

Battle of Khanwa, 1527

  • Babur decided to take on Rana Sanga of Chittor, who as ruler of Mewar, had a strong influence over Rajasthan and Malwa.
  • Babur selected Khanwa, near Agra, as a favourable site for this inevitable encounter.
  • The ferocious march of Rana Sanga with a formidable force strengthened by Afghan Muslims, Mahmud Lodi, brother of Ibrahim Lodi, and Hasan Khan Mewati, ruler of Mewat, confronted the forces of Babur.
  • With strategic positioning of forces and effective use of artillery, Babur defeated Rana Sanga’s forces.
  • This victory was followed by the capture of forts at Gwalior and Dholpur which further strengthened Babur’s position.

Battle of Chanderi, 1528

  • The next significant battle that ensured Babur’s supremacy over the Malwa region was fought against Medini Rai at Chanderi.
  • Following this victory Babur turned towards the growing rebellious activities of Afghans.

Battle of Ghagra, 1529

  • This was the last battle Babar fought against the Afghans. Sultan Ibrahim Lodi’s brother Mahmud Lodi and Sultan Nusrat Shah, son-in-law of Ibrahim Lodi, conspired against Babur.
  • Realising the danger Babar marched against them. In the battle that ensued along the banks of Ghagra, a tributary of Ganges, Babur defeated the Afghans.
  • But he died on his way from Agra to Lahore in 1530

Estimate of Babur

  • Babur, the founder of Mughal Empire, was a scholar of Persian and Arabic. Babur’s memoirs Tuziuk-i-Baburi (Baburnama) is considered a world classic.
  • Babur found nothing admirable either in the Afghans who ruled India for some time or in the majority of the people they governed.
  • But his description of India is delightful. What Hindustan possessed, in Babur’s view, is described as follows:
  • ‘The chief excellence of Hindustan is that it is a large country and has abundance of gold and silver.
  • Another convenience of Hindustan is that the workmen of every profession and trade are innumerable and without end.’
  • Babur’s dominions were now secure from Kandahār to the borders of Bengal.
  • However, in the great area that marked the Rajput desert and the forts of Ranthambhor, Gwalior and Chanderi, there was no settled administration, as the Rajput chiefs were quarrelling among themselves.
  • So Babur left a difficult task for his son Humayun.

Humayun (1530-1540 & 1555-1556)

  • Humayun, a cultured and learned person, was not a soldier like his father. He was faced with the problems of a weak financial system and the predatory Afghans. Bahadur Shah, the ruler of Gujarat, also posed a great threat. Humayun’s brother Kamran who was in-charge of Kabul and Kandahar extended his authority up to Punjab.
  • Humayun remembering the promise he had made to his father on the eve of his death that he would treat his brothers kindly, agreed to Kamran’s suzerainty over Punjab to avoid a civil war.
  • The growth of Afghan power in the regions around Bihar and Uttar Pradesh under the leadership of Sher Khan (later Sher Shah) made Humayun to initiate action.
  • Defeating the Afghans at Daurah in 1532 Humayun besieged the powerful fort of Chunar. After a period of four months, Humayun, believing the word of Sher Shah that he would be loyal to the Mughals, withdrew the siege.
  • This turned out to be a great mistake. Humayun spent the succeeding years of his life in constructing a new city in Delhi, Dinpanah, while his enemies were strengthening themselves.
  • Realising the ensuing danger from Bahadur Shah who had annexed Rajasthan and instigated and provided refuge to all anti-Mughal elements, Humayan marched against him.
  • He captured Gujarat and Malwa and left them under the control of his brother Askari.
  • Unable to put down the rebellions of the Gujarati people, Askari decided to proceed to Agra. This alarmed Humayun stationed at Mandu, for he was afraid that Askari would take Agra for himself.
  • Hence, abandoning Gujarat and Malwa Humayun pursued his brother. Both the brothers reconciled after a meeting at Rajasthan.
  • When Humayun was deeply engrossed in the affairs of Bahadur Shah, Sher Khan had strengthened himself by defeating the ruler of Bengal.
  • Sher Khan captured the fort of Rohtas and Bengal After capturing Chunar Humayun marched to Bengal to confront Sher Khan.
  • When Humayun reached Gaur or Gauda he received information on the rebellion of Hindal, his younger brother.
  • Humayun proceeded to Agra to quell the rebellion. Sher Khan who had been quiet all this time started attacking the army of Humayun. When Humayun reached Chausa with great difficulty there was a full-fledged battle.

Battle of Chausa (1539)

  • This battle was won by Sher Khan due to his superior political and military skills.
  • Humayun suffered a defeat in which 7000 Mughal nobles and soldiers were killed and Humayun himself had to flee for his life by swimming across the Ganga.
  • Humayun who had arrived at Agra assembled his army with the support of his brothers Askari and Hindal to counter Sher Khan. The final encounter took place at Kanauj.

Battle of Kanauj (1540)

This battle was won by Sher Khan and Humayun’s army was completely routed, and he became a prince without a kingdom.

Sher Shah and Sur Dynasty

  • From the time Humayun abandoned the throne in the Battle of Kanauj to his regaining of power in 1555 Delhi was ruled by Sher Shah of the Sur Dynasty.
  • Born in the family of a Jagirdar and named as Farid, he received the title of Sher Khan after killing a tiger (sher in Hindi).
  • When he ascended the throne, he was called Sher Shah. Through his ability and efficiency, he emerged as the chief of Afghans in India.
  • His military capability and diplomacy made him victorious over Humayun and many other Rajput rulers. Malwa fell without a fight. Rana Uday Singh of Mewar surrendered without resistance.
  • Sher Shah’s next venture to capture Kalinjar failed as a gunshot caused his death in 1545.
  • Sher Shah was succeeded by his second son Islam Shah who ruled till 1553. His death at a young age led to a state of confusion about succession.
  • Humayun used this opportunity to regain Delhi and Agra from the Sur rulers.

