Mughal Period History

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) & Chengiz Khan (from the side of his mother).
  • Babur was invited by Daulat Kahna Lodi & Alam Khan Lodi against Ibrahim Lodi
  • Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the first battle of Panipat on April 21, 1526, & established the Mughal dynasty.
  • In 1527, he defeated Rana Sanga of Mewar at Khanwa.
  • In 1528, he defeated Medini Rai of Chaneri at Chanderi.
  • In 1529, he defeated Muhammad Lodhi (uncle of Ibrahim Lodhi) at Ghaghra.
  • In 1530, he died in Agra. His tomb is in Lahore. The tomb of only two Mughal emperors are outside India i.e. Babur & Bahadur Shah Zafar.
  • He was the first to use gunpowder & artillery in India.
  • Two gun masters Mustafa & Ustad Ali were in his army
  • He wrote his autobiography Tuzuk-i-Baburi in Turki.
  • Tuzuk-i-Baburi was translated into Persian (named Baburnama) by Abdur Rahim Khan-e-khana & in English by Madan Bebridge.
  • He compiled two anthologies of poems, Diwan (in Turki) & Mubaiyan (in Persian). He also wrote Risal-i-Usaz or letters of Babur.

Humayun (1530-40 & 1555-56)

  • He was the son of Babur & ascended the throne in 1530. His succession was challenged by his brothers Kamran, Hindal & Askari along with the Afghans.
  • In 1532 he established Tabl-e-adl at Agra.
  • He fought two battles against Sher Shah at Chausa (1539) & at Kannauj/Bilgram (1540) & was completely defeated by him.
  • He escaped to Iran where he passed 12 years of his life in exile.
  • After Sher Shah’s death, Humayun invaded India in 1555 & defeated his brothers the Afghans. He once again became the ruler of India.
  • He died while climbing down the stairs of his library (at Din Panah) in 1556 & was buried in Delhi.
  • Abul Fazal calls him Insan-e-Kamil.
  • His sister, Gulbadan Begum wrote his biography Humayunama.
  • He built Din Panah at Delhi as his second capital.
  • He set up a cantonment in various parts of his empire & a strong garrison was posted in each cantonment.
  • According to Abul Fazal the empire of Sher Shah was divided into 63 sarkars or districts.
  • The unit of land measurement was “bigha”
  • He like Allauddin Khalji introduced Dagh & Chera to the army
  • Zamindars were removed & the taxes were directly collected.
  • He was buried in Sasaram.

Akbar (1542-1605)

  • Akbar, the eldest son of Humayun, ascended the throne under the title of Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar Badshah Ghazi at the young age of 14.
  • His coronation took place at Kalanaur.
  • The second Battle of Panipat (5 Nov. 1556) was fought between Hemu (the Hindu General of Muhammad Adil Shah) & Biram Khan (the regent of Akbar). Hemu was defeated, captured & slain by Bairam Khan.
  • In the initial years of his rule, Akbar was first under the influence of his reagent Bairam & then under her mother Maha Manga.
  • The period of influence of Maham Anga on Akbar i.e. from 1560-62 is known as the period of Petticoat government.
  • The age of marriage for boys & girls was increased to 16 years & 14 years respectively
  • Sati was prohibited
  • In his 24th year, Akbar introduced Dashala system for the collection of land revenue by the state.
  • The Mansabdari system under Akbar, divided the Mansabdars into 66 categories. This system fixed the following service conditions:

Rank & Status Salary

  • As a revolt against the orthodoxy & bigotry of religious priests, Akbar proclaimed a new religion, Din-i-Ilahi, in 1581. Birbal was the only Hindu who followed this new religion.
  • Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri, Agra Fort, Lahore Fort & Allahabad Fort & Humayun’s Tomb at Delhi. Fatehpur Sikri, place near Agra-it said that Akbar had no son for a long time. Sheikh Salim Chisti, a Sufi saint blessed Akbar with a son who was named Salim/Sheikho Baba (Jahangir). In honor of Salim Chisti, Akbar Shifted his court from Agra to Fatehpur Sikri.
  • Tulsidas (author of Ramcharitmanas) also lived during Akbar’s period.
  • When Akbar died, he was buried at Sikandara near Agra.
  • Birbal was killed in the battle with Yusufzai Tribe (1586).
  • Abul Fazl was murdered by Bir Singh Bundela (1601).
  • Akbar gave Mughal India one official language (Persian).

