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Akbar conquers Ahmadnagar

Akbar conquers Ahmadnagar

  India's History : Medieval India : Akbar completes his conquests - Ahmadnagar - 1597

Last Conquest - Ahmednagar

By 1527, there were mainly five Muslim kingdoms in deccan, they were, Bijapur, Ahmadnagar, Golconda, Berar and Bedar. These were mainly the remnants of the old Bahmani kingdom, established by Bahman Shah in 14th century after revolting against Delhi. The history of these kingdoms is a record of almost continuous strife. Common jealousies not only prolonged the existence of smaller states but saved each of the larger of annihilation, and the usual course of warfare was a campaign of two of the larger states against the third.

On 1597, Akbar asked the kingdom of Ahmadnagar to swear fealty to him. Which they refused on this he decided to attack the kingdom of Ahmadnagar, and the Khan Khanan in Malwa as well as Sultan Murad (Son of Akbar) in Gujarat were asked to proceed towards Ahmadnagar.

The imperial troops reached Ahmadnagar and laid siege of the fort. At the time of the siege Ahmadnagar was ruled by infant king Bahadur, who was looked after by Chand Bibi. Sultan Murad, in order to hasten the fall of the fort mined the defenses. Secret informations enabled the defenders to remove the charges by counter mining and render the mines harmless. One, however, remained intact and this, when exploded, killed many of garrison and destroyed fifty yards of the curtain between the two armies, but the breach was so gallantly defended by Chand Bibi in person that the assailants were repulsed and night permitted the defenders to repair the damage.

Soon Sultan Murad sent an envoy to Chand Bibi, offering to raise the siege in return for the cession of Berar. The garrison was suffering from Famine, so Chand Bibi decided to give away Berar. Sultan Murad retreated. In 1599 Akbar's youngest son, Daniyal and Khan Khanan were appointed to the Deccan, and the emperor followed them and encamped at Barhanpur. The Prince and the Khan Khanan advanced towards Ahmadnagar. Chand Bibi fought valiantly to save Ahmadnagar but lost heart. Summoned Jita Khan, a eunuch, who had been her confidant. She told Jita Khan about her decision to surrender. Jita Khan on hearing it ran out crying that Chand Bibi has turned traitor, mob rushed in her apartments of the palace and slew her. Soon Ahmadnagar fell into the hands of Akbar.

East India Company

  India's History : Medieval India : Charter to the English East India Company - 1600

East India company

In the sixteenth century the English started trade with the east. The English had to pay high prices for goods bought from the east. Lured by the Portuguese profits the English too wished to have their share of wealth and profits. Attaining power in this area would result in getting goods at prices they decide. Besides this the defeat of the Spanish Armada had made England the mistress of the seas. In 1500 a group of merchants under the Chairman ship of Lord Mayor formed an association in London to trade with India. In 1600 Queen Elizabeth granted a charter to the governor at a company of merchants to trade freely with the countries of the east. Voyages were made to South East Asia to trade in spices. Attention towards India was diverted due to the Dutch influence in the Spice islands and getting raw materials for the English. The vast Indian mainland could be a market for the finished goods. The voyage to India was led by Captain Hawkins. He landed at the west coast of Surat and succeeded to get some trade concession for the company from Emperor Jahangir. He also secured permission to set up a factory at Surat. The Portuguese influence in the Mughal Court proved a obstacle to the English trade. In 1612 Captain Best defeated the Portuguese fleet near Surat thus reducing their influence. He secured permission for building of a factory at Surat. In 1615 King James I of England sent Sir Thomas Roe as his ambassador to the court of Jahangir, and secured permission for the company to set up factories. Thus factories were set up at Ahmedabad, Broach and Agra

India's History : Medieval India

  India's History : Medieval India : Jahangir - 1605

The Reign of Jahangir, 1605-1627

During his 50-year reign, Akbar accumulated much wealth from the political and commercial centers in northern India. His immediate successors, Jahangir and Shah Jahan, were able to surround themselves with a splendor and opulence unequaled by any other Muslim dynasty.

From the beginning, Jahangir's life was overshadowed by the achievements of his father Akbar. Jahangir grew up resentful of his masterful parents and bitterly jealous of his father's long-established coterie of advisers who must have interfered between father and son. Hambly writes that despite Jahangir's acute intelligence, the Mughal ruler was generally indifferent to the larger interests of the empire. Moreover, he lacked any obvious inclination for warfare and was bored by the humdrum details of day-to-day administration. Jahangir was self-indulgent and sensual with a streak of cruelty that emanated from a weak personality.

