1. Akbar the great
Full Name: Abu'l-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar or Akbar the Great/Akbar – I.
Birth : 15 October 1542, Umerkot, Rajputana (present-day Sindh, Pakistan).
Death: 27 October 1605 (aged 63), FatehpurSikri, Agra.
Reign: 14 February 1556 – 27 October 1605.
Coronation: 14 February 1556.
Religion: Islam (Sunni), Din-e-illahi.
Akbar was Mughal Emperor from 1556 until his death. He was the third ruler of the Mughal
Dynasty in India. Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun, under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped
the young emperor expand and consolidate Mughal domains in India. A strong personality and a
successful general, Akbar gradually enlarged the Mughal Empire to include nearly all of the Indian
Subcontinent north of the Godavari river. His power and influence, however, extended over the
entire country because of Mughal military, political, cultural, and economic dominance. To unify
the vast Mughal state, Akbar established a centralized system of administration throughout his
2. empire and adopted a policy of conciliating conquered rulers through marriage and diplomacy. To
preserve peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, he adopted policies that
won him the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Excluding tribal bonds and Islamic state identity,
Akbar strived to unite far-flung lands of his realm through loyalty, expressed through
a Persian culture, to himself as an emperor who had near-divine status.
Akbar's reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the Mughal
empire tripled in size and wealth. He created a powerful military system and instituted effective
political and social reforms. By abolishing the sectarian tax on non-Muslims and appointing them
to high civil and military posts, he was the first Mughal ruler to win the trust and loyalty of the
native. Thus, the foundations for a multicultural empire under Mughal rule was laid during his
reign. Akbar was succeeded as emperor by his son, Jahangir.
Early life and family:
Akber’s father Humayun, the second emperor of the Mughal dynasty was in flight after his defeat
in the battle of Kanauj (in May 1540) at the hands of Sher Shah Suri. He and his wife Hamida
Banu Begum, who was pregnant at that time, was granted refuge by the Hindu Ruler Rana Prasad.
As Humayun was in exile and had to move constantly, Akbar was brought up at the household of
his paternal uncles, Kamran Mirza and Aksari Mirza. Growing up he learnt how to hunt and fight
using various weapons, shaping up to be the great warrior who would be the greatest emperor of
India. He never learned to read and write during his childhood, but that did not diminish his thirst
for knowledge. He would often ask to be read about art and religion.
Akbar married his cousin Ruqaiya Sultan Begum, daughter of his paternal uncle Hindal Mirza, in
November 1551. Ruqaiya became his chief consort after he ascended the throne. Akbar had as
many as 36 chief wives and 3 chief consorts.
Second Battle of Panipat:
At the time of his ascent to the Mughal throne, Akbar’s empire encompassed Kabul, Kandahar,
Delhi and parts of Punjab. But the Afghan Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah of Chunar had designs
on the throne of India and planned to wage war against the Mughals. His Hindu general Samrat
Hem Chandra Vikramaditya or Hemu in short, led the Afghan army to capture Agra and Delhi
soon after Humayun’s death in 1556. The Mughal Army faced a humiliating defeat and they soon
receded with their leader, Commander Tardi Baig absconding. Hemu ascended the throne on
October 7, 1556 and established Hindu rule in North India after 350 years of Muslim Imperialism.
3. On the direction of his regent Bairam Khan, Akbar declared his intentions to reclaim his rights to
the throne at Delhi. The Mughal forces moved to Panipat through Thaneshwar and faced Hemu’s
army on November 5, 1556. Hemu’s army was much larger in size than of that of Akbar’s with
30,000 horsemen and 1500 war elephants and he had the support of native Hindu and Afghan
rulers who considered the Mughals as outsiders. Bairam Khan led the Mughal army from the back
and placed skilled generals on the front, left and right flanks. Young Akbar was kept at a safe
distance by his regent. Initially Hemu’s army was in a better position, but a sudden change in
tactics by Bairam Khan and another general Ali Quli Khan, managed to overpower the enemy
army. Hemu was on an elephant when he was struck by an arrow to his eye and his elephant driver
took his injured master away from the battlefield. Mughal soldiers pursued Hemu, captured him
and brought him before Akbar. When asked to behead the enemy leader, Akbar could not do this
and Bairam Khan executed Hemu on his behalf, thus establishing victory of the Mughals
Battle of Haldighati:
A furious battle was fought between the Rajputs (led by Maharana Pratap) and the Mughal forces
at Haldighati. The Rajputs were defeated by the Mughals in 1576 and Maharana Pratap escaped
into a mountain fortress. Akbar carved out a huge empire stretching from the Himalayas in the
north to the Godavari in the south and from the Hindkush mountains in the west to the
Brahmaputra in the east.
