The Deccan Policy of the Mughals was the conflict and diplomacy that take place between the Mughals and various states. The extension of the empire was one of the main aims of the Deccan Policy of the Mughals. Besides, political, economic, and religious were other causes for Deccan Policy.

Below we have explained The Deccan Policy of the Mughals by different rulers.

Deccan Policy of the Mughals – Political Condition

Before the coming of the Mughals, there were 6 Muslim states in the Deccan. Namely-Khandesh, Berar, Golconda, Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Bidar, and Vijaynagar. Out of the 7 states, 5 were offshoots of the Bamani Kingdom which came to an end in 1538 C.E. These five states includes the Nizam Shahi of Ahmadnagar, the Imad Shahi of Berar, the Adil Shahis of Bijapur, the Badri Shahi of Bidar, and the Qutb Shahi of Golconda.

All these states were constantly at war with each other. There was a lack of political unity in the Deccan. In 1565 C.E, 4 of the Muslim states namely that of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, Golconda, and Bidar, formed a confederacy and fought against the Hindu state in the Deccan, i.e. the Kingdom of Vijaynagar. This battle is popularly known as the Battle of Talikota. Thus, this confederacy of the Muslim state gave a crushing defeat to the Kingdom of Vijaynagar.

After the battle, Ahmadnagar conquered Berar in 1574 C.E and Bijapur annexed Bidar in 1618-1619. A little later, in the 16th Century, the Marathas emerged as another power in the Deccan and the Mughals had to deal with them separately.

 Deccan Policy of the Mughals – Babur

Babur the founder of the Mughal Empire in India stayed in India only for a short period. Therefore he could not pay attention to the Deccan. He has simply mentioned the Deccan States in his memoirs. According to Babur, the Kingdom of Vijaynagar was the strongest among them. But Babur was busy consolidating his position in the North. Therefore, he did not interfere in the politics of the Deccan

The Deccan Policy of the Mughals – Humayun

Humayun, the successor of Babur had to consolidate his position in North India. Besides, most important he had to deal with the Afghans. During Humayun’s reign, Muhammad Shah the ruler of Khandesh had supported Bahadur Shah of Gujarat against Humayun. Humayun, therefore, attack Khandesh and Muhammad Shah ask for pardon which was granted by Humayun.

The Deccan Policy of the Mughals – Akbar

After Akbar consolidating his position in Northern and Central India, he decided to extend the boundaries of his Kingdom towards the South of the Vindhya Range. Akbar was the first amongst the Mughal Ruler who gives serious attention to the Deccan. However, by the time Akbar interfered in the politics of the Deccan, the political situation in the Deccan had changed.

In addition, during the year 1565 AD, the Muslim states, such as Bijapur, Bidar, Golconda, Ahmadnagar had already formed a confederacy and defeated the Vijayanagar Kingdom in the Battle of Talikota. After this defeat, Ahmadnagar had annexed Berar and Bijapur annexed Bidar.  Thus, when Akbar interfered in the politics of the Deccan, there remained only the state of Khandesh, Bijapur, Golconda, and Ahmadnagar.

Objectives of Akbar Deccan Policy:

  1. He wanted to conquer the South because of his expansion and imperialistic policy. His main aim was a desire to bring the whole of the people of India under his control.
  2. Another reason to conquer was because of the lack of political unity among the warring Southern states.
  3. Because of the failure of the Rajput to form any kingdom in the south.
  4. To bring political and cultural unity between Northern and Southern India.
  5. Because Akbar wanted to acquire the wealth of the Deccan states which would further augment his resources.
  6. Because of the nearness of the Deccan territories to Gujarat and Malwa which he had already conquered. He gave importance to these two regions because the ports were located in these regions and were prosperous.
  7. Because Akbar wanted to settle the religion in India rivalries amongst the Deccan states.
  8. Because of the growing influence of the Portuguese on the sea coasts of South India and at the court of the Deccan states.