Sher Shah’s Reforms

  • When Sher Shah was pursuing Humayun, he had left Khizr Khan as the Governor of Bengal. Khizr Khan married the daughter of the former ruler of Bengal, Sultan Mahmud, and started behaving like a king.
  • On his return Sher Shah ordered him to be put in chains. As one familiar with the problem of provincial insubordination, he thought that the real solution to the problem would be to set up a strong administrative system.
  • So he made his government highly centralised. The local administrative structure of the Delhi Sultanate was followed with certain changes.
  • The village headmen who were made responsible for the goods stolen within the area under their control became vigilant.
  • The welfare of the peasants was a prime concern. When the peasant is ruined, Sher Shah believed, the king is ruined.
  • Sher Shah took great care that the movements of the army did not damage crops. He followed a flexible revenue system. Land was surveyed and revenue settled according to the fertility of the soil.
  • In some areas, the jagirdari and zamindari systems were allowed to continue. In yet other places he arranged to collect only a portion of the gross produce. Sher Shah showed the same concern while dealing with traders.
  • In order to encourage trade, he simplified trade imposts, collecting taxes only at the point of entry and the point of sale.
  • The standardization of the metal content of gold, silver and copper coins also facilitated trade. His currency system continued through the entire Mughal period and became the basis of the coinage under the British.
  • For enhancement of trade and commerce Sher Shah maintained a robust highway system by repairing old roads and laying down new roads.
  • Apart from repairing the Grand Trunk road from the Indus in the west to Sonargaon in Bengal, he also built a road connecting Gujarat’s seaports with Agra and Jodhpur. A road was laid connecting Lahore with Multan.
  • The highways were endowed with a large network of sarais, rest houses, where the traders were provided with food and accommodation, ensuring brisk commerce. Some of the sarais constructed by Sher Shah still survive.
  • These sarais also ensured the growth of towns in their vicinity. Sher Shah practiced charity on a large scale.
  • He gave stipends from the treasury to destitute people. Sher Shah was an orthodox and devout Sunni. He is said to have dispensed justice without bias, punishing the oppressors even if they were nobles or his relatives.
  • Through stern punishments to rebellious zamindars and nobles and to thieves and robbers he ensured effective maintenance of law and order in the empire.
  • The fiscal administration for which Akbar and Todar Mal have been so highly praised was largely based on the methods of Sher Shah.
  • During his short rule, Sher Shah did not have much time for building new cities and palaces. He started building a new walled city in Delhi, which later came to be known as Purana Qila (Old Fort). He built his own mausoleum in Sasaram.

Humayun’s Return from Exile

  • After Sher Shah’s death in 1545 his weak successors ruled for ten years. Humayun,who had fled after his defeat at Kanauj, had taken asylum in Persia.
  • Humayun then went to Afghanistan with Persian troops. He succeeded in capturing Kandahar and Kabul. But his brother Kamran did not allow him to hold them in peace.
  • The struggle between the brothers intensified, and yet in the end Kamran had to seek a compromise with Humayun.
  • Meanwhile the Sur empire had fragmented, and so Humayun’s invasion became easy. The Afghan forces in Punjab, on the approach of Mughals, began to flee.
  • Humayun became the Emperor once again. He died very soon after regaining Delhi when he slipped down the stairs of the library in the fort at Delhi.
  • In the colourful words of Lane Poole, “Humayun stumbled out of his life, as he has stumbled through it.”

Emperor Akbar (1556–1605)

  • During Humayun’s wanderings in the Rajputana desert, his wife gave birth to a son, Jalaluddin, known as Akbar, in 1542.
  • Akbar was crowned at the age of fourteen. At the time of Akbar’s ascension, the Afghans and Rajputs were still powerful and posed a great challenge. Yet he had a guardian and protector in Bairam Khan.

Second Battle of Panipat

  • Hemu, the Hindu general of the displaced Afghan king Adil Shah, successor of Sher Shah, induced the king to permit him to lead the Afghan army against the Mughals.
  • Encouraged by the king, Hemu first took Gwalior, expelling the Mughal governor. Then he marched on Agra and captured it without any resistance.
  • Hemu’s generosity helped him to overcome potential enemies when he took Delhi. In November 1556 Akbar marched towards Delhi to meet the forces of Hemu in the Second Battle of Panipat.
  • An arrow struck the eye of Hemu when the battle was likely to end in his favour. The leaderless Afghan army became demoralised and the Mughal forces emerged victorious. Hemu was captured and executed.
  • This victory made Akbar the sovereign of Agra and Delhi and re-establish the Mughal empire.

Akbar and Bairam Khan

  • As a conqueror Akbar triumphed all over North India. The first four years of Akbar’s rule saw the expansion of the Mughal empire from Kabul to Jaunpur, including Gwalior and Ajmer, under his regent Bairam Khan.
  • Soon Bairam Khan began to behave haughtily towards his fellow nobles. Akbar, enraged by his behaviour issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan. This led to Bairam Khan’s revolt which was ably dealt with by Akbar.
  • Bairam Khan, finally agreeing to submit himself to Akbar, proceeded to Mecca. But on his way he was murdered by an Afghan.
  • The family of Bairam khan was brought to Delhi and his son Abdur Rahim became one of the luminaries of Akbar’s court with the title Khan-e-Khanan.

Akbar’s Military Conquests

  • Akbar laid the foundation for a great empire through his vast conquests. Malwa was conquered in 1562 from Baz Bahadur who was made a mansabdar in Akbar’s court.
  • The Gondwana region of central India was annexed after a fierce battle with Rani Durgavati and her son Vir Narayan in 1564.
  • The ruler of Mewar, Rana Udai Singh, put up a great fight before losing Chittor, which was conquered by Akbar after a siege of six months. Rana Udai Singh retreated to the hills.
  • Yet his generals Jaimal and Patta carried on their fight. Finally, the generals, along with 30,000 Rajputs were killed.
  • Out of admiration for the gallant Jaimal and Patta. Akbar honoured them by erecting statues to their memory outside the chief gate of Agra fort.
  • The capture of Chittor was followed by the surrender of Rajput states like Ranthambhor, Kalinjar, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.After subordinating the regions of central India, Akbar turned his attention to Gujarat, a wealthy province renowned for its maritime commerce. Akbar conquered Gujarat from Muzaffar Shah in 1573.
  • Gujarat became a launch pad for the annexation of Deccan. After defeating Daud Khan, the Afghan ruler of Bihar and Bengal, both the provinces were annexed to the Mughal empire in 1576.
  • Akbar defeated Mirza Hakim of Kabul with the help of Raja Man Singh and Bhagwan Das. His conquest of Kashmir (1586) and Sindh (1591) consolidated the empire in the northwest.
  • After achieving the political integration of North India Akbar turned his attention to the Deccan. Akbar’s forces had occupied Khandesh region in 1591.
  • In 1596 Berar was acquired from Chand Bibi, who, as the regent of her nephew Muzaffar Shah, the Nizam Shahi ruler of Ahmednagar, valiantly defended Ahmednagar against the Mughal forces of Akbar.
  • By 1600 parts of Ahmed Nagar had fallen into the hands of Mughal forces. Akbar fell sick in September 1604 and died on 27 October 1605.

