Akbar (1556-1605)

Akbar was born at Amarkot in 1542.At the age of 14 he became the emperor after the death of his father Humayun.Bairam Khan was the regent up to 1560. In 1556 second Battle of Panipat was fought between the Hemu and Mughals which Muhgals won under the generalship of Bairam Khan.Raja Bharmal the Kuchchhwaha King of Amber married his eldest daughter to Akbar and subsequently Raja Bhagwan Das and Man Singh were inducted into the Imperial Mughal service. Almost all Rajput states were subjugated and they submitted to Akbar but the Rana of Mewar continued to defy Mughal suzerainty.

In the battle of Haldighati in 1576, Rana Pratap was defeated by the Mughals under Man Singh.In 1562 Akbar discontinued the practice of enslaving the defeated soldiers in the battles. In 1563 pilgrimage tax was abolished. In 1564 the discriminatory jaziya tax was abolished. In 1575 Ibadatkhana was built at Fetahpur Sekri for religious discussions. Initially only Sunni were allowed later all religious groups such as Shias, Hindus, Christians and Zorastrians were allowed to participate. In 1579 Akbar read the Khutba composed by Faizi in his own name. In September 1579 Mahzar was proclaimed by Akbar which made him the Imam-i-Adil.In 1582 Din-i-Illahi or Tauhid-i-IIahi was started by Akbar which is considered by some historians a new religion started by Akbar.Akbar died in 1605.He was buried at Sikandra.

Akbar’s Conquests

Akbar conquered northern India from Agra to Gujarat and then from Agra to Bengal and the borders of Assam. He strengthened his northwest frontier and then proceeded to subdue the Deccan. He conquered Malwa, Garhkatanga and Gondwana, Gujarat and Bengal, Kashmir and Baluchistan, Sind, Orissa, Qandahar,Kandesh and a part of Ahmed Nagar. After the conquest of Malwa the way to Gujarat lay open. It was a rich province commanding a large share of India’s trade with western Asia and Europe through its port of Cambay.In 1572 Akbar invaded Gujarat. The Mughals got free access to the sea .The conquest of Gujarat brought the Mughals in contact with the Portuguese. Raja Todar Mal made his first revenue settlement in Gujarat. After this Akbar turned his attention to Bengal and Bihar and annexed them to his Empire.

In 1585 Akbar moved to the north west frontier in order to foil the attempts of the ambitious Abdullah Khan Uzbek to seize Kabul and stayed there until Abdullah Khan’s death in 1598.During his presence he send three expeditions from his camp at Hasan Abdal .One left for Kashmir and another set out against Baluchistan. The third force went to Afghan tribes and an Afghan religious movement called the Raushaniyas.His early military campaigns against the Raushaniyas and the tribes were unsuccessful. Raja Bhagwan Das one of the generals of the Kashmir expedition succeeded in persuading Yusuf Khan the last ruler of Kashmir to surrender. Akbar refused to accept his terms and instead had him and his son arrested. The army sent by Akbar conquered Kashmir in 1586 and it was made a sarkar of Kabul province. The army sent against Baluchistan persuaded the Baluchi chiefs to surrender and in 1590 Sind was also conquered.

Early in Akbar’s reign the Shah of Iran had captured Qandahar so Akbar sent an army under his general Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan.The governor of Qandahar surrendered and it became a part of the Mughal Empire. The Mughal boundaries extending from Sind, Baluchistan, Kabul and Kashmir to the Hindu Kush were the strongest line of defense that had ever existed in India.

Also one by one all the Rajput states were subjugated and they submitted to Akbar. His earliest campaigns were against Durgawati of Garhkatanga followed by Chittor against Rana Uday Singh and Ranthambhore against Rao Surjan Hada. The Mughals captured the two powerful forts of Rajasthan Ranthambhor and Chittor guarded by Jaimal. But the Rana of Mewar continued to defy Mughal authority despite several defeats particularly in the battle of Haldighati in 1576 in which Rana Pratap was defeated by the Mughal army under Man Singh.

After completing the conquest of Northern India Akbar diverted his attention towards the Deccan. In 1596 Berar was ceded to the Mughals. In the second siege of Ahmadnagar Chand Bibi was killed and it was conquered in 1600 AD. In 1601 the fort of Asirgarh was captured and Kandesh was annexed to the Mughal Empire. Akbar intended to deal with the kingdoms of Bijapur,Golconda and Bidar but he had to leave the Deccan following prince Salims’s revolt .