Akbar dedicated the first decade of his rule towards expanding his empire. Under the regency of
Bairam Khan, Ajmer, Malwa and Garhkatanga were annexed into the Mughal territories. He also
captured Lahore and Multan, major centers of Punjab. Ajmer brought him the doorway to
Rajputana. He also claimed the Gwalior fort from the Sur Rulers. He conquered Gondwana in
1564 from the minor ruler Raja Vir Narayan. Akbar’s forces met a formidable opponent in the
young King’s mother, Rani Durgavati, a Rajput warrior queen. On being defeated Durgavati
committed suicide while Vir Narayan was slain during the capture of Chauragarh fortress.
Having consolidated his supremacy over most of north and central India, Akbar turned his
attention towards Rajputana, which presented a formidable threat to his supremacy. He had
already established his rule over Ajmer and Nagor. Beginning in 1561, Akbar started his quest
to conquer Rajputana. He employed force as well as diplomatic tactics to make the Rajput rulers
submit to his Rule. Most accepted his sovereignty except the Sisodia ruler of Mewar, Udai Singh.
This presented a problem for Akbar on his designs to establish unquestioned supremacy over the
region. In 1567, Akbar attacked the Chittorgarh fort in Mewar that represented a key strategic
importance towards establishing rule in Rajputana. Udai Singh’s chiefs Jaimal and Patta held off
the Mughal forces for four months in 1568. Udai Singh was banished to the Hills of Mewar.
Other Rajput states like Ranthambore fell in the face of Mughal forces, but Rana Prapat, Udai
4. Singh’s son, put up a formidable resistance to Akbar’s expansion of power. He was the last of
the Rajput defenders and fought till his heroic end in the Battle of Haldighati in 1576.
After consolidating the empire, Akbar concentrated on establishing a stable and subject-friendly
administration at the center to govern his vast empire. The principles of Akbar’s administration
were based on moral as well as material welfare of his subjects. He brought about several changes
in existing policies to establish an environment of uniform opportunities to people irrespective
The Emperor himself was the supreme governor of the empire. He retained ultimate judicial,
legislative and administrative power above anyone else. He was assisted in efficient governance
by several ministers – Vakil, chief adviser to the King over all matters; Diwan, minister in charge
of finance; Sadar-i-sadur, religious advisor to the King; Mir Bakshi, the one who maintained all
records; Daroga-i-Dak Chowki and Muhtasib were appointed to oversee proper enforcement of
law as well as the postal department.
Akbar was probably the first Islamic ruler in India who sought stable political alliances through
matrimony. He married several Hindu Princess including Jodha Bai, from the house of Jaipur,
Heer Kunwari from the house of Amber, and princess from the houses of Jaisalmer and Bikaner.
He strengthened the alliances by welcoming male relatives of his wives as part of his court and
bestowing them with important roles in his administration. Political significance of these
alliances was far-reaching for the Mughal Empire in securing strong loyalty of these dynasties.
This practice brought the Hindu and Muslim nobilities in close contact securing a better secular
environment for the empire. The Rajput alliances became strongest allies of Akbar’s army which
proved crucial in many of his subsequent conquests like that in Gujarat in 1572.
Akbar’s Religious Policy:
Akbar’s rule was marked by wide religious tolerance and liberal outlook. Akbar was profoundly
religious himself, yet he never sought to enforce his own religious views on anyone; be it
prisoners of war, or Hindu wives or the common people in his kingdom. He gave great
importance to choice and abolished discriminatory taxes based on religion. He encouraged
building of temples and even churches his empire. Out of reverence for the Hindu members of
the Royal Family he banned the cooking of beef in the kitchens. Akbar became a follower of the
great Sufi Mystic Sheikh Moinuddin Chishti and made several pilgrimages to his shrine at Ajmer.