Akbar’s Campaigns in the Deccan

Babur and Humayun did not pay much attention to the Deccan. Akbar was the first Mughal Emperor who gives serious attention to the Deccan. He wanted to invade the Deccan states as well as to establish his authority in the Deccan. Prior to his invasion of the Deccan States, Akbar had sent four diplomatic missions towards the Deccan. He sents a mission in order to secure the submission of the Deccan State in a peaceful manner. However, it was only Khandesh who accepts this offer and the other states or kingdom refuse to accept the mission.

Later on the rulers of Khandesh, Ali Khan died fighting on behalf of the Mughals against Ahmadnagar. The rejection of diplomatic efforts by Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, and Golconda made Akbar resort to arms and to reduce these states to subjections.

First Conquest of Akbar-Agmadnagar

Akbar, first of all, decided to conquer Ahmadnagar and he sent Prince Murad and Abdur Rahim Khan-i-Khana with a strong force in order to bring the Nizam Shahi Kingdom of Ahmadnagar under subjection.

In meanwhile at Ahmadnagar there was internal conflict over succession issue. The Mughal took advantage of this situation and marched towards Ahmadnagar. During this time, Chand Bibi governs Admadnagar.

Besides, she was the wife of the Sultan of Bijapur and the sister of Nizam of Ahmadnagar. The Mughal forces they besieged the fort of Ahmadnagar in 1595 C.E and Chand Bibi defended the fort with bravery and courage. She also sought the assistance of Bijapur as well as that of Golconda. The siege lasted for four months.

However, as Mughal was running short of provisions, they try to enter into a negotiated settlement. Ultimately peace was concluded and it was agreed that Ahmadnagar would cede Berar to the Mughals. In return, the Mughal would recognize the claims of the Prince of Ahmadnagar.

The proposal to hand over Berar to the Mughals alarmed the Deccan states. However, they create an obstruction in handling over Berar to the Mughals. They obstruct because if the Mughals take over Berar, the Mughal would get a permanent hold in the Deccan.

As a result, as soon as possible, a combined force of Ahmadnagar, Bijapur, and Golconda met the Mughal forces at Supa and fought a battle. This time Chand Bibi could not defend the fort of Ahmadnagar because of intrigues in her own camp. Thereafter, Chand Bibi died and with the death of Chand Bibi all resistance collapsed and the fort of Ahmadnagar fell to the Mughals.

Capture of Khandesh

Earlier Khandesh had accepted the diplomatic mission sent by Akbar but after the death of Ali Khan, his son Miran Bahadur who succeeded to the throne refused to submit to Akbar. As a result, Akbar sent Mughal forces towards Khandesh and they captured Barhanpur, the capital of Khandesh. After Barhanpur was captured, they proceed towards the fort of Asirgarh which belongs to Khandesh, and captured it in 1601 C.E.

Akbar further wanted to extend his territories in the Deccan. But he could no longer pursue his career of conquest in the Deccan because of the revolt of Prince Salim in the North. Therefore, he has to rush back to his capital.

Results of Akbar’s Deccan Policy

  1. Mughal Empire takes over three areas of the Deccan, i.e. Berar, the fort of Ahmadnagar, and fort of Asirgarh.
  2. Akbar got several important forts in the Deccan.
  3. The Mughals got a foothold in the Deccan.

The Deccan Policy of the Mughals – Jahangir

Jahangir succeeded Akbar to the throne in 1605 C.E. he too continued the Deccan Policy of his father. During the reign of Akbar, he had led an expedition towards the Deccan states and had captured the fort of Ahmadnagar and the fort of Asirgarh. However, Akbar could not achieve much success in the Deccan as he had to rush back to the capital due to the revolt of Prince Salim. Therefore, when Jahangir ascended the throne, the whole of the Deccan had become independent. At this time the state of Ahmadnagar in the Deccan had considerably increased its power under the leadership of Malik Ambar, the abled Abyssinian minister of the Sultan of Ahmadnagar.