Despite Jahangir's disinterest in expansion, the imperial frontiers continued to move forward -- in Bengal, Mewar and Ahamadnagar. The only major reversal to the expansion came in 1622 when Shah Abbas, the Safavid ruler of Iran, captured Kandahar with impunity.

Jahangir lived under the spell of personalities that were more colorful than his own; the most influential of these personalities was the beautiful Nur Jahan whom he married in 1611. Nur Jahan then became the real ruler of the empire until the death of her husband Jahangir.

Nur Jahan's Persian grandfather was in the service of Shah Tahmasb; the grandfather died in Yazd laden with honors. His heirs, however, soon fell upon hard times, and his son, Mirza Ghiyas al-Din Muhammad, was forced to set out for India with his family. In 1577, during the trip to India, his wife gave birth at Kandahar to a eautiful daughter, Mihr al-Nisa (Sun of Women). Later, Jahangir would give Mihr al-Nisa the name of Nur Mahal (Light of the Palace) which he later expanded to Nur Jahan (Light of the World).

Mihr al-Nisa's father, Mirza Ghiyas al-Din Muhammad, made his way to Akbar's court at Fatehpur Sikri and rose rapidly in the imperial hierarchy. He held many important positions including that of diwan of Kabul; he ended his days with the rank of commander and the proud title of Itimad al-Dawleh (Pillar of the State). His son, Asaf Khan, was an urbane and affable courtier and a sharp fiscal administrator who secured the favor of both Jahangir and Shah Jahan, writes Hambly.

The son attained the highest provincial governorships and finally the rank of commander-in-chief. Hambly notes that in 1612, a year after Mihr al-Nisa's marriage to Jahangir, Asaf Khan arranged for his daughter, Arjumand Banu Begum, to marry Prince Khurram, one of Jahangir's younger sons. Fifteen years later, Khurram would ascend to the throne as the emperor Shah Jahan. Nur Jahan's niece would win immortality as Mumtaz Mahal, the woman in whose honor the Taj Mahal was built.


Jahangir's wife, Nur Jahan, was an excellent conversationalist, a fine judge of Persian poetry and a poet herself. Her accomplishments made her an irresistible companion for the emperor. Nur Jahan was a patron of painting and architecture whose interests also extended to the decoration of rooms as well as the designing of ornaments, brocades, rugs and dresses. The fashions in women's clothing that she adopted were still in vogue at the end of the 16th century.

Nur Jahan was Jahangir's favorite companion. She shared his interests in fine artistic objects and precious stones. Nur Jahan also assisted Jahangir in the layout and design of Persian gardens like the beautiful Shalimar-Bagh on the Dal Lake in Kashmir.

Jahangir's love of flowers and animals is reflected in the numerous miniatures painted by artists who shared their master's keen eye for the beauties of wild nature. Sir Thomas Roe, the ambassador of James I of England, was amazed at Jahangir's knowledge and discriminating taste where pictures were concerned.

Jahangir was not particularly interested in architecture, but one of the buildings that dates from his reign ranks among the finest achievements of the Mughal spirit. This is the tomb of Mirza Ghiyath Beg, usually known by his title I'timad ad-Dawlah (Pillar of the State), built at Agra by Nur Jahan (Light of the World) for her father who died in 1622. The tomb stands in a quadripartite garden. The enclosure walls, a guest-house on the river Yamuna and the podium are made of traditional red sandstone inlaid with colored marble.

The tomb of I'timad ad-Dawlah is the first structure in India in which white marble replaces red sandstone as the ground for polychrome pietra dura inlay. The tomb, measuring about 22 yards on a side, contains a central tomb chamber surrounded by square and rectangular rooms decorated with carved painted plaster in the Persianate style. The broad octagonal towers, like minarets, mark the corners, and a small pavilion or upper story rises above the roof. Three arched openings on each side provide shadows which contrast with the gleaming surface, while the cornice and eaves mark strong horizontal lines.

The modest, jewel-like building is remarkable for its delicate but exuberant decoration and warm tonality. The traditional technique of inlay has changed; opus sectile, marble intarsia of various colors, has been replaced by pietra dura, in which hard and rare stones such as lapis, onyx, jasper, topaz, carnelian and agate were embedded in the marble.

Traditional geometric designs and arabesques are combined with representational motifs of drinking cups, vases with flowers, cypress trees and visual descriptions of Paradise from the Holy Qur'an. The intricate inlay in yellow, brown, gray and black, contrasting with the smooth white marble, prefigures the later phase of white marble garnished with gold and precious stones that marks the most sumptuous buildings constructed under later Mughal patronage.

