Mughal Empire

2008/9 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: General history

Historical map of the Mughal Empire
Historical map of the Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire

1526 – 1857
Capital Lahore, Delhi, Agra
Language(s) Persian (initially also Chagatai; later also Urdu)
Government Monarchy
 - 1526-1530 Babur
 - 1530–1539 and after restoration 1555–1556 Humayun
 - 1556–1605 Akbar
 - 1605–1627 Jahangir
 - 1628–1658 Shah Jahan
 - 1659–1707

Later Emperors = 1707-1857

 -  Established April 21, 1526
 - Ended September 21, 1857
3,000,000 km² (1,158,306 sq mi)
 - 1700 est. 150,000,000 
Currency Rupee

The Mughal Empire ( Persian: سلطنت مغولی هند, Solṭanat Moġuli Hend; Urdu: مغلیہ سلطنت, Muġalīh Sulṭanat; self-designation: گوركانى, Gurakâni), was an imperial power which ruled most of the Indian subcontinent from the early 16th to the mid-19th centuries. At the height of its power, around 1700, it controlled most of the subcontinent and parts of what is now Afghanistan. Its population at that time has been estimated as between 110 and 130 million, over a territory of over 4 million km² (1.5 million mi²). Following 1725 it declined rapidly. Its decline has been variously explained as caused by wars of succession, agrarian crises fuelling local revolts, the growth of religious intolerance and British colonialism. The last Emperor, Bahadur Shah II, whose rule was restricted to the city of Delhi, was imprisoned and exiled by the British after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

The classic period of the Empire starts with the accession of Akbar the Great in 1556 and ends with the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, although the Empire continued for another 150 years. During this period, the Empire was marked by a highly centralized administration connecting the different regions of India. All the significant monuments of the Mughals, their most visible legacy, date to this period.

Early history

The foundation for Mughal empire was established around 1504 by the Timurid prince Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, when he took control of Kabul and eastern regions of Khorasan controlling the fertile Sindh region and the lower valley of the Indus River.

In 1526, Babur defeated the last of the Delhi Sultans, Ibrahim Shah Lodi, at the First Battle of Panipat. To secure his newly founded kingdom, Babur then had to face the Rajput confederacy led by Rana Sanga of Chittor, at the battle of Khanwa. These early military successes of the Mughals, achieved by an army much smaller than its opponents, have been attributed to their cohesion, mobility, horse-mounted archers, and use of artillery.

Babur's son Humayun succeeded him in 1530 but suffered major reversals at the hands of the Pashtun Sher Shah Suri and effectively lost most of the fledgling empire before it could grow beyond a minor regional state. From 1540 Humayun became a ruler in exile, reaching the Court of Safavid ruler in 1542 while his forces still controlled some fortresses and small regions. But when the Afghans fell into disarray with the death of Sher Shah Suri, Humayun returned with a mixed army, raised more troops and managed to reconquer Delhi in 1555.

Humayun crossed the rough terrain of Makran with his wife, but left behind their infant son Akbar to spare him the rigours of the journey. Akbar was eventually transported from the Rajput fortress of Umarkot in Sind where he was born, to Afghanistan to be raised by his uncle Askari. There he became an excellent outdoors man, horseman, hunter and learned the arts of war.

The resurgent Humayun conquered the central plateau around Delhi, but months later died in an accident, leaving the realm unsettled and in war. Akbar succeeded his father on 14 February 1556, while in the midst of a war against Sikandar Shah Suri for the reclamation of the Mughal throne. He soon won his first victory at age 13 or 14. The rump remnant began to grow, then it grew considerably. He became called Akbar, as he was a wise ruler, set fair but steep taxes. He investigated the production in a certain area and taxed inhabitants 1/3 of their agricultural produce. He also set up an efficient bureaucracy and was tolerant of religious differences which softened the resistance by the conquered.

