Hyderabad: Three hundred and sixty-three years ago, on this day, one of the most controversial figures in Indian history, Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb ascended the throne. He ruled over almost the entire Indian subcontinent for 49 years, which comprised modern-day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
Muhi-ad-Din Muhammad, popularly known as Aurangzeb Alamgir expanded the Mughal Empire to four million square kilometers in the south and ruled over a population estimated to be over 150-158 million subjects with annual revenue of $450 million in 1690. According to fiveminthishistory (A website on history that documents Islamic History), during the reign of Aurangzeb, India surpassed the Qing Dynasty of China to become the world’s largest economy and manufacturing power.
On 31st July 1658, He crowned himself the King in Delhi’s Shalimar Gardens and adopted the regal title of Alamgir (Internationalist). It was his first of two coronation ceremonies, after which he set off to neutralize his brother: Dara Shikoh, who was known as an unorthodox Muslim who was influenced by Sufi and Vedanta philosophy, and was the heir to the throne preferred by Shah Jahan. After securing his victory over his elder brother, Aurangzeb celebrated his second coronation ceremony on June 13, 1659.
Dasgupta wrote that he considered the Royal treasury to be held in trust for the citizens of his empire.
According to Audrey Truschke, he expanded the Mughal Empire to its greatest extent, subsuming most of the Indian subcontinent under a single imperial power for the first time in human history. Alamgir made lasting contributions to the interpretation and exercise of legal codes and was celebrated by people of all backgrounds and religious stripes for his justice.
The Empire fell into a war of succession after the death of Alamgir. “With the death of Aurangzeb, Mughal rule in India may be said to have ceased to exist as an effective force. Delhi became a mere cockpit of warring factions and the throne was occupied by a series of rois fainéants (good for nothing kings) under whose feeble rule, the disintegration of the empire rapidly proceeded,” S.M. Edwardes said.
Multiple interpretations of Aurangzeb’s life and reign by critics have led to a very complicated legacy and made him a very polarizing figure of Indian history.
His critics argue that Aurangzeb abandoned his predecessor’s legacy of pluralism and religious tolerance, citing his introduction of the jizya tax (protection tax paid by non-Muslims), demolition of Hindu Temples, execution of his elder brother Dara Sikoh, Maratha King Sambhaji and Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur.
He also prohibited and supervised behavior and activities according to the Shari’a (Islamic Law), such as gambling, fornication, consumption of alcohol and narcotics.
Some historians question the historicity of the claims of his critics, such as Ian Copland, Ian Mabbett, Asim Roy, Kate Brittlebank and Adam Bowles, who in “A History of State and Religion in India,” argued that his destruction of temples has been exaggerated and pointed out that he build more temples than he destroyed, paid for their maintenance, employed significantly more Hindus in his imperial bureaucracy than his predecessors did. Audrey Truschke wrote that Aurangzeb opposed bigotry against Hindus and Shia Muslims.
Invasion of Hyderabad
Aurangzeb’s invasion of Hyderabad, popularly known as “The siege of Golkonda,” occurred in January 1687, when he led his forces to besiege the Qutb Shahi dynasty at Golkonda fort known as the Diamond Capitol of its time; it was also home to the Kollur Mines. The ruler of Golkonda at the time was Abul Hasan Tana Shah.
Aurangzeb had successfully conquered Ahmednagar from Nizam Shahis and Bijapur from Adil Shahis, and then arrived at Golconda Fort. The siege according to historians lasted for eight months. On various occasions during the seige it had pushed the massive Mughal Army to its limits. In fact, Golconda the fort was one of the most impregnable forts in the subcontinent.
The Mughals entered Golconda through a decisive victory.
Aurangzeb died at his military camp in Bhingar near Ahmednagar on 3rd March 1707, at the age of 88, having outlived many of his children.
His open-air grave in Khuldabad, Aurangabad, Maharashtra sits in the courtyard of the shrine of the Sufi Shaikh Burhan-ud-din Gharib, who was a disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi.