65 Fascinating Mughal Empire Facts About Indian History | Kidadl


65 Fascinating Mughal Empire Facts About Indian History

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The Mughal empire was considered to be one of the world's largest, wealthiest, and most powerful empires.

It is believed to have ruled several regions of South Asia, including present-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. The Mughal Empire and the stories of its famous emperors have continued to fascinate people, historians, archaeologists, authors, and filmmakers worldwide.

The Mughals' legacy lives on via their many contributions to art, craft, fashion, architecture, literature, defense, religion, philosophy, and science. So, without further ado, here are some fascinating Mughal empire facts that will undoubtedly blow your mind!

 History Of The Mughal Empire 

The Mughal empire, also spelled as the Moghul empire, practically ruled a territory as large and as diverse as the Indian subcontinent for more than two centuries, beginning from 1526 until the British East India Company officially dissolved it in 1857. The Mughals were originally Turkic Mongols by descent who arrived in India from Central Asia. Due to superior military tactics and cavalry, they gained a hold over the area fairly quickly.

  • The Mughals were descendants of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol empire, from their mother's side and successors of Timur, the ruler of Iran, Iraq, and modern-day Turkey from their father's side.
  • The Mughals did not like to be referred to as the descendants of Genghis Khan as he was known to be a ruthless king who massacred innumerable people. However, they were proud of their Timurid ancestry, who had once captured the present capital of India, Delhi, in 1398.
  • Babur established the Mughal empire in India after he defeated Ibrahim Lodhi in the First Battle of Panipat in 1526.
  • The Mughals had several capitals during their rule in India. They were Agra, Delhi, Fathepur Sikri, and Lahore.
  • Despite their military superiority, a tribal community, Ahoms, defeated the Mughals 17 times!
  • All Mughal rulers were Muslims, except Akbar, who in the latter part of his life introduced and adopted a new religion called 'Din-e-Ilahi.'
  • Around 1690, the Mughal Empire spanned nearly the whole Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) and parts of Afghanistan. At this time, the empire was at its peak and was 122% the size of the current geographical extent of India.
  • The Mughals did not follow the rule of primogeniture in which the eldest son inherited all his father's estates. Instead, they practiced the Timurid tradition of dividing the inheritance among all sons.
  • This empire was one of the three Islamic Gunpowder Empires, the others being the Ottoman Empire and the Safavid Persian Empire.
  • At last, the Mughal Empire started to decline in the early 18th century and ultimately came to an end in 1857. This happened when Bahadur Shah II, the last Mughal emperor, was defeated and ultimately exiled to Burma (Myanmar) by the British East India Company.

Significance Of The Mughal Empire 

The Mughal dynasty is best recognized for its ability to reign over a non-Muslim majority for more than two centuries. The Mughal emperors led battles to expand their territory and made significant contributions to the country's administrative system. They also built several architectural marvels that are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, patronized dance, music, art, and poetry, and made India one of the world's most culturally distinguished countries.

