Mughal era

Mughal era

The Mughal era is the historic period of the Mughal Empire in India, it ran from the early sixteenth century, to a point in the early eighteenth century when the Mughal Emperors' power had dwindled. It ended in several generations of conflicts between rival warlords.

The Mughal Empire

India in the 16th century had numerous unpopular rulers, both Muslim and Hindu, with an absence of common bodies of laws or institutions. External developments also played a role in the rise of the Mughal Empire. The circumnavigation of Africa by the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in 1498 allowed Europeans to challenge Arab control of the trading routes between Europe and Asia. In Central Asia and Afghanistan, shifts in power pushed Babur of Ferghana (in present-day Uzbekistan) southward, first to Kabul and then to India. The Mughal Empire lasted for more than three centuries. The Mughal Empire was one of the largest centralized states in premodern history and was the precursor to the British Indian Empire.The title of the greatest of the six most prominent Mughal Emperors receives varying answers in present-day Pakistan and India. Some favour Babur the pioneer and others his great-grandson, Shah Jahan (r. 1628-58), builder of the Taj Mahal and other magnificent buildings. The other two prominent rulers were Akbar (r. 1556-1605) and Aurangzeb (r. 1658-1707). Both rulers expanded the empire greatly and were able administrators. However, Akbar was known for his religious tolerance and administrative genius, whereas Aurangzeb was a zealous ruler and fierce proselytizer of orthodox Islam across the heterodox Indian landscape.

Zahir ud-Din Mohammad (Babur)

Claiming descent from both Chengiz Khan and Timur, Babur was known for his love of beauty in addition to his military ability . Babur concentrated on gaining control of northwestern India.He was invited to India by Daulat Khan Lodi and Rana Sanga who wanted to end the Lodi dynasty.He defeated Ibrahim Lodi in 1526 at the First battle of Panipat, a town north of Delhi. Babur then turned to the tasks of persuading his Central Asian followers to stay on in India and of overcoming other contenders for power, mainly the Rajputs and the Afghans. He succeeded in both tasks but died shortly thereafter in 1530.
Babur kept the record of his life in Chagatay Turkish, the spoken language of the Timurids and the whole Turco-Mongol world at the time. Baburnama is one of the longest examples of sustained narrative prose in Chagatay Turkish. Akbar's regent, Bayram Khan, a Turcoman of eastern Anatolian and Azerbaijani origin whose father and grandfather had joined Babur's service. Bayram Khan wrote poetry in Chaghatay and Persian. His son, Abdul-Rahim Khankhanan, was fluent in Chaghatay, Hindi, and Persian and composed in all three languages. Using Babur's own text he translated the Baburnama into Persian. The Chaghatay original was last seen in the imperial library sometime between 1628 and 1638 during Jahangir's reign.


(1508-1556) Babur’s favorite son Humayun took the reins of the empire after his father succumbed to disease at the young age of forty-seven. In 1539, Humayun and Sher Khan met in battle in Chausa, between Varanasi and Patna. Humayun barely escaped with his own life and in the next year, in 1540, his army of 40,000 lost to the Afghan army of 15,000 of Sher Khan.

Sher Khan had now become the monarch in Delhi under the name Sher Shah Suri and ruled from 1540 to 1545. He consolidated his kingdom form Punjab to Bengal (first one to enter Bengal after Ala-ud-din Khilji did more than two centuries earlier).He was credited to have organized and administered the government and military in such a way that future Mughal kings used it as their own models. He also added to the fort in Delhi (supposed site of Indraprastha), first started by Humayun, and now called the Purana Qila (Old Fort). The mosque Qila-I-Kuhna inside the fort is a masterpiece of the period, though only parts of it have survived.

The charred remains of Sher Shah were taken to a tomb in Sahasaram, midway between Varanasi and Gaya. Although rarely visited, the future great Mughal builders like Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan emulated the architecture of this tomb. The massive palace like mausoleum is three stories and fifty meters high. [ [ Shershah Suri's Tomb, Sasaram - Ticketed Monument - Archaeological Survey of India ] ] Sher Shah’s son Islam Shah held on to power until 1553 and following his death the Sur dynasty lost most of its clout due to strife and famine.