Rajput Policy

  • Akbar took earnest efforts to win the goodwill of the Hindus. He abolished the jizya (poll tax) on non-Muslims and the tax on Hindu pilgrims. The practice of sati by Hindu widows was also abolished.
  • The practice of making slaves of war prisoners was also discontinued. His conciliatory Rajput policy included matrimonial alliances with Rajput princely families, and according Rajput nobles high positions in the Mughal court.
  • A tolerant religious policy ensured the cultural and emotional integration of the people. Even before Akbar, many Muslim kings had married Rajput princesses.
  • But Akbar with his broadminded nature was instrumental in these matrimonial alliances becoming a synthesising force between two different cultures as he maintained close relations with the families.
  • Akbar had married Harkha Bhai (also referred to as Jodha in popular accounts), the daughter of Raja Bhar Mal (also known as Bihari Mal) of Amber. He also married the Rajput princesses of Bikaner and Jaisalmer.
  • Prince Salim who was born of Harkha Bhai married the daughter of Raja Bhagwan Das. Raja Man Singh, son of Bhagwan Das, became the trusted general of Akbar.
  • Even the Rajputs who chose not to have any matrimonial alliances were bestowed great honours in Akbar’s court.
  • His Rajput policy secured the services of great warriors and administrators for the empire.
  • Raja Todar Mal, an expert in revenue affairs, rose to the position of Diwan. Birbal was a favourite companion of Akbar. Mewar and Marwar were the two Rajput kingdoms that defied the Mughal Empire.
  • After the death of Rana Udai Singh, his son Rana Pratap Singh refused to acknowledge Akbar’s suzerainty and continued to fight the Mughals till his death in 1597.
  • The Battle of Haldighati in 1576 was the last pitched battle between the Mughal forces and Rana Pratap Singh.
  • In Marwar (Jodhpur), the ruler Chandra Sen, son of Maldeo Rathore, resisted the Mughals till his death in 1581, though his brothers fought on the side of the Mughals.
  • Udai Singh, the brother of Chandra Sen was made the ruler of Jodhpur by Akbar. Akbar’s capital was at Agra in the beginning.
  • Later he built a new city at Fatehpur Sikri. Though a deserted city now, it still stands with its beautiful mosque and great Buland Darwaza and many other buildings.

Mansabdari System

  • Akbar provided a systematic and centralised system of administration which contributed to the success of the empire.
  • He introduced the Mansabdari system. The nobles, civil and military officials combined into one single service with each officer receiving the title of Mansabdar.
  • Mansabdar rank was divided into Zat and Sawar. The former determined the number of soldiers each Mansabdar received ranging from 10 to 10,000.
  • The latter determined the number of horses under a Mansabdar. Each officer could rise from the lowest to the highest ranks. Promotions and demotions were made through additions or reductions of Mansabs.
  • The Mansabdari system diversified the ethnic base of his nobility. During Akbar’s early years the nobles were drawn exclusively from Central Asians or Persians.
  • But after the introduction of the Mansabdari system, the nobility encompassed Rajputs and Shaikhzadas (Indian Muslims).
  • The salary of a Mansabdar was fixed in cash but was paid by assigning him a jagir (an estate from which he could collect money in lieu of his salary), which was subjected to regular transfers.
  • The rank of Mansabdar was not hereditary and immediately after the death of a Mansabdar, the jagir was resumed by the state.

Akbar’s Religious Policy

  • Akbar began his life as an orthodox Muslim but adopted an accommodative approach under the influence of Sufism.
  • Akbar was interested to learn about the doctrines of all religions, and propagated a philosophy of Sulh-i-Kul (peace to all). Badauni, a contemporary author, who did not like Akbar’s inter-religious interests, accused him of forsaking Islam.
  • Akbar had established an Ibadat Khana, a hall of worship in which initially Muslim clerics gathered to discuss spiritual issues. Later he invited Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jains and even atheists to discussions.
  • In 1582, he discontinued the debates in the Ibadat Khana as it led to bitterness among different religions.
  • However, he did not give up his attempt to know the Truth. Akbar discussed personally with the leading lights of different religions like Purushotam and Devi (Hinduism), Meherji Rana (Zorastrianism), the Portugese Aquaviva and Monserrate (Christianity) and Hira Vijaya Suri (Jainism) to ascertain the Truth.
  • Because of the discussions he felt that behind the multiplicity of names there was but one God.
  • The exact word used by Akbar and Badauni to illustrate the philosophy of Akbar is Tauhid-i-Ilahi namely Din Ilahi. Tauhid-i-Ilahi literally meant divine monotheism.
  • It can be considered a sufistic order but not a new religion. He had become a Pir (Sufi Guru) who enrolled Murids (Sufi disciples) who would follow a set pattern of rules ascribed by the Guru.
  • Thousands of disciples enrolled as his disciples. Akbar’s intention was to establish a state based on the concept of secular principles, equal toleration, and respect to all sections irrespective of their religious beliefs.
  • He set up a big translation department for translating works in Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, etc, into Persian.
  • The Ramayana, Mahabharata, the Atharva Veda, the Bible and the Quran were translated into Persian. The Din Ilahi ceased to exist after Akbar.

Jahangir (1605–1627)

  • Akbar was succeeded by his son Salim with the title Nur-ud-din Jahangir. He was Akbar’s son by a Rajput wife. His ascension was challenged by his eldest son Prince Khusrau who staged a revolt with the blessings of Sikh Guru Arjun Dev.
  • Prince Khusrau was defeated, captured and blinded, while Guru Arjun Dev was executed. Jahangir also tamed the rebel Afghan Usman Khan in Bengal.
  • Mewar, which had defied Akbar under Rana Udai Singh and his son Rana Pratap Singh, was brought to terms by Jahangir after a military campaign led by his son Prince Khurram (later to become Emperor Shah Jahan) against Rana Amar Singh, the grandson of Rana Udai Singh.
  • They concluded a treaty whereby Rana Amar Singh could rule his kingdom after accepting the suzerainty of Jahangir. In 1608 Ahmad Nagar in the Deccan had declared independence under Malik Ambar.
  • Several attempts by prince Khurram to conquer Ahmad Nagar ended in failure. Prince Khurram had conquered the fort of Kangra after a siege of 14 months. Kandahar, conquered by Akbar from the Persians in 1595, was retaken by the Persian King Shah Abbas in 1622.
  • Jahangir wanted to recapture it. But he could not achieve it due to the rebellion of Prince Khurram. Jahangir’s reign witnessed the visit of two Englishmen – William Hawkins and Sir Thomas Roe.
  • While the former could not get the consent of the Emperor for establishing an English factory in India, the latter, sent as ambassador by King James I, succeeded in securing permission to establish a British factory at Surat.
  • Jahangir was more interested in art and painting and gardens and flowers, than in government. His Persian wife Mehrunnisa, renamed as Nur-Jahan by Jahangir, became the real power behind the throne.
  • The political intrigues that prevailed because of Nur-Jahan, led Prince Khurram to rebel against his father but due to the efforts of Mahabat Khan, a loyal general of Jahangir, the rebellion could not be fruitful.
  • Prince Khurram had to retreat to the Deccan. The intrigues of Nur-Jahan also made Mahabat Khan to rise in revolt which was effectively handled by Nur-Jahan. Mahabat Khan also retreated to Deccan to join Prince Khurram.
  • Immediately after the death of Jahangir, Nur-Jahan wanted to crown her son-in-law Shahryar Khan but due to the efforts of Nur-Jahan’s brother and Prince Khurram’s father-in-law Asaf Khan, Prince Khurram succeeded as the next Mughal emperor with the title ShahJahan.
  • Nur-Jahan, who ruled the empire for ten years, lost her power and influence after Jahangir’s death in December 1645.

