Aurangzeb Alamgir – The Great Mughal Emperor 1658-1707

Aurangzeb Alamgir Summary

Aurangzeb Alamgir was the 6th Mughal emperor of India, who ruled from 1658 until he died in 1707. He was the third son of Emperor Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal and was known for his religious piety, military campaigns, and administrative reforms.

Significant military conquests, including the Deccan region’s annexation, the Maratha Empire’s conquest, and the suppression of various rebellions, marked Aurangzeb’s reign. He was also known for his strict implementation of Islamic law and persecution of other religions, including Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains.

Aurangzeb’s religious policies and military campaigns were controversial, and his reign saw a decline in the power and prosperity of the Mughal Empire. After his death, the empire began to disintegrate, and the British eventually colonized India. Aurangzeb’s legacy remains controversial despite his achievements as a ruler and military leader. Some regard him as a pious and just leader, while others view him as a religious zealot and a tyrant.

Fast Facts

Muḥī al-Dīn Muḥammad, Aurangzeb Alamgir
Muḥī al-Dīn Muḥammad, Aurangzeb Alamgir (6th Mughal Emperor)
Born3 November 1618, Dahod, Mughal Empire, India
Death3 March 1707, Bhingar, Ahmednagar, Mughal Empire, India
WifeNawab Bai (m. 1638–1691) > Dilras Banu Begum (m. 1637–1657) > Aurangabadi Mahal (m. 1654–1688)
ParentsShah Jahan > Mumtaz Mahal

Aurangzeb Alamgir Early life

Aurangzeb Alamgir’s full name was Muhi ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb Alamgir was born on November 3rd, 1618, during the reign of his grandfather, Jahangir. He was the third son of Prince Khurram, who would later be known as Emperor Shah Jahan. During his father’s rebellion against Jahangir, Aurangzeb Alamgir was sent as a hostage to make peace between Shah Jahan and Jahangir.

Shah Jahan became emperor in 1628 when Aurangzeb Alamgir was around ten. Even as a young prince, Aurangzeb had stood out among his brothers. He was Shah Jahan’s third son, but in the TurkoMongol tradition of the Mughals, all sons were equal claimants to the throne. Even though the emperor could choose and officially declare an heir, it didn’t mean that heir would become emperor. The son who showed the most remarkable ability in military and diplomacy was going to succeed his father, and as it turns out,

Aurangzeb Alamgir was full of remarkable abilities. In 1633, according to primary sources, Shah Jahan was watching a game of two elephants fighting each other. Along with him were his sons Dara Shikoh, roughly 18 years of age, and Aurangzeb, approximately 15 years of age.

As they couldn’t get a good view from the balcony’s safety, the three got on their horses and entered the arena for a better idea. Suddenly, one of the elephants was startled and ran toward the royals. While Shah Jahan and Dara Shikoh found their bearings, Aurangzeb galloped towards the elephant, injuring it by shoving a spear into its brow. Like a knight from those cheesy European tales, Aurangzeb showed remarkable skill and bravery that day.

The story was forever immortalized by onlookers and soon by chroniclers. In that same painting, the older Dara Shikoh can be seen watching from a distance. The following year Shah Jahan gave Aurangzeb the highest manual of 10,000 and sent him on various campaigns to train him further.

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Aurangzeb Alamgir From the 1650s to the 1707s

Aurangzeb Alamgir From the 1650s to the 1707s, the fate of almost everyone on the Indian subcontinent was tied to the story of a single man, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. He is the most relevant of the Mughal Emperors.

Aurangzeb Alamgir was the last of the Great Mughals, and he stands among some of the most important kings of the Islamic World, a club he shares with the likes of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, Caliph Abd al-Rahman III of Cordoba, Caliph Abd al-Malik of Damascus and Delhi Sultan Muhammad ibn Tughlaq. His remarkable story is grand in its scale, containing the development of many identities, political ideas, and even a religion, but it is also a very human story. He was relatable in some aspects.

Emperor of India

In 1636, Shah Jahan marched with an army to the Deccan region of South India. The Mughals had conquered it, but their foothold in the area wasn’t strong. While the rest resisted, the Qutb Shahi Sultanate of Golconda submitted immediately as a tributary. After a military stalemate, Shah Jahan concluded a treaty with the Sultanate of Bijapur where they would acknowledge the Mughals as overlords but wouldn’t pay tribute, so lip service.