Humayun was a keen astronomer.In fact he died due to a fall from the rooftop of Sher Shah’s Delhi palacein 1554. Thus Humayun ruled in India barely for ten years and died at the age of forty-eight, leaving behind Akbar then only thirteen-year-old as his heir. As a tribute to his father, Akbar later built the Humayun’s tomb in Delhi (completed in 1571), from red sandstone, that would become the precursor of future Mughal architecture. Akbar’s mother and Humayun’s wife Hamida Begum personally supervised the building of the tomb.


Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun (r. 1530-40 and 1555-56), whose rule was interrupted by the Afghan Sur Dynasty, which rebelled against him. It was only just before his death that Humayun was able to regain the empire and leave it to his son. In restoring and expanding Mughal rule, Akbar based his authority on the ability and loyalty of his followers, irrespective of their religion. In 1564 the jizya on non-Muslims was abolished, and bans on temple building and Hindu pilgrimages were lifted.

Akbar's methods of administration reinforced his power against two possible sources of challenge--the Afghan-Turkish aristocracy and the traditional interpreters of Islamic law, the ulama. He created a ranked imperial service based on ability rather than birth, whose members were obliged to serve wherever required. They were remunerated with cash rather than land and were kept away from their inherited estates, thus centralizing the imperial power base and assuring its supremacy. The military and political functions of the imperial service were separate from those of revenue collection, which was supervised by the imperial treasury. This system of administration, known as the mansabdari, was based on loyal service and cash payments and was the backbone of the Mughal Empire; its effectiveness depended on personal loyalty to the emperor and his ability and willingness to choose, remunerate, and supervise.

Akbar declared himself the final arbiter in all disputes of law derived from the Qur'an and the sharia. He backed his religious authority primarily with his authority in the state. In 1580 he also initiated a syncretic court religion called the Din-i-Ilahi (Divine Faith). In theory, the new faith was compatible with any other, provided that the devotee was loyal to the emperor. In practice, however, its ritual and content profoundly offended orthodox Muslims. The ulema found their influence undermined.

Several well known heritage sites were built during the reign of Akbar. The fort city of Fatehpur Sikri was used as the political capital of India from 1571 to 1578. The numerous palaces and the grand entrances with intricate art work have been recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Akbar also began construction of his own tomb at Sikandra near Agra in 1600 CE.


(1569-1627) Prince Salim (b. 1569 of Hindu Rajput princess from Amber), who would later be known as Emperor Jahangir showed signs of restlessness at the end of a long reign by his father Akbar. During the absence of his father from Agra he pronounced himself as the king and turned rebellious. Akbar was able to wrestle the throne back.Salim did not have to worry about his sibling’s aspirations to the throne. His two brothers, Murad and Daniyal, had both died early from alcoholism.

Jahangir began his era as a Mughal emperor after the death of Akbar in the year 1605. He considered his third son Prince Khurram (future Shah Jahan-born 1592 of Hindu Rajput princess Manmati), his favourite. Rana of Mewar and Prince Khurram had a standoff that resulted in a treaty acceptable to both parties. Khurram was kept busy with several campaigns in Bengal and Kashmir. Jahangir claimed the victories of Khurram – Shah Jahan as his own.
He also had unlimited sources of revenue largely due to a systematic organization of the administration by his father, Akbar. The Mughal Empire reached its pinnacle during Jahangir and Shah Jahan’s rule. Jahangir built his famous gardens in Kashmir though the daily administration was delegated to close aides. One such person was Jahangir’s wife, Nur Jahan, whom he married in 1611. She was the thirty-year-old widow of one of his Afghan nobles. Her father, Persian born Itimad-ud-Daula became a minister and closest advisor to the emperor. Very able Nur Jahan along with her father and brother Asaf Khan, who was a successful general, ran the kingdom.
Jahangir had kept a diary are used as his memoirs. Though not a soldier, Jahangir was an ardent patron of Mughal art and an avid builder. He completed Akbar’s five-tiered tomb in Sikandra. The emperor kept busy building in Lahore, Allahabad and Agra. While the de facto emperor, Nur Jahan was attending to administrative details, Jahangir found solace in loitering in his gardens and appreciating art and nature.
The darkest incident of his rule perhaps was the disposition of a peaceful leader of newly formed religion called Sikhism. Akbar had watched the blossoming of the new religion founded by Guru Nanak, with fascination. Jahangir, in a controversy with its leader, was responsible for the death of Sikh Guru Arjan(who was placed on a hot iron until he died, unwilling to convert to Islam) and this would have lasting consequences for future Mughal emperors. The peaceful religion of Sikhism would turn militant later when Jahangir’s grandson Aurangzeb murdered the ninth Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur. Jahangir, died in 1627 from alcohol abuse and Prince Khurram(Shah Jahan)’s reign as the emperor began.

