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The Mughal Empire was one of the most powerful empires in Indian history. After the death of Akbar in 1605, his son Jahangir became Emperor. He ruled the empire for 22 years until his death in 1627.
Jahangir was known for his love of art and culture. He was a patron of the arts and sciences and was an avid collector of paintings and artifacts. During his reign, the empire continued to expand, conquering lands in the Deccan and in Central Asia.
After Jahangir’s death, his son Shah Jahan became Emperor. He is perhaps best known for building the Taj Mahal in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. He also constructed other beautiful buildings, including the Red Fort in Delhi.
However, Shah Jahan’s reign was not without strife. His sons fought among themselves for the throne, and his fourth son Aurangzeb emerged victorious in 1658 after imprisoning him.

Mughal Empire During Jahangir (1605 – 1627)

Jahangir was the fourth Mughal emperor of India, who ruled from 1605 until his death in 1627. He succeeded his father, Akbar, and is best known for his patronage of the arts and his religious tolerance. Jahangir was also known for his love of nature and his interest in gardens and animals, as well as his addiction to opium. During his reign, the Mughal Empire continued to expand, with the conquest of the Deccan plateau and the establishment of trading relationships with Europe.

  • When Akbar died, Prince Salim succeeded with the title Jahangir (Conqueror of the World) in 1605. He issued 12 ordinances. He established Zanjir-il-Adal – Chain of Justice in Agra Fort and was known for his strict administration of Justice.
  • He entered into a marriage with Mehrunnisa, an Afghan widow, in 1611. Later, he awarded her with titles – Noor Mahal (light of the palace), Noor Jahan (light of the world), and Padshah Begum.
  • In 1606, Jahangir killed the 5th Guru of Sikh, Guru Arjun Dev. He was charged with helping Jahangir’s son Prince Khusru to rebel against his father.
  • In 1609, Jahangir granted trade concessions to William Hawkins. He was an envoy of King James I of England.
  • Then in 1615, Sir Thomas Roe reached the court of Jahangir. He was the first ambassador of James I of England in the court of Jahangir. He was successful in getting permission to establish the first English factory in Surat.
  • Jahangir’s reign is considered the Golden Age of Mughal Painting. Jahangir himself was a painter. Ustad Mansur, Abul Hassan, and Bishan Das were famous painters in the court of Jahangir.
  • Anarkali was Jahangir’s lover. The tomb of Anarkali is located in Lahore.
  • Jahangir wrote his autobiography Tuzukh-i-Jahangiri, in Persian.
  • Faced the tough fight from Malik Amber in his expeditions to Ahmednagar
  • Introduction of the “du-aspah-sih-aspah” system. It was the modification to Mansabdari. Nobles were allowed to maintain a large no of troops without raising their zat ranks.
  • Jahangir breathed his last in 1627 and was cremated at Shahdara in Lahore.
Tomb of Jahangir
Tomb of Jahangir in Lahore

Art and Architecture During Jahangir

  • Jahangir built Shalimar and Nishant Gardens in Srinagar.
  • He completed the tomb of Akbar at Sikandra.
  • Jahangir introduced the vigorous use of Marble instead of red sandstone and the use of Pietra Dura for decorative purposes. Noor Jahan built Itimad-ud-daulah/Mirza Ghiyas Beg’s Marble tomb at Agra.
  • He built the Moti Masjid at Lahore and his own mausoleum at Shahdara.
  • Started decorating walls with floral designs made of semi-precious stones (Pietra Durra) during his reign.
  • The use of Halo or Divine lights behind the king’s head started under him.

Mughal Empire During Shah Jahan (1628 – 1658)

Shah Jahan was the fifth Mughal emperor of India, who ruled from 1628 to 1658. He is best known for building the Taj Mahal, a white marble mausoleum in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan was also a patron of the arts and architecture, and his reign saw the construction of several beautiful buildings and monuments, such as the Red Fort in Delhi and the Jama Masjid in Agra. However, his reign was also marked by political and economic instability, as well as conflicts with his sons over succession to the throne. Eventually, he was deposed by his own son, Aurangzeb, and spent the rest of his life in captivity.

