• The dream of establishing a Mughal empire envisaged by Babur, after defeating Ibrahim Lodi in the First Battle of Panipat (20 April, 1526), was still distant as Humayun, his successor and son was reduced to the status of a homeless wanderer after being defeated by Sher Shah Suri in the Battle of Chausa (1539) and the Battle of Kannauj (1540).
  • It was Shah Tahmasp, the Safavid ruler of Persia, who offered him refuge and gave military aid by which Humayun recovered Delhi and Agra from the Sikander Suri at Battle of Sirhind (July, 1555).
  • However, the problems of Mughal Empire did not end here as before Humayun could consolidate his empire, he was fatally injured by falling down the stairs of his library.
  • The nascent Empire was facing confrontation from external enemies as well as the feuding nobility and it was in these precarious circumstances that young Akbar, whose very name meant the great one, rose up to all the challenges and emerged as one of the greatest monarchs this country has ever witnessed.

Akbar

  • While the dis crowned Humayun was wandering in Sindh, he met Hamida Bano Begum and tied the knot in 1541. A year later, Hamida gave birth to a boy, Akbar, who was destined to be one of the greatest Indian monarchs.
  • However, as Humayun fled to Persia for help, Akbar was captured by his uncle Kamran, although he was treated well. The reunion with his father was made possible only when Humayun captured Qandhar from Kamran.
  • After the death of Humayun, the 13-year old Akbar was enthroned at Kalanaur by Bairam Khan, the Military general of Humayun and regent of Akbar in 1556.
  • When Akbar ascended to the throne, his empire barely included areas of Punjab and Delhi. Even this situation was under constant threat as
    1. Hemu, the military general of Adil Shah Suri (a nephew of Sher Shah Suri) had conquered Agra and Delhi by defeating the Mughal forces. It is said that by that time he had not lost a single of twenty-two battles he had fought and was bestowed the ancient title of Vikramajeet or Vikramaditya by Adil Shah who had also made him Wazir.
    2. Kabul had been attacked and besieged by the Badakhshan rulers.
    3. Sikander Shah Suri, defeated by Humayun, was waiting for an opportunity to regain his empire and was a constant threat.
  • At this juncture, Bairam Khan displayed his superior military statesmanship. Before Hemu could consolidate the gains made by capturing Delhi, Bairam Khan launched a fierce attack on his forces.
  • The fateful encounter happened in the Second Battle of Panipat (5 November, 1556) where, despite being in an advantageous position, Hemu’s army was routed when an arrow hit Hemu in the eye leaving him unconscious. The victory re-established the supremacy of Mughals over the throne of Delhi.

Contests

  • The Second Battle of Panipat was the beginning of an illustrious era under the Mughals. After a month long stay in Delhi, Akbar sought to vanquish all the rival claimants to the throne of Delhi.
  • In this pursuit, he along with Bairam Khan marched towards Sirhind to complete the military operation against Sikander Shah Suri and in due course made him surrender at the fort of Mankot, Kashmir in 1557. Sikander Shah Suri was driven out to Bihar where he died two years later. Adil Shah Suri had died in a battle against Bengal kingdom in 1557, and other claimants to the Delhi throne had withdrawn. Thus, Akbar was left free to consolidate his empire, undisturbed by the rival claims against his sovereignty.
  • Under the regency of Bairam Khan, further conquests led to the extension of the Mughal Empire from Kabul up to Jaunpur in the East and Ajmer in the West. Lahore and Multan, important centres of Punjab, were annexed.
  • Gwalior was captured from the Sur rulers and forces were sent to conquer Malwa and Ranthambhor. All the while, Bairam Khan was at the helm of affairs and commanded full control over the nobility.
  • However, these accomplishments made Bairam Khan arrogant and he failed to realise that Akbar was coming of age and wanted to take control of the state affairs in his own hand. This friction between the two was further aggravated by the court intrigues where the nobles who held grudges against Bairam Khan complained of his bias in favour of Shiite Nobles.
  • All this led to Akbar issuing a farman through which Bairam Khan was dismissed from his office. Although Bairam was prepared to submit, but the conspiring nobles disgraced him to the limit where he declared rebellion against the crown. It took six months to quell the rebellion, and finally Bairam was forced to surrender. Akbar treated him without animosity and gave him an option to either serve the crown or retire to Mecca. Bairam chose the latter. However, on his way to Mecca in January 1561, he was murdered by an Afghan who had personal enmity against him.
  • From 1561-67, Akbar also had to face other forces of rebellion, the major ones being:
    • Maham Anga and Adham Khan: Maham Anga was Akbar’s foster mother who had a role in dismissing Bairam Khan. Her son Adham Anga claimed sovereignty while he was sent to an expedition on Malwa. When he was removed from the command, he claimed the post of Wazir for himself and killed the acting Wazir in his office. This infuriated Akbar and in 1561, he had him thrown down from the parapet of the fort to his death.
    • Uzbeks: The Uzbek section of the nobility commanded great influence in the region of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Malwa. They had helped the Emperor in subduing the Afghan forces in these regions, but they became arrogant and started defying the authority of Akbar by rebelling against the crown. Akbar quelled these rebellions several times after 1561 and in 1565, he vowed to make Jaunpur his capital till he had vanquished them all. He defeated and killed the Uzbeks leader in 1567, thus bringing their rebellion to an end.
    • Mirzas: The Mirzas who were Timurids and thus related to Akbar by marriage, controlled the area of Western Uttar Pradesh from where they revolted against the Emperor. Akbar defeated them and made them flee to Malwa and then to Gujarat.
    • Mirza Hakim: He was Akbar’s half-brother who had captured Kabul and Lahore and the Uzbeks had declared him as their ruler. Akbar marched to Lahore in 1581 and forced him to retreat.
  • All these rebellions used up the time and resources of the empire, but they turned Akbar into a seasoned military general and diplomat, the qualities that he would make the most use of in his later endeavours. Also, most of the rebellious nobles who dreamt of an independent states for themselves were cowed down.