After this, Shah Jahan left and returned to the capital, while Prince Aurangzeb Alamgir was left behind to govern the entirety of Mughal Deccan. As governor of the Deccan, Aurangzeb tried to consolidate and expand the Mughal hold on the Deccan. He was quite successful there. He developed the territory and the revenue of the region greatly. He governed this region from 1636 to 1645. From 1645 to 1647, he ruled the province of Gujarat. In 1644, Jahanara, Shah Jahan’s favorite daughter, suffered severe burns when her dress caught fire from a candle. She was one of Aurangzeb’s thirteen full siblings, all born of Shah Jahan’s beloved Mumtaz Mahal.

Aurangzeb Alamgir 6th Emperor of India
Aurangzeb Alamgir 6th Emperor of India sitting on his throne

This included Prince Dara ShikohPrince Shah Shuja, and Prince Murad Bakhsh; all were potential rivals of Prince Aurangzeb Alamgir. Jahanara was the glue that held the family together. They all loved and respected her; fortunately, she possessed the calmer mind in the family. The entire family gathered in Agra to see their beloved sister, whose life hung in the balance for a few weeks. According to witnesses, Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh started to show hostility towards each other.

Dara Shikoh was Shah Jahan’s favorite, and Aurangzeb didn’t like that. He was eager to leave Agra because he couldn’t bear to be in the same city as his brother. While Dara Shikoh was the Emperor’s favorite, Aurangzeb Alamgir was his reliable general whom he could call on to lead the army.

In 1646, Shah Jahan sent an army to invade Central Asia and conquer Uzbek territories that had once belonged to his ancestor Timur. This army was commanded by Prince Murad Bakhsh, who got tired of the challenging terrain and abandoned his army to return to India against his father’s orders. Shah Jahan then sent the reliable Aurangzeb Alamgir to lead the military, which, by now, had shrunk, thanks to the harsh terrain and abandonment by their former commander. Aurangzeb, nonetheless, managed to fight on and even defeat the Uzbeks.

The famous story goes that while the battle was going on, the time for prayer arrived, so Aurangzeb got off his horse and started praying calmly, in full view of both armies. The commander of the Uzbek is said to have announced, “How can we win against such a man?” and the Uzbek army broke. Although the harsh environment limited their successes, Aurangzeb Alamgir had to conclude a treaty to return to India.

In 1649, the Safavids attacked and conquered the fort of Kandahar in modern-day Afghanistan. Aurangzeb Alamgir was sent to defend it, but since it had fallen already, Shah Jahan ordered a retreat, deeming that the size of the army wasn’t enough for a prolonged siege.

In 1652, Shah Jahan arrived in Kabul to oversee the attack on Kandahar, which Aurangzeb Alamgir led. Although, this attack was unsuccessful owing to the army’s lack of artillery capabilities.

Shah Jahan ordered this force to retreat and humiliated Aurangzeb Alamgir, who was installed as governor of the Deccan once again and moved away from the frontiers. The following year, Shah Jahan ordered another attack on Kandahar under Dara Shikoh. Even though he had never led an army, he boasted a lot about his military prowess. Though, he failed as well. During the campaign, he acted very arrogantly but still had been very susceptible to flattery. Overall the three movements to Kandahar cost some 120 million rupees, around half of the yearly expenditure of the Mughal empire.

The relationship between Aurangzeb Alamgir and Shah Jahan was souring. Aurangzeb was now determined to isolate his older brother, Dara Shikoh, politically to ensure he couldn’t succeed Shah Jahan   He arranged for a marriage between his son and his brother Shah Shuja’s daughter, thereby cementing an alliance between the two against Dara Shikoh.

In 1653, on his way to take his governorship of the Deccan, Aurangzeb Alamgir stopped in Burhanpur where, in the tradition of his father, his grandfather, and maybe even his great-grandfather, he fell in love. It was with a Hindu slave girl from his maternal aunt’s household. She was called Hira Bai Zainabadi. Aurangzeb abandoned all his royal duties and spent nine-month with her just chilling. Apparently, he didn’t have Netflix. This was incredibly scandalous.

Aurangzeb Alamgir, being religious and pious, is said to have filled her wine cup with his own hands, and she even tempted him to drink on one occasion. Weirdly, he almost did it before she grabbed the cup from him, saying that she was only testing him.

You can be a prince of the world’s richest empire and still be a simp. All of this reached the capital, and Shah Jahan was furious. Dara Shikoh might’ve also aired the fire. However, the girl died a year later, and Aurangzeb, after being depressed for a while, moved on to his royal duties as the governor of the Deccan. He later called it “God’s gift” that she had died because if he had been with her for a long, he might’ve thrown away everything he had. See? I told you Aurangzeb was relatable. Aurangzeb now got to the business of governing.

