Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Mughals : Savages to Sultan

Roshan Ara Tomb- Delhi

                     We have all read at least something about the Great Mughals and how they ruled India with flamboyance for 300 years. I have always been intrigued about who they actually were and where did they come from? My quest took me to the roller coaster of Mughal reign in India. Its amazing how the history of our own neighborhood can be traced back past centuries but its a shame how the historical milestones of this tale of grandeur are lying in ruins.

" के जिनके कलम-ओ-तलवार ने रचा इतिहास था, 
बे-आबरू हुए वो बिखरे पन्नों से झाँकते हैं,

अब तेरी-मेरी क्या बिसात ऐ ग़ालिब, 
के मुघलिया तख़्त भी यहाँ धूल फाँकते हैं..."


     The Mughal history is a conglomeration of multiple paradoxes. It is a story of savage raiders who became sumptuous rulers but interestingly, Hindustan was never the prime target. Mughals came from central Asia where each of the descendant of Timur (Timur-e-leng) was fighting for their own place. Babur was the first Mughal who came to India to stay, that too by chance only. A constant struggle with his uncles and cousins ousted him from his own town 'ferghana' and pushed him to the south where he settled at Kabul. The beginning of the Mughal reign is conventionally dated to Babur's victory over Ibrahim lodi in the first battle of panipat (1526). It was sheer tactics , valor and artillery & guns (used for the first time in northern india) that his army took down 4 times bigger army of Ibrahim lodi. His journey from 'ferghana' to Hindustan was nowhere near the league of his great ancestors Timur and Genghis khan but the details with which he recorded his personal odyssey gives him an added distinction. He lies in peace at his favorite garden at Kabul (obviously in ruins). Babur died in Dec,1530 and left Hindustan in the hands of the super-superstitious Humayun and his 3 younger brothers. The brothers could never unite and lost their empire to Sher Shah of sur dynasty. If it wasn't the generalship of the great warrior Bairam Khan, he could not have returned to power in 1555. Only credit that Humayun can be attributed to is that he gave us Akbar the Great.

            Under the rule of Akbar and his son Jahangir, India flourished the most and enjoyed economic progress as well as religious harmony. Akbar was a successful warrior which he demonstrated by defeating Hemu in the second battle of panipat (1556) soon after his accession to the throne. He also used his reputation perfectly to forge alliances with several Hindu Rajput kingdoms. He also founded a new religion deen-e-ilahi which was an amalgamation of both Hinduism and Islam. Jahangir continued to follow it but could not subdue most of the orthodox minds and it faded away. Jahangir was bad at other things too, he was a chronic alcoholic and it was he who opened the doors for British East India Company.

          Then came Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, who gave us the masterpieces of Mughal architecture. The most famous of his creations are the Taj Mahal & the Moti Masjid at Agra and the Red Fort and Jama Masjid at Delhi . The Mughal Empire reached the zenith of its territorial expanse during the reign of Aurangzeb and it was this time when the fall also started. The Maratha resurgence encouraged the Nawabs of Bengal , Bhopal and oudh and the Nizam of Hyderabad to declare their independence from the Mughals .

       In 1739, Nader Shah crushed the left overs of Mughal pride and looted their capital including the koh-i-noor which ultimately ended up in the British Crown. The Mughal prowess continued to decline and the last emperor was limited only to the walled city of Delhi. This city of Shahajahanbad is today's Old Delhi. The 300 years old reign finally came to an end after the 1857 rebellion.

           This tale of grandeur gives me nostalgia and the fact that we are living in a royal neighborhood is astonishing and the pieces are scattered all over the place AND you don't have to try hard.

Tomb of Khan-i-Khana                                        Red Fort                                                   Humayun's Tomb      
These two tombs actually inspired the Taj Mahal

No comments:

Post a Comment