Jahangir, the son of Mughal Emperor Akbar and Rajput princess Mariam-uz-Zamani, ruled the empire from 1605– 1627. In October 1627, Shah Jahan, son of Mughal Emperor Jahangir and Rajput princess Manmati, succeeded to the throne, where he inherited a vast and rich empire in India. At mid-century this was perhaps the greatest empire in the world. Shah Jahan commissioned the famous Taj Mahal ( 1630– 1653) in Agra as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child. By 1700 the empire reached its peak with major parts of present day India, except for the North eastern states, the Sikh lands in Punjab, the lands of the Marathas, areas in the south and most of Afganistan under its domain, under the leadership of Aurangzeb Alamgir. Aurangzeb was the last of what are now referred to as the Great Mughal kings.


After the invasion of Persia by the Mongol Empire, a regional Turko-Persio-Mongol dynasty formed. Just as eastern Mongol dynasties inter-married with locals and adopted the local religion of Buddhism and the Chinese culture, this group adopted the local religion of Islam and the Persian culture. The first Mughal King, Babur, established the Mughal dynasty in regions spanning parts of present-day Pakistan and India. Upon invading this region, the Mughals inter-married with local royalty once again, creating a dynasty of combined Turko-Persian, and Mongol background. King Babur did this to create peace among the different religions in the region. In accordance to Islamic values, Babur focused on setting a good example for the Mughal Dynasty by emphasizing religious tolerance.

The language of the court was Persian. The language spoken was Urdūn, which today has advanced into Urdu. Urdūn originated from Persio-Arabic formation, and took on various characteristics of Persian, Chagatai, and Arabic. Today, Urdu is the National Language of Pakistan and is spoken by Indian Muslims.

The dynasty remained unstable until the reign of Akbar, who was of liberal disposition and intimately acquainted, since birth, with the mores and traditions of Islam in the Indian sub-continent. Under Akbar's rule, the court abolished the jizya (minor tax on non-Muslims comparable with zakat for Muslims) and abandoned use of the muslim lunar calendar in favour of a solar calendar . One of Akbar's most unusual ideas regarding religion was Din-i-Ilahi (Faith of God), which was an eclectic mix of Islam, Zoroastrianism, Jainism and Christianity. It was proclaimed the state religion until his death. These actions however met with stiff opposition from the muslim clergy, especially the Sufi Shaykh Alf Sani Ahmad Sirhindi. Akbar is remembered as tolerant, at least by the standards of the day: only one major massacre was recorded during his long reign (1556–1605), when he ordered most of the captured inhabitants of a fort be slain on February 24, 1568, after the battle for Chitor. Akbar's acceptance of other religions and toleration of their public worship, his abolition of poll-tax on non-Muslims, and his interest in other faiths show an attitude of considerable religious tolerance, which, in the minds of his orthodox Muslim opponents, was tantamount to apostasy. He made the formal declaration of his own infallibility in all matters of religious doctrine, promulgated a new creed, and adopted Hindu and Zoroastrian festivals and practices.

The emperor Jahangir was also a religious moderate. His mother being Hindu and his father setting up an independent faith-of-the-court ('Din-i-Illahi') and the influence of his two Hindu queens (the Maharani Maanbai and Maharani Jagat) kept religious moderation as a centre-piece of state policy which was extended under the emperor Shah Jahan. Religious orthodoxy would only play an important role during the reign of Aurangzeb Ālamgīr, a devout Muslim. Under Aurangzeb, state persecution of non-Muslims reached a zenith. The religious tyranny unleashed by Aurangzeb to sanctify his warlust led to wars with the Hindu Rajputs, Marathas as well as Muslim kingdoms of Bijapur and Hyderabad and the complete subjugation of the Lucknow Nawabs. This last of the Great Mughals retracted most of the tolerant policies of his forbears. Under his reign the empire reached its greatest extent in terms of territorial gain and economic strength.


The Mughals used the mansabdar system to generate land revenue. The emperor would grant revenue rights to a mansabdar in exchange for promises of soldiers in wartime. The greater the size of the land the emperor granted, the greater the number of soldiers the mansabdar had to promise. The mansab was both revocable and non-hereditary; this gave the centre a fairly large degree of control over the mansabdars.

