When we take a look into the glorious history of India, one of the dynasties that stands glorious than the others is the Mughal Dynasty. This dynasty ruled India for three decades before ending in ruins.
Rulers of the Mughal Dynasty
Ẓahīr-ud-Dīn Muḥammad (Babur)
- The Mughal Dynasty was founded by Babur who descended from Timur (modern Uzbekistan and Afghanistan).
- At the end of 1504 young Babur of 21 years was able to conquer Kabul establishing the firs court of the Mughal Dynasty.
- The young Babur had his eyes set on northern India in hopes of expanding his territory and this was at a time when the Muslim sultans of Delhi were in the verge of losing their power due to the Rajput rulers. To make his dream a reality Babur gained victory at Panipat in April of 1526 despite the opposing Rajputs bringing him near to the cities of Agra and Delhi.
- In March of 1527 he won at Khanua and then proceeded to expand his territory in northern India for the next three years. The experiences of his journey are well documented in his diary.
Mirza Nasir ud-din Baig Muhammad Khan Humayun (Humayun)
- After just three years in India at the young age of 47, Babur died on 26th December, 1530 leaving his eldest son Humayun to fight for the throne.
- Humayun unlike his father was quite weak and unable to hold onto the reins of the kingdom his father left him thereby was driven by into Afghanistan Muslim rebel, Sher Shah.
- Humayun was able to return to India only 12 years later that too due to the civil wars raging in India.
- In 1555 at Sirhind he gained a victory that recovered his throne but alas just 6 months later in 1556 a bad fall resulted in his death leaving the rein of his kingdom in the young hands of 13 year old Akbar.
Abu’l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar (Akbar)
- He is one of the most remembered and loved ruler of India after Asoka the Great.
- Though Akbar was given the reins of the kingdom in 1556 he was unfit to rule as he was just 13 so the kingdom’s affairs were handled by chief minister, Bairam Khan.
- Once Bairam Khan reached 19 years Akbar to become his own man that had potential that was never seen in any other ruler as he intended to rule both Muslims and Hindu together creating a greater kingdom.
- To solidify his relations with the Hindus, Akbar married a Rajput princess in 1562 thereby making her one of his senior wives and the mother of his successor, Jahangir.
- Akbar made sure that all the people in kingdom were happy with the administration. With his abolishment of the tax imposed on pilgrims to Hindu shrines in 1563 and the end of the jizya (annual tax on non-believers), Akbar soon became known for his just administration.
- With just administration of his empire Akbar also took the necessary steps into expanding his kingdom.
- Akbar mostly used non-war methods by offering the other regions ruler to sign the treaty and come under his reign. Soon his empire included most of India without much opposition. Extra steps were taken to make sure that the tax that has to be paid by the peasants will be charged according.
- Akbar had a complex character that made decisions after a lengthy debate with his darbar or court. He maintained nine prime members in the court known as nine jewels; each had their own speciality and were meant to argue each decision of the court so as to see the pros and cons of the decision.
- Akbar made sure to contribute his own to architecture that stand strong till now like Agra Fort, Great Humayun’s Tomb, Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri etc.
- The architecture of these structures is pleasant mix of Indian, Turkic, Islamic and Persian architecture. With their delicate ornamentation, large globular domes, large halls and many more features these structures have are still aweing to witness.
- Though he was illiterate, Akbar always encouraged literature, painting, poetry, science and architecture. Many of the paintings of his regime are still quite in demand due to their great detail world and amazing depicture.
- Even though Akbar was a committed Muslim he was very religiously tolerant and encouraged men of all faiths by pursuing their wisdom. This characteristic of his earned him the title ‘Akbar the Great.’
- Akbar not only maintained a good relation with the people of his empire he made sure to maintain good foreign relations with the Portuguese, the Ottoman Empire, the Safavid Dynasty and other contemporary kingdoms thereby ensuring the safety of his kingdom from outside invasion.