Dutch Factory at Pulicat

  India's History : Medieval India : The Dutch open a factory at Pulicat - 1609

Dutch East India Company - VOC

On March 20, 1602, the representatives of the provinces of the Dutch republic, granted a the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) a monopoly on the trade in the East Indies. Its purpose was not only trade; the Compagnie also had to fight the enemies of the Republic and prevent other European nations to enter the East India trade. During its history of 200 years, the VOC became the largest company of its kind, trading spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and pepper, and other consumer products like tea, silk and chinese porcelain.

Pulicat was strategically located for the distribution of gunpowder, as its excellent shipping facilities enabled the Dutch to keep most of the VOC's major establishments in the East (such as Batavia, Malacca, and Ceylon) well stocked. The Dutch began manufacturing gunpowder there at least as early as the 1620s, if not earlier. Almost from the presumed start, they predicted that they would be able to meet the Company's needs throughout the East Indies. In fact, so many of the VOC establishments came to depend on Pulicat's gunpowder that Batavia (the Company's headquarters in the East) once complained to its governor in Coromandel that, even though they were far from wasteful, they would nonetheless have been hard pressed to supply the homeward-bound ships as well as the Moluccas, Amboina, Banda, and Taiwan with gunpowder had it not been for the fleet that had arrived from the Netherlands.

The period which witnessed the decay of the Hindu powers of Tamilaham and the anarchy arising in the struggle for mastery between the Mohammedans and the Maharattas favored the growth of European colonies which were anxious to share in the fabulous wealth of the Indies, after the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope by the Portuguese in 1498. During the whole of the 16th Century the Portuguese busied themselves in erecting and consolidating the acquisitions they made on both the coasts. The Portuguese were fortunate in the time of their arrival. The Hindu ruler, Zamorin, owed his prosperity to his ports position as an entry point, and he was prepared to welcome the Portuguese. The Portuguese gained most from their participation in the carrying trade of the Indian Ocean, particularly on the Coromandal coast.

Submission of Mewar to the Mughals

  India's History : Medieval India : Submission of Mewar to the Mughals - 1615

Maharana Amar Singh I

Maharana Amar Singh I, fifty-fifth ruler of the Mewar Dynasty (r. 1597-1620); eldest of the seventeen sons of the hero Maharana PRATAP SINGH I, he succeeded his father, January 19, 1597 at CHAVAND, aged 38, and ruled for twenty-three years from Udaipur. Because Pratap Singh had insisted on quitting the comforts of Udaipur and fighting the Mughals in guerilla warfare conditions in the Aravalli Hills, Amar Singh's first job after succession was to make Udaipur the capital of Mewar once more. He had to persuade his subjects, who had followed Pratap Singh (under orders) into the wilderness, to return to the city. With the death of Mughal emperor Akbar, eight years after Pratap's demise, it was hoped that Mewar would enjoy peace for the first time in many decades. Amar ensured the status quo by not pursuing aggression against the Mughals. Although the peace was not to last, Amar pursued a vigorous programme to better the condition of his war-scarred subjects.

He remodelled his country's institutions, reassessing land holdings and distribution of fiefs, and established a new system of ranking for the nobility. He regulated sumptuary laws, those that control personal habits that offend a community's moral or religious conscience. Adding to the City Palace, he built the lower gateway, Badi Pol. Amar Singh had been his father's constant companion during Pratap's extensive campaign as a guerilla fighter. He was a faithful and loyal son and companion, yet he caused his father concern that he would not pursue independence as he had, but surrender Mewar's freedom to the Mughals (see PRATAP'S CONCERN ABOUT AMAR). Earnestly, the chiefs pledged themselves "by the throne of Bappa" that the dying ruler's fears would not eventuate. To some degree, Pratap's predictions would turn out to be correct, even though Amar Singh eventually fought many more battles than his father did.