He craved religious unity of his people and with that vision founded the sect Din-i-Ilahi (Faith
of the Divine). Din-i-Ilahi was in essence an ethical system that dictated the preferred way of life
5. discarding qualities like lust, slander and pride. It borrowed heavily from existing religions
extracting the best philosophies and forming an amalgamation of virtues to live by.
Architecture and Culture:
Akbar commissioned the building of several forts and mausoleums during his reign and
established a distinct architectural style that has been dubbed as Mughal architecture by
connoisseurs. Among the architectural marvels commissioned during his rule are the Agra Fort
(1565–1574), the town of Fatehpur Sikri (1569–1574) with its beautiful Jami Masjid and Buland
Darwaza, Humayun’s Tomb (1565-1572), Ajmer Fort (1563-1573), Lahore Fort (1586-1618)
and Allahabad Fort (1583-1584).
Akbar was a great patron of art and culture. Although he himself could not read and write, he
would appoint people who read to him various topics of art, history, philosophy and religion. He
appreciated intellectual discourse and offered his patronage to several extraordinarily talented
people whom he invited to his court. Together these individuals were referred to as the Nava
Ratnas or the Nine Gems. They were Abul Fazel, Faizi, Mian Tansen, Birbal, Raja Todar Mal,
Raja Man Singh, Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khanna, Fakir Aziao-Din and Mullah Do Piaza. They
came from various backgrounds and were revered by the emperor for their special talents.
The Agra Fort:
The Agra fort is an excellent example of rich architecture during the Mughal Period. Its
circumference is nearly one and a half miles and it has two main gateways, namely, the Delhi gate
and the Amar Singh gate. Inside the Agra fort, Akbar built about five hundred buildings of red
sandstone. Some of the buildings of Mughal Period are still in existence. The most important of
these are the Akbari Mahal and the Jahangir Mahal. These two palaces are built after the same
pattern. The Jahangir Mahal abounds in beautifully carved stone brackets which support the stone
beams, wide caves and flat ceilings.
The greatest architectural achievement of Akbar, however, was his new capital at Fatehpur Sikri.
On a ridge, two miles long and one mile broad, Akbar built a remarkable city, three sides of which
were surrounded by a wall and the fourth side by an artificial lake. The walls had nine gates. The
principal entrance was the Agra gate which lay opposite to that city. Outside the enclosure, stands
the Jami mosque with its lofty portal known as the Buland Darwaza. Inside the enclosure of the
mosque lies the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti which is built of white marble. Most of these
buildings reveal a mixed style of Muslim and Hindu cultures. The critics consider Diwan-i-Khas
to be one of the most remarkable buildings. The Buland Darwaza, which is built of marble and
sandstone, is a great work of architecture.
Fatehpur Sikri took about eleven years to complete (1569-80) and, though it is a deserted place,
“it still forms a most impressive revelation of a mighty personality.
6. Akbar-the Social Reformer:
As an individual, Akbar always promoted and propagated an ethical way of living life. He was
very progressive in his thought as it is evident from his views on child marriage. Akbar vehemently
opposed the idea of child marriage and also opposed the social norm which prevented widows
from getting remarried. He also despised the practice of Sati tradition and in this regard, he took
strong legislative steps to put the practice of this tradition to an end.
In 1575, he built a hall called the Ibadat Khana or the hall of prayer at his capital, Fatehpur Sikri.
Religious and spiritual topics were discussed every Thursday in this hall. At first, these discussions
were confined to the followers of Islam only but later on, it was opened to people of all religion –
Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Jains and even atheists. In 1579, Akbar decided to take into his
own hands all religious matters and issued a ‘Declaration’ or ‘mahzar. This declaration made
Akbar the supreme religious head of the Muslims.
The comparative study of different religions at the Ibadat Khana led Akbar to form the
Din-i-Ilahi (meaning ‘divine faith) in 1582.The new faith included the good points of all religions.
It believed in one Supreme God. The basic purpose of the formation of Din-i-Ilahi was Sulh-i-kul
or universal harmony. The idea of tolerance in this faith did not discriminate between people of
different religions. It focused on a system of ethics like justice, peace, honesty etc.’ which were
• Trade was another source of revenue though much less in compared to land.
• The main components of export were spices, indigo, textiles and saltpeter.
• India traded with China, central Asia and Europe.
