Interesting Facts about Mughal Empire

This article provides information on all amusing, amazing, rare, unknown interesting facts about mughal empire and mughal emperors. This article also envisages to point out the positive and negative facts and information about mughal empires, the wars and battles fought by mughal empire, mughal architecture and their monuments built, the

Interesting Facts about Mughal Empire

Babur (Ẓahīr – ud-Dīn Muhammad)

unknown stories of the mughal harems etc.

Quick Basic Facts about Mughal Empire

  • Established by – Babur, in 1526 (after winning 1st battle of Panipat)
  • 1st emperor – Babur
  • Last emperor – Bahadurshah Zafar (or Bahadur Shah II)
  • Period – from 1526 to 1540, and then 1555 to 1857 *

Interesting Facts about Mughal Empire

  • The foundation of Mughal empire was laid down by Babur after his victory against Ibrahim Lodi in first battle of Panipat in year 1526. Babur was of Turko-Mongol descent. He was direct descendent of Timur (तैमूरलंग) of Timurid dynasty from father side and Genghis Khan  (चंगेज़ ख़ान) of Mongol Empire from mother side.
  • At its peak point, the Mughal empire was the second most largest empire in Indian history after Mauryan empire. Mughal empire at its zenith covered an area of four million square kilometer while the Mauryan empire at its maximum extent covered an area of 5 million square kilometers.
  • For official and matters pertaining to court, Persian language was used by Mughals. For religious matters including different ceremonies Arabic language was used by clerics of the court. The starting few Mughal rulers (including Babur and Humayun) used Chagatai Turkic as spoken language. After that the successive Mughal emperors used hindustani (Hindi mixed Urdu) as the spoken language.
  • Gunpowder was introduced for the first time in Indian subcontinent by Mughals. Babur although highly outnumbered against Ibrahim Lodi, won  the first battle of Panipat decisively against Ibrahim Lodi much to the credit for use of gunpowder. In medieval world history, only three contemporary rulers have skilled in the use of gunpowder at that time – i) Ottoman Empire, ii) Safavid rulers of Persia, iii) Mughals.
  • Babur utilised the services of Ustad Ali and Mustafa, the two master gunners of Ottoman empire during the first battle of Panipat. Along with highly skilled military tactics of Babur, use of Canons and artillery effectively was one of the main reasons of victory of Babur. This war eventually  paved the path for strong centrally oriented mughal empire.
  • As against the Delhi Sultanate, the capital of Mughal empire for starting 100 years during the period of Babur, Humayun, Akbar and Jahangir was in Agra. It was Shah Jahan who established Shahjahanabad near Delhi and the capital of Mughal empire shifted to Shahjahanabad in 1648 and remained till last i.e. 1857.
  • Akbar also used Fatehpur Sikri and Lahore as the capital of Mughal empire briefly from 1571 to 1585 and then 1586 to 1598 respectively.
  • The period of Akbar (1556-1605) is considered as the most prosperous period of Mughal empire. Akbar consolidated the territorial expanses of Mughal empire. Arts, culture, society and business flourished during Akbar reign and there was religious tolerance as well. Jazia tax (or Jizya tax) which was imposed on non muslims by earlier Mughal emperors was removed by Akbar.
  • * Mughal Empire was interrupted briefly for a period of 15 years when Humayun was ousted from power. Sher Shah Suri defeated twice the second emperor of Mughal dynasty Humayun. Sher Shah Suri first defeated Humayun in Battle of Chausa in 1539. After that Suri again defeated Humayun convincingly in battle of Kannauj (or Battle of Biligram) in year 1540 after which Humayun left Mughal capital Agra and fled to Kabul.
  • The reign of Aurangzeb (1658-1707) witnessed the maximum territorial expanse of Mughal Empire.  Auranzeb was known as the most ruthless, merciless and religious intolerant rulers of Mughal empire. Most of the hindu temples were demolished in this period. Guru Teg Bahadur, ninth Sikh guru was publicly beheaded by the Aurangzeb’s order for refusing to convert to Islam.
  • Mughal empire started weakening during the reign of Aurangzeb and slowly started disintegrating due to rise of Maratha power. The crushing defeat of Mughals in Battle of Karnal by Nadir Shah of persia paved the way of rapidly decline of Mughal power.
  • The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was just a symbolic ruler and has virtually no power and army. He was just limited to just Shahjahanabad as most of the Indian subcontinent came under control of Maratha empire by mid 18th century.