In North India, following Akbar's death, Prince Salim succeeded as Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627). Shortly thereafter, he dismissed the peace treaty and renewed the war against Mewar with vigour. From 1605 to 1614, successive Mughal generals tried to conquer Mewar: Asaf Khan, 1606-1608; Mahabat Khan, 1608-1609; Abdullah Khan, 1609-1611; Raja Basu, 1611; Aziz Koka, 1611-1614; and Jahangir's ablest son, 32-year-old Prince Khurram, 1614. Villages and towns were sacked; crops, orchards and forests were destroyed indiscriminately; and temples were razed. Once more the people of Mewar suffered great distress. At first, Amar Singr relocated his court to Ajmer near Mewar's northern border, and mounted an overwhelming force to crush Maharana Amar Singh. Amar followed his father's example, and moved into the Aravalli jungles, while Jahangir, in a wide sweep, annexed the areas of Kapasan, Untala, Debari, Gogunda, Chavand, Bari Sadri, and finally Udaipur itself. Amar retaliated, recapturing the areas of Untala, Mandal, Badnore, and Malpura. Next, Jahangir appointed his son, Prince Parvez, commander of the Mughal army. However, Maharana Amar, flushed with his recent successes, and with the help of Punja, chieftain of Pandevi (Panawara), whose force containefierce Bhil warriors, again routed the Mughal army in the pass near Khamnor, the scene of many bloody combats in the past, including the famous Battle of HALDIGHATI. Parvez fled the battlefield and retreated to Ajmer in disgrace. By then, Maharana Amar had fought seventeen pitched battles, but each victory had meant the loss of many more of Mewar's most experienced veterans.

In 1614, a substantial army now led by Prince Khurram (known to history as Emperor SHAH JAHAN) headed out from Ajmer to attack Mewar. He camped with his Mughal army at GOGUNDA, 36 km. northeast of Udaipur. Although Amar had tried to carry out his father's policies for seventeen years, he could muster only a handful of chieftains to meet the approaching enemy. The Mewar generals and ministers (the nobles), dismayed by the heavy odds against them and dejected by their earlier losses in the continuous battles of the past, pressured Amar into negotiating a peace treaty with Emperor Jahangir. With reluctance, the Maharana sent two of his nobles, Haridas Jhala and Shubh Karan (the Maharana's maternal uncle), to Khurram with a peace proposal. In turn, Prince Khurram sent a message to his father, Emperor Jahangir, in Ajmer, recommending there was no surer way of earning the approbation of the Maharana than by maintaining friendly relations with Mewar. The emperor agreed and issued a farman (decree) for the ramification of the negotiated terms, which were based on Maharana Amar Singh's own conditions.

The terms were:
1. Neither the Maharana nor any future Maharana would be called upon to present themselves at Court while India was ruled by a foreign power (thereby retaining the independent dignity of the House of Mewar). Therefore, the Maharana would not attend the Mughal court in person. Instead he would only meet with Khurram at Gogunda, and send his young son, Crown Prince Karan Singh, to the Mughal court-Amar had fathered two sons, Karan Singh and Surajmal.
2. The Maharana would not accept any Imperial title, nor agree to any matrimonial alliance between the two families.
3. Chittor would be restored to the Maharana on condition it would not be repaired or fortified.
4. The Maharana would provide a contingent of 1,000 horse (horsemen), whenever demanded.

The Maharana accepted the terms and, in February 1615, met Prince Khurram at Gogunda and signed the peace treaty. As noted above, Pratap Singh held fears that his son and successor might not continue the battle to regain all of Mewar from the Mughals. Perhaps his fears were realised as some chroniclers have accused Amar Singh of treachery because of the treaty. In 1616, Amar finally achieved the long dream held by his father: he regained the ancient capital of Chittor when Emperor Jahangir returned the fortress to Mewar. Also, as per the treaty, Prince Karan Singh spent two months at the Mughal court, at Jahangir's invitation. There, he and his family's recent aggressor, Prince Khurram, became firm friends; it was a friendship that was to be called upon during Karan Singh's subsequent reign.

Capture of Kangra Fort

  India's History : Medieval India : Capture of Kangra Fort - 1620

Capture of Kangra Fort

Jahangir, after being enthroned the king, was seized with the desire to conquer Kangra and capture the fort, about which it was believed: "He who held the fort, ruled all the hill states". In 1615, he sent a strong contingent of troops under the command of Sheikh Farid Murtaza Khan and Raja Suraj Mal of Nurpur, his trusted confidant. But the troops returned without success. Unfazed, the king sent another contingent in 1620 under the command of Sunder Dass. This time the troops succeeded in capturing the fort after facing a stiff resistance. The ambitious Muslim invader also annexed the other hill states to his empire and garrisoned his troops in the fort to keep a watchful eye on the hill rulers.

The fort, a winsome blend of the medieval and ancient genre of fort architecture, covers a fairly large area and is guarded by high ramparts and a huge wall. Its gates have been named after its conquerors who captured it from time to time. The entrance gate is known as Ranjit Singh Gate, which leads to Jahangiri Darwaza. Then there are the Ahini and Amiri Darwazas, both dedicated to Nawab Ali Khan, the last Muslim Governor of Kangra. The other two gates — Andheri and Darshani Darwazas — had suffered extensive damage in the earthquake.

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