Shah Jahan (1627-1658)

  • When Shah Jahan ascended the throne in Agra his position was secure and unchallenged. Yet the affairs of the empire needed attention.
  • The Afghan Pir Lodi, with the title Khanjahan, who had been governor of the southern provinces of the empire was hostile.
  • Despite Shah Jahan’s order transferring him from the government of the Deccan, he aligned with Murtaza Nizam Shah II, the Sultan of Ahmed-Nagar, and conspired against Shah Jahan.
  • As the situation turned serious, Shah Jahan proceeded to the Deccan in person. The newly appointed governor of the Deccan, Iradat Khan, who received the title Azam Khan led the imperial army and invaded the Balaghat.
  • Seeing the devastation caused by the imperial troops, Murtaza changed his attitude towards Khanjahan.
  • Khanjahan thereupon fled from Daulatabad into Malwa, but was pursued and finally slain.
  • Peace thus having been restored in the Deccan, Shah Jahan left the Deccan after dividing it into four provinces: Ahmednagar with Daulatabad; Khandesh; Berar; and Telengana.
  • The viceroyalty of the four provinces was conferred by Shah Jahan on his son Aurangzeb, then eighteen years of age.
  • Thus the Deccan was brought under the effective control of the Mughal empire during the reign of Shah Jahan. Ahmad Nagar, which offered resistance to the Mughals, was annexed despite the efforts of Malik Ambar.
  • Shah Jahan, with the help of Mahabat Khan, subdued the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmad Nagar in 1636. When the Shi’ite Qutub Shahi ruler of Golkonda imprisoned his own minister Mir Jumla it was used as a pretext by Aurangzeb to invade Golkonda.
  • A treaty made the Qutub Shahi ruler a vassal of the Mughal empire. In 1638 Shah Jahan made use of the political intrigues in the Persian empire and annexed Kandahar, conquered by Akbar and lost by Jahangir.
  • The Portuguese had authority over Goa under their viceroy. In Bengal they had their chief settlements in faraway Hugli. Shah Jahan ordered the Mughal Governor of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their settlement at Hugli. About 200 Portuguese at Hugli owned nearly 600 Indian slaves.
  • They had forced many of them to be baptised into the Christian faith. Moreover Portuguese gunners from Goa had assisted the Bijapur forces against the Mughals.
  • Though the Portuguese defended themselves valiantly, they were easily defeated. In 1641, Shah Jahan’s minister and father-in-law Asaf Khan died. Asaf Khan’s sister and Shah Jahan’s old enemy Nur Jahan, survived until December 1645, but lived in retirement and never caused him trouble again.
  • A contemporary of Louis XIV of France, Shah Jahan ruled for thirty years. In his reign the famous Peacock Throne was made for the King.
  • He built the Taj Mahal by the side of the Yamuna at Agra. Europeans like Bernier (French physician and traveller), Tavernier (French gem merchant and traveller), Mandelslo (German adventurer and traveller), Peter Mundy (English Trader) and Manucci (Italian writer and traveller) visited India during the reign of Shah Jahan and left behind detailed accounts of India.
  • During the last days of Shah Jahan, there was a contest for the throne amongst his four sons. Dara Shukoh, the eldest, was the favourite of his father. He had been nominated as heir apparent, a fact resented by his brothers. Aurangzeb, the third son, was astute, determined and unscrupulous.
  • Dara, professed the Sunni religion, but was deeply interested in Sufism. A war of succession broke out between the four sons of Shah Jahan in which Aurangzeb emerged victorious.
  • Aurangzeb imprisoned Shah Jahan and crowned himself as the Mughal emperor. Shah Jahan died broken hearted as a royal prisoner in January 1666 and was buried in the Taj Mahal next to his wife.

Aurangzeb (1658–1707)

  • Aurangzeb Alamgir (“World Conqueror”) ascended the throne in 1658 after getting rid of all the competitors for the throne, Dara Shukoh, Shuja and Murad, in a war of succession.
  • His reign of fifty years falls into two equal parts. During the first twenty-five years he resided in the north, chiefly at Delhi, and personally occupied himself with the affairs of northern India, leaving the Deccan in the hands of his viceroys.
  • Around 1681 he was prompted by the rebellion of one of his sons, Prince Akbar, to go to the Deccan. He never returned to Delhi, dying disappointed at Ahmad Nagar in 1707.
  • Aurangzeb conducted several military campaigns to extend the frontiers of the Mughal empire. His wars in the northwest and northeast drained the treasury.
  • Already under his father, the revenue of the crops had been raised from a third to a half, and the extensive and the prolonged military campaigns he waged required him to keep the peasantry heavily taxed.
  • Aurangzeb retained Shah Jahanabad as his capital, but after some two decades the capital was shifted to wherever Aurangzeb would set up camp during his long military campaigns. In the north there were three major uprisings against Aurangzeb.
  • The Jats (Mathura district), the Satnamis (Haryana region), and the Sikhs rebelled against Aurangzeb. The Jat rebellion (1669), a constant feature even during the reign of Jahangir and Shah Jahan, was crushed temporarily but they remained restive even after the death of Aurangzeb.
  • The Satnamis revolt was crushed with the help local Hindu zamindars. The Sikh (The Punjab) rebellion erupted due to the political intrigues of Ram Rai, a claimant for the position of Sikh Guru, against the incumbent Guru Tegh Bahadur.
  • This finally ended with the execution of Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru. Aurangzeb’s decision that the jizya (poll tax) should be levied on Hindus of all classes agitated the chiefs of Rajasthan, who had until then served the empire faithfully.
  • The death of Jaswant Singh of Marwar brought about a succession issue. The Rajput queen Rani Hadi, wife of Raja Jaswant Singh, resented the move of Aurangzeb to install Indra Singh, a grandnephew of Jaswant Singh, a titular chief of the state.
  • This led to a revolt with the help of Rathor Rajputs, but was effectively put down. The Rana of Mewar, Rana Raj Singh, resenting the interference of Aurangzeb in the affairs of Marwar rose in revolt and he was supported by Prince Akbar, the rebellious son of Aurangzeb.
  • However, the Rana could not match the Mughal forces and fought a guerrilla warfare till his death in 1680. In 1681 Rana Jai Singh, the new Rana of Mewar, signed a peace treaty with Aurangzeb.

Aurangzeb’s Deccan Policy

  • The Deccan policy of Aurangzeb was motivated by the policy of containing the growing influence of the Marathas, the rebellious attitude of the Shia kingdoms of Deccan like Golkonda and Bijapur and to curtail the rebellious activities of his son Akbar who had taken refuge in the Deccan.
  • Aurangzeb came to the Deccan in 1682 and remained in the Deccan till his death in 1707. The Adil Shahi ruler Sikkandar Adil Shah of Bijapur resisted the different forces sent by Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb first sent his son Azam Shah (1685) but to no avail.
  • Then he sent another son, Shah Alam to capture Bijapur. Though Bijapur Sultan, a Shia Muslim, ably defended the fort, he lost in the end, because Aurangzeb himself entered the battlefield and inspired his forces to fight to the finish.
  • Golkonda was captured in 1687 after defeating the ruler Abul Hasan.

