Conquests of Akbar
Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor, ascended the Mughal throne in 1556 when the Empire extended only over a small area in Northern India. His first task was one of consolidations. But Akbar was an ambitious ruler, and wanted to build up as mighty and extensive an empire as possible. He wanted to be the lord-paramount of the country. In 1560, he invaded Malwa and compelled its ruler, Baz Bahadur to submit to his authority.
In 1564, Akbar sent a large army under the command of Asaf Khan against the Central Indian State of Gondwana. Its queen mother Durgavati offered a most determined resistance against the Mughal forces; but when she found that defeat was inevitable preferring death to dishonor, she stabbed herself to death. After her death the Mughal forces entered the city and occupied the larger part of Gondwana.
Akbar next turned his attention to Rajputana. At first he resorted to diplomacy. He succeeded in entering into matrimonial alliances with many of the ruling families of Rajputana who gave their daughters in marriage to the Emperor and the members of his family had submitted to Mughal imperial authority. But the proud and noble Sishodiya prince, Rana Pratap of Mewer refused to offer submission. His father Uday Singh was forced to evacuate Chitor when Akbar attacked in 1567. But Pratap remained un-subdued. He retired to the inaccessible mountain regions and continued to harass the Mughal army, which had strengthened their position considerably by occupying the strategically points of Kalanjar and Ranthambhor. In 1576, Akbar sent under Man Singh a powerful force which confronted the Mewar on the field of Haldighat. Pratap fought valiantly, but his valor was of no avail against the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Mughal forces. He was forced to accept defeat. The battle of Haldighat has rightly been described as the Indian Thermopylae. Since after this battle Akbar had not to encounter any serious opposition ill Rajputana.
In 1572, Akbar directed an expedition against Gujarat and compelled it to submit. The conquest of Gujarat brought his empire into contact with the Arabian Sea. Akbar’s attention was next turned towards Bengal, whose ruler Daud Khan declared independence in 1576. A powerful Mughal army under Munim Khan and Raja Todar Mall visited Bengal, forced Daud to accept defeat at the battle of Rajmahal and brought Bengal back in submission to the Mughal Empire.
In 1581, Akbar occupied Kabul, and soon after, in quick succession, he made himself master of Sind. Kashmir, Baluchistan and Kandahar Thus the whole of Hindustan bounded on the north by the Himalayas and on the south by the Narmada, passed under Akbar’s away.
Having completed the conquest of North India, Akbar directed his attention to the Deccan. He overcame the valiant opposition of Chand Sultana and occupied Ahmednagar. In 1601, he strengthened his hold in the Deccan still further by occupying Burhampur, the capital of Khandesh, and the impregnable fortress of Asirgarh. In this way Akbar’s authority came to be acknowledged over the whole area from the borders of Kabul on the west to Bengal on the east, and from the Punjab on the north to Khandesh on the south.