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Emperor Akbar

Emperor Akbar (1556–1605)

  • During Humayun’s wanderings in the Rajputana desert, his wife gave birth to a son, Jalaluddin, known as Akbar, in 1542.
  • Akbar was crowned at the age of fourteen.
  • At the time of Akbar’s ascension, the Afghans and Rajputs were still powerful and posed a great challenge.
  • Yet he had a guardian and protector in Bairam Khan.

Second Battle of Panipat (1556)

  • Hemu, the Hindu general of the displaced Afghan king Adil Shah, successor of Sher Shah, induced the king to permit him to lead the Afghan army against the Mughals.
  • Encouraged by the king, Hemu first took Gwalior, expelling the Mughal governor.
  • Then he marched on Agra and captured it without any resistance.
  • Hemu’s generosity helped him to overcome potential enemies when he took Delhi.
  • In November 1556 Akbar marched towards Delhi to meet the forces of Hemu in the Second Battle of Panipat.
  • An arrow struck the eye of Hemu when the battle was likely to end in his favour.
  • The leaderless Afghan army became demoralised and the Mughal forces emerged victorious.
  • Hemu was captured and executed.
  • This victory made Akbar the sovereign of Agra and Delhi and re-establish the Mughal empire.

Akbar and Bairam Khan

  • As a conqueror Akbar triumphed all over North India.
  • The first four years of Akbar’s rule saw the expansion of the Mughal empire from Kabul to Jaunpur, including Gwalior and Ajmer, under his regent Bairam Khan.
  • Soon Bairam Khan began to behave haughtily towards his fellow nobles.
  • Akbar, enraged by his behaviour issued a farman dismissing Bairam Khan.
  • This led to Bairam Khan’s revolt which was ably dealt with by Akbar.
  • Bairam Khan, finally agreeing to submit himself to Akbar, proceeded to Mecca.
  • But on his way he was murdered by an Afghan.
  • The family of Bairam khan was brought to Delhi and his son Abdur Rahim became one of the luminaries of Akbar’s court with the title Khan-e-Khanan.

Akbar’s Military Conquests

  • Akbar laid the foundation for a great empire through his vast conquests.
  • Malwa was conquered in 1562 from Baz Bahadur who was made a mansabdar in Akbar’s court.
  • The Gondwana region of central India was annexed after a fierce battle with Rani Durgavati and her son Vir Narayan in 1564.
  • The ruler of Mewar, Rana Udai Singh, put up a great fight before losing Chittor, which was conquered by Akbar after a siege of six months.
  • Rana Udai Singh retreated to the hills.
  • Yet his generals Jaimal and Patta carried on their fight.
  • Finally, the generals, along with 30,000 Rajputs were killed.
  • Out of admiration for the gallant Jaimal and Patta, Akbar honoured them by erecting statues to their memory outside the chief gate of Agra fort.
  • The capture of Chittor was followed by the surrender of Rajput states like Ranthambhor, Kalinjar, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer.
  • After subordinating the regions of central India, Akbar turned his attention to Gujarat, a wealthy province renowned for its maritime commerce.
  • Akbar conquered Gujarat from Muzaffar Shah in 1573.
  • Gujarat became a launch pad for the annexation of Deccan.
  • After defeating Daud Khan, the Afghan ruler of Bihar and Bengal, both the provinces were annexed to the Mughal empire in 1576.
  • Akbar defeated Mirza Hakim of Kabul with the help of Raja Man Singh and Bhagwan Das.
  • His conquest of Kashmir (1586) and Sindh (1591) consolidated the empire in the northwest.
  • After achieving the political integration of North India Akbar turned his attention to the Deccan.
  • Akbar’s forces had occupied Khandesh region in 1591.
  • In 1596 Berar was acquired from Chand Bibi, who, as the regent of her nephew Muzaffar Shah, the Nizam Shahi ruler of Ahmednagar, valiantly defended Ahmednagar against the Mughal forces of Akbar.
  • By 1600 parts of Ahmed Nagar had fallen into the hands of Mughal forces. Akbar fell sick in September 1604 and died on 27 October 1605.

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