Establishment and reign of Babur

In the early 16th century, Muslim armies consisting of Mongol, Turkic, Persian, and Afghan warriors invaded India under the leadership of the Timurid prince Zahir-ud-Din-Muhammad Babur. Babur was the great-grandson of Central Asian conqueror Timur-e Lang (Timur the Lame, from which the Western name Tamerlane is derived), who had invaded India in 1398 before retiring to Samarkand. Timur himself claimed descent from the Mongol ruler, Genghis Khan. Babur was driven from Samarkand by the Uzbeks and initially established his rule in Kabul in 1504. Later, taking advantage of internal discontent in the Delhi sultanate under Ibrahim Lodi, and following an invitation from Daulat Khan Lodhi (governor of Punjab) and Alam Khan (uncle of the Sultan), Babur invaded India in 1526.

Babur, a seasoned military commander, entered India in 1526 with his well-trained veteran army of 12,000 to meet the sultan's huge but unwieldy and disunited force of more than 100,000 men. Babur defeated the Lodhi sultan decisively at the First Battle of Panipat. Employing firearms, gun carts, movable artillery, superior cavalry tactics, and the highly regarded Mughal composite bow, a weapon even more powerful than the English longbow of the same period, Babur achieved a resounding victory and the Sultan was killed. A year later ( 1527) he decisively defeated, at the Battle of Khanwa, a Rajput confederacy led by Rana Sanga of Chittor. A third major battle was fought in 1529 at Gogra, where Babur routed the joint forces of Afghans and the sultan of Bengal. Babur died in 1530 in Agra before he could consolidate his military gains. During his short five-year reign, Babur took considerable interest in erecting buildings, though few have survived. He left behind as his chief legacy a set of descendants who would fulfil his dream of establishing an Islamic empire in the Indian subcontinent.


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Mughal Emperors
Emperor Name Reign start Reign end
Babur Zahiruddin Mohammed 1526 1530
Humayun Nasiruddin Mohammed 1530 1540
Interregnum * - 1540 1555
Humayun Nasiruddin Mohammed 1555 1556
Akbar Jalaluddin Mohammed 1556 1605
Jahangir Nuruddin Mohammed 1605 1627
Shah Jahan Shihabuddin Mohammed 1627 1658
Aurangzeb Muhiuddin Mohammed 1658 1707

* Afghan Rule ( Sher Shah Suri and his descendants)


When Babur died, his son Humayun (1530–1556) inherited a difficult task. He was pressed from all sides by a reassertion of Afghan claims to the Delhi throne and by disputes over his own succession. Driven into Sindh by the armies of Sher Shah Suri, in 1540 he fled to the Rajput Kingdom of Umarkot then to Persia, where he spent nearly ten years as an embarrassed guest of the Safavid court of Shah Tahmasp. During Sher Shah's reign, an imperial unification and administrative framework were established; this would be further developed by Akbar later in the century. In addition, the tomb of Sher Shah Suri is an architectural masterpiece that was to have a profound impact on the evolution of Indo-Islamic funerary architecture. In 1545, Humayun gained a foothold in Kabul with Safavid assistance and reasserted his Indian claims, a task facilitated by the weakening of Afghan power in the area after the death of Sher Shah Suri in May 1545. He took control of Delhi in 1555, but died within six months of his return, from a fall down the steps of his library. His tomb at Delhi represents an outstanding landmark in the development and refinement of the Mughal style. It was designed in 1564, eight years after his death, as a mark of devotion by his widow, Hamida Banu Begum.


Humayun's untimely death in 1556 left the task of conquest and imperial consolidation to his thirteen-year-old son, Jalal-ud-Din mohammad Akbar (r.1556– 1605). Following a decisive military victory at the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556, the regent Bairam Khan pursued a vigorous policy of expansion on Akbar's behalf. As soon as Akbar came of age, he began to free himself from the influences of overbearing ministers, court factions, and harem intrigues, and demonstrated his own capacity for judgment and leadership. A workaholic who seldom slept more than three hours a night, he personally oversaw the implementation of his administrative policies, which were to form the backbone of the Mughal Empire for more than 200 years. With the aide of his legendary Navaratnas, he continued to conquer, annex, and consolidate a far-flung territory bounded by Kabul in the northwest, Kashmir in the north, Bengal in the east, and beyond the Narmada River in central India.