Expansion of Empire (1560-76 AD)

Malwa

  • The Kingdom of Malwa was ruled by Baz Bahadur (1555-62) with Mandu as its capital. Baz Bahadur was a patron of art and during his period Mandu had become a celebrated centre for music. This period is associated with the romance of Baz Bahadur and Rani Roopmati, who was famous for her beauty, music and poetry.
  • However, the defences of the state were neglected taking advantage of which Adham Khan led an expedition against Malwa and defeated Baz Bahadur who escaped from Malwa (1561). However, Adham Khan made a mistake when he tried to abduct Roopmati, as she chose to embrace death than to be part of his harem. The cruelty of Adham Khan led to a reaction against Mughals enabling Baz Bahadur to recover Malwa.
  • Akbar sent another expedition to Malwa under Abdullah Khan in 1562 who expelled Baz Bahadur and annexed Malwa to the Mughal Empire. After living in exile for several years, Baz Bahadur submitted to Akbar in 1570 and was accepted as a Mansabdar. The extensive region of Malwa thus came under the Mughal rule.

Garh-Katanga

  • The Kingdom of Garh-Katanga included Narmada valley and the northern parts of present day Madhya Pradesh, with Chauragarh near Jabalpur as its capital. It was consolidated by Aman Das in the second half of the fifteenth century.
  • He had helped Bahadur Shah of Gujarat in conquest of Raisen and was bestowed with the title of Sangram Shah. His son was married to the Chandella Princess, Durgavati. She was ruling as the Queen Regent when Asaf Khan, the Mughal Governor of Allahabad, invaded Garh-Katanga.
  • Despite the betrayal by her allies, Rani fought gallantly, but was wounded and fearing imminent defeat, she stabbed herself to death to avoid capture. However, the Mughal Governor sent only a small proportion of the plunder to the royal court, and kept the rest for himself.
  • When Akbar came to know about this, he not only forced Asaf Khan to part with his illegal gains, but also restored the Kingdom of Garh-Katanga to Chandra Shah, the younger son of Sangram Shah.

