The Mughal Empire was a powerful empire that ruled over much of the Indian subcontinent from 1526 to 1857. It was established by Babur, a Central Asian conqueror who defeated the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, Ibrahim Lodi, in the first Battle of Panipat. This topic is crucial for UPSC Exam because it is part of Medieval history. In this article, we will take a closer look at the Mughal Empire, from its beginnings to its eventual decline.
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Mughal Empire History
- The Mughal Empire was founded by Babur in 1526 after defeating the Sultan of Delhi in the Battle of Panipat.
- Under Akbar’s rule, the Mughal Empire reached its height, with administrative and economic reforms and religious tolerance.
- The Mughal emperors commissioned some of the most magnificent structures in Indian histories, such as the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort.
- The empire expanded through military conquest and was one of the wealthiest and most powerful in the world.
- The decline of the Mughal Empire began in the late 17th century due to weak leadership, economic decline, and European colonialism.
- The empire was dissolved by the British in 1858 after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
- The Mughal Empire left a lasting legacy on India’s language, art, architecture, and cuisine, and played a significant role in shaping India’s political and social history.
Mughal Empire Family Tree
The Mughal Empire family tree shows the succession of the Mughal emperors.
Rise of the Mughal Empire- (Mughal Dynasty)
- Babur embarked on the military conquest defeating the Sultan of Delhi Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526 made India feel the presence of Mughal Domination in the Indian subcontinent.
- The Mughal Empire’s peak of power and influence under Akbar’s leadership was achieved through a combination of military prowess, centralized governance, and economic prosperity, but it also involved significant social and cultural changes, including the imposition of Islamic law and the marginalization of non-Muslim communities.
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Mughal Empire Rulers’ Name
Below you can check the List of the Mughal Emperors who ruled in the Indian subcontinent during 1526-1857.
|Babur||1526 – 1530|
|Humayun||1st Term: 1530 – 1540; (Suri Dynasty: 1540 – 1555)
2nd Term: 1555 – 1556
|Akbar||1556 – 1605|
|Jahangir||1605 – 1627|
|Shah Jahan||1627 – 1658|
|Aurangzeb||1658 – 1707|
|Bahadur Shah I||1707 – 1712|
|Jahandar Shah||1712 – 1713|
|Furrukhsiyar||1713 – 1719|
|Muhammad Shah||1719 – 1748|
|Ahmad Shah Bahadur||1748 – 1754|
|Alamgir II||1754 – 1759|
|Shah Jahan III||1759 – 1760|
|Shah Alam II||1760 – 1806|
|Akbar Shah II||1806 – 1837|
|Bahadur Shah II||1837 – 1857|
Babur (1526 – 1530) – The Founder of the Mughal Empire
- Babur was born in 1483 in present-day Uzbekistan and was a descendant of both Genghis Khan and Timur (Tamerlane), two famous Central Asian kings.
- In 1504, at the age of 21, Babur became the ruler of a small kingdom in present-day Afghanistan, and over the next decade, he fought a series of battles against other Central Asian rulers in an effort to expand his territory.
- In 1519, Babur turned his attention to India, which was ruled by the Sultan of Delhi, Ibrahim Lodi. Babur invaded India with a relatively small army and defeated Lodi’s much larger army in the Battle of Panipat in 1526.
- With the victory at Panipat, Babur established himself as the ruler of northern India, and he went on to conquer other parts of the subcontinent, including modern-day Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan.
- Babur was a skilled military commander and a talented poet and writer, and he wrote an autobiography called the Baburnama that provides a detailed account of his life and the early years of the Mughal Empire.
- Despite his military successes, Babur faced significant challenges in governing his empire, including resistance from local rulers, political instability, and economic difficulties.
- Babur died in 1530 at the age of 47 and was succeeded by his son Humayun, who would go on to face his own set of challenges in ruling the Mughal Empire.
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Humayun (1530-1540, 1555-1556)
- Humayun was the eldest son of Babur and was born in 1508. He succeeded his father as the ruler of the Mughal Empire in 1530 at the age of 22.
- Humayun faced several challenges during his reign, including rebellions by his own brothers and local rulers, and threats from neighboring kingdoms such as the Afghan ruler Sher Shah Suri.
