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Mughal Period (1526-40 and 1555-1857)


  • Mughals belonged to a branch of the Turks called Chagatai, which is named after the second son of Genghis Khan, the famous Mongol Leader.
  • The Mughals were descendants of two great lineages of rulers.
  • Babur: founder of the Mughal Empire in India was related to Timur from his father’s side and to Chengiz Khan through his mother.
  • Babur succeeded his father as the ruler of Farghana (Uzbekistan), but soon lost his kingdom.
  • Financial difficulties, apprehension of Uzbek attack on Kabul and invitation of Rana Sanga to invade India forced Babur to look towards India.

Babur: 1526-30

  • The foundation of the Mughal rule in India was laid by Babur in 1526.
  • He was a descendant of Timur (from the side of his father) and Chengiz khan (from the side of his mother).
  • First Battle of Panipat (1526) – Babur decisively defeated Ibrahim Lodhi. It Replaced the Lodhi and established Mughal era in India.
  • Reasons for Babur’s victory: Alternatively resting one wing of Army, Services of two ottoman master gunners – Ustad Ali & Mustafa, Use of Gunpowder, scientific use of cavalry & artillery tactics – tulughma and the araba, effective use of Cannons.
  • Battle of Khanwa (1527) – Babur defeated Rana Sangha and assumed title of Ghazi
  • Battle of Chanderi (1528) – Medini Rai was defeated and with this resistance across Rajputana was completely shattered.
  • Battle of Ghagra (1529) – Babur defeated Mahmud Lodhi who aspired to the throne of Delhi.
Babur Introduced Char-Baghs and symmetrically laid out gardens.Built mosques at Panipat and Sambhat in Rohilkhand. Babur wrote Tuzuk-I-Baburi (Babarnama) & Masnavi.Kabul and Gandhar became integral parts of Mughal Empire.
  • Security from External invasions for almost 200yrs.
  • Babur popularized the gun powder, cavalry and artillery in India. (Gunpowder used earlier in India, but Babur popularized its use).
  • Strengthened India’s foreign trade.
  • Babur introduced a new mode of warfare in India.
  • Defeating Sangha & Lodi he smashed the balance of power and laid the foundation for all India Empire.
  • He had assumed title of Padshah.

Humayun: 1530-40 and 1555-56

  • He was the son of Babur and ascended the throne in 1530.His succession was challenged by his brothers Kamran, Hindal and Askari along with the Afghans.
  • He had to deal with the rapid growth of power of the Afghans & and Bahadur shah of Gujarat.
  • At the battle of Chausa (1539) & battle of Kanauj (1540) Sher Shah, defeated Humayun and forced him to flee India.
  • For sometimes he took shelter at the Iranian king. In 1555, following the breakup of Suri Empire he recaptured Delhi but died next year.
  • Humayun built a new city at Delhi which he named “Dinpanah”.
  • Mosques: Jamali mosque and mosque of Isa Khan at Delhi.
  • His widow Amida Benu Bhegum built Humayun’s tomb (UNESCO site).
  • Humayun’s sister, Gul Badan Begum, wrote “Humayun-Nama”.
  • The foundation for the Mughal painting was laid by Humayun when he was staying in Persia.

He brought with him two painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdal Samad to India, who became famous during Akbar’s reign.

Sher Shah Suri: 1540-45

  • Founder of Sur dynasty and second Afghan Empire (after Lodhi).
  • He was the son of Hasan Khan; the jagirdar of Sasaram.Ibrahim Lodhi transferred his father’s jagir to him.
  • In 1527-28, he joined Babur’s service and then returned to south Bihar as deputy governor and guardian of the minor king Jalal Khan Lohani, Son of Bahar Khan Lohani.
  • Sher Shah’s rule lasted for five years.
  •  Purana Qila (Old Fort) and its mosque, Mausoleum at Sasaram were constructed during this period.

Malik Muhammad Jayasi wrote the famous Hindi work “Padmavat” during his reign.

