Decline of Mughal Empire


Decline of Mughal Empire

Victory of Babur in the First Battle of Panipat against Ibrahim Lodi in 1526 marked the advent of Mughal Empire in India. Babur was the descendant of Taimur lang from father’ side and Gengis khan from his mother’s side.  Mughals ruled India for almost 350 years. After Babur many capable rulers sat on Delhi’s throne but after the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 series of internal revolt and external factors led to the ultimate decline of Mughal empire in 1857.

Major Reasons for decline of Mughal Empire are

 Policies of Aurangzeb: Rulers before Auranzeb maintained a policy of peace and mutual respect with peripheral rulers of Rajput and Maratha kingdom. After 1678 relations between Aurangzeb and Rajput rulers developed into open military conflict. Rulers of Mewar and Marwar which were close to Mughal Emperor Akbar,Jahangir and Shah Jahan became distant during the reign of Aurangzeb.

Incapable rulers after Aurangzeb: Aurangzeb ruled Delhi for 49 years. He died at the age of 88. After his death there was war of succession among 3 sons of Auranzeb. Finally, Bahadur Shah I ascended the throne in 1709 after killing his 2 brothers Muhammad Azam and Kam Bakhsh in war of succession.                                                                                                     

Ruler Period
Bahadur Shah I (Shah Alam I)(Shah-e-Bekhabar)  1709-1712
Jahandar Shah 1712-1713
Farrukhsiyar 1713-1719
Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ 1719-1748
Ahmad Shah  1748-1754
Alamgir II 1754-1758
Shah Alam 1759-1806
Akbar II (Given the title Raja to Ram Mohan Roy) 1806-1837
Bahadur Shah II 1837-1857

Rise of peripheral powers 

Jats: Agriculturist  around Delhi like in Agra, Mathura and Bharatpur revolted against the policies of Aurangzeb. Churaman and Badan Singh established the Jat state of Bahartpur. Under Suraj Mal Jat empire reached its greatest height.

Sikhs: To the west of Indus river lies the Punjab Kingdom. Under the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh ,Punjab Kingdom reached its glory. In 1801 , Maharaja Ranjit singh established the Kingdom of Punjab and ruled there until his untimely death in 1839.

Marathas: Chhatrapati Shivaji established the Maratha kingdom from the ruins of Bijapur sultanate. In 1656 Shivaji conquered Javli from Martha Chief Chandra Rao More. In 1674 he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati of Maratha Kingdom.  From 1659 till shivaji’s death in 1680 there was constant tussle between Aurangzeb and Shivaji. Major reasons for 

  • Rise of Shivaji and Aurangzeb could not tolerate any challenge to his power.
  • Auranzeb was staunch Sunni and Martha empire want to protect Hinduism from the clutches of Islam ruler.

Under Peshwa Baji Rao I in 1721 Marathas annexed the regions of Malwa and Gujarat from Mughal authority.

Rise of regional states: During the rign of Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ successor states like Awadh, Bengal and Hyderabad was established. 

Kingdom of Hyderabad was established by Asaf Jah also known as Nizam-ul-Mulk in 1724.

Kingdom of Awadh was founded by Saadat Khan also known as Burhan-ul-Mulk in 1722. He was succeeded by Safdar jung in 1739.

Bengal: Murshid Quli Khan founded the independent kingdom of Bengal in 1717.

 Foreign Invasions

Nadir Shah:Nadir Shah was the Persian ruler who invaded India during the reign of Muhammad Shah. In the Battle of Karnal between Nadir Shah and Muhammad Shah in 1739, Muhammad Shah was defeated comprehensively. Nadir Shah  plundered Delhi. All the land to the west of Indus came under Nadir’s Shah control. He also took Peacock Throne and Kohinoor diamond with himself. Amount of money looted from India was so much that he announced 3 year tax holiday in his kingdom in Persia.

Ahmed Shah Abdali: Ahmed Shah Abdali was also a Persian ruler. He invaded India multiple times during 1748-1767. First time he invaded India in 1748 during the reign of Mughal Emperor Ahmed Shah. In 1761 in the 3rd Battle of panipat he defeated the combined army of marthas. His last invasion came in 1767.

Final nail in the Coffin

After the death of Alamgir II , his son Shah Alam II tried to restore the lost glory of Mughal Empire. So, in 1764 he made a Triple Alliance against Britishers in the Battle of Buxar. Combined army of Nawab of  Awadh- Shuja-ud-Daula, Nawab of Bengal- Mir Qasim and Mughal Emperor- Shah Alam II fought against the army of East India Company under Hector Munroe. But against the expectations of Shah Alam II EIC defeated the Triple Alliance in a single sided affair. 

Humiliating Treaty of Allahabad was signed by Shah Alam II which deprived the Nawab of his Diwani Rights in Bengal, Bihar & Orissa. 

Previous year Objective questions asked in the exam:

Question 1: Arrange the following in chronological order: (UPPSC 2018)

  1. Muhammad Shah
  2. Jahandar Shah
  3. Alamgir II
  4. Ahmed Shah


  1. BADC
  2. BACD
  3. ABCD
  4. DCBA

Answer: ( A )

Question 2: In which year did Babur defeated Ibrahim Lodi in Battle of Panipat? (UPPSC 2016)


  1. 1524 AD
  2. 1525 AD
  3. 1526 AD
  4. 1527 AD

Answer : ( C  )                                                                                                                                                                 

Question 3: The Mughal ruler, known as Shah-i-Bekhabar, who had assumed the title Shah Alam I was: ( HCS 2014)

  1. Jahandar Shah
  2. Bahadur Shah I
  3. Muhammad Shah
  4. Farrukhsiyar 

Answer : ( B )

Question 4: Nadir Shah plundered Delhi and when reached his he ordered a remission of taxes throughout Persia for a period of:( HCS 2014)

  1. 1 year
  2. 2 years
  3. 3 years 
  4. 5 years

Answer: ( C )

Question 5: Shivaji conquered javli in 1656 from:( HCS 2014)

  1. Bijapur
  2. Maratha
  3. Mughals
  4. Golconda

Answer: ( B )

Question 6: The Commander of British army during the Battle of Buxar was:( HCS 2014)

  1. Sir Eyre Coote
  2. Major Munroe
  3. Major York
  4. Arthur Wellesley

Answer: ( B )

Question 7: Ram Mohan Roy was conferred the title of Raja by:( HCS 2014)

  1. Alamgir II
  2. Shah Alam II
  3. Akbar II
  4. Muhammad Shah

Answer: ( C )


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