Category Kindoms of India

When did Jahangir ascend the throne of the Mughal Empire?

            With a Persian name that meant ‘conqueror of the world’, Jahangir ruled the Mughal Empire from 1605 till his death in 1627. He was the fourth Mughal Emperor and eldest son of the emperor Akbar.

            Jahangir was earlier known as Salim. Akbar had nominated Jahangir to succeed to his throne. However, he turned to be too impatient and began revolting for power in 1599. Akbar was engaged in the Deccan then. Still, Akbar confirmed Salim as his successor on his deathbed. Salim accepted the titular name Jahangir upon ascending the throne.

            Jahangir carried on his father’s legacy and tradition. The hundred year long fight between the Mughals and the Rajputs of Mewar ended during his reign. This happened in 1614. He treated Amar Singh, the successor of Rana Pratap of Mewar with honour and restored Chittor to him.

            Jahangir made Nur Jahan his wife. Some historians believe that Nur Jahan and her relatives controlled the throne, especially after Jahangir’s health became poor in 1622.

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Why is it said that Akbar’s reign had a significant influence on the course of Indian history?

            The Mughal Empire tripled in size and wealth during Akbar’s reign. He instituted effective political and social reforms in addition to building a strong military.

Akbar was the first Mughal ruler to win the trust and loyalty of the native subjects. Akbar’s court included Rajputs like Bhagwan Das, Todar Mal and Birbal. Even though he exercised control over many local Rajput rulers, he allowed them some independence.

            Akbar knew that a stable empire depended on the co-operation and good-will of his subjects, so he participated in native festivals. He also commissioned the translation of many Sanskrit works. His empire was truly multicultural; he even formed a new religion known as Din-i-Ilahi, taking the best elements from all religions.

           Akbar’s reign was chronicled extensively. Akbarnama and Ain-i-akbari, two works authored by his court historian Abul FazI talks about his reign in detail. The works of Badayuni, Shaikhzada Rashidi and Shaikh Ahmed Sirhindi also throw light about his reign.

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Why is it said that the reign of Akbar was great?

            The name Akbar is synonymous with the glory of the Mughal reign. Undoubtedly, Akbar is the greatest of the Mughal emperors of India. He is credited with expanding the Mughal power over the Indian subcontinent. But, things were not easy for him.

            When Akbar came to power following the death of his father Humayun in 1556, he was just 13. In the beginning, his tutor Bairam Khan helped him to rule. Bairam Khan defeated Hemu, a minister of Adil Shah of Bengal in the second battle of Panipat in 1556. This victory made him dominant and arrogant. So, Akbar forced Bairam Khan to retire in 1560. From then, he began to govern on his own.

          With his strong personality and success as a general, Akbar’s power grew day by day, almost over the entire Indian subcontinent. He enlarged the Mughal Empire to include nearly all of the Indian subcontinent to the north of the Godavari river. During his reign, everything concerning the Mughals including their military, politics, culture, and economy were superior to that of others. Akbar’s rule also led to commercial expansion and patronage of culture.

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Why is it said that the reign of Humayun witnessed many battles?

            Delhi was twice ruled by Humayun. This son and successor of Babur ruled from 1530 to 1540 and again from 1555 to 1556.

            In 1530, when he ascended the throne of Delhi for the first time at the age of 22, Humayun was inexperienced. The Mughal territory in the Indian subcontinent was quite large and he had a hard time fighting many battles, in order to retain the territories conquered by his father.

            Bahadur Shah of Gujarat and Sher Khan, an Afghan based in Bihar were two of his main rivals. Humayun lost his kingdom by 1540.

           Humayun was strong enough to regain his lost kingdom. It was in 1555 that Humayun re-occupied Delhi after defeating Sikandar Shah Sur, one of the successors of Sher Khan. Humayun had fought many battles against Sher Khan. But just seven months after his significant victory over Sher Khan’s successor, Humayun fell down from the stairs of his library in Delhi, and died. At the time of his death in 1556, the Mughal Empire spanned almost one million square kilometres.

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Why is it said that the Mughals were invited to invade India?

             Before Babur established the Mughal rule, various Rajput kings fought for power against Ibrahim Lodi. Lodi’s Afghan chiefs too were a part of this power struggle.

           Around the same time, Babur raided India from Kabul several times, in search of wealth. It was Daulat Khan Lodi, the Afghan ruler of Punjab, and Rana Sanga, the Rajput ruler of Mewar, who sought Babur’s help to overthrow Ibrahim Lodi. Little did they know that Babur would establish his own kingdom in India, when they invited him.

             It started in 1525; Babur began his conquest in Delhi. In fact, he conquered most of north India in three major battles and some minor ones. He defeated Ibrahim Lodi at Panipat in 1526, and after a year, Rana Sanga was overthrown at Khanva near Agra. Rana Sanga could not withstand Babur’s army though he was backed by many Rajput rulers and some Afghan chiefs.

             In a battle that was fought on the banks of river Ghagra, Babur defeated Nusrat Shah of Bengal and other Afghan chiefs; Nusrat Shah had teamed up with Mahmud Lodi, Ibrahim’s brother. This happened in 1529 and Babur died a year later.

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Why is it said that the Vijayanagara emperors lived in splendour?

            The kings and nobles of the Vijayanagara Empire lived in royal splendour. Abdur Razzaq, the Persian ambassador to Vijayanagara, notes that the king’s palace had several cells filled with gold.

            Royal marriages were elegant displays of royal wealth. When King Deva Raya I’s daughter was married off to Firuz Shah Bahmani, the road from the city gate to the palace that spans over ten kilometres was draped with gold, velvet and satin cloth.

            Vijayanagara city was 96 kilometres in circumference; it had seven fortresses, four bazaars, and numerous streams and canals made of polished stone. Accounts of a traveller suggest that it was larger than Rome. Art and literature flourished in the wealthy empire; however, common people lived in poor conditions. Much of the riches of the Vijayanagara Empire was destroyed by wars.

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