The decline of the Mughal Age in India

The decline of the Mughal Age in India

The decline of the Mughal Age in India



Shahjahan (1627-58)

After the death of Jahangir, his son Khurram ascended the throne in 1627 under the title of Abul Muzaffar Muhammad Shahjahan (King of the World) after killing his two brothers Khusrow and Shahryar.

Decline of Mughal Age

Mughal Architecture under shahjahan reached its zenith. The military might, territorial extent and wealth were truly unmatched. Many scholars regard the reign of Shahjahan as the Golden age of the Mughal empire.

With in first two year of his accession to the throne shahjahan was faced two rebellions.

  1) Led by Raja jauhar singh son of Bir Singh Bundela in Bundelkhand (1628 – 29 AD)

  2) Led by Jahan Khan lodi Ex Viceroy of Deccan (1628-1631 AD).

The other important event of his reign was the expulsion of the Portuguese from Hughli in Bengal. The Portuguese settlers of Hughli were involved in many objectionable activities including Piracy, slave trade and forceful  conversion of Christianity. Shahjahan sent instruction to Qasim Ali Subedar of Bengal to take action against them. The Portuguese settlement of of hughli was occupied by the Mughal army and a large number of prisoners were sent to Agra.


Art and Architecture

Shahjahan was a great builder. His reign was described as the Golden age of Mughal Art and Architecture.  He was responsible for the construction of some masterpieces of Mughal Architecture. Akbar and Jahangir used red stone in their time but shahjahan preferred White marble in stead of Red Stone.


The decline of the Mughal Age in India

Some of the historic building includes Red fort, Diwan-i-Aam, Diwan-i-Khas, in Delhi and Taj mahal and Moti Masjid in Agra.

Taj mahal the Noble mausoleum built over the Grave of his beloved Queen Mumtaz Mahal.

In shahjahan time art of painting made a remarkable progress. A new school of painting developed through the synthesis of Hindu and European styles. 

Nadir Samarkandi was the greatest painter of the court of Shahjahan.


Struggle for the Throne

The Sudden Illness of Shahjahan in 1657 plunged the empire into a civil war among his four sons

1) Dara Shikoh (Crown Prince)

2) Shah Shuja (Governor of Bengal)

3) Aurangzeb (Governor of Deccan)

4) Murad Baksh (Governor of Malwa an Gujrat)

Murad declared himself king and Shah Shuja  proclaimed his independence in Bengal.

When Shah Shuja reached Banaras, Dara’s Son Suleman Shikoh defeated him in the Battle of Bahadurgarh in 1658.

Aurangzeb defeated Dara in the battle of Samugarh near Agra. Shahjaha confined within the ladies palace along with  jahanara. Aurangzeb and Murad marched together from Agra towards Delhi but on the way Aurangzeb took Murad into captive and later sentenced him to death. Aurangzeb then moved to delhi and crowned himself king with the title Alamgir.

Shahjahan spent 8 years in confinement in the Agra Fort. In 1666 AD Shahjahan Died.

Dara Shikoh

Dara was the eldest son of Shahjahan. He is known for his generous religious thinking. Shahjahan nominated him as his heir and gave him the title Shahbulan Iqbal. Murad was the follower of the Qadri Sufi Mulla Shah Badakshi.  The Upnishad’s were translated by his order in Persian language and were collectively named as Sir-i-akbar.

Aurangzeb(1658-1707 AD)

The Decline of the Mughal Age

Aurangzeb ruled for almost 50 years and assumed the title of Alamgir. His empire stretched from Kashmir in the north to Jinji in the south and Hindkush in the West to Chittagong in the East.The Mughal empire reached its greatest extent under Aurangzeb. 

  • Daud Khan Subhedar of Bihar annexed Palamau in 1661AD.
  • MirJumla governor of Bengal occupied Coochbehar.
  • Sahishta Khan followed Mirjumla as the governor of Bengalput down the rebellion of Afghan in Orissa.
  • During Aurangzeb reigns the Jats, Satnamis, Bundels , Sikhs, Rajputs Marathas and Afghans of the North West Frontier region revolted against the Mughal Rule.
  • The Jat and Satnami rebellions has an agricultural background. The Rajputs rose revolt for independence. The Sikhs had their religious grievances.
  •  The leader of the Satnami revolt was Garibdas Hada.
  • The Bundelas were the Rajput Clans of Central India. The Bundelas Chief was Champat Ray revolted against the religious policy of Aurangzeb but was not Successful. His son Chhatrasal was able to set up an independent Hindu Kingdom in Eastern Malwa.
  • The Sikhs also rose in revolt against Aurangzeb. When Guru Teg Bahadur Refused to convert in Islam Aurangzeb sentenced him to death in 1675 AD.
  • After the death of Guru Teg Bahadur his son Guru Govind Singh became the 10th Guru of Sikh Religion and organised a strong Khalsa Army to take revenge against the Mughals.

The Deccan Policy of Aurangzeb

During the reign of Shahjahan Aurangzeb was appointed as the Governor of Deccan in 1636 AD.As a bigoted Sunni Muslim Aurangzeb did not like that two Shia Kingdoms of Bizapur and Golkunda should continue their independent existence.  After Accession of throne Aurangzeb entrusted Shaista Khan with responsibility of subduing Shivaji in 1660 but he had to leave Deccan totally.