- Akbar’s almost 51 year reign ended in 1605 (about 27th October) when he succumbed to death due to an attack of dysentery that occurred on 3rd October, 1605. His reign can be called ‘The Golden Age of the Mughal Dynasty’ due to its prosperity and strength.
Mirza Nur-ud-din Beig Mohammad Khan Salim (Jahangir)
- After the end of the prosperous reign of Akbar the reins of the kingdom were handed to Jahangir, the eldest surviving son of Akbar. Like his father Jahangir was an aesthete who wanted his kingdom to run on the basis of Justice, but he failed to take the necessary steps to implement justice.
- Jahangir was able to expand his kingdom but his ruling were not just thereby gave rose to rebellions. He was rumoured to be an addict of opium and alcohol which has never been confirmed.
Jahangir was a great patron of the arts, the paintings commissioned in his reign are still considered to be masterpieces. He like his predecessor maintained equality between his Hindu and Muslim subjects ensuring that no side was wronged with.
- As a well devoted Muslim himself Jahangir commissioned art work promoting various sayings from the Qur’an.
- Unlike his father Jahangir never constructed memorable monuments that reminded history of his reign.
- Jahangir is never mentioned as a good ruler but you have to remember after Akbar no one seemed fit enough to fill his shoes.
- In 1627 after just 22 years or ruling Jahangir succumbed to severe cold while he was returning from Kashmir, a place he very much loved leaving the empire in the hands of his elder son Shah Jahan.
Mirza Shahabuddin Baig Muhammad Khan Shah Jahan (Shah Jahan)
- After Jahangir’s death Shah Jahan had to fight for his right to the throne with his own brother Shahryar who tried to steal the throne and was successful for a while.
- Shah Jahan’s reign started with his coronation on 14th February, 1628 in Agra.
- Shah Jahan’s reign was not prosperous like his predecessors, as he failed to uphold the various laws implemented by Akbar to maintain the equality among his subjects thereby leading to many rebellions.
- After just two years on the throne his empire has to suffer severe famine in 1630 at Gujarat and Khandesh leading to starvation, hunger etc. Shah Jahan even failed to maintain relation with the neighbouring dynasties.
- Like his predecessor Shah Jahan was a great patron of the arts with his paintings and architecture being the highlight of it.
- The contributions to architecture by Shah Jahan can be seen even today in India with the Red Fort, the Agra fort, Wazir Khan Mosque, Moti Masjid, Taj Mahal and many more. Though all the structures commissioned in his reign are marvellous the most memorable to date is the Taj Mahal that was built in memory of his Queen Mumtaz Mahal.
- In 1658 Jahan fell ill causing a great fight for the throne in which his third son Aurangzeb won the throne and imprisoned his father who succumbed to death in 1666 at the age of 74.
Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb (Aurangzeb)
- Aurangzeb began his reign in 1658 on 31st July, unlike his predecessor more than ruling his kingdom he was interested in the expansion of the Mughal Empire by any method necessary.
- The equality laws that were feeble during Shah Jahan’s rules were totally removed and new laws in favour of the Muslims were implemented and were to be implemented in the regions he conquered.
- This continues conquest led to the national treasury being drained that led to increased taxes making his subjects very unhappy.
- The various laws forced upon his subjects led to many rebellions like Jat rebellion, Martha wars, Sikh rebellion, Satnami rebellion and many more. These rebellions and civil wars in India later led rise to the British Raj.
- He like his predecessors was a great patron of art and architecture with structures like Badshahi Mosque, Lalbagh Fort, Alamgiri Gate and many more.
- At the ripe old age of 88 on 20th February, 1707 in Ahmednagar Aurangzeb died marking the beginning of the end of the Mughal dynasty.
After Aurangzeb a number of rulers ruled the empire but all failed to hold it from falling apart and were tricked by the British to fight with other kingdoms of India.
The last emperor of the Mughal Dynasty was Bahadur Shah II whose rein lasted from 1837 – 1857 before total British Raj was implemented. Thus one of the greatest dynasties in the Indian history ended leaving great structures like Taj Mahal, Agra fort etc. to remember it by.