This great empire was founded by Babur 1483-1530, a descendant of Genghis Khan. From 1504 he was ruler of part of what is now Afghanistan. From the Turks he had learned to use cannons and muskets. Guns enabled him to win great victories over the Indians who were still using traditional methods of warfare. He had also learned new cavalry tactics from the Turks. Instead of charging straight at the enemy Babur's cavalry rode round their flanks and attacked from the rear.
Babur first raided India in 1517. In 1525 he invaded. In 1526 Babur crushed the army of Ibrahim Lhodi at the battle of Panipat. Babur made a barricade of carts. Behind them he positioned his cannons and musketeers. The enemy attacked but they faced withering cannon and musket fire. Babur's cavalry then rode around the enemy army and attacked from the rear. The Indians were routed.
Other Indian rulers now united against Babur but they were crushed at the battle of Khanau in 1527. Babur placed his cannons and guns behind ramparts. The Indians attacked on horseback again and again but were mowed down. Babur then became ruler of Northern India.
He was succeeded by his son Humayan 1508-1556. However in the 1530s an Afghan ruler named Sher Shah attacked the empire. By 1540 Sher Shah prevailed and made himself ruler of much of Northern India. Humayan went into exile and wandered from place to place. Then in 1542 his son Akbar was born. Humayan then moved to Persia. Sher Shah died in battle in 1545 and his empire split up. Humayan was then able, with Persian help to re-conquer the Mughal empire.He invaded India in 1554 and by 1556 was in control of the North. Unfortunately he died after falling down some stairs.
However his son Akbar 1556-1605 was, perhaps, the greatest Mughal ruler. He took Gujarat in 1574, Bengal in 1576, Kashmir in 1586, Orissa in 1592 and Baluchistan in 1595. Akbar also reorganised the government and he created an efficient civil service. Akbar was a Muslim but he was tolerant in matters of religion. He abolished a tax previous rulers levied on non-Muslims. He also gave Hindus high office.
Akbar admired Persian culture and promoted it in India. Persian language literature flourished in India during his reign (although Hindi literature flowered too). Persian and Hindu styles of painting merged to form a new style of Mughal painting.
Akbar was succeeded by his son Selim, who called himself Jahangir. Under him Mughal influence in the South of India increased and the empire flourished. His wife was named Mehrunissa (later she was called Nur Jahan or light of the world). She was Persian and because of her Persian culture became even more influential in the Mughal realms. During the reign of Jahangir the arts continued to flourish. An elaborate and intricate school of painting existed. It was also a great age for architecture. When Jahangir died in 1627 his wife was forced into retirement but she occupied herself by building a magnificent mausoleum for her father in Agra.


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