hah Jahan

Prince Khurram, who would later be known as Emperor Shah Jahan, ascended to the throne after a tumultuous succession battle.

With the wealth created by Akbar, the Mughal kingdom was probably the richest in the world. Prince Khurram gave himself the title of Shah Jahan, the ‘King of the World’ and this was the name that was immortalized by history. With his imagination and aspiration, Shah Jahan gained a reputation as an aesthete par excellence. He built the black marble pavilion at the Shalimar Gardens in Srinagar and a white marble palace in Ajmer. He also built a tomb for his father, Jahangir in Lahore and built a massive city Shahajanabad in Delhi but his imagination surpassed all Mughal glory in his most famous building the Taj Mahal. It was in Shahajanabad that his daughter Jahanara built the marketplace called Chandni Chowk.

His beloved wife Arjuman Banu (daughter of Asaf Khan and niece of Nur Jahan) died while delivering their fourteenth child in the year 1631. The distraught emperor started building a memorial for her the following year. The Taj Mahal, named for Arjuman Banu, who was called Mumtaz Mahal, became one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The great Jama Masjid built by him was the largest in India at the time. He renamed Delhi after himself as Shahjahanabad. The Red Fort made of red sandstone built during his reign near Jama Masjid around the same time came to be regarded as the seat of power of India itself. The Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from the ramparts of this fort on Independence day even to this age.Shah Jahan also built or renovated forts in Delhi and in Agra. White marble chambers that served as living quarters and other halls for public audiences are examples of classic Mughal architecture. Here in Agra fort, Shah Jahan would spend eight of his last years as a prisoner of his son, Aurangzeb shuffling between the hallways of the palace, squinting at the distant silhouette of his famous Taj Mahal on the banks of River Jamuna.


Aurangzeb's reign ushered in the decline of the Mughal Empire. Aurangzeb, who in the latter half of his long rule assumed the title "Alamgir" or "world-seizer," was known for aggressively expanding the empire's frontiers and for his militant enforcement of orthodox Sunni Islam. During his reign, the Mughal empire reached its greatest extent (the Bijapur and Golconda Sultanates which had been reduced to vassaldom by Shah Jahan were formally annexed), although it is likely that his policies also led to its dissolution. Still, there is some belief that his policies may have slowed the decline of the Empire rather than precipitated it. Although he was an outstanding general and a rigorous administrator, Mughal fiscal and military standards declined as security and luxury increased. Land rather than cash became the usual means of remunerating high-ranking officials, and divisive tendencies in his large empire further undermined central authority.
In 1679 Aurangzeb reimposed the hated "jizyah" tax on Hindus. Coming after a series of other taxes, and other discriminatory measures favouring Sunni Muslims, this action by the emperor, incited rebellion among Hindus and others in many parts of the empire--Jat, Sikh, and Rajput forces in the north and Maratha forces in the Deccan. The emperor managed to crush the rebellions in the north, but at a high cost to agricultural productivity and to the legitimacy of Mughal rule. Aurangzeb was compelled to move his headquarters to Daulatabad in the Deccan to mount a costly campaign against Maratha guerrilla fighters led by Shivaji, which lasted twenty-six-years until he died in 1707 at the age of ninety.

In the century- and one-half that followed, effective control by Aurangzeb's successors weakened. The mansabdari system gave way to the zamindari system, in which high-ranking officials took on the appearance of hereditary landed aristocracy with powers of collecting rents. As Delhi's control waned, other contenders for power emerged and clashed, thus preparing the way for the eventual British takeover.

Like many orthodox Muslim rulers, Aurangzeb discouraged the arts. Indeed the only noteworthy artistic building he built was the Moti Masjid, a mosque inside the Red Fort,Delhi that was built during his father's reign.