Against Marathas

  • The Marathas under Shivaji were a threat to Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb sent two of his great generals Shaista Khan and Jai Singh one after the other to capture Shivaji.
  • Jai Singh captured Shivaji and took him to Delhi but Shivaji managed to escape to the Deccan. Shivaji, employing guerrilla tactics, defied the Mughal forces till his death at the age of 53 in 1680. Aurangzeb was severely tested by the Marathas till his death in 1707 as the sons of Shivaji continued the rebellion.
  • The death of Aurangzeb in 1707 marked a watershed in Indian history as the Mughal empire virtually came to end even though the weak successors of Aurangzeb held the throne the next 150 years.
  • Aurangzeb nursed a grudge against the Sikhs for having supported his brother and principal rival to the throne, Dara Shukoh. Guru Tegh Bahadur, was killed at Aurangzeb’s command.
  • In 1680 Aurangzeb sent a formidable army under his son Akbar to subdue the rebellious Rajput kings, but the emperor had not reckoned with his son’s traitorous conduct.
  • Akbar, had declared himself the emperor, but was compelled to flee to the Deccan, where he enlisted the help of Shivaji’s son, Sambhaji. Aurangzeb decided to take to the field himself, and eventually drove his own son into exile in Persia.
  • Sambhaji was captured in 1689 and executed. The Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda were also reduced to utter submission.
  • Towards the end of his reign, Aurangzeb’s empire began to disintegrate and this process was accelerated in the years after his death, when “successor states” came into existence.
  • The empire had become too large and unwieldy. Aurangzeb did not have enough trustworthy men at his command to manage the more far-flung parts of the empire. Many of his political appointees broke loose and declared themselves independent.
  • Aurangzeb’s preoccupation with affairs in the Deccan prevented him from meeting political challenges emanating from other parts of the empire.
  • Shortly after the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal empire ceased to be an effective force in the political life of India.
  • Aurangzeb re-imposed jizya. He also issued orders that new temples should not be constructed; but the repair of old long-standing temples was permitted. These measures were rooted not only in his religious faith but also due to political compulsions.
  • Jizya had been levied for a long time in India. As a staunch Muslim, Aurangzeb had discontinued the practise of levying abwab, a tax levied on the lands over and above the original rent, not sanctioned by Shariah.
  • Likewise, the order on temples was also an older one which in practice applied to places where he had political adversaries.
  • In areas where there was no political insubordination, Aurangzeb provided endowments to build temples.
  • It should be noted that during the reign of Aurangzeb the number of Hindu officials increased when compared to the reign of Shah Jahan.

Mughal Society

  • The population of India is estimated to have been around 15 crores in the 16th century and 20 crores in the 18th century. Large areas of land were under forest cover and the area under cultivation would have been much less.
  • As agriculture was the prime occupation of the society the village community was the chief institution of social organisation.
  • Though the nature, composition and governance of village differed from place to place there were certain similarities in the village administration.
  • The Muqaddam, privileged headman of the village, formed the Panch (Panchayat), an administrative organ of the village. The Panch was responsible for collection and maintenance of accounts at the village level.
  • The Panch allotted the unoccupied lands of the village to artisans, menials and servants for their service to the village.
  • The middle class consisted of small Mansabdars, petty shopkeepers, hakims (doctors), musicians, artists, petty officials of Mughal administration.
  • There was a salaried class, and received grants called Madad-i-Mash from the Mughal emperor, local rulers and zamindars.
  • This section often became part of the rural gentry and a link between the village and the town. Delhi, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Lahore, Ahmadabad, Dacca and Multan were important cities of the empire which could be ranked along with contemporary European cities like London and Paris.
  • The inequality in the standard of life amongst the privileged and the underprivileged classes was clear. Among the lower strata of society, the men wore just a langota and the women a sari. Footwear was not common.
  • The poor lived in houses made of mud and their diet consisted of wheat chapatis with pulses and vegetables. On the contrary the Mughal privileged class consisting of zamindars and nobles led an ostentatious life.
  • The nobles were Mansabdars who received jagirs or land grants as payment according to their ranks. The jagirdars were exploitative and oppressive in nature.
  • The nobles maintained a large train of servants, large stables of horses, elephants, etc. The nobles lived in fine houses containing gardens with fruit trees and running water. They wore the finest of clothing.
  • The Zamindars, members of dominant clans and castes with armed retainers, were a dominant class with privilege over lands of the peasants. Abul Fazal in his Ain-i-Akbari enlists the castes that were entitled to be zamindars.
  • While mostly upper caste Hindus and Rajputs were zamindars, in certain localities Muslim zamindars existed. The zamindars had the right to evict the peasants, in default of payment of rent. In Mughal social structure, the nobles came mostly from Central Asia and Iran.
  • Afghans, Indian Muslims (shaikhzadas), Rajputs and Marathas also obtained the status of nobility. It is estimated that during the reign of Akbar over 15% of the nobility consisted of Rajputs. Raja Man Singh, Raja Todar Mal and Raja Birbal were Rajput nobles of repute during Akbar.
  • The Rajputs appointed Kayasths and Khatris for various positions in government administration. Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb employed Marathas in their nobility. For example, Shaji, father of Shivaji, served Shah Jahan for some time.
  • There were continuous migrations from Central Asia as there were better career prospects in India. These migrations led to the enrichment of culture through assimilation of diversity.
  • Though the nobility was divided on ethnic lines they formed a composite class promoting a syncretic culture by patronising painters, musicians and singers of both Persian and Indian origin. The caste system was a dominant institution in the society.
  • Castes at lower levels were subject to much repression. Despite the popular Bhakti movement raising the banner of revolt against discrimination, the deprived and disadvantaged classes, who were landless peasants, were subject to forced labour.
  • The Hindu women had only limited right of inheritance. Widow remarriage was not permitted among upper caste women.
  • Along with household activities the women were involved in spinning yarn and helped in agricultural operations. Mughal administration discouraged the practise of sati that was prevalent among communities of the higher caste.
  • Muslim brides were entitled to receive mehr (money mandatorily paid by the groom) at the time of marriage, and also had the right to inherit property, though it was not equal to the share of the male members of the family.


