Born In: Umarkot, Pakistan
Akbar was one of the most powerful emperors of the Mughal Dynasty. He was a great Muslim ruler who built a large empire expanding over most of the Indian subcontinent. Right from the age of 13, when he took over the reins of the Mughal Empire, he conquered and subjugated territories and states in the northern, western, and eastern regions, especially Punjab, Delhi, Agra, Rajputana, Gujarat, Bengal, Kabul, Kandahar, and Baluchistan. His conquers brought most of India under his control. Despite being illiterate, he possessed exceptional knowledge in almost all subjects. He earned respect from his non-Muslim subjects, mainly due to his adoption of policies that created a peaceful atmosphere in his diverse empire. He also re-organized taxation systems, divided his army following the mansabdari system, and established foreign relations with the West. Being a patron of art and culture, he got a number of literature books written in various languages and constructed numerous architectural masterpieces during his reign, such as the Agra Fort, Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri, Humayun Tomb, Allahabad Fort, Lahore Fort, and his own mausoleum at Sikandar. He even started a new sect called ‘Din-i-Ilahi’ by deriving elements from various religions.
Also Known As: Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar, Akbar the Great
Died At Age: 63
Spouse/Ex-: Ruqaiya Sultan Begum (m. 1551–1605), Salima Sultan Begum (m. 1561–1605), Bibi Khiera (m. ?–1599), Bibi Mariam (m. ?–1596), Bibi Salima Sultana (m. ?–1599), Mariam-uz-Zamani (m. 1562–1605), Ruqaiya Sultan Begum (m. 1551–1605), Salima Sultan Begum (m. 1561–1605)
mother: Hamida Banu Begum
siblings: Al-aman Mirza, Amina Banu Begum, Aqiqa Sultan Begum, Bakht-un-Nisa Begum, Bakshi Banu Begum, Fakhr un-Nissa Begum, Farrukh-Fal Mirza, Ibrahim Sultan Mirza, Jahan Sultan Begum, Mirza Muhammad Hakim, Sakina Banu Begum
children: Aram Banu Begum, Daniyal Mirza, Hassan, Hussain, Jahangir, Khanum Sultan Begum, Mahi Begum, Meherunnissa, Murad Mirza, Shakr-un-Nissa Begum
Born Country: Pakistan
Height: 1.7 m
Died on: October 27, 1605
place of death: Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Mughal Empire (present-day Uttar Pradesh, India)
Ancestry: Iranian Indian
Cause of Death: Dysentery
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Akbar was born Abu’I-Fath Jalal ud-din Muhammad Akbar on October 15, 1542, at the Rajput fortress of Umerkot in Sindh (present-day Pakistan), to Mughal Emperor Humayun and his teenage wife Hamida Banu Begum.
Since Humayun was in exile at that time, Akbar was raised by his paternal uncles in Kabul, due to which he spent most of his time hunting, horse riding, fencing, and running, which made him a trained and skillful warrior.
He did not learn to read or write. However, he was made to listen to the recitals of texts on history, religion, science, philosophy, and other topics.
Soon after Humayun’s death in 1556, he ascended the Mughal throne and was named ‘Shahanshah’ (King of Kings) at the age of 13. The accession of throne took place in Kalanaur, Punjab, with Bairam Khan as his regent and guardian.
Before his death, Akbar’s father Humayun had succeeded in regaining control over prominent areas, such as Delhi, Punjab, and Agra, but the Mughal rule in these areas looked precarious. The Surs reconquered Agra and Delhi following the death of Humayun.
While the Mughal army was marching against Sikandar Shah Suri in Punjab, Hemu, a Hindu general in the Sur Dynasty, proclaimed himself as Hindu emperor and drove away the Mughals from important places in the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
After dealing with Sikandar Shah Suri, the Mughal army marched towards Delhi. The Mughal army under Bairam Khan defeated Hemu and the Sur army on November 5, 1556 at the ‘Second Battle of Panipat.’ Thereafter, Akbar captured Agra and Delhi, where he stayed for a month before traveling to Punjab to deal with Sikandar Shah Suri. Sikandar Shah fled to Bengal, leaving Lahore and Multan for the Mughals.