Rajputana

  • After having consolidated his dominance over Northern and Central India, Akbar turned his attention towards the Rajputana which presented a formidable threat to his supremacy. He had already established his rule over Ajmer and Nagaur. Beginning in 1561, Akbar started his quest to conquer Rajputana. He employed force as well as diplomatic tactics to make the Rajput rulers submit to him. Although many Rajput kingdoms accepted Akbar’s suzerainty, Udai Singh of Mewar and Chandrasen Rathore of Marwar refused to bow down.
  • Rana Udai Singh was the descendant of Rana Sanga, who had died fighting Babur at the Battle of Khanwa in 1527. As the head of the Sisodia clan, he possessed the highest ritual status of all the Rajput kings and chieftains in India. Thus, it was of paramount importance for Akbar to defeat Mewar.
  • In 1567, Akbar attacked the Chittorgarh fort in Mewar that represented a key strategic importance towards establishing rule in Rajputana. Udai Singh’s chiefs Jaimal and Patta held off the Mughal forces for four months in 1568. Many peasants too died fighting in the fort. Udai Singh was banished to the Hills of Mewar. After him, his son Rana Pratap offered a formidable resistance to the Mughal forces.
  • In the famous Battle of Haldighati (June, 1576), Mughal forces commanded by Man Singh of Ambar inflicted heavy casualties on army of Rana Pratap, but failed to capture him.
  • After the fall of Chittor, the Ranthambhor Fort was also seized. Jodhpur had already been conquered and these victories made other Rajput rulers like those of Bikaner and Jaisalmer to submit to Akbar. Mewar was the only kingdom that continued to resist the Mughal forces.

Gujarat

  • The state of Gujarat was full of riches because of its fertile soil and prospering foreign trade. Akbar also wanted to annex it because the Mirzas had taken shelter there and could be a potent threat to his Empire. Akbar did not want such a rich province to become a rival centre of power. For these reasons, he advanced to Ahmedabad through Ajmer in 1572 and forced the Ahmedabad ruler to surrender without a fight. Following this, Akbar defeated the Mirzas who were ruling Broach, Baroda and Surat.
  • It was here in Cambay where Akbar saw the sea for the first time and also met the Portuguese who were keen to establish an empire of their own in India, but their designs were frustrated by Akbar’s conquest of Gujarat.
  • However, as soon as Akbar went back to Agra, rebellions broke out all over Gujarat. Akbar once again marched to Ahmedabad and defeated the enemy forces in 1573.

Bengal

  • The region of Bengal and Bihar was being ruled by Afghan leader Daud Khan. He had maintained a powerful army of 40,000 cavalry and an infantry of 1,50,000.
    • Akbar marched steadily and captured Patna, thus securing Mughal communications in Bihar. After this, Akbar returned back to Agra giving the charge of campaign to Munaim Khan who invaded Bengal and Daud Khan was forced to sue for peace but soon afterwards he raised the banner of rebellion.
    • Mughal forces once again defeated him and Daud Khan was executed in 1576, thus ending the last Afghan kingdom in Northern India.
  • The campaign of Bengal marked the end to the first phase of Akbar’s expansion of the empire. This also gave Akbar time to strengthen the administrative machinery of his empire.
Mughal Empire: Akbar

Administration

Land Revenue Policy

  • To start with, Akbar adopted the revenue system of Sher Shah Suri under which the cultivated area was measured and based on the productivity of the land, crop wise prices were decided. However, this system had two major problems
    • (a) Fixing of prices often led to delays causing hardships to the peasants, and
    • (b) Since the prices were fixed taking into account the land around the Capital city, these were generally higher than the prevailing prices in the countryside. Thus, peasants had to part more of their produce as tax.
  • This led Akbar to revert back to the system of Annual assessment. The Qanungos were the local officials who reported on the actual produce, local prices and other such details. However, in many areas the dishonest Qanungos concealed the actual produce and this was a loss to the revenue finances of the empire. This corrupt practice was checked in 1573 when Akbar appointed officials called Karoris who kept an eye on the prices reported by the Qanungos and were responsible for the collection of a crore of dams (Rs. 2,50,000).
  • The following were the major revenue assessment systems introduced by Akbar:
    • Zabti:
      • This was a system of measurement of land and the assessment of revenue was based upon the productivity of the land and local prices. This was a relief to peasants as they got remission when the productivity was low due to drought, floods or any disaster. This system is usually associated with Raja Todar Mal, who was the revenue minister of Sher Shah before serving Akbar.
    • Dahsala:
      • It was an advanced modification of the zabti system. In this, the revenue was decided on the basis of the average produce of different crops as well as the average prices prevailing over the last ten years. One-third of the average produce was state’s share.
    • Batai or Ghalia Bakshi:
      • Under this system, the produce was divided between the state and the peasants in fixed proportion. The peasants were given a choice to pay either in cash or kind, though cash was preferred. Although the system was a fair one, it required honest officials to implement it.
    • Nasaq:
      • It was also known as kankut or estimation. Under it, a rough estimate of the revenue to be paid by the peasant was calculated based on his past payments.
  • For assessment of revenue, the land was classified on the basis of continuity of cultivation.
    • Polaj: The land which remained under cultivation almost every year.
    • Parati: Fallow land, parati land paid at the full rate (polaj) when it was cultivated.
    • Chachar: Land which had been fallow for 2-3 years.
    • Banjar: Land which had been fallow for more than 3 years.
  • These were assessed at concessional rates and taxed fully only when they became polaj land. This was done to encourage conversion of uncultivated wasteland into cultivated land. Akbar had directed the Amils to extend loans (taccavi) to the peasants in times of need and encourage them to sow high quality seeds.

