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Expansion of Akbar’s Empire

Expansion of Akbar’s Empire

Sikandar Shah Suri did not resist Akbar and heartened him to march forward and expand his Empire. Defeat of Hemu, the Hindu king in the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556 accelerated this desire. Victory over Sikandar Shah strengthened the military position of Akbar as his artillery and 1500 trained elephants were captured by Akbar.

Already armed with 500 elephants (with the double-curved tusk swords instead of tusks), he was in a position to suppress the rebellions and expand his empire. After restraining with the revolt of Bairam Khan in 1560, the first remarkable victory on the credit of Akbar was Malwa in 1561 when Baz Bahadur recovered Malwa as Adham Khan, the war chief from the Mughal Army could not fight in a desired way. Akbar attacked Malwa in 1562 and forced Baz Bahadur to surrender and after pardoning him, appointed him the administrator of the area. Conquest of Gonds took place in 1562 when the Queen Durgavati of Gonds raised her voice against the Mughal Empire. Asaf Khan, the governor of Allahabad countered her and made her surrender. Malwa conquest led to the Akbar’s domination over presently Gujarat, Bengal and Rajhastan.

Chittorgarh Fort was the next destination targeted by Akbar as the Fort sheltered the Rajputs who were fierce adversaries of Akbar and could pose a threat any time. In 1567, Akbar reached Chittorgarh Fort headed by Udai Singh who used to provide asylum to the rebels of the Mughal emperor. The Fort was on the way with the strategic importance and was a gateway to Rajhastan. Udai Singh fled from the Fort leaving the Fort under the custody of Patta and Jaimal, his war chiefs. Akbar besieged 8000 Hindu Rajputs in Chittorgarh Fort with his 5000 men in the beginning. The blockade continued for many months and Akbar multiplied the number of his army reaching 50,000 men. Akbar ordered his men to build a hill of the baskets of earth to place the cannons of the Mughal army. Mines were planted under the walls of the Fort which went in favor of Akbar (though one of the mines prematurely blasted taking a heavy toll of Akbar’s army with 100 deaths). The Fort was conquered in February 1568 after four months’ siege. On the victory of Chittorgarh, Akbar founded a new city named as Fateh Pur Sikri (the city of victory) in 1569.

The Fort of Hadas tribe of Ranthambor was captured in 1569 making Akbar the over lord of the whole of Rajputana which led to the surrender of the rebels or opponents of Jaisalmer, Bekaner and Bandelkhand. The clans of Mewar, however, tendered a hard time to Akbar and kept him engaged in wars against them. Especially Maharana Pratap was the most resisting and staunch adversary who opposed the policy of inter-marriages of Mughals and Rajputs declaring a boycott of the tribes which had wedded their daughters to the Mughals.

In 1572, Akbar turned his attention to Gujrat which was agriculturally rich and the center of trade from all over the world because of its crafts. It was administered by Mirzas, his cousins who were defeated by Akbar. After conquering Gujrat, Akbar marched towards Agra but the rebellion of Mirzas in Ahmadabad was reported and had to come back to Gujrat and he regained the area in September 1573. Gujrat conquest proved to be one of the most remarkable victories of Akbar as it gave the sea route to the Mughal Empire.

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