The Deccan had been controlled by corrupt governors and had lost much of its revenue. Aurangzeb started fixing it along with his talented finance minister Murshid Quli Khan. Aurangzeb significantly increased the revenue of the Deccan. However, he kept clashing with his father over foreign policy. Aurangzeb wanted to expand at the expense of the other Muslim Sultanates there. Shah Jahan wanted to stick to the treaty of 1636. In 1656, Aurangzeb finally invaded Golconda.

The pretense was that the state’s prime minister, Mir Jumla, had become very powerful, and the sultan there had grown resentful and tried to arrest him. Mir Jumla defected to the Mughals, but the Golconda Sultan captured his son. Aurangzeb Alamgir asked his father’s permission to attack Golconda to free Mir Jumla’s son, who was technically a subject of the Mughals now.

Tempted by the immense wealth and jewels that could be obtained during the conquest And by Mir Jumla’s gift of the world’s largest diamond, the Koh-i Noor, or the Mountain of Light, Shah Jahan agreed to win. Aurangzeb Alamgir led an army and conquered the south to the Palar river. Aurangzeb also led an army into Bijapur territory.

The sultan there had died, and everyone did not consider his eighteen-year-old son to be of legitimate parentage. Aurangzeb considered the sultan illegitimate and so unfit to rule. From Aurangzeb’s perspective, all that land had no ruler and was free to take. Shah Jahan also saw it that way, thanks to a bit of lobbying by Mir Jumla in Delhi. 3

Aurangzeb expanded further and almost annexed the entirety of Bijapur. He might have even captured Bijapur’s capital, but Shah Jahan told him to back off. According to Aurangzeb, this was Dara Shikoh’s doing, who was jealous of the prestige Aurangzeb would gain from annexing so much territory. Aurangzeb had had enough.

The stage was set for a turning point in Indian history. Within a month of Aurangzeb’s withdrawal from Bijapur, news reached him that Shah Jahan had fallen ill. From early childhood, the princes understood that at the father’s death, their brothers and childhood playmates would become their enemies, and only one would survive the bloody struggle for the throne. As an ancient Persian saying goes, “Ya Takht, ya Takhta,” either the throne or the coffin. With Shah Jahan’s illness and, at that point, what seemed like impending death, the princes picked up their swords for a coming war.

Shah Jahan fell ill in September of 1657, and by December, Shah Shuja and Murad Bakhsh had crowned themselves Emperor and were raising armies. Shah Jahan recovered in around a month, but by then, different parts of the Mughal Empire were on a collision course. Aurangzeb had yet to do anything. Shuja was the first to send an army to the capital of Bengal, which he governed. Dara, from the capital, sent an army to meet this threat. He also told the Rajputs of Mewar to raise an army to meet Murad, who was also raising an army to attack the Capital of Gujarat, which he governed.

Battle of Samugarh

Battle of Samugarh
Battle of Samugarh (1658–1659) Part of Mughal War of Succession

In March 1658, Aurangzeb Alamgir left the Deccan, not as a contender for the throne but as a caring son wanting to see his sick father. Dara thought it was an invasion. I think he might’ve been confused by the huge army that Aurangzeb was Bringing with him. He joined forces with Murad and marched on the capital. Shuja and Aurangzeb’s children were married, so he was already allied with him. The three brothers decided to defeat Dara and then divide the empire between themselves. The imperial army of 40,000 men clashed with the allied force of the same size at Dharma in April 1658.

Aurangzeb Alamgir and Murad were victorious. Hearing of this, Shah Jahan wanted to lead an army himself, thinking that no one son would face their father in battle. However, Dara Shikoh was confident that he could defeat his brothers. Instead, their beloved sister Jahanara tried to negotiate peace. She sent a letter to Aurangzeb reminding him that in Islam, the eldest brother has an equal status to their father. Though, as is always the case, religion was second to the desire for the throne.

Aurangzeb wrote in return that he merely wanted to see Shah Jahan, but Dara Shikoh was the one causing problems, and if he arrived alone in the capital, he feared his death. Dara Shikoh led an army to meet the allied forces of Murad and Aurangzeb at Samugarh, some thirty-five kilometers from Agra.