Mansabdari System

  • Consolidation of Empire to such stretches was not possible without an organised nobility and a robust army unit. Akbar achieved both these objectives through Mansabdari System. This was a system unique to the Mughal administration.
  • Under this, every officer was assigned a rank (mansab), the lowest being 10 and highest being 5000 for nobles. Princes of the blood received higher mansabs.
  • Remarkably, the highest rank a noble could attain was raised from 5000 to 7000 towards the end of Akbar’s rule.
  • Two senior nobles of the Akbar rule, Mirza Aziz Koka and Raja Man Singh were accorded with the rank of 7000 each. The mansabs were divided into two:
    • Zat: It was the personal rank and the status and salary of the officer was fixed according to it.
    • Sawar: This indicated the number of cavalrymen (sawars) a mansabdar was required to maintain.
  • There were three categories within the mansab:
    • The officer who maintained as many sawars as his zat rank.
    • The officer who maintained half or more sawars than his zat rank.
    • The officer who maintained less than half sawars than his zat rank.
  • Every mansabdar had to bring his contingent for inspection regularly. Every sawar was identified based on his descriptive roll (chehra) while every horse was branded with imperial marks (dagh system). For every ten sawars, mansabdars had to maintain twenty horses. This was called the 10-20 rule.
  • The salary to the mansabdars were paid by assigning them jagirs, which assigned the land revenue from an area to the mansabdar. This was not a hereditary system, rather only a mode of payment. Out of this salary, the mansabdar had to pay the soldiers and also maintain a certain number of horses and elephants. Only the best quality horses were retained in the army.
  • The system was based on merit and an officer who was generally appointed at lower mansab could rise up in hierarchy based on his performance. Similarly, an officer can me demoted in rank as a mark of punishment.
  • Also, Akbar encouraged mixed contingents of all nobles Mughal, Pathan Hindustani, Rajputs. This discouraged the forces of parochialism and tribalism. In addition to cavalrymen, bowmen, musketeers (bandukchi), sappers and miners were also recruited in the contingents.

Political Administration

  • Central: Akbar organised the Central administration based on the principles of separation of power and of checks and balances. Some of the important functionaries in this were:
    • Wazir: He was the head of the revenue department and was responsible for all income and expenditures of the Empire. He was the principal link between the ruler and the administration. He no longer enjoyed the position of principal advisor to the Emperor and many nobles held mansabs higher than his.
    • Mir Bakshi: He was the head of the military department and was also considered the head of the nobility. It was he who recommended officers for various mansabs, but the wazir was responsible for assigning the jagir to the mansabdar , thus maintaining checks and balances. Mir Bakshi was also in charge of the intelligence and information agencies of the empire. Several Intelligence Officers (barids) and news reporters (waqia-navis) posted throughout the country reported to him.
    • Mir Saman: He was in charge of imperial household and thus ensured provisions of various items required by the inmates of the harem or the female apartments. Several of these items were manufactured in royal workshops or karkhanas.
    • Chief Qazi: He headed the judicial department
    • Chief Sadr: He looked after the charitable and religious endowments.
    • Apart from these ministers, Akbar himself was very much accessible to the common people. He held Diwan-i-aam in which he heard the grievances of the people. Private consultation with ministers were held in a chamber that came to be known as Ghusal Khaana.
  • Provincial:
    • The Empire was divided into 12 provinces in 1580 and each province was headed by a Governor (Subedaar). Other officials included a diwan, a bakshi, a sadr, a qazi and a waqia navis. The principles of checks and balances was maintained in provincial administration too.
  • Local:
    • Subas were divided into Sarkars (equivalent to district) which were further subdivided into Parganas (equivalent to tehsil). Chief Officers of a Sarkar were
      • Fauzdar: He was responsible for maintenance of law and order.
      • Amalguzar: He was responsible for assessment and collection of land revenue. He was required to exercise a general supervision over all land holdings for uniform assessment and collection of land revenues.
  • For revenue distribution, the territories of the empire were divided into three:
    • Jagir: Revenue was allotted to nobles and royal family members
    • Khalisa: Revenue was sent directly to the royal exchequer
    • Inam: Revenue was allotted to religious men irrespective of their faith. Half of this land consisted of cultivable wasteland so that the inam holders were incentivised to encourage the extension of agriculture.