Later Mughals

When Aurangzeb died close to the age of ninety, there were seventeen legitimate claimants to the throne that included not only his sons but also his grandsons and great grandsons. After the death of the emperor two brothers fought near Agra (in the same battle site that Aurangzeb had fought his brother Dara Shikoh. Prince Muazzam prevailed and killed his brother Prince Azam Shah and assumed the title Bahadur Shah I or Shah Alam I. Bahadur Shah’s son Jahandar Shah succeeded after his death. In Deccan Saiyid Husain Ali Khan colluded with the Marathas and attacked Delhi and using trickery and intrigue seized Farrukhsiyar in the Red Fort. The emperor was blinded and caged and later poisoned as well as stabbed to death. However, prior to his death, Farrukhsiyar had the dubious distinction of aiding the British to have a firm foothold in India, by signing the much-coveted farman an imperial directive that would seal the future of British takeover of India.

Marathas were now constantly attacking Delhi. Of more consequence and humiliation was the plunder of Delhi by Nadir Shah. A Timur descendent, Nadir Shah usurped the throne in Persia and seized Kandahar and Kabul. He marched through Panjab and was invited by Muhammad Shah as a guest to Delhi (only because he had neither the will nor the resources to fight him). Within forty-eight hours, using a lame excuse, Nadir Shah ordered a general massacre of Delhi citizens and looted every bit of wealth they could extort out of the royalty as well as Delhi’s citizenry. Nadir Shah remained in Delhi for forty eighty days and departed with millions worth of gold, jewelry and coins. Even the emperor’s bejeweled peacock throne made during Shah Jahan's reign was packed on elephants and carried away to Persia. Another prize, the Koh-I-nur diamond (Humayun’s diamond) now passed into Persian hands). Later an Afghani, Ahmad Shah Abdali started his incursions into Delhi just for the purpose of looting the capital. In a series of attacks starting in 1748 until 1761, Abdali would not only pillage and loot Delhi, he also cleaned out Mathura, Kashmir and cities in Panjab. From the east the British defeated the Nawab of Bengal and occupied the state of Bengal.

The raids by Nadir Shah and repeated incursions of Abdali resulted in quick disposal of the next two emperors Ahmad Shah and Alamgir II until in 1759 Shah Alam II ascended the throne. His reign would last several decades. However, he would preside over more loss of territory to the British. When the Nawab of Bengal lost to Robert Clive, Shah Alam II was forced to recognize Clive as a diwan (chancellor) and Bengal slipped to the British hands permanently.

In 1806 Shah Alam’s son Akbar Shah II acceded to the much diminished empire of the Mughals and ruled until 1837. His son Bahadur Shah Zafar II would be the last emperor of Mughals before the British deposed him in 1858 and the Mughal dynasty would officially come to an end. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Bahadur Shah II was forced to take the side of the mutineers though he had no power to affect the outcome of the events. The mutineers had outwitted his British sponsors and now the emperor neither had the troops nor the competence. He had no choice but to join the winning side. However, the success of the mutineers was soon reversed and the octogenarian (he was eighty-two years old) was relieved of his empire and deposed in 1858. The emperor was then exiled to Rangoon in Burma where he died in obscurity in 1862.

Arrival of the Europeans

Vasco da Gama led the first documented European expedition to India, sailing into Calicut on the southwest coast in 1498. In 1510 the Portuguese captured Goa, which became the seat of their activity. Under Admiral Alfonso de Albuquerque, Portugal successfully challenged Arab power in the Indian Ocean and dominated the sea routes for a century. Jesuits came to convert, to converse, and to record observations of India. The Protestant countries of the Netherlands and England, upset by the Portuguese monopoly, formed private trading companies at the turn of the seventeenth century to challenge the Portuguese.

Mughal officials permitted the new carriers of India's considerable export trade to establish trading posts (factories) in India. The Dutch East India Company concentrated mainly on the spice trade from present-day Indonesia. Britain's East India Company carried on trade with India. The French East India Company also set up factories. During the wars of the 18th century, the factories served not only as collection and transshipment points for trade but also increasingly as fortified centres of refuge for both foreigners and Indians. British factories gradually began to apply British law to disputes arising within their jurisdiction. The posts also began to grow in area and population. Armed company servants were effective protectors of trade. As rival contenders for power called for armed assistance and as individual European adventurers found permanent homes in India, British and French companies found themselves more and more involved in local politics in the south and in Bengal. Plots and counterplots climaxed when British East India Company forces, led by Robert Clive, decisively defeated the larger but divided forces of Nawab Siraj-ud-Dawlah at Plassey (Pilasi) in Bengal in 1757.

