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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Late Mughal Rulers

Urdu Version

The more prominent later Mughal rulers included Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb.

Last Updated: 31 July 2014


Emperor Jahangir
Emperor Jahangir
(India Explored)

Akbar was succeeded by his son Salim, who took the title of Jahangir (1605-1627). In his reign, Jahangir consolidated the gains made by his father and the Mughal Empire continued to grow through further conquests. Jahangir set up a ‘Chain of Justice’ between the Agra Fort and River Jumna to be rung by any complainant seeking justice from the emperor. He was known to be a tolerant ruler and a great patron of art and architecture. During Jahangir’s reign, the East India Company sought and attained the permission to establish factories in 1615.

Shah Jahan

Shah Jhan
Emperor Shah Jahan
(Art India)

Shortly after Jahangir’s death in October 1627, his son, Shah Jahan, succeeded to the throne. He had to deal with several rebellions early on in his rule and a famine. He was also less tolerant of the Europeans than his predecessors, fighting a war against the Portuguese. For the most part though, Shah Jahan’s reign is known as the Golden Age. During his thirty year reign there was no serious threat of a foreign invasion, trade was able to flourish and cities expanded rapidly. Architecture, literature, music and the arts were encouraged and patronized. Mughal architecture was refined and some of the most stunning buildings were built during this time. This includes the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, which Shah Jahan built as a tomb for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal.


Emperor Aurangzeb
Emperor Aurangzeb
(Wikimedia Commons)

When Shah Jahan fell ill in 1657, a war of succession broke out between his four sons. The two most serious rivals were Dara Shikoh, who was considered to have more tolerant spiritual beliefs similar to his father, but less skilled in warfare, and Aurangzeb, a successful soldier and orthodox Muslim.  For two years they battled, but it is Aurangzeb who eventually triumphed. Though the Mughal Empire saw further expansion in the early years of Aurangzeb’s long reign (1658-1707), by the latter part of his rule the empire began to disintegrate.

Last rulers

After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707, many of his vassals established themselves as sovereign rulers, and so began the period of what are called successor states. After 1803 the Mughal rulers effectively became pawns of the East India Company. Mughal rule finally came to an end in 1857 when the last emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was put on trial for allegedly leading the rebels of the 1857 War of Independence. He was convicted and transported to Rangoon, to spend the remainder of his life on alien soil. He died five years later.

Find out more

Books & Articles

Bajwa, Farooq N. “The Mughal Empire.” Pakistan: A Historical and Contemporary Look. Revised ed. Karachi: Oxford UP, 2002.

Ikram, S. M. “The Establishment of the Mughal Empire.” Muslim Civilization in India. Ed. Ainslie T. Embree. New York: Columbia UP, 1964. South Asia Study Resources. Columbia University.

Lal, Vinay. “Aurangzeb: A Political History.” Manas:History and Politics. UCLA, 2007.

Lal, Vinay. “Jahangir.” Manas: History and Politics. UCLA, 2007.

Sardar, Marika. “The Art of the Mughals after 1600.” Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000.

Sansom, Ian. “Great Dynasties of the World: The Mughals.” The Guardian 16 July 2011.


PBS The Story of India: Episode 5 – The Meeting of Two Oceans (1000-1700 CE)