Aurangzeb Next send Jai singh and Dalir Khan two efficient Mughal generals to the Deccan. They compelled Shivaji to conclude the treaty of Purandar in 1665.

On the contrary the three Deccan Powers Bijapur, Golkunda and the Marathas had come closer to one another. Aurangzeb marched to the Deccan with the object of subjugating the three Deccan powers Bijapur, Golkunda and Marathas.

Aurangzeb spent the last 26 years of his life (1682 -1707) in the Deccan. He first proceeded Bijapur in 1685 and conquered it in 1686 and Sultan Sikandar Adil Shah was allowed a pension of Rs-1 lakh.

Golkunda was annexed in 1687 AD and Sultan Abul Hasan was sent as a captive of Daulatabad on a pension of Rs- 50,000. a year.

After the fall of BIjapur and Golkunda Aurangzeb turned his attention seriously to the Marathas. 

After the death of Shivaji his son Sambhuji ascended the Maratha throne. He could not follow a well thought out stretegy against the Mughals. He was captured by the Mughal Army. After the execution of Sambhuji the Maratha war entered upon a  new phase under the leadership of of Raja ram, a younger brother of Sambhuji. The Marathas revolt became the Peoples war people fought on their own. The Mughal Army was compelled to remain on the defensive. In Spite of his best efforts Aurangzeb failed his mission to Crush the Marathas. He was forced to retreat to Ahmednagar where he took his last breath in 1707 AD.



Aurangzeb Administration

Aurangzeb was an orthodox sunni muslim and wanted to rule according to Shariyat. He preferred sunni muslim in the matter of appointment to high officials under his government. He created post like Peskar, Krori etc which were exclusively reserved for the muslims. He replaced Ilahi year introduced by Akbar with the Muslim Ruler Calender. He forbade the cultivation of Bhang throughout the Empire. He put down the practices forbidden in Shariah law such as Drinking Wine, Gambling and Prostitution.

Aurangzeb re-imposed the Jaziya Kar on Hindus and Jakat on Muslims.

He increased revenue income by increasing the Khalsa Land or Land under the ownership of State. The empire reached its greatest extent during the reign of Aurangzeb. 

Aurangzeb alooted Jagirs in lieu of Cash salary to the Mansabdars.

Aurangzeb introduced “Dagh” (Branding Horses) and “Hulia” System.

Aurangzeb dealt out even handed justice. He made no distinction between rich and poor. He sometime acted as Judge. 



Religious Policy of Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb was a sunni Muslim and led his life according to the precepts of Holy Quran. He venerated him as a Zinda pir or Living Saint.

Aurangzeb abolished “Nauroj Ceremony” the practice of Jharokha Darshan.

He forbade public use of Wine and Bhang and also prohibited Gambling.

Hindus were “Zimmis” or second Class citizen.

Aurangzeb issued prohibited order like Holi, Diwali, Dharma Mela and Practice of Sati.

All hindus except Rajputs were forbidden to travel in Palanquins, Ride on Horse back and carry arms.

He levied customs duty at the rate of 5% on the goods of Hindu traders. Muslim traders pay half of it.

According to Proff S.M.Jafar for the first 21 years of his reign Aurangzeb did not impose Zijya Kar later re-imposed under the pressure from the Ulemas.

After the accession to the throne Aurangzeb abolished eighty different taxes. The result was loss of Income to the state, under these circumstances he was compelled to re-impose Jizya kar.

Aurangzeb reserved the post of Peskar and Crori for the muslims but appointed Hindu when suitable muslims were not available.

He adopted Anti Hindu policy for a short period soon he realised this anti hindu policy became disastrous for him and his reign, many hindus were appointed to the high offices during his reign.He granted Tax free land to the Brahmins and patronised many temples.


Characteristics of Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb possessed many sterling qualities. His private life was simple and austere. Aurangzeb was a learned and competent scholar. He had a good command over the Persian language and an expert calligraphist. He stored “The Quran” in his memory. 

Aurangzeb was a brave warrior, an efficient general and clever diplomat. He gave up the liberal Rajput policy of Akbar and turned them into bitterest enemy of the empire. 

Aurangzeb died in 1707. A war of succession started amongst his three surviving sons– Muazzam, Azam and Kam Baksh. Muazzam defeated Azam in Battle of Jajau and Kam Baksh in Hyderabad in 1708.  Muazzam ascended the throne with the title of Bahadur Shah. He assumed hte title of Shah Alam I. He made peace with Guru Gobind Singh and Chatrasal. The  death of Muazzam  lead to another was of succession among his four sons, Jahandar shah, Raji-us-shan, Azin-us-shan and Jahan Shah. Jahandar shah was successful in the war then the others.



Mughal Rulers after Aurangzeb


Ruling Period

Jahandar Shah








Muhammad Shah


Ahmed Shah


Alamgir - II


Shah Alam-II


Akbar II


Bahadur Shah-II



Main Causes for the decline of Mughal Empire

  • Aurangzeb’s intolerant religious policy, estranged relation with Jats, Marathas and Rajputs and the suspicious nature of Aurangzeb led to the fall of empire.
  • Worthless later Mughal emperors.
  • Degeneration of the nobility with factious quarrels and intrigues.
  • Vast expansion of the empire making it difficult for the weak rulers to control it, after aurangzeb’s death.
  • Revolts of Sikh, Rajputs and Marathas due to Aurangzeb’s religious policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

2 + eleven =