Ahmadnagar under the leadership of Malik Ambar had greatly increased its military strength and revolutionized its method of warfare. He introduced guerrilla training in the military system of Ahmadnagar. Malik took advantage of Jahangir’s involvement in other affairs and declared Ahmadnagar’s independence.

Jahangir Continue The Policy Of Conquesr Towards The Deccan:

However, Jahangir could not tolerate this act of Malik Ambar. Therefore, he decided to continue the policy of conquest towards the Deccan. Jahangir made three attempts to conquer Ahmadnagar in 1608 C.E, 1611 C.E, and 1612 C.E. But all of the three attempts failed. In 1617 C.E, another expedition was sent to Ahmadnagar under Prince Khurram. Prince Kurran opened negotiation with Ahmadnagar under Malik Ambar and he was successful in getting back all the Mughal territories which had been captured by Malik Ambar.

After this success, Prince Khurram offered valuable gifts and his Mansab was also raised. But the peace was short-lived. In 1620 Malik Ambar again formed a league with the King of Bijapur and Golconda. He launched an offensive attack against the Mughals. Prince Kurran was again sent to the Deccan to subdue Malik Ambar and again this time Malik Ambar had to cater to a humiliating treaty with Mughals.

Again this power lasted for a few years and Malik Ambar continued to fight against the Mughals. Subsequently at this time rebellions took place in the North and the revolt of Mahabat Khan. As a result, Malik Ambar has to drive out the Mughals from the Deccan but he died in the year 1626 C.E. Thus, it has dashed his chance to the ground.

Shah Jahan Deccan Policy

Prince Kuran assumed the title of Shah Jahan when he ascended the throne after his father Jahangir. He ruled from 1627 C.E to 1658 C.E.

Also, Shah Jahan followed the Deccan policy of his father and grandfather. In fact, his policy towards the Deccan was more vigorous and powerful. This was so because Shah Jahan was the first Mughal Emperor who had detailed knowledge of the Deccan and had established himself as a great general.

Shah Jahan was also fortunate because this time, the Nizam Shani Kingdom of Ahmadnagar had greatly disintegrated which provides him an opportunity to attack the same besides there were other factors or objectives towards his Deccan Policy:

  1. Shah Jahan was guided by his personal ambition and he wanted to extend Mughal frontiers beyond Khandesh.
  2. Malik Amber of Ahmadnagar had granted asylum to the rebel Khan Jahan Lodhi and this arose his ambition to conquer the province.
  3. Shah Jahan was an orthodox Sunni Muslim and did not like the Shia of the Deccan Sultan and he also suspected the relation of the Deccan state with the Shia rulers of Persia, who were the hereditary rivals of the Mughals.
  4. Besides, he could not tolerate the existence of independent political Sultanates in the South. Therefore he persuaded a vigorous policy in the South.

Shah Jahan War Against Ahmadnagar

Among the three states in the Deccan, the Kingdom of Ahmadnagar lies in close proximity with the Mughal frontier. Therefore it was the first state in the Deccan which had to deal with the Mughals. Shah Jahan had nourished a grievance against Ahmadnagar because it has extended help to Khan Jahan Lodhi in his revolt against the Mughals. On the other hand, in Ahmadnagar, after the death of Malik Amber in 1626 C.E, the disintegration of the state became inevitable. Fateh Khan, the son of Malik Amber then became the minister of the sultan of Ahmadnagar. But the differences arose between the two and it provided the Mughals an opportunity to attack. On the other hand, Fateh Khan reached an understanding with Shah Jahan and he captured the Sultan.

Initially, the Sultan was put in prison but ultimately Fateh Khan got him murdered. He then placed his ten-year-old son Hussain Shah to the throne and he himself became the virtual rulers of the state. Fateh Khan then tried to open up negotiations simultaneously with Bijapur, Golconda, and the Mughals. On the other hand, Shah Jahan could not trust Fateh Khan and therefore he ordered his forces.

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