  • The Mughal economy was a forest-based agricultural economy. The forests provided the raw materials for the craftsmen. Timber went to carpenters, wood carvers and shipwrights, lacquerware makers; wild silk to reelers and weavers; charcoal to iron miners and metal smiths.
  • Hence the relationship between manufacturing and the forest was very close. Different classes of the rural population were involved in agriculture. Agriculture was the chief activity in the economy.
  • Landless agricultural labourers without right to property formed almost a quarter of the population. Zamindars and village headmen possessed large tracts of land in which they employed labourers and paid them in cash and kind.
  • Well irrigation was the dominant mode of irrigation. The Ain-i-Akbari lists the various crops cultivated during the Rabi and Kharif seasons. Tobacco and maize were introduced in the seventeenth century.
  • Chilli and groundnut came later. Pineapple was introduced in the sixteenth century. Grafted varieties of mango came to be developed by the Portuguese. Potato, tomato and guava came later.
  • Indigo was another important commercial crop during the Mughal period. Sericulture underwent spectacular growth in Bengal to the extent that it became the chief supplier of silk to world trade.
  • As the farmers were compelled to pay land tax they had to sell the surplus in the market. The land tax was a share of the actual produce and was a major source of revenue for the Mughal ruling class.
  • The administration determined the productivity of the land and assessed the tax based on the total measurement.
  • Akbar promulgated the Zabt System (introduced by Todal Mal): money revenue rates were now fixed on each unit of area according to the crops cultivated.
  • The schedules containing these rates for different localities applicable year after year were called dasturs.
  • The urban economy was based on craft industry. Cotton textile industry employed large numbers of people as cotton carders, spinners, dyers, printers and washers. Iron, copper, diamond mining and gun making were other chief occupations.
  • Kharkhanas were workshops where expensive craft products were produced. The royal kharkhanas manufactured articles for the use of the royal family and nobility.
  • The excess production of the artisans was diverted to the merchants and traders for local and distant markets.

Trade and Commerce

  • The political integration of the country with efficient maintenance of law and order ensured brisk trade and commerce.
  • The surplus was carried to different parts of the country through rivers, and through the roads on ox and camel drawn carts. Banjaras were specialised traders who carried goods in a large bulk over long distances.
  • Bengal was the chief exporting centre of rice, sugar, muslin, silk and food grains. The Coromandel coast was reputed for its textile production. Kashmiri shawls and carpets were distributed from Lahore which was an important centre of handicraft production. The movement of goods was facilitated by letters of credit called hundi.
  • The network of sarais enabled the traders and merchants to travel to various places. The traders came from all religious communities: Hindus, Muslims and Jains. The Bohra Muslims of Gujarat, Marwaris of Rajasthan, Chettiars on Coromandel coast, and Muslims of Malabar were prominent trading communities.
  • Europeans controlled trade with the West Asia and European countries, and restricted the involvement of Indian traders.
  • Moreover, the Mughal empire, despite its vast resources and a huge army, was not a naval power.
  • They did not realise that they were living in an era of expanding maritime trade. Europeans imported spices, indigo, Bengal silk, muslin, calico and chintz.
  • In return, India obtained large quantities of silver and gold. Mughal silver coinage fuelled the demand for silver.


  • The Mughal period witnessed a continuing assertion of all the basic elements in puranic traditions.
  • Though it was difficult to speak of Hinduism as a single body of doctrine, in view of the countless faiths and innumerable customs and practices, having developed in mutual interaction and expressed in a large part in the same language (Sanskrit), the different sects of Hinduism yet shared the same idiom and the same or similar deities.
  • The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the centuries of Vaishnavism. Tulsidas (Ramcharitmanas) a great proponent of Rama cult in his popular verses of devotion portrayed Rama as a god incarnate. The expression of bhakti was deeply emotional as the object of bhakti (devotion) was Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu.
  • The Bhakti movement made great strides during this period. Poets and saints emerged from various parts of the country. They were critical of rituals, and criticised the caste system. Rather than using Sanskrit for expressing their devotion, they employed the language of the common people.
  • The radical ideas, and the easy but catchy language often set to music made them popular among the masses.
  • Some of the major religious figures like Vallabhacharya and his son Vitthalnath propagated a religion of grace; and Surdas, an adherent to this sect, wrote Sur-Saravali in the local language.
  • Eknath and Tukaram were Bhakti poets from Maharashtra. The Dasakuta movement, a bhakti movement in Karnataka, popularised by Vyasaraya, turned out to be a lower class movement.
  • The most important figure of the Bhakti movement was Kabir. Said to be a weaver, Kabir propounded absolute monotheism, condemned image worship and rituals, and the caste system.
  • His popular poetry written in a simple language was spread orally across large parts of north India.
  • An interesting aspect of the Bhakti poets was that they came from lower castes practising craft and service occupations.
  • Kabir was a weaver, Ravidas, a worker in hides, Sain, was a barber, and Dadu, a cotton carder. The Satnami sect in Haryana credited its origin to Kabir and his teachings.
  • While Sanskrit and Persian were the languages of administration and intellectual activity, the vernacular languages demonstrated their literary vitality.


  • Sikhism originated as a popular monotheistic movement, and evolved into one of the recognised religions of the world. Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikhs, contained the sayings of Muslim saint Shaikh Farid and of Bhakti poets such as Namdev, Kabir, Sain and Ravidas.
  • Guru Nanak believed in one God who was formless and omnipresent. He condemned image worship and religious rituals.
  • He stressed ethical conduct, kindness to all human beings and condemned caste system.


  • India was a fertile soil for the prevalence of Sufism or Muslim mysticism that had its origin in Iran.
  • It was accepted by the orthodox theologians as long as it fulfilled the obligations of the shariah. Sufism played a key role in creating religious harmony.


  • Along with the European traders came the Christian missionaries like Roberto De Nobili, Francis Xavier.
  • The early missionaries were Catholics. The first Lutheran missionaries under Danish patronage arrived in 1706 at Tranquebar and Ziegenbalg translated the New Testament of the Bible into Tamil in 1714, and soon the Old Testament as well.
  • This was the earliest translation of the Bible in any Indian language.

Science and Technology

  • The Madrasas continued to be concerned principally with Muslim theology and its vast literature. In great learning centres like Varanasi, astrology was taught and there was no institution in India, as noted by the French traveller Bernier, to the standards of colleges and universities in Europe.
  • This made the imparting of scientific subjects almost impossible. Attention was, however, given to mathematics and astronomy. Akbar’s court poet Faizi translated Bhaskaracharya’s famous work on mathematics, Lilavati.
  • Despite the presence of Europeans, there was no influence of them on the Indian society during the Mughal period. The method of water-lift based on pin-drum gearing known as Persian wheel had been introduced during Babur’s time.
  • A complicated system of water lift by a series of gear-wheels had been installed in Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar was also credited with popularizing the device of cooling water using saltpetre.
  • He is also the first known person in the world to have devised the ‘ship’s camel’, a barge on which the ship is built to make it easier for the ship to be carried to the sea.
  • Some mechanical devices like the screw for tightening, manually driven belt-drill for cutting diamonds were in use.
  • Agricultural tools continued to be the same, made entirely of wood. In metallurgy, the inability to produce cast iron remained an obvious drawback.
  • As Irfan Habib observed, ‘India’s backwardness in technology was obvious when the matchlock remained the most common weapon in Indian armies. In Europe the flintlock had long come into use.
  • Indians continued to use the expensive bronze cannon, long after these had become obsolete in Europe. This was because of India’s inability to make cast iron even in the seventeenth century.’