Important officials were

  • Diwan –i- Wizarat / Wazir – Revenue and Finance.
  • Diwan-i-Ariz – in charge of Army.
  • Diwan-i-Rasalat- Foreign Minister.
  • Diwan-i-Insha- Minister for Communications.
  • Barid – Intelligence
  • Sher Shah’s empire was divided into “sarkars”.
  • Chief Shiqdar (law and order) & Chief Munsif (judge) à Incharge of the administration in each sarkar.
  • Each sarkar was divided into several parganas. Shiqdar (military officer), Amin (land revenue), Fotedar (treasurer), Karkuns (accountants) were in charge of the administration of each pargana.
  • Mauza (village) was the lowest level of administration.
  • There were also many administrative units called iqtas.
  • The land revenue was well organized & revenue officers were called Amils and Qanungo were the official’s incharge of maintaining revenue records.
  • Land survey was carefully done. He introduced a schedule of crop rates (ray).
  • Improved land revenue by adopting zabti-i-har-sal (land assessment every year).
  • All cultivable lands were classified into three classes – good, middle and bad. The state’s share was one third of the average produce and it was paid in cash or crop. Land was measured using Sikandari gaz (32 points).
  • Introduced Patta (amount each peasant had to pay) and Qabuliyat (deed of agreement).
  • Introduced new silver coins called “Dam” and they were in circulation till 1835.
  • He built the Shahi (Royal) road from the Indus Valley to the Sonar Valley in Bengal. This road was renamed the Grand Trunk (GT) road during the British period, connecting Calcutta and Peshawar.
  • He also built Sarais (lodging) which also served as post office. Many sarais developed into market towns.
  • Every Sarai was under the control of a Shahana (custodian).
  • He followed branding of horses from Alauddin Khalji and maintained his personal royal force called Khasa Kail.