Social and Cultural Facts about Mughal Empire

  • Many European travellers visited Mughal courts and they have written about magnificient, prosperous and ostentatious life style of nobles and ruling class of Mughals. However the peasants, artisans, labourers and the common people were strikingly poor.
  • In respect to the salaries, the expenses of the mughal nobles were also very high. Nobles used to maintain large contingent of servants, attendants, large stable consisting of horses and elephants.
  • Mughal nobles generally maintained large harem of women which was considered normal for a man of status.
  • Akbar has a profound quest for truth and spirituality. In 1575 he opened a place called Ibadat Khana where scholars of every religion used to sit and discuss spirituality and faiths  and other good things of different religion. However the debates generally became bitter as every one tried to show their religion superior then others. Akbar hence discontinued these debated in Ibadat Khana in 1582.

Religious facts about Mughal Empire

  • Most of the Mughal emperors except few (Aurangzeb notably) followed religious tolerance. In the reign of Akbar there are several instances of Hindus reaching important posts in the court. Involvement of Hindus among the nobles increased during the reign of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.
  • All Mughal emperors were ardent followers of Islam and belonged to sunni sect. Akbar in latter stage of life started a new religion called din-e-ilahi which was an amalgamation of teaching and good things of all faiths. Akbar himself professed this religion although this didn’t get that much popularity.
  • There is little evidence that Akbar really started a new religion. Poets Abul Fazal and Badayuni have used the word tauhid-i-ilahi which means “divine monotheism” as the new path sermoned by Akbar. The word din or faith was not applied to this new path till 80 years later.

 Facts about Mughal Empire : Land Revenue System

  • In starting, Akbar followed the land revenue system implemented by Sher Shah Suri. But due to certain problems in that system he started a new land revenue system called as dahsala.
  • As per this system average produce of different crops of past 10 years were taken to account for calculating the present tax. Dahsala system was further developed into zabti system. The peasants were given remission in the taxes if the crops destroyed due to drought, floods or natural disaster.
  • Zabti system of land revenue was the idea of Raja Todar Mal, one of the navratnas (nine gems) of Akbar. This system was also called as Todar Mal’s bandobast
  • Todar Mal was a brilliant revenue officer who earlier worked for Sher Shah Suri.
  • Some other land revenue systems were also implemented by Akbar called batai or ghalla-bakhshi. In this system the crop produce was divided between peasants and state in fixed proportion once crop was ready for harvest. The peasants were given the option of choosing between zabti and batai system under certain conditions.
  • Usually one third of the average produce was administration’s demand in form of tax. But it also varied (not necessarily higher) according to the produce and productivity of land and the method of assessment.
  • For certain crops such as cotton, indigo, oil seeds, sugarcane etc, the mughal empire preferred to collect the taxes in form of cash. Hence these crops were being called as cash crops.
  • The settlements made by Akbar for land revenue were in practise till the end of seventeenth century (i.e. up to the period of Aurangzeb).

Economic Facts about Mughal Empire

  • During Mughal era, India has well diversified economy. There was cultivation of large varieties of staple food crops such as wheat, rice, gram, barely, pulses, bajra etc. Cash crops like cotton, indigo, oil seeds and sugarcane etc were also sown to great extent.
  • Two new crops tobacco and maize in 17th century were started during later mughal emperors. Potatoes and red chillies  were started cultivation during 18th century probably at the end of mughal period.
  • Silk and Tusser cultivation became so prominent in bengal that there was no need to import silk from China.
  • In 17th century during reign of Aurangzeb, food grains especially rice and sugar were surplus and exported to neighbouring countries.
  • Mughal nobles were drawing exorbitantly high amount of salary. Attracted by this, many foreigners also came to India to serve the mughal courts. This was like reverse brain drain during mughal times.
  • Ralph Fitch who came to India during end of 16th century says “people go almost naked, save a little cloth bound about their middle”. Perhaps he was pointing towards the only langot which was used by the peasants.
  • Ghee and oil were cheaper than foodgrains but salt and sugar were costly. While people had less cloths to wear but probably they ate better.
  • French traveller Bernier denies the existence of middle class during mughal empire. however this statement doesn’t appears to be true. There was large number of small traders, businessmen, big shop owners, master craftsmen, small mansabdars, scholars, qazis who lived although not luxurious, but decent life.