  • Architectural progress during the Mughals is a landmark in world art. Mughal buildings were noted for the massive structures decorated with bulbous domes, splendorous minarets, cupolas in the four corners, elaborate designs, and pietra dura (pictorial mosaic work).
  • The mosques built during the time of Babur and Humayun are not of much architectural significance. The Sur dynasty left behind a few spectacular specimens in the form of the Purana Qila at Delhi, and the tombs of Sher Shah and Islam Shah at Sasaram in Bihar.
  • The Purana Qila with a raised citadel and the tombs on a terraced platform surrounded by large tanks were novel features.
  • During Akbar’s reign, Humayun’s tomb was enclosed with gardens and placed on a raised platform. Built by Indian artisans and designed by Persian architects it set a pattern to be followed in the future.
  • The Agra fort built with red sandstone is a specimen where Rajput architectural styles were also incorporated. The new capital city of Akbar Fatehpur Sikri enclosed within its walls several inspiring buildings.
  • The magnificent gateway to Fatehpur Sikri, the Buland Darwaza, built by Akbar with red sandstone and marble is considered to be a perfect architectural achievement.
  • The mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra near Agra started by Akbar and completed by Jahangir includes some Buddhist architectural elements. The tomb of Itimad-ud-daula, father of Nurjahan, built by Jahangir was the first Mughal building built completely with white marble.
  • Mughal architecture reached its apex during the reign of Shah Jahan. The Taj Mahal is a marble structure on an elevated platform, the bulbous dome in the centre rising on a recessed gateway with four cupolas around the dome and with four free-standing minarets at each of its corners is a monument of universal fame.
  • The Red Fort in Delhi, encompassed by magnificent buildings like Diwan-i Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, Moti Mahal and Hira Mahal reflect the architectural skills of the times of Shah Jahan. The Moti Masjid inside the Agra Fort made exclusively of marble, the Jama Masjid in Delhi, with its lofty gateway, series of domes and tall and slender minarets are the two significant mosques built by Shah Jahan.
  • He also established a new township, Shah jahanabad (present-day Old Delhi) where Red Fort and Jama Masjid are located.
  • Aurangzeb’s reign witnessed the construction of Badshahi mosque in Lahore and the marble tomb of Rabia ud daurani, known as Bibi-ka-maqbara (Tomb of the Lady) at Aurangabad.
  • The Shalimar Gardens of Jahangir and Shah Jahan are showpieces of Indian horticulture. Apart from the many massive structures, the Mughals contributed many civil works of public utility, the greatest of them being the bridge over the Gomati river at Jaunpur.
  • The most impressive feat is the West Yamuna Canal which provided water to Delhi. Mughal architecture influenced even temple construction in different parts of the country.
  • The temple of Govind Dev at Vrindavan near Mathura and Bir Singh’s temple of Chaturbhuj at Orchchaa (Madhya Pradesh) display Mughal influence.


  • The Mughals achieved international recognition in the field of painting. Mughal miniatures are an important part of the museums of the world.
  • Ancient Indian painting traditions kept alive in provinces like Malwa and Gujarat along with the central Asian influences created a deep impact in the world of painting.
  • The masters of miniature painting, Abdu’s Samad and Mir Sayyid Ali, who had come to India from Central Asia along with Humayun inspired Indian painters. The primary objective of painting was to illustrate literary works.
  • The Persian text of Mahabharata and Akbar Namah were illustrated with paintings by various painters. Daswant and Basawan were famous painters of Akbar’s court.
  • European painting was introduced in Akbar’s court by Portuguese priests. During Jahangir’s time portrait painting and the painting of animals had developed. Mansur was a great name in this field.
  • The great Dutch painter Rembrandt was influenced by Mughal miniatures. While Shah Jahan continued the tradition of painting, Aurangzeb’s indifference to painting led to dispersal of the painters to different parts of the country and thereby led to promotion of painting in the provinces.

Music and Dance

  • According to Ain-i-Akbari, Tansen of Gwalior, credited with composing of many ragas, was patronised by Akbar along with 35 other musicians. Jahangir and Shah Jahan were patrons of music.
  • Though there is a popular misconception that Aurangzeb was against music, a large number of books on Indian classical music were written during his regime. His queens, princes and nobles continued to patronise music.
  • The later Mughal Muhammad Shah was instrumental in inspiring important developments in the field of music.
  • Paintings in Babur Namah and Padshah Namah depict woman dancing to the accompaniment of musical instruments.


  • Persian, Sanskrit and regional languages developed during the Mughal rule. Persian was the language of administration in Mughal Empire and the Deccan states. It influenced even the Rajput states where Persian words were used in administration.
  • Abul Fazal patronised by Akbar compiled the history of Akbar in Akbar Nama and described Mughal administration in his work Ain-i-Akbari.
  • The Ain-i-Akbari is commendable for its interest in science, statistics, geography and culture. Akbar Namah was emulated by Abdul Hamid Lahori and Muhammad Waris in their joint work Padshah Nama, a biography of Shah Jahan.
  • Later Muhammad Kazim in his Alamgir Nama, a work on the reign of the first decade of Aurangzeb, followed the same pattern.
  • Babur’s autobiography written in Chaghatai Turkish was translated into Persian by Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan.
  • Dabistan is an impartial account of the beliefs and works of different religions. Persian literature was enriched by translations of Sanskrit works.
  • The Mahabharata was translated under the supervision of Abul Faizi, brother of Abul Fazal and a court poet of Akbar. The translation of Upanishads by Dara Shukoh, entitled Sirr-I-Akbar (the Great Secret), is a landmark.
  • The Masnawis of Abul Faizi, Utbi and Naziri enriched Persian Poetry in India. The Sanskrit works produced during the Mughal rule are impressive. Sanskrit literature of this period is noted for the kavyas and historical poetry.
  • Rajavalipataka, a kavya, written by Prajna bhatta which completed the history of Kashmir belonged to reign of Akbar.
  • Graeco-Arabic learning was transmitted to India through Persian works in the form of Sanskrit translations. Akbar’s astronomer Nilakantha wrote the Tajika Neelakanthi, an astrological treatise.
  • Shah Jahan’s court poet Jaganatha Panditha wrote the monumental Rasagangadhara.
  • The greatest contribution in the field of literature during the Mughal rule was the development of Urdu as a common language of communication for people speaking different dialects. Regional languages acquired stability and maturity and some of the finest lyrical poetry was produced during this period.
  • Abdur Rahim Khan-e-Khanan composed Bhakti poetry with a blend of Persian ideas of life and human relations in the Brij form of Hindi.
  • Tulsidas who wrote in Awadhi, the Hindi dialect spoken in the eastern Uttar Pradesh, was very popular for his devotional ideals. Marathi literature had an upsurge due to the literary contribution of Eknath, Tukaram, Ramdas and Mukteshwar during this period.
  • Eknath questioned the superiority of Sanskrit over other languages. The verses of Tukaram kindled monotheism.
  • Mukteshwar composed Ramayana and Mahabharata in literary Marathi. Krishnadevaraya, the Vijayanagar ruler, through his Amuktamalyada (an epic poem on the Tamil woman poet, Andal) and his court Poet Allasani Peddana with his Manu Charitra were the leading beacons of Telugu literature during this period.
  • Malayalam which had separated from Tamil as a language received a separate literary identity during this period.
  • Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed in Malayalam. In Assamese language the tradition of Bhakti poetry was emulated by Shankara Deva who initiated a new literary tradition.
  • Assamese literary works were produced in the fields of astronomy, arithmetic, and treatment of elephants and horses. Ramayana and Mahabharata were also retold in the Assamese language.
  • The Chaitanya cult which portrayed the love of Krishna and Radha in poetic verses promoted Bengali literature.
  • The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs compiled by Guru Arjun in which the verses of the Sikh Gurus as well as Shaikh Farid and other monotheists are a landmark in the evolution of Punjabi language.
  • During this period Tamil literature was dominated by Saivite and Vaishnavite literature. Kumaraguruparar, a great Saiva poet, is said to have visited Varanasi in the late seventeenth century.
  • He composed important literary works such as Meenakshiammai Pillai Tamil and Neethineri Vilakkam. Thayumanavar wrote highly devotional verses with compassion for all humanity and he formulated a sanmarga that tried to bridge differences between the various Saivite sects.
  • The Christian missionaries like Roberto de Nobili and Constantine Joseph Beschi contributed much to Tamil language.
  • The empire the Mughals built at the national level made an everlasting impact on India as they knit the fragments into a single political unit, well aided by an effective central administration.
  • Multiple identities also got synthesized in the process leading to the evolution of a unique culture that is Indian.