The Jagirdari System

  • Jagirdari system was assigning revenue of a particular territory to the nobles for their services to the state. It was a modified version of Iqta of the Delhi Sultanate and was an integral part of the mansabdari system.
    • The office of the central Diwan would identify parganas the sum total of whose jama was equal to the salary claim of the mansabdar. If the recorded jama was greater than the salary claim, the mansabdar was asked to deposit the extra with the central treasury. However, if the jama was less than the salary claim the remaining was paid from the treasury.
  • Classification of jagirs:
    • Tankha Jagirs – given in lieu of salaries and were transferable.
    • Watan Jagirs – were hereditary and non-transferable. It was given to zamindars or rajas in their local dominion. When a zamindar was appointed as mansabdar, he was given tankha jagir in addition to his watan jagir if the salary of his rank was more than his income from watan jagir.
    • Mashrut Jagirs – jagirs assigned on certain conditions.
    • Altamgha Jagirs – assigned to Muslim nobles in their family towns or place of birth.
  • Zamindars had hereditary rights over the produce of the land and had a direct share of 10-25 % in the peasants’ produce. He assisted the state in the collection of the revenue and also rendered military services to the state at times of need. The zamindar was not the owner of all the lands comprising his zamindari. The peasants who actually cultivated the land could not be dispossessed as long as they paid the land revenue. Both the zamindars and peasants had their own hereditary rights over the land.

Relations with Rajputs

  • At the time when Mughal Empire was facing challenges in form of Afghans, internal rebellion and foreign powers, Akbar desperately needed more allies and less enemies. He had realized that the Rajputs, who held large areas in their possession and were skillful warriors and renowned for their valor and fidelity to their word, could safely be depended upon and thus, converted them into friends.
  • Hence, Mughal Emperor Akbar decided to seek the cooperation of the Rajputs to expand the Mughal Empire. In pursuance of this policy, he not only accorded high positions to the Rajput rulers who accepted his sovereignty, but also entered into marriage alliances with them.
  • Due to this liberal policy, Akbar found one of the most trusted ally in Raja Bharmal of Amber. He was made a high grandee and Akbar married her daughter, Harkha Bai. While marriages between Muslim Emperor and Hindu rulers were not unusual, Akbar took the relationship to a new height by giving complete religious freedom to his Hindu wives. Bhar Mai’s son, Bhagwant Das, was accorded a mansab of 5000, while his grandson, Man Singh, rose to the rank of 7000, held by only one other noble, Aziz Khan Kuka.
  • Akbar abolished the pilgrimage tax on Hindus in 1562 and Jizya in 1564 to show his sense of equality towards the Hindu subjects. The autonomy given to the Rajput rulers made them realise that their interests were not harmed by accepting the suzerainty of the Mughal Emperor .
  • However, there were exceptions to such friendly relations. Even after the siege of Chittor, Rana Udai Singh continued his resistance. In 1572, Rana Pratap succeeded to the throne of Mewar. Akbar sent three embassies in succession under Man Singh, Bhagwant Das and Raja Todar Mai. But the proud Rana did not agree to pay personal homage to Akbar. In 1576, Akbar moved to Ajmer and deputed Man Singh to lead a campaign against Rana Pratap. In the resultant Battle of Haldighati, Rana was defeated but he escaped and continued his resistance by waging guerrilla warfare. There was a major revolt in Bengal and Bihar in 1579 and Mughals diverted their resources which gave Rana the opportunity to recover his empire. After 1585, Akbar moved to Lahore where he stayed for 12 years taking advantage of which Rana recaptured his capital Kumbhalgarh and ruled till he died in 1597.
  • Akbar also faced resistance from Marwar where after the death of Maldeo (1562), his younger son Chandrasen succeeded to the throne. But he had to cede certain territories to his elder brother Udai Singh due to pressure from the Mughals. Chandrasen rose in rebellion against this interference but was defeated and was forced to seek refuge in Mewar.
  • Akbar’s Rajput Policy was continued by Jahangir and Shah Jahan. It was under Jahangir that the dispute with Mewar was settled when Amar Singh, son of Rana Pratap, reconciled with the Mughals and his son, Prince Karan Singh was accorded a rank of 5000 in the court of Jahangir.
  • It was the result of such liberal policy of Akbar that the Rajputs, who had not only been hostile but fought consistently against the Sultans of Delhi for more than 350 years, became strong allies of the Mughal throne. Rajputs contributed freely and richly to the military, political, administrative, economic, social, cultural and artistic achievements of Akbar’s reign. Their cooperation not only gave security and permanence to the Mughal rule, but also brought about an unprecedented economic prosperity and cultural renaissance in the country, and a synthesis of the Hindu and Muslim cultures which is a priceless legacy of the Mughal rule.