Jahangir (1605-27)

  • Salim, son of Akbar, came to the throne after Akbar’s
  • death in 1605.
  • He established Zanjir-i-Adal (i.e. Chain of Justice) at Agra Fort for the seekers of royal justice.
  • In 1611, Jahangir married Mihar-un-nisa, widow of Sher Afghan, a Persian nobleman who was sent on an expedition to Bengal. Later on, she was given the title Nurjahan.
  • Nurjahan exercised tremendous influence over state affairs. She was made the official Padshah Begum.
  • Jahangir issued coins jointly in Jurjahan’s name & his own.
  • Jahangir also married Jodha Bai of Marwar.
  • In 1608, Captain William Hawkins, a representative of the East India Company came to Jahangir’s court. In 1615 Sir Thomas Roe, an ambassador of King James I of England also came to his court. He granted permission to the English to establish a trading port at Surat.
  • His reign was marked by several revolts. His son Khusrau, who received the patronage of the 5th Sikh Guru Arjun Dev, revolted against Jahangir (1605). Arjun Dev was later sentenced to death for his blessing to the rebel prince (1606).
  • During his last period, Khurram (Shanjahan), son of Jahangir, & Mahavat Khan, the military general of Jahangir also revolted (Khurram: 1622-25 & Mahavat Khan: 1626- 27).
  • He wrote his memories Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri in Persian.
  • He was buried in Lahore.

Shah Jahan (1592 – 1666)

  • His real name was Khurram, he was born to Jodha Bai (daughter of Raja Jagat Singh).
  • Shahjahan ascended the throne in 1628 after his father’s death.
  • Three years after his accession, his beloved wife Mumtaj Mahal (original name- Arzumand Bano) died in 1631. To perpetuate her memory he built the Taj Mahal at Agra in 1632-53.
  • He continued applying tika (tilak) on the forehead.
  • He introduced the Char-Taslim in the court
  • In addition to Jahangir’s empire, Nizam Shahi’s dynasty of Ahmadnagar was brought under Mughal control (1633) by Shahjahan.
  • Shahjahan’s reign is described by French traveler Bernier & Tavernier & the Italian traveler Nicoli Manucci. Peter Mundi described the famine that occurred during Shahjahan’s time.
  • The Red Fort, Jama Masjid & Taj Mahal are some of the magnificent structures built during his reign.
  • Shahjahan’s failing health set off the war of succession
  • among his four sons in 1657.
  • Aurangzeb emerged as the victor who crowned himself in July 1658. Shahjahan was imprisoned by his son Aurangzeb in the Agra Fort where he died in captivity in 1666. He was buried at Taj (Agra).


  • The war of succession took place in the later stage of the Shah Jahan reign.
  • His four sons Dara Shikoa, Aurangzeb, Shah Shuja & Murad were in a state of war for the throne.
  • His daughters also supported one son or the other in the tussle for the throne Janah Ara supported Dara. Roshan Ara supported Aurangzeb. Guhara supported Murad.
  • Aurangzeb was coroneted twice, he was the only Mughal king to be coroneted twice
  • Barnier was the foreign visitor who saw the public disgrace of Dara after he was finally defeated in the war at Deorai.
  • During the first 23 years of the rule (1658-81), Aurangazeb concentrated on North India. During this period the Marathas under Shivaji rose to power & were a force to reckon with.
  • The highest numbers of Hindu Mansabdars were there in the service of the Mughals during the reign of Aurangzeb.
  • Aurangzeb captured Guru Teg Bahadur, the 9th Guru of Sikhs in 1675 & executed him when he refused to embrace Islam.
  • The 10th & last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, son of Guru Teg Bahadur, organized his followers into a militant force called Khalsa to avenge the murder of his father.
  • Guru Gobind Singh was, however, murdered in 1708 by an Afghan in Deccan. Banda Bahadur, the militant successor of Guru Gobind Singh continued the war against Mughals.

