Jahangir (1605–1627) | Shah Jahan (1628–1658) | Aurangzeb (1658–1707)


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Jahangir (son of Akbar; born in 1569; reign 1605–1627)

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Jahangir (Salim) decided to follow Akbar’s expansionist policy in the Deccan. But Jahangir could achieve little success in it due to certain problems –

  • He could not devote much attention in the crucial phase due to Khurram’s () revolt.
  • The Mughal nobles were also involved in a number of intrigues and conflicts to gain some advantages from Deccan.

During the first three years, the Deccan regained half of Balaghat and many districts of Ahmednagar. Malik Ambar was the main ruler who managed to defeat Mughal forces and captured Berar, Balaghat and parts of Ahmednagar. The Mughals could not regain control of the lost territories. Meanwhile Shah Jahan revolted against his father and became friends with Malik Ambar.

Malik Ambar made an attempt to capture Ahmednagar; but failing there, he took away Sholapur from Adil Shah and in alliance with Shah Jahan tried to capture Burhanpur but failed.

Once peace was established between Jahangir and Shah Jahan, Malik Ambar was also pacified. Malik Ambar died in 1627 and was succeeded by his son Fath Khan as Wakil and Peshwa of the kingdom. Fath Khan was arrogant and during his time the conflict between the Dakhnis and other nobles grew.

During the reign of Jahangir there was no addition to the Mughal territory in Deccan. In fact the Deccani rulers weakened the Mughal authority in their states. Over ambition of Malik Ambar was an obstacle in the way of a joint front of the Deccan states.

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Shah Jahan (son of Jahangir; born in 1592; reign 1628–1658)

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During the period between the death of Jahangir and the accession of Shah Jahan (Khurram), the Mughal governor of the Deccan, Khan Jahan Lodi, with the intention of securing help in times of necessity, gave away Balaghat to the Nizam Shah. After ascending the throne, Shah Jahan ordered Khan Jahan Lodi to recover it but as the latter failed, Shah Jahan recalled him to court. Khan Jahan turned hostile and rebelled. He took shelter with Nizam Shah. This infuriated Shah Jahan and he decided to follow aggressive policy towards the Deccan states. Shah Jahan’s main concern was to recover the lost territories of the Deccan. He believed that independence of Ahmednagar was in the way of Mughal control in the Deccan. He decided to isolate Ahmednagar and win over Bijapur and Marathas. He was successful. Fath Khan son of Malik Ambar also made peace with Mughals. Now Mahabat Khan was appointed governor of Deccan. But the conflict with Deccan states continued. Finally in 1636 treaties were signed with Bijapur and Golconda.

The main points of agreement with Bijapur were –

  1. Adil Shah accepted the Mughal suzerainty.
  2. He was to pay 20 lakh rupees as indemnity.
  3. He was not to interfere in the affairs of Golconda.
  4. Mughal emperor was to arbitrate in case of any dispute between Bijapur and Golconda.
  5. Adil Shah to help Mughals in conflict against Shahji Bhonsle.

Golconda also made a separate treaty. According to this treaty –

  1. Golconda took oath of loyalty towards Mughal emperor. He agreed to include the name of the Mughal emperor in Khutba and exclude the name of Shah of Iran.
  2. Golconda agreed to pay two lakh huns per year to the Mughals.

The treaties ended the conflicts in the Deccan. The Mughals could expand their area of dominance to large parts of Southern India. A distinct change in Mughal policy came towards 1656–57 when the treaties were ignored. Now, Shah Jahan asked Aurangzeb to conquer and annex the territories of Deccan kingdoms. It is argued by some historians that this change of policy was to exploit resources of the Deccan states for Mughals. However, this change did not benefit the Mughal empire in any substantial way and created more problems for future.

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Aurangzeb (son of Shah Jahan; born in 1592; reign 1658–1707)

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Aurangzeb believed in an aggressive policy towards Deccan. Prof. Satish Chandra identifies three distinct phases in his policy towards Deccan states.

  1. Phase I : From 1658 to 1668 the focus was to get hold of the territories of Kalyani, Bidar and Parenda from Bijapur. During this phase attempts were made to secure the help of Deccan states against Marathas. The efforts were also made by Jai Singh, the governor of Deccan, to conquer Bijapur but the efforts failed.
  2. Phase II : From around 1668 to 1684 there was a shift in the policy. The death of Adil Shah of Bijapur, growing power of Shivaji and increasing influence of Akhanna and Madanna two brothers in Golconda administration affected the Mughal policy. Golconda tried to forge an alliance with Shivaji and Bijapur. Aurangzeb’s efforts to contain Marathas were not very successful. The alliance with minor shifts and frequent tensions continued in some form or the other. Aurangzeb was not inclined to annex the Deccan states.
  3. Phase III : From 1684 to 1687 Aurangzeb followed the policy of outright annexation of the Deccan states. Aurangzeb personally supervised the siege of Bijapur. By 1687 both Bijapur and Golconda along with the territory of Karnataka were annexed in the Mughal empire.

The conflict with Marathas continued from 1687 to 1707 Aurangzeb spent most of his time in Deccan and could manage to keep the region under Mughal control. But after his death in 1707 (at Aurangabad in Deccan) they reasserted independence and succeeded in a short period.

Apart from Deccan Aurangzeb could expand Mughal power in Assam in the northeast region. The major success of the Mughals in this region was annexation of Ahom kingdom (Assam) under Mir Jumla, the governor of Bengal. Another notable achievement in north-east was capture of Chatgaon in 1664 under Shaista Khan the new governor of Bengal. The Ahom kingdom could not be directly controlled for long. The Mughal faujdars posted there had to face resistance and there were regular conflicts. By 1680 Ahoms succeeded in capturing Kamrup and Mughal control ended.

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Bibliography : NIOS – Medieval India

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