Religion

  • Akbar was born when the Bhakti and Sufi movements were at their peak and the idea emphasized essential unity of Hindu and Muslims was prevalent. Such liberal sentiments had great impression on young Akbar, who abolished Jizya, pilgrimage tax and the practice of forcibly converting prisoners of war to Islam.
  • He followed the policy of Sulh-i-kul, under which the ruler was distinguished by his paternal love towards his subjects without distinction of sect or creed and it was his duty to prevent sectarian strife from rising. His sole aim was to “ascertain truth, to find out and disclose the principles of genuine religion.”
  • In 1575, Akbar built Ibadat Khana or the Hall of Prayer in his new capital, Fatehpur Sikri, where he invited theologians, mystics and learned nobles to discuss religious matters. The proceedings were at first were confined to Muslims, but were later opened to people of all religions, even to atheists. He invited Purushottam and Devi, to expound the doctrines of Hinduism, Maharji Rana to explain the doctrines of Zoroastrianism, Portuguese Acfquaviva and Monserrate for Christianity, Hira Vijaya Suri for Jainism. However, this was not liked by the orthodox Mullahs and rumours spread that Akbar wanted to forsake Islam. The growing strife forced Akbar to discontinue the discussions in Ibadat Khana in 1582.
  • But he did not give up his quest for true religion. His contact with leaders of various religions convinced him that while there were differences among various religions, they all had some good points which need tobe emphasized. To achieve this objective, he founded a religion of his own, named tauhid-i-llahi (Divine monotheism) or din-i-ilahi, with an aim to bring to an end the religious bitterness and conflict prevalent among various sections of the society.
  • Tauhid-i-ilahi was an order of the Sufistic type, and membership was voluntary. There were no sacred books, no priestly class or rituals except the initiation ceremony in which the Emperor gave a formula called Shasta, which the person being initiated had to repeat. This contained Akbar’s favourite motto-‘Allah-o-Akbar ‘ or ‘God is Great’. However, tauhid-i-ilahi did not attract many followers and virtually died with Akbar.
  • Akbar also introduced a number of reforms that were socioreligious in a nature like preventing Sati unless the widow herself desired it, allowing widow remarriage, encouraging secular education with subjects like geometry, astronomy, agriculture.
Ibadat khana
Ibadat khana

Art and Architecture

  • During the reign of Akbar, many indigenous art styles were encouraged which led to the common use of sandstone. Akbar built a series of forts, the most famous of which is the fort at Agra (in red sandstone). His other forts are at Lahore and Allahabad.
  • Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri (city of victory) near Agra. Many buildings of Gujarati and Bengali styles are found in this complex. The most magnificent building in it is the Jama Masjid and the gateway to it is called Buland Darwaza (176 ft high), built in c. 1572 CE to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat. Other important buildings at Fatehpur Sikri are Jodha Bai’s palace and Panch Mahal with five storeys.
  • He built his own tomb at Sikandra (near Agra) which was completed by Jahangir.
  • Akbar built a temple of Govindadeva at Vrindavan.
  • He also built Jahangir Mahal in Agra Fort.
  • Akbar commissioned the illustrations of several literary and religious texts. He invited a large number of painters from different parts of the country to his court. Both Hindus and Muslims joined in this work. Baswan, Miskina and Daswant attained great positions as Akbar’s court artists.
  • Illustrations of Persian versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana were produced in miniature form.
  • Many other Indian fables became miniature paintings in the art studio established by Akbar.
  • Historical works like Akbarnama also remained  the main themes of Mughal paintings.
  • Hamzanama is considered to be the most important work which consisted of 1200 paintings. Indian colours such as peacock blue, Indian red began to be used.
  • Akbar patronised Tansen of Gwalior who composed many ragas. It is believed that he could bring rain and fire through singing the ragas Megh Malhar and Deepak, respectively.
  • The Persian language became widespread in the Mughal empire by the time of Akbar’s reign. Abul Fazl was a great scholar and historian of his period. He set a style of prose writing and it was followed for many generations. Many historical works were written during this period. They include Ain-i-Akbari and Akbarnama by Abul Fazl. The translation of Mahabharata into the Persian language was done under the supervision of Abul Faizi (brother of Abul Fazl). Utbi and Naziri were the other two leading Persian poets. From the time of Akbar, Hindi poets were attached to the Mughal court. The most famous Hindi poet was Tulsidas, who wrote the Hindi version of the Ramayana – the Ramacharitmanas.