Akbar: 1556-1605

  • Akbar, the eldest son of Humayun, ascended the throne under the title of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar Badshah Ghazi at the young age of 14 at Kalanaur, Punjab and his tutor Bairam Khan was appointed as the regent.
  • He succeeded the throne after his father Humayun’s death.
  • In 1556, in the second battle of Panipat, he defeated Hemu (Sur’s wazir).
  • Between 1556-60, Akbar ruled under Bairam Khan’s regency. Bairam became Wakil of the kingdom with title of Khan-i-Khanam.
  • Battle of Haldighati (1576) – Akbar defeated Rana Paratap following most of the Rajput rulers accepted Akbar’s suzerainty.
  • Akbar defeated Gujarat ruler Muzaffar Shah. To commemorate this victory, he built Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri.
  • Akbar gradually enlarged the Mughal Empire to include much of the Indian subcontinent.
  • Empire was divided into subas (provinces), governed by a subadar who carried out both political and military functions. Each subha had officials – diwan, bakshi, sadr, qazi etc.
  • There was another division of empire – Jagir (allotted to nobles & members of royal family), Khalisa (tract reserved for royal exchequer), Inam (given to religious leaders, half of it was uncultivated).
  • With the help of Raja Todar Mal, Akbar experimented on the land revenue administration; it was Zabti or Bandobast system.
  • Dahsala System – The revenue was fixed on the average yield of land measured on the basis of previous ten years. It was improved version of Zabti.
  • Battai/Gholla-Bakshi system – Produce divided between state & peasants in fixed proportion. Peasants were given choice between Battai & Dahsala.
  • Nasaq/kankut – revenue on the basis of what peasant had been paying in the past.
  • Categorization of land – Polaj (cultivated every year), Parati (once in two years), Chachar (once in three or four years) and Banjar (once in five or more years).
  • Payment of revenue was made generally in cash.
  • Qanungos were hereditary holders of land and Karoris were officers appointed all over North India. They had responsibility of collecting dam (rupees).
  • Sawar rank indicated the number of sawars had to maintain by person. Every sawar had to maintain at least two horses.
  • The mansab rank was not hereditary & mansabdar were paid by assigning jagir.
  • Abolished jizya, pilgrimage and forcible conversion of prisoners of wars.
  • He built ibadat khana (House of Worship) at Fatehpur Sikri for religious discussion.
  • Akbar was convinced that religious bigots over emphasize ritual and dogma.
  • Thus, he advocated the idea of sulh-i kul or “universal peace’’ idea of tolerance which did not discriminate between the people of different religions.
  • Abul Fazl helped Akbar in framing a vision of governance around this idea of sulh-i kul. This principle of governance was followed by Jahangir and Shah Jahan as well.
  • In 1582, he promulgated a new religion called “Din-e-Ilahi” or Divine Faith. It believes in one God. It contained good points of all religions. It had only fifteen followers including Birbal. Akbar did not compel anyone to his new faith.
  • Jharoka Darshan was introduced by Akbar with the objective of broadening the acceptance of the imperial authority as part of popular faith.
  • Introduced gold coins called asharafi (mohurs).
  • He also began dating his coins as per a new ‘Illahi era’, which replaced the earlier Hijri era.
  • Akbar introduced the practice of inscribing Persian poetry praising the ruler on coins.
  1. Abul Fazl: Wrote Ain-i-Akbari and “Akbar Nama”.
  2. Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana : A great poet, Translated Baburnama into Turki
  3. Birbal: A was a Hindu advisor and main commander (mukhya senapati) of army in the court. Akbar gave him title ’Raja Birbal’.
  4. Mirza Aziz Koka : A also known as Kotaltash, was the foster brother of Akbar built by Mirza Aziz Koka as a mausoleum for himself, at the time of Jahangir’s reign
  5. Faizi: A Translated Lilavati into Persian & under his supervision Mahabharata was translated into Persian language.
  6. Raja Man Singh: A was a mansabdar.
  7. Raja Todar Mal: A Finance Minister. Akbar bestowed on him title of Diwan-i-Ashraf.
  8. Faqir Azio-Din :A one of the Chief advisors of Akbar
  9. Tansen: A Musician, Hindu of Gwalior. He served to King Ramachandra, who gave him the title of “Tansen”. Akbar gave him title of “Mian”.
  • Haznama, consisted of 1200 paintings, belonged to his reign.
  • European style of painting was introduced by Portuguese priests in his court.
  • Jaswant & Daswan were famous painters in his court.
  • Persian poets in his court: Abu Fazl and his brother Abul Faizi, Tarikh Alfi, Utbi and Nazir.
  • Hindi poets in his court: Tulsidas- wrote “Ramcharitmanas”.
  • Akbar commissioned the translation of many Sanskrit works into Persian. A Maktab Khana or translation bureau was also established at Fatehpur Sikri for this purpose.
  • The Razmnamah is Persian translation of the Mahabharata.
  • Akbar period was popularly known as ‘the renaissance of Persian literature’.

Jahangir: 1605-27

  • When Akbar died, Prince Salim succeeded with the title Jahangir (Conqueror of World) in 1605.
  • His son Khusrau revolted but was defeated and imprisoned and his supporter Guru Arjun, the fifth Sikh Guru, was beheaded.
  • British Visited Machilipatnam during his reign. Captain Hawkins and Thomas Roe visited his court. Thomas Roe got the Farman for setting up an English factory at Surat. Farman was sealed by Shah Jahan.
  • His wife Nurjaha had influence over the state affairs.
  • Jahangir erected Zanjr-i-adal at Agra fort for the seekers of royal justice
  • Mahtab Khan was his military general & had revolted against him
  • Autobiography: Tuzuk-i- Jahangiri in Persian
  • Faced tough fight of Malik Amber in his expeditions to Ahmednagar
  • Introduction of the “du-aspah-sih-aspah” system. It was modification to Mansabdari. Nobles were allowed to maintain a large no of troops without raising their zat ranks.

