The Mughal Empire, (or Mogul Empire in former English usage), was an Islamic imperial power that ruled the Indian subcontinent which began in 1526, invaded and ruled most of Hindustan (South Asia) by the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and ended in the mid-19th century. The Mughal Emperors were descendants of the Timurids, and at the height of their power around 1700, they controlled most of the Indian Subcontinent—extending from Bengal in the east to Balochistan in the west, Kashmir in the north to the Kaveri basin in the south. Its population at that time has been estimated as between 110 and 130 million, over a territory of over 4 million sq.km. (1.5 million sq.mi.).
The "classic period" of the Empire started with the accession of Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, better known as Akbar the Great, in 1556. It ended with the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, although the Empire continued for another 150 years. During this period, the Empire was marked by a highly centralized administration connecting the different regions. All the significant monuments of the Mughals, their most visible legacy, date to this period which was characterised by the expansion of Persian cultural influence in the Indian subcontinent, with brilliant literary, artistic and architectural results.
Following 1725 the empire declined rapidly, weakened by wars of succession, agrarian crises fueling local revolts, the growth of religious intolerance, the rise of Maratha Empire as well as Durrani Empire and Sikh Empire, and finally British colonialism. The last king, Bahadur Zafar Shah II, whose rule was restricted to the city of Delhi, was imprisoned and exiled by the British after the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
The name Mughal is derived from the original homelands of the Timurids, the Central Asian steppes once conquered by Genghis Khan and hence known as Moghulistan, "Land of Mongols". Although early Mughals spoke the Chagatai language and maintained Turko-Mongol practices, they were essentially Persianized. They transferred the Persian literature and culture to India, thus forming the base for the Indo-Persian culture.
- ↑ "The Mughal Empire"
- ↑ http://sun.menloschool.org/~sportman/westernstudies/first/1718/2000/eblock/mughal/
- ↑ John F Richards, The Mughal Empire, Vol I.5, New Cambridge History of India, Cambridge University Press, 1996
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- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Robert L. Canfield, Turko-Persia in historical perspective, Cambridge University Press, 1991 . pg 20: "The Mughals- Persianized Turks who invaded from Central Asia and claimed descent from both Timur and Genghis - strengthened the Persianate culture of Muslim India"