The Marathas

Maratha chieftains were originally in the service of Bijapur sultans in the western Deccan, which was under siege by the Mughals.

"Shivaji" Bhonsle (1627-80)
Shivaji was a fighter regarded as the "father of the Maratha nation," who took advantage of this conflict and carved out his own principality near Pune, which later became the Maratha capital. Adopting guerrilla tactics, he waylaid caravans in order to sustain and expand his army, which soon had money, arms, and horses. Shivaji led a series of successful assaults in the 1660s against Mughal strongholds, including the major port of Surat. Shivaji's battle cries were "swaraj" (translated variously as freedom, self-rule, independence), "swadharma" (religious freedom), and "goraksha" (cow protection). Aurangzeb relentlessly pursued Shivaji's successors between 1681 and 1705 but eventually retreated to the north as his treasury became depleted and as thousands of lives had been lost either on the battlefield or to natural calamities. In 1717 a Mughal emissary signed a treaty with the Marathas confirming their claims to rule in the Deccan in return for acknowledging the fictional Mughal suzerainty and remission of annual taxes.

The Marathas, despite their military prowess and leadership, were not equipped to administer the state or to undertake socioeconomic reform. Pursuing a policy characterized by plunder and indiscriminate raids, they antagonized the peasants. They were primarily suited for stirring the Maharashtrian regional pride rather than for attracting loyalty to an all-India confederacy. They were left virtually alone and without supplies before the invading Afghan forces, headed by Ahmad Shah Abdali (later called Ahmad Shah Durrani), who routed them on the at the Third Battle of Panipat|Panipat in 1761. The shock of defeat hastened the break-up of their loosely knit confederacy into five independent states and extinguished the hope of Maratha dominance in India.

The Nizams of Hyderabad

Maratha raids into Berar, Kandesh, Gujarat and Malwa resumed after the death of Aurangzeb, and loosened Mughal control in the Deccan. In 1724 Asaf Jah, the Mughal "Nizam ul Mulk", or viceroy, of the Deccan, defeated several contenders for control of the Mughal southern provinces, and established himself of ruler of an independent state with its capital at Hyderabad. He and his successors ruled as hereditary "Nizams", and their state, known as Hyderabad after the capital, outlasted the Mughal empire, persisting until it was incorporated into newly-independent India in 1948. Nizam-ul-Mulk Asaf Jahi was a strong ruler and established an orderly system of administration. He also attempted to reform the revenue system. The dynasty founded by him came to be known as the Asaf Jahi dynasty and lasted until the accession of Hyderabad to Independent India

The Sikhs

The Afghan defeat of the Maratha armies accelerated the breakaway of Punjab from Delhi and helped the founding of Sikh overlordship in the northwest. Rooted in the bhakti movements that developed in the second century B.C. but swept across North India during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the teachings of the Sikh gurus appealed to the hard-working peasants. Facing extended persecution from the Mughals, the Sikhs, under Guru Gobind Singh formed the Khalsa (Army of Pure). The khalsa rose up against the economic and political repressions in Punjab toward the end of Aurangzeb's rule. Guerrilla fighters took advantage of the political instability created by the Persian and Afghan onslaught against Delhi, enriching themselves and expanding territorial control. By the 1770s, Sikh hegemony extended from the Indus in the west to the Yamuna in the east, from Multan in the south to Jammu in the north. But the Sikhs, like the Marathas, were a loose, disunited, and quarrelsome conglomerate of twelve kin-groups. It took Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), an individual with modernizing vision and leadership, to achieve supremacy over the other kin-groups and establish his kingdom in which Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims lived together in comparative equality and increasing prosperity. Ranjit Singh employed European officers and introduced strict military discipline into his army before expanding into Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Ladakh.

