Aurangzeb ascended the throne on July 21, 1658 and ruled supreme till 1707. Thus Aurangzeb ruled for 50 years, matching Akbar’s reign in longevity. But unfortunately he kept his five sons away from the royal court with the result that none of them was trained in the art of government. This proved to be very damaging for the Mughals later on. Aurangzeb had three brothers. His father Shah Jehan favored Dara Shikoh to be his successor. Dara Shikoh was eclectic in his beliefs; therefore Aurangzeb challenged his father’s rule. Shah Jahan fell seriously ill and all his sons proclaimed succession. Contrary to everyone’s expectations, Shah Jehan recovered. On his recovery, he again backed Dara as his successor. A war of succession broke out among all the brothers. In the long run Aurangzeb was victorious. But as Shah Jehan was in absolute favor of Dara, Aurangzeb no longer trusted him, and had Shah Jehan placed under polite restraint in his own palace.
Aurangzeb, a staunch Muslim, gave many grants for the restoration of Hindu temples during his reign. He also appointed Hindus to leading and commanding positions in his government. His chief architectural achievement is the Badshahi Mosque at Lahore, the largest mosque in the world at the time it was built. In his 50 year, Aurangzeb tried to fulfill his great ambition of bringing the entire Sub-continent under one rule. It was under his rule that in 1687 Bijapur and Golkonda, the last of the two Shia states surrendered to the Mughal Empire. The Marhattas continued to fight against Aurangzeb for some time. The last 26 years of Aurangzeb were devoted to his relentless Deccan campaign for the purpose of which he had moved his court to Deccan. Under Aurangzeb’s rule, the borders of the Mughal Empire spread out farther than ever before. But due to lack of communication and poor infrastructure it was difficult to hold the empire together. If the court was in the north, there was rebellion in the south, and vice versa. Though he ruled longer than any of his predecessors, yet he could not stop the decline of the Mughal Empire, which hastened after his demise as none of his sons was trained to rule. Finally in 1858 India came directly under the control of British government.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003