The religious policy of Aurangzeb:

  • He was called Zindapir or living saint.
  • Muhatasibs were appointed to regulate of the moral conduct of the subjects.
  • He forbade singing in the court but allowed musical instruments. He himself played Veena
  • He ended Jhoraka darshan started by Akbar
  • He ordered that no new Hindu temples were to be built. Old temples were allowed to be repaired
  • The Viswanath temple at Kashi & the Keshav Rai temple of Bir Singh Bundela at Mathura was destroyed
  • In 1679 he re-imposed Jaziya tax

Clash With Marathas

  • Shivaji was the most powerful Maratha king & an arch-enemy of Aurangzeb.
  • When Aurangzeb could not eliminate him, he conspired with Jai Singh of Amber, a Rajput, to eliminate Shivaji in 1665.
  • On the assurance given by Jai Singh, Shivaji visited Aurangzeb’s court. Shivaji was imprisoned by Aurangzeb but he managed to escape & in 1674 proclaimed himself an independent monarch.
  • Shivaji died in 1680 & was succeeded by his son Sambhaji, who was executed by Aurangzeb in 1689. Sambhaji was succeeded by his brother Rajaram & after his death in 1700, his widow Tarabai carried on the movements.

Mughal administration

Mansabdari system:

  • Each Mughal officer was assigned a mansab (rank), there were 66 categories of Mansabdars
  • Jahangir introduced Du-Aspah-Sih-Aspah system whereby the specific noble was to maintain double the number of horsemen.

Central administration:

Wakil: He was initially the PM, however later became
Mir Bakshi: He was the head of the military department

Provincial administration:

  • The empire was divided into provinces or Subas.
  • In 1580, Akbar divided the empire into 12 provinces. The number of provinces became 15 towards the end of his reign.
  • In Jahangir’s reign, the number of provinces rose to 17 &
  • further in Aurangzeb’s reign to 21
  • The Nazim or Subedar was the head of provinces

Local administration:

The provinces were divided into Sarkars, which were subdivided into Parganas & further into villages

Mughal Culture

  • Jahangir’s reign was the apex culmination of Mughal painting while that of Shah Jahan was the apex culmination for architecture.
  • Babur built two mosques, one at Kabulibagh in Panipat & the other at Sambhal in Rohilakhand.
  • Humayun’s tomb was built by his widow Haji Banu Begum.
  • The Mariam’s palace, Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas at Sikri are Indian in their plan.
  • Buland Darwaja (built after the Gujarat victory), formed the main entrance to Fatehpur Sikri.
  • Salim Chisti’s tomb (redone in Marble by Jahangir) is the first Mughal building in pure marble). The Palace of Birbal & the palace of Tansen is also inside the Fatehpur Sikri.
  • Akbar also began to build his own tomb at Sikandara which was later completed by Jahangir.
  • The architecture of Fatehpur Sikri is known as Epic in red sandstone.
  • Nurjahan built Itimad-ud-daula or Mirza Ghiyas Beg’s marble tomb at Agra, which is noticeable for the first use of Pietra Dura (floral designs made up of semiprecious stones) technique.
  • Jahangir built Moti Masjid in Lahore & his mausoleum at Shahdara (Lahore).
  • Some of the important buildings built by Shahajahan at Agra are Moti Masjid (the only Mosque of marble). Khaas Mahal, Mussmman Burz (Jasmine Palace where he spent his last year in captivity), etc.
  • He laid the foundations of Shahjahanabad in 1637 where he built the Red Fort & Takht-i-Taus (Peacock throne).
  • The only building by Aurangzeb in the Red Fort is Moti Masjid.
  • The only monument associated with Aurangzeb is Bibi ka Makbara which is the tomb of his wife Rabbiaud-daura in Aurangabad.
  • Aurangzeb also built the Badshahi Masjid in Lahore.
  • Humayun had taken into his service two master painter Mir Syed Ali & Abdus Samad.
  • Daswant & Basawan were two famous painters of Akbar’s court.
  • Abdul Hassan, Ustad Mansur & Bishandas were three famous painters of Jahangir’s court.

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