Evaluation

  • Akbar left a rich legacy both for the Mughal Empire as well as the Indian subcontinent in general. He firmly entrenched the authority of the Mughal Empire in India and beyond, after it had been threatened by the Afghans during his father’s reign, establishing its military and diplomatic superiority. His diplomatic policies were based on mutual coexistence and companionship that turned even the Hindu rulers into his allies.
  • His ingenious reforms in political and military administration provided the Empire with long needed stability. During his reign, the nature of the state changed to a secular and liberal one, with emphasis on cultural integration. He was a visionary, and his religious doctrine, Din-i-ilahi, with its secular orientation and faith in reason, had held in it the promise of a modern India. It can be as well stated that Akbar was born to rule, with a rightful claim to be among the greatest monarch known to history.

Akbar’s Conquests
ProvinceRuler
MalwaBaz Bahadur
ChunarAfghan
MerataJaimal
Gondwana (Garh Katanga)Rani Durgawati (regent of Bir Narayan)
ChittorRana Uday Singh
RanthamborSurjan Hada
KalinjarRam Chandra
MarwarChandrasena, Kalyanmal, Raj Singh, Rawal Harirai
GujaratBahadur Shah
Bengal-BiharOmul Khan Kirrani
HaldighatiRana Pratap
KabulMirza Hakim
KashmirYusuf Khan and Yakub Khan
SindliJani Beg Mirza
OrissaKutul Khan and Nisar Khan
KhandeshAli Khan
BaluchistanYusufzai Tribes
KandharMuzaffar Husain Mirza
AhmednagarChand Bibi (regent of Bahadur Shah)
AsirgarhMiran Bahadur Khan
Akbar’s Navratnas
  • Nine of the courtiers were known as Akbar’s navratnas (nine jewels).
    1. Abul Fazl 
      • He authored Akbarnama and Ain-i-Akbari.
      • He led the Mughal army in its war in Deccan.
      • On the orders of Prince Salim, he was killed by Bir Singh Bundela.
    2. Faizi 
      • He was a great Persian poet.
      • Brother of Abul Fazl.
      • Under his supervision, the Mahabharata was translated into the Persian language.
      • He also translated Lilavati (a work on mathematics) into Persian.
    3. Tansen 
      • He served as a great musician in the court of king Ramachandra who titled him “Tansen”. He was born as Tanna Mishra.
      • Akbar gave him the title of “Mian”.
      • It is believed that he could bring fire and rain through singing the ragas Deepak and Megh Malhar respectively.
    4. Raja Birbal
      • His original name was Mahesh Das.
      • Akbar gave him the title of “Raja” and “Birbal”.
      • He died on the northwest frontier fighting the Yusuf Shahis.
    5. Raja Todar Mal
      • He was the head of the revenue system. He introduced standard weights and measures.
      • He had earlier worked under Sher Shah Suri.
      • Akbar honoured him with the title of “Diwan-i-Ashraf”.
    6. Raja Man Singh
      • One of the trusted generals of Akbar.
    7. Fakir Aziao Din
      • He was one of the chief advisors of Akbar.
      • He was a Sufi mystic.
    8. Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khanan
      • Son of Bairam Khan.
      • He was a great poet. He translated Baburnama into Persian.
    9. Mirza Aziz Koka
      • Also known as Khan-i-Azam or Kotaltash.
      • Foster brother of Akbar.
      • He was also appointed Subedar of Gujarat.

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