  • He was born on 5th January 1592 in Lahore. His childhood name was Khurram. He ascended the throne in 1628.
  • He married his maternal cousin, Arjumand Banu Begum. She was the daughter of Asaf Khan, Noor Jahan’s brother. She is famously known as Mumtaz Mahal which means beloved of the Palace.
  • Shahjahan destroyed the Portuguese settlements at Hooghly in 1631-32.
  • Lahori Gate is the Gateway of Red Fort and it is here that the Prime Minister of India hoists the National Flag and addresses the nation on Independence Day.
  • In 1656, Shah Jahan constructed the Jama Masjid in Delhi. It is the biggest masjid in India.
  • Malik Ibn Dinar, in 644 AD constructed the first masjid in India at Kodungallur, Kerala (Cheraman Palli).
  • Shah Jahan’s period is renowned as the Golden Age of the Mughal Empire.
  • European painting was introduced by the Portuguese in India during his reign.
  • Aurangzeb imprisoned his father Shah Jahan at the Agra fort. He remained in prison from 1658 to 1666 and died eventually.
  • Shah Jahan’s son Dara Shikoh was a renowned scholar. He is credited for the translation of many Hindu religious texts like the Bhagavad Gita and Sixty Upanishads into Persian. “Majma-ul-Bahrain” (Mingling of the Oceans) was written by him. He also translated Atharva Veda into Persian.
  • French travelers Bernier and Tavernier, and Italian travelers Nicoli Manucci, and Peter Mundi visited India during Shah Jahan’s period.

Art and Architecture of Shahjahan

  • His reign is considered the Golden Age of Mughal Architecture and Shah Jahan is known as the Prince of Builders.
  • In 1631, he commenced the construction of the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife. It was completed in 1653. Ustad Iza was its architect who was a Persian. British administrator Furguson called it ‘a love in marble’.
  • In 1638, he shifted his capital to the newly built city of Shahjahanabad in Delhi. Jama Masjid in Delhi (red stone), Shalimar Bagh in Lahore.
  • In 1639, he started the construction of the Red Fort in Delhi on the model of the Agra fort built by Akbar. The Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, and the Moti Masjid are situated inside the Red Fort. The Moti Masjid in Agra was constructed by Shah Jahan.
  • Shah Jahan was a famous lyricist who wrote in Hindi. He built the Peacock Throne. It was abducted from here by Nadir Shah in 1739 during his Indian invasion. Presently, it is kept at the London Tower Museum, in Britain.
art and architecture of shah jahan

Mughal Empire During Aurangzeb (1658 – 1707)

Aurangzeb was the sixth Mughal emperor of India, who ruled from 1658 until his death in 1707. He was known for his strong and conservative Islamic beliefs, and his policies led to conflicts with other religious groups and the fragmentation of the Mughal Empire. His reign is often seen as a turning point in Indian history, with many historians pointing to his intolerance towards other religions and his expansionist policies as contributing factors in the collapse of the Mughal Empire.

