Numerous literary and archaeological sources are available for the reconstruction of history of the Mughal period.
There a number of literary sources of the Mughal period. They range from the autobiographies of emperors to musical compositions.
- Tuzuk-i-Baburi or the Memoirs of Babur is an autobiographical work in Turki language by Babur. It is a primary source for Babur’s activities. It has been reckoned among the most enthralling and
- romantic works in the literature of all time.
- Tarikh-i-Rashidi, a Persian work, written by Mirza Muhammad Haidar Dughlat, is a valuable source material on the period of Babur and Humayun.
- Habib-us-Siyar and Humayun-nama, written by Khvand Amir, are accounts of the reign of Babur and the first three years of the rule of Humayun.
- Humayun-nama of Gulbadan Begam, the daughter of Babur, is an authority on Humayun’s reign.
- Tazkiratul-Waqiat of Jauhar Aftabchi (a Personal valet of Humayun) is a remarkable work throwing light on almost all facets of the life of Humayun.
- Tarikh-i-Humayun written by Bayazid is a valuable source material for the study of Humayun and Akbar. Important works on Akbar’s reign comprises Tarikh-i-Akbar Shahi by Qandahari, Abul-Fazl’s Akbar-nama, Ain-Akbari, Ruqat-Abul-Fazl, and Insha-i-Abul-Fazl, Tabaqat-i-Firishta by Mulla Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah, Tarikh-i-Haqqi by Abdul-Haqq, etc.
- Tarikh-i-Sher-Shahi composed by Abbas Khan Sarwani gives information of the reign of Sher Shah Suri.
- Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, the autobiography of Jahangir, is an important source material for Akbar’s last years, Jahangir’s own rule, and the early life of Shah Jahan. It is very helpful to the student of Mughal period. Iqbal-nama of Mutamid Khan’s and Muhammad Hadi’s Tatimma Waqiat-i-Jahangiri are very useful for the study of reign of Jahangir. Numerous chronicles were written during the reign of Shah Jahan. These include Padshah-nama of Aminai Qazvini, Padshah-nama of Abdul Hamid Lahori and Shahjahan-nama of Inayat Khan. These are very interesting narrations of Shahjahan’s reign.
- For the reign of Aurangzeb, we have Alamgir-nama by Mirza Muhammad Kazim, Maasir-i-Alamgiri by Muhammad Saqi Mustaid Khan, Muntakhab-ul-Lubab by Muhammad Hashim Khafi Khan, etc, as important sources.
- Besides chronological accounts of the activities of the Emperors, a number of official works on provincial administration and statistical details also available. The royal grants and orders comprise yet another important source material for the period.
- There are great collections of poems written during the period which throw light on the social, economic and religious conditions of that time. Innumerable literary works on the lives of great men and saints also portray the life of the people in general.
- Works in Sanskrit and local languages also form a significant part in the unravelling of Mughal life. Besides Sarvadesavrittant Sangrah by Mahesh Thakur, a Sanskrit history of Akbar’s reign, other works dealing with exploits of Rajputs are also remarkable. No account would be complete without a reference to Marathi sources such as Kalami Bakhar by Dattaji Trimbak, Siva-Charitra Sahitya, etc. Bakhar is a form of historical narrative written in Marathi prose.
Accounts of Foreign Travelers
- Many foreign travelers visited India during the Mughal period. Their accounts constitute an important source material. Among the noteworthy accounts are Travels of Ralph Fitch; Early Travels in India of W.Hawkins, Finch, Withington , Coryat, W.Terry; The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to India (1615-19) (edited by W.Foster);the Travels of Peter Mundy; Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656 -1688) by Bernier (edited by A. Constable ); Travels in India by J.B Tavernier, etc.
- These accounts along with many similar accounts deal not only with the life of the court but also with the habits, customs and attitudes of people in general. As Prof. Srivastava mention “these accounts cannot be accepted at their face-value, for some of them are mere bazar gossip, and certain others are vitiated on account of their racial, religious and national prejudices”. However, these accounts do serve as an important source of information for the period under consideration.
- Nearly all the archaeological sources of the Mughal period have been catalogued and the notable remains have been critically analyzed and put in proper shape. Exhaustive works on the numismatic sources also supplement the work of archaeological surveys. Edward Thomas, Stanley Lane-Poole, Nelson, Whitehead, Dames, Rodgers and others have contributed greatly in proper collection and explanation of numismatic sources.
- The architectural remains of the age attest the excellence reached by the great Mughals. Massive and magnificent palaces, big forts, great mausoleums, dream like cities such as Fatehpur Sikri, etc., are outstanding examples of Mughal architecture and form a treasured clue to the unfolding of Mughal story.
- Babur’s mighty structures have been ravaged by time but his tomb at Kabul is a magnificent one. Akbar, a great builder, left permanent imprint in the architecture of Fatehpur Sikri, described as a “romance in stone, inconceivable and impossible at any other time or in any other circumstances”. Shah Jahan’s creation, one of the wonders of the world, is enthusiastically admired by one and all and bears eloquent testimony to the art and architecture of his times.
- The Mughal painting which reached its zenith during the reign of Jahangir also testifies to the extraordinary achievements in the field of fine arts by the Mughals. The works of Percy Brown and Moti Chand describes the technique of Mughal painting.