The main Gate of the Agra Fort
The main Gate of the Agra Fort

Starting in 1571, Akbar built a walled capital called Fatehpur Sikri (Fatehpur means "town of victory") near Agra. Palaces for each of Akbar's senior queens, a huge artificial lake, and sumptuous water-filled courtyards were built there. However, the city was soon abandoned and the capital was moved to Lahore in 1585. The reason may have been that the water supply in Fatehpur Sikri was insufficient or of poor quality. Or, as some historians believe, Akbar had to attend to the northwest areas of his empire and therefore moved his capital northwest. In 1599, Akbar shifted his capital back to Agra from where he reigned until his death.

Akbar adopted two distinct but effective approaches in administering a large territory and incorporating various ethnic groups into the service of his realm. In 1580 he obtained local revenue statistics for the previous decade in order to understand details of productivity and price fluctuation of different crops. Aided by Todar Mal, a Hindu scholar, Akbar issued a revenue schedule that optimized the revenue needs of the state with the ability of the peasantry to pay. Revenue demands, fixed according to local conventions of cultivation and quality of soil, ranged from one-third to one-half of the crop and were paid in cash. Akbar relied heavily on land-holding zamindars to act as revenue-collectors. They used their considerable local knowledge and influence to collect revenue and to transfer it to the treasury, keeping a portion in return for services rendered. Within his administrative system, the warrior aristocracy ( mansabdars) held ranks (mansabs) expressed in numbers of troops, and indicating pay, armed contingents, and obligations. The warrior aristocracy was generally paid from revenues of non-hereditary and transferable jagirs (revenue villages).

An astute ruler who genuinely appreciated the challenges of administering so vast an empire, Akbar introduced a policy of reconciliation and assimilation of Hindus (including Jodhabai, later renamed Mariam-uz-Zamani Begum, the Hindu Rajput mother of his son and heir, Jahangir), who represented the majority of the population. He recruited and rewarded Hindu chiefs with the highest ranks in government; encouraged intermarriages between Mughal and Rajput aristocracy; allowed new temples to be built; personally participated in celebrating Hindu festivals such as Deepavali (or Diwali), the festival of lights; and abolished the jizya (poll tax) imposed on non-Muslims. Akbar came up with his own theory of "rulership as a divine illumination," enshrined in his new religion Din-i-Ilahi (Divine Faith), incorporating the principle of acceptance of all religions and sects. He encouraged widow re-marriage, discouraged child marriage, outlawed the practice of sati and persuaded Delhi merchants to set up special market days for women, who otherwise were secluded at home.

By the end of Akbar's reign, the Mughal Empire extended throughout north India and south of the Narmada river. Notable exceptions were Gondwana in central India, which paid tribute to the Mughals, Assam in the northeast, and large parts of the Deccan. The area south of the Godavari river remained entirely out of the ambit of the Mughals. In 1600, Akbar's empire had a revenue of £17.5 million. By comparison, in 1800, the entire treasury of Great Britain totalled £16 million.

Akbar's empire supported vibrant intellectual and cultural life. The large imperial library included books in Hindi, Persian, Greek, Kashmiri, English, and Arabic, such as the Shahnameh, Bhagavata Purana and the Bible. Akbar regularly sponsored debates and dialogues among religious and intellectual figures with differing views, and he welcomed Jesuit missionaries from Goa to his court. Akbar directed the creation of the Hamzanama, an artistic masterpiece that included 1400 large paintings. Architecture flourished during his reign. One of his first major building projects was the construction of a huge fort at Agra. The massive sandstone ramparts of the Red Fort are another impressive achievement. The most ambitious architectural exercise of Akbar, and one of the most glorious examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, was the creation of an entirely new capital city at Fatehpur Sikri.


The Hiran Minar located in Sheikhupura, was a tribute to Jahangir's favourite antelope.
The Hiran Minar located in Sheikhupura, was a tribute to Jahangir's favourite antelope.

After the death of Akbar in 1605, his son, Prince Salim, ascended the throne and assumed the title of Jahangir, "Seizer of the World". He was assisted in his artistic attempts by his wife, Nur Jahan. The Mausoleum of Akbar at Sikandra, outside Agra, represents a major turning point in Mughal history, as the sandstone compositions of Akbar were adapted by his successors into opulent marble masterpieces. Jahangir is the central figure in the development of the Mughal garden. The most famous of his gardens is the Shalimar Bagh on the banks of Dal Lake in Kashmir.