Dara’s force of 60,000 was almost double that of his brothers, but they weren’t battle-hardened like Aurangzeb’s men who had just wrapped up their annexation of Bijapur and Golconda. Dara Shikoh was not a skilled commander, and many of his generals secretly supported Aurangzeb. One of the reasons behind this was that Aurangzeb was diplomatic and had a calmer head, while Dara Shikoh was an intellectual, and like most intellectuals, he was arrogant. There was almost no important general at court that he hadn’t insulted in his days.

From telling the ruler of Amber, who was the head of the powerful Kacchwaha Rajput clan, that he looked like a musician, an insult for someone of his rank, to making fun of Mir Jumla simply for the way he walked. Due to all this, Aurangzeb and Murad were victorious.

Dara galloped to Agra, where he couldn’t face his father, and so fled to Delhi with a handful of supporters. Aurangzeb had effectively won. He arranged for a meeting with his father to discuss the future of the empire, but according to sources, he intercepted a letter from Shah Jahan to Dara Shikoh, where Shah Jahan told him to raise an army. Seeing this as evidence of Shah Jahan colluding with Dara Shikoh, Aurangzeb decided there was no room for negotiations. He imprisoned the old emperor in the Agra fort, where he lived for the next eight years of his life, being able to see but never visit the Taj Mahal.

He was served very loyally by his beloved daughter, Jahanara until he died in 1666. Jahanara herself passed away in 1681. By June 10, 1658, Aurangzeb was emperor in all but name. He was conducting himself in such a manner, but he did still have three living brothers who could cause future problems. Aurangzeb was chasing Dara, who had left Delhi. Murad was following Aurangzeb as well. Aurangzeb invited him to a feast to celebrate everything that had happened. Intoxicated, Murad had no idea what was coming. He was put in shackles and sent off to the state prison in Gwalior.

Dara stayed at large for fourteen months. During this time, Shuja, from Bengal, realized that both Agra and Delhi were unoccupied since Dara was running and Aurangzeb was following him. He marched on Agra, but Aurangzeb abandoned his pursuit to defeat him in the battle of Khajwa on January 5, 1659.

Shuja ran off to Burma. By August of that year, Dara Shikoh was all out of allies and had been abandoned and betrayed when Aurangzeb got his hands on him. He was humiliated and paraded through the city of Shahjahanabad. Francois Bernier, who witnessed the event, mentions the public lamenting and crying over the fate of the disgraced prince. Charges were drawn up against him, and he was executed on August 30, 1659. Aurangzeb himself was crowned emperor on May 13, 1659, at the age of 41. He took the title of Alamgir, the Conqueror of the World.

Death of Aurangzeb Alamgir

Aurangzeb Alamgir died on March 3, 1707, in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India, at the age of 88. He was buried in a simple grave in Khuldabad, Maharashtra, in accordance with his wishes. Aurangzeb was the last of the great Mughal emperors, and his death marked the beginning of the decline of the Mughal Empire.

Aurangzeb Alamgir is known for introducing Islamic law and conquering India completely. But some people say about him that he used to kill Hindus and break their temples, while this is completely false. Aurangzeb Alamgir used to respect every religion, he used to see Hindus and Muslims with the same eyes, but even today People argue over it.

Tomb of Aurangzeb Alamgir

Tomb of Aurangzeb Alamgir
Tomb of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir, Located in, Old City, Khuldabad, Maharashtra 431101, India

The tomb of the 6th Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir is located in Khuldabad, Maharashtra, India. Aurangzeb died in 1707 and was buried in a simple grave in accordance with his wishes.

The tomb was later built by his son, Azam Shah, and is located next to the dargah (shrine) of the Sufi saint, Sheikh Burhanuddin Gharib Chisti. The tomb is a simple structure made of stone and marble and is surrounded by a beautiful garden. The garden also contains the graves of other members of the Mughal family.

The tomb is open to visitors and is an important historical site in India. It is a symbol of the legacy of the Mughal Empire, which ruled India for over three centuries.

Which Mughal emperor did Aurangzeb overthrow to seize power?

His father, Shah Jahan

What was Aurangzeb’s reign known for?

Islamic piety and military conquests

What was Aurangzeb’s stance on religion?

He was a strict Sunni Muslim and enforced Islamic law

How did Aurangzeb treat the Hindus?

He was known for his persecution of Hindus and destruction of their temples

What is Aurangzeb’s legacy?

He is a controversial figure in Indian history, known for his military prowess and strict Islamic rule, as well as his persecution of Hindus and destruction of their temples.

What was Aurangzeb’s biggest military achievement?

His conquest of the Deccan plateau in South India

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