  • The 'Koh-i-Noor,' one of the world's largest diamonds, now safely locked away in the Tower of London as part of the British Crown Jewels, was once owned by the Mughal emperors. The first Mughal emperor, Babur, mentioned it in his memoirs.
  • The hookah, also known as shisha, is believed to have been invented by one of Mughal emperor Akbar's doctors. Smoking hookah was a popular pastime among the elite in the empire.
  • The Mughal empire was one of the most urbanized empires in the world.
  • During the 17th century, the Mughal Empire achieved its pinnacle and became the world's most powerful economic power. It was responsible for about a quarter of global GDP!
  • The Bengal Subah was the most important division of the Mughal empire, it accounted for 12% of global GDP and served as a major shipbuilding center.
  • The Mughal Empire had 15% of its inhabitants living in urban areas by the 17th century, 200 years before Europe reached this mark.
  • The Mughals introduced the Persian 'charbagh' style gardens in India. These exquisite gardens, which were typically quadrilateral in shape and had fountains and pools, are a sight to behold.
  • The Mughals developed a new form of painting that was a fusion of Indian and Persian art and was referred to as the 'Mughal School of Art.'
  • The Mughals also contributed to the revival of the Persian language in the Indian subcontinent and the development of Urdu, Pakistan's national language and one of India's official languages.
  • Mughal emperors established several royal workshops known as 'Karkhanas' to help develop and promote Indian handicrafts.
  • Bhakti and Sufi movements flourished in the Mughal empire. 
  • Despite ruling over a vast and culturally varied country, the Mughals were able to retain political unity in India for a long period.
  • The Mughal empire connected their domains through an extensive road system and a uniform currency.
  • The Mughal era is also thought to have been a proto-industrialization period, as manufacturing industries expanded dramatically and manufactured items were shipped to all corners of the globe.
  • European fashion was heavily reliant on the Mughal state's textile sector for cotton fabrics, yarn, silk, and indigo. In fact, Mughal India accounted for 95% of British imports from Asia.
  • Cotton textile manufacturing during the Mughal era had a 25% share in the global textile trade.
  • The Mughals also delved into the culinary arts, which resulted in the creation of Mughlai cuisine, a fusion of Central Asian, South Asian, and Iranian culinary styles.
  • Although Turkish baths (hammams) were first introduced to India during the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughals spread them throughout the subcontinent.
  • Indian Pehalwani style of wrestling developed during the Mughal era and is an amalgamation of Indian combat wrestling and Persian martial arts.
  • Islam spread across the Indian subcontinent due to the patronage of Mughal rulers. The non-Muslims had to pay 'jizya tax' to the Mughal state. It was later abolished by Akbar and revived by Aurangzeb. 
  • The distinct Hindustani Classical Music developed further, and new musical instruments like sitar were introduced in the Mughal empire.
  • Extensive use of calligraphy in decorating books and paintings became common in the Mughal period.
  • A distinct architectural style known as 'Mughal architecture' developed. It is distinguished by arched entryways, intricate ornamentation, and massive bulbous domes, all of which are influenced by Turkic, Persian, and Indian architectural traditions.
  • Mughal emperor Akbar and his successor Jahangir got several Sanskrit epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata translated into Persian. 
  • The Mughals brought gunpowder to India, and during Akbar's reign, the Mughal armies developed several metal cylinder rockets that were employed against war elephants.
The red fort is a very important part of Mughal history.

Famous Kings Of The Mughal Empire 

The most famous kings of the Mughal dynasty are its first six emperors- Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan, and Aurangzeb. They are also known as the Great Mughals collectively. Each Mughal emperor left an indelible mark on the country, particularly in the fields of culture, military, politics, and administration.

  • Babur had founded the Mughal empire in India when he overthrew Ibrahim Lodhi in the First Battle of Panipat and conquered Delhi.
  • Apart from being a great military leader, Babur was also a socialite, writer, and orator. In fact, he had started the Mughal tradition of writing autobiographies when he recorded his history in the book 'Baburnama' in Turkic that was later translated into Persian by his grandson Akbar.
  • Humayun, the successor of Babur, was overthrown by Sher Shah Suri and was sent to exile in Persia for over a decade. Later, Humayun managed to regain his throne and reestablish the Mughal empire in India.
  • The greatest of Mughal emperors, Akbar, was dyslexic. He never learned to read and write but is regarded as one of the world's best political icons.
  • Emperor Akbar was a great patron of music and had several musicians in his court, the most famous one being Tansen.
  • Akbar was well-known for his tolerance of all religions. His open stance toward all religions aided in the expansion of Mughal sovereignty across Indian territory.
  • The book 'Ain-e-Akbari,' written by his companion and courtier Abul Fazl, contains detailed information about Akbar's administration policies. Abul Fazl also wrote Akbar's biography, which is titled 'Akbarnama.'
  • Akbar was also the longest-reigning Mughal monarch who ruled for 49 years.
  • Emperor Akbar created the 'Din-e-Ilahi' religion, which combined the best aspects of Hinduism, Islam, and other religions.
  • Jahangir, the son of Emperor Akbar, was a great supporter and lover of the arts. During his reign, Indian miniature painting became highly sophisticated, with flora and fauna motifs and portraits acquiring a high level of definition. One of his collections is housed in the British Museum.
  • In popular culture, Jahangir, also known as Prince Salim, is best known for his tragic love story with Anarkali, a beautiful courtesan.
  • During Shah Jahan's reign, India became the world's wealthiest center of arts, crafts, and architecture, and the Mughal empire had the highest GDP in the world.
  • Famous Mughal monuments like the Taj Mahal, Jama Masjid, and Red Fort were all commissioned by Shah Jahan, a big architecture patron.
  • Shah Jahan also owned the famous Peacock Throne.
  • Shah Jahan is most known for his unparalleled love for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is believed that his hair turned white overnight after her death.
  • In the latter part of his life, Shah Jahan was house-arrested by his son, Aurangzeb, in the Agra Fort with his daughter Jahanara. Unlike other rulers, he was not given a state funeral but was quietly laid to rest beside his beloved Mumtaz Mahal in the Taj Mahal.
  • The Mughal Empire reached its greatest extent in terms of territorial area under the last Great Mughal, Aurangzeb.
  • Aurangzeb banned singing, dancing, and playing musical instruments in his court but patronized Islamic calligraphy.
  • Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb did not use the royal treasury for his personal use. Instead, he made caps and copied the Quran to meet his personal expenses.
  • Though a great military leader and administrator, Aurangzeb failed to consolidate his vast empire due to his orthodox religious policies that were unsuitable for an empire having subjects of mixed faith.