Establishment of the Europeans

The quest for wealth and power brought Europeans to Indian shores in 1498 when Vasco da Gama, the Portuguese voyager, arrived in Calicut (modern Kozhikode, Kerala) on the west coast. In their search for spices and Christian converts, the Portuguese challenged Arab supremacy in the Indian Ocean, and, with their galleons fitted with powerful cannons, set up a network of strategic trading posts along the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. In 1510 the Portuguese took over the enclave of Goa, which became the center of their commercial and political power in India and which they controlled for nearly four and a half centuries.

Economic competition

Economic competition among the European nations led to the founding of commercial companies in England (the East India Company, founded in 1600) and in the Netherlands (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie-- the United East India Company, founded in 1602), whose primary aim was to capture the spice trade by breaking the Portuguese monopoly in Asia. Although the Dutch, with a large supply of capital and support from their government, preempted and ultimately excluded the British from the heartland of spices in the East Indies (modern-day Indonesia), both companies managed to establish trading "factories" (actually warehouses) along the Indian coast. The Dutch, for example, used various ports on the Coromandel Coast in South India, especially Pulicat (about twenty kilometers north of Madras), as major sources for slaves for their plantations in the East Indies and for cotton cloth as early as 1609. (The English, however, established their first factory at what today is known as Madras only in 1639.) Indian rulers enthusiastically accommodated the newcomers in hopes of pitting them against the Portuguese. In 1619 Jahangir granted them permission to trade in his territories at Surat (in Gujarat) on the west coast and Hughli (in West Bengal) in the east. These and other locations on the peninsula became centers of international trade in spices, cotton, sugar, raw silk, saltpeter, calico, and indigo.

British influence

English company agents became familiar with Indian customs and languages, including Persian, the unifying official language under the Mughals. In many ways, the English agents of that period lived like Indians, intermarried willingly, and a large number of them never returned to their home country. The knowledge of India thus acquired and the mutual ties forged with Indian trading groups gave the English a competitive edge over other Europeans. The French commercial interest--Compagnie des Indes Orientales (East India Company, founded in 1664)--came late, but the French also established themselves in India, emulating the precedents set by their competitors as they founded their enclave at Pondicherry (Puduchcheri) on the Coromandel Coast.

In 1717 the Mughal emperor, Farrukhsiyar (r. 1713-19), gave the British--who by then had already established themselves in the south and the west--a grant of thirty-eight villages near Calcutta, acknowledging their importance to the continuity of international trade in the Bengal economy. As did the Dutch and the French, the British brought silver bullion and copper to pay for transactions, helping the smooth functioning of the Mughal revenue system and increasing the benefits to local artisans and traders.

The fortified warehouses of the British brought extraterritorial status, which enabled them to administer their own civil and criminal laws and offered numerous employment opportunities as well as asylum to foreigners and Indians. The British factories successfully competed with their rivals as their size and population grew. The original clusters of fishing villages (Madras and Calcutta) or series of islands (Bombay) became headquarters of the British administrative zones, or presidencies as they generally came to be known. The factories and their immediate environs, known as the White-town, represented the actual and symbolic preeminence of the British--in terms of their political power--as well as their cultural values and social practices; meanwhile, their Indian collaborators lived in the Black-town, separated from the factories by several kilometres.

The British company employed sepoys--European-trained and European-led Indian soldiers--to protect its trade, but local rulers sought their services to settle scores in regional power struggles. South India witnessed the first open confrontation between the British and the French, whose forces were led by Robert Clive and François Dupleix, respectively. Both companies desired to place their own candidate as the nawab, or ruler, of Arcot, the area around Madras. At the end of a protracted struggle between 1744 and 1763, when the Peace of Paris was signed, the British gained an upper hand over the French and installed their man in power, supporting him further with arms and lending large sums as well. The French and the British also backed different factions in the succession struggle for Mughal viceroyalty in Bengal, but Clive intervened successfully and defeated Nawab Siraj-ud-daula in the Battle of Plassey (Palashi, about 150 kilometres north of Calcutta) in 1757. Clive found help from a combination of vested interests that opposed the existing nawab: disgruntled soldiers, landholders, and influential merchants whose commercial profits were closely linked to British fortunes.

