Jalal ud-Din AKBAR (r.1556-1605)

Akbar, the greatest *Mughal* emperor, was born in 1542, so he was 14 or 15 in 1556 when on his behalf Bairam Khan defeated Hemu in the decisive Second Battle of Panipat
After Akbar's early, crucial capture of Malwa (1561) from the Afghan ruler Baz Bahadur of *Mandu*, kathak dancers from the newly captured city perform for him
For some years, starting in 1565, Akbar pays devoted visits, on foot, to the shrine of Khvajah Mu'in ud-Din Chishti in Ajmer
The siege of the early Mewar capital of *Chitor* (1567) involves newly powerful cannons-- and the Rajput ritual of "johar" within the city
A Rajput prince submits to Akbar (1568); the terms of the submission are far from being humiliating, and the act itself appears familial and inclusive rather than punitive
Around 1570, Akbar begins building his own city of Fatahpur Sikri, to honor Shaikh Salim Chishti, after whom he had named his first son
Jesuits participated in the religious discussions in the "House of Worship" there-- while in Europe, Catholics and Protestants massacred each other
In the crucial battle of Haldighati (1576), it was Rajput against Rajput: Akbar's general Man Singh won, but Pratap Singh of Mewar (1542-97), stubbornly holding out in *Udaipur*, later become a romantic hero
Akbar receives an embassy from Queen Elizabeth, 1586; European navigational techniques, though still chancy, were steadily improving
In 1595, Chand Bibi, Regent of Ahmadnagar, famously withstood a siege of Ahmadnagar Fort; in 1599, another such siege ended in her death at the hands of her own troops, after she was rumored to have turned traitor

Like so many of his predecessors, Akbar issued exceptionally lovely coins; some bear the famous or notorious slogan "Allahu Akbar"
Over time, Akbar becomes more of a religious free-thinker: *some of his thoughts about life in general*
An unusual drawing of Akbar deep in thought; it was made only a year or so before his death

Some of his miniature painters came directly from Iran, where the art had been highly developed; at his court *calligraphy* was also cultivated
Early in his reign he commissioned the astonishing Hamzah-Namah, a set of huge illustrations for a traditional Persian romance of which he was fond
Akbar saw to it that his miniature painters were also exposed to European art, including Christian religious art-- and Greek mythology
He also commissioned paintings on Hindu religious themes, like this extremely famous one of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan (at the Met)

During the later part of his reign, Akbar had to spend time dealing with problems in the northwest; the Lahore Fort thus became an especially important project
He also built a fort at ATTOCK, on the Indus River
Another of Akbar's forts was the one in ALLAHABAD; he also personally supervised the building of the earliest part of the *Agra Fort*
And he sent Raja Man Singh into Bengal, where he built a new capital town of RAJMAHAL in the northwest (just a bit west of the old capitals of *Gaur* and *Pandua*)
In 1600 he took Khandesh, and made BURHANPUR the Mughal headquarters in the Deccan (until it was replaced by *Daulatabad*in 1633)

One of Akbar's most valued officers was Raja Birbal, who later came to figure (quite unhistorically) in countless "Akbar-Birbal jokes"; another close friend was *Abu'l-Fazl*
And now, with a Bollywood film (2008) about his romance with a Rajput princess, Akbar's place in history is truly secure

 == INDIAN ROUTES index == sitemap == Glossary == FWP's main page ==