Shahjahan: 1628-58

  • Succeeded Jahangir ad ascended throne in 1628.
  • Three years after accession, his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal died in 1631.
  • In the north-west, the campaign to seize Balkh from the Uzbegs was unsuccessful and Qandahar was lost to the Safavids.
  • His Deccan policy was more successful. He defeated the forces of Ahmadnagar and annexed it. Both Bijapur and Golkonda signed a treaty with the emperor.
  • The court, army and household moved from Agra to the newly completed imperial capital, Shahjahanabad. It was a new addition to the old residential city of Delhi, with the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Chandni Chowk
  • Salutation: Under Shah Jahan it was chahar taslim and zaminbos (kissing the ground).
  • During his reign war of succession among his sons broke out.
  • Battle of Dharmat, Battle of Samugarh, Battle of Khajwah, and Battle of Deorai took place & Finally Aurangzeb emerged victorious.
  • His court historian Abdul Hameed Lohiri wrote “Badusha Nama”.
  • “Shah Jahan Nama” is written by Inayat Khan. His son translated Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads into Persian language.
  • Built Taj Mahal in 1632-33 to perpetuate memories of his wife, Mumtaj Mahal.
  • Moti Masjid (entirely of white marble), Sheesh Mahal and Mussaman Burj at Agra.
  • Red Fort with its Rang Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas at Delhi.
  • Jama Masjid in Delhi (red stone), Shalimar Bagh in Lahore and city of Shahjahanabad.
  • The pietra dura method was used on a large scale in the Taj Mahal by Shah Jahan.

Aurangzeb: 1658-1707

  • Aurangzeb defeated Dara at Dharmat (1658), Samugarh (1658) and Deorai in which Samugarh was decisive one and deorai was last one.
  • Masir – I Alamgiri book written by Mustaid Khan throws light on Aurangzeb’s rule.
  • He assumed the title Alamgir, World Conqueror. He was also called Zinda Pir.
  • During his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent, ruling over nearly the entire Indian subcontinent.
  • He annexed Bijapur (1686) & Golkonda (1687) and extended Mughal Empire further south.
  • He faced tough fight from Shivaji Maharaj – Maratha king who had carved out independent state.
  • Discontinued Official departments of history.
  • He issued Zawabit-i- Alamgir (decrees of Aurangzeb) and appointed Muhtasibs to enforce moral codes given under it.
  • Drinking was prohibited & cultivation and use of bhang and other drugs were banned.
  • Although he was proficient in playing Veena, Aurangzeb forbade music in the court.
  • He discontinued the practice of Jarokha darshan.
  • He also discontinued the celebration of Dasarah & Navroz and royal astronomers and astrologers were also dismissed from service.
  • Aurangzeb built Bibi Ka Maqbara (replica of Taj) at AurangabadMoti Masjid (Near Red fort, Delhi).
  • Initially Aurangazeb banned the construction of new Hindu temples and repair of old temples. Then he began a policy of destroying Hindu temples.
  • In 1679, he reimposed Jizya and pilgrim tax.
  • He was also not tolerant of other Muslim sects. The celebration of Muharram was stopped.
  • He executed the ninth Sikh Guru Tej Bahadur.
  • It had also resulted in the rebellions of the Jats of Mathura and the Satnamis of Mewar. Therefore, Aurangzeb was held responsible for the decline of the Mughal.
  • In Mansabdari System he created additional rank Mashrut (conditional), Added one deduction called Khurak-i-dawwab towards meeting the cost for feed of animals.
  • Aurangzeb appointed Rajputs to high positions, and under him the Marathas accounted for a sizeable number within the body of officers.
  • Miraz Mohammad Qasim wrote “Alamgirnama”.
  • His religious policy was responsible for turning the Rajputs, the Marathas and Sikhs into the enemies of Mughal Empire.

A war of succession broke out among the sons when father Aurangzeb died in 1701. Muazzam emerged victorious after defeating Muhammad Azam Shah in the Battle of Jajau.


  • Lack of stability after Aurangzeb.
  • Most of the emperors became puppets in the hands of powerful Nobles who often ran administration on their behalf.
  • Weal military and political administration as exposed by Nadir Shah and Ahmad Abdali’s invasion
  • Emergence of autonomous states and hence weakening of central power.
  • Orthodox policy of Aurangzeb: His attitude towards Marathas, Rajputs and Jats made them his enemy. His religious policies too alienated the Hindus.