- In 1540, Humayun was defeated by Sher Shah Suri in the Battle of Kannauj, and was forced to flee to Iran where he spent the next 15 years in exile.
- During his exile, Humayun formed alliances with various rulers in Iran and Central Asia, and built up a strong army that would help him regain his throne in India.
- In 1555, with the help of Persian and Central Asian allies, Humayun defeated the forces of the Afghan ruler Sikandar Shah Suri and regained his throne.
- During his second reign, Humayun faced significant challenges in governing the Mughal Empire, including political instability, economic difficulties, and conflicts with local rulers.
- Humayun died in 1556, just a year after regaining his throne, as a result of an accident in which he fell down the stairs of his library. He was succeeded by his son Akbar, who would go on to become one of the greatest Mughal emperors.
Akbar [1556-1605] Most Powerful Mughal Emperor
- Akbar was born in 1542 to Humayun and his wife Hamida Banu Begum. He was just 13 years old when he ascended to the throne after his father’s death in 1556.
- One of Akbar’s early challenges as emperor was to consolidate his power and declare his authority over the various regions of the Mughal Empire, which were ruled by a mix of nobles, local rulers, and religious leaders.
- Akbar was a visionary ruler who implemented a number of reforms and innovations in governance, including a policy of religious tolerance, a new taxation system, and a centralized administrative structure that made use of a powerful bureaucracy.
- Akbar was also a patron of the arts, and under his rule, the Mughal court became a center of culture and learning, with the development of new art forms, literature, and music.
- One of Akbar’s most significant achievements was his military conquests, which expanded the Mughal Empire to cover much of the Indian subcontinent, including parts of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
- Akbar was known for his efforts to forge alliances with various religious and cultural groups, including Hindus, Muslims, and Christians, and his court was characterized by a rich blend of traditions and practices from different parts of India and the wider Islamic world.
- Akbar died in 1605 at the age of 63, having established himself as one of the greatest rulers in Indian history, and leaving a legacy that would shape the Mughal Empire for generations to come.
|UPSC Exam-Related Study Notes|
|Kushan Dynasty||Chola Dynasty|
|Anglo-Maratha War||16 Mahajanapadas|
- Jahangir was born in 1569 as the eldest son of Akbar and his wife Mariam-uz-Zamani. He was given the name Nur-ud-din Muhammad Salim, but later adopted the name Jahangir, which means “conqueror of the world.”
- Under Jahangir, military operations launched by Akbar were resumed.
Amar Singh, the Sisodiya king of Mewar, agreed to serve the Mughals. Following were less successful campaigns against the Sikhs, Ahoms, and Ahmadnagar.
- Jahangir died in 1627 at the age of 58 and was succeeded by his son Shah Jahan, who would go on to build some of the most iconic structures in Indian history, including the Taj Mahal.
Shah Jahan (1627-1658)
- Shah Jahan was born in 1592 as the third son of Jahangir and his wife Nur Jahan. He was given the name Prince Khurram, but later adopted the name Shah Jahan, which means “King of the World.”
- Shah Jahan is best known for commissioning some of the most iconic buildings in Indian history, including the Taj Mahal, which was built as a tomb for his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.
- During Shah Jahan’s reign, the Mughal Empire reached the height of its power and wealth, with a strong centralized government and a rich culture of art, music, and literature.
- However, Shah Jahan’s reign was also marked by conflict and rebellion, including a war with the Persian Empire and a power struggle between his sons for the throne.
- Shah Jahan was eventually deposed by his own son Aurangzeb in 1658 and spent the rest of his life in captivity in Agra Fort, where he could see the Taj Mahal from his window.
- Despite his downfall, Shah Jahan remains a symbol of the Mughal Empire’s cultural and architectural achievements, and his legacy can be seen in the many iconic structures he commissioned during his reign.
- Aurangzeb was born in 1618 as the third son of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. He was initially not seen as a strong contender for the throne, but he was able to outmaneuver his brothers in a power struggle and eventually became emperor.
- Aurangzeb is often seen as a controversial figure in Indian history, as he was known for his strict adherence to Islamic law and his efforts to impose it on the entire population of the empire.
