India • 38 • Mughal dynasty

  • Dates : 1526 / 1858

The Mughal dynasty: its role and place in Indian history 


The Mughal dynasty, which ruled from 1526 to 1857, is one of the most influential dynasties in Indian history. They had a great impact on the politics, economy, culture and art of the Indian subcontinent. 


Origin of the Mughal dynasty 


The Mughal dynasty was founded by Babur, a descendant of Timur Lenk (also known as Tamerlane) and Genghis Khan. Babur, a Central Asian ruler, established the dynasty after his victory at the First Battle of Panipat in 1526. 


Reign and expansion 


During Mughal rule, their empire spanned almost the entire Indian subcontinent, including parts of present-day Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Among the great rulers of the dynasty were figures such as Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Akbar in particular is known for his policy of religious tolerance and his efforts to promote a synthesis of cultures. 


Cultural and architectural contributions 


The Mughal people made a significant contribution to the art, architecture, culture and literature of India. They introduced new Persian-influenced artistic styles, resulting in the development of Mughal art and architecture, known for their elaborate decorations and symmetrical designs. 


Some of the most famous examples of Mughal architecture include the Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, and Delhi's Red Fort. In literature, the Mughal dynasty promoted the development of the Persian language as a literary language in India. 




The Mughal people, although Muslim, showed remarkable religious tolerance, especially during Akbar's reign. He pursued a policy of Sulh-e-Kul, or universal peace, and promoted religious dialogue and understanding. 


Decline of the Mughal dynasty 


The decline of the Mughal dynasty began in the late 17th century during the reign of Aurangzeb, whose policies of religious intolerance and military expansion strained the empire. After his death in 1707, the empire was further weakened by internal strife and rebellions, and in the 18th century it was further diminished by the rise of regional states and the British East India Company. In 1857, after the Indian Rebellion, the British Crown officially dissolved the Mughal Empire and took direct control of India. 




Despite their eventual decline, the Mughals left an indelible influence on India. Their legacy is visible in the artistic and architectural richness they left behind, and in the syncretic culture they fostered. The Mughal period is often considered India's "golden age", an era of relative peace, artistic flourishing and intellectual advancement. This legacy lives on in modern India to this day.


India • 30 • Mughal dynasty: map

This map illustrates the maximum territory that the Mughal Dynasty had reached at its height, covering the current regions of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, National Capital Territory of Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jamnu & Kashmir, Jharkand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand in India. Its main purpose is to provide a visual aid to understand the geographical extent of this dynasty. However, it's important to note that the contemporary borders of these regions may not necessarily coincide with the historical territories.

Geographical extension

The Mughal Empire was one of the largest empires in Indian history, extending over a vast geographical area for almost three centuries. The empire began with the conquests of Babur, a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, in 1526. He established his rule over parts of modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. Babur's successors expanded the empire's territory further, conquering most of northern and central India by the mid-17th century.

Under the Mughal Empire, India experienced a period of great cultural and artistic achievement. The Mughal emperors were patrons of the arts, and they fostered the development of Indo-Islamic architecture, painting, and literature. The Mughals were also known for their administrative and legal reforms, which included the establishment of a centralized system of government and the codification of Islamic law.

However, the Mughal Empire began to decline in the late 17th century, due in part to economic and political instability. The empire was weakened by invasions from neighboring kingdoms and the rise of regional powers, and by the 18th century, it had lost much of its territory to the Marathas and other groups.

Despite its decline, the Mughal Empire remains an important part of Indian history and culture. Its legacy can be seen in the country's art, architecture, and literature, as well as in the many monuments and buildings that still stand as a testament to the empire's power and influence.

list of rulers

Babur (1526-1530)

Humayun (1530-1540, 1555-1556)

Akbar (1556-1605)

Jahangir (1605-1627)

Shah Jahan (1628-1658)

Aurangzeb (1658-1707)

Bahadur Shah I (1707-1712)

Jahandar Shah (1712-1713)

Farrukhsiyar (1713-1719)

Rafi-ud-Darajat (1719)

Shah Jahan II (1719)

Muhammad Shah (1719-1748)

Ahmad Shah Bahadur (1748-1754)

Alamgir II (1754-1759)

Shah Jahan III (1759-1760)

Shah Alam II (1760-1806)

Akbar Shah II (1806-1837)

Bahadur Shah II (1837-1857)

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