Andijan, Fergana Valley, History, Kyrgyzstan, Osh, Religion, Samarkind, Silk Road, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

Mughal Empire

Babur (see my web page) (14 Feb 1483 – 26 Dec 1530), born Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, was the ultimate founder and first Emperor of the Mughal Dynasty in the Indian subcontinent. He was a direct descendant of Emperor Tamerlane the Great (Timur) and  Genghis Khan himself.

Babur was born in Andijan, today in Uzbekistan and ruled the Fergana Valley from nearby Osh .  He pondered his future on Salaiman Mountain atop which he constructed a mosque and concluded that the confines of the Fergana would cramp his aspirations as a descendant of famous conquering warrior princes. He wrote of the Osh:

“There are many sayings about the excellence of Osh. On the southeastern side of the Osh fortress is a well-proportioned mountain called Bara-Koh, where, on its summit, Sultan Mahmud Khan built a pavilion. Farther down, on a spur of the same mountain, I had a porticoed pavilion built in 902 (1496-7)

It was established and ruled by a Muslim dynasty with Turco-Mongol Chagatai roots from Central Asia, claiming direct descent from both Genghis Khan (through his son Chagatai Khan) and Tamerlanebut with significant  Indian  Rajput  and  Persian  ancestry through marriage alliances;  only the first two Mughal emperors were fully Central Asian.

Turkestan Map
Babur started the Mughul Dynasty from the center of this map of Turkestan in Osh, the Fergana Valley and in Samarkind, then Kabul and Dehli

As their most recent translator declares, “said to ‘rank with the Confessions of St. Augustine and Rousseau, and the memoirs of Gibbon and Newton,’ Babur’s memoirs are the first–and until relatively recent times, the only–true autobiography in Islamic literature.”

The Baburnama tells the tale of the prince’s struggle first to assert and defend his claim to the throne of Samarkand and the region of the Fergana Valley. After being driven out of Samarkand in 1501 by the Uzbek Shaibanids, he ultimately sought greener pastures, first in Kabul and then in northern India, where his descendants were the Moghul (Mughal) Dynasty ruling in Delhi until 1858.

Illustration of Babur
Illustration of Babur

The dynasty was Indo-Persian in culture,  combining Persianate culture with local Indian cultural influences visible in its traits and customs.

The beginning of the empire is conventionally dated to the victory by its founder Babur over Ibrahim Lodi, the last ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, in the First Battle of Panipat (1526).

During the reign of Humayun, the successor of Babur, the empire was briefly interrupted by the Sur Empire.

The “classic period” of the Mughal Empire started in 1556 with the ascension of Akbar the Great to the throne. Some Rajput kingdoms continued to pose a significant threat to the Mughal dominance of northwestern India, but most of them were subdued by Akbar. All Mughal emperors were Muslims; Akbar, however, propounded a syncretic religion in the latter part of his life called Dīn-i Ilāhī, as recorded in historical books like Ain-i-Akbari and Dabistān-i Mazāhib.

Mughal-Empire-during-Akbar-Period

The Mughal Empire did not try to intervene in the local societies during most of its existence, but rather balanced and pacified them through new administrative practices and diverse and inclusive ruling elites, leading to more systematic, centralised, and uniform rule.  Traditional and newly coherent social groups in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, the Rajputs, the Pashtuns, the Hindu Jats and the Sikhs, gained military and governing ambitions during Mughal rule, which, through collaboration or adversity, gave them both recognition and military experience.

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