Mughal rule under Jahangir (1605– 27) and Shah Jahan ( 1628– 58) was noted for political stability, brisk economic activity, beautiful paintings, and monumental buildings. Jahangir's wife Nur Jahan (Light of the World), emerged as the most powerful individual in the court besides the emperor. As a result, Persian poets, artists, scholars, and officers — including her own family members — lured by the Mughal court's brilliance and luxury, found asylum in India. However, the number of unproductive officers mushroomed in the state bureaucracies, as did corruption, while the excessive Persian representation upset the delicate balance of impartiality at the court.

The reign of Jahangir was also known for religious persecution. Joint Hindu and Jain forces were rebelling against the government and disrupting society. Upon stopping the rebellion, he severely persecuted the Jains and destroyed Hindu temples. Guru Arjun, the fifth Guru of Sikhs, was tortured to death during his reign. Although his relations with the son of Guru Arjun, Guru Hargobind, remained very cordial and friendly. It is contended that Guru Arjun and the Jains suffered because of their disrespect of the Empire.

Nur Jahan's abortive efforts to secure the throne for the prince of her choice (Khurram - later Shah Jahan) led the first-born, Prince Khusrau (Maharani Maanbai's son) to rebel against Jahangir in 1622. In that same year, the Persians took over Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, an event that struck a serious blow to Mughal prestige. Jahangir also had the Tuzak-i-Jahangiri composed as a record of his reign.

Shah Jahan

The Taj Mahal, Islamic India's most famed monument
The Taj Mahal, Islamic India's most famed monument

The Taj Mahal is the most famous monument built by the Mughals. It was built by Prince Khurram who ascended the throne in 1628 as Emperor Shah Jahan. Between 1636 and 1646, Shah Jahan sent Mughal armies to conquer the Deccan and the lands to the northwest of the empire, beyond the Khyber Pass. Even though they aptly demonstrated Mughal military strength, these campaigns drained the imperial treasury. As the state became a huge military machine, causing the nobles and their contingents to multiply almost fourfold, the demands for revenue from the peasantry were greatly increased. Political unification and maintenance of law and order over wide areas encouraged the emergence of large centers of commerce and crafts — such as Lahore, Delhi, Agra, and Ahmadabad — linked by roads and waterways to distant places and ports.

However, Shah Jahan's reign is remembered more for monumental architectural achievements than anything else. The single most important architectural change was the use of marble instead of sandstone. He demolished the austere sandstone structures of Akbar in the Red Fort and replaced them with marble buildings such as the Diwan-i-Am (hall of public audience), the Diwan-i-Khas (hall of private audience), and the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque). The tomb of Itmiad-ud-Daula, the grandfather of his queen, Mumtaz Mahal, was also constructed on the opposite bank of the Jamuna or Yamuna. In 1638 he began to lay out the city of Shahjahanabad beside the Jamuna river further North in Delhi. The Red Fort at Delhi represents the pinnacle of centuries of experience in the construction of palace-forts. Outside the fort, he built the Jama Masjid, the largest mosque in India. However, it is for the Taj Mahal, which he built as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, that he is most often remembered.

Shah Jahan's extravagant architectural indulgence had a heavy price. The peasants had been impoverished by heavy taxes and by the time his son Aurangzeb ascended the throne, the empire was in a state of insolvency. As a result, opportunities for grand architectural projects were severely limited. This is most easily seen at the Bibi-ki-Maqbara, the tomb of Aurangzeb's wife, built in 1678. Though the design was inspired by the Taj Mahal, it is half its size, the proportions compressed and the detail clumsily executed.

The Taj Mahal thus symbolizes both Mughal artistic achievement and excessive financial expenditures at a time when resources were shrinking. The economic positions of peasants and artisans did not improve because the administration failed to produce any lasting change in the existing social structure. There was no incentive for the revenue officials, whose concerns were primarily personal or familial gain, to generate resources independent of what was received from the Hindu zamindars and village leaders, who, due to self-interest and local dominance, did not hand over the entirety of the tax revenues to the imperial treasury. In their ever-greater dependence on land revenue, the Mughals unwittingly nurtured forces that eventually led to the break-up of their empire.