 Famous Monuments Built By The Mughal Empire 

Mughal architecture is undoubtedly the most visible manifestation of Mughal wealth, power, and artistic prowess. The Mughals combined elements of Indian, Persian, and Turkish architectural forms to create a unique Mughal architectural style that is still admired today. The prominent features of Mughal architecture are the use of white marble and red sandstone, latticed screens, charbagh gardens, Persian and Arabic calligraphic inscriptions, large gateways, pillars on four sides, and domes.

  • The most famous Mughal monument is the Taj Mahal in Agra, built entirely in white marble. It was commissioned by Shah Jahan in memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The construction of the Taj Mahal took 22 years, more than 22,000 laborers, and 32 million rupees (around USD 827 million).
  • The Taj Mahal is counted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and among the seven wonders in the world. In 2018, the Taj Mahal was visited by more than five million people, according to the Indian Ministry of Tourism.
  • The Red Fort in Delhi was similarly built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan and it served as the primary residence of the royal family. On Indian Independence Day, the Indian Prime Minister hoists the Indian flag and addresses the entire nation from the Red Fort.
  • Contrary to what its name suggests, Red Fort was originally red and white and was named 'Qila-e-Mubarak' or the 'Blessed Fort.' It is also counted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Reportedly, the Koh-i-Noor and the Peacock Throne was a part of the furnishings of the Red Fort before the Persian king Nadir Shah plundered the fort and took away the throne and the diamond.
  • The chief architect of the Red Fort and the Taj Mahal was Ustad Ahmad Lahori.
  • Unlike other famous Mughal monuments, Humayun's Tomb, the first Garden Tomb of India, was built by a wife for her husband. Hamida Banu Begum, the wife of Emperor Humayun, constructed it in his memory. 
  • It is believed that Humayun's Tomb inspired the architecture of the Taj Mahal and is also listed as a World Heritage Site.
  • Agra Fort, also known as 'Qila-e-Akbari,' was built by Emperor Akbar as a military base in burgundy sandstone. It was later converted into a royal residence by his son, Jahangir.
  • Akbar built the city of Fatehpur Sikri and declared it as his new capital in the 16th century. This UNESCO World Heritage Site houses several notable buildings, such as the world's highest gateway called 'Buland Darwaza' and the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in India. 
Written By
Akshita Rana

<p>With a Master's in Management from the University of Manchester and a degree in Business Management from St. Xavier's, Jaipur, India, Akshita has worked as a content writer in the education sector. She previously collaborated with a school and an education company to improve their content, showcasing her skills in writing and education. Akshita is multilingual and enjoys photography, poetry, and art in her free time, which allows her to bring a creative touch to her work as a writer at Kidadl.</p>

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