• The Portuguese established trade centers on the western coast during Akbar’s reign.
Building a vibrant economy:
The reign of Akbar is characterized by commercial expansion. The Mughal government
encouraged traders, provided protection and security for transactions, and levied a very low custom
duty to stimulate foreign trade. Bands of highway police called rahdars were enlisted to patrol
roads and ensure safety of traders. Akbar also made efforts to improve roads to facilitate the use
of wheeled vehicles through the Khyber Pass – the most popular route of traders and travelers in
journeying from Kabul into Mughal India. He also strategically occupied the northwestern cities
of Multan and Lahore in the Punjab and constructed forts near the crossing of the Grand
7. Trunk Road and the Indus river, as well as a network of smaller forts called thanas throughout the
frontier, to secure the overland trade with Persia and Central Asia.
Land revenue reform – use of data and analytics:
Land revenue was the chief source of revenue for the government during that era and Akbar tasked
his Finance Minister, Todar Mal to come up with a robust, reliable and just system of land revenue.
And the outcome was one of the highlights of Akbar’s reign. The three main features of the land
revenue system were: (a) Survey and measurement of land, (b) Classification of land on the basis
of its productivity and (c) The assessment of land-revenue. The classification and assessment of
land was based on data over a period of ten years. This ensured fair and tiered taxation based on
past productivity and prices.
Akbar was a patron of art and literature. Though he did not receive any formal education during
his childhood he was a versatile genius. He encouraged the study of astronomy, mathematics, logic
and history. It is said that his library had more than 4000 manuscripts. He could understand the
fine points of poetry, art, religion and philosophy.
Death of Akbar:
In 1605, at the age of 63, Akbar fell ill with a serious case of dysentery. He never recovered from
it and after three weeks of suffering, he passed away on October 27, 1605 at Fatehpur Sikri. He
was buried at Sikandra, Agra.
Akbar has a vision of a strong and lasting Mughal Empire over India, having politically and
economically developed through a secular system.
Major Activities of this Leader:
we have find out some sort of vital activities of Akbar these are:
Akbar constructed numerous forts, towers, palaces, mosques, mausoleums and gateways.
One of the significant contributions of Akbar’s reign was the establishment of an efficient
8. Akbar conquered Gujarat (1572 A.D.) and Surat (1573 A.D.), thus extending Mughal
domination till the west coast and setting up maritime trade with west Asian countries.
Akbar was truly an enlightened ruler, a philosopher-king who had a genuine interest in all
creeds and doctrines at a time when religious persecution was prevalent throughout Europe
and Asia. Understanding that cooperation among all his subjects – Muslims, Hindus,
Persians, Central Asians and indigenous Indians – would be in his best interest, and tried
to establish a new religion that encouraged universal tolerance.
In the entire span of fourteen hundred years of Islamic history, no Muslim emperor
stretched the social and religious envelope as an Islamic sovereign, as did Akbar, while
remaining within the fold of Islam.
Impacts on the Society:
Which tasks of Akbar impacted on society vastly during his reign:
Mughal India developed a strong and stable economy, leading to commercial expansion
and greater patronage of culture under his reign.
Akbar's reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the
Mughal Empire tripled in size and wealth.
He introduced silver, copper and gold coins, with an open minting system in which anyone
willing to pay the minting charges could bring metal and get the coin minted.
Akbar adopted the basic structure of Sher shah’s revenue system, which continued till
The Portuguese established trade centers on the western coast during Akbar’s reign.
Akbar followed a policy of religious tolerance and believed in administering equal justice
to the followers of all religion.
9. In 1575, he builds a hall called the Ibadat Khana or the hall of prayer at his capital, Fatehpur
He abolished sati and legalized widow remarriage.
He restricted the sale of wine and spirits.
Traits/ Character of this Leader:
we have found some traits of Akbar that’s why he was famous in Mughal dynasty of India.
Religiously and Culturally Diverse.
Loyalty and Justice.
Patron of Art and Culture.
Akbar- the Architect
Akbar-the Social Reformer
Akbar is regarded as one of the greatest rulers of India. He built a vast empire and gave the empire
political and administrative unity.
He restored to war only when all the other means failed. He did a great service to the nation by
bringing about religious unity.
He promoted art, architecture, literature, music and painting and gave them unique Indian color.