The History of Mughal Empire in India
Ranging from 1526 CE to 1857 CE, the Mughal rule marks a golden era in Indian history. The Mughals were successful in establishing a solid economy and flourishing trade in erstwhile India. Babur, who was the descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan, was the first Mughal emperor to rule India. Babur was succeeded by his son Humayun and then his grandson, the great Akbar.
Under the rule of Akbar, the Mughal empire went on to become one of the greatest empires of all time. Akbar was an eminent ruler and was known for his religious tolerance. He appointed officials on their merit and married Rajput princesses. The great ruler founded the religion Din-i-Ilahi. The religion imbibed teachings from Hinduism, Islam, Christainity and Zoroastrianism. A Hindu Brahmin called Birbal (Mahesh Das) was a close friend of Akbar.
The next emperor Jehangir, who succeeded his father Akbar, had a great love for art. Coins have been issued on his wife Nur Jahan’s name during his reign. Jehangir was an open-minded man. His wife Nur Jahan used to rule on his behalf when he was not available at the court.
Then came the era of Shah Jahan. During his rule, India had become the richest center for arts, crafts and architecture. Unfortunately, his son Aurangzeb placed him under house arrest. Shah Jahan commissioned the building of the monumental Taj Mahal while he was under house arrest.
Aurangzeb was not that great a leader and had an orthodox outlook. He reinstated Jiziya (tax to be paid by non-muslims) and had frequent clashes with Maratha warrior Shivaji. By the time he died, the Mughal empire was on the decline.
The Mughal rule has shaped Indian history in a significant way and influenced its culture and traditions to a great extent. Aurangzeb’s successors are often referred to as the ‘later’ Mughals who are lesser known in the history compared to their mighty predecessors.
The Mughal empire had a strong presence in the international market. A lot of goods were produced by the farmers and artisans in the kingdom. The emperor was supported by taxation and the ownership of a region called Khalisa Sharifa.
Rule of Succession
In the Mughal empire, every son had an equal share in his father’s patrimony. Every Prince had an equal right to succeed to the throne, often leading to an open fight between them, during the death of a ruler. For example, Shah Jahan was placed under house arrest as an after effect of the war of succession between Aurangzeb and his siblings.
The story behind Taj Mahal
In 1627, 36-year-old Shajahan ascended the throne of the mighty Mughal empire. But his happiness was short-lived. His beloved wife Mumataz Mahal died while giving birth to their 14th child. With the death of his wife, the emperor went into depression and disappeared from the public eye for over a year.
In memory of his beloved wife, Shah Jahan commissioned the building of the magnificent Taj Mahal. Considered as one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal is one of the architectural marvels of the Mughal era. The beautiful tomb constructed using white marble was designed by Persian architect Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. Taj Mahal is considered as the pride of India with scores of tourists visiting the incredible monument every year.
In 1757, the British East India Company emerged victorious in the Battle of Palashi defeating the French and the Nawab of Bengal. With the victory, the company gained political control in much of the subcontinent marking the beginning of the British Raj in India. From then on, the Mughals were simply the puppets of the British!