The Reign of Aurangzeb and the decline of the empire

One of the thirteen gates at the Lahore Fort, this one was actually built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and named Alamgir
One of the thirteen gates at the Lahore Fort, this one was actually built by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and named Alamgir

The last of the Great Mughals was Aurangzeb Alamgir. During his fifty-year reign, the empire reached its greatest physical size (the Bijapur and Golconda Sultanates which had been reduced to vassaldom by Shah Jahan were formally annexed), but also showed unmistakable signs of decline. The bureaucracy had grown corrupt; the huge army used outdated weaponry and tactics. Aurangzeb restored Mughal military dominance and expanded power southward, at least for a while. Aurangzeb was involved in a series of protracted wars against the sultans of Bijapur and Golkonda in the Deccan, the Rajputs of Rajasthan, Malwa, and Bundelkhand, the Marathas in Maharashtra and the Ahoms in Assam. Peasant uprisings and revolts by local leaders became all too common, as did the conniving of the nobles to preserve their own status at the expense of a steadily weakening empire. From the early 1700s the campaigns of the Sikhs of Punjab under leaders such as Banda Bahadur, inspired by the martial teachings of their last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, also posed a considerable threat to Mughal rule in Northern India.

But most decisively the series of wars against the Pashtuns in Afghanistan weakened the very foundation upon which Moghul military rested. The Pashtuns formed the backbone of the Muhgal army and were some of the most hardened troops. The antagonism showed towards the erstwhile Mughal General Khushal Khan Khattak, for one, seriously undermined the Mughal miltary apparatus.

Aurangzeb made his religion an important part of his reign. However, that brought about some resentment. For instance, the jiziya tax which non-Muslims had to pay was re-introduced; the reason for the jiziya tax is because military service is compulsory for Muslims in the Mughal empire. Non-Muslims were not required to fight in the army of their own empire (it wasn't compulsory for non-Muslims to serve in the amry). Since taxation is how the government continued to fund its services, this is the reason Aurangzeb reinstated the jiziya tax. Muslims had a different form of taxation, the zakat. In this climate, contenders for the Mughal throne were many, and the reigns of Aurangzeb's successors were short-lived and filled with strife. The Mughal Empire experienced dramatic reverses as regional nawabs or governors broke away and founded independent kingdoms such as the Marathas to the southwest and the Sikhs in the northwest. In the war of 27 years from 1681 to 1707, the Mughals suffered several heavy defeats at the hands of the Marathas. In the early 1700s the Sikhs became increasingly militant in an attempt to establish their own country where only they would control and govern. They had to make peace with the Maratha armies. Nader Shah defeated the Mughal army at the huge Battle of Karnal in February, 1739. After this victory, Nader captured and sacked Delhi, carrying away many treasures, including the Peacock Throne. In 1761, Delhi was raided by Ahmed Shah Abdali after the Third battle of Panipat.

The decline of the Mughal Empire has been ascribed to several reasons. Some historians such as Irfan Habib have described the decline of the Mughal Empire in terms of class struggle. Habib proposed that excessive taxation and repression of peasants created a discontented class that either rebelled itself or supported rebellions by other classes and states. Athar Ali proposed a theory of a "jagirdari crisis." According to this theory, the influx of a large number of new Deccan nobles into the Mughal nobility during the reign of Aurangzeb created a shortage of agricultural crown land meant to be allotted, and destroyed the crown lands altogether. The most obvious concept is that of increasing European hegemony and spheres of influence in the region. The powers of Europe were challenging themselves to the game of who could conquer these foreign lands and exploit their riches and wealth for their own personal gain. Other theories put weight on the devious role played by the Saeed brothers in destabilizing the Mughal throne and auctioning the agricultural crown lands to the Dutch or the British for revenue extraction.