Later, Clive defeated the Mughal forces at Buxar (Baksar, west of Patna in Bihar) in 1765, and the Mughal emperor (Shah Alam, r. 1759-1806) conferred on the company administrative rights over Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, a region of roughly 25 million people with an annual revenue of 40 million rupees (for current value of the rupee). The imperial grant virtually established the company as a sovereign power, and Clive became the first British governor of Bengal.

Besides the presence of the Portuguese, Dutch, British, and French, there were two lesser but noteworthy colonial groups. Danish entrepreneurs established themselves at several ports on the Malabar coast and the Coromandel coast notably Tranquebar, in the vicinity of Calcutta, and inland at Patna between 1695 and 1740. Austrian enterprises were set up in the 1720s on the vicinity of Surat in modern-day southeastern Gujarat. As with the other non-British enterprises, the Danish and Austrian enclaves were taken over by the British between 1765 and 1815.

Mughal Society

The Indian economy boomed under the Mughals, because of the creation of a road system and a uniform currency, together with the unification of the country. Manufactured goods and peasant-grown cash crops were sold throughout the world. Key industries included shipbuilding (the Indian shipbuilding industry was as advanced as the European, and Indians sold ships to European firms), textiles, and steel. The Mughals maintained a small fleet, which merely carried pilgrims to Mecca, imported a few Arab horses, transported soldiers over rivers, and fought pirates; however, the Muslim Siddis of Janjira, and the Marathas sent ships to China, and the eastern limits of Africa, together with some Mughal subjects carrying out private-sector trade.

Cities and towns boomed under the Mughals; however, for the most part, they were military and political centres, not manufacturing or commerce centres. Only those guilds which produced goods for the bureaucracy made goods in the towns; most industry was based in rural areas.

The nobility was a heterogeneous body; while it primarily consisted of Rajput aristocrats and foreigners from Muslim countries, people of all castes and nationalities could gain a title from the emperor. The middle class of openly affluent traders consisted of a few wealthy merchants living in the coastal towns; the bulk of the merchants pretended to be poor to avoid taxation. The bulk of the people were poor. The standard of living of the poor was as low as, or somewhat higher than, the standard of living of the Indian poor under the British Raj; whatever benefits the British brought with canals and modern industry were neutralized by rising population growth, high taxes, and the collapse of traditional industry in the nineteenth century.Some of the notable changes to societies of the subcontinent and culture, during this era were

*Centralised government which brought together many smaller kingdoms
*Persian art and culture amalgamated with native Indian art and culture
*Started new trade routes to Arab and Turk lands, Islam was at its very highest
*Mughlai cuisine
*Urdu language was formed by amalgamation of Persian, Arabic, Turkish with many North Indian languages. Spoken Hindi branched off from Urdu at a much later date (late 19th Cent.) retaining a more distinct Sanskrit flavour.
*A new style of architecture
*Landscape gardening


*loc - [ India] [ Pakistan]


*Elliot and Dowson: The History of India as told by its own Historians, New Delhi reprint, 1990.
* Elliot, Sir H. M., Edited by Dowson, John. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; published by London Trubner Company 1867–1877. (Online Copy: [ The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians. The Muhammadan Period; by Sir H. M. Elliot; Edited by John Dowson; London Trubner Company 1867–1877] - This online Copy has been posted by: [ The Packard Humanities Institute; Persian Texts in Translation; Also find other historical books: Author List and Title List] )
*Majumdar, R. C. (ed.), The History and Culture of the Indian People, Volume VI, The Delhi Sultanate, Bombay, 1960; Volume VII, The Mughal Empire, Bombay, 1973.

External links

* [ The Great Mughals] Timurids-Mongolian dynasty of Turkish origin
* [ British India]
* [ British Education in India]

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  • Kamboj in Muslim and British Era — Kamboj or Kambohs (Urdu: کمبوہ ) are tribes of the Punjab region, said to be the modern representatives of the ancient Kambojas. They are found as Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Persians, Jaina and Buddhists and are mostly confined to northern parts of… …   Wikipedia

  • Ahom–Mughal conflicts — Ahom Mughal conflicts refer to the period between the first Mughal attack on the Ahom kingdom in 1615 and the final Battle of Itakhuli in 1682. The intervening period saw the fluctuating fortunes of both powers and the end of the rule of Koch… …   Wikipedia

  • History of Ottoman-era Tunisia — Eyalet i Tunus Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire …   Wikipedia