  • Masir–I Alamgiri book written by Mustaid Khan throws light on Aurangzeb’s rule.
  • He assumed the title Alamgir, World Conqueror. He was also called Zinda Pir.
  • During his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent, ruling over nearly the entire Indian subcontinent.
  • He annexed Bijapur (1686) & Golkonda (1687) and extended Mughal Empire further south.
  • He faced a tough fight from Shivaji Maharaj – the Maratha king who had carved out an independent state.
  • Discontinued Official departments of history.
  • He issued Zawabit-i- Alamgir (decrees of Aurangzeb) and appointed Muhtasibs to enforce moral codes given under it.
  • Drinking was prohibited & cultivation and use of bhang and other drugs were banned.
  • Although he was proficient in playing Veena, Aurangzeb forbade music in the court.
  • He discontinued the practice of Jharokha darshan.
  • He also discontinued the celebration of Dasarah & Navroz and royal astronomers and astrologers were also dismissed from service.
  • Aurangzeb built Bibi Ka Maqbara (replica of Taj) at Aurangabad, Moti Masjid (Near Red fort, Delhi).
  • Initially, Aurangzeb banned the construction of new Hindu temples and the repair of old temples. Then he began a policy of destroying Hindu temples.
  • In 1679, he reimposed Jizya and pilgrim tax.
  • He was also not tolerant of other Muslim sects. The celebration of Muharram was stopped.
  • He executed the ninth Sikh Guru Tej Bahadur.
  • It also resulted in the rebellions of the Jats of Mathura and the Satnamis of Mewar. Therefore, Aurangzeb was held responsible for the decline of the Mughals.
  • In Mansabdari System he created an additional rank Mashrut (conditional) and Added one deduction called Khurak-i-dawwab towards meeting the cost of the feed of animals.
  • Aurangzeb appointed Rajputs to high positions, and under him, the Marathas accounted for a sizeable number within the body of officers.
  • Miraz Mohammad Qasim wrote “Alamgirnama”.
  • His religious policy was responsible for turning the Rajputs, the Marathas, and the Sikhs into enemies of the Mughal Empire.
Mughal Empire During Aurangzeb (1658 - 1707)

Shivaji and Mughals

  • Aurangzeb made several bids to crush the Marathas when they rose under Shivaji. In 1665 Aurangzeb conspired with Jai Singh of Amber to eliminate Shivaji when he visited Aurangzeb’s court. Shivaji escaped and proclaimed himself an independent ruler but he died in 1680. Aurangzeb executed Shivaji’s son Sambhaji in 1689. Shivaji’s guerilla warfare tactics made it difficult for Aurangzeb to bring Deccan under his control.
  • After Shivaji’s death, Aurangzeb spent 25 years (1682 – 1707) in a desperate bid to crush Marathas by leaving the North.
  • During Aurangzeb’s reign, the Mughals expanded widely and became the Pan-India Empire. He annexed Bijapur and Golconda in 1686 and 1687 respectively.
  • Aurangazeb died in 1707 at Ahmednagar. His tomb is situated at Daulatabad in Maharashtra where he was buried near Sheikh Jainulabiddin.

Jagirdari System

It is the system of assignment of revenue of a particular territory to the nobles for their services to the state. It was an integral part of the Mansabdari system.

  • Types of Jagirs
    • Tankha Jagirs: Given in lieu of salary and were transferable every three to four years.
    • Mashrut Jagirs: Were given certain conditions
    • Watan Jagirs: Were assigned to zamindar or rajas in their local dominions. Were hereditary and non-transferable.
    • Altamgha Jagirs: Given to Muslim nobles in their family towns or place of birth.
  • Zamindars
    • Zamindars had hereditary rights over the produce of the land and claimed a direct share in the peasants’ produce which varied from 10% to 25% in different parts of the country.
    • They assisted the state and jaghirdars in the collection of land revenue.
    • Had their own armed forces and had to render military duties.
    • Zamindars were not the owner of all lands comprising their zamindari.
      • Muqaddam – Head of the village
      • Patwari – Accountant

Important Terms & Meaning

  • Tainat-i- Rakab- reserved force
  • Taccavi – loans provided for agriculture expansion.
  • Merwars – Postal runners
  • Banik Local Traders
  • Bitikchis – Clerks
  • Chehra – Descriptive role of every soldier
  • Ahadis – the “gentlemen troopers,” who drew higher pay than ordinary servicemen under mansabdari system.
  • Khudkasht – Peasants who owned the land they tilled.
  • Khasa Kail – Personal royal force maintained by Sher Shah.
  • Qabuliyat system – deed agreement between the peasant and the government


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