NCERT Notes: India Under The Mughals [Medieval Indian History Notes For UPSC]

The Mughal reign was a crucial phase in Indian History. This article throws light on the Mughal era in India like Economic & Social Life, Agriculture, Trade Growth, etc.

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Economic and Social Life
  • The socio-economic conditions of India are mentioned by many European Travellers and trader who came to India and their accounts contain a mine of information.
  • Generally, most of the accounts describe the wealth and prosperity of India and also the lavish life of the nobles.
  • There are accounts of foreigners as well that give information about the poverty and sufferings of ordinary people such as peasants and artisans.
Mughal Nobility
  • The Mughals were nobles and most of them were foreigners like Turks and Afghans and formed a privileged class.
  • The Mughal nobles were paid high salaries but their expenses were also the same.
  • Each noble had a large number of servants, horses, elephants etc.
  • Wealthy people dressed in silk and cotton clothes and the poor people dressed minimally.
  • One of the foreigners Nikitin mentions that the people in the Deccan were bare-footed indicating the high cost of leather.
  • The common people food was pulses, millets and rice.
  • In coastal region fish was common.
  • Milk and milk products were surplus, salt and sugar were expensive, while ghee and oil were cheaper.
  • One of the estimates claims that at the beginning of the 17th century India’s population was about 125 million.
  • A large variety of crops such as barley, gram, pulses, rice, and wheat were cultivated.
  • Commercial crops such as indigo, oil-seeds, cotton and sugarcane were also cultivated.
  • During the seventeenth century two new crops, viz., tobacco and maize were added.
  • On a note, no new agricultural technique was introduced during this period.
  • India was able to export food items like rice and sugar to the neighbouring countries.
Growth of Trade
  • The Indian trading classes spread across the country and were in large numbers.
  • Seth and Bohra – Long-distance traders
  • Banik – Local traders
  • Banjaras – Another class of traders specialized in carrying bulk goods, they also moved long distances with their goods on the back of oxen.
  • Bulk goods were also taken through rivers on boats.
  • The Gujarati merchants included the Hindus, Jains and Muslims.
  • In Rajasthan, Oswals, Maheshwaris, and Agarwals came to be called the Marwaris.
  • The most important trading communities in south India
    • The Chettis on the Coramandal coast
    • the Muslim merchants of Malabar
  • Bengal – Exported sugar, rice as well as delicate muslin and silk.
  • Gujarat – Was an entry point of foreign goods from where fine textiles and silk were taken to north India.
  • The major imports into India were certain metals such as
    • tin and copper
    • warhorses and
    • luxury items such as ivory
  • The import of gold and silver balanced of trade.
  • In the seventeenth century, the growth of foreign trade resulted in the increased import of gold and silver.
Cultural Development under the Mughals
  • The Mughal period witnessed a significant and widespread development in cultural activity.
  • It was evident in the sphere of art and architecture, painting, music and literature.
  • The Mughals brought Turko-Iranian culture into India and the Indian traditions were blended Turko-Iranian culture. 
Art and Architecture
  • The Mughals were fond of laying gardens with running water. Some of the Mughal Gardens are:
    • Nishat Bagh in Kashmir
    • the Shalimar Bagh at Lahore
    • the Pinjore garden in Punjab
  • During the reign of Sher Shah, the mausoleum at Sasaram in Bihar and the Purana Qila near Delhi were built.
  • Large scale construction of buildings started with the dawn of Akbar
  • He built many forts and the most famous one was the Agra Fort. It was built in red sandstone.
  • His other forts are at Lahore and Allahabad.
  • Shah Jahan built the famous Red Fort at Delhi with its Rang Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khaswas
  • Akbar also built a palace cum fort complex at Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory).
  • Many buildings in Gujarati and Bengali styles are also found in this complex.
  • Gujarati style buildings were probably built for his Rajput wives.
  • The most magnificent building in it is the Jama Masjid and the gateway to it called Buland Darwaza or the Lofty Gate.
  • The height of the gateway is 176 feet. It was built to commemorate Akbar’s victory over Gujarat.
  • Other important buildings at Fatehpur Sikri are Jodha Bai’s palace and Panch Mahal with five storeys.
  • During Akbar’s reign, the Humayun’s tomb was built at Delhi and it had a massive dome of marble.
  • It may be considered the precursor of the Taj Mahal.
  • Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara near Agra was completed by Jahangir.
  • Nur Jahan built the tomb of Itimaddaulah at Agra.
  • It was constructed wholly of white marble with floral designs made of semi-precious stones on the walls. (Pietra dura)
  • This method became more popular during the reign of Shah Jahan.
  • Taj Mahal
    • The Pietra Dura method was used on a large scale in the Taj Mahal.
    • Taj Mahal is considered as the jewel of the builder’s art.
    • It contains all the architectural forms developed by the Mughals.
    • The chief glory of the Taj is the massive dome and the four slender minarets
    • The decorations are kept to the minimum.
  • The Moti Masjid at Agra was built entirely in white marble. The Jama Masjid at Delhi was built in red stone.
Paintings and Music
  • The foundation for the Mughal painting was laid by Humayun while staying in Persia.
  • He brought with him two painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdal Samad to India.
  • Akbar commissioned the illustrations of several literary and religious texts.
  • He invited a large number of painters from different parts of the country to his court.
  • Both Hindus and Muslims joined in this work.
  • Baswan, Miskina and Daswant attained great positions as Akabar’s court as artists.
  • Illustrations of Persian versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana were produced in miniature form.
  • Art Studio established by Akbar. Historical works such as Akbar Nama also remained the main themes of Mughal paintings
  • Mughal paintings reached its climax during the reign of Jahangir.
  • He employed a number of painters like Abul Hasan, Bishan Das, Madhu, Anant, Manohar, Govardhan and Ustad Mansur
  • Music had also developed under the Mughals.
  • Akbar patronized Tansen of Gwalior.
  • Tansen composed many ragas.
  • Jahangir and Shah Jahan were also fond of music.
Language and Literature
  • Persian language became widespread in the Mughal Empire by the time of Akbar’s reign.
  • Many historical works were written during this period.
  • They include Ain-i-Akbari and Akabar Nama authored by Abul Fazl.
  • The leading poet of that period was his brother Abul Faizi.
  • The translation of Mahabharata into the Persian language was done under his supervision.
  • Utbi and Naziri were the two other leading Persian poets
  • Jahangir’s autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri was famous for its style
  • He also patronized many scholars like Ghiyas Beg, Naqib Khan and Niamatullah
  • Shah Jahan also patronized many writers and historians like Abdul Hamid Lahori, author of Padshah
  • Nama and Inayat Khan who wrote Shah Jahan Nama.
  • His son Dara Shikoh translated the Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads into the Persian language
  • Regional languages such as Bengali, Oriya, Rajasthani and Gujarati had also developed during this period.
  • Many devotional works including the Ramayana and Mahabharata were translated into regional languages.
  • The most influential Hindi poet was Tulsidas, who wrote the Hindi version of the Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas.

India Under the Mughals: UPSC Notes – Download PDF Here

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