    Interesting Facts about Mughal Empire

    Political map of Mughal Empire during Akbar’s rule

Administrative Facts about Mughal Empire

  • Territories of the Mughal empire were divided into jagir, khalisa and inam. Income from khalisa villages went to Royal exchequer, revenue from inam lands went to religious men. Jagirs were allotted to nobles and to members of royal family.
  • Wazir which was main advisor of emperor and this post was common in Babur and Humayun era. The post of wazir was diluted by Akbar. In-fact Akbar used the title diwan or diwan-i-ala in preference to wazirwazir was deputed as the head of revenue department during Akbar and latter Mughal kings.
  • Similarly the post of wakil was not abolished by Akbar but the powers of wakil were greatly reduced and his interference in administration was also minimized.
  • During reign of Babur and Humayun, wazir used to be the head of military department. However, Akbar created a new post called mir bakhshi for the head of military department.
  • Mir Bhakshi also had added assignment of gathering intelligence. Mir Bhakshi used to deploy field agents (barids) to collect intelligence and news from different corners of the empire.
  • Mir Bhakshi and diwan-i-ala were thus two officers of same level and used to check and veto each other. Two posts of same power thus reduced the risk of revolt or armed mutiny against the administration.
  • The third important post in Mughal administration was of mir saman. He was in charge of royal inventory & warehouse and looked after the manufacturing units (karkhana) producing the ammunition. He was also responsible for managing the provisions.
  • Fourth main department of Mughal administration was judiciary. This department was headed by qazi. It was an important post which looked for law and order situation in mughal empire.

Facts about Mughal Empire : The Mughal Army

  • The greatness of the Akbar lies in the fact that he transformed the land revenue system, economy and administrative system of Army on the ground level. Much is not known about the systems followed by starting Mughals emperors Babur and Humayun.
  • Cavalry was the principal component of Mughal army. Mughal emperors also maintained large stable of war elephants and well organised set of artillery.
  • Mughal artillery used to be of two types – i) heavy guns which were used to defend the positions or hitting the forts which were very huge in size, difficult to move and clumsy in operation ii) light artillery which was quite mobile.
  • Strength of cavalry during reign of Shah Jahan was 2,00,000 which swelled to 2,40,000 during reign of Aurangzeb. Strength of infantry (non fighting operators) was 40,000 during Shah Jahan and approximately similar during Aurangzeb too.
  • Infantry of the mughal army is not considered at par of the other contemporary European armies and lacked technological advancements and discipline. However cavalry which was main strength of mughals was considered remarkable by the European traveller Bernier.
  • Mughal army was maintained and managed by Mansabdari system. This system was also implemented by Akbar. Under this system every army officer was assigned a rank called mansab from 10 to 5000. 10 being the lowest rank and 5000 being the highest. Although for some nobles rank of 7000 was also given as highest rank.
  • Mirza Aziz Koka and Raja Man Singh were bestowed with equal mansabs of 7000 each.
  • Mansabdari system was quite a unique and renowned feature which distinguished the Mughal empire from rest of other empires in history of India and world. This system of ranking the army officers was also followed by Aurangzeb.
  • The Salary and the status of an individual officer/ soldier was dependent upon his rank (mansab).
  • There were two terms which decide the rank zat and sawarThe term zat fixed the personal status of the individual soldier. Sawar indicated the number of cavalrymen (sawar) required to maintain that person. A person who was required to maintain as many sawars as his zat rank was placed in first category of that rank, if he maintained half or more then in second category. If the person maintains less sawars than his zat rank then he was in third category. Thus there were three categories in every rank.
  • Proper care was taken that Mughal army contingent was a mixed one. i.e. all different groups, religions, sects – Mughal, Pathan, Rajput, Hindustani, Afghan etc should get represented. This was done to reduce the sectarian/ grouping politics.
  • A typical contingent of Mughal army contained cavalrymen, bowmen, musketeers (bandukchi), sappers (combat engineer) and miners.
  • The salaries of different persons in army contingent varied. Average salary of a sawar used to be Rs 20 per month, infantry men get Rs 3 per month. Salary to an officer (mansabdar) was generally paid in cash although at times they were given jagir to extract the land revenue of their own. Akbar however was personally against the idea of allotting jagirs to mansabdars.
  • Each mansabdar was required to maintain a certain quota of horses, elephants, camels, mules and carts out of his own salary.
  • A mansabdar with a rank of 5000 could get Rs 30,000 per month, a rank of 3000 could get Rs 17,000 and a rank of 1000 could get Rs 8,200. These figures shows that Mughal mansabdars were the highest paid officers in contemporary world history.