- Aurangzeb was also known for his military campaigns, which included wars against the Maratha Confederacy, the Mewar kingdom, and the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
- Despite his military victories, Aurangzeb’s reign was marked by economic decline, political instability, and widespread rebellion. He was criticized for his harsh policies towards non-Muslims, including the imposition of a jizya tax on Hindus and the destruction of temples and other non-Muslim religious sites.
- Aurangzeb died in 1707 at the age of 88, after a long and controversial reign. Despite his many accomplishments as a military leader and administrator, his legacy is often overshadowed by his strict religious policies and the unrest that marked the later years of his reign.
Bahadur Shah I (1707-1712)
Bahadur Shah I was the seventh Mughal emperor and the eldest son of Aurangzeb. He faced numerous challenges during his short reign, including a rebellion by his half-brother Azam Shah and a conflict with the Sikhs.
Jahandar Shah (1712-1713)
Jahandar Shah was the son of Bahadur Shah I and ruled for only one year before being deposed and killed by his nephew Farrukhsiyar.
Farrukhsiyar was the grandson of Bahadur Shah I and ruled during a time of political instability and conflict, including a rebellion by the Sikh leader Banda Singh Bahadur.
Muhammad Shah (1719-1748)
Muhammad Shah was the great-grandson of Aurangzeb and ruled during a period of relative stability and prosperity for the Mughal Empire. He was known for his patronage of the arts and his military campaigns against the Maratha Confederacy.
Ahmad Shah Bahadur (1748-1754)
Ahmad Shah Bahadur was the son of Muhammad Shah and became emperor at the age of 22. His reign was marked by political instability and the rise of regional powers such as the Nawabs of Bengal and the Marathas.
Alamgir II (1754-1759)
Alamgir II was the grandson of Muhammad Shah and faced numerous challenges during his short reign, including a rebellion by his own wazir and a conflict with the Marathas.
Shah Jahan III (1759-1760)
Shah Jahan III was a puppet emperor who was installed by his powerful wazir, Ghazi-ud-Din Imad-ul-Mulk, after Alamgir II was assassinated.
Shah Alam II (1760-1788)
Shah Alam II was the son of Alamgir II and became emperor with the support of the East India Company. His reign was marked by conflict with the British and the rise of regional powers such as the Marathas.
Akbar II (1806-1837)
Akbar II was the son of Shah Alam II and became emperor during a time of political and economic decline for the Mughal Empire. He was largely a figurehead under the British Raj, which had established control over much of India by this time.
Bahadur Shah II (1837 to 1857)- Last Mughal Emperor
- Bahadur Shah II was born in 1775 and was the son of Akbar II. He was selected as the emperor after the death of his father in 1837, but his power was largely ceremonial due to the British control over much of India.
- Bahadur Shah II was known for his poetry and patronage of the arts, and his court was a center of cultural activity in Delhi during his reign.
- In 1857, Indian soldiers rebelled against British rule in what became known as the Indian Rebellion or the Sepoy Mutiny. Bahadur Shah II was seen as a symbol of the rebellion, and he was declared the leader of the revolt.
- The rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, and the British forces recaptured Delhi in September 1857. Bahadur Shah II was captured and exiled to Rangoon (now Yangon), where he spent the rest of his life.
- Bahadur Shah II died in Rangoon in 1862 at the age of 87. He is remembered as a symbol of Indian resistance to British rule, and his poetry and literary works continue to be celebrated in India and Pakistan.
Mughal Empire Capital
Sure, here is a table summarizing the Mughal Empire capitals:
|Agra||1526 – 1556||Babur, Humayun, Akbar (briefly)|
|Delhi||1556 – late 17th century||Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb|
|Fatehpur Sikri||1571 – 1585||Akbar|
|Lahore||1585 – 1598||Akbar|
|Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi)||1639 – 1857||Shah Jahan, Aurangzeb (briefly)|
|Agra (again)||late 17th century||Aurangzeb|
Mughal Empire Map & Location
The Mughal Empire was located in the Indian subcontinent, spanning across present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and parts of Afghanistan. The empire’s capital shifted several times throughout its history, with Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, and Delhi serving as major centers of power.
Below shared Map of the Mughal Empire under Aurangzeb:-