More to know:

1. Gol Gumbaz

  • Bijapur (modern Vijayapura) was the capital of the Adil Shahi dynasty during1480-1686. It is famous for its magnificent buildings and dargahs.
  • Gol Gumbaz (round dome) is the mausoleum of the seventh ruler of the dynasty Mohammad Adil Shah (1627-1656).
  • Mohammad Adi Shah commissioned the mausoleum in his lifetime. Built of dark grey basalt and decorated plaster, the exterior of Gol Gumbaz is simple but beautiful.
  • On the four corners of the bare walls are four doomed octagonal towers. Each tower has seven storeys and each storey has several windows which give the structure a striking look.
  • The dome is the second largest in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The huge chamber of 135 ft each way and 178 ft high contains an elevated platform on which five cenotaphs are placed.
  • Those are of Muhammad Adil Shah, his wife Arus Bibi, a daughter, a grandson and his favourite mistress Rambha.

2. Dara Shukoh, who lost the battle for the throne of Delhi to his brother Aurangzeb, was known as the Philosopher Prince. He brought different cultures into dialogue and found a close connection between Hinduism and Islam. He translated the Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian.

3. Taj Mahal:

  • The Taj Mahal, is the epitome of Mughal architecture, a blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles.
  • It was built by the Shah Jahan to immortalize his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth in 1631, after having been the emperor’s inseparable companion since their marriage in 1612.
  • The plans for the complex have been attributed to various architects of the period, though the chief architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahawri, an Indian of Persian descent.
  • The complex – main gateway, garden, mosque and mausoleum (including its four minarets) were conceived and designed as a unified entity. Building commenced in about 1632.
  • More than 20,000 workers were employed from India, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Europe to complete the mausoleum by about 1638–39; the adjunct buildings were finished by 1643, and decoration work continued until at least 1647.

4. European Factories/Settlements during Mughal Rule


In 1510, Albuquerque captured Goa from the ruler of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese Empire in the East. Subsequently Daman, Salsette and Bombay on the west coast and at Santhome near Madras and Hugli in Bengal on the east coast had become Portuguese settlements.


The Dutch set up factories at Masulipatam (1605), Pulicat (1610), Surat (1616), Bimilipatam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Kasimbazar, Baranagore, Patna, Balasore, Nagapattinam (all in 1658) and Cochin (1663).


Denmark also established trade settlements in India and their settlements were at Tranquebar in Tamilnadu (1620) and Serampore, their headquarters in Bengal.


Surat (1668), Masulipatnam (1669), Pondicherry, a small village then (1673), Chandernagore in Bengal (1690). Later they acquired Mahe in the Malabar, Yanam in Coromandal (both in 1725) and Karaikal (1739).


The Company first created a trading post in Surat (where a factory was built in 1612), and then secured Madras (1639), Bombay (1668), and Calcutta (1690). Though the Company had many factories, Fort William in Bengal, Fort St George in Madras, and the Bombay Castle were the three major trade settlements of the English.

5. Deccan Sultanates

After flourishing for over a hundred years the Bahmani kingdom, that covered much of Maharashtra and Andhra along with a portion of Karnataka, disintegrated and powerful nobles carved out new dominions at Golkonda (Qutb Shahs), Bijapur (Adil Shahs), Berar (Imad Shahs), Bidar (Barid Shahs) and Ahmad Nagar (Nizam Shahs), which go by the collective name of Deccan Sultanates or Southern Sultanates.

6. Malik Ambar

  • Brought as a slave from Ethiopia to India, Malik Ambar changed several hands before landing at the hands of the Prime Minister of Ahmad nagar named Chengiz Khan.
  • Malik Ambar learnt about statecraft, military and administrative affairs from Chengiz Khan.
  • After the death of Chengiz Khan his wife set Malik Ambar free. By dint of his hard work Malik rising through several ranks became the Military Commander and Regent of one of the south Indian Sultanates.
  • In the Deccan Muslims and Marathas had united to resist Mughal hegemony in their bid to preserve their distinct regional and political identity.
  • Malik Ambar was the brain behind this move.
  • Trained by Malik Ambar the Marathas became a force to reckon with after Malik’s death at the age of 78 on 14 May 1626.

7. Jagirdari

It is a land tenure system developed during the Delhi Sultanate. Under the system the collection of the revenue of an estate and the power of governing it were bestowed upon an official of the state.

8. Zamindari

  • The term refers to another land tenure system. The word zamindar means landowner in Persian.
  • In Mughal times the zamindars were drawn from the class of nobles. Akbar granted land to the nobles as well as to the descendents of old ruling families and allowed them to enjoy it hereditarily.
  • Zamindars collected revenue from the tenants and cultivators and remitted a fixed amount to the state.

9. There is a story about Babur’s death. His son Humayun was ill and Babur in his love for him is said to have prayed, offering his own life if his son got well. Humayun recovered.

10. Artillery is an army unit that uses large cannon-like weapons, transportable and usually operated by more than one person. Gun powder was first invented by the Chinese and found its way to Europe in the 13th century A.D. (CE). It was used in guns and cannons from the mid fourteenth century onwards. In India we have no instances of artillery being used in war before Babur.

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