His other conquests in North India included Ajmer and Gwalior Fort, which he acquired after defeating the Sur forces.
In 1560, Akbar dismissed Bairam Khan as he wanted to assert his power and position. Bairam was forced to head to Mecca for Hajj, but was assassinated on the way.
Although he succeeded in invading Malwa under his foster-brother Adham Khan and Mughal commander Pir Muhammad Khan, he had to wait for a year to conquer the province.
In 1567, he attacked Chittorgarh Fort and captured it after four months. He then raided Ranthambore Fort in 1568, which surrendered in the next couple of months.
In order to trade with Asia, Africa, and Europe via the Arabian Sea, he raided Ahmedabad, Surat, and other cities in 1573. These raids marked his decisive victory over Gujarat, which he celebrated by erecting Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri.
In 1573, he signed a treaty with the Portuguese, under which the latter retained their power on the western coast in the Indian Ocean, while the Mughals were allowed to send pilgrim ships for Hajj to Mecca and Medina.
He created the Ibadat Khana (House of Worship) at Fatehpur Sikri in 1575, following which he introduced a new sect called ‘Din-i-Ilahi’ in 1582. It combined the practices of Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism.
He defeated Pratap Singh, Udai Singh’s son and successor, at the ‘Battle of Haldighati’ in 1576, thereby gaining control over Mewar.
He adopted a decentralized system to lessen the burden on peasants. However, he discontinued the system in 1580 and replaced it with dahsala, under which one-third of the average produce of the last ten years was to be paid by the peasants.
In 1581, he captured Kabul and defeated his brother and Kabul ruler Mirza Muhammad Hakim, who invaded Punjab. However, upon Hakim’s death in 1585, Kabul came under the Mughal Empire.
Thereafter, he conquered Kashmir in 1589, Sindh in 1591, and Kandahar and Baluchistan in 1595.
He appointed mansabdars or military commanders in different regions to manage his vast empire. These mansabdars were divided into 33 classes, based on the number of troops assigned to them.
He employed a group of nine intelligent people in his court, known as nine jewels or Navaratnas: Faizi, Mian Tansen, Birbal, Raja Man Singh, Todar Mal, Abdul Rahim, Abul Fazl, Mulla Do-Piyaza, and Fakir Aziao-Din.
�In November 1556, his forces defeated Hemu and the Sur army at the ‘Second Battle of Panipat,’ where Hemu was shot in his eye and later captured and executed.
Asaf Khan led the Mughal forces and raided the Gondwana Kingdom in 1564, defeating its ruler Rani Durgavati at the ‘Battle of Damoh.’ Rani Durgavati killed her minor son Raja Vir Narayan and committed suicide to save her honor.
Akbar defeated Daud Khan, the ruler of Bengal, at the ‘Battle of Tukaroi’ in 1575. Daud Khan was captured and killed by the Mughal forces in another battle, thereby annexing Bengal and parts of Bihar.
During his reign, the Mughal Empire extended to most of the Indian subcontinent, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Vindhyas in the south and Hindukush in the north-west to Brahmaputra River in the east.
In 1563, he annulled the special tax payable by the Hindus while making pilgrimages. In 1564, he completely abolished the jizya or the annual tax paid by non-Muslims, thus earning the respect of his subjects.
In 1569, he established a new capital west of Agra to celebrate his victory over Chittorgarh and Ranthambore. The capital was named Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory) in 1573 after he conquered Gujarat.
He married his first cousin Ruqaiya Sultan Begum in 1551. He is said to have had 12 more wives from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
A political alliance with the Rajputs culminated in his marriage to Hira Kunwari (also called Harkha Bai or Jodha Bai) in 1562. She became one of his main queens and gave birth to a son named Salim, who came to be known as Jahangir, in 1569.
In October 1605, he fell seriously ill and died three weeks later. His mortal remains were buried in a mausoleum at Sikandar, Agra. He was succeeded by his son.
A number of television series—such as ‘Akbar-Birbal’ (late-1990s) and ‘Jodha Akbar’ (2013-2015)—and movies, such as ‘Mughal-e-Azam’ (1960) and ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ (2008) have chronicled this powerful ruler.
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