The lesser Mughals

  • Bahadur Shah I (Shah Alam I), b. October 14, 1643 at Burhanpur, ruler 1707– 12, d. February 1712 in Lahore.
  • Jahandar Shah, b. 1664, ruler 1712– 13, d. February 11, 1713 in Delhi.
  • Furrukhsiyar, b. 1683, r. 1713– 19, d. 1719 at Delhi.
  • Rafi Ul-Darjat, ruler 1719, d. 1719 in Delhi.
  • Rafi Ud-Daulat (Shah Jahan II), ruler 1719, d. 1719 in Delhi.
  • Nikusiyar, ruler 1719, d. 1719 in Delhi.
  • Mohammed Ibrahim, ruler 1720, d. 1720 in Delhi.
  • Muhammad Shah, b. 1702, ruler 1719– 48, d. April 26, 1748 in Delhi.
  • Ahmad Shah Bahadur, b. 1725, ruler 1748–54, d. January 1775 in Delhi.
  • Alamgir II, b. 1699, ruler 1754–59, d. 1759.
  • Shah Jahan III, ruler 1760
  • Shah Alam II, b. 1728, ruler 1759–1806, d. 1806.
  • Akbar Shah II, b. 1760, ruler 1806–37, d. 1837.
  • Bahadur Shah II aka Bahadur Shah Zafar, b. 1775 in Delhi, ruler from 1837–57, d. 1862 in exile in Rangoon, Burma.

Present-day descendants

A few descendants of Bahadur Shah Zafar are known to be living in Delhi, Kolkata (previously called Calcutta), Hyderabad, and Burma. Some of the direct descendants still identify themselves with the clan name Timur and with one of its four major branches: Shokohane-Timur (Shokoh), Shahane-Timur (Shah), Bakshane-Timur (Baksh) and Salatine-Timur (Sultan). Some direct descendants of the Timur carry the surname of Mirza, Baig and Jangda are found predominantly in Pakistan, especially in major cities like Multan and Lahore and in India, particularly Dehli. A number of 'imposter' Mughals, ie people who do not have authentic right to decent are to be found in both Pakistan and India. However, good genealogical records exist for most families in the subcontinent and are often consulted for establishing the authenticity of their claims. Some descendants of the Mughal empire have even settled in the west in places like America and Europe. Some Burmese decedents of Bahadur Shah Zafar live in Rangoon, France and Canada. The Pashtoon tribe Babar living in Baluchistan regard themselves as direct decendents of Babar however this claim has not been proven authentically.

Mughal influence on the subcontinent

The Badshahi Mosque (King's mosque) was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Lahore, Pakistan
The Badshahi Mosque (King's mosque) was built by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in Lahore, Pakistan

A major Mughal contribution to south Asia was their unique architecture. Many monuments were built during the Mughal era including the Taj Mahal. The first Mughal emperor Babur wrote in the Bāburnāma:

Hindustan is a place of little charm. There is no beauty in its people, no graceful social intercourse, no poetic talent or understanding, no etiquette, nobility or manliness. The arts and crafts have no harmony or symmetry. There are no good horses, meat, grapes, melons or other fruit. There is no ice, cold water, good food or bread in the markets. There are no baths and no madrasas. There are no candles, torches or candlesticks".

Fortunately his successors, with fewer memories of the Central Asian homeland he pined for, took a less jaundiced view of Indian culture, and became more or less naturalised, absorbing many Indian traits and customs along the way. The Mughal period would see a more fruitful blending of Indian, Iranian and Central Asian artistic, intellectual and literary traditions than any other in Indian history. The Mughals had a taste for the fine things in life — for beautifully designed artifacts and the enjoyment and appreciation of cultural activities. The Mughals borrowed as much as they gave; both the Hindu and Muslim traditions of India were huge influences on their interpretation of culture and court style. Nevertheless, they introduced many notable changes to Indian society and culture, including:

  • 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 Farsi, 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

The remarkable flowering of art and architecture under the Mughals is due to several factors. The empire itself provided a secure framework within which artistic genius could flourish, and it commanded wealth and resources unparalleled in Indian history. The Mughal rulers themselves were extraordinary patrons of art, whose intellectual caliber and cultural outlook was expressed in the most refined taste.

Alternate meanings

  • The alternate spelling of the empire, Mogul, is the source of the modern word mogul. In popular news jargon, this word denotes a successful business magnate who has built for himself a vast (and often monopolistic) empire in one or more specific industries. The usage is a reference to the expansive and wealthy empire built by the Mughal kings. Rupert Murdoch, for example, is a called a news mogul.

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