Deccan policy under Akbar – Short Notes for UPSC

Sansar LochanHistory of IndiaLeave a Comment


Mughal advance to the Deccan

The Mughal Deccan policy started from Akbar’s period as Babur and Humayun were only concerned with the consolidation of North India which was a logical step.Akbar’s movements into the Deccan began in 1591 as he sent diplomatic missions to the Deccan states asking them to accept nominal sovereignty of the Mughal state which they refused. The failure of Akbar’s diplomatic offensive postulated a more active intervention in the Deccan.

Akbar’s Objectives

According to Satish Chandra, it has been assumed that Akbar’s objective in the Deccan was to assert Mughal suzerainty over the entire area and if possible to conquer the states there, beginning with Ahmadnagar. His objectives evolved according to the situation.

Civil War in Ahmadnagar

In 1595, after the death of Burhan Nizam Shah there was a civil war in Ahmadnagar with various claimants to the throne. The Mughals and Bijapur began to interfere and manipulate the politics. Chand Bibi, the sister of Burhan and the widow of the Adil Shahi ruler of Bijapur favored Bahadur, Burhan’s son who was the strongest claimant to the throne. Through Chand Bibi, Bijapur was manipulating politics and she dominated parts of Ahmadnagar.

Attack on Ahmadnagar

At this state of weakness, taking advantage of the situation Akbar decided to attack Ahmadnagar in 1596 under the leadership of Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khanan.Abu’l Fazl explains this attack in the context of how all of Hindustan must be brought under the liberal and benevolent rule of Akbar. Akbar was known as the just ruler or insan-i-kamil and it was therefore his responsibility to ensure peace and harmony in all areas. Chand Bibi put up a strong resistance but realized the futility of this and negotiated a peace settlement.

Treaty of 1596

By the Treaty of 1596, Berar was ceded to the Mughals and in return Bahadur was recognized as the ruler of Ahmadnagar under the regency of Chand Bibi. Thus Mughal suzerainty was accepted but neither side was satisfied with the agreement and the issue could not be resolved.

Deccan Offensive

In 1597, the combined Deccan force of Bijapur, Golconda and Ahmadnagar launched an offensive against the Mughals at Sonpat. The Deccan kingdoms were defeated leading to a second Mughal siege of Ahmadnagar.

Treaty of 1600

A treaty was concluded in 1600 by which Ahmadnagar fort and the area adjacent to it was surrendered to the Mughals. Balaghat which had been claimed by the Mughals earlier was also added to the Empire. However the fall of Ahmadnagar didn’t resolve Akbar’s problems in the Deccan.

Negotiations between Khan-I-Khanan and Malik Ambar

Amid confused fighting the role of Khan-i-Khanan, who was the Mughal commander in the Deccan, was crucial. At the time, the rise of Malik Ambar, a noble in the Ahmadnagar court occurred who tried to recover Berar and Balaghat. Khan-i-Khanan offered a compromise toMalik Amber and after suffering two successive defeats, at the hands of Khan-i-Khanan finally agreed. Thus at the end of 1601, certain territories were handed over and the terms of the treaty more or less comprised the earlier offer.

After Akbar’s departure

Meanwhile, with Prince Salim’s rebellion Akbar was forced to leave the Deccan and return to Agra. The marriage of the Adil Shahi princess with Daniyal, the Mughal viceroy in the Deccan took place in 1604. However a year later, Daniyal died, followed by the death of Akbar creating a vacuum in the Deccan. Hence the Mughal position in the Deccan remained uncertain and had to be tackled anew by Jahangir.

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