Episode 13 – Exploring India with Faizal Sayed

On this episode the group completes their visit to the Taj Mahal in India and thereafter visit the Marble Factory who services the Taj Mahal.  We learn more about the Mughal Empire.  India cuisine is explored amidst the fun.

The Mughal Empire or Mogul Empire, self-designated was an empire in the Indian subcontinent, established and ruled by a Muslim Turkic dynasty of Chagatai Turco-Mongol origin from Central Asia. The dynasty, though ethnically Turco-Mongol, was Persianate in terms of culture.

The Mughal empire extended over large parts of the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan. The empire at its peak, was the second largest to have existed in the Indian subcontinent, spanning 4 million square kilometres at its zenith, after the Maurya Empire, which spanned 5 million square kilometres.

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). The Mughal emperors were Central Asian Turco-Mongols belonging to the Timurid dynasty, who claimed direct descent from both Genghis Khan (founder of the Mongol Empire, through his son Chagatai Khan) and Timur (Turco-Mongol conqueror who founded the Timurid Empire). 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. Under the rule of Akbar and his son Jahangir, the region enjoyed economic progress as well as religious harmony, and the monarchs were interested in local religious and cultural traditions.

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.

The reign of Shah Jahan, the fifth emperor, between 1628 and 1658 was the golden age of Mughal architecture. He erected several large monuments, the best known of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra, as well as the Moti Masjid, Agra, the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid, Delhi, and the Lahore Fort. The Mughal Empire reached the zenith of its territorial expanse during the reign of Aurangzeb and also started its terminal decline in his reign due to Maratha military resurgence under Shivaji Bhosale. During his lifetime, victories in the south expanded the Mughal Empire to more than 3.2 million square kilometres (1.2 million square miles), ruling over more than 150 million subjects, nearly one quarter of the world’s population at the time, with a combined GDP of over $90 billion.