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Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan (1627-1658)

  • When Shah Jahan ascended the throne in Agra his position was secure and unchallenged.
  • Yet the affairs of the empire needed attention.
  • The Afghan Pir Lodi, with the title Khanjahan, who had been governor of the southern provinces of the empire was hostile.
  • Despite Shah Jahan’s order transferring him from the government of the Deccan, he aligned with Murtaza Nizam Shah II, the Sultan of Ahmed-Nagar, and conspired against Shah Jahan.
  • As the situation turned serious, Shah Jahan proceeded to the Deccan in person.
  • The newly appointed governor of the Deccan, Iradat Khan, who received the title Azam Khan led the imperial army and invaded the Balaghat.
  • Seeing the devastation caused by the imperial troops, Murtaza changed his attitude towards Khanjahan.
  • Khanjahan thereupon fled from Daulatabad into Malwa, but was pursued and finally slain.
  • Peace thus having been restored in the Deccan, Shah Jahan left the Deccan after dividing it into four provinces: Ahmednagar with Daulatabad; Khandesh; Berar; and Telengana.
  • The viceroyalty of the four provinces was conferred by Shah Jahan on his son Aurangzeb, then eighteen years of age.

Deccan Sultanates

After flourishing for over a hundred years the Bahmani kingdom, that covered much of Maharashtra and Andhra along with a portion of Karnataka, disintegrated and powerful nobles carved out new dominions at Golkonda (Qutb Shahs), Bijapur (Adil Shahs), Berar (Imad Shahs), Bidar (Barid Shahs) and Ahmad Nagar (Nizam Shahs), which go by the collective name of Deccan Sultanates or Southern Sultanates.

  • Thus the Deccan was brought under the effective control of the Mughal empire during the reign of Shah Jahan.
  • Ahmad Nagar, which offered resistance to the Mughals, was annexed despite the efforts of Malik Ambar.
  • Shah Jahan, with the support of Mahabat Khan, subdued the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmad Nagar in 1636.
  • When the Shi’ite Qutub Shahi ruler of Golkonda imprisoned his own minister Mir Jumla it was used as a pretext by Aurangzeb to invade Golkonda.
  • A treaty made the Qutub Shahi ruler a vassal of the Mughal empire.
  • In 1638 Shah Jahan made use of the political intrigues in the Persian empire and annexed Kandahar, conquered by Akbar and lost by Jahangir.
  • The Portuguese had authority over Goa under their viceroy.
  • In Bengal they had their chief settlements in faraway Hugli.
  • Shah Jahan ordered the Mughal Governor of Bengal, to drive out the Portuguese from their settlement at Hugli.
  • About 200 Portuguese at Hugli owned nearly 600 Indian slaves.
  • They had forced many of them to be baptised into the Christian faith.
  • Moreover Portuguese gunners from Goa had assisted the Bijapur forces against the Mughals.
  • Though the Portuguese defended themselves valiantly, they were easily defeated.
  • In 1641, Shah Jahan’s minister and father-in-law Asaf Khan died.
  • Asaf Khan’s sister and Shah Jahan’s old enemy Nur Jahan, survived until December 1645, but lived in retirement and never caused him trouble again.
  • A contemporary of Louis XIV of France, Shah Jahan ruled for thirty years.
  • In his reign the famous Peacock Throne was made for the King.
  • He built the Taj Mahal by the side of the Yamuna at Agra.
  • Europeans like Bernier (French physician and traveller), Tavernier (French gem merchant and traveller), Mandelslo (German adventurer and traveller), Peter Mundy (English Trader) and Manucci (Italian writer and traveller) visited India during the reign of Shah Jahan and left behind detailed accounts of India.
  • During the last days of Shah Jahan, there was a contest for the throne amongst his four sons.
  • Dara Shukoh, the eldest, was the favourite of his father.
  • He had been nominated as heir apparent, a fact resented by his brothers.
  • Aurangzeb, the third son, was astute, determined and unscrupulous.
  • Dara, professed the Sunni religion, but was deeply interested in Sufism.
  • A war of succession broke out between the four sons of Shah Jahan in which Aurangzeb emerged victorious.
  • Aurangzeb imprisoned Shah Jahan and crowned himself as the Mughal emperor.
  • Shah Jahan died broken hearted as a royal prisoner in January 1666 and was buried in the Taj Mahal next to his wife.

Dara Shukoh, who lost the battle for the throne of Delhi to his brother Aurangzeb, was known as the Philosopher Prince. He brought different cultures into dialogue and found a close connection between Hinduism and Islam. He translated the Upanishads from Sanskrit to Persian.


European Factories/Settlements during Mughal Rule:

Portuguese : In 1510, Albuquerque captured Goa from the ruler of Bijapur and made it the capital of the Portuguese Empire in the East. Subsequently Daman, Salsette and Bombay on the west coast and at Santhome near Madras and Hugli in Bengal on the east coast had become Portuguese settlements.

Dutch: The Dutch set up factories at Masulipatam (1605), Pulicat (1610), Surat (1616), Bimilipatam (1641), Karaikal (1645), Chinsura (1653), Kasimbazar, Baranagore, Patna, Balasore, Nagapattinam (all in 1658) and Cochin (1663).

Danes: Denmark also established trade settlements in India and their settlements were at Tranquebar in Tamilnadu (1620) and Serampore, their headquarters in Bengal.

French: Surat(1668), Masulipatnam (1669), Pondicherry, a small village then (1673), Chandernagore in Bengal (1690). Later they acquired Mahe in the Malabar, Yanam in Coromandal (both in 1725) and Karaikal (1739).

English: The Company first created a trading post in Surat (where a factory was built in 1612), and then secured Madras (1639), Bombay (1668), and Calcutta (1690). Though the Company had many factories, Fort William in Bengal, Fort St George in Madras, and the Bombay Castle were the three major trade settlements of the English.


Taj Mahal: The Taj Mahal, is the epitome of Mughal architecture, a blend of Indian, Persian and Islamic styles. It was built by the Shah Jahan to immortalize his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal died in childbirth in 1631, after having been the emperor’s inseparable companion since their marriage in 1612. The plans for the complex have been attributed to various architects of the period, though the chief architect was Ustad Ahmad Lahawri, an Indian of Persian descent. The complex – main gateway, garden, mosque and mausoleum (including its four minarets)-were conceived and designed as a unified entity. Building commenced in about 1632. More than 20,000 workers were employed from India, Persia, the Ottoman Empire and Europe to complete the mausoleum by about 1638–39; the adjunct buildings were finished by 1643, and decoration work continued until at least 1647.

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