Facts about Mughal Empire : Mughal Architecture

  • The period of Shah Jahan (1628-1658) is called as classical period of Mughal Architecture. Mughal architecture flourished and discovered many great feats and reached at its zenith during the reign of Shah Jahan. Some of the famous historical monuments built by him were Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Moti Masjid of Agra, Red Fort and Jama Masjid of Delhi.

Amazing Facts about Mughal Empire

  • Babur possessed nature of cruelty possibly inherited from his ancestors (mongols-turks). Babur has erected tower of skulls from the head of the defeated hindu opponents several times. This was done in order to create terror among his opponents.
  • Humayun’s life is considered as the most dramatic life of Mughal emperors. He witnesses riches to rags and then again from rags to riches. He died in a very petty way by falling from stairs of library.
  • Akbar was crowned to the royal throne  at age of thirteen years and four months only. Bairam Khan the tutor of the greatest Mughal ruler Akbar and also served as guardian of the throne till Akbar attained maturity.
  • Bairam Khan was given a title of Khan-i-Khanan. Bairam Khan was also called as Wakil of Mughaliya Saltanat. When Akbar took the power in his hands, Bairam Khan chose to go to Mecca. On his way, he was assassinated at Patan near Ahmedabad by an Afghan.
  • Maham Anaga the foster mother of Akbar had son Adham Khan. Adham Khan was rebellious in nature and killed the Wazir in his office. Akbar ordered execution of Adham Khan by throwing him from parapet of diwan-i-aam at Agra Fort.
  • When Jahangir took the control of mughal empire, his eldest son Khusrau became rebellious against his own father. Jahangir defeated him in a battle near Lahore and imprisoned him.
  • Humayun established a new city near Delhi and named it as Dinpanah. This new city was like second capital after Agra. Humayun was known for organising grand feasts here, lived lavish and grandiose life. Humayun was also known as opium addict.

Rare, Lesser Known Facts about Mughal Empire

  • Only the first two rulers i.e. Babur and Humayun belonged directly to Turko-Mongol ancestry. The latter Mughal rulers were the outcomes from political alliances from Rajputs and Persians. For example Jahangir (Salim) was son resulted from political marriage of Mughal emperor Akbar and Rajput princess Mariam Zamani (probably Harkha Bai or Jodha Bai). Akbar himself carried Persian lineage as her mother (wife of Humayun) was Persian. Moreover Shah Jahan was also the son from Mughal emperor Jahangir and Rajput princess Jagat Gosaini.
  • A new device Rumi was introduced by Babur in the first battle of Panipat. This device was used by Ottomans in their battle against Shah Ismail of Persia. Rumi was wall type structure made by using carts. Between the two carts soldiers could rest their guns and fire with precision.
  • Apart from military generalship, Babur was also known as one of the two most famous Turkish writers. His famous memoir Tuzuk-i-Baburi is considered as one of the classics of world literature.
  • Akbar was longest ruling Mughal emperor. His period of rule was from 11th Feb 1556 to 27th Oct 1605 i.e. total 18,157 days. Aurangzeb is the second longest ruling emperor. Aurangzeb’s reign was from 31 July 1658 to 3rd March 1707 i.e. total 17,748 days. Shah Alam II was the third longest ruling Mughal emperor whose duration of reign was from 10th Dec 1759 to 19th Nov 1806.
  • Akbar married the widow of Bairam Khan who was also his cousin sister. Bairam’s widow also brought her child along with her to the royal court. This child was famously known as Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan. This child of Bairam Khan latter became famous poet also known as Rahim.
  • Rani Karnavati, the widow of Rana Sanga sent a rakhi to Humayun  seeking his help against marching army of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. Due to fear of Mughal forces, Bahadur Shah patched treaty with ranas.