Economic and Social Life
• Many European travellers and traders came to India and their accounts contain a mine of information about the socio-economic conditions of India.
• In general, they described the wealth and prosperity of India and also the luxurious life of the aristocratic classes.
• They also mentioned the poverty and sufferings of the ordinary people such as peasants and artisans.
The nobles of the Mughal period formed a privileged class. Most of them were foreigners such as
o Turks and Afghans
The Mughal nobles were paid high salaries but their expenses were also very high
Each noble maintained a large number of servants, horses, elephants, etc.
While the wealthy people wore silk and cotton clothes, the poor people wore the minimum cloths.
Nikitin observed that the people of Deccan were bare-footed. It might be due to high cost of leather.
Rice, millets and pulses were the staple food of the common people
Fish was popular on the coastal region
While ghee and oil were cheaper, salt and sugar were more expensive, milk and milk products
were available in plenty
An estimate claims that the population of India at the beginning of the seventeenth century was about 125 million.
A large variety of crops such as wheat, rice, gram, barley, pulses were cultivated.
Commercial crops such as cotton, indigo, sugarcane and oil-seeds were also cultivated.
During the seventeenth century two new crops, namely, tobacco and maize were added
But, no new agricultural technique was introduced during this period
India was able to export food items like rice and sugar to the neighbouring countries
Growth of Trade
The Indian trading classes were large in numbers and spread throughout the country.
Seth, bohra traders specialized in long distance trade while local traders were called banik
Another class of traders was known as banjaras, who specialized in carrying bulk goods.
The banjaras used to move to long distances with their goods on the back of oxen
Bulk goods were also taken through rivers on boats.
The Guajarati merchants included the Hindus, Jains and Muslims. In Rajasthan, Oswals, Maheshwaris and Agarwals came to be called the Marwaris
In south India, the Chettis on the Coramandal coast and the Muslim merchants of Malabar were the most important trading communities.
Bengal exported sugar, rice as well as delicate muslin and silk.
Gujarat was an entry point of foreign goods. From there, fine textiles and silk were taken to north India.
The major imports into India were certain metals such as tin and copper, war horses and luxury
items such as ivory.
The balance of trade was maintained by the import of gold and silver.
The growth of foreign trade had resulted in the increased import of gold and silver in the seventeenth century.
Cultural Development under the Mughals
The Mughal period witnessed a significant and widespread development in cultural activity.
It was manifest in the sphere of art and architecture, painting, music and literature.
Indian traditions were blended with Turko-Iranian culture which was brought into India by the Mughals.
Art and Architecture
The Mughals were fond of laying gardens with running water.
Some of the Mughal gardens such as the Nishat Bagh in Kashmir, the Shalimar Bagh at Lahore and the Pinjore garden in the Punjab have survived even today.
During the reign of Sher Shah, the mausoleum at Sasaram in Bihar and the Purana Qila near
Delhi were built.
Large scale construction of buildings started with the advent of Akbar
He built many forts and the most famous one was the Agra Fort.
It was built in red sandstone
His other forts are at Lahore and Allahabad
The climax of fort-building reached its climax during the reign of Shah Jahan.
The famous Red Fort at Delhi with its Rang Mahal, Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khaswas his
Akbar also built a palacecum-fort complex at Fatepur Sikri (City of Victory), 36 kilometres from
Many buildings in Guajarati and Bengali styles are found in this complex.
Guajarati style buildings were probably built for his Rajput wives.
The most magnificent building in it is the Jama Masjid and the gateway to it called Buland
Darwaza or the Lofty Gate.
The height of the gateway is 176 feet. It was built to commemorate Akbar‘s victory over Gujarat.
Other important buildings at Fatepur Sikri are Jodh Bai’s palace and Panch Mahal with five storeys. Dur
During Akbar‘s reign, the Humayun’s tomb was built at Delhi and it had a massive dome of marble.
It may be considered the precursor of the Taj Mahal.
Akbar’s tomb at Sikandara near Agra was completed by Jahangir.
Nur Jahan built the tomb of Itimaddaulah at Agra.
It was constructed wholly of white marble with floral designs made of semi-precious stones
on the walls. (Pietra dura)
This method became more popular during the reign of Shah Jahan.
The pietra dura method was used on a large scale in the Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal is considered as jewel of the builder’s art.
It contains all the architectural forms developed by the Mughals.
The chief glory of the Taj is the massive dome and the four slender minarets
The decorations are kept to the minimum.
The Moti Masjid at Agra was built entirely in white marble. The Jama Masjid at Delhi was built in red stone.
Many features of Mughal tradition can be seen in the Golden Temple at Amritsar.
Paintings and Music
The foundation for the Mughal painting was laid by Humayun when he was staying in Persia
He brought with him two painters – Mir Sayyid Ali and Abdal Samad to India.
Akbar commissioned the illustrations of several literary and religious texts
He invited a large number of painters from different parts of the country to his court.
Both Hindus and Muslims joined in this work.
Baswan, Miskina and Daswant attained great positions as Akabar‘s court artists
Illustrations of Persian versions of Mahabharata and Ramayana were produced in miniature form.
Art Studio established by Akbar. Historical works such as Akbar Nama also remained the main themes of Mughal paintings
Mughal paintings reached its climax during the reign of Jahangir.
He employed a number of painters like Abul Hasan, Bishan Das, Madhu, Anant, Manohar, Govardhan and Ustad Mansur
Music had also developed under the Mughals.
Akbar patronized Tansen of Gwalior.
Tansen composed many ragas. Jahangir and Shah Jahan were also fond of music
Language and Literature
Persian language became widespread in the Mughal Empire by the time of Akbar‘s reign.
Many historical works were written during this period.
They include Ain-i-Akbari and Akabar Nama authored by Abul Fazl.
The leading poet of that period was his brother Abul Faizi.
The translation of Mahabharata into the Persian language was done under his supervision.
Utbi and Naziri were the two other leading Persian poets
Jahangir‘s autobiography, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiriwas famous for its style
He also patronized many scholars like Ghiyas Beg, Naqib Khan and Niamatullah
Shah Jahan also patronized many writers and historians like Abdul Hamid Lahori, author of
Padshah Nama and Inayat Khan who wrote Shah Jahan Nama.
His son Dara Shikoh translated the Bhagavat Gita and Upanishads into the Persian language
Regional languages such as Bengali, Oriya, Rajasthani and Guajarati had also developed during this period.
Many devotional works including the Ramayana and Mahabharata were translated into regional languages.
The most influential Hindi